1. *BK*
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    *BK* Member

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    Building Characters (and naming them)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by *BK*, Aug 6, 2009.

    I've got this idea for a book series that is unraveling in my mind. It started off very basic and is starting to get more and more complex. I wanted to take time to read (a lot) before I actually write my story. Upon the many reasons for this, character development is something I really want to experience first hand from reading (I've never been a big reader before. Recently I've had my face stuffed with books and I'm learning a lot).

    I'm having trouble creating characters. Specifically, I know who the main group of characters will be but I'm having trouble putting them all together.

    Would a doing a character workshop to get in touch with my characters be a good way to help me develop the book or should I just get to writing (or should I not even worry about writing and read more)?

    And as a side question, How do you name characters? I'm having a lot of trouble coming up with names for the characters in my book.

    (If you want to take the time, please pm me good books to read. I'm looking for good stories I can both enjoy and learn from for a writing purpose)
     
  2. Kacoshi Ajewl
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    Kacoshi Ajewl Member

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    Well characters in my opinion never evolve unless you write about them. It doesn't even have to be the main story your working with. How about you try just writing snippets of your characters in random situations or everyday life before you start the real process of writing your novel. Another thing I suggest it to let your characters have a voice, what I mean is let them speak to you in your head hold a conversation with them ask them questions about themselves. In other words, don't decide on what you character is let them tell you otherwise you will end up with unruly characters who decide they want to do something out of character.

    As for naming...well I like to pull from many sources but I find www.behindthename.com to be very useful.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I write in first person generally, so I "get in character", so to speak. The character I'm writing at the moment is a terrible, vacuous person and writing as him is hard, but it works well enough. Character profile sheets are an ok way to start, but they're nothing more than the first stepping stone on the way to creating a character. Fill one out and see what you learn that way, then see what more you can fill in based on that arbitrary information.

    Names are stupidly hard. There are already threads dedicated to that though.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't believe in character sheets, profiles, questionaires. At best they give you a static snapshot of a character. How well does any questionaire form help you get to know a real person? Would you date someon on such a basis without at least meeting them first?

    At worst, they encourage you to lock in details about your character prematurely. Then when you get further into your story and need your character to react a particular way, you have already precluded it with an arbitrary decision made way back when.

    Instead, get to know your character the way you get to know a real person - first impressions, and then get to know them through their actions over time. Let them grow naturally through the story events. Leave some mystery - Stacy reacted in a surprising way, and for now you have no idea why she did. Yes, it was inconvenient for you, and for your other characters, but it wasn't so fundamentally WRONG that you cannot believe she did it.

    As your story grows, all these choices and actions will tell you more about your character than any form could.
     
  5. *BK*
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    *BK* Member

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    Thank you guys for the help. I'm going to read a couple more novels before I jump into to writing and I'm excited to watch my characters go.

    I will be stopping by that site as well Ajewl for some help naming my characters.
     
  6. Far Away
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    Far Away Member

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    At the moment I'm writing a novel that takes place in the 1950's. To name my characters I first discover their age, and their birthdate. For example, my main character, Florence, was born in 1930.

    So I search this on Google: "Popular names in 1930". And in the first few results there should be a big old list of names :)

    One thing you should avoid, however, is names that are wayyy rare. I find that especially in teen and romance novels, characters are named ridiculous names "Rayyne" and "Storm" and other silly names. Keep names traditional and true to the time period.
     
  7. Shadow Slayer
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    Shadow Slayer New Member

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    On the thing about naming, I name characters based on their personality or physical description. I also use name of famous and legendary people.
    I belive that working on the story can help you come up with or characters. You bring them together by placing a problem where the they can meet.
     
  8. Amo_angelus
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    Amo_angelus New Member

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    When it comes to naming my characters sometimes it's hard work, most of the time it's easy. I like to find a name that fits with the world their in (My victorian characters have victorian names, my supernatural characters have un natural names, my foriegn characters have foriegn names). Then I want a name that sounds like the Personality. For Example I have a Cora, who is the core of the family and the home. If it's a major character I dig a little deeper, I have a Clara that basically means brilliant. And that's what the character is. A vision of clarity, who later changes her name to Lahara as she looses that clarity and the name Lahara relates to the movement of rivers. Ripples and currents as she's dragged down a path she never expected to be and her life is torn appart.

    Hope that helps.
     
  9. abaris
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    abaris Banned

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    Personally I think, that characters should be thought through before letting them lose. They all have a backstory, a family, a social status, past experiences and traumas. One should know how they tick at the beginning and how they react to the outside world.

    Then they develop.

    As for names. I usually write fantasy based on real historical environments, cults and cultures. One of my characters is named Aeolia, after the region of Aeolis. I simply liked the sound of that name.
     
  10. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I find that I tend to apply my characters to every day situations that I find myself in. Just little things like choosing to catch a bus, cab or walk (patience, laziness or exercise). It's these kinds of miniature moral decisions that differentiate characters at the detailed level.

    Don't think too much about the names: The sound of a name is much more important than the definition you find on BabyNames.com, so pick something that sounds right, not just something that has a historical association with peace and meditation

    To be honest a lot of my characters have pretty standard names if they're in a real world settings (Douglas Archer, Kathy Young, Michael Stone, James Temple) and instead of having the latin derivative of such and such or some name that means "ten thousand cold nights" in japanese I just pick thematically appropriate names for my slightly more fantastical characters (Solomon Fisher for a poor boy turned Christian Soldier, Rosebud and Gilderoy (Ros and Gil 9_9) for a pair of arrogant gansters)
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never had a problem with character names. Maybe because I don't force myself to come up with a name from the start. My main character was named "Hero" for about a year until his natural name just came to me out of the blue, or rather, the character greeted me with his name and I thought it was fitting. Replacing a word in a text file is easy. Once you know your character really well, you'll know what their name is too.
     
  12. ChimmyBear
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    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

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    My characters all introduce themselves to me clearly. They tell me their names. When I am getting to know my characters, I tend to write down a lot of dialog between them and the other characters. They describe their own likes, dislikes, as well as, good and bad habits. Their lives just comes together as personality grows and life is breathed into their existence.

    Somehow, I feel less than sane. ;) lol
     

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