Tags:
  1. Greg T.D.
    Offline

    Greg T.D. New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2015
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    Character advice please

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Greg T.D., Apr 20, 2015.

    I am currently in the early stages of writing a story and began a bit of character development, which is crucial to the structure of the story because its going to be strongly character driven. After a bit of thinking i have come up with a rough draft of a character i see fit as my protagonist, but would like some advice from real people before I go any further. Here is the basic gist of the plot (not going to go into any detail to spare your time and keep from boring you too much) a average, antisocial high school boy's dream to do something that will be remembered for eternity has been remembered after a long time, and he realizes he must act now. Meets a friend that has a similar wish, some other plot happens, his friend dies, he is devastated, he joins the army, and his dream is most likely ended. Kinda like an American dream novel, except I also want plenty of realistic comedy and a slice of life aspect to it.

    Enough of the insight though, here is a rough draft of the character I have, (I know its flawed, please exploit any of them, state your opinion of what you like in a character in general, and give some advice to what could improve upon this character. Also I would like a relatable character so that would help too. Appreciated.)

    A young social shutout high school boy, weak physically. To amplify his physical weakness he is more feminine, small, soft face, longer silky brown hair, slim, and can easily be mistaken for a girl too. Unisex name, I'm kind of edging toward Eli.

    Here is the good, (These are notes I have jotted down so their fragments.)
    Smart, reads a lot. Thinks determinedly. Very mentally strong. Understands the world around him pretty well. He is good with walking away when needed (fights, arguments, ect.) for the most part. Definitely not naive or incompetent. Wise for his age on some subjects. Wants to prove something to the world. Not afraid to stand alone. Confident in himself and his word. Modest. Easily distinguishes good from bad.

    And here are some flaws. Social shutout. Impatient. Stays up all night. Can't find motivation easily. Very emotional despite being mentally strong, so basically a crybaby. Physically weak. Hard for him to hold a normal conversation. No real friends until plot happens. Has outrageous dream. Stays quiet for most part. Impulsive. Deceptively a quiet type until befriended, then he can be quite talkative.

    And here are some miscellaneanous traits/likes and dislikes.
    Loves to read, late night programming, hates mornings. No clear career choice. Favorite foods are candy and ramen, (yeah pretty unhealthy habits,) does have a playful short temper for those close to him. Inspired by figures suck as Jfk and Mlkj. Probably an odd obsession with womens cosmetics (comical, not to be taken seriously). Has a great fear of doing nothing.

    As i said this is just a small insight of a beta character. Advice is greatly appreciated and opening accepted. Thank you for you opinion.
     
  2. A Fellow Stalker
    Offline

    A Fellow Stalker Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    24
    The wise, clever, determined character who wants to prove something, yet socially awkward and physically weak had been done quite a bit.

    Also the idea of distinguishing good from bad easily is sort of an odd one. Do you mean people? If so I don't think he's going to easily find 'good' and 'bad' people. Do you mean things? Well then most people can tell what food is or what they buy is and that sort.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,993
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    I would suggest writing a scene containing the character, rather than a character description. Despite all those listed traits and flaws and favorites and random habits, I don't feel that I know this character at all.
     
  4. VirtuallyRealistic
    Offline

    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2015
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    77
    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    I would go for a different name if your goal is something unisex. I'm guessing you're pronouncing Eli like L-E instead of E-Lie, but I would read it as E-Lie. I think a lot of other people would, too.

    As far as the rest of it goes, it's hard to determine whether a character is good/bad just from reading his general traits. I don't have much advice on that front, but as ChickenFreak said above: write a scene featuring your character. Doing this organically will give you more insight into the character than writing out his traits. You'll be surprised to see what you learn about a character or plot just from putting words to paper (Or pixels to screen, I guess).
     
  5. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    He did, but unfortunately it was too soon for him to get into the workshop.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    While he sounds well fleshed out, I wonder if some of those qualities aren't incongruous with each other?

    You might try putting the good and bad lists in columns side by side. See if any trait contradicts another. And look at how they go together. For example I don't see mentally strong and emotionally a crybaby making sense. I'd guess you meant smart but a wimpy nerd or something. I think you need to put some of these traits together and describe how that might work.

    He aced his test then cried when a bully tore up his paper. So does he have high self esteem or low self esteem?​
     
  7. ZYX
    Offline

    ZYX Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2015
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    23
    I agree that some of the traits seem a bit contradictory, but I don't see any huge problems with what you have so far.

    Something about this rubbed me the wrong way ? I don't know the specifics but I don't think you need to make a joke out of him liking cosmetics and stuff. I could just be reading this wrong or something, though, who knows ...

    Have you worked out why he wants to do something he'd be remembered for ? And why he decides he needs to act now ?
    You may have and just not felt like you needed to post it, but if not then it's something to think about.

    Good luck and apologies if my reply didn't make a lot of sense ... !
     
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,993
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    Random thoughts:

    - I, too, have a problem with the "comical" obsession with cosmetics.
    - I'm feeling a vague contempt for femininity throughout the description, a vibe that his feminine aspects are seen as a sort of contamination.
    - I'm struck by your describing "quiet" as a flaw--what's wrong with quiet?
    - Similarly, what's wrong with emotional?

    Your description suggests that you see anything contrary to being big, strong, outgoing, talkative, and aggressively masculine as a flaw.
     
    ZYX likes this.
  9. Sintas
    Offline

    Sintas Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    coloradical
    Is he confident in himself despite being emotionally turbulent? It can be very hard for a person who's riding an emotional roller coaster to trust themselves.
    Also, why is he a social shutout? Does he do this intentionally? In high schools I feel like there's usually at least a few person that someone can have. Try to avoid the pity party type character, give him something in the world where his luck is good :)

    I really like that he has feminine attributes, but as another poster said, I wouldn't portray them as a weakness. Try and brainstorm what good that does for him in your plot.
    I love developing characters, it's probably my favorite part of the whole writing process. I'd be interested to see how this character would do in the military.
     
  10. Cwylldren
    Offline

    Cwylldren New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Munich
    I'm new here - maybe this exists on the forum somewhere. But in one of the other forums I'm on they have a "Character Clinic". It works like this: I'll ask you some questions and you have to answer as your character. It's a good way to get a handle on who he is. Ready?
    Hello, Eli. Nice to meet you. So, how old are you? What do you like to do when you're not in school? Do you have any siblings? What kind of music do you like? Do you know what you want to do after you finish school? And, um, sorry, I know this is a bit weird, but are you a girl or a boy?
     
  11. VirtuallyRealistic
    Offline

    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2015
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    77
    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    I really like that idea. We have the Role Play subforum which can be used for this, but that's not it's sole purpose.
     
  12. Cwylldren
    Offline

    Cwylldren New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Munich
    Yeah, it really helped me find out more about one of my minor characters, who was turning into this jealous, whiny, 2-D type. I found out a lot about him that way - that he likes vintage motorcycles, why he became a teacher...
     
  13. Woof
    Offline

    Woof Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2014
    Messages:
    255
    Likes Received:
    122
    I've done something like that 'character clinic' before, and it can really help flesh them out. It highlights things you didn't think were important, or hadn't realised were there. Though I'm one of those whose characters dance around in my head and feel fairly real, so it should work well. Writing flashes with the character in, that are supplementary to the key story, can help also... or even ones that are irrelevant, like taking them on a day out to the zoo.

    Re: the OP: that character reads like he's on the cusp of being a 'villain'. Helen Walters (TED) wrote recently: '...violence comes out of economic and social exclusion, from severe deprivation, from when a whole society doesn’t believe in you.' which makes what happens to your character and how he's treated from that point onward equally as important as who he is and how he responds.
     
  14. mclaire22
    Offline

    mclaire22 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2015
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    4
    Something to keep in mind if you wish to imbue your character with something special...a 'hook' if you will. They have to have a paradox about them..or go about something cliche if an original way. Think of someone special you once met in your life...try and identify what it was about them that intrigued you.
     

Share This Page