1. Zev Steinhardt
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    Zev Steinhardt New Member

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    Character Development In A Short Story

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Zev Steinhardt, May 12, 2011.

    I’ve been making good progress on my short story “Genie Dreams of You.” I’m currently up to 7500 words (yeah, I know I’ve been working on it for nearly a month and that to some of the pros out there, that’s a snail’s pace). I still have a few scenes that need to be written, and there is some revision work ahead as well, as there are some plot points that I’m finding aren’t working out as well as I’d intended. I think there’s probably another few thousand words to go on this story.

    However, as I read it, I sometimes think the characters are a little… well, flat. I could definitely do a better job of fleshing them out. But in a short story, how much fleshing out do I really want to do? Can you truly create complex, believable characters AND advance and resolve the plot in under (or around) 10K words? Or should I sacrifice some of the depth of the characters for the sake of brevity of the story?

    What do you think?

    Zev Steinhardt
     
  2. Chachi Bobinks
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    Chachi Bobinks Senior Member

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    Don't let your characters suffer! :p In short stories, you should still flesh out your characters and make them almost as fleshed out as characters in a novel. You just have to do it differently. Your characterizations should be more concise and to the point. A lot of writers have this beautiful talent with dropping morsels of a character here and there so that the actual development of this character is an ongoing thing. We don't have that luxury with short stories. Instead, you need to be straight to the point.

    How many characters are you talking about here?
     
  3. Zev Steinhardt
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    Zev Steinhardt New Member

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    Thanks Chachi. I really want to develop the characters, but I don't want this story to bloat too much. There are three main characters... a man (who's a bit of a boor), his long-suffering wife, and the genie.

    Zev Steinhardt
     
  4. Chachi Bobinks
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    Chachi Bobinks Senior Member

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    You're welcome and I completely understand. I have severe issues writing short stories because of this exact thing. I'm an obsessive character flesher-outer.

    How well do you think you could hit their characterizations quick, fast, and in a hurry? That's a really good number.
     
  5. MrNomas
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    MrNomas Member

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    If you can, find an action that will define your character. Something subtle but says a lot. It's best if it is unexpected. For example, if one of your characters is very generous, having them hand out a little money to a beggar while describing how threadbare their clothes are tells the reader a lot about the character without a lot of words.

    I personally don't think you need to say a ton about the back story of a character to find them deep. Just show the reader enough to find them interesting and they'll assume they are deep. Again IMO.
     
  6. Zev Steinhardt
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    Zev Steinhardt New Member

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    Thanks, MrNomas. That's actually the approach I've been using. Of the three main characters, only the genie has any real back story. The rest of the character development I've done has been through their actions (I'm a firm believer in show, don't tell).

    Zev Steinhardt
     
  7. Chachi Bobinks
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    Chachi Bobinks Senior Member

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    That is genius. So if I need to make it clear that my character is very nervous, maybe she has a tremor to her hand or double checks the doors when she locks them? I hadn't even thought of how much more important those things would be.
     
  8. MrNomas
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    MrNomas Member

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    To me, people pick up on physical cues very well even when they read them. I remember way back in an English class reading a story where the bartender was wiping the bar down while the two characters were talking. When they said something important, the bartender's hand slowed suddenly and then he started wiping faster. It told the reader that the bartender was listening without having to actually say that. I think I learned more about writing from that one passage than the rest of the class.
     
  9. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    Short stories aren't always about character development but if you can pull it off then that's awesome. It's the little traits that will show the audience who the character is without you having to waste word count time doing background info.
     

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