1. 霊Ray霊
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    霊Ray霊 Member

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    Character development within the character´s own mind?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by 霊Ray霊, Mar 20, 2011.

    When the main character for a story is rather dull and doesn´t talk much/ doesn´t reveal much its true self to the other characters I wonder about how I should develop it.

    The character has feelings of course and they´re actually deep unlike the impression it can give towards the other characters from the story and the reader, but for the sake of the story I need to make the reader like my character and feel intrigued by its past/dreams/motivations.

    My question is the following: I do really want this character to be you know, one of those "closed characters" but the reader needs to keep interested and know about the character as the story goes by. Therefore, I am planning this: The first developments from this character will happen inside the character´s own mind, so the reader can get more "intimate" to the character, while the other characters will still know nothing.

    Do you have good advice on how to do this in a subtle way?

    Another detail: This character will trust other characters and when that happens、will reveal the way he is to them. However that happens later because I want to give this "mystery aura" to the main character.
     
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  2. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One way to do this is if the character have strong opinions about the world. No matter if the character speaks thous opinion openly or just thinks them they will make the character more colorful. Gradually it will also indirectly reveal something about the character.

    Lets say that the character don't like cops. You don't have to reveal why the character don't like cops, it is just hint that the character has a reason to don't like them, but no clear answers. By letting that character think negative things about cops, even conversation that on the surface is very dull will interesting.



    "No officer, thank you. I'll be alright." She said with a polite smile and shut up, but inside the statement continued. You can drag you fat ass back to the car and stop bothering me now, thank you.

    And through small hints and interactions like that you will gradually reveal the character.

    *Edit: As for the internal character development, you make the internal reaction change. For example: If the character was bitter starts out with real cynical observations and thoughts in the beginning and let them grow warmer and more curious.
     
  3. Sidewinder
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    Sidewinder Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think my strength as a fiction writer is interior monologue. One of the best short stories I've written I did as an interior monologue in third person. The whole story we're inside the protagonist's thoughts, but it's not until the end that we find out something fundamental about the character that changes everything. There are occasional hints that we're not getting the whole picture, without giving too much away about what that picture might be. So even though it was an interior monologue, I think I was effectively able to create an "aura of mystery." This probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was writing in third person, but a similar effect could be achieved in first person. The trick I used was to constantly have the character's mind get distracted by things, and then slowly work its way back towards his "secret." But then as he approaches the secret, he gets distracted by something again, etc.

    One example of a device: The character stops in the middle of the sidewalk and suddenly is overcome by the feeling that he's forgotten something important at home, like his wallet or his keys. He pats down his pockets but everything is in place, so he shrugs and walks on, thinking about something else. Later we find out what he really "forgot", and it's something more important than a wallet or keys.

    It sounds like the kind of story that could benefit from some clever focus on mundane things in the right way. That way your reader can get intimate with the character and the way he thinks about the world, without losing that element of mystery.
     
  4. Alvaro
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    Alvaro Member

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    I see what you mean. It can be tricky to portray the inner workings of an introvert character.

    Is there a reason why your MC doesn't talk much? Is he shy or does he feel he has nothing to add to conversations, or that people would not understand, because he is too clever? What are his motivations for being that way? If you know that, you should be able to imagine what this person may think. Is he a philosophical person? Brooding?

    I think once you yourself gets to know the MC better, the rest will follow.

    Good luck!

    A. :eek:)
     
  5. 霊Ray霊
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    霊Ray霊 Member

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    Thank you all for your kind advices :)

    Yes it´s mainly because of what happened to him, in the past, he is just unable to trust people. Thanks for your reply, it made me reflect more about the character and I have the feeling that I know him better now. I don´t have any experience on writing, it´s a first time for me actually, I consider it to be amusing that my own character, created by me and I feel that I don´t know him and just like the rest of the characters as I develop him I´ll start to understand him better :rolleyes:
     
  6. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Food for thought ....often stoic are alienating with their refusal to volunteer anything more than the bare minimum ...Your dialogue can use other characters commenting on the character's inability and/or refusal to comment . They other characters can be used to expose what the Johnny Silent character will never do thanks to shyness, paranoia, social phobia.....in my chit i have a running joke anytime there is a need for a pressing answer someone will inject ' we will just ask Kevin" Kevin is my Johnny Silent
     
  7. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    For a character that doesn't speak much, I would imagine he/she would have another outlet. Like for example a musical instrument or a vice.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look up the bookshelf muse the emotion thesaurus. It also has a setting thesaurus you can use the settings to convey mood and feelings if you get them right for example the way he drinks his whisky, where does he sit at the bar, what kind of burger does he eat, does he bolt it down or chew slowly, does he always use the best table manners, how is your character dressed why did he pick that outfit etc. Body language is also good way of showing emotion. For example (excuse quality I did this in a couple of minutes for an example):

    'Father Lorenzo ... Wait ... Please listen to reason.' The king hollers running after me, 'Please.'

    I turn smartly, and glare at him. The stupid idiot has just called me obsolete and a relic. He expects me to listen to him. I arch my eyebrows.

    'Father Lorenzo you are out of touch.' He wrings his hands and hunches his body.

    My hand balls and I slam it as hard as I can into my first moving towards his Majesty. My superior height allowing me to look down on him. He leans back and takes a tentative step away. He knows I can beat him to a pulp.

    'Father please don't hurt me.' He takes a further step back, using his arms to shield his head.

    My fist is still clenched and I continue to walk towards him. He backs himself into his desk. Grabbing it tight. A bead of sweat starts to form on his brow. His Majesty is finally getting the message. The way his eyes are darting round the room causes me to take pity on the snivelling wretch. I assume my very best Father-Abbot is talking to a child smile and pat him on the shoulder, 'Alex when you see reason and want to discuss this, come and see me.'

    I do a smart military turn and jerk my head in his direction marching smartly towards the door, my formal robes flowing behing me. I exit the room with a smart loud slam.
     
  9. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I think the inner voice would speak for the quiet person.

    They remain silent while thier inner voice screams out.

    "She smiles politely while inside she curses the woman that ran into her with her shopping cart."
     
  10. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    One of my favorite examples of this kind of character development came up in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dance with The Devil.

    To sum it up.

    Zarek of Moesia is a Dark-Hunter who has been exiled to Alaska for the last seven hundred years. Because Dark-Hunters can be killed in sunlight, he lives in a hastily built log cabin and is pretty much stuck inside during the long summers.

    At the beginning of his story (Each character has a "Happily Ever After" in the Dark-Hunter series) he returns to his cabin after the events of the previous book in the series to find that his generator blew out. So essentially, his cabin is freezing. He goes to start a fire in the old fashioned oven, only to discover a mink has moved in through the smoke stack to raise her litter.

    Zarek, whom the other characters see as a psychotic killer, refuses to throw the mink and the family out in the snow just so he can keep warm. And just that one little action shows us that Zarek isn't all he appears to be on the surface. Although we see quite a bit of his character develop in the previous book, this is where he really shines.
     
  11. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Have the character's actions show something about him.
     
  12. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    That all depends on how the story's written. If its first person, enfuse some thought in there. Maybe the observation that others whisper about him clues us in that they don't know what he's hiding. or as someone suggested, have them lead up to their secret but get distracted every time they get close. Then they reveal it to us when they reveal it to the other characters lol

    If its 3rd person, Actions all the way. actions and other Caracters reactions. :p
     
  13. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    This is the real strength of writing. It's easy to slip into internal monologues in the perspective character's head, and these develop their character a great deal.

    Quiet characters, in writing, often are the easiest to characterize, actually. The more active characters are often too busy to introspect, so you have to slip the characterization in between the action. With a quieter character, you can have scenes where they sit somewhere alone and ponder things, or quietly observe and comment internally on everything they see.
     
  14. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    I believe a loud inner voice on a quiet person is usually indicative of a bad writer or a character acting against their own nature. Quiet people do not need to be snarky or mean if they do not voice their feelings, maybe the feelings are not even to that level. If someone bothers me, its not that I run an inner monologue about them, but that I may not care at all.

    A classic example of viewpoint being used to develop the character is what that character observes and cares about. Three people go to the same blacksmith. One sees an abundance of weapons, armor and various designs covering all styles of war, of all different nationalities and styles. Another sees the lack of functional tools and a unique brand of a famous knight on a shield. A third person suspects the person is not a blacksmith at all after the blacksmith cowers from the forge's heat. Each of the three are part of the same group, comprising a warrior, a historian and a magistrate. Using their observation skills they can uncover far more then would be permissible by any lone character.

    Even if a character is quiet, both voices, they will hit upon the nature of this by observing from their own viewpoint. It only takes a brief mention from the characters to one another to realize the situation.

    "We should buy something! This shield is amazing." the Warrior beams.
    "Wow you made this? How much for this?" the Magistrate busts out a heavy pouch of silver and gold coins.
    "Oh that one! Heh yeah, I was inspired by the Order of Owls. You can buy it, but its not cheap." the Blacksmith gloated, "Not even the King's jeweller-ers could buy it."
    "Lapidarists," the historian corrected, "Valgraf's shield is not something you buy with pocket money."
    "Oh wow, Valgraf? I think I've heard that name before," the warrior seems puzzled.
    "Yeah, its not everyday a knight is murdered in his own ransacked home." the Magistrate grins at the Blacksmith, "I suspected something when you were afraid of the forge; I never seen that before, not even amongst apprentices. The promise of a little coin and you get stupid, typical."

    While not an example of good writing. I think I make a point on how conclusions can be drawn from minor comments and clever observations, even without discussing the matter beforehand, a hunch leads to the downfall of our fake blacksmith and a scenario in which probably makes for a good plot point. Without any description inbetween, yet the characters are defined all the more by their brief conversation.

    I hate noisy characters, noisy thoughts or noisy mouths. Unless you got a good reason to have a quiet person be internally loud, don't do it. There are better ways to display character development then internal monologues or clever ways to display emotion. I love it when observation alone sets the stage and the characters alone interpret it based on those observations without an author ruining the scene with needless explanation of any form.
     
  15. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I agree with W176 on her main points. I have a couple of my own from the novel(s) I'm writing.

    Three things bring a reader into a character. One, inner dialogue. The thoughts, the comments thrown into your paragraphs, how the observe them and feel about them (try to keep the paragraph's third person and make your first person thoughts separate entities aka paragraphs/lines of their own.). Lots of behaviors can show how they fell along with how you describe/show how they feel.

    The second is direct first person thoughts. (The devil has a name and it's Claudio Reyes, Kate thought. Let's get this over with.) It doesn't necessarily have to have an "I" in it to be first person either but it shines a light on their thought patterns.

    The third is through character conversation/dialogue. You can use that to describe/show what's going on. Other characters can say things about the MC from their observations also to shed light. Or, and I subscribe to this because it's something I think works but isn't for everyone, is to let the character explain things about himself as they come up. Let him/her talk...he or she will do the rest.

    Each of these items, blended together, will give you what you want. I'd start with the dialogue and first person thoughts..then add the conversational dialogue and other characters possible knowledge.

    Keep up the good work, my friend. :)
     

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