1. nuwriter*me
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    nuwriter*me Member

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    Character development

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by nuwriter*me, Mar 14, 2011.

    How do you select which characters need full development and which ones will remain minor, with minor development? Are these developed characters pushing the story? Some characters, though they play no significant role, are so interesting that they deserve some development. Is this real restraint to bring in characters only as support?

    Thanx for the tips
     
  2. Jammo
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    Jammo Member

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    Well the characters with the larger roles will effectively be holding the audience or reader's attention, and will require significant development throughout the story.

    You always have supporting characters within a story, and not all can be appropriately developed within the constraints of your story, so watch out for that. If you find characters interesting in your story and you see potential development in them, then go ahead... But make sure you still retain the overall value and plot of the story.

    You don't want the audience to get lost in what you're trying to say to them.
    Interrogate your story, interrogate your characters to grasp a better understanding of them. However, sure you know which characters hold heavier roles in your story.

    Hope this helps or kind of makes sense...
    I'm trying to write a story myself, figuring out the plot is my biggest obstacle at the moment though.
     
  3. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    It depends on the focus of your story. If these interesting minor characters fascinate you so much, maybe you should work to make them more important to the story as a whole. Some books, like Catch-22, tell a story through the characters within them.
     
  4. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like to develop every character that gets a chance to show some personality, no matter how minor. I have a character that dies within the first chapter, and I still made sure I knew her backstory and her family, to get a better grasp of who she was. Even though none of her backstory is given in the story, it helps me portray her as a real person, and not just "Random stereotypical character #1". I also like to think that makes her brief appearance a bit more memorable to any future readers.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just kind of play it by ear and see which ones are telling me that there's more to them than meets the eye.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Study the likes of Shakespeare, and the story songs (Dolly Parton is imo the best) - they have a talent to bring a character to life and develop them in a line of dialogue or song.

    It depends what you mean by development but if I give them a name and a line of dialogue then I try to develop them to a reasonable degree so they stand out to the reader.
     
  7. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    If a character has no significant role (I take it that means that they do not move the plot along) then be careful that development does not turn into 'waffle' Maybe you should develop the character and give him a bigger role to play or put him on a back-burner for another story.

    If you mean to develop character for you to have a better understanding of the character and have no intention of using it in the story then that's fine. Only tell the reader what they need to know.

    Well that's how I see it.
     
  8. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    The main character will be whoever has the most "screen time" in your story, and along with all that screen time comes a need for character depth. Characters that only have 4 lines of dialogue won't be able to show much change with the little they have. So I think it solves itself this way. If you get off on a tangent and start exploring the life, hopes and dreams of Guard #2, then ask yourself if it relates to the story. Is Guard #2 stealing the show and becoming the main character?
     
  9. nuwriter*me
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    nuwriter*me Member

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    Thanks for the tips--all very good.

    nuwriter*me
     
  10. Mezza
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    Mezza Member

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    It all really depends on how much you need the other characters. If they're just passing through then I'd say they don't really need more than a who they are and why they're there. If they're going to stick around in the story for a while then they can earn more development just by simply being present.

    I kind of think of it in terms of a movie. How much screen time are they getting? Are they vital? If they're only getting one scene with one line of dialogue they're not going to be developed much in the film. If they're a best friend they may get more because they're there more often.
     
  11. Primequis
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    Primequis New Member

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    As one said, if those characters interest you so much, it may be a good idea to do works with them. That or I'd maybe save those traits or use more developed version in a different story.

    When I'm designing things, while I'll begin off with basic roles that I need in things, I'll generally develop the role more depending on the importance. If they aren't very important to things, I won't put as much work into them. I'll admit I do focus more around major and minor characters at most, many times compositing roles and such together where I can to make best use of a character as needed.

    The truth is that not all character are created equally. One has to know level of importance to the story itself and this is what I always consider. The lowest being walk-ons and place holders, the middle ground with minor characters, and major being the most important, of course.

    With the lowest one, they are background. These ones aren't really "characters then just a part the scenery. Generally with these purposes, they are only there because it would be unrealistic to not have them there majority of the time, but they shouldn't distract from the center of attention. Only other part they can really add to is as stereotypes. In that, it's one who just acts to represent whatever ideas for tone, culture, or mood of thing one wishes to get across.

    Minor characters more add to things without overshadowing or going beyond the major. Really, they are there to be involved inaction as needed, then disappear. Their individuality though helps to make more interesting and complete. Such as eccentricities, exaggerations, or obsessiveness can make them instantly memorable without anyone getting the wrong impression about them.

    Also, I will note it's generally better to introduce major characters first. Only because at the start of things, all characters are equal and one may not want to get wrong impression as to importance. Of course, with that said, many things in writing are just guidelines and ways of working with.

    Major characters are the one who is obvious to care most on. I give them the choices, focus, frequency of appearance, actions, and general point of view to things.
     
  12. Gingerbiscuit
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    Gingerbiscuit Senior Member

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    Personally my rule of thumb is to develop your protagonist - and antagonist where appropriate - and then apply the "So What" principle to every other character.

    Before you delve into a long description of a character's back story simply ask yourself "So what?"

    "The postman was a bit of a loner who liked to watch QI and listen to Weather Report LPs"

    So what?

    Is there any relevance to the protagonist? Is there any relevance to the plot, storyline or subtext? Will your reader throw your novel down at their feet and cry "SO WHAT!?!"

    In my example, the postman is merely a peripheral character most likely delivering a letter. He is unlikely to appear at any other stage in the novel, so I wouldn't even dignify him with a description.

    If, on the other hand, the postman turns out later in the story to be the protagonist's long lost Father then you would certainly want to start familiarising the reader with him (with appropriate knowledge gaps of course, but that's another issue entirely).

    Make sense? Keep it relevant, have fun.
     
  13. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I start over-developing a minor character I often just transplant all that hard work into making them a main character somewhere else so I can give them the attention the deserve, and in the mean time cut back the original's development if it gets in the way. Since I use archetypes of personality etc it's quite easy to move even an emotionally traumatised guy in some fantasy novel into the real world and just turn his problems into regular ones.
     
  14. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I tend to let the story develop.
    Like in life, we never know who will be a leading role in our life and who will be a secondary character. Who is a walk on part or a life long companion.

    If a char becomes important I develop the character more.

    Just like an aquaintence becomes a friend, you get to know them better.
    A secondary character becomes more important, the reader needs to know more.
     

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