1. Michelle Stone
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    Michelle Stone Member

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    Character sketches

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Michelle Stone, Aug 26, 2012.

    Does anyone do character sketches before they start their story or novel? I've started doing this recently and I've found it incredibly valuable. With one character, in a short story, her sketch was nearly 2000 words. Her story was shorter! But.... here's the thing. I fleshed her out enough that I think the story has legs. It can easily pull me into a novella if I want.
     
  2. Walshy1595
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    Walshy1595 Member

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    By sketch I'm assuming you mean a character profile? (because a 2000 word drawing of something just doesn't make sense...)
    Yes, usually I do whip up a pretty simple profile for the main characters in a story, but only if it's meant to be a novel. If I was going to write a short story, which I don't often do, I wouldn't bother making a profile for the character at all. I just consider it more effort than it's worth, and to tell the truth I'd rather just write the story anyway :D
     
  3. slockmn
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    slockmn New Member

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    I sometimes go onto the internet and find images of what the characters might look like but that's only really for a bit of entertainment. I don't describe characters based on this as I try to make them unique as possible. Also ideas change overtime and what you thought your character might be like when you write that first page can completely change. I remember I was just going to make a story run smoothly but half way though I got a devilish idea to make one of the main characters be a traitor, thus changing the character's entire persona.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I get to know the characters as I'm writing them. Too many preconceived notions make me try to force the characters to do things they really, really shouldn't.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I have not usually done this in the past, but I am doing it with my current project, because I need to have an understanding of what role they will play in their given time and place. Like Shadowwalker, I usually like to give my characters free reign to develop as they will, but in this project they must also hold in place their fair share of a plot that spans nearly 500 years. Then again, I find that in this project I am doing much more careful planning than ever before.
     
  6. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I'm a combination of slock and shadow; While my character looks different (black hair with blue highlights) the eye color matches Jennifer Hudson's while playing Katniss. So, I keep an image of that in a tile on Chrome, so if I'm stuck I'll ask Kate what's she thinking, etc,etc to go forwards.

    Like Shadow, I don't give her a straight path as to say "This is who you are, get over it." Because there's a lot of bad that's happened in her life, a lifetime of training to be an effective killer, so trying to say suddenly "Oh, you'll sip tea and talk with the Queen," would be totally out of character.

    As for sketches, I don't really need them because once I create a character, and let he or she kick around in my head long enough, I can just ask them what they think, what happens next, etc to keep rolling.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sketches, snapshots, character sheets, summaries all suffer, to one degree or another, all suffer from the same flaw. They are static. They capture a moment of time for the character, with any look along the temporal axis purely secondary.

    There is such a thing as a static character, one who does not change over the course of the story. This is not necessarily bad. There is a place for such a character, but most of the truly interesting characters evolve over time. Moreover, these interesting characters also have layers or facets that, changing or not, are almost characters in their own right.

    Developing an accurate enough representation of your character requires a great deal of work. But why create a separate document or representation fore that? You already have it. It's your manuscript! Augmented, of course, with the living representation of your character in your very fluid imagination.
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I used to be into them - but like Cogito says they're not flexible.

    I find my characters are developing more when I can fling a problem at them - straight off.
    Doesn't matter if it's minor or huge, just something. Or maybe not a problem - but a decision
    to be made. A change occuring. A fork in the road.

    Everybody reacts differently to things - I remember reading Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes as a kid ( she's not my
    favorite author - but this is probably my favorite book of hers ) and Davy the mc is ransacking her
    closet to find the right shoes to wear to her father's funeral. At the time I thought, What is she doing?
    Shoes should be the least of her concern. But, that to me is a great moment in writing -When the
    writer gives you something unexpected. She could've given the usual rundown of emotions and vague
    word associations with death but no, she gave us - which to wear to a funeral clogs or slingbacks?
     

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