1. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine Member

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    Creating Complex characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by miss sunhine, Jan 21, 2012.

    I'm now planning a series that contains four books (mostly for fun but i'll see how they turn out).
    Characters have to take the reader through the story, but this is four stories so i need to keep the readers always interested and caring about the characters.

    I know about giving the characters flaws not making them "Perfect".

    But in your opinions how to you create and write complex and compelling characters?

    I want my readers to love them but at times hate them too, like you would a real person.

    I want these books to help my skills in writing character driven stories so in a way they're almost like a writing exercise.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. SunnyDays
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    SunnyDays Member

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    A few ideas that come to mind would be:

    Try having them say things they regret.
    Have them be a bit moody.
    One character could be a gossip.
    Give each character a given goal they try to accomplish, but gets entangled with the other characters goals.
     
  3. Headintheclouds
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    Headintheclouds Member

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    A lot of people like to use some sort of characterization sheet where they answer hundreds of questions about their characters. If this could work for you, great, but personally I find it bores me and dehumanises the character. Instead, I try to get a brief understanding of my character including personality, important relationships, goals, backgrounds, ect. I try to write this summary into about a page. One thing I find very useful in creating a complex character is creating a sort of defense mechanism such as anger, denial, ect.

    Once I have a basic understanding of my character, I like to write various RPG situations, kind of like those you see of written RPG websites. I chose random situation that are not in my story and then write. Your character will begin to emerge in their own time. It's kind of like a process of slowly getting to know a person. Eventually, you'll feel as if you know them as well as you know yourself.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think characters are the most rewarding part of writing a book, they are what makes a story come alive. The best way to make up characters has to be from personal experience, but that assumes pretty good knowledge of psychology. Making the character consistent in their thoughts and reactions, and then challenging them.
    So I would recommend reading various books on character development and researching the net for personality profiles, and then trying to think of a real person you know to fit every type. That way, you can get the idea of how a real person can be viewed in terms of cold hard facts. But yes, crafting a complex character is not an easy thing at all, in my experience.
     
  5. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I am not so keen on love and hate relationships so I would say that liking a character does not always entail the two.
    You may want to highlight their wit/intelligence/naiveness joviality or joie de vivre.
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go to an airport, bus station, train station. Sit for a few hours and just observe. Pick a couple - man/woman, father/child, old couple, whomever - and watch them in particular. Think up a short short story for them - why are they at the station? What do they think of each other? Then go home and write a more detailed story about them - a page or two. Do this three or four times and you'll have a cornucopia of their little nuances and behaviors - a picture of your characters in your head. You'll know who they are. and that will make them just as complex and intriguing as real people (because they will be, in your head).
     
  7. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine Member

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    Thanks you all really helped, i do watch people a lot and how they interact, i find it really interesting. I think i'll check of the personality profiles as i don't think i've ever done that, i do quizes though from MC POV. Maybe i'm rushing it, maybe i should just take my time a bit more.
     
  8. Hellchoseme
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    Hellchoseme Member

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    The eaiest way to make the reader hate the character is simple hypocrisy. It is very undesirable in a person and also quite easy to redeem them from when you think the reader should 'forgive' them.
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, you are not rushing it at all. Maybe in 10 years time, you'll look on the characters you create now and think "aww, I could have done this better and that better" but every stage in life brings it's own special talents and just because you don't have a lot of experience yet, doesn't mean that writing now to your heart's content is pointless. Trust your imagination, and if you are itching to write - write! It will be great :)
     
  10. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that if you want a realistic character with depth you need to spend a lot of time -- I'm not talking spending eight hours straight scribbling down character info in one day; I mean thinking about them daily for weeks/months -- with them. They need to be built up slowly over time, like in the way you would get to know someone you meet in real life. :)
     
  11. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    I agree with Yoshiko, developing a character takes, time and I tend to try and make it so that they aren't just one type of person, and that depending on the situation they may react in different ways. Giving them a single personality in my opinion makes them dull, and a personality can shift if something important happens (possibly).
     
  12. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Put the characters in hard situations where there's no right answer. Also it humanizes a character when they regret a choice they made or when they can look back and realize there was a better choice or a choice that they didn't see.
     
  13. brynneth
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    brynneth Member

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    I always love characters who have interests, passions and hobbies that aren't related to the plot in any significant way. Also random little quirks, habits or rituals. It's the difference for me between liking the story and falling in love with the characters.
     
  14. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    What really makes a character complex is when he/she feels like a real person. He (for all intents and purposes of this thread) makes mistakes, isn't always sure of himself, admires others, hates others, etc. Most importantly, a complex character is someone that gradually changes and grows.

    My favorite character, who I consider complex, is Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Air Bender. That kid really put me through an emotional rollercoaster, but it was quite the journey. At times I hated him, loved him, and sometimes I just didn't know what he was thinking but I watched him grow and in turn grew to love him.
     

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