1. Christy
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    Christy New Member

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    Developing characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Christy, Oct 19, 2013.

    What do you do to develop characters? Is there something like fictional diaries and the like? What about writing about the character? or do you just write the story and let it all unveil and you get to know the character over time? I'm hoping for some advice and tips on developing characters. I used to write fanfiction and I created a character back then, and she is still in my head, but it's like I know her inside out. However, it's been a long time since I have developed characters and it's like no character talks to me anymore , like my muse is dead. I don't know how to bring it to life. And or how to develop characters. I guess I was just really into the story I was writing at the time. Oh yeah, I have one more that I made up because I got a stuffed animal for Christmas , I always make it talk and stuff, but other then that, I don't feel close to my characters at all.
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Pretty much, yes. I might have a small idea of who I want the character to be but I usually find as I write the story they become more 3D...I personally think that's the best way to do it. Not only do you actually progress in your writing project, you also develop your characters too! I also suggest maybe writing a random scene with your character in it? Maybe from a randomly generated prompt to get a feel for that character.

    You could also pick up a popular, well written book and see how they do it!

    Hope this helped :)
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Fanfiction is probably the best way to learn how to write characters as you have a very strong understand of the character if they had been well presented and you paid attention.
    Usually, a fanfic writer would extrapolate certain things to fit different universes or situations and that's how they would learn to create a character as they'd be pushing a little past the boundaries the original had.

    What I do is:

    1) What is their purpose (Do they add anything to the story and can they be replaced or completely removed without being noticed like Penelo from FF12?)
    I would outline from here where they come from, why they want this, why they do this, how it all comes together.

    2) From number 1, I would extrapolate a trait such as loyalty, perseverance, or whatever. It would fit with what they do in the story.
    From there, I would add different trait that compliment it to expand them (A wise man would not be violent or rash but perhaps overly cautious or cold and calculating) and keep going as needed until I feel that the characters personality is strong enough to deal with the situation I throw at them. Traits aren't virtues, they can be vices. I then proceed to exaggerate them to make them come across strongly and centric to the character. Such as a loyal character would show it clearly by their actions toward friends and enemies alike.

    So as an example I would proceed to step 3: fantasize!

    This wise but overly cautious man is called... T... Trombone...T-bone...Tebron...something.
    Tebron is needed to guide my MC through a difficult situation but he doesn't trust the MC right away so orchestrates a test...
    He leads him to a cave where the MC has to prove himself but ends up doing some permanent damage to the MC... He resolves this by helping him more than he first intended.
    Perhaps throw some character growth somewhere where he becomes more rash in fear of hurting others by indecision or his being slow to act again.

    MC doesn't like him much, he hates onions. MC loves onions... I wonder if I could work that as comic relief somewhere....
    They're friendly but have strong different views as one is cautious and the other quicker to act. A friend that doesn't have your back right away isn't much of one....

    Step 4: begin writing the scenes and see if it works as well as it did in your head.
    From here, you just flesh things out, change them accordingly, and see where it goes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
  4. marshmellow
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    marshmellow New Member

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    Like Youniquee suggested, writing random scenes helps quite a bit. If I don't have time to write, I just imagine my characters and how they would handle situations or respond to questions. It's also fun to take random personality tests or answer moral dilemmas as your character. After awhile, I start to understand their core personality, and then I know how they would react, think, and feel in the plot of the story.
     
  5. Malo Beto
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    Malo Beto Member

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    A lot of times if I'm trying to get a feel for a new character, I will ask myself "What would my character do?" whenever I'm making a decision. I don't necessarily do what my character would do, but It helps me get a feel for them if I put them in my own situation and see what they would do. Also everything said above is great advice as well.
     
  6. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I think about who my characters are, what situation they get into, and what they want. Sometimes it takes time for me to give them a lot of background information that makes them unique. But I keep writing if I like the plot.
     
  7. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    What you're saying is good but Fanfiction is nowhere close to a good source on character development because of all the idiotic and harsh critics that plaque the website with their egos and supposed "artistry", that they don't even bat an eye at the possibility of constructive criticism or a chance to improve one's way of character interaction and personal growth within them. Within the time i began springing into the world of writing, almost every single user that read my content gave no positive comments on what i wrote and began to oxidize my efforts with their irrational words and vague insults. They really don't know how to maintain a positive outlook or how to mentor one's writing at all. I know it seems like i am judging an entire community based on one experience, but i'm not, it was continuous and irritating. Most writers discourage Fanfiction and so do i.
     
  8. marshmellow
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    marshmellow New Member

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    What site were you using? I posted fanfics for a few years on and off, and I can only recall one semi-negative comment. Granted, constructive criticism was pretty rare, but I still learned a few things.
     
  9. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    What site?
    I used the fanfiction.com back in the day.
    And I was with a plethora of forums based on roleplaying.
    I personally had very little negative comments and most were positive and some even helpfully critical.

    I didn't mean the author would get good reviews and criticism, heck to no!
    Half the people in random RPing and fanfic sites are very inexperienced in both genres.
    I just mean the author himself would slowly pick up on things as he writes more and more by using premade characters and writing them in his own situations.
     
  10. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I base characters on real people and sometimes exagerate a little sometimes to the point of caricaturing
     
  11. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I used Fanfiction.net, and for awhile too. I was surprised by all the negative feedback i received. Many of the writers were not very helpful, i even read other reviews of other people's work and i found just as much hostility in the tone of the critic. The site reminds me of a loose cannon, that's possibly why so many authors go against it.
     
  12. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    I have characters that are based on real life people and then twisted into what the story makes them. I have characters that have been built and designed by the story itself while writing. I think that the more you write, the more that you'll get your characters down and feel more attached to them. For me, when I'm not attached to a character it normally means that something about them isn't right or that I don't fully understand them. For example, one of my main protagonists has some serious mental issues (it's sort of inherent) and I didn't really like him because I couldn't grasp his reasoning. Once I figured out why he does what he does, beyond the mental issues, it was a serious breakthrough for me. Now I not only understand him a bit more, but I'm actually beginning to like him.
    Will evil reign? lol.
     
  13. Malo Beto
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    Malo Beto Member

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    While I've never written or read fan fiction, I can see where it might be easier for some people to start out with than coming up with their own characters and setting. I can see where the constant negative criticism can be quite discouraging, but thats a problem with the people you ran into, not with fan fiction itself.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The problem with the fanfiction itself is that you aren't shaping the characters (or setting) yourself. Your principle characters are pre-formed. Yes, you can develop characters unique to your story, and that's a better direction to take.

    You will always have good critiquers and bad critiquers. I expect fanfic sites will have a disproportionate share of the bad ones, because fanfic also attracts writers who are more oriented to the fandom than to writing. Easy targets attract cheap shot critiquers.

    Chuck the training wheels and plunge headfirst into full creativity. It's more satisfying, and you will be taken more seriously. Fair or not, that's the reality. Writing in a pre-built framework is easier, but being yaken seriously in that same framework is harder.
     
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  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My characters talk when I walk my dogs. I work out scenes in my head, see if things work, then I write it out when I get home.
     
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  16. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    Does it ever happen to you that what they were saying in your head ends up being better than what you can remember to put down on paper? This happens to me a lot. What happened in my head was brilliant, but then I can't seem to remember it just right and its always just by a couple words or so. Argh!!
     
  17. Uberwatch
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    Uberwatch Active Member

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    I usually write a small backstory for characters to keep the consistency fresh and I think of dialogue when I do various things during the day.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I did, at first, come home and sometimes forget how I'd worked something out. I tried recording the conversations but that ruined the spontaneity. After forgetting a few scene specifics I got better at remembering the key things and now it rarely happens.
     
  19. Christy
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    Christy New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. I just learned that there are fictional diaries out there, so I write some of them. I had this idea since I was a kid, but the website I wrote at was gone. Has anyone heard of Bcreek?then I typed in that format fictional diaries and found a whole bunch of them on a certain site (forgot the site) by many different authors. And figured I'd like to try one. Oh and saw a video based on it, but I don't have the link anymore. It was on youtube, just type in my character journals in the search engine on youtube and you will find it.
     
  20. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    My characters usually consciously or subconsciously have traits of people I'm familiar with. And I let the plot dictate their actions or reactions. And its funny I made a character a while back named Tonya and I simply thought of her as a supporting character at first, but as I wrote in the tragedies of her life and the surmounting stress she continued to work with all while having the boss lady/commander persona it made her presence in the story so much more, I don't know, exciting. Tonya went from just a bitch who simply barked orders to the poor soul with the world's weight on her shoulders, it made her actions and decisions have more weight to them

    Anyways I yap and yap, but my point is plot, dialogue and character action are the best ways of developing a character. Seeing how they think, act, and react to even small parts of your story will help us better understand them.

    Every little bit helps.
     
  21. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just ask myself: what kind of a man would actually do this crazy sh*t I'm writing about :)
    Just kiddin'. I pretty much designed bios for a few characters never to use them in an actual story (I'm thinking of converting them to RPG material and sell them in that form). On the other hand, a few of my characters that were well received by readers actually developed through the course of writing: their story, their reactions to specific story elements, made them whole and rounded and well-defined. What they do outside of the story matters little.

    But I agree it's good exercise for the writer, especially when a block strikes.
     

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