1. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    Do you write a development plan of your characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by staceylouise, Feb 16, 2014.

    Just wondering if many of you write a development plan for your main or we'll any of your lead characters? Like pointing out their demeanour? Their style of clothing? Looks? How they see the world etc? Is this something which you may also present yo anyone potentially reading your work for critique? So that they can maybe get a feel for and of the characters before they start reading the book?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No, I don't do one of those. It works for some, but not for everyone and like all things, I think it depends on your personal process. There's a thread in the Erotica chat where I think you also chimed in where I was working through the fact that I had "designed" at least one of my protags in such a way as to promise a rather boring, formulaic love/lust story. I was glad that I hadn't cast him in cement because he needed to change, and quite a bit. Another one of my characters, Amila, came to me as a sweet little country lass, innocent as heather in the glenn, but I needed her to fill a roll where such a girl would never survive. I needed a tougher, smarter, wiser gal in that roll because she is to become rather pivotal. And thusly she did change. There might be another roll for that innocent little spray of heather, but it won't be Amila. ;)
     
  3. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I'm a big one for going with the flow. Once my story was set in stone it was a matter of starting to get my characters from A to B to C... I give my characters a bit of room to evolve, and although this approach has caused a lot of tweaking and rewriting, I'm starting to feel that they are coming across as I would wish them to.

    Giving up too much info prior to critique can be a bit self defeating. If you want a true picture of how readers are perceiving your work, it's better to let it speak for itself. An excerpt might need a line or two to give an idea of context but not much more than that.

    The differences between mine and readers perceptions have spawned some very interesting thoughts. :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't plan my characters at all except for a very, very basic, almost stereotypical start. I learn about them as they react to what happens in the story, same way the readers do.
     
  5. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Think of it this way:
    One of the most compelling elements to any good story is the characters, right? One thing that makes characters so interesting is watching how they develop over the course of the story. Stagnant characters aren't very interesting because they will have the same reactions to the same types of issues. That could be intentional to create a character flaw, but even that would have to be addressed somehow in the story.

    Now, I'm not suggesting you are planning a character that doesn't change. What I am getting at is that characters must develop, grow, or change. They should be different at different parts of the story. Otherwise, why are they experiencing the story? This is called the character arc. The question,then, is how to ensure the character has an arc?

    One answer is to come up with an idea of who your character is at the start of the story and who they will be at the end. Then you can do a rough map of how they change at any point between A and B. This outline doesn't need to be set in stone, nor determined before the rough draft. But after some time writing, you'll get to know your characters and how they react to the world well enough to revise the story for consistency and character arc.

    Imagine this scenario: You are given two characters, John and Wyatt, and told to write a scene between them and their coworkers. You are told that John is very extroverted, but tends to be pessimistic. You are told John is just the opposite: introverted, but optimistic. You would probably write them differently based on that knowledge. Now, the manager, Robert comes in to talk to them, but all you're told of him is that he's tall and thin and he dies his hair brown. I would imagine writing him would be a bit more difficult because he could be anybody depending on who's writing the story, or better yet, who's point of view we're getting in the story.

    That's my long way of saying, spend some time getting to know your characters so you know how they interact with their world. If you're writing a long piece, get a decent, but flexible idea of how you want them to grow (or if it's a tragedy, how they spiral downward).
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't write any character sheets, fill in charts or any of that. And I definitely won't give my beta readers a manual or an explaination to my characters, what they look like and why they are the way they are. The book is supposed to give them an understanding about that. Their image of my characters doesn't need to match mine, at least not when it comes to something as shallow as their looks. If they have a particularly characteristic detail in their looks, that will appear in the book. You won't find a novel with an explaination of the characters so why would an early reader have that? Isn't that part of the whole thing with letting somebody read your work, to find out if you have succeeded in conveying your vision, the characters and your story to the readers?
     
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  7. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    A reader picks up your work, turns to page one and begins to read. They're not looking for the character's history. They don't care what made them become what they are. They aren't interested in the history of their society, and they are not looking for a friend. Your reader is looking for excitement. They want reason to worry. They want to be entertained. They want to be placed into the story and stay there, in real time, in the moment your protagonist calls now. They want to live the story, not learn of the history of a fictional character. Emotion, not facts is what a reader feeds on.

    Your character must have a personality, background, education, and set of needs and desires that will motivate them to move from the beginning to the end of the journey in spite of the terrible things you toss at them. You can assign it to them before you begin or add characteristics and background as needed over the course of the story. That's a function of your working style and needs, not something cast in stone.

    But always and always remember, your primary goal is to entertain the reader on every page.
     
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  8. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    Thanks for your advice. I haven't done a character development, that's why I was asking advice about it, but I still have my 8 page prologue. At the moment I feel it detrimental to the story. About the age of the child at the time and how it came about on one particular day. I feel it gives the background the reader may want to read but will still hold some mystery, although it's revealed at the end of the prologue 'what' makes the character special and 'what' it is. I feel I've written it in a way which will let the reader think 'wow, I wonder what will happen or happens next' - isn't that what we want? I've tried to keep any others as out of the picture as I can, like not including names or focusing on them as people, and tried to make it descriptive but not too much as yes I feel the description adds a bit of flavour and puts you in there more, but I haven't delved into it as want to save it for the story, to put more focus on it. Do I sound like a rambler?!!
     
  9. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    I would, but I don't think it's wise because sometimes the character has a mind of its own.

    Also, you can have a rough outline, but the middle of it, the path the character takes when you write him, will depend on the plot. It's very limiting to predict the path of a character step-by-step before you write, IMO.
     
  10. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    [quotbelouise, post: 1198505, member: 64357"]Thanks for your advice. I haven't done a character development, that's why I was asking advice about it, but I still have my 8 page prologue. At the moment I feel it detrimental to the story. About the age of the child at the time and how it came about on one particular day. I feel it gives the background the reader may want to read but will still hold some mystery, although it's revealed at the end of the prologue 'what' makes the character special and 'what' it is. I feel I've written it in a way which will let the reader think 'wow, I wonder what will happen or happens next' - isn't that what we want? I've tried to keep any others as out of the picture as I can, like not including names or focusing on them as people, and tried to make it descriptive but not too much as yes I feel the description adds a bit of flavour and puts you in there more, but I haven't delved into it as want to save it for the story, to put more focus on it. Do I sound like a rambler?!![/quote]
    Just becareful that the prologue doesn't become an info dump. With care and thoughtfulness to your writing yiu can cleverly drip out the info as and when the reader needs it. Give them a chance readers are cleverer than you think
     
  11. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Ps phones and quote replying dont mix
     

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