1. Tallandboring
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    Tallandboring Member

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    Favorite ways of developing character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Tallandboring, Sep 19, 2011.

    Hey everybody!
    I was just wondering what your favorite ways of developing your stories characters are (pretty explanitory thread)

    With me, I really enjoy writing random scenes with each of my characters, and when I go through regular everyday tasks, I imagine how my characters would act if they were doing the same things.
     
  2. Lost_in_Thought
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    Lost_in_Thought Member

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    I use to live in a Igloo, but it melted :)
    Truthfully Characters just come into my head and I know everything about them just like that. I always have the main characters down before my story. Then when I do stuff and have to solve problems I would also think how my mc would do it. Its almost as if every mc I've ever thought of is a part of me, even though they're also so different from me.
     
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  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I often get into the heads of my main characters in my everyday life. Process things the way they would, etc. I suppose it might seem weird, but I've been writing my own stories since when I learned to read, so I've always been doing stuff like that and it's always felt natural. I'll also relate situations that I'm in to situations in my story. Like if I turn down a wrong road and get lost, I'll think of it as though I'm my MC who got lost at some point in the story. Big-picture relating everything, not just occasional "this reminds me of" situations.

    My best friend is a writer, and often her and I will roleplay as various characters from our story. It helps both of us characterize the characters a LOT.

    Also, I might have an idea of them in my mind before I write, but once they're on paper, they evolve into something different as I write, often without me even realizing it until I read back later. I never know for sure how they'll turn out. When I talked about this with my mother over the phone, she said it sounded like I was talking about my children (of which I don't have any, my characters are enough!) lol!

    EDIT - Just wanted to add that this ^ is excellent advice. It will 1) help flesh out the character, and 2) help you solve your actual problem (because imagining giving someone else advice often helps you figure things out, and this is the same idea)
     
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  4. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    Sometimes, I'll rewrite a short story or scene several times, each from a different character's perspective. It keeps me from making my characters' personalities too similar, and helps me get to know them better.

    Also, I'm a sucker for those character profiles you find on the internet - I know they don't usually help much, but I like doing them anyway. Every now and then, a particular question will make me notice a little hidden trait in a character that wasn't there before, but totally makes sense. It's kind of rare, but it does happen. :)
     
  5. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    double-post because chrome is being stupid

    sorry
     
  6. Tallandboring
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    Tallandboring Member

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    Another thing I really enjoy is rewriting entire chapters, but from a different character's point of view.
    I also think it is kind of cool (looking back) when similar things happen to me that my characters go through.
    One character has his leg broken and can't walk, and just recently, I beat up my leg pretty badly during a game with some friends, putting me on crutches for awhile. Now I can see what it is like for that character, and possibly go back and write the scene even better.
    While I'm at school, I like to think of if my characters (the ones that are young enough) were in the class, how they would react, and what kind of students they would be. Its fun AND helps pass by boring school hours :)
     
  7. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I write a very bare profile. Three to five good traits, three to five bad traits, and one to three major life experiences. Then I just write. They come to life through the writing. Sometimes I write little back story things I don't include in the book itself to help me get more acquainted with them.
     
  8. attackamazon
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    attackamazon New Member

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    I use three basic methods for creating characters.
    1) Decide what the point of having this character in the story is, then assign any relavent personality traits or personal details that are necessary for them to serve this purpose. Then, assign any details that I want them to have solely because I like the idea of it. Then, fill in the gaps.
    2) Write out a couple paragraphs describing the character's reaction to something interesting like dealing with a difficult relative or being pick-pocketed or something. Then go back and analyze what I wrote for general personality traits and details. Expand as necessary.
    3) Make stuff up as I go along and throw character details around like a sugared up three year old with fingerpaints and see what happens.

    I especially like this third method. It's how I once wound up with a protagonist with an extreme phobia of pigs.
     
  9. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    Characters just come to me, then I add the peripheral information.
    attitude, basic history, the major points of characters are just created in my mind.

    I use the character sheet to fill in the blanks, to give them more mundane history, fears(why they have fears), strange or major events in their life.
    To me its easier to show the character is a person by exposing the little stuff through the novel, much like when you make a friend, you discover things about them as you go.
     
  10. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    I keep a journal for all main characters, and for the supporting/secondary characters, I have notebooks to scribble information into. Like if I'm writing in a character's journal and get to a point where I need the outside influence of a secondary or even tertiary character, I switch to the notebook and go with that supporting character's POV. Because supporting characters, in my story, are just that: supporting. And the Main character's personalities are so large, they can't be contained all in one notebook like their supporters can ;)
     
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  11. ShadowScribbler
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    ShadowScribbler Member

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    WHAT? I love making character profiles. It's actually the way I started, and even though those characters have changed so much since those days, they're still the same in essence. And I love that. Of course, more of them comes to you as you write them, but fleshing them out through questions (especially those situational or of opinion) is truly a fantastic way of getting to know your new dolls.
     
  12. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I typically just keep spending time with them and they develop on their own.
     
  13. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    The way I end up doing character development in general is to have an issue that pops up, and you see how the character responds. For example, if it's a crime novel and the MC just got fired during the investigation. Maybe he continues to try and investigate on his own, and maybe another character is afraid of the danger he might find himself in if he does.

    But the way I like to do this the most is to have a major plot point pop up, and then have all of the characters react to it. Maybe some of the characters it's not an issue, just another day in life. But usually the MC ends up having some kind of opinion, or maybe he's torn between two opinions. Usually the antagonist... or just other characters in general might have an opposite opinion and at some point in the story there is a confrontation of two said opinions. In a crime novel there is a lot of themes you can tackle. Greed, revenge, charity, religion, etc, etc and have each of your characters have some kind of opinion and perhaps it ties into the general plot as well.
     
  14. Gracia Bee
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    Gracia Bee Member

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    I get the basics down (Name, age, likes, dislikes) then give them a incident and see how they deal with it. Otherwise I blend two or more people I know. The rest develops as the story progresses.
     
  15. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Active Member

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    If I'm really inspired or have had too much caffeine and just want to get started writing, I dive right in on whatever part I'm thinking about and the characters sort of make themselves up. If I've worked out a plot over a few days or weeks or months, then I also take the time to make detailed character bios. (The latter usually works out better for me and doesn't result in me crashing a few hours later.)

    Sometimes I let my mind wander into the "what if" realm, and that often sparks new details to add to bios. Today at work I was chewing gum and wondered what life would be like if gum was made of slow-release medicine, and now one of my characters chews gum that has medicine for ADHD in it. Also, the main character's sweet old grandfather is now an alcoholic who likes to substitute random objects for his teeth, but I won't say how I came to that one....
     
  16. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    I abuse them per say.

    When developing characters, I like to throw them around in any sory of situation I can. Seeing how each character would react to certain situations definitely helps me develop them. The situations aren't even logical ones at that all the time.
    Some of the situations are things I see in shows, read in books, happen to see in real life, and things I create in my head. I write it all out (which is probably why I've got twenty notebooks lying around), then go back and read it later on. It's fun to see how the character would deal with something.
     
  17. Lythya
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    Lythya New Member

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    I've begun combining things. While I do writing exercises I'll use my characters. On a writing trip I wrote a 130 words long sentence (that was the challenge, write as long a sentence you can) and described the complex feelings of my character at a certain point in the story. It means writing very small texts, but I get to really know my characters.

    Also, I have a whiteboard. Sometimes when I stand with my pen in front of it, and it's all blank except for the character's name at the top, or maybe the book's title, the ideas will just start to flow.
    Lol, it's so weird to get caught doing that. All my ideas are plastered on the whiteboard for everyone to see. It's almost like they caught me naked or something.
     
  18. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    In order to understand my characters better, I would write pure dialogue, like a transcript actors need for their movies. I would write five to ten pages of dialogue to see how two or more characters would respond. I only did this once and it did work. It helped me to eliminate exposition and I didn't have to rely on unecessary description. It also helps me to fix the errors in logic, since I'm using direct interaction instead of exposition. This helps me to determine what I need to write once the story starts.
     
  19. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Well if I am writing something that is haunting or has a sense of sadness I tend to listen to soundtracks and such as it helps get my mind going. Also looking at certain pictures helps to when im trying to get a atmosphere just right which can be easier said then done lol.
     
  20. DenizenForeman
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    DenizenForeman New Member

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    I use a basic semi-autobiographical character to interview my developing characters. My character will pick out a setting based on the needs of the person/animal/thing she is interviewing and go from there. The interviews are usually written in first person and include a lot of her own observations and judgments. This is helpful for me because I can see how others would perceive the new character. I have a list of questions I ask every one of my characters. It's a very long list and they can choose not to answer. I find the questions they don't answer actually tell me more about them than the ones they do answer.
     
  21. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I write about their personality in my plan, for a basic view. Then, as I write I play around with them in my head and they develop while I write. I also like using angst or opinion changing situations to develop their personality. I sometimes write short stories of stuff that's touched upon in my novel but not expanded on (back story). Drawing them also helps me :D
     
  22. Stupid-Face
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    Stupid-Face Member

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    I think a lot about them, their history, their personality, what they look like, etc. Then I try and think of what type of odd quirks they would have, what type of things would they keep with them at all times (like a necklace or a photo) I also think about how they dress which would show what type of person they are. In the end, I try and write down as much as possible in my red notebook and then write it properly in my computer :D
     
  23. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    This is both a very hard and very interesting question to me. Sometimes my stories start with me making the names of the characters, sometimes by creating the pesonalities of the characters and sometimes by beginning to develop the story itself first. In any case I may change things drastically later.

    The important part is to actually start, no matter where.

    I keep a list of my characters for my current project. I love just sitting around adding and removing characters and thinking of what makes them unique and what their roles in the story should be. If their names are bad I'll try to make them better. If I don't like their characteristics; or if they don't fit the story, are unrealistic, are unfunny, are impossible to write etc.; I'll remove them. If, even late in the process, I come up with a character I deem "brilliant" I'll try as best as I can to make that character have a larger role in the story and plot, at the expense of "worse" characters. At times I have even branched characters off into other "projects" because they don't fit the original story, but are good, or for other similar reasons. You should be wary of all of these things, though, as they might end up wasting your time and getting you nowhere.

    I guess my characters often start off as names in some way. But I try not to make the name part the important part, though, that's vital. I like to put personal touches to my characters, both in naming and otherwise.

    If I make a character I think of as "sexy" (either 1. I would "have a crush" on that character, 2. if "so and so was true" I'd have a crush on that character, 3. a character is what I believe would be generally considered sexy or 4. a specific character of mine has a crush on this character (hopefully for a valid reason) I will try to make a name I/they (would) also think of as sexy, mixing both me liking the name and connotations to people who have similar characteristics (simply being sexy in general, or having a physical, personality-based or similar-history type of link to the character), and perferably using not-too-obvious references, but rather names of former classmates of mine or of characters from obscure old TV series I like or other things to that extent.

    The same goes for other characters in more or less similar ways. Is a character bad? Make his surname mean "bad" in Latin. Obviously that's just one, obvious example.
     
  24. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    I discover their greatest weakness, then exploit it so that I come up with motivations, secrets, desires, history and then finally, where they are going with all of that baggage.
     
  25. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) I look for differences in the way my characters see themselves and the way that everybody else sees them.

    2) I look for the things about my characters that bother their allies the most.

    Example from my current WIP:
    One of my characters, J, sees herself as a righteous vigilante, and she loves protecting the innocent from the wicked.

    Another of my characters, D, sees J as a bloodthirsty serial killer, and when people start trying to kill them and their friends, D sees it as his duty to kill them quickly before J can torture them to death.

    J sees D as a hypocrite, as he is a soldier, he is willing to kill people who are trying to kill him, and yet he seems to have a problem with J killing the same people.

    D understands that good people can be required to inflict violence - even lethal - against evil people in order to protect the innocent, and he is perfectly capable of and willing to commit such violence himself when it is absolutely necessary. He also finds J's cruelty to be sociopathically unnecessary, and he fears that J - on some level - thanks the wicked for harming the innocent and giving her an "excuse" to indulge in her bloodlust.

    And these are two of the lead protagonists.
     

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