1. Soul Keeper
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    Soul Keeper New Member

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    Forming a base

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Soul Keeper, Mar 8, 2011.

    What I tend to do is:

    First: think of who the character is (animal, mortal, etc.)
    second: what do they want
    third: what is/are the quirk(s)
     
  2. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    The first one doesn't apply to me because I write only about humans. The second is the most important because they more or less shape my plots and I spend a lot of time thinking about it. Quirks are important too, but I can also get away without them.
     
  3. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Same here. Probably most of my characters don't have any quirks. It makes those that do stand out more as well.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I build my charaters with the story usually.

    I tend to start out with a very stereotypical type of character then let the stories give them quirks, personality. They generally have mannerisms and things they say.

    I also for the main characters find an actor - preferrably one that can sing, that helps with mannerisms and also picking out features to mention, (maybe a monstorous boil, hynoptic eyes, a beautiful rear etc)
     
  5. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Elgaisma's case is the same for me. My characters grow as I write. Early on I do some brainstorming on who the person may be, but in the end, the person comes to the writer.
     
  6. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Age and gender

    What do they want and what is preventing them from having it

    Where do they live

    How do they earn their living

    What makes them tick

    What kind of childhood/schooling did they have
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't ever find myself deciding what a characters "wants." IMO, that kind of leads to a one dimensional character. It's impossible to not "want" something at all times and still be alive. What they "want" will come naturally if I just see them as people and write them as people.
     
  8. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Want/desire/yearning/goal may change as the story progress. Deciding what your char wants makes the story more focus and gives a reason for the readers to care for your char. If the char's flaws, vulnerabilities and such are brought out as the char tries to attend his/her goal, the char is certainly not one dimensional.

    Seeing your char as people and writing them as people is fine, but without a goal for that particular episode of their 'lives' in your story you might end up writing lots of mundane stuff about their lives
     
  9. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    I think it's important to give (some) characters weird physical or emotional or intellectual quirks- I think it's important to make them more real, give the reader a "feel" for them. I tend to give my main characters each a few extremely recognisable features.
     
  10. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it does give them a reason to care. Why should I care about some random guy who wants something? We ALL want something. What makes this guy's want so darn special? My characters are people. Of course they want something. As I said, you can't not want SOMETHING and still be a character. So honestly, deciding what they want seems about as useful a fact to know to me as eye color.

    Even mundane stuff has the character with a goal. I'd be incredibly challenged if asked to write a story about a character with no goal, unless I was writing about a corpse. That is exactly why I don't pay much attention to deciding what each and every character WANTS because they ALL want something unless they are comatose or dead. I remember reading somewhere that a character who wants something is automatically interesting. Than I thought of what bullcrap that was when I thought back to all the characters I felt mundane who wanted something. I got a long list.

    Characters all want something. Frankly, I don't feel I myself need to list it. The very fact that it changes makes it kind of meaningless to me. Perhaps it works for somebody else (in which case they should do it) but I frankly feel I know them better if I don't stop to think about what it is they want and just look at them as people. The rest comes naturally. All of my characters want something, but I don't think asking yourself what it is they want really gets you to the answer. I feel you can only answer the question by walking with them through whatever trials you send their way.
     
  11. MindscrewMin
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    MindscrewMin New Member

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    Typically I start with my character's likes and dislikes. Who do they like hanging around with? What do they do on the weekends? What drives them up the effing wall?

    From there, backstory starts to develop. Example: Sally's a teratophiliac because she resents men due to a friction-filled and abusive relationship with her father. Additionally, political disagreements with her best friend in cegep led to a physical fight that resulted in her sustaining third-degree burns. Since then she's had a fascination with burns.

    From there I just keep drawing tangents and foward-story develops. Example: Remember that political scuffle Sally got into? Well, when Mary pwnt her and shoved her into the stove, Sally realized she was wrong to support the evil empire. Now, she's on a personal crusade against the people who brainwashed her as a child.

    That sorta thing.

    Once I've got a clear image of who Sally is and what she wants, her personality manifests outwardly and I get a better idea of what she looks like and what her physical mannerisms are. I know it doesn't work that way in real life, and people are often not physical reflections of their personalities, but hey, it's fiction. You do what you can to get your point across.
     
  12. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    My characters come from a long subconscious stewing of them, so I don't tend to make lists and have a checklist for creating them. When they appear on the page I've given them a shell that's enough to write with, and I rely on the story to do the rest. When I start writing them I pretty much have an instant mental image of them, and with that is voice and mannerisms as well as description.

    In my latest novel, the newest character is this guy called Marcel who, in earlier drafts was this stupid tag along character who did nothing for the plot. He's been sitting in the back of my head annoying me for a year since that last time I tried writing him. I needed him to be more active this time, so when he came out to greet them, I wrote like, 2 words, and suddenly he was this nervous intern with a perfect salesman attitude when he wasn't being harassed by his boss, which ruffled his thin thin layer of smug ego that kept the world out, and I could see his grins and the way he did all that stupid slick pointing, eyebrow raising, and sliding about that people who think they're really really cool do, with a streak of enthusiasm for scandal and gossip that, by plot necessity, has turned to conspiracy theories. Just, all in the space of two words more than enough to write him properly jumped into my mind. I've only written a couple of scenes with him in now, and already we're seeing that coolness slip more often as he gets dragged into the conspiracy he spent his life believing firmly in... And this is a side character who appears in 4-5 scenes more than three quarters of the way through the novel. :p I bet someone could take him and write a whole novel from his viewpoint with what came to me in that second of key-mashing though.

    (If you like the sound of him, you're welcome to - I can almost 100% guarantee that you won't put Marcel in the same context I'm using him. :p)
     
  13. Momo
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    Momo Member

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    Most of my characters are born, fleshed out and detailed before I even decide which story to include them in. Character creation is my favorite aspect of writing. A lot of my characters begin with a flaw or a quirk. For instance, I had developed a character idea for a quirky librarian named Rose who always has internal monologues before making a decision on anything. Every mundane task was split into pros and cons and the two lists would be argued, heatedly, within her head. I later split Rose into two completely different people. However, for the sake of creating an interesting angle when I write about them, I consider the two people (Rosemary and Lilly) as one character (even though they are physically two different people).

    Treating two people as a single character becomes even more interesting when, later in the story, one of them dies and it leaves the other to make decisions alone. It would be interesting enough if I treated them as separate characters who relied on each others opinions, but I feel that if the author viewed them previously as a single character, it makes the situation more heart wrenching as if she truly lost half of herself.

    I don't always use quirks as the seed for my characters though. Sometimes I'll see a hole that needs filling (such as a minor villain who is required to cause more trouble) and I'll begin with the "job" that they need to accomplish, then I'll expand outward from there.

    I've seen most of my characters walking around either at work or when I'm out at the store. I'm usually inspired by someone I see who has a quirky way of speaking, interesting clothing or just a lovable smile on their face. That's probably why a lot of my characters can be described in one word as "quirky" or "strange" because that's what I look for when I'm "shopping" for characters... Oh, god. That makes me sound creepy, like a stalker. Anyway, that's just my view on the whole process... sorry if I get long-winded. :O
     

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