1. DLL333
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    DLL333 Member

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    General Development Question

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DLL333, Jan 20, 2014.

    Hey everyone. Was dabbling in some short story ideas, and some longer story ideas, and just constantly running into trouble. I can always start off really strong with the intent of setting up for a great story, but I always run into a wall, and the inspiration my muse gives me just kind of fizzles out and seldom comes back. It leaves me pushing on with a story that feels forced, inorganic and just not good. I had a question regarding your character/plot development... Do you discover your characters the same time you're creating them, so they essentially make their own decisions, have their own strengths/weaknesses, and even surprise you as your story's first reader? Or do you take the role of the omnipotent creator and know your characters/plot inside and out before you even lay anything to the page?

    Was reading Stephen King's "On Writing" (BRILLIANT), and he prefers the former with most of his stuff. You have any ideas for sifting the ideas, keeping them strong and fresh in the mind so your story doesn't hit a wall and fizzle out?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Though King may prefer pantsing it, this is not necessarily the mode for everyone. I'm a planner first and a pantser afterwards. This thing with characters surprising the writer is not a feeling with which I am familiar. My characters sometimes cannot be who I think they will be to start, but they didn't surprise me, the story simply demanded something other and the change points to poor planning on my part. I'm not as hardcore as some planners who demand that the story fit the detailed outline created ahead of time. My outline is comprised more of landmarks in event and character change from beginning to end, but isn't detailed down to the minuscule. From Landmark A to Landmark B there's plenty of room for organic evolution.
     
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  3. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    You are not alone, my friend. My characters almost always shape themselves; there's little planning I do beforehand. When I wrote my first novel, I was amazed to find that my characters were literally shaping the story for me, saying things and doing things that would take the plot in a different direction, sometimes adding a new subplot.

    If you feel like your characters are doing everything and you don't like it, then take a different approach - plan liberally, both characters and storyline. If you feel that you plan too much, then give the characters a little more freedom. The bottom line is that no writer is the same; you must find your own way in writing projects, and you will find your way by writing yet more things. So just keep going, and you'll get there. :)
     
  4. Memogard
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    Memogard New Member

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    Yes, I'm finding that some of my characters start to shape themselves in strange little ways, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that the changes surprise me too much. I usually start off with one or two character traits and perhaps a side story or some sort of "motivation" for each character but besides that, everything is kind of fluid and open to re-interpretation. I especially like to use little quirks that i see on TV, movies or real-life that I apply to one or more of my characters, which builds up their individual personalities. And yes, sometimes I don't have anything preconceived, and my characters dictate how the story goes.

    I find it difficult to completely map out characters because it will probably also necessitate mapping out the plot because certain scenes may conflict with a character's personality and drive you to tweak the personality trait or the plot point unless that internal conflict is done on purpose.
     
  5. Glacial
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    Glacial Member

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    I have the same problem as you DLL. I always start out with something that excites me at first, but it fizzles out on me so I never get finished. Clearly I'm not the one to help you with this dilemma, but as one who feels your pain: I wish you luck.

    If I had to categorize myself though, I'd say I plan it out, but it evolves from there as I write. Once I'm actually working on the story, more things come to mind that demand a change of plan.
     
  6. Sarah Anderson
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    Sarah Anderson New Member

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    To those that have this problem, I would say if you are trying to write something that doesn't excite you, then it is unlikely your readers are going to be excited. You need to decide what it is that turns you on about writing. Maybe you just have not found your characters. You need a character you care about, almost like you would a best friend or member of your family. If you plot ahead carefully and in detail, you will learn a lot about your characters along the way.

    Another trick is to try breaking down your longer fiction into a series of adventures or acts, building up into a climax in the final act. Your character can take on a life of their own, but you are still going to put them into the situations you planned for them. Treat each act as a separate writing exercise, and that makes it feel much more manageable.
     
  7. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I let my characters do what comes natural to the story. I'm just now writing out a outline for what I want to happen but in turn that's only a plan and things never really go as planned.
     

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