1. DLL333
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    DLL333 Member

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    Having difficulty "loving" characters, therefore creating believable ones

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DLL333, Jun 30, 2016.

    I actually have a TON of fantastic ideas with great, original plots and premise for stories.. Short stories, novellas, maybe full novels. The creativity there is no issue. The problem is that I'm simply failing to create multi-dimensional, realistic characters that the reader feels anything for, because I don't feel anything for them; they feel like a flat piece of cardboard. Anything other than "this character said this" and "this character reacted and said this then did this" is really difficult for me. I try to create likes and dislikes and memories/flashbacks with emotions that real people would feel and identify with, and it just doesn't feel right. It feels fake and forced and I know any competent reader would see right through it and get pulled out of a great plot because the characters are just terrible. I know it stems from a kind of introverted outlook on things.

    It's almost like I create the characters because I have to, but I really want the reader to recognize the greatness and imagination of the plot. Almost kind of like "look at my imaginative, clever brain!" It's not focused on the human condition, which is where I know it needs to be. I guess my question is, how do I break out of that and develop the characters that a great plot deserves?

    I'm absolutely capable of doing it, it just feels like this untraversable mountain that I'm trying to get around. I hope I explained my difficulty clearly enough.
     
  2. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    First, you've got to care about your own characters, like you said. Can you base them off of a person in real life who you care about, for example, a friend who means a lot to you or someone you were once in love with (or, on the opposite end, someone you can't stand)?

    Alternatively, what are some human-interest issues that you care deeply about, and then would it help to make your character into someone dealing with said issue? Of course, that can't be the backbone of their entire personality, but it could help you to care about them more.

    Also, give your characters personal storylines that tie in and connect to the big concept stuff. In stories like Hunger Games or Game of Thrones, the reader isn't reading a description of the concepts and creations of that world, but a journey of the person who is drawn into the middle of it.
     
  3. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    The one thing that helps me personally (so not sure if it works for anyone else) is to establish how a character thinks. Even without some sort of character questionnaire, I decide on their way of thinking first. For me, that makes everything else fall into place.

    A businessperson: might thing in monetary terms
    A wicked witch: might think formulaic terms
    A designer: see things artistically
    and so on.

    When I know how they think, I have something solid and direct for those "greatest strengths" "really dislikes" thingies.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  4. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is your problem. Your so wrapped up in your plot that one of two things is happening. Either A, your characters are doing exactly as you want like clockwork, and as such have no personality apart from the traits to make them do said actions. Or B, your plot is not character driven, and your so hung up on how great and original you think your plot is that you haven't noticed that your character's aren't impacting the story, making no meaningful choices and generally not doing much but acting as a passive observer.
     
  5. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I don't really think you have to 'love' your characters in order to write them well. You just need to understand how people are constructed - why they do the things they do and what things get the reactions you want from readers. I'd recommend rereading some of your favorite books (or watching some good tv/movies) and paying close attention to the emotional beats. What's the context that makes this moment impactful? What little things really humanize characters and make you care about them? And how can you apply these kinds of moments and details to your characters and plots?

    I'd also point out that some works are just more focused on setting and clever plots and characterization is less important to the overall experience, and that's fine. As long as your characters aren't actively terrible (they do things that make no sense or whatever), maybe they don't have to be super memorable and compelling if the point of the writing isn't meant to be so character-driven. Something with a meh story can work if it has great characters and something with lackluster characters can work if the story's engaging.

    But if you do want to make it more about the characters, yeah: study what makes you connect with other peoples' characters, study what makes other fans connect with them. A lot of it will be subjective - I mean, I have a weakness for cyborgs so I'm going to warm up to any character with a robot arm just 'cause they're cool. But if we also learn about that cyborg's tragic past which they're trying to overcome and get to see them struggle to make good decisions for once, and finally soften to the point where they adopt an adorable kitten, I won't be the only one going "aww".
     
  6. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Also, it can be easier to develop a character who you either dislike, or who is the opposite of you. If the character is roughly your same age/"class"/occupation/personality etc and would do things the same way you would, it can be easy to leave them undeveloped, because you just take it for granted that they'd do what you'd do, and thus not as much thought goes in. If you make someone who is definitely NOT you, you'll have to work harder to make them a real person, and it will show.
     

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