1. fantasywriter
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    fantasywriter Contributing Member

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    Having Trouble with Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by fantasywriter, Jul 14, 2008.

    A while ago, I created a set of adventuring fantasy characters, and have already written almost 3 short stories in which they are the main characters. However, as my stories progress I find myself encountering a few difficulties.

    First of all, my characters are friends, and they travel together, but I can't seem to keep track of what all of them are doing at once. For example, when the five of them are having a conversation I tend to completely leave out 2 or 3 characters and focus mainly on 2 or 3 specific characters, even though the others are still present in the conversation. This irritates me, because I want them all to be involved, but I don't know how that would work out with five characters.

    Secondly, it's hard for me to give each character its own special personality. In the beginning, I had a plan set out for them; one would be the leader, prideful and somewhat boastful, one would be optimistic and cheery, and one would be quiet and shy. But now they all seem to blend together.

    Does anyone have any advice on how I can fix these issues?
     
  2. Fluxhavok
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    Fluxhavok Active Member

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    i started out basing characters on my friends/aquaintances. it's harder to blend them all together, especially when they're based on drastically different personalities. As for the conversations, maybe the silent characters have nothing to say? often in conversations of 4 or more people only 2 or 3 people will dominate the conversation. sorry, my break's over, i'll write more later.
     
  3. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Make each character have their own quirks, likes, and dislikes. Make them drastically different, personality and appearance-wise. Make them memorable. Think of some of your own favorite character and why they are your favorite.

    About the conversation thing, have the characters who don't talk as much have their own conversation, or if you like, look into their minds.

    Hope it helps


    -Kratos
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't try to divide your point of view. Select one to be the point of view character for the story, or at least for a major segment (one or more chapters at a time), and develop the other characters' activities from his or her perspective.

    I'd recommend you write at least one full story firmly nailed to one character's POV before trying to tackle a story with more than one POV character. You may find yourself slipping out of the POV repeatedly at first, and sticking to one POV will help you solve that problem.

    A common way to lose your grip on the POV is to start handing out background story. When you do that, you've left your POV character standing there twiddling his thumbs. That's why I feel that it's a very useful exercise to force yourself to write from a single POV on at least one significant project.

    When you do switch POVs deliberately, the narrative voice shoujld adapt accordingly. That takes more skill than if you narrate from a single POV, and the absence of that change of voice contributes to the blurring of your characters.

    I have written a blog entry relevant to tis discussion, What's Your Point (of View)?
     
  5. fantasywriter
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    fantasywriter Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'm going to have to make their personalities drastically different, I suppose. Any more advice would be welcome. :-D
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Instead of writing all five of them at once, try writing them separately, really getting to know them and delve into their personalities. Maybe write a short story focusing on each one alone. Maybe that will help you start to get a grip on their differences. If you're focusing on five people at once, of course it'll be hard to notice where they're different, because they're all vying for your attention.

    Regarding conversation, sometimes not everybody gets involved in those. Sometimes people just sit and listen or nod silently; sometimes they don't even listen at all. That can illustrate part of their personality (the shy quiet one, or a scatterbrained or inattentive or even self-absorbed person, for example). Just because you have five characters in a scene doesn't mean they all have to act at the same time; it just means they all have to have a reason for being there, sometime in the story, not always all at once.
     
  7. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    Hmmm...I see how having a lot of characters is hard to keep all of them in it. You could possibly have a few that don't say anything, but instead describe how they react, like theuti88 said. One character could say something that another one thinks is completely insane and they might not say anything, but by the expressions they make, you wont need diolouge. Also, this could help with personality problems. If one thinks the other has an insane idea, they probably have different views and could be very different.

    I think I tried this once. The story was about my group of friends (and there are about 12 of them) and even combining people there were still too many. But I never really got into it, maybe I should try it again.
     

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