?

Which combination of characters do you like the most?

Poll closed Jul 6, 2014.
  1. Clever, Mysterious, Brave, Curious

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Cool, Courageous, Dumb, Interesting

    1 vote(s)
    100.0%
  3. Nerdy, Smart, Boring, Aspiring

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Effort-making, Handsome, Cool, Low IQ

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Veo
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    Veo Member

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    Help: Character Description

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Veo, Jul 2, 2014.

    Greets! I know this is my fourth post during this week, but I promise I won't bother you much in the following weeks. :rolleyes:

    In another blog, someone very generous had posted a character organisation sheet. Now, when I try to fill it, I get stuck. If you'd like to have it, too, here it is: click-click!

    The thing is, I need a basic description of my main character (which I want to insert in my fantasy novel). His name is Leo. For his age, I had chosen fourteen, but some people said it's cheesy to have that-young characters. (What's your opinion?) I just know that he's clever, mysterious, brave, and curious.

    If you can suggest me a basic description like (He had...), I'd be grateful. I think this should help.
    1. Hair colour/style:
    2. Height:
    3. Weight:
    4. Birthmarks:
    5. Fears:
    6. Pet peeves:
    Thank you for your response, time, & consideration.
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I've just finished reading a very interesting and helpful 'how-to' book by a best-selling and award winning author, Steven James. The book is titled: Story Trumps Structure.

    He deals with character development (and character lists) throughout the book, but here is one particular passage that caught my eye:

    I think Steven James is right. By all means, come up with pertinent details that describe your character TO YOU. But nobody else should enter this process, and I feel, like Steven James, that going into too much of this kind of preliminary planning will hamstring your story later on. He's right. I'd say concentrate on what your young protagonist is doing in your story, and why. Not so much on how he looks.
     
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  3. Veo
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    Veo Member

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    You're right. Thank you for your response and example. I'll try to read the book :)
     
  4. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Having trouble? Just take a walk down the street and see who (within the criteria) sticks out as interesting and makes you think oh that will make a good look.
     
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  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    The dossiers don't hurt but knowing your character is more important. Lately I've been starting with a few basic traits and then letting the rest fill itself in based on how those traits interact with their setting and the other characters. Most of the detail I've filled in based on thinking about what the character does in my head and then asking myself why they would do that. In my case the biographies and histories are pretty important to the plot, but they can't be set in stone.
     
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  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Great quote Jannert! Yeah those character sheets seem to me like those drivel lists they used to put in Tiger Beat magazine - Oh look Johnny Depp loves green peppers on his pizza too! That sort of thing. Which says exactly diddly-squat about Johnny Depp.
    I create a character by allowing the necessity of scene, story, decisions, goals, and reactions to shape a character.
    I like the name Leo!
    First I'd ditch the list. Hair color is pretty low on the scale of character needs as are pet peeves. Think of your own pet peeves ( if you're out to save the world or journey on some quest would they even matter? ) My pet peeve is people who randomly tap or drum their fingers - this might never show up in a scene. And forcing the detail might ruin it. Think more about your story and what it needs. What is your character's place in it? the only questions I ask of my character first off is a round-about age - teenager, grown up, middle age, or child? Then I choose a job/situation. Because your story is fantasy he can be say a page in a royal kingdom or a junior cadet in a space academy - just examples. Those are the key things you need to decide -general age and position.

    Also what's his goal? If he's a page and wants to become a knight - that's a big goal so you'll need smaller goals along the way. Look to your setting, your time period and ideas will emerge - maybe he wants to get over his fear of horses, or to be taken serious, to grow a few inches - maybe he's small for his age. Let your imagination build an arsenal of goals.
    Reactions will also help shape a character and that can only be formed once you dive into a story. In general you should have a reasonable label you can tack onto your character once you start writing. That's like your poll up top. But these labels shouldn't be too concrete, be flexible. Without the flexibility and some little interesting details or reactions your character can quickly become one note and one dimensional.

    Think of your friends - how they react to situations and things. How they really can't be labeled.
     
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  7. Veo
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    Veo Member

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    Actually, his problem is way bigger. A fight with the Underworld! Thank you for your answer! I didn't find a surname for Leo yet :(
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm firmly opposed to those sheets. Now, if they helped you to be creative, my opposition wouldn't matter, but you say that you're getting stuck filling out the sheet. That means that not only is the sheet failing to help you write, it's stopping you from writing.

    I prefer a minimum of description, and I like it to be tied in with events. Random example:

    The other occupant of the booth was a skinny teenage boy in full goth regalia, with the pale skin and dark hair to go with it. He was pouting, so expertly that I rather doubted that he ever did anything else.

    I was promptly proven wrong. The waitress came by--blond, pink-faced, a little plumper than is altogether fashionable, with last year's hair and distinctly uncool glasses. I expected the boy's pout to shift to a sneer. Instead, he sat up straight and gave her a brilliant, if vampiric, smile as he reached to help relieve her of her unsteady burden of plates.

    And there was warmth in his one syllable: "Hey."
     
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  9. Veo
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    Veo Member

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    Thanks, this is what I wanted!
     
  10. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    By all means, use character sheets if you need to, but I would use them only as early skeleton planning. When it's time to describe my characters and flesh them out, I like to put them right into the story and see what works. If what I'm writing doesn't work, I at least have a better idea of the type of character I want and who that person might be. The point is to create believable people--characters, not caricatures. I advise against writing characters that fit into boxes or predefined character-types with preset tropes. They can often feel inauthentic because it is blatant type casting, but for fiction.

    When it comes to physical description, you'll want to ditch the trivial and mundane things. Find the things that stand out or are important to your character and/or the scene in which they are mentioned. Go for the relevant things. Also remember that the MC is usually the POV character too (even if not in 1st, you'll typically want to stay close in 3rd), meaning that you should probably point out details he would notice about himself or perhaps about others that hint at traits about him. So instead of saying he's tall, for example, you could mention that he hates how everyone around him is so short (or vice versa).

    May not have been exactly what you were looking for, but I still hope it helps some. :)

    ~Andrae
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014
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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Three of the choices include a fatal flaw (dumb, boring, low IQ) and one doesn't. The poll is rigged. :)
     
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