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  1. Normal'sOverrated
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    Normal'sOverrated New Member

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    How can I make my main character seem more real?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Normal'sOverrated, Dec 5, 2009.

    I have created numerous character charts to try and further develop my main character, but he just is not becoming the real person I want him to be. I do not want him to be one of those "Mary Sue's" and just not catch the readers attention. I want to be able to create a character that people can sympathize, relate to, and actually care about what happens to him. With all the work I haven been doing, it just does not seem like he is fully-developed, like maybe I have to fill in some cracks.

    How can I make my character seem more real and seem more like an actual human?

    Thanks! Any help is appreciated!

    :)
     
  2. .daniel
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    .daniel New Member

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    First off, could you please post something about your character so we could get a feel for what might be missing?


    To make him seem more developed, add character faults and be sure to show him doing everyday things. Make his reactions believable. Make his intentions generally good, but don't hesitate to allow everyday temptations to show through.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Observe the people around you and model the character after one of them. You can even mix various qualities from different people into this one character. It doesn't have to be a family member or friend. It could be some stranger walking down the street. The way he walks, carries himself, etc. is enough to get started. Let your imagination fill in the rest.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To begin with:

    1. Place the character sheet on a heatproof platter
    2. Annoint it with warmed Cognac
    3. Touch a lighted. long wooden match to it
    4. Meditate on the flames and the way the ashes curl and separate

    Now go back to the most basic aspects of your character: gender (optional), name (optional), approximate age (optional). Onlt the ones not marked optional are important for getting started, but the optional ones are probably helpful. Ignore all the rest that were on your character sheet; they are subject to change anyway.

    Now give your character a problem to solve. How will he or she (choosing a gender at this point eases your pronoun dilemna) approach it? Write it. This is a starting point for your story, and it will begin to shape your character.

    Now you can add more challenges, more characters to interact with, or both. Before long, your character, like the Velveteen Rabbit, becomes Real to you.
     
  5. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    After you've burned the character sheet, talk to the character. About their life.

    Write a small vignette where you, the author, talk to the character about some incident in their past. If you don't know their past, ask them about it. If they don't know it, then you really should think about how much detail you've put into the character.

    Or talk about their favourite movie. Or the villain of the piece. Or their quest. Or their clothing choices. Whatever, just talk to them and keep them talking, and eventually you'll start to figure them out. Remember that the character trusts you regardless of how much they trust everyone else.

    Try talking to them about a scene you just wrote, as though they are an actor in an actor's caravan and the scene was emotionally draining. Get them to explain what made it so difficult.

    If you're brave, or live alone, or have at least some small measure of privacy, try actually talking to them as though they were an imaginary friend.

    Anyway, that's my traditional two coppers.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, yes! The ritual Cogito has pointed out should be not just done, but enjoyed.

    Take the advice he has given you and think about it, relate it, to the way a movie is made.

    You don't cast the movie first and then write the script.

    No. That is not how it works.

    First you have a script. Something that is happening, with people, in a place, that takes the people from point A to point W (W stands for wherever it is they need to go, metaphorically speaking.)

    Now you can cast the movie. Now you can chose the actors that fit the story, that can tell the story believably and in a manner that is relatable.
     
  7. hoodwinked
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    hoodwinked Member

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    Is it ever done successfully the other way around? For example, if a peculiar and interesting character appeared and tapped you on the nose, could you write a story to fit that character (of course with some tweaks).
     
  8. .daniel
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    .daniel New Member

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    Definately. A lot of books/movies are character-based. The current one I'm working on came about from that very thing.
     
  9. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    The character and the story are should be the same thing. If the character wants something, and has to overcome trials to get it, then you have a story. You can't have a story without that- at least, not one that people will care about. What Wreybries meant- if I'm reading it right- is that you don't nail down specifics about the character like appearance or age or even gender before you know what they're going to do. You don't choose an before you have a character and a plot for them to act out.
     
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  10. ChimmyBear
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    ChimmyBear Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cogito has given some valuable advice. That is often how my characters come to life. They come to me as I write and I allow them to tell me how they would handle and solve various problems I set up. By allowing them to show me how they rejoice and feel sorrow, I am more able to write them into my story. :)
     
  11. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    I suppose my cynicism is going to show through with this comment but nothing makes someone more human than failure.

    Your character could fail something (talking to a girl, a test, letting their uncle get killed) and then strive to become something better.
     
  12. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    Agreed. Nothing like flaws to make a person seem closer to us, the reader. I think a character that has life's dilemmas to contend with makes them seem seated in the real world and not one that was made up.
     

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