1. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    How do I write a good staring character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AlgaeNymph, Jan 2, 2011.

    Even the most interesting, thought out, and well-written of characters shouldn't be the sole focus of a story. This is because each character has a motivation independent of the author's favorite.

    So how do I write a good story that focuses on a particular character while still having a cast of more than one?
     
  2. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's kind of hard to give advice direct advice on this cause there's really no one "way" to do it. The best I can do is to think of it like real life, we're all our own people. Our "story" focuses on us, yet very few of us are not surrounded by a large cast of people whose lives intersect heavily with us. If something that happens to people in fiction happened to us, it'd effect these people too. Keep that in mind as you write all the time.

    Show these other people through the eyes of your starring character, or vice versa if you want. There's a lot of ways to work it out; I think you're going to have to see what feels right for a particular story.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dialogue, interaction, giving them touches of humanity. How they approach their enviroment etc.

    My stories do all focus on one character I struggle writing when the POV changes from one character to another. However they all have their own way of approaching things, interact with their enviroment and each other differently. For example these are my most used main characters:

    Angus - Doesn't get on with his dad, his sister hates him, he heroworships his big brother, loves his Uncle Tom, is shy around his girlfriend who henpecks him seriously. Has huge guilt about his Mum dying childbirth. He is scruffy, lazy etc He has a big heart forgives quickly but usually not until after he has thrown a punch or two. Has some serious issues about people seeing him naked or even part dressed. He has inherited his father's mind and is a talented scientist and proves to be a wise king.

    Nate - Is half sparrow/half immortal. He was brought up in foster care, with a brother he calls the prick. Becomes bestfriends with the heir to the throne at seven when he is sat next to him at school. He has a cocky, don't care attitude to life. Borderline genius, he can project an image and act any part. Wears a variety of colourful eyepatches and hats when not with his boyfriend. He becomes head of the secret service at a young age. He can be kind, considerate and protective. Requires his home to be what he calls a 'secure nest,' bounces out of bed singing and turning cartwheels every morning (his version of the dawn chorus). He can also break a mans neck with little consideration if his job calls for it.

    Socrates - crumbs not sure where to start with him. He was abused as a child, quite seriously. He begins life as heir to the throne. Very lonely little boy until he meets Nate at school. He is brilliant but all his life quite childlike requires 'protection' - he is loyal and steadfast often taking decisions and responsiblities most people would be incapable of. His relationship with his adopted father is OK despite the abuse they both suffer, he adores his birth father, his sister is evil, adores his baby brother (Angus) he is very, very protective of him. Has an odd relationship with the Abbot, his father's valet and his father's twin brother (Uncle Tom) - adores them but they can only do so much to protect him from his parents and grandfather. He and Nate are welded together for over a hundred years, when Nate dies he becomes a bit of a tart has two men on the go at once lol
     
  4. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    Correction needed

    I've just found out on a thread elsewhere that I misspelled "starring." I tried to correct it here but wasn't able to. Would a mod be so kind as to correct the title of this thread?
     
  5. JDJackson
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    JDJackson New Member

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    Look at Harry Potter. He's probably one of the most boring main characters out there. But why do you care about him? Because the plot centers around him. He is The Boy Who Lived, his destiny is connected to Voldemort, everything is about him him him. So even though you may have a great, well-developed, conflicted MC, if your plot does not circle around him/her, it's pointless.
     
  6. Show
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    I thought people cared about him cause the market HP caters to isn't exactly a critical fiction audience? :rolleyes:
     
  7. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Character development takes time to create. I create my characters as if it actually did happen to the characters. You can take some of mines for example, and it took me a while to come up with good characters. To me, starting with characters are fun and exciting. It gets eaiser as you already know who your characters are. I thought it would be hard myself, and I struggled. I would start off with the character's goal and conflict because it seems eaiser, and if you start off with the conflict the character has, you don't have to worry about the story creating the plot instead of the characters. I used to write external plots rather than character driven plots when I was little because--well, it was something I thought would be better.


    Jason Devon was born in Kentucky, but he moved to California with his older godfather, Tom at age 10. While Jason lives in California, Tom takes care of him. Jason is black, with black hair, brown eyes, tall, and has a mustache on his upper lip, but no beard and is currently 17 years old, who was born in March 30, 1993. His favorite course of study in high school is Physical Education, who enjoys going to the movies and interacting with people. He just recently graduated from high school with a GPA of a 4.0. He hopes that he can earn a living as a Sociologist hoping that he could teach people how to be more interactive with one another. Abstractly, he wants to live in peace for once and get the respect he deserves. To keep his confidence going, he wears his sunglasses whenever he goes outside. His sunglasses are a lucky charm for him that he feels will brighten his confidence of the day.

    Jason Devon is the protagonist and narrator of Manifestation. His motive is to run away from his problems where people constantly mistreat him. He wants to live a peaceful life for once. When he meets Mara at the Family Dollar Store, he wants to win her heart and expand his friendship among other people. Later, he brags about his powers to his girlfriend and his friends, which prevents him from having a productive society and keeping Maria’s heart. Jason learns that his brother, Richard, died a few years before he moved to Kentucky, and learns that he is his guardian angel who also granted him divine powers. Jason reconsiders about keeping his powers to himself after he lost his friends and having a dream about his brother.

    Richard Devon was born in Kentucky. He is 28 years old, with black hair, black eyes, and a little bit light skinner than Jason. He has a beard and a small mustache on his upper lip. He was born in Kentucky. Sadly, he died in a car accident on Broadway to a drunk driver who drove recklessly. While he was living, he always enjoyed listening to music and wanted to be a pianist. Richard was born on February 18, 1982. He just earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts right before he died. He always wanted people to feel welcome to him by expressing themselves to him, listening, and helping them to any further extent. Richard wants Jason to understand that he wants to remain close to him while he is still dead. Therefore, However, God gave him the chance to see him and be guidance to him.

    Richard is the deuteragonist of the story. He feels bad about Jason after he oversees people mistreating him and wants to hurt himself. He learns that, every since his brother lived in California, Jason’s life was a livign nightmarel. Therefore, he wants Jason to be closer to him as he have not seen him every since he was 10. Thus, God sends him down from Heaven, where his goal is to protect his brother while he is still alive. To Grant Jason’s wish, he displays himself as Jason’s guardian angel, who secretly grants Jason God’s powers, so he can be happy and find opportunity to have more friends—and even a wife, Maria. Jason prevents Richard from being close to him when he refuses to listen to the fact that he does not have “divine” powers and that he brags on it against his friends. He feels that Richard is treating him as if he is he’s dad rather than his brother.


    Maria Baker is a black woman, who is just as tall as Jason is. She is somewhat thick, long black hair, brown eyes and wears loopy earrings on both of her ears. She also wears lipstick. She was born in Nevada, where her parents and she could barely support themselves. She has dropped out of high school to support her mother right after she broke up with her boyfriend. After the dropout, she works at Family Dollar store earning minimum wage, hoping that she could support her family. Her favorite thing to do is going figure skating. She hopes that she could support her family better, going back to school, raising children, and best of all, Jason. She also wants to be a photographer. Maria was born on September 30, 1993.

    Maria is the tritagonist of the story who meets Jason at work, and she really likes him, but she is too shy. Jason, on the other hand, likes her as well. Marla hopes someday that Jason marries her. Abstractly, she wants people to be themselves rather than trying to be someone else. Maria learns that Jason seems to be a bragger after he tells her that he has divine powers, which prevents her from forming a relationship with him. She then finds out that he really could use his brother’s powers after she oversees him using it at the community's fundraiser for women with breast cancer, and that they see Richard flying across Broadway. Maria reconsiders herself to Jason as she finds out that he has a repenting heart. She also saves him from Wayne making any more damages to Jason.

    Wayne Newton the antagonist, for some reason, hates Jason’s guts because of the fact that he has been flirting with his girlfriend, Maria (who she recently broke up with). His goal is to have Jason killed after he used his powers against him several times, but Maria steps in and defeats him using Jason’s angelic sunglasses. He shows remorse when he gets a flashback about him and Jason spending time when they were growing up in high school. When he comes to the hospital to see Jason, he confesses to Jason and tries to explain himself that he wants his girl back. However, it is too late, that Maria was in the process in marrying him. His hate for Jason changes, as they become the best of friends.
     
  8. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sorry, but when did we start talking about Twilight? ;)
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I cared about him because it gave the geek the staring role and the little boy in the cupboard under the stairs is just brilliant image lol
     
  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The best bit of advice I got regarding creation of main characters: "Make the readers BE the character, not SEE the character."

    In other words, you don't want your readers to feel like they're observing your MC from a birds' eye view. Instead, shoot for getting them to feel like they actually are the character.

    Don't say things like "She turned her head and looked at..." etc because no one actually consciously thinks of doing that type of action. Instead, just describe what the MC sees/hears without saying he/she sees and hears it.
     
  11. JDJackson
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    JDJackson New Member

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    Yeah the image of a boy in a cupboard is how JK Rowling got us to like HP in the first book. But by the time the 7th book comes to play, we're so used to sympathizing with Harry that he doesn't really need to do anything but win in order for us to cheer for him.
     
  12. Show
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    It's all the same to me. ;)
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thing is for me with the Potter book is although JK Rowlling is older than me by about 10 years we went through a similar education system. Even in the last books which weren't as good I got a lot of where she was coming from. Would love to know if we took same Highers etc by way of exams.

    Having written more than one book in a series I also now appreciate how difficult it is - mine aren't published I have the advantage of being able to go back and change earlier books to make everything fit. Think given that she did an amazing job. Also I see it happen here the difference between someone who knows my characters reviewing a new piece vs those that don't.
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I think the books got much better as the series went on, particularly as apparently 2-dimensional characters such as Dumbledore and Snape turned out to be far more complex than they at first appeared. And a lot of the criticism of her writing seems to be jealousy of her success, particularly from critics resentful of somebody outside their literary clique being successful. Yes, she breaks supposed "rules" of writing, but she breaks them successfully. The most common criticism is that she tells rather than shows, but the reason for the "show, don't tell" rule is that telling is boring. Rowling's success shows that many readers did not find her writing boring (and I suspect her breaking of the show, don't tell rule helped her to reach a wider demographic). It's seems silly and petulant to criticise her for breaking the rules when she breaks them successfully.
     
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  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh I enjoyed them they weren't as boring but they did ramble in places. I don't mind telling, I quite often tell rather than show - I think it works better in some places especially in first person present tense, when the character is talking to the reader. When I tried doing show and never tell the feeback for my story was that the reader felt less emotion rather than more.
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, absolutely. The advice stems from the fact that beginning writers tend to tell too much, and the result is boring. But the advice is not absolute (the original quote it comes from was more measured, but some folks like black-and-white rules rather than creative freedom). Only showing can be just as unreadable, because showing is almost always more wordy than telling. You end up having to spend a lot of words on something that doesn't matter much, which can wreck the pace. As always, the art is finding the right balance.
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't quite got the balance yet but it is easier to add show to tell, than tell to show. I had the right balance for a YA novel because the pace could go faster. Finding my ADD approach to my writing is going too fast for an adult novel though - slowly improving it.

    I think it is important to look at all rules and be aware of them. Like I say to my kids once they know what a sign means, and why it is there, then they can consider breaking the rules.
     
  18. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    It hasn't been proven that my personal theory is correct but when I think through a scene to write, I think of it in terms of what I would see, say and react too in that scene. That is to say, I try to not write it unless it is how people really experience things.

    I'd given a similar example in a post some time ago...but if you walk in to a room you've never been in before..well..For instance, an old catherdral-type church. The 'writer' instinct is to detail every little corner of of every little carved figure and every bit of glass and lead from the stained glass windows. The instinct is to describe it all right away.

    A real 'person' is going to see and latch on to one thing right away as a focal point. If it is during some event or service, you aren't going to notice all the things people are wearing right away but you may latch on to the appearance of one person.

    As time and events unfold, you notice more of your surroundings and people.

    In my mind, the trick is to allow that kind of flow to populate my writing. Not try to smack the reader with so much detail but let the details present themselves throughout the time of the scene. It seems more natural and, I think, strikes the balance for the reader.

    I think it also lets you describe those things that have impact and not just a mentally painted picture of every detail.
     
  19. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me building description is fairly easy - part of my degree was learning to describe buildings, and artefacts in such a way that a non academic could understand. Learning to group things together and how someone would exactly observe.

    My problem is my geekery to add detail nobody needs :) not even me. I love information, learning to tell story rather than inform has taken a long time.
     
  20. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I say that writing character description is easy too. I normally just give them their birthday, age, sexual orientation, wishes and dreams and weaknesses in a one page summary. Other than that, I'm not good at writing anything else.
     
  21. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    True dat. I only read the book because I wanted to find out "So what did Voldemort do then?" since I actually find Voldy more interesting than HP himself.
     
  22. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you like to read?
    How does your favourite author do it?
    Unless we are talking about a complete recluse, all characters interact with the people around them - family, friends and workmates.
     

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