1. FeatherPenWriter
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    FeatherPenWriter Member

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    how do you get to know your characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by FeatherPenWriter, Aug 29, 2011.

    They say Write from the heart, what does that mean? I've seen Dead Poets SOciaety and I just wonder how they do it? I think it's very scarey and sometimes my characters scare me. I also have just written a character out of pure random. I feel no connection to her at all or like I even understand her. Any ways to develope the character? Let me know how you get your characters. Thanks. I've also heard about interviewing the character. How do you do that? Do you just immagine your sitting there talking to her? There's one character I thought of, and I can't get her off of my mind, but I'm also unsure I want to write her, becuase she's a wild girl and I'm not. She drinks and all thease weird things, and I don't know how to Write about a girl that drinks etc. She's really crazy too. I know it takes time to develope the character but some advice on how to would be nice. thanks. :)
     
  2. aimlessramblings
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    aimlessramblings Member

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    the story im writing now, i got my Main character by sitting in a dark room with everything turned off... no distractions from Music, TV, Lights or anything outside the world.. I put my ear plugs to tune out any ambient sounds, and then put finger to keys... i spent about an hour writing out my character, from interviewing him all the way to writing out his description and what education level he was at.... I ended up with about 2 pages worth of understanding him....

    i had Name, Orgin, Job, Education, Background, Family History, Car, Where he Lived.. all the basics... after i was done i was able to see his life and understand as if it was my own...

    Now Other characters in my story, i didnt take that step, they were on the fly description of what a ordinary person / odd person would be in life, no special meaning to them other than they become a shameless victim...

    i have one support character that is random through out the story, and 3 others that are a regular but again no major background, only that which is needed...

    hope this helps
     
  3. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    I think a good way is to write characters based off people you've known in real life, or characters you have seen on TV or have read about before. Obviously don't make them exactly the same, add your own traits here and there, but I think the best way to get a real grasp of your character's personality and emotions is to have something else to base it off of.
     
  4. NikkiNoodle
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    NikkiNoodle Active Member

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    I have a general idea of my characters when I start and I get to know them as we go along. Sometimes they surprise me. When I am writing from their POV (third person, sometimes limited sometimes omniscient depending) I find that I am thinking their thoughts, if that makes any sense. Maybe the best way I can describe it is "getting into character." After a while it feels natural to write the things they do or think because in a way, I am them.
     
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  5. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    My suggestions (and some already stated above):

    - Draw inspiration from people you know. I sometimes have female characters who are assertive and very tomboyish. Oftentimes, when I'm not sure how to proceed with such a character, I would ask myself what my best female friend would do - because she herself is pretty assertive and tomboyish. In doing this, I sort of get an idea of how things could proceed.
    - Talk to your characters as if they were imaginary friends. It can work if you take it seriously. It's sort of worked for me before.
    - Analyze the relationship(s) the character has with other characters. This has worked tremendously for me. Basically, I study what exactly are the dynamics of the relationships between various characters (i.e., how and why would personality A compliment/clash/etc. with personality B, and what could result, etc.), and oftentimes this forces me to think about what the character would and would not do in different situations.
    - Just write out the character even if you don't know exactly. This doesn't really work for me, but it's worked for a lot of other people - apparently some people just need to write to get the ideas fully out.

    HOpe that helps.
     
  6. AllThingsMagical
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    AllThingsMagical Member

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    I quite often create scenarios that could happen to my character either in the book or in their 'life' prior to or after the story I'm writing. I then play out different ways they might behave in order to get a sense of them. For example if I have a character I might imagine them in a bar and then let the ideas and their reactions to events just flow from there. Gives me something to do on the bus in the mornings at least :)
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    We hang out at a diner and talk over a Sprite. :p
     
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  8. NikkiNoodle
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    NikkiNoodle Active Member

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    Tee-he-he. Over a sprite.;-D
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hey, I'm still underaged and so are many of my characters. :p (And many of those that aren't either aren't the drinking type or are not the kinds of folks you wanna give alcohol to. :p )
     
  10. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Write more.

    Many writers write their entire story just to figure out what they are trying to say. Look up Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - that entire book was written this way.
     
  11. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    The way I come to know my characters is through their relationships with other 'story-people'.

    I don't bother writing character interviews or bios or figuring out what their background education is, because if it doesn't influence the story in some way, then it doesn't matter. So that method just seems like a lot of wasted time.

    It helps to understand that people are not just a list of attributes. They are full of all kinds of feelings, some contradictory.

    The way you treat your mother or father is likely to be different than the way you treat your friends, or your love interest. Relationships reveal character. Keep in mind that relationships exist not just with people, but with traffic, your dumb pets, and the city you live in.
     
  12. FeatherPenWriter
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    FeatherPenWriter Member

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    Thanks for the advice. :) This has helped me out alot.
     
  13. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Some of my characters I just know without having to understand them. When I first envision them I can see everything about them that there is to see and just exactly who they are. But other characters I need to explore a bit more to understand them.

    Like my one character that I still don't completely understand. He's not even fully developed yet so until I can understand him, I haven't pushed the limits of saying I "know" him. He's a mystery to me. So to try and understand him and know him, I've thrown him in all kinds of skits and situations, watched people in every day life, and so much more to try and see if I can get to find some means that reminds me of the kind of person he could be. I'm not saying it's an easy road, but it's a start.

    But I mostly find that if I write, just write, with the character doing all kinds of things eventually I'll narrow it down to find the kind of person they are. I get a lot of my ideas from books, shows, movies, music and people. Recently I went to a fair and while I was there I watched the people and it somehow later on turned into me throwing some of my characters into the kind of situation. I could see my characters as if they were really there and what they would be doing at the fair. Real life inspires everything, so it's definately something to take note of and work with.

    If your not familiar with a character type (which I'm not for most of my characters) go out to a public place with a notepad or something and watch the different kinds of people. You'll find your character among them somewhere.
     
  14. Leah
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    Leah Member

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    I could not have said it better myself.

    My stories usually start with an idea for the plot, ending or in my current case, the title of the book. The characters spring from that and I learn about them as I go along.

    Best of luck!
     
  15. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find developing them in my head, rather than on paper, works best. Just daydreaming about them for a couple of weeks/months before I begin writing is useful in getting to know them better. By doing this I get to know them like I would a real person and it also means I've nothing about them written down on paper - it's all stored in my head and I can tell someone about them with the same ease and detail as I could about someone I've met in real life.

    ...and this is why one of my friends says there is going to be a mental disorder named after my two main characters one day. :rolleyes:
     
  16. chatterbox
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    chatterbox Member

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    try writing a list of questions that you answer, pretending to be the character you are trying to get to know.

    hope this helped
     
  17. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    One advantage of writing about characters who are not like you is that you avoid your writings becoming too internal in the character's thoughts and mind. You, the author, remained a silent observor which can be difficult to do if the char is just like you.
     
  18. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    I use character profile sheets so I can keep track of stuff like my characters' backgrounds, families, friends, enemies, religions, outlooks on life, weaknesses, strengths, etc. But interviewing them helps too. Though I have not done one myself, I imagine it would give you a good idea on your character's diction, which is very important. I find it strange when I read a book where the characters all have the same diction. So I suggest using character profiles to keep track of facts that may or may not be included in the story, and interviews you get under the skin of the characters so to speak.
     
  19. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I was thinking sweet tea but okay! ;)


    To the OP- What I usually do is do a very bare bones outline of my characters. Approx five good traits five bad. And then one to three major life events they've experienced. Then I just write. As I write they grow and develop. I never make a very detailed outline of the characters because it restricts their growth.
     
  20. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    To write about a character that drinks, you have to know a little about how it is to drink, of course. Either through your own experience or by talking to others.
     
  21. Dithnir
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    Dithnir Member

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    Like Holo said, just give your character a history, how they came to be there...I find that kind of thing essential to give the character flavour.

    If a character comes from a broken home, you get the feeling that they're a bit insecure, that they're not very emotionally open, or perhaps the opposite, they're very open with their emotion hoping to bond closely...the point being that as soon as you make a decision about a character's background, even a single random, but perhaps important, fact, you then have determined that the character is more like x than y.

    The more you fill in, the more shape they have, the more vivid they become and so the more obvious and consistent their responses are to the conflict in your story.
     
  22. FeatherPenWriter
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    FeatherPenWriter Member

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    Thanks for the help everyone. :)
     
  23. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    You're welcome. :)
     
  24. Jupie
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    Jupie New Member

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    As far as I'm concerned writing any biographical factsheet about a character is a very dull, unrewarding way of getting to know your own characters and doesn't work in practice. In real life you don't get to know someones personality through their age or what school they went to - typically, their profession may suggest a certain stereotype, but even that is too simple. My characters I usually have some idea of what they're going to be like and once I adopt a certain voice I don't change it. My favourite type of character is the comedic loveable rogue that has no gripes with petty crime but isn't really 'into' murdering. For me it all depends on the context and circumstances of the story. Basing it off people in real life can help to make it more realistic for you too. Sometimes, I occasionally write a character I lose interest in which tells me that they haven't got much life potential, and usually I'll try and get rid of them as soon as possible. Since there's so many people to write about there's no point keeping 'stock' characters that haven't much to bring to the story.
     
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  25. Bchantel
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    Bchantel New Member

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    Whenever I'm trying to develop a character I always ask a couple simple questions to help me get a better feel for them. For example, "What sort of items would this character find valuable?" Even if that has nothing to do with what the story surrounding my character is about. It's more an insight. If your character finds money valuable they could be a greedy character..
     

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