1. 9700Bold
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    9700Bold New Member

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    How I make my characters real

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by 9700Bold, Apr 3, 2010.

    Depending on what I am writing, in my drafts I make my characters different movie stars. Helps me a lot. Later names can be changed. Useful for a book with many characters. I'm sure this is used all the time by different writers. So nothing really original here.
     
  2. black-radish
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    black-radish Senior Member

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    You must treat every character on it's own.. Ask yourself?
    What is is personality? is he/she likely to help others or maybe supersticious?

    What are his hopes and dreams? Someone said that you can only truly know someone or a character (in acting) if you can answer the question "what is it he/she most desires in the entire world?"

    But definatly: FLAWS! Not everyone is perfect.. Are they vein? bad-looking? clumsy? This is what makes your characters 'people'.
     
  3. .nezzle lee
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    .nezzle lee Member

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    I must say that I STRONGLY agree with black-radish; flaws are essential to make a charater real. To give character flaws makes them more humane and we can then relate to them more. Imagine a 'perfect' pristine character that was absolutely good at everything, their looks beautiful and their intelligence is high in every genre... quite boring, no?

    What I like to keep telling myself is that the little imperfections make the whole masterpiece perfect.

    Anyway, that's an interesting way to make characters, 9700Bold. Characters usually pop up anywhere for me. Such as models modelled in artistic ways in magazines (ie Vogue), or when a little story plot forms in my head I usually pick out a character to suit it, and a face usually comes with, and then with that character the plot develops.

    How you make your characters doesn't really have to be original, just whatever works with you best I say. :)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's true that every person is flawed. But flaws are not the only characteristic that make people, or characters, interesting. Not every person, or character, need expose a flaw in order to be interesting.

    Tiger Woods comes to mind. By now, everyone who doesn't live in a cave in the Himalayas is aware of his flaws. But before November, he was still fascinating.

    Don't manufacture flaws in order to make your characters interesting. They can be just as interesting simply because they are unique. It may be a skill in sports or business, it may be an agile sense of humor, it could be an instinct to cut through the BS and get straight to the heart of the matter. It may simply be her ability to hold her head high and stay positive even as her world is crashing into ruin around her.

    Focusing only on flaws is, well, flawed thinking.
     
  5. black-radish
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    black-radish Senior Member

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    I certainly did not mean that you should focus on flaws, but it helpt the reader to identify with this person, or 'connect'.

    What makes a character fascinating are their habits and personality. But what makes them real/human are their flaws.
     
  6. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was a little concerned at reading this comment. Do you mean you pattern your characters off of celebrities? If so, you are doing yourself a grave disservice. Generally speaking, unless you actually know any celebrity on whom you are patterning your character, you are operating from a two-dimensional image. You cannot possibly begin to know the insecurities or temperament or other little nuances that make a person warm-blooded and human. Nor can you realize how desperately plain and simple their 'real' lives are when they are home with family and old high school chums from sixteen years ago, or how she loves to out-belch the guys down at the gas station or how he thinks the coolest thing in the world is to go down to Dizzy Whiz (there's only one on-duty at a time - hey! It's a small town!) and harrass the car hop. Instead, you find a media model of something that sorta resembles someone that used to be real but now is just a movie star.

    You've got more in you than that! You see people every day with more interesting lives than the latest boom-ditty from L.A. Besides, everyone's already seen those folks in their latest movie. Trust yourself. Trust your intelligence. Trust your own imagination. Just let go of your inhibitions and get in touch with your real characters. You'll like them, I promise!
     
  7. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Perhaps, but not in all cases. In some circumstances a (seemingly) flawless character can be just what a book needs. It can be an antagonist who seems flawless (ignoring the fact that they oppose the protagonist) and inspires people to be more like them, or a more personal approach a MC who might seem flawed but they actually have superhuman abilities, and you can build interest in how they use these abilities in new ways that no one expects.

    I dunno if you kinda get what I'm saying, but there is a use for 'flawless' characters.
     
  8. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I often base my characters vaguely on people I know or have been inspired by. :)
     
  9. Personal Giggle
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    Personal Giggle Member

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    I like to give my character's zodiac signs. Then work up from there... When I use people as a basis, I'll only try to take one event or aspect in which they distinguished themselves...

    In terms of the zodiac:
    Capricorn is opposite to Gemini so they make for an interesting love affair...

    Go to any site about the zodiac and they'll give you lists of characteristics and other stuff like compatibility, etc. It can be helpful in crafting something uhm... organic.

    I agree that when we write, we often see our characters changing before our eyes. They evolve with the story and this is probably one of the most wonderful things about writing.

    It's so much fun messing with fictional people...

    Power trip, first-class, hot towel please...

    *moment*
    :)

    I might be wrong about all this... But it works for me!

    -pG

    "I'm into that whole inter-textual thing..."
     
  10. kittenmojo
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    kittenmojo Member

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    For me, I almost always think of someone I know or knew personally. I think we also tend to project a lot of our own characters on our fictional ones. How would I react in this situation or that one?

    Being a fiesty person myself, for example, I just don't enjoy novels where the heroine weeps, sighs and gasps her way through the book. I also tend to struggle with the concept of a supremely macho man in today's world.

    However, some of the most memorable characters in fiction tend to be the eccentric or unusual ones so I often try to think of someone I've known who struck me as being a bit odd and like to expand those quirks into a character (usually a secondary character).
     
  11. Deevra
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    Deevra Member

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    Hobbies. I give characters hobbies. It helps define who they are. It doesn't have to be big, or important, or even ever actually get it mentioned in the book, but the fact that they have it helps flesh them out.
     
  12. Jemnisimi
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    Jemnisimi Member

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    Long before I was a writer, I was an artist, and as an artist my personal catchphrase had become "Art is mostly observation." If you're not into abstracts that is. But even many abstract pieces have something that anchors it to what is 'real'. Something familiar.

    I've noticed an abundance of similarities between art and writing.

    That said, it's the detail and depth -- the thought put into something -- that makes it real for the audience, in both cases. Occasionally something totally random looks pretty, but, eh. The way I see it, the best way to make a character real is just to live, to see things around you and within you and just think about it for awhile. Writing exercises can help with that.

    One of the most interesting characters I've seen lately was the main character of the movie Momento. A guy has a bad short term memory problem so he writes down absolutely everything he feels is important so he can remember them later. He's taken it to such an extreme in his quest to find and kill the man who killed his wife (whom he can barely even remember anyway) that he tattoos everything he needs to remember about it upside down and backward on his body and checks a mirror every day to remind himself.

    Brilliant.

    Little quirks or bold traits...
    Everyone has a reason for who they are and what they do, even if it's not particularly interesting.
    Especially the main characters.
    Find the reason.
    And show people.
     

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