1. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    How to write a dynamic/developing character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by K.S.A., May 31, 2010.

    I'm currently working on a series (3) of books that is centered around a female warrior as its protagonist. The problem is that although she isn't evil per se, she makes the wrong choice at the ending of the first book (i.e. assassinating someone from her old life). This is in spite of learning the truth about her life before she was orphaned, simply because she has spent too much time building her life and identity around the "lie" and would not know what to do if she'd made the other choice instead. I don't know how to move on with her character from there although betrayal seems to be in the cards. I mean that would make anyone re-evaluate their life, and what's true and what's not, wouldn't it? And I don't want her to "progress" too soon because I need the gradual development into the strong reliable character she needs to be in the last book. I just don't understand how to develop he character in the second book, as well as the reaction of everyone else around her to the choice she made as well as the changes to her personality.
     
  2. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    The second book is obviously the where she changes from one character to the next, it's basically the molding stone. So here's my suggestion. Since her reality was torn apart at the ending of the first book, she'll obviously be confused and fighting herself. The second book can be where she's facing herself and trying to come to terms with what she's learned.

    After all, after anyone has learned a shocking truth it takes them some time to come to terms with what they've learned. Sometimes they'll fight everyone and everything and deny what they've learned. Other times they'll accept it and try to sink into that truth, even though they feel seperated from it. I've even read a few cases where the person went on a journey so that they could figure their life out, and what the change means to them.

    Basically, make your second book about the transition your warrior makes. She learned the truth in the first book, and by the third she has to be a totally different person (from what I gather).

    This is just my suggestion though, its up to you how you work it.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I see from your profile that you are an unpublished author. Why, then, are you working on a trilogy? As an unpublished writer, your chances of surviving two lightning strikes is better than your chances of selling a multi-book series to a publisher. From your description, the first book will not stand on its own, and it absolutely must.

    Forget about a series for now. Work on a single book.

    As for your development problem, consider that characters, like real people, have setbacks as well as lessons well learned. She made a grievous mistake, and she will probably choose poorly again, despite her resolve to change.
     
  4. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    1. There are just some stories that can't stand as a single book, sometimes they have to continue in a series.

    2. He never said he had plans on publishing this as his first novel, or even that he's publishing at all, he's merely asking for advice on how to develop his character.

    3. I've read a great number of authors who managed to start with a series and became quite famous, so please don't imply that to be published you HAVE to work on a singular book to make it big.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    1. The first book STILL must be able to stand on its own.

    2. Publishers know the business. There is a reason they don't take the big gamble on a series without a fully standalone first volume, and those reasons apply to any reading audience. Most people find an unfinished story very unsatisfying, and a series is a very aggressive goal for someone who has not completed a single novel-length book.

    3. I believe you'll find that nearly all of those authors sold ONE book that began a series, and the success of that book opened the door to subsequent books, or that author already had a track record as a successful novelist.
     
  6. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    Still Cogito, K.S.A didn't say anything about wanting to publish this series, they only posted this thread for help on creating a character. To me, by telling him, and I qoute "I see from your profile that you are an unpublished author. Why, then, are you working on a trilogy?" and also "Forget about a series for now. Work on a single book." you're basically telling them to forget about what they wish to write and write by guidelines you believe to be the only way of doing things.

    Also, I am well aware that there are publishers out there who are not willing to place a gamble on a series, that I can understand. And of course every book must stand on its own, but there are still cases where a series may need to follow to give that single book completion. As for the last comment, OF COURSE THEY STARTED WITH ONE BOOK. Every series has to start somewhere, otherwise there is no beginning and there is no end. My point was that I read a great number of authors who's first book related to a series and was not a single book as you believe is the only way to write (correct me if I'm wrong here but by the tone of your words, you act as if writing a series is against writing).

    And once again may I point out that K.S.A did not say ONE WORD about wanting to publish this work? I hardly see how asking to develop a character is the same as wanting to start publishing off a series. Grant it they may choose to do so in time, but there really was no reason to bring up publishers in a thread about character development.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you read what I wrote, I said it doesn't matter. Published or not, you are writing for oters to read, and therefore the logic still applies.

    And since she did refer to books, that implies publication in one form or another.

    Of course, she is free to ignore any advice if it doesn't suit her or fit her situation.
     
  8. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    The proof of a developing character will be in her actions, not in the narrative. Since I don't know the story, I can't give solid solutions here BUT I listed some questions to consider. I would suggest actually writing down the answers to these so they are defined, and then using them as a sort of guideline to progress through the second book.

    What external relationships are impacted? List each one, a few simple words to describe the relationship before, and then a sentence or two to describe how it will be now.

    Example: She previously had a strong bond with her brother, but found out he was part of this earth shattering truth. She doesn't want him to know that she knows because he would drag their ill mother into it. Therefore, through the book she is forced good natured toward him, but internally doubting every word he says.

    What aspects of herself does this truth impact? Do the same as above. List each aspect, a few simple words to describe how she felt before, and sentence or two how she now feels about it.

    Example: She always considered herself strong and brave because she once rescued her friend. But now she realizes that had been a set up and with her doubting herself, her courage begins to waver.

    How did the world see her before?

    And, considering the above changes, how will they see her now?


    Example: People generally considered her outgoing, maybe a little too much. Lately she doesn't have interest in the usual competitive activities, and has an oddly short fuse.

    Who knows about her decision? What do they think? How does that impact her relationship to them?

    And who will she keep it from? How will she hide it? How does that imapct her relationship with them, as well?


    Of course, a char has many facets and it's a little difficult when you reach that stage where they need to make a realistic but drastic change. The above should serve as a guideline to point you in the right direction.

    Often I find we have an idea in our head of what should be changing, but it's not until we write it out that it starts to take on a form that can be applied to the book. Don't go "character sheet" on her, but if you have an idea of what has changed, you can portray her properly.

    Remember, show it, don't tell it. We, the readers, will figure it out.

    Hope this helps get you started.

    Best luck,

    //R
     
  9. Eternity
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    Agree with SilverWolf...

    Yay SilverWolf! You have written my very thoughts on this subject. Of course what Cogito is saying is true, too... but I wonder if you understand, Cog, that not everyone writes for other people, or writes to publish. K.S.A. wasn't asking for people's opinion on whether she should write a trilogy or not - she was asking how to develop a a character's personality. I thought the aim was, in these threads, to stick to the thread's topic? Which in this case isn't publishing but character development. :)
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    People who write for themselves write in a journal, and don't show it to anyone. Wheter we are honest enough to admmit it or not, any writer who is asking how to develop characters, or any other question of technique, wants to write for others to read, Whether that be formal publication, or sharing with a more limited group of readers, it still comes down to learning to write for a wiider audience.

    And I will say it again. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to sell to a publisher, or trying to grab the interest of your friends. You still begin with a single book, and that needs to be a complete story. Unless your reader is intrinsically loyal to you, he or she won't be ready to invest hope in a series that may well go fizzle before it's done.

    But that is a side point. You who are trying to knock down the point about making the first book stand alone, did you even notice that I did address character development also in that post?

    I've already said she (or you) are free to ignore my opinion, entirely or point by point. So I have to wonder. Did it touch a nerve? Is there some need to assert that as long as you don't declare that you are writing with the intent to publish, you should write any differently?

    It's really off topic for this thread. But is it worth exploring in another thread? Is there a difference in how you should develop your writing if you have no interest in publishing? Give it some thought, and start a thread if you want to further discuss this issue.
     
  11. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    I believe it's about time I said something considering I was the one who started the thread in the first place. First off, Silverwolf, I was planning on going the transition route but one can't really make a 360 degree character transformation because who you are depends on the kind of person you are intrinsically as well as the situation in which you were brought up. So, unfortunately, I think Raia will end up making the right choice by the end of the last book but chooses to take herself away from the rest of the world and its horrid memories. The whole series is fully formed in my head and, although I am willing to make changes to make the foundation stronger, the ending will basically stay the same. But thank you for taking the time out to address my query...I really do appreciate it. Oh, and...I'm female :)

    Secondly, Cogito (is that from 'cogito ergo sum' btw?), even though I am an unpublished author, it doesn't restrict the development of story ideas in my head. And since I'm very forgetful, I like to put pen to paper as soon as I've thought of any concept. This one just developed faster than most of my others. Oh and btw, there are 2 other series (all the books have their 1st chapters done, weirdly enough) as well as one standalone in the pipeline. I'm not silly enough to think people will want to invest their time in an untried author. There is a definite ending to the first book in this series and it ends with her walking away from something she's done, no regret or anything described yet. So, readers aren't left hanging as to what she will do about the regret or where she's going back to now. Because of where her character is at the moment, she's going right back to where she came from, no indecision. As a reader myself (and a particular fan of the 3-book series), I know how frustrating and forced a cliffhanger ending is to those of us who liked the book.

    Rainy, thank you very much for that extremely helpful post. I was thinking along the same lines but wasn't quite sure how to proceed. And I know how insulting it is as a reader when you have everything spelled out for you, instead of being allowed to figure things out on your own. I've dropped quite a few authors for that very reason. So, thank you once again.

    Eternity, I may or may not choose to publish in the future. At the moment, these books are only for friends & acquaintances who have enjoyed my short stories and have read the excerpts from my books on my blog, and have asked to see more. I love writing for people more than writing for just myself which, I suspect, is what every non-selfish writer feels. Learning more about character development and plot construction is to help me become a better writer, although this thread specifically relates to this particular piece of work.
     
  12. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    I apologize if I called you a male, my bad.
     
  13. Eternity
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    I’m not sure if you understand what I was saying. See, I wasn’t claiming that your post/s was/were incorrect... just out of place. Again, K.S.A wasn’t asking about the wisdom of trying to publish a trilogy. She was looking for help on the development of a character.

    Yes, I did notice that you addressed the character development. I am not trying to knock down the point about making the first book stand alone. I am afraid you really haven’t understood what I’ve been saying, Cogito. The point I am trying to make is not that you are wrong, but that you are very strongly pushing a point that is really irrelevant to the OP’s question.

    I don’t think there is any reason to write differently, whether writing for yourself or for publication. You touched no nerve. I’m not sure which nerve you think you touched? I wasn’t upset, just curious as to the reason you were going off on such a tangent about an irrelevant issue. I mean, my thoughts on the issue are that if K.S.A. wanted help on whether she should work on a trilogy yet or not, she would go about asking that question herself, not have you go off on a tangent about it when she was talking about character development.

    I don’t think it’s worth starting another thread, since I honestly don’t think you’ve got my point. My point was certainly not that there is a difference in how you should develop your writing if you have no interest in publishing. My point was that your advice (more like order) not to work on a trilogy (and your subsequent posts pushing your point) was out of place and not asked for.

    -Eternity
     

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