1. Anyone
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    Anyone New Member

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    I want my characters to come to a life of their own

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Anyone, Jan 12, 2012.

    This has probably been discussed here, but I'm gonna ask it anyways:
    A lot of writers talk about how they feel that their characters are the ones controlling the story. I want to be able to just put them in an absurd situtation of some sort, and let them work their way out of it.

    Sorry for my english, it's my second language...
     
  2. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Hi there, your english is fine but I'm just not sure what your question is. Are you looking for ideas for situations?
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know if that is something conscious, it's just how some people work/think/see their characters. I don't know if you can train yourself to do that or if it is something you either have or don't. I don't think my characters 'control' the story, in the end it all comes from inside my head, and I think people who says something else just want to believe that it is actually the charatcer speaking. But I do see them as vividly as if they were real.
    edit: if something, I think it helps to know your characters really well, understand their feelings, background and what drives them. if you see them as if they were alive, it's more likely that you will succeed in transferring that feeling to the reader.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I start with characters first, not plot. Sometimes I see a character very clearly, and I just know what he'd do in a given situation. Other times, he's not as clear to me, so I write a scene or two involving him that might not appear in the final story, and that teaches me more about him. If I don't know what a character would do in a situation, I don't know him well enough yet.

    For me, plot comes from characters. Plot is what the characters do. I put them in a situation and tell the story of how they act - how they solve their problem, how they go from an intolerable (or at least, uncomfortable) situation to one that's better. I can't start with a plot and stick a character into it and expect that character to "follow the script", if you will, of the plot.

    What I'm saying is this: Your characters will control your story if you know them well enough. If you don't, you won't know how they'll behave in certain situations, so you'll be unsure when they get into those situations. You might try to force them one way or another, but that kind of thing usually shows. It weakens your characters, and makes them seem like lifeless dolls just being pushed through the plot by the writer.
     
  5. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    My character decided she was going to get to the east coast and she was going to do it without any money. I threw all kinds of things at her, and she managed to extricate herself from many situations. Or, she suffers through them and somehow comes out on the other side.

    You do have to know your characters pretty well to let them take over. Then they can surprise you, and you get to know them even better.
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the point where the characters 'take over' is indeed when the writer knows them so very well, the writer is able to move into the character's head. Thoughts, words, actions, reactions - they're all there, and the author understands what is in character and what isn't. That's what is meant by the characters taking over. Anything out of character creates a clash for the author, consciously or subconsciously, and it cannot stand. It has to be fixed.
     
  7. Anyone
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    Anyone New Member

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    Thank you very much for your answers!
    However, I don't think you understood my problem (I don't think I explained it well the first time) - I know I need to get to know my characters, but the my question is how do I do that?
     
  8. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Spend more time with them. ;)

    When I'm writing a story I have to (or maybe I just do it for fun) completely immerse myself in the story and characters. To the point that when chatting with (real) friends about things that have been happening I have to stop myself from talking about my characters.

    Shadowwalker said it well. When you spent a lot of time with you characters and really get to know them you can tell when something happens that's out of character.


    minstrel made a good suggestion, write scenes to find out about your characters.
     
  9. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine Member

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    When i'm planning a character i will often put them in random situations.
    It's not the character working them out, it's me. I'm seeing my ability to write the character, i'm seeing how well i know him/her.
    If she got short cnaged at a shop would she:
    thought a fit?
    Speak up
    Or feel to awkward so simply walk away.
    It's just writing every day situations, it's not really the character living, it's you learning about them and helping them to live.

    I love it. it's the one time in my life i get to play God and everything for that person is in my hands!
    HA HA HA!
     
  10. Cosmic Latte
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    Cosmic Latte Member

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    Hi Anyone,

    That's actually a great question. I enjoyed reading David Morrell's thought's on this - he's the guy who invented Rambo. He invented a character as a writer's tool to help him get into the swing of a new story, plot, and characterization. Think of this devise as 'the writer's imaginary friend' and provides a constructive way of dialoguing your ideas out on paper (ahem, Word). It might be easier to see than to picture. For this, let's call the "tool" Adam, and a conversation might look like this:

    Me: So, I was thinking of writing a story in which the hero is a divorced mother with two young kids.
    Adam (the writing tool): Ok, so tell me about her. What have you thought up?
    Me: Not much. I was standing in line at the grocery store and saw this mom trying to keep her two boys from climbing out of the shopping cart. She was really frazzled, but she was impeccably dressed and wore a yellow business suite. Her hair was dyed. I felt sorry for her, but somehow knew her family would turn out fine.
    Adam: Great. You've got three characters now in a parent-child relationship. Plus, you have some description and an emotional reaction to her. What else?

    Ok, you get the idea, and I did that in just a few minutes. By exploring your character in dialogue either with a tool and talking about the character, or by having an interview with the character his or herself, it might help you in solidifying the character's wants, needs, and motivations enough for you to be able to place the character into the piece you are writing. The nice part about dialoguing on paper or Word is that you can always go back to it later and remind yourself about details if you get stuck in the character's development later on.

    That said, I've tried the technique and found I'm much better at winging it and learning about my characters on the fly.


    Cosmic Latte
     
  11. Cosmic Latte
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    Cosmic Latte Member

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    Absolutely!
     
  12. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    What I do is create a character profile template and figure out every last detail of my character in regards to his or her personality. I get them developed to the point that I know what they would do in certain situations. For example, if it is raining one of my characters would stay inside and drink hot chocolate while another would do their errands because they know the lines would be short. This way, as I develop plot points and conflicts, I know what my characters will do. If you force your characters to act in a way that is contrary to their developed personalities, then the reader will say they are acting out-of-character. It's not so much that my characters "tell" me what to do. It's more like I present an obstacle in the story, and know immediately what my protagonist would do.
     

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