1. muckzulo
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    muckzulo Member

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    Internal Problems?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by muckzulo, Mar 19, 2016.

    I'm having a hard time coming up with a list for internal problems for my characters.

    "Depression" seems to be the only one i can think of. Its other traits i can think of but IMO i really dont see them as a internal problem like "depression"

    It would greatly help me if someone knows some internal problems or at least where to find a list of internal problems to write about.
     
  2. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    From an excession of sorrow, it seems like other excessions would be a good direction to work in. Excess anger, excess pride, excess lust . . . Come to think of it, a lot of the seven deadly sins fit into that pattern. (I've seen despair described as the eighth.)
     
  3. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    There isn't really a list when it comes to internal problems. Honestly, I wouldn't really advise trying to draw up a list anyway; I think everything should be individual to the character and just come together naturally and so having a list to pick from is a bit artificial to me.

    You can literally make anything taken to extreme be an internal problem, or an external problem come to that. That's not especially helpful I know, but think about it for a minute and you'll start being able to tease out problems that feel organic to them. Just look for how the character can get in their own way; how they might unintentionally get in the way of their own happiness. That's what you're after. Conflict is everything here. Like I say; this can really be anything. Simply having conflicting priorities between your family and your job can pull you in different directions. Or you might stay home and get stoned instead of going to a job interview. Or maybe to be happy you want something kinda out there and you won't settle for anything less, beating yourself up because you can't hit those standards. These can be a benign or as acute as you want them to be. Just look at what they are primarily doing in the story and ask yourself 'what other stuff in this character's life would this effect?'.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @LostThePlot. I don't think there's benefit in attempting to create a list like this before the story. I hate to use this comparison, but it's not a 90's video game. There's no page to create your character and then use that character to play the game. At least there shouldn't be. Do you have an idea what you want your story to be about? Your answers will be found therein.
     
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  5. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    ^Ditto both of these. I think by creating a list, you might be doing yourself a disservice. As you think about the story you want to tell and the dynamic you want your characters to have you will find what each character needs in order to be unique and whole. I wouldn't really want to make a list of internal issues and ascribe one to each character. I'd have my idea for my character and then flesh him or her out based on where he or she is from and the role I need him or her to play. Everyone has internal issues, but they aren't always so prominent. It may be as simple as a girl with trust issues because her dad was a cheater or a boy with anger problems because his older brother abused him. Trying to put these two into a relationship might make for an interesting story arc depending on how you write it, but again it's about the dynamic. If the fact that she has trust issues never affects how they interact, then it's a useless, unnoticed character flaw.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that these sorts of lists are likely to harm, rather than help, the character development process.
     
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  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Give them as many issues as you want, don't force it. The character concept should exist because it's good; because it's interesting, entertaining and if you want, a little thought-provoking. Not every character needs to arbitrarily made into a gritty anti-hero or whatever. Let me be different. Let them be individual. Let them be people.
     
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  8. AdDIct
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    AdDIct Active Member

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    First off, I don't know how I feel about you asking for a list of "internal problems". The wording just rubs me the wrong way. As someone who has depression, I kind of don't appreciate reading someone else reading it as something to just tack onto someone from a list to "make their character more relatable" which from your post is what it feels like. That's a recipe for creating stereotypes in literature and media and perpetuating negative connotations for mental illness.

    Secondly, depression and how it's expressed is not as cut and dry as just a list of symptoms and BOOM you're depressed. It's not just "oh I'm sad" it's "I literally feel like I can't get up in the morning" to staring at yourself in the mirror and thinking you're the worst, scummiest person on the planet, to shutting down so hard you don't talk to anyone and just cry all day. It's not pretty and it's not easy and it shouldn't be made light of.

    So yeah. This. Is probably a little defensive, but I just feel if you want to incorporate something like this no matter what it is, that 1) it shouldn't be forced and 2) that you actually RESEARCH what you're putting your character through.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I particularly like @Wreybies warning about not creating characters as if they were in a video game. You know, create the character first and then play the game with them. That can be very limiting. As a writer you are in control of EVERYTHING that happens in your story. So why hamstring your characters with assigned 'flaws' and 'strengths' and 'internal problems?'

    Instead, I'd turn the situation around. What is going to happen to your characters in your story? (Not their backstory, but the story you're about to write.) Will they be caught in the middle of a war? Will they be finding their romantic soul mate after giving up on the idea altogether? Will they want to succeed as a graphic artist, but can't afford to buy art supplies and don't have any place to work?

    Figure out what your main setting and story problems will be, then ask yourself how your character will fit in, and how your character will deal with the problems. Get yourself into their shoes, create other characters as part of the plot, and let things develop. If you want a backstory for your character, let that develop organically as well. Your character is trying to protect friends from being bullied. Why would they do that? Is there something in their own background that would make them react this way to bullies, or are they just generally opposed to injustice of any kind?

    Instead of making a list, start writing your story. As you create specific situations, your characters will become real to you, and it will be easy to write them so they live and breathe for the reader.
     
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  10. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    I'm sorry to say, but if your characters don't already have some kind of quirk or internal drive, your story is simply incomplete. Good stories don't have drop-in characters with mix-and-match traits, the story and characters intertwine with one another into one seamless experience. At least, that's the definition of a character-driven story. The characters move the story, they change and alter it, because of who they are and how they act. If a character has anger issues, he's probably going to cause a few outbursts and arguments. He'll probably throw a punch at someone giving him a bad time, and then get kicked out. Maybe getting kicked out due to his anger issues would force him to meet another character unexpectedly. Now replace him with some depressed shy kid. He's not going to pick any fights, he's not going to get kicked out. The story is altered dramatically. Making a character "angry" or "depressed" for the sake of it with no reason isn't entertaining, people will just ask why this annoying deadweight is in the story when their core personality traits aren't actually doing anything other than acting as pointless chrome.

    Like @jannert said, the story will write the character. Don't force things into your story. People will notice.
     

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