1. Xylie
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    Xylie New Member

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    Is This Character Realistic?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Xylie, Sep 16, 2010.

    Name: Stefen Winkler
    Nationality: German
    Occupation: Toymaker
    Spouse: Julia Winkler (who is actually a hallucination)
    Age: 52

    Winkler is quite the eccentric man--seeing/hearing things that aren't there and talking with his hallucinations kind of makes him the oddball of the bunch. He's very kind and playful but doesn't socialize much. He has never had many (real) friends but he doesn't mind. I like to think of Stefen as being creative and quirky as well as resourceful. On the negative side, he's sloppy, irresponsible, and can be hot-headed (nice, yes, but he has a number of things that really just get him fired up).

    If you need any more info about Mr. Winkler, just say so. :)

    I also apologize if this is the wrong place to put this. I just wasn't exactly certain where this should go...
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A character is only as realistic as you write him. Not the profile, but in the actual story,

    Do you know someone from a profile on Facebook? No, you know him by seeing him respond to situations, by having conversations with him, and by interacting with him over time.

    Forget profiles. They are next to useless. Worse yet, they can bias you to write the character too consistently. Real people are not that consistent.

    You'll develop a sense of your character as you put him through the paces in your story. Let that process shape him in your mind, but always remember to nudge him, out of the mold from time to time, without having to know exactly why.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Cog is right. It's part of a writer's responsibility to make the reader believe the characters. The character doesn't even really exist, even in the fictional sense, until the writer writes him, puts him into the story and writes him.

    It isn't really fair to the character, or to the reader, or even to yourself as a writer, to ask whether a character is realistic on the basis of a couple of lines of profile. Let's say you ask whether this character is realistic: a captain of a whaling ship who is so obsessed with killing one specific whale - a white whale - that he is willing to spend years sailing the whole world looking for him, willing to neglect the legitimate business interests of his employers, willing to see his ship destroyed and his whole crew killed to destroy this whale. Many people would say he's not realistic; he's too ridiculous - too over-the-top. Yet Melville wrote him and sold him to us, and Moby Dick is still in print after 150 years.

    Put your character into his story and write him - that's the only way we can tell if he's "realistic".
     
  4. white
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    white Banned

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    Sounds like Stefen has a mental illness, which makes me wonder how he is able to function in his job as a toymaker.
     
  5. Tristan Cody
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    Tristan Cody Member

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    Yup, a character is only what you make him.
     
  6. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's possible that a toymaker might spend long hours working alone and might be a bit introverted--if you mean that he makes traditional toys. This could match with a character who has a mental disorder, like seeing hallucinations.
    I'm not sure how many toy makers like this exist now, though. Most are at the very least working in a small business and have to be part of a team, follow market trends, attend trade fairs etc.
    There was a fair I went to once with lots of people who made dolls houses and dolls house accessories. A few of them were definitely weird, although some were lovely and awesomely talented people.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Characters like Ally Macbeal can be made credible and fun. It doesn't matter really what they are it is who you make them.

    Feedback suggests one of my most credible character or comes across as such is a four hundred and forty year old man, who talks with big words and does magic lol
     
  8. Tom Gold
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    Tom Gold Member

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    Xylie,

    Really like this idea, hugely appealing. Got this image of bespectacled old giffer in his rickety wooden house in Heidleburg surrounded by bizarrely complex wooden toys that twirl and play crazy little tunes.

    If it was me writing it he would be genuinely insane, penniless and constantly on the receiving end of the suspicions of the good townspeople.

    Anyway, thats what I made of the description / profile. Would love to know more.
     
  9. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Xylie, you can give that same description to a dozen different writers and they will each produce an entirely different person from the specs. Some of the characters produced will likely be mediocre, close-but-no-cigar kind of characterizations. The majority of the others will be flat, stale, caricatures - 2 dimensional with little or no life. A few of the remaining writers will produce characters, uniquely different from anyone else's, that are warm-blooded, 98.6 people with blood pumping through their veins. People will believe this person exists because the author created them so believably. Even aliens can be made believable in the right hands.
     
  10. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    It is the writer's art to breathe life into the characters.

    I wish I had originally said that, but alas I read that in a book many years ago. I'd credit it, but at this date I can't remember where I read it :(
     
  11. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Definitely a personality. To understand more about Winkler you need to find out why he is that way. Is he socially awkward and prefers the company of his toys to people? Did he have to spend hours alone as a youth because his single mother worked three jobs to make ends meet and his friends were his imagination? Is he hiding from forming relationships because he lost his family in a tragic accident? Is he nuts?

    Also, don't make up his negatives. Make sure that if he's hot-headed it fits in with his personality. Maybe he's more obsessive-compulsive than angry - has to line the toys up a certain way each evening or has names for them all and says good night to each one, or each toy has a character trait that he plays on.

    I love this idea, though. Good thinking.
     
  12. Shysa
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    Shysa New Member

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    Stefan sounds like a very interesting character, I get a somewhat humorous vibe from him, and that his disorder might not be treated by other characters as a disorder as much as an extension of his eccentricity, which usually comes off as harmless.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The subjective realism of a character is just that, subjective. There are uncounted real life people that were you to write a character profile about them would read as improbable or "unrealistic," yet they are walking, talking real people.
     

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