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  1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Letting your characters take control of your story

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MilesTro, Jun 24, 2015.

    Some writers say that they let their characters take control of their stories in order to see how their stories will turn out. But how is that possible? As writers, we are the ones in control of our stories; not our characters because we do all the writing and planning. Characters are a pack of words that are written to describe a made up person. They can't do anything, unless you write them to do something. Characters are like computer programs that only function if you write their code. I guess it is imagination that some writers use to create the illustration that their characters are controlling the story. But I write my characters by planning on what they will do, or else I will get a ton of writer's blocks. What do you think?
     
  2. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It's more about letting their imagination run free. As you said, characters are constructs. I believe those writers feel like their characters are taking over and being free, because they are not hindering their imagination with story requirements. In the end it's just daydreaming.
     
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  3. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I tend to think that my characters are half-developed in the back of my head somewhere, and there as aspects to them that I've thought of but not really put my finger on yet. Sometimes I'll think of something 'new' about them and then realize I've actually been writing stuff to support this new tidbit for a while and just hadn't really incorporated it into how I usually think of them, if that makes any sense. So something might seem totally IC for them to do but I'm sat there going "why? why must your disobey your overlord?" for a few minutes before I figure it out, hahah.

    A non-character-specific instance of this would be when I was designing a military uniform for this species of aliens, and I decided I wanted to give them some kind of cool headgear, but my brain kept going "no" and nothing seemed right. It was the next day before I went oh yeah ... they have horns. Probably not gonna be too big on the ol' headwear.

    Keeping all the information pertaining to a character or entire setting in your conscious mind at once can be difficult. I'm just glad I've learned to pay attention to those "nope"s my brain throws at me and not charge ahead and end up making characters do things I later realize they wouldn't.
     
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  4. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    I think you're taking it a little too literally. That just means to put yourself in your character's shoes, try to think like them, pretend your in their situation with their tools and resources.
    I recommend you just take a step back for a moment and really think about your character as a person. Think about their personal life and who they really are. You don't have to go terribly in-depth or anything, just daydream about them. You could also write about your characters in their natural habitat, to get a better feel for them. Not really for showing off to other people, just something for yourself. I've seen that suggestion around here before and it's a good one.
    After that, it should be a simple matter of just knowing your character better, and knowing if they really would or wouldn't do something you were planning on writing.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If my characters don't feel real to me, how am I supposed to make the reader believe in them?
     
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  6. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    "Plot is character revealed by action." - Aristotle

    Set your characters up, wind up their backs and watch them dance. That is your characters taking control of the story. Your characters move it along. There really is no thinking involved. Your characters will tell you where they want the story to go. That is letting your characters take control of your story. It can work in almost any genre. You just watch and write what they say.
     
  7. TuSlick
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    TuSlick New Member

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    Suppose it's all about flow and avoiding writer's block, and I'd agree with you since you likened your process to coding. In that sense, most everything a character does -- or says, or is -- can be planned. For me, I plan arcs and sort of a baseline personality of the character. But during the writing process itself, I find myself coming up with little character tics, as one example, or finding that certain actions for certain characters would make more sense if I strayed from my plan.

    I think the term "letting your characters take control" basically means allowing what you've already written to inform what you're going to write. Cuz I think some writing has to be spontaneous; you can't plan everything. For me, I'd say you can learn a lot about your characters by the impressions you get of them when you put the piece down and come back to it at a later date. Then you can sort of be aware of some the thought processes that went into crafting your characters, since there's a ton of unconscious work that goes into that, and probably find a way to use that information to make your story better.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The reason my characters drive my story is because they live real lives in my head.
     
  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Talent.
     
  10. Mocheo Timo
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    Mocheo Timo Active Member

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    The characters in your story are as real as the writing in itself. I don't believe people can create things, literally out of nothing. When you create a character, you create him based on someone you have seen or known. It could be your best friend, or a random passerby, or even yourself!

    The process however, is more unconscious than not. So you might think you are totally in control of your character, since you created him all by yourself, when in fact your perceptions of the things which shape your character might change.

    For example: my main character is blond and tall. While I'm still writing and developing my story, I meet a tall, blond man who treats me very rudely. That could completely change the way I see my character.

    In the example however, the character is really shallow. I would then, try to make my character as real as possible and be aware of how my own perceptions of life could change him in the process of my writing, and if I would want that to happen. That's what I believe "letting my characters take control over my story" would look like.
     
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  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Disagree. No amount of talent can make wooden/stock/stereotypical characaters seem real. The author has to move past that in his/her own mind first.
     
  12. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Yeah, we're def gonna disagree. Talent will allow you to write effective stories with effective, realistic characters. A lack of talent will lead to stock/ stereotypical/wooden characters. Talent IS the ability to make them better.
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    But if you don't see your characters as real people - perhaps that's what you're meaning by 'talent'.
     
  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Seeing and expressing are two very different things. Just because you can see them as 'real' doesn't mean you can express it and share that with the readers. But I believe the opposite is true. If you can express it and deliver to readers you can make them real, even if you don't see it. Just my O.P.Onion.
     
  15. Victoria Griffin
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    Victoria Griffin Member

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    I agree with Sundowner that you're taking it a little too literally. The idea that your characters are controlling the story is more of a feeling than what's actually happening. Obviously I know that I am the one holding the pen, and if I tell my character to do something they're going to do it. If I told a two-year-old character to open up its mouth and recite Shakespeare, it's going to do it, but that's not true to the character. What creates the feeling of characters running the show is constructing a developed personality, putting it in a situation, and letting things play out. As writers, we constrain ourselves, and when the constraints are tight enough, it feels like we're on a determined path, writing a story that has already been decided.
     
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  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    *slowly tip-toes out of yet another pantser v. planner thread*
     

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