1. Lady Savage
    Offline

    Lady Savage New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0

    Little things.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lady Savage, Feb 7, 2010.

    I've found through both reading and writing fiction that the key to a likeable, convincing, living, breathing character is imbuing them with little details. Unfortunately, I need to actively remind myself to give my characters little details, especially main characters. This is a thread to discuss why those little things are (or are not) so important.

    e.g.:
    Azure: a half-demon party boy. Hawaiian shirts. Over-the-top slang. No sense of personal property. Gives nicknames to everyone he meets.
     
  2. JTheGreat
    Offline

    JTheGreat Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Everywhere and Nowhere
    I totally agree with you. I enjoy giving my characters little idiosyncrasies because that makes them more relateable.
     
  3. SilverRam
    Offline

    SilverRam Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    2
    Don't forget body language, it varies from person to person and usually depends on the society they grew up in. Without spoken language, we used to rely on it, and we still do whether we realize it or not. Especially when it comes to talking about a touchy subject.
     
  4. InkDream
    Offline

    InkDream Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    the Evergreen State
    I think the little details can work with you or against you. They can make the character seem more real or they can make them seem ridiculous. It's all in how you play your cards.
     
  5. cboatsman
    Offline

    cboatsman Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    California
    I feel that the small details do make a more believable character, but think about how many people actually know that the reason you are claustrophobic is because your father used to think it was funny to lock you in a dark closet when you were little. Some details are revealed, and can have a major effect on the story overall, but it's a matter of how you reveal them and whether or not they are immediately apparent.

    That's my two cents.

    Caleb
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    But don't fall into the trap of feeling you must explain every personality quirk. Do you know where every quirk of your own personality comes from? Are you even aware of every facet of yourself that others view as quirks? And do you know where every odd habit of your best friend came from?

    People are complicated. Accept that, and don't feel a compulsion to overexplain.
     
  7. NaCl
    Offline

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    58
    It's about balance...character development versus movement along the plot. Too much detail falls in the category of an info-dump. Too little and your character(s) are shallow.
     
  8. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    As I was about to say ... before Cogito beat me to it ... People are more than the sum of all of their parts. Don't feel you have to lay out every little quirk and nuance of your characters. Give the reader a little latitude to create their own personal image of characters from their own unique viewpoint. Consider that if you say 'animal', it will conjure a different mental image for different people. You might then say it was a dog. You could then go further and say it was an incessantly barking dog. This may narrow the field but you still have a variety of perceptions within that range. Then you might narrow the perception even further by saying in was a small dog. You have succeeded in reducing the number of possibilities but you still have a lot of different considerations. You might then say it was a chihuaha.
    AHA! That's pretty specific, you say. But, even there, you might consider, is it a long-hair or short-hair? Tan, Brown, Black, or spotted? Male? Female? Old? Pup?
    Going too deep into the description, however, can become tedious so you might not want to include all of that extra info. You can see how too much can actually bog down progression but, in telling that the animal was a chihuahua, you have given your reader a pretty clear description of the animal BUT you have also allowed some latitude to let the reader picture a chihuahua with which they are comfortable.
    The same holds true for your characters' quirks. Give just enough of those little facets of a character to give them dimension but not so much that they end up looking like a cartoon character. (And then the trick is to be able to make your character hold true to those quirks you have given them or have a darned good reason why not!)
     
  9. Lady Savage
    Offline

    Lady Savage New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting discussion so far. I find that my character creation process, much like my writing process, is intuitive and driven by my subconscious on the first time around. As I write, I find a "voice" for my characters and discover things about them that interest and ring true with me. The second draft is often a place for ascribing more conscious logic and unity to characters (if it feels genuine).
     

Share This Page