1. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    My characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Daphnes, Feb 19, 2009.

    I currently have some character ideas to use in my ongoing battle to sucessfully write a full story. I'm not sure about what setting or plot to put them in, but I'm trying to think of a well rounded group that has at least one character that any reader can identify with.

    Character 1: Confident, calm, honest, and humble. He's the leader. The guy everyone follows, but not because they're afraid or that he pushes them around.

    Character 2: Bold, reckless, arrogant, and ruthless. He's the aggressive member of the group. The bully that never backs down, and is held back only by the leader. The kind of guy that wants to be the leader.

    Character 3: Kind, compassionate, and selfless. He's the nice member who wants to help everyone and be friends. The peacemaker who settles disputes.

    Character 4: Laid back, comical, and reluctant. He just likes to have fun and enjoy life. He'd rather socialize than fight. He's the character who least wants to be where the group is at the time, and just wants to go home.

    Character 5: Shy, outcast, and downtrodden. He's the leader's most loyal follower, and inspires most to be like him. He's a follower by nature. Not very outgoing or popular, but loyal.

    Those are the basic personalities. They are inspired by a book series I used to read, but I don't think authors have rights on personality types. I believe I would make characters 3 and 4 female, and keep the others male. I'm leaning towards them finding a portal to another world where they are called to help save it. This world would have a mix of mythological and real world beings. Critique please.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Is it necessary to have 5 characters or is this just an arbitrary number? I think it's better to introduce characters as necessary rather than have a set number before you start writing.
     
  3. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    The number of people doesn't have to be set in stone, but I like that list of personalities. I think it makes it well rounded. I could decrease the number, and just give other characters the left over personalities. Like making the kind and caring character also the comic.
     
  4. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    First, a question: Do you really wanna go down that cliche' route? The whole, "The calm, collected, humble guy that, for no discernible reason, everyone follows."

    I am, personally, attempting to break this cliche' by having my main character, while being important, not necessarily followed by the others. Or, if he is followed, there is a very particular reason that everyone has deemed him worthy to follow around.

    That's actually all I wanted to say. What do you respond to that?
     
  5. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    Is that a cliche? I didn't know that. In the book series these personalities are based off of, the group consists of the leader's girlfriend, cousin, best friend, and a bully magnet that he once helped out.

    As for my character, I was planning on one of the girls being his sister, and the shy guy being a tagalong that looks up to him for support. The other two aren't closely connected, and the agressive male sometimes will oppose the idea of following the leader.
     
  6. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Yes, it is cliche'. VERY cliche', and, after a manner, pointless.

    Why is he the leader? Is he APPOINTED the leader, or do they just - by mutual silent consent - follow him?
    Are they all after the same thing? Is the 'leader' the most intelligent one? The bravest? The one with the most common sense or tact?

    What is the MOTIVATION, here? I really don't wanna see a person with interesting ideas falling into the trap of doing the same-old-same old trite stories when there is a cornucopia of unwritten ideas.
     
  7. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    They follow him because he's the guy that seems the most in control. Goes along with the calm, collected personality. Though it could also be ebcause the only member of the group that really WANTS to be the leader is the violent one that would get everyone killed in the first fight.
     
  8. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    But why should there be a 'leader' at all? Each of them are intelligent individuals.
    Side-by-side as friends seems more likely. What do you think?
     
  9. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    Yeah. It may be best to not have a designated leader. There could be the guy that does most of the planning, but everyone gets their share of plans from time to time.
     
  10. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    You night not want a leader, but you may have inidividuals who show leadership (which can be shown in the writing, and maybe picked up by the reader).

    Each and everyone have both pros and cons (which with world building id rather go thorugh -pros and cons - rather then traits) and then let those P/c's develop the character into traits (that the reader may decide for themselves rather then the actual writer.

    *shrugs*
     
  11. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    Pros and cons? Ok, I'll think a bit on that too.
     
  12. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    well each character may have something on the other.

    Like say hyperthetically you have to fight a bunch of cliche giant spiders, your "typical" brave leader might have has his family killed off by them when he was a kid, and he has violent attacks and can't face them....so someone else might have to take the lead.

    I mean it can work anyway with anything ) i dont need examples). You just need to have character development in your head while writing... you have to know your characters through and through. But the readers dont have to expeirence characters that have to be a "certain way" they should have characters that have history (not pushed out in the novel) where they can take hold of a situation.

    Nothing should feel forced. You want characters developing in front of the readers eye as they take control, and make decisions.

    If you have a "typical" character or cast of characters you'll havew people predicitng the outcome, and as a reader that isnt fun!
     
  13. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Other good points have already been brought up, but the one thing that stuck out at me was who you decided to make male and female. I wasn't surprised to see that 3 and 5--the characters who are described as the kind peacemaker and the shy follower--were the females, while the others--described as the confident leader, the aggressive bully, and the sociable clown--are male. You're veering close to male and female stereotypes here. Why not have a shy follower male, or an aggressive bullying female?

    They're your characters, of course, but I thought I'd point this out. I also think you need to just write and develop them through the story, getting to know them personally through their actions, rather than just coming up with lists of traits that make the characters very easy to pigeonhole. In short, they seem kind of cardboard and, yes, like cliches. Developing them through the writing can help make them more realistic--you might find them to be much different from what you thought. (For example, the shy follower might have a mean streak. I'm a shy downtrodden follower/outcast type, but I can have a nasty temper when it suits me.)

    One last thing:

    and inspires most to be like him

    That's aspires.

    And...

    Hypothetically. :)
     
  14. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    I think I meant to say 4 instead of five for the female. Making the comic female and the shy person male. Maybe if I named them I wouldn't get mixed up.
     
  15. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    You're relying too heavily on stock characters and stereotypes. Branch out a bit and make them more interesting. Don't just pinhole their personalities into a few sentences; develop them and let them grow as you write the story.
     
  16. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    I have heard that sometimes characters can develop themselves as you write, but I've also heard that you should have a solid idea of what kind of character it is before you start writing. So I'm unsure. I just don't want them to be cardboard cutouts with no distinct personalities.

    In the book Animorphs, the characters really feel alive, and given any situation, I would have a good idea of what those characters would do. Like I know them as real people. That's why I wanted to use their personalities.
     
  17. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    It seems a bit generic, but a good outline. This group of traits reminds me of many an RPG, although it seeming generic isn't, at all, a bad thing - aslong as you don't adhere to those descriptions too much.
     
  18. RurouniGriffin
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    RurouniGriffin Member

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    What made you choose 3 and 5 to be female? I would agree with 3, but I think that 5 and one of your male characters can be switched. 5 seems like they could be a very good male or female....

    Also, I like your mix of personalities. I'm writing a similar novel, (nothing to do with portals, but much to do with world saving), and think this would make a great group to do so with!

    What type of mythological beings were you thinking of using, and which characters would be what? The reason I ask is because race, background and sex are all factors that affect a character's personality, and we can't really critique your group without these facts.

    Also, the above facts will save you from the "stereotype" character problem. Sure, you have good, stereotypical beginnings, but then, when you add a bit of yourself, the characters come alive!
     
  19. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    I think I meant having character 4 be female instead of five, as I said in a previous post. Those characters would all be Human.

    As for mytho creatures, I'd use things like Dragons, Centaurs, Vampires, and stuff. You know, the cool ones.
     
  20. RurouniGriffin
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    RurouniGriffin Member

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    That makes MUUUUCH more sense. Good choice on your females.

    Perhaps with mytho creatures, you could get creative, and yet again, escape the "moldy", "been there, done that" feel of stereotypes?

    Though I'd personally love to see what a vampire as defined by Anne Rice, Laurel Hamilton or Bram Stoker, (all other vampires are crap imho), would make of a nice little multidimensional gate...
     
  21. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    Not sure. Right now I'm actually thinking of doing a different story that doesn't use these characters. Once I get a concrete idea of what I want, then I'll start writing. Maybe I'll actually finish it, too.
     
  22. graphologist
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    graphologist New Member

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    Your idea of using characters 'well known' to you is a good idea as you will feel confident in knowing how they will react in certain situations. I think that swapping the genders around will arouse your readers curiosity-especially when these characters are in tough and/or compassionate situations. A comical character adds interest.

    I do not think you should abandon this story-but work out how you can use the characters -you know so well-to the best advantage.
     
  23. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    The Animorphs series isn't a bad one to look at for inspiration. Although the real reason the characters were fun is because they were well-rounded.

    Jake, the leader, is quiet and thoughtful. But he doesn't get his role by being quiet. Over time, he gets more and more used to giving orders and to finding his way through a complex problem. Remember when David was in the group? When they were in a situation where the new guy was going to get hurt - pointlessly - Jake ultimately just laid down the law. Sure, everyone else got pointlessly hurt, too. But a major factor dividing David and Jake was that Jake had become used to assuming people would obey him. There was a bit of arrogance there.

    Make the characters into "people" with flaws and lives of their own, and then we'll like them.
     
  24. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    It might be best to throw the characters in the situation and let the leader grow naturally because of the story. If no leader develops, then no leader develops.

    Think about Lord of the Flies, for example.

    Think about things that sheep look up to. Intelligence, bravery, and strength. The character that has one or more of these traits will be who sheep gravitate toward.

    When an intelligent person starts sharing his ideas, the sheep go, "Yeah, hey, he is right."

    When a guy is brave, and strong, when he is a survivalist, the sheep think, consciously or subconsciously, this man will keep us alive.

    We choose leaders that we feel can or will lead us in the right direction, and if there is no such person, we lead ourselves.
     
  25. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    That always was the best part of Lord of the Flies; the character development. Masterfully done, especially when more and more characters started having different opinions. More people should take notes from that.
     

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