1. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    My main character, appearance and name...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by zelda, Sep 19, 2010.

    Hey guys, I'm new here and I would like to ask for some tips or opinions regarding my main character.

    If it comes down to it, I may end up needing to explain my story a little.

    1. He's 15 years old, but because of his past and something about his DNA, he's more mature and more physically advanced than a usual 15-year old. You can think of him as more like 17 years old I suppose. He just needs to be extra young for story-related reasons. His father was a genetically engineered "warrior human" and his mother was natural, so although he's still pretty normal, he's not exactly, you know, happy go lucky.

    Let me just get this straight. The style of this novel is definitely going to be something you'd compare to Anime or Manga - this is pretty much what it is I suppose, but in the form of your average fiction fantasy novel.

    2. Which leads us to his appearance... His hair is a little bit long and flows out the sides a bit. I'm not good at describing the many different possible hair styles... I will surely have trouble with this >< His hair is dark red, I described it in my first few pages as carmine. Here's the line:

    Spread across the wooden floor, Kai’s long, carmine hair was slightly scorched as the demonic feline gave out another intense roar

    I put his name as "Kai" for now, but I'm not sure. So far, i seem unable to write a story using mainly english names. For this particular story, there are several asian themes so I went ahead and made things more or less Japanese. It seems like things have been going fine with using Japanese names for things, but not going 100% with following all Japanese customs and traditions, and I've never implied that it actually takes place in Japan. Japanese names are just easier for me. Do you guys think this can work out? I have some characters with western names, so with the countless characters that will make appearances in my long story, how about half of the names Japanese? Or what about inventing names? How exactly can I go about that without being totally random? Should I limit the number of unusually named characters in order to keep things easy for the reader?

    As for the main character, I originally wanted to name him Kaji, as in the Japanese word for a fire (because his "Aura" type is fire. Yes, my story involves fighting as well as spiritual energy and elements), but I didn't like this name because it didn't sounds like the name of a "cool and quiet" character. Then, I went really unique and called him Chi. This name had several meanings. He has these things on him called "Aura Scars", which are basically cursed markings with his spiritual Aura. Aura is basically my version of "Ki", "Chi", "Chakra", "Reiatsu" that sort of thing. So in other words, he has scars embedded in his Aura itself that were created by attacks from a demonic beast that fought with his father, and these were passed to him genetically. These markings don't show up on his body or anything, they only show up when they "activate" periodically in the story. He has something like 1000 of these markings, so Chi could have also been in regard to that, since it means "1000" when used in a Japanese name. Chi is also a Chinese term of some sort of spiritual energy, and it's also a Japanese word that can mean blood, which is more or less the colour of his hair.

    Aaaaaanyway, I ditched that... For now, I just randomly call him Kai because it sounds like it could match his character.

    His personality is like a strong silent type, but although he's not very emotional, (in fact, he's rather stoic) he's modest and a bit self-loathing because he blames himself for being powerless to save his parents from their deaths (when he was a child...). He lived alone as a child, and all he knew to do was to continue his father's legacy as a warrior (besides, it's in his blood...) However, he won a fighting tournament only due to his Aura scars activating and granting him power (these scars are a huge part of the novel and activate like this periodically, but sometimes their activations are very bad, the effect can't be anticipated) and because of that, he grew to loath himself for winning that way. Because of that victory, he was scouted into a warrior's school, and the beginning of his days at that school is where the story begins.

    I just thought I should give some background info before asking for tips.

    Summary of my main questions - Japanese names okay? How to create names? How to describe hair styles that aren't even orthodox? I would like to find him a cool name, and one that hopefully ties in with the story. A name with deep reasoning from his parents, perhaps even a name that's meaning can activate powerfully later on in the story.

    Thanks! I wrote too much..
     
  2. white
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    white Banned

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    Hope that helps.
     
  3. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Thanks. I just thought that eventually, the reader wants to know what he looks like, especially if it's a story that will go on for multiple novels. These questions are perhaps the most ambiguous ones I will ask, in the future I'll be simpler about it with stuff like "how's this dialogue:" etc. These things are just on my mind though, especially since I'm at the beginning of the novel ^^

    For the record, his appearance is like this:

    dark red hair, a bit long, slightly~ anime-esque, but actually quite doable and somewhat normal in real life. His hair is about shoulder length and comes down on the sides, but in parts, giving it a slight raven look, or I guess in this case some kind of red bird ^^ In fact, even I have an old picture of myself with a hair style like this. The main part is that it parts a few times around his head into pointy chunks, and the bangs also come down like that, but barely reach his nose.
    His eyes are blue, his height is 5'7" and weight is about 150lbs, or somewhere close to 65KG. His personality can be described as cool, calm and collected, slightly stoic, fearlessly confident, but at the same time, self-loathing and modest. It's as though his personality is that of a true warrior, one who doesn't need to talk a lot or have a lot of fun, but at the same time, not so inhuman that it makes him robotic. Something like a loner but without any sadness or discomfort about it. If he feels like it, he will still speak his mind though, and because he's a nice person, it's not so difficult to befriend him, it's just that he's often too focused on his goals or modest to get himself involved with others. My goal is for this character is to have a bit of mystique.
    His outfit most of the time consists of baggy black training pants (basically pants that are easy to exercise or fight in, but not martial arts pants or track pants. What I'm imagining are black splash pants, but made of a completely different material), a black tank top, black kung fu shoes (thin soles and exposed top), and most of the time, a red V-neck, long-sleeve overshirt with his academy's logo on the front (red because he belongs to the Fire element division). He otherwise doesn't wear anything overtop the tank top, and later on in the novel he instead wears a white Haori (google it) overtop instead. It's basically almost like a dress, similar to a Kimono, the sleeves are very wide and long, and the body of it hangs down sort of like a lab coat, not far from the ground, but it doesn't go over the middle of the body. He wears this after becoming the fire division "elite" and has a some representative Chinese characters on the back.

    That basically sums it up for his appearance I guess...? In serious battle situations, he caries a large, wide scabbard on his back strapped around his body, containing an unbelievably huge and wide sword. The sword is so heavy that the hero is probably the only one in his academy who can lift it, and even then, he must use the massive Aura (spiritual) power he obtained through his curse (Aura scars).

    Putting the sword aside, any comments about the character?
     
  4. white
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    white Banned

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    I heard a quote once, and it changed my life forever as a writer. It goes like this:

    Description starts with the writer, and ends with the reader.

    In other words, your character bio may be tremendous fun for you to craft in painstaking detail, but for someone like me who doesn't know what "splash pants" are (and is not terribly interested in the explanation) your character is like a rigid mold that I have to visualize precisely, and that is not very fun.

    Hopefully others will chime in with their advice. But my suggestion is to focus less on the inconsequential details, which is about 90% of your character bio, and focus instead on telling a great story.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    dark red = auburn short anime hair? For name try behind name . com they have a random name generator let it generate names until you get one you like. To be honest in a fantasy somethin like Fergus or Matthew is more original than Kai but how you handle names is upto you. Instead of five foot seven my advice is call him short and and medium build.

    Actually for my second novel I am changing my MC - most people have got his description without me mentioning it - I know he has dark hair, blue eyes, tall, skinny, athletic and dashing. I am finding readers new to my second book despite no real description yet, get that is what he looks like.

    -Charlotte
     
  6. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    You won't need to describe the hair in great detail. In fact, it might get a little redundant or confusing to a reader if you try to describe it too much. You may want to use more known colors to describe hair, too, if you want him to be more realistic. For example, "auburn" could be used instead of carmine, because the reader would already know what auburn is (i just had to google carmine, because I wasn't sure of the color)

    As for names, any name is fine as long as you think it fits. However, if its fantasy you might want a more...not common, exactly, but something more familiar? Try baby name websites, as you can search by nationality, meaning, or letter if you want.

    You may not want to be so exact with the details in the actual writing; incredibly detailed bios are great as a reference, but you adding specific height, weight, etc. slows down the writing.

    Hope that helps!
     
  7. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Thanks, yes I wasn't planning to include a lot of it in the actual writing necessarily, just a reference. I figured I should get his exact appearance down now because 1. The story is VERY long and will go for several novels, hopefully, and 2. I need to make sure his character fits well with his appearance.

    Anyway, as for name, I definitely don't want a common one. I really don't like to use names like Mathew because they're too common. To me that's bit boring, considering my story is not realistic.

    [​IMG] <--I was more going for something like the colour of this car - Not a normal, natural hair colour like Auburn. With that in mind, do you think it's okay? I also thought carmine is a nice sounding word, assuming you pronounce it "carmeen", but... Well anyway, um splash pants are made of the same material as a windbreaker, glossy synthetic material that's not very comfortable against the skin.

    Thanks a lot! I look forward to more feedback!

    Yes the name Kai doesn't seem to connect with my story a whole lot, so I will do some thinking...
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    To what end? A character has no purpose or form outside of the context of a story.

    Only a story is critiquable, not a character descripttion in isolation, no matter how detailed.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    carmine to be honest for me is squished bugs and hyperactive kids. Not even my all time favourite writer on this site convinced me it was a good choice and he can usually manage to work a fantastic description.

    Cardinal, Scarlett, Vermillion etc may send me searching but won't make me think of bugs.
     
  10. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Yeah you're right, not much to critique, I just wanted a few opinions. I pretty much got them ^^

    I wanted a darker red, can one say dark scarlet or dark vermillion?

    Why does carmine make you think of bugs?

    Scarlet sounded too poetic and feminine to me, and vermillion just doesn't sounds so nice. Hmmm.... It's true, this doesn't matter I guess...
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    cochineal/carmine is a nasty red food colouring made of squished beetles makes kids hyperactive, wonder if toyota red would work lol
     
  12. MissPomegranate
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    How about crimson? That word always appealed to me, and it's a bit more common. Or, perhaps sanguine (as in the color of blood)? It doesn't really matter what word you choose I suppose, it's a personal choice.

    Is your story set in a different world or on earth? Depending on where it is, making up names would be fine, or you might want to go with an actual name. You could try finding an adjective to describe your character, then find names with that meaning. Or, make an allusion to another famous piece of literature (Like Ulysses or Perseus, for example)
     
  13. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Maybe crimson can work. It was my first idea, but seemed a bit predictable for someone like me.

    I wonder if I can make an implication about his hair colour instead! I could say that it blended into or camouflaged with something, or use a simile of blood and some kind of verb... Hmmm... Of course I don't want to get too gory.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What's wrong with calling it a metallic red?
     
  15. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    m-metallic?? Why?

    P.S. If I post small chunks of scenes from my novel on here, does that diminish its chances of getting published by another publisher later? If so, why? What if it's only small bits, like 1% of the novel?
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You said like the color of the car. Perhaps I took you too literally. Deep ruby?

    If you post an excerpt, it cannot be in this thread.

    Consider taking a moment to post in New Member Introductions. You'll find out more about how to use the site when you do.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm doubtful about the word carmine, and about elaborate descriptions of his hairstyle. I might be inclined to something that doesn't risk the need for a thesaurus check - something like, "His hair fell straight to his shoulders, and was an unnaturally intense red more often found on candy apples and cars than human hair." And from then on, I think that "red" would do, if there's ever any need to mention his hair color again.

    I'm a bit concerned about:

    To me, this should only be true to the extent that he can control his appearance. I'm bothered when people want a character name that matches the character's personality, since a character usually doesn't name himself. Similarly, just because a character might _want_ to be tall, strong, handsome, dextrous, and imposing doesn't mean that he's necessarily going to be those things. I understand that your story isn't supposed to be realistic, but even so, a character's appearance that fits too smoothly with his personality and goals is, to me, jarring

    Your character is coming out too admirable/heroic/flawless to me. I'm not seeing much humanity, and I'm not seeing any flaws. (The self-loathing doesn't count in the 'flaw' column, in my view, unless he's always going around whining about it and making his friends reassure him and generally annoying people with it.) I understand that you may intend for him to be heroic and wholly admirable, but every character, IMO, needs some humanity to him.
     
  18. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Okay, I just thought the colour thing mattered because at a much later time, his hair actually does change colour. It's true that I mostly posted his good points, but perhaps I can set down a few flaws for you:

    Doesn't believe in himself.
    Gets out of control sometimes during fights, needing someone else's voice or interference to stop his rampage.
    Often acts cold toward others.
    Doesn't sugar-coat anything he says, no matter what it is - brutally honest. He will tell someone he hates or dislikes them very straightforwardly and casually.
    Doesn't feel disdainful about killing or fighting
    Only lives for himself, although he has a sense of justice that causes him to help others. As I said, he is genetically engineered, so in some ways he should be quite superior. He isn't just altered in terms of dexterity and coordination and stuff, but also in personality.

    Does this even it out enough? For the record, most other characters are more human and full of weaknesses in personality.

    Of course, I'm not being defensive, I'm open minded, so I'm honestly wondering if those are enough flaws for him to match what I said before about him.

    So?

    My plan for this character's development is opposite of normal : He slowly becomes more "evil" or "dark", embracing his natural ways. This is just a pending idea though. The curses he has are basically shards of the demonic beast's Aura, so the more of these curses that activate, the more of the monster's Aura mixes in with his, making him darker. You can perhaps think of it as the more powerful he gets, the darker he becomes.

    However, another part of me wants him to start of kind of inhuman, like Hei from Darker Than Black or Sesshoumaru from Inu Yasha, but little by little, become emotional and human, which the small bit of romance i nthis story kind of ties in. Which do you prefer? I have so many ideas for this story, I can't use them all! ><
     
  19. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Oh, and he does live in Earth (I guess), but it's my own earth. It's too similar (same) to Earth for me to say it isn't, but it's not any specific country either, unless I decide to make up a name. I do have some names for villages and such already though.

    Cogito - Understood. I already read a few people's intros as well as the post that you give each of them.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. I said "flaws", but maybe I mean "weaknesses". Or "foibles". Or just "quirks". Or _something_ that makes him human.

    Does he like Cheetos? Does he prefer Andy Capp Hot Fries and does he make a point of going to the one store that sells them? Is he fond of his neighbor's cat? Does he enjoy the luxurious booths and pretty waitresses at a particular neighborhood bar? In early summer, does he change his walking route so that he can smell the perfume of the roses in a particular cottage garden? Does he scrub the grout in the bathroom to relax when he's troubled and needs to think? Is he vain about that bright red hair; does he put some effort into making it shine and ruffle in the wind? Does he feel guilty when he walks past the homeless on the sidewalk? Does he overtip?

    I'm not seeing an opening for anything like this in this character as described - I'm just not seeing him as human. Now, of course the humanity comes out in the actual writing, not the character description, but... again, I don't even see the _possibility_ for it.

    ChickenFreak
     
  21. zelda
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    zelda Member

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    Hmmm, yeah I need to make sure to include some things that show his humanity. I did, in fact, just show which flavour of hot tea he likes from a machinese in a lounge!

    The thing about him is that he is NOT human... He's half human, and basically half "Battlemancer" (does that sound cool?), which is basically a genetically engineered form of human meant for excellence in combat, and free of most irrelevant personality traits.

    My new plan is to start him off as a somewhat cold, nearly emotionless guy who slowly develops his emotions and becomes more human and sociable. At first, he feels little disdain about fighting or killing, but later on, he changes into someone who could dry because he killed someone (not that he becomes a drama queen...)

    If I make sure to now and then provide a bit of dialog (not dialogue?) showing his human personality (the kind of stuff you mentioned) and also now and then reveal things he likes, or the trivial selections he would decide on, such as tea flavour, would it be enough for now? One of the main points of this character is that he's purposely supposed to be somewhat emotionless and inhuman.
     

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