1. MelissaLynne
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    MelissaLynne Member

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    My new approach

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MelissaLynne, Apr 9, 2009.

    I never planned it this way, but I have two main characters in a story I'm writing and I actually had them describe the other character for me. I'm writing from their view point but I find myself talking about the other rather than the one character I should be focusing on. It might be confusing to readers but at the same time the story seems to flow, its like my writing has a mind of its own. I know it might be hard for you to give advice without me submitting anything but the piece I'm writting is a little sloppy at the moment. I just want to know if this is a bad idea or not. Its not that the characters never talk about themselves at all, but I tend to have them describe other main characters when I'm presently writing from their point of view.
     
  2. Emmy
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    Emmy Member

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    This makes some sense to me. I've read novels where the characters did not describe themselves at all, and the other characters did it for them. For instance, the best friend talks about how the MC is kind, innocent, passionate, caring, etc, whereas the MC never says a word about, "I try to be kind to ...."

    I've always thought it was kinda hokey in some of the poorer written novels I've read, where the author spends the status-quo two paragraphs describing each character in detail. So-and-so looks like this, talks like this, acts like this, this is what people think about him or her....and so on. I always felt like it was forced on me to know this person, when I just really wanted to read the story and decide for myself.

    KWIM?
     
  3. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's a bad approach, but I'd be careful to avoid what Emmy is talking about. Show the reader, don't tell us. I want to get to know the person through whomever, as long as they aren't telling me "they talk like this, walk like that, act like this.." etc.

    ~Lynn
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't do this within the story. If it is an exercise you take "offline", it may help you het a better handle on your characters, but it sounds like it would become very awkward ifrom a writing perspective in most stories.

    I don't really believe ahigh def snapshot of the character is really desirable in a story anyway, eityer from a visual dimension or overall. It's better to create a rough sketch with plenty of gaps, and let the reader fill in the rest from imagination.
     
  5. MelissaLynne
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    MelissaLynne Member

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    I agree that it sounds forced which is why I don't want to do it. However what if it just happens without realizing it? Maybe I can make it look as if I didn't force it at all that's kind of what happened. I'll probably edit the characters and try get them to talk more about themselves by using the other dialogues. Anyway thanks for the advice!
     
  6. c.n.nevets
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    c.n.nevets New Member

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    If there's something you don't want to do, and you find it happening in your story anyway, don't forget that you're the writer! Stand up for yourself, and get those characters in line. Enforce discipline. You're in charge, not them.
     
  7. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    There's nothing wrong with writing it out in a draft version and then being really harsh during rewrites to make sure that it works. If it ever starts to feel like its not flowing or its confusing to you as the writer, then you can guarantee that it has already confused the reader a great deal more. On the other hand, if it feels to you like its natural, well-written and necessary, then by all means keep it. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how you tell a story, so if it works, go for it!
     
  8. WrongWriter
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    WrongWriter Banned

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    That's as good as it gets, a real grail of writing. Skip the word "should" as you use it in your post.
    There is no "right way" to describe characters. There is no "right pov" or a "right way" to use pov.
    Nobody can come along and tell you your approch to writing is wrong.
    You can tell you are on to a good story when it starts telling itself.

    Good luck
     
  9. archer88i
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    archer88i Member

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    Actually, what you're describing is one of the few techniques we have to reveal things about a character. We can tell the audience, we can have the character tell the audience, we can have the audience watch...

    Options are limited.

    This method can be particularly useful in some cases because having the audience see the character through a third party's eyes can reveal things not only about the character in question, but about the point of view character as well (the one talking about the first character).
     
  10. BadPenny
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    BadPenny Member

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    You definitely need to be careful with this. As a reader, I hate to spot the author’s devices.

    However, the upside of this approach is that you can convey twice the information this way. What character A says about character B also reflects on character A. For example, if A describes B as beautiful, the reader may then know that A is jealous or desirous of B.
     
  11. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I can't think of anything in (fiction) writing that's a "bad idea." It's all in the execution.

    The manner in which one character perceives another can be a very good way to develop the character doing the perceiving. If all that's happening, though is that you as the author are describing the characters using each perceiving character to "speak" for you, that could easily become no less dreary a predicament than any other form of "telling."

    e.g.,

    Sally studied John as he read his book, glasses practically falling from the tip of his puggish little nose, and wondered how he'd ever become such a nerd. (Really says something more interesting about Sally than John, no?)
     
  12. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is how I do it. I only throw in a few details about age and features, little more. The personalities and details about the appearances are given in dialogue, or the character's actions, and sometimes it's not too obvious. The reader has to make their own mind up. I don't make 'likeable' or 'disgusting' characters. I just make characters with traits.

    I throw in a few facts, of course, in case the reader has no imagination or watches too much television. But I don't use words like 'kind,' 'noble,' 'evil,' 'stupid,' etc. to describe characters. Never. You don't get that benefit in a real conversation, why have it when reading limited third person?
     
  13. MelissaLynne
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    MelissaLynne Member

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    Thanks! I appreciate the advice everyone! The story is looking very good this way, and I have been able to develop my characters even more. Its getting to the point where I really understand my characters a lot, and there is no confusion at all. So like most of you said, that is the most important thing. If it makes sense to me, it'll make sense to the readers. Again, thanks!
     

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