1. james johnson

    james johnson New Member

    Jun 28, 2016
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    need help creating characters!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by james johnson, Jun 29, 2016.

    i got the plot summary and that written out for my book, just writing for fun not planning on publishing, but it's a zombie book, i have over 9 species of infected, now i just need my protagonists the only characters that come to mind is characters like Joel and Ellie from the last of us, but i don't want to copy anything, i want it to be completely original, (it is hard with all of the zombie books and movies already out there) but i do believe it is pretty damn original. that all being said i can't think of any protagonists or their back stories anyone got any ideas? anything to get me thinking on characteristics, or possibly how to get good character development because I've only written short stories and i don't know how certain situations or events will affect my characters psychological state over the course of an entire book.

    I'm going to be writing it from the point of few of my protagonists and one point of view from one of my infected. if their are any zombie enthusiasts out there who maybe want to bounce a few ideas back and fourth that would be awesome thanks guys (btw this is my first post to this site)
    Scottieluvr likes this.
  2. Roodkapje

    Roodkapje New Member

    Jun 29, 2016
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    the Netherlands
    "i want it to be completely original"
    Well, there's your first mistake. Nothing is completely original. But I think what you're saying is, 'I want to think of something on my own rather than copy characters from shows/books/games'?
    I think writing is the only way you really get to know your characters. You don't have to throw them into your story straight away, I find it works for me to write different 'testing' scenes to get to know my character/get to know their voices.
    It's okay to be inspired by existing characters. Maybe try to figure out what you like about Joel and Ellie and go from there. What kind of feel do they have to you? Are there any particular names that have the right feeling for your book? What are some emotions and traits that would fit well?
    james johnson and peachalulu like this.
  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Don't worry about originality. It's over rated. Let originality come out in small details - I.e. the mc chews her hair when she's nervous, or carries the teddy bear head of her dead brother and talks to it - not the idea of your character - feisty, tough, whatnot - especially in a genre. Cause certain expectations need to be fulfilled.

    I usually have an idea about my character a trait - kind, chip on their shoulder, tough, bratty etc. and then I put them in a scene with someone. I discover who they are through conflict, desire, arguments, decisions. I can never completely create a character outside of a scene. The scene helps bring out the character. Maybe write some test
    scenes to see how they react. Always give them a catalyst character ... someone to set them off, though.
    Do they joke, shift blame, turn into a quivering jelly, get a rush from the danger, are they bossy, do they listen? etc.
    james johnson and Roodkapje like this.
  4. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributing Member

    Jan 6, 2016
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    I use real life people as my characters, I just give them a different name. Friends, family, co-workers, I just plug them into my story. In my story, the MC's best friend is always my best friend in real life. The enemy is always someone I hate or can't stand. My main I always picture as myself put into the situations of my story, what would I do?
    I have tried to read and understand how some people create characters. To me it is just too confusing and very time consuming. Using real life people has saved me a lot of time.
    When I have beta reads there is always something wrong with my plot, that's expected. But when they critiqued the character's, they are always liked by the reader. I always get people saying that this character or that character seems so real to me. I just smile inside knowing that they are.
    King_Horror likes this.
  5. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

    Mar 13, 2016
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    I would suggest a lot of brain storming. If you have an idea of the structure and plot, you can create characters that serve specific purposes. As for a protagonist, I don't think it really matters that you define him/her before you start writing. Just write the scenes, and let it come out. More often than not, the character will be you, which is good. You are unique, and have a different perspective than the rest of the world. You also know yourself better than you do anyone else.

    Once the book is WRITTEN, you can go back and evaluate each scene, action, piece of dialogue, etc, and make the character into something better.

    If you get too hung up on finding the perfect characters before you start writing, you'll become paralyzed and won't actually write it. Revision is where the magic happens.

    "The essence of writing is rewriting"--William Zinsser

    Hope this helps.
  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Aug 23, 2013
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    In general: just come up with a bunch of character ideas that you might like to write about at some unknown future point, then see which ones do or do not fit into your story specifically

    One of my personal favorite tricks: a lot of people say that the 16 MyersBriggs personality types (I'm INTP, some people are ESFJ, others are ENFJ, some are ISTP) are useless because you cannot cram 7.4 billion personalities into just 16 boxes, and a lot of people say the 9 Dungeons&Dragons Alignments (I'm Chaotic Neutral, some people are Lawful Neutral, some people are Neutral Good) are useless for the same reason.

    I could go into a whole thing about how using the systems as boxes in the first place is nonsense, but even if you do use the systems in that way, using both at the same time would still give you 144 boxes to work with (I'm Chaotic Neutral INTP, some people are Lawful Neutral INTP, some people are Chaotic Neutral ESFJ) instead of just 9 or 16.

    This won't work for everyone and it might not work for you, but I can promise you that it could work because I can promise that the stories I've written where I started with MyersBriggs types and D&D alignment combinations for each character have had better character development than the stories I wrote without them.

    MyersBriggs looks at people along 4 axes of personality:

    Where are you from 100% I (Introverted, asocial) to 100% E (Extraverted, social)
    Where are you from 100% N (iNtuitive, abstracting) to 100% S (Sensing, concrete)
    Where are you from 100% T (Thinking, insensitive) to 100% F (Feeling, sensitive)
    Where are you from 100% P (Perceiving, disorganized) to 100% J (Judging, organized)

    I personally am about 90% asocial, 85% abstracting, 65% insensitive, 80% disorganized. My basic type is INTP, but I am closer to INFP as a secondary type than I am to ENTP, ISTP, or INTJ.

    When people say that personality types are boxes that they don't fit into, what they're assuming is that these letters only refer to the 100% hypothetical extremes, that my being 10% Extraverted means that I don't fit into the Introverted category because I am not 100% Introverted.

    Alignment works the same way:
    Where are you from 100% Lawful (authoritarian) to 50/50 Neutral to 100% Chaotic (anti-authoritarian)
    Where are you from 100% Good to 50/50 Neutral to 100% Evil

    Again, a lot of people say that the only possibilities are 100% of one, 50/50, or 100% of the other (in which case somebody who would be 60/40 doesn't "fit into the boxes"), but I find it more useful to say that Neutral refers to 30%-70% while each extreme goes from 70%-100%.

    This isn't the kind of thing that can be measured as well as MyersBriggs can, but I would guess that I am about 72% antiauthoritarian and 62% moral: Chaotic Neutral is my basic type, True Neutral is my closest second, Chaotic Good is my closest third.

    This is also where things get really fun: combining the two in unexpected ways ;)

    Pretty much the most common stereotype among people who try to assign alignments to personality types is that Judging = Orderly = Lawful while Perceiving = Disorderly = Chaotic. In my specific case, this stereotype applies: I am 72% antiauthoritarian and 80% disorganized.

    But what do you call somebody who's incredibly authoritarian about what he's supposed to do, yet very spontaneous and all-over-the-place in how he does it? Do you A) accept that he is Lawful and pretend that he is a Judger, B) accept that he is a Perceiver and pretend that he is Chaotic, or C) accept that he is a Lawful Perceiver?

    And what about somebody who lives to schedule her life to the minute the way she personally wants to schedule her life, neither imposing her schedule on other people nor tolerating those who try to impose their schedules on her? Do you say "being Chaotic makes her a Perceiver," do you say "being a Judger makes her Lawful," or do you just call her a Chaotic Judger?
  7. King_Horror

    King_Horror Member

    Jan 8, 2016
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    Somewhere in the U.S.A.
    Something that I've found that I'm good at is creating names. It's been said earlier that you could use real-life people as your characters, just change the name.

    When I want to have a masculine MC, I go with something like John/Jon, Tom, Hal, etc.

    If I am using a female character, then something exotic would work. EX: Julianna/Julianne, Sanya, Tara, etc.

    What I'm getting at is if you have a good name, then it can be easier to flesh out a personality. Hope this helps.

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