1. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    Personality problem

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Sam Frost, Dec 10, 2015.

    I'm having trouble keeping my character's personality stable. Any tips to keep me on track in this department?
     
  2. jmh105
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    jmh105 Member

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    The approach I've done is I'd free-write from a character's perspective and then take notes on what I observed in the writing, the voice, etc.

    Remember, you don't have to fit every action your character makes to your notes. A little diversion is welcoming, as it allows a bit more complexity to your character. Perhaps there is a reason your character's personality isn't as stable as you make it out to be?
     
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  3. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    .@jmh105 That's a good idea! I think I'll try that tomorrow before I get back to working on the story proper.
     
  4. jmh105
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    jmh105 Member

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    Glad I could help! If you get to it, post what you end up doing here! :-D Maybe I can take a look at it, too.
     
  5. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    .@jmh105 Oh thank you so much I will definitely do that!
     
  6. Bradley Parr
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    Bradley Parr Member

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    Hey @Sam Frost,

    I thought I would add my two pence worth, although @jmh105 has hit the nail on the head! So to say.

    Personally whenever I think about my characters and their 'personalities' I try to put my feet in their shoes. I close my eyes and figure out how they must feel/ think with the personality I believe them to have. But you shouldn't hesitate on what you think a character may or may not say/ think. As much as they are our creations, in a sense, they are their own person. So slapping a 'You wouldn't say that' sticker on someone might not be the correct answer.

    At this point I feel I am confusing even myself, the joy of waking up without coffee.

    Whatever the situation calls for, if you are struggling with keeping your characters personalities on track, sit back, close your eyes and watch/think about what it is they would do.

    Hope this helps :)
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    How are they going off track? Are they calm one minute and hysterical the next? Mean one minute and kind the next? If you can give us an idea of what you think is going wrong, maybe we can be more specific with our insight?
     
  8. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Have you taken the time to ask you character what the problem is? Maybe they are bipolar?
     
  9. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    @Bradley Parr I have in the past tried to sit back and just think about what my character is saying/thinking/feeling from his shoes, but after several revisions and deciding to start over with the story, the character changed somewhere along the way. He's not completely different, but enough so that I feel lost while writing him and can't seem to get back in tune with his thoughts. I think by just focusing on his POV it may help a bit (at least, I really hope so). Thanks for the advice!
     
  10. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    @jannert The problem lies in he's friendly and in good humor one moment, and then, suddenly, dark and gloomy. I can't seem to find a happy medium or decide what his personality is usually like, and which one is a cover/mask for the other/his past. Does this make sense?
     
  11. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    @KhalieLa I was actually considering this for some time, and while it's possible, I don't think that's the direction the character is trying to go.
     
  12. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    So, I tried writing a scene from the character who's personality I've been having trouble with point of view. If anyone's willing to give it a look over and tell me if he seems to be wobbling in his personality here that would be greatly appreciated.
    ....
    He froze, the hair on the back of his neck sticking up. Had it been a poor decision to try and settle in here? Ears straining, he listened to the breathing of a horse that wasn’t his. Dew was tied down in the back of the shack, he wouldn’t be able to hear the snorts from the front. He ducked down behind the threadbare coach, heart racing. Had the Tribe tracked him here? But why would they?

    The door creaked open and someone took a few steps inside. He pulled in a calming breath, trying not to choke on his fear. One person and one horse. If it was the Tribe then they would have sent more than that. Was it the owner of the shack? That seemed more likely.

    He reached out with his Danaa, sending the thin layer of sand covering the floor- mixed with dust and ingrained in the floor- to feel for the location of the other person. They were standing just inside, probably scanning the room, trying to figure out if anything was amiss.

    Then they stepped back out of the shack, returning to their horse. Short popped his head up. They’d left the door open but he couldn’t see them from where he was. He needed to leave. Here barely ten minutes and already on the move again. He sighed under his breath, the only noise he’d dare let himself make.

    Creeping in the shack wasn’t a possibility- everything was creaky and old- so his options were limited. Stay and hope they leave, which wasn’t likely, he admitted to himself, or make a run for it. Dew was still saddled and bridled and he hadn’t had time to properly unpack. He could grab his bag—

    Dammit! The bag had been sitting by the front door, but now it was missing. It had been in plain sight and would have sold him out immediately. Whoever had been here minutes ago had taken it back out with them, probably searching it. That meant he had to leave now.

    So Short sprinted for the back door. He leaped over the coach, pushed one of the two chairs out of his way, and hurdled through the already broken back door. “Hey!” he heard the cry from the front where the stranger was. He was almost to Dew, ready to vault himself onto her back, when a wall of sand erupted in front of him.

    He spun on his heel, heart racing. A girl stood there, her hair cropped short and choppy, covered in sweat, a large bandage tied around the calf of her right leg and blood seeping through. Yet she held her hand out in front of her, eyes tense in concentration, as she used her own Danaa to raise the wall of sand.

    They stared at each other, neither moving for a very long second. Then Short waved with his own hand, and Danaa, and the wall of sand fell apart. She gasped. Then she fainted.
     
  13. jmh105
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    jmh105 Member

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    I marked up your excerpt in Notability, paying attention to indicators of personality. Of course, being in the situation he is, his fear does not have to be a
    "personality" characteristic. Fear is a normal response in a situation such as this! However, his response to conflict/tension can indicate what kind of character he is.

    Based on reading this alone, of course, I can't discern just how friendly he is at times versus how gloomy he is. If you're still struggling with that part, try again with a different scene that might test these qualities.


    [​IMG]


    Take what you will from this! Maybe you'll learn something about your character you haven't even thought of before. Come to think of it, I think I want to do this exercise, too, and then see if people see the same qualities I see in my characters.
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I didn't sense any variation in his character from this excerpt. Maybe you're worrying about nothing? Most of us would react to a scary or dangerous situation differently from the way we would react to something else. I'd say carry on. His personality seems stable (and sensible) enough to me, at least from this bit. I would maybe be concerned if his reactions became inappropriate to the situation. If he suddenly started doing goofy things when he's in danger, or becomes gloomy when things are going well. But he's not doing any of that here.
     
  15. Sam Frost
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    Sam Frost Member

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    @jmh105 Thank you so much for marking it up! Just looking at your notes helps me a lot in realizing how he appears to readers and I think I may be overanalyzing him a bit. Your suggestion to write from his point of view was extremely helpful and you're right, I should try writing a calmer scene to see if his personality is as unstable as I was thinking earlier. You said you were interested in doing this same exercise, and if you do, I would gladly take a look at your snippet like you so kindly did for me.

    @jannert Thank you for taking the time to read my snippet! I'm glad to see that you think his personality seems stable. Writing from his point of view really helped me out.
     

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