1. Philemon
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    Philemon New Member

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    Process: character planning

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Philemon, Sep 29, 2015.

    Hey,

    I'm not sure if this is an issue that other people have or not, but I don't really 'get' coming up with characters.
    Where plotting and setting are concerned I find ideas come to me and germinate far more easily than character work. It's not something I have a lot of practice with and it'll probably come with time, but I wanted to ask whether anyone has a process they follow or some activities they tend to do that get them into the right frame of mind for it.

    Thanks
     
  2. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    This is exactly what is happening with me.

    These two places are good for starters:
    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/write-character-arcs/
    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/01/13/25-things-a-great-character-needs/
    warning: the second site is crude and rude, but it does have some really good stuff in it.

    I just bought these three books as well:




    I'm determined to get this as well. I write short stories but I want to bring in deeper characters.
     
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  3. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Here's an outline I like to use when planning out characters:


    Character Outline:

    Full Name:

    Nickname:

    Homeland:

    Picture (Optional):

    Appearance:

    Age:

    Personality/Traits:

    Powers/Abilities/Weapons:

    Back-story:

    Other:

    Character Profile Last Updated:

    Whenever I'm stuck coming up with a new character I'll use some random word generator and fill in the blanks.


    "Server Not Found" is one of my favorite books. :3

    I think there's something up with your images. They're not coming up for me.
     
  4. Philemon
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    Philemon New Member

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    Hey thanks for the sites. The second one made me chuckle =D
    The prompt looks worth a go as well. Thanks =)

    My biggest concern is that no matter how interesting the ideas are, or how carefully I sculpt the narrative, if the characters have nothing to them then it'll put people off
     
  5. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    You could try using personality profiles, like the Meyers-Briggs test, as starting points.
     
  6. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Just like creating scenes, creating characters takes practice. I am not aware of a formula or process, per se, or any easy way to do this difficult task well. What I do, and I have practiced creating characters this way, is to pay attention to people I am with that I find unusual, unique, or interesting; then try to recreate them in my mind and on the page. Often I create characters who are a blend of people I've met, some from the past and some more recent. Sometimes while waiting in lines, waiting rooms, etc., I am observing people and making up stories about them in my mind, then writing these down later (when I'm alone mostly anyway). :)
     
  7. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Another approach is to just not worry about "coming up" with a character.

    Characters have a tendency to develop themselves as they progress through a story. So you can come up with a single name (which can be changed later, after further development) and just start writing.

    Before long, things that your character needs to be - their personality, their physiology, their history, etc. - will become apparent. Whereas, otherwise, you run the risk (and note I said it's a risk, not a sentence) of boxing in your character as being a certain way, and trying to manipulate the story to fit the character.
     
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  8. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't do character bio sheets, but I get a lot of mileage out of purposefully programming characters with two traits that seem contradictory, then working out how those two things can co-exist in one person. That also usually gives you a good source of internal conflict as a bonus.

    For Instance, I have:

    A character who was raised as a practicing Jain (a harshly anti-materialistic religion) - but is a professional fashion and music blogger (she's obsessed with clothes). Hence, conflict between being true to her beliefs and being true to herself.

    A whip-smart character raised by a Yale professor who struggles with feelings of unworthiness in her upper-crust environment because she's adopted (she doesn't trust herself to function in her Ivy League world because she didn't inherit her mom's brain-power...she gets thrown for a loop when she finds out who her birth mother actually is).

    An Aboriginal Australian character who is very passionate about staying where she is and helping her people, but whose training and profession ends up forcing her to do big things the other side of the world. (She has a job most people would kill for, and hates it because she can't go home).

    So - starting with a contradiction and working backwards is a lot of fun.
     
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  9. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a lot of the value of this is that it creates conflict naturally from the character rather than shoehorning characters into contrived conflict. I similarly come up with characters and story together, though not always due to characteristic paradoxes. I won't go so far as to say the story "writes itself," but it gives plenty of plot fuel. The conflicts that come up from these can essentially become core components of the story to the point where resolving these contradictions is the whole purpose of that character's arc.
     
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  10. Indigo Sugar
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    Indigo Sugar Member

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    I'm new to the whole writing process. I've tried doing the character bio sheets... there just seems to be so many blank spaces to fill up. Will I even use any of this information? I guess its good practice to get into, but in a few of the things I've started writing or have written, I fill in the blanks as I go. My characters change with the story and I fill in my readers with the information as it becomes relevant to the story.

    Coming up with characters can be challenging but its also so much fun. You get to create, build, customize every character to how you want your readers to portray them. It may be a long process at times, but there are no limits to the kind of people we can create. Plus people watching is acceptable these days, so blending complete strangers (or friends/family) into characters in your work is great. PLUS if you don't like a character either cut them out or kill them. haha
     
  11. Emberi Homa
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    Emberi Homa New Member

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    There's no right way to create a story and the elements it involves (ie. setting, characters, etc). Some people are planners, while others are "pantsers" (this term was actually used quite a bit at a writing convention I recently attended!). Pantsers are the people who fly by the seat of their pants. They don't use character sheets, or plot maps, or lists. An element of a story comes to them, and they write. And, of course, there are the people who lie between these two terms, feeling and planning their way through a story.

    Now, the question is- what are you most comfortable with? Are you happy not planning out your characters, and just doing what feels right as you're writing? Or, are you wondering about character planning because you want some more structure in how you make and develop your characters? If that is the case, the other members on this forum have offered some solid advice.

    That being said, here are some "meet your character" exercises from a book about writing, The Lie That Tells a Truth, that I've found personally helpful:
    1) Write about your character cooking.
    2) Write about your character at work.
    3) Write about your character meeting an old friend/enemy/acquaintance after ten years.

    These sorts of activities are great for getting to know your character in a more active, "pantser" like way.
     
  12. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    The bio sheets are fun, but the more you write the more you realize what you need to know - and it's going to be different for every author. On one hand, I don't know what my main character's favorite color is and I don't know all of my characters' nervous ticks unless they are relevant - a lot of people want that. On the other hand, I know a lot of my characters' family histories - at least back to their parents and in some cases back to their grandparents. A lot of people would probably consider that overkill, but my story is concerned a lot with how people's history impacts their present, so knowing the family story is really important to my character development. It's all about what details help you as an author.
     
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  13. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I prefer the term "discovery writer" to "pantser"....and there's a spectrum there. I consider myself mostly a discovery writer but I design my characters and my plot in advance - it's the individual events that are free-form (I can't work from a scene-by-scene outline).
     

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