1. charliepratt
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    charliepratt Banned

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    QUESTION: What are the things that pull you in to a character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by charliepratt, Sep 26, 2008.

    I was discussing this the other night with a friend of mine, sitting at a table for two on a rooftop bar (or is it in a rooftop bar?).

    What are the characteristics, actions, or bits about a character that draw you in the quickest?

    For me:


    1. Dialogue (either the believability or the bombastic quality of language)
    2. To thine own self be true (the ability a character has to be themselves, boldy or stupidly)
    3. Unpredictability (whether by small or great measure, I like to be surprised)

    What about you?
     
  2. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    For me, identifying with at least one of the character's traits always a draw.
     
  3. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    I know a lot about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which has the idea that everyone has a core set of beliefs which branch out like an idea tree affecting all feelings and behavior. For instance, if Bob was abused as a kid and believes, "I can't trust anyone," and "I'm a victim," then he won't engage in too much contradictory behavior.

    So, I think "what is this character's philosophy," and write stuff about them which fits it. Hopefully, that won't create unrealistic characters who just do whatever.
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I'll know it when I see it.

    I know that isn't too useful, but...*shrug.*

    Being able to identify with a character's emotions is a big thing, but again, this is very general and is not always 100% accurate.

    Whatever it is that draws me to a character, it must be very rare, because I'm not often drawn to other amateur writers' characters the way I'm drawn to mine. I'm not saying I'm a fantastic writer and everyone else sucks--just that for some reason most of their characters don't resonate with me. They fall flat.

    I didn't identify with most of the characters in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy...they just seemed distant to me. I didn't care for most of them. The story was okay but it didn't really stick with me. With "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell," however, I adored almost every one of the characters, even the lesser ones. I can't say why this was; the writer just did a much better job of making them sympathetic to me. Considering that both of these stories are hugely popular, I can't say either of the writers sucks. What draws me to a character just seems to be a matter of personal preference.

    Like I said, I'll just know it when I see it.
     
  5. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    Ditto. I always feel drawn to a character who either
    1. displays a trait that is similar to one of mine
    2. displays a trait or opinion that is very different to mine and I strongly dissaprove of.
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Flaws. Characters written with personal weaknesses seem real to me. Then, I want to see how those natural character elements impact the plot.
     
  7. TheFedoraPirate
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    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

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    That's pretty much my list too. I also tend to like eccentric characters, Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker's Guide, Yossarian and Orr from Catch-22, John from John Dies At The End ...
     
  8. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Grey characters who I can't quite figure out. For me in complexity lies the intrigue. They should be bound by their own personal principles but yet still have the ability to surprise you.
     
  9. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I completely agree. Characters that tend to surprise me are always fascinating.
     
  10. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    [Apologies to the OP for going off-topic] See, this is exactly why I didn't like the Joker in Batman. I didn't see that he had any personal principles. He was just an evil man, wrapped in complex behavior and witty comments but no personal principles; "signifying nothing."

    ---

    I like sympathetic characters. The things that pull me in, specifically, are as varied as the stories that are written, but it must have a character who gains my sympathy in order for me to remain interested. Examples are Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon; John Coffey in The Green Mile; Ender Wiggin in Ender's Game; or Anne Elliot in Persuasion.
     
  11. Kylie
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    Kylie Contributing Member

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    Someone that is like me. Someone that thinks like me. Someone I want to be like.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Complexity, and believability.
     
  13. TwelfthNight
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    TwelfthNight Member

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    Exactly.
     
  14. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I prefer characters who have odd little quirks. For instance, I once read a book where there was a murderer who would beat people to death with a frozen chicken and punish himself by eating mustard, which he hated. There was another book where the villain would change his name and personality on a whim. I love things like that.
     
  15. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    For me there are several things that pull me into a character all of which bear equal importance.

    Dialouge is very important. I want there dialect, attitude and language to reflect who they are.

    Description. I want to be able to see them, visualize them.

    Personality. I want believable personalities and one's I can connect with. I want to hate the villians, love the girls, I want the children to be cute and oblivious.

    Realism. Ties in with all of the above really.
     
  16. captain gonzo
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    captain gonzo Member

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    Excess: I need to see gross extravagance. I hate mundane/down to earth characters.

    Dialogue: The way they talk and present themselves, they have to have they own little things in how they talk.

    Personality: Goodie goodie characters bore me, I want an angry, mad and generally anti social character...maybe its just how I identify with them.

    I find that if a character goes beyond what is reasonable behaviour and pushes things too far its harder to NOT believe them. The problem is people doon't believe extremes in fiction even if they exist in real life. I once wrote an autobiographical account of an even and people didn't believe my main character, who was me....apparently I am actually unrealistic and too extreme to be believable.
     
  17. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    Wow, I didn't think I'd find someone who felt the same way I did about both of those books.

    Anyways, I like my character's flawed and complex. I don't know, but it just makes the story that much better when they confront their inner and external conflicts in the end. Of course, the tragic characters are always fun too.
     
  18. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me it's how believable a character is. Is this a person that I'd interact with if I were to know them? Would I care about them?

    To me, if a character seems belieavle, and the author can make me care about the character, that pulls me into that character.
     
  19. Suomyno
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    Suomyno Member

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    I think for me believability is the biggest thing.
     
  20. DownUnder
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    Being able to relate to the characters, also flaws and complexity.
     
  21. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Dialogue,

    is my numero uno. I get turned off really easily if the dialogue is trite or unconvincing.

    2. I'm not the kind of person who is attracted to only characters I "connect with on a personal level." I once blew up on a few people who marked off points because they didn't relate to my characters. As long as the characters are believable (even while they're out doing really ridiculous/outlandish/out of this world stuff), I'm okay with it.

    And, 3) while I don't have to relate to them, I'm only going to invest my time in an appealing character. That burden falls on the writer.
     
  22. Scarlett_156
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    Scarlett_156 Active Member

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    The thing that draws me to a certain character is the writer who's writing about him/her.

    If the writing is not good, then the character can be quirky as hell but I won't care. I have never read a story all the way through, or enjoyed a story that I had to read for some reason or another, because of its characters--I read stories for the writing.

    Y'all are going to get sick of hearing me say this over the next few weeks, but: I'm currently reading Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina. I have never read anything by this writer before, strange as that may seem.

    There isn't one single character in this novel that I can appreciate, like, identify with, or feel sorry for to any great degree. They are all interesting in one way or another but I am not DRAWN to any of them, and indeed this book has languished in my library for more than 20 years now--a roommate moved and left it behind. I started reading it a couple of weeks ago and am maybe one-third of the way through. I'm so into it that if I don't get the full meaning of a paragraph, or feel I've missed something, I will start reading the chapter over again.

    So why do I think this is such an awesome story? It's not the characters by any means--it's the intelligent, artistic, workmanlike, compassionate, lush voice that describes them all, and their lives and acts, in such loving and exact detail.

    In the hands of a bad writer, even a fascinating character will sound stodgy. In the hands of a good writer, even a drip like Constantine Levin lives, breathes, and has my utmost attention.

    I hope this helps to answer your question. yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  23. Carmina
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    Carmina Contributing Member Contributor

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    The characters to whom I am most drawn are the ones who are complete and complex individuals. They have strengths and flaws. They have beliefs and histories. Their actions make sense and stem from those beliefs and come out of their experiences not just to forward the plot.
     
  24. Puzo44
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    Puzo44 Member

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    I agree, I do not connect to 90% of the characters I create.
    How am I supposed to relate to an adopted Mafia hitman and his sadistic wise-cracking asshole best friend?
     
  25. Sephie913
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    Sephie913 Member

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    A system of morals. No person willingly admits that he or she is evil. If any evil is admitted, it should probably be seen as the lesser of two evils. Every character furthers his or her own goals, never realizing just how clouded their judgment has become.

    Also, when the sense of morals or "right" drives them toward action, it makes even the smallest gesture matter and creates significance to the least dramatic scene. It makes the character much more believable, and much more sympathetic.
     

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