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  1. MisterOz_GatorLover
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    MisterOz_GatorLover Member

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    Should it be a point of emphasis to talk (& care) about the interests of a character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MisterOz_GatorLover, Jan 29, 2011.

    If I were to give a character traits, whether it be a villain or a protagonist, I can't make the villain like EVERYTHING I HATE and make the protagonist like nothing that I hate. Wouldn't it seem to one-sided and contrived if I were to do that? Plus, it's basically saying that the main character or any good character is "me." It sounds Hitlerian. But having a protagonist like things that I despise is too hard to fathom and may take unnecessary effort. So would you recommend that I delve deep into a character's interests, even interests that don't affect his attitude or motivations? Would emphasizing a character's favorite TV show, favorite type of music to listen to, and favorite sports teams be a waste of time or is it something I should think about? There'll be a variety of answers, so give them to me.
     
  2. Holden
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    Holden Senior Member

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    If it adds valuble material to the story and would be of interest to the reader, then go for it. Characters interests, hobbies, likes/dislikes deepen the characters for the reader. It is almost impossible to read a novel filled solely for paper-thin, two-dimensional characters.

    Even if you don't specifically referrence the preferences of a character, it often can help you as a writer visualize what they would do in a certain scenario. After all, knowing your character more than you would have can't hurt. Take some time and think deeply about your characters.
     
  3. MisterOz_GatorLover
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    MisterOz_GatorLover Member

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    Thanks. It'll be a challenge though to have protagonist characters like things I can't stand, though.
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    A character should be true to him/herself - the writer's own personal likes and dislikes should have nothing to do with it.
    We as writers, write about fictional characters. Theses characters can be based on real life characters - not necessary ourselves.
    The more you write - the more characters you are going to need to invent, you can't base all your protagonists on yourself.
     
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  5. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    Anything that realisticaly can be brought into your story that would be interesting for a reader, or add to the depth of a character with 'showing' rather than 'telling' makes your writing better. I havn't posted much on here at this moment, but you'll see that I get every detail into a story that I can.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    What to include and not to include in character development:

    Important things to focus on:
    1. Motivations
    2. Reasons for said motivations
    3. Any past trauamatic events
    4. What makes your MC upset: scared, angry, threatened, etc. (These are useful because you can use them to make legit, meaningful obstacles)
    5. What makes your MC happy (same reasons)
    6. Does your MC have any personality changes over the course of the story, or change his/her mind about important issues?
    7. If so, what prompted it?
    8. Motivation switches? Why?
    9. What is your MC really good at?
    10. What is your MC bad at?
    11. What is your MC's weak spot?

    This sort of thing. Now, as far as the TV show/music/etc, mention it IF and ONLY IF it illustrates some of the above things in a show-not-tell way.

    Barring that, details to avoid getting hung up on include:
    1. Height/weight/eye color/birthmarks/hair length/etc
    2. Favorite movies/shows
    3. Favorite color
    4. B-day, names of all their relatives (unless said relatives are characters), etc
    5. Favorite music

    etc.

    I mean, there's nothing wrong with saying that your MC comes into the apartment, kicks off her heels after a long day at the office and puts on Drowning Pool, if it's mentioned in one line in passing. As I'm always told, "Get the dog's name." If you say your MC is watching TV at a given moment, don't just say "TV," say what show. Likewise for music, etc.

    But please don't try to cram all these details down our throats in an infodump. If it feels forced, it's bad -- trivial things in themselves don't add much, so only work it in when it's done naturally.

    And beware -- steer clear of "character development profile sheets" that contain nothing but favorite food, color, TV show, horoscope sign and jeans size.

    Hope I helped!
     
  7. Pen
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    Pen Member

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    As far as interests go, the important question is how these interests relate to the story. The goodie might love watching football, and the baddie might loathe sports and prefer a nice game of chess, but really that's of passing interest unless the story concerns those interests in some significant way.

    If the bad guy is bad because he opposes your hero or likes things you don't like, and/or the hero is good because he is presented as such or he likes the things you like, then you've got a problem.

    If the bad guy's interests stem from his character (e.g. he hates sports because he is an asthmatic and is very bitter about what he sees as veneration of undeserving people who got lucky genetically, and loves chess because it levels the playing field), then you should be OK.

    Drawing on your own personal experience isn't a problem, but take a good long look at what these experiences were and how they characterised people. Interests are part of the results of character, rather than determinants of it.
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stop thinking of your character as you - they are a seperate entity you have created. Like with children it is a poor parent that forces them to be a mini me. A poor writer forces their character into a certain model.

    There is a song You're Nothing Without Me from City of Angels about a character talking to his writer might be worth checking out.
     
  9. JeffS65
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    JeffS65 Contributing Member

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    I agree with the assessment that your likes should have nothing to do with it. What gives your character depth is important. People are flawed. Within yourself, you have things you like and dislike. That is being a whole person. However, to assign a protagonist with all the good and antagonist with the bad is kind of odd. Any character is going to contain likes and dislikes.

    I think you need to remove yourself from the feelings of the characters a bit. If you write them sheerly from an emotional point, you are going to probably going to make characters that are mono-dimensional. They will appear as the book version of cardboard cut outs.

    Humans have complexities, so should the characters.
     
  10. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I am so glad you mentioned motivations as number one on your 'to focus' list. I think that's the most important thing. Once you have the motivation(s) you can dream up scenes (apparently this is called dramstorming) leading him towards his goal, and while doing so you'll find out what kind of a person you want your character to be. How? From the way you have him/her react to certain situations. So, any of his/her interest/likes/dislikes important? Yes, anything about the char that you decide to use (even his favorite color and TV shows) in a scene is important IF it is relevant to the scene and that scene is relevant to his overall motivation/goal. But the only thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn't just throw in 'his favorite color' in a scene without a compelling reason that the scene requires it.
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find it strange that you'd make a character like things you "despise". I don't know what you're talking about here, but people should only really "despise" things like... recreational puppy kicking.

    You aren't going to sympathise with a character who you're forcing unpleasant traits on, and they'll come off that way.

    If this is just about Justin Beiber or something, then understandable, but adds no character development unless the story itself is about them overcoming their crippling addiction to bratty superstars. Taste in things is pretty arbitrary, and I don't really understand why it polarises people quite so much as it does. I'm friends with loads of people with wildly different likes and dislikes. When I write a story, though, I can use all of that and write characters who like all sorts of stuff, and CARE about liking those things, without feeling like I'm betraying myself, because A: I don't care, and B: it doesn't really matter anyway, and C: it's not important to the story unless we get back to my first point about genuinely unpleasant characteristics, in which case *no one* is going to like you character.
     
  12. jaywriting
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    jaywriting Member

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    I think most writers use elements of themselves in their MC. You need to understand your MC so use bits of people you know well to form the basics of the character. Once you've built up enough background the MC will take on a life of its own, and take you to places you might not have expected.
    I think its great fun to write characters that have very different attitudes to the world than my own. However it has to be plausible to the reader so try to use people you know, possibly someone you dislike, to add realism to your characters.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should only include whatever the reader needs to know, in order to 'know' the character, or whatever is relevant to the plot... don't toss in details like that just for the heck of it...
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think you have to like the same things as your protagonist, but you have to understand why your protagonist likes those things. If you just don't get how anyone could possibly like x, you're not likely to be able to write a convincing character who likes x. As for how much you need to know about those interests, well, it depends how prominent they are in the story. If your character likes bowling and he has a key conversation in a bowling alley you probably don't need to know much about bowling. But if a major plot twist hinges on the finer points of a game then you're going to have to know more about the subject.
     
  15. MisterOz_GatorLover
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    MisterOz_GatorLover Member

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    Thanks for responding all of you. I know that there've been many responses since I last posted on the thread, but all of you bring up good points. A lot of the interests of the central characters is irrelevant, but some key interests include the antagonists liking reality shows that don't reward talent, skill, effort, hard work, and creativity as well as Miami Bass music and commercialized pop-punk with angsty themes and whiny vocals. These interests are key because the antagonists captivate a group of people by performing these interests or flaunt it in the faces of the protagonists. I had my female lead finish high in surfing contests and surf as much as she can when she can. Yet I don't consider myself a fan of surfing. So there is some balance as far as protagonists liking things that I don't care for or pay much attention to. But I certainly won't have any of my protagonists like shows like the reality shows I mentioned above and the music I mentioned above. Anyway, it is best to only focus on a character's interests if it keys parts of the story. To do otherwise would make me look like the very people I hate--celebrity gossip fans who care about the personal lives of interests of people who happen to be famous.
     
  16. RickyQ123
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    RickyQ123 New Member

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    I like the way you had the idea to create characters based on their surroundings, interests, and influences, this is a good way to create a character. Creating a unique personality as if it were real so that the reader can relate to and like or dislike depending on the role of the character.
     
  17. Pen
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    Pen Member

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    I guess the question would then be why your antagonists like these things- while I would agree that liking those things indicates somebody is at least slightly vapid, you will probably have to be very careful to avoid creating straw man caricatures.
     

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