1. eg8hardcore
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    eg8hardcore Member

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    Should the character fit the story or the story fit the character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by eg8hardcore, Oct 5, 2014.

    What are your thoughts on this. Should your plot and story and events develop around the character. Does your character have a personality and key features, and as he goes through the story the events form around him based on his actions.

    OR

    Is your character written to fit the story? Are the events in your story pretold, and the character is written and his/her personality changed to fit the events as needed?
     
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  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    They shape each other. I can't set my characters in stone because that leaves no room for creativity in the storyline. I can't force my characters to conform to my story because then they can't develop into fully-formed people.
     
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  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For me, it always starts with character. Plot just comes from what characters do given the situation they're in. Starting with a plot, then trying to design characters to act it out, just feels like making puppets instead of people.
     
  4. Mike Hill
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    Mike Hill Natural born citizen of republic of Finland.

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    Personality can change is writing process as long as it doesn't change too much in the book.
    Otherwise character will look like a puppet who doesn't have "a soul".
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Characters go through arcs during the story. If they didn't, there really wouldn't be a story, would there? But that doesn't mean you don't start with the character and the situation he's in. ;)
     
  6. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    I'm with Shadowwalker on this. They tend to inform each other. Restricting either loads the story, usually negatively. I have a destination in mind when I write, but how the character gets there depends on the character, how they change with the story, and how they influence the story too. If I'm surprised by a character while I write then I know I'm doing something right, and I don't worry if the direction of the story changes because of that, as long as it's not a U-turn!
     
  7. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why does a character exist? Why does a story exist? These will both be morphed by an overarching point from the creator. As well, they will be mutually bound to another, as a man and his reality.
     
  8. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Story first for me.

    “That trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills. My characters are galley slaves.”

    - Vladimir Nabokov
     
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  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    My characters never get "out of hand" - but the more real I make them, the more they guide my hand.
     
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  10. jonahmann
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    jonahmann Active Member

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    I've done both, but when writing flash fiction I start with the story.
     
  11. Empty Bird
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    Empty Bird Member

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    This is such an interesting question! But I think personally, from my own experience, the plot breeds the character. Ie. I get an idea for a plot and the characters are part of the plot- like...the wheels to the car, there to move it along. Then comes the "hey! Wouldn't it be interesting if this wheel didn't work with the others? I wonder where the journey would go then..."

    I don't think there's any rule to what comes first, to be honest- as I'm a strong believer in there being no rules to writing anyway.

    Plot fuels the character but the characters fuel the plot. Sometimes it's interesting if the character doesn't fit the plot- a reluctant hero, someone in the wrong place at the wrong time...interesting!

    Good luck with your writing!
     
  12. eg8hardcore
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    eg8hardcore Member

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    Flash fiction?

    What is that?

    Also I find my characters have to be built for the story, the plot already laid out, but the characters can make their own decisions in it.
     
  13. jonahmann
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    jonahmann Active Member

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    Fiction under 1000 words.
     
  14. eg8hardcore
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    eg8hardcore Member

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    Gotcha! Thanks for that!
     
  15. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    Character and plot have a symbiotic relationship. One cannot exist without the other. They influence and feed off of each other. Asking which came first is rather like the chicken and the egg. They evolve together.
     
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  16. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    They grow together, at least for POV and main characters. Side characters are built to ease transitions, provide details, and move the story to where it needs to go.
     
  17. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    To add to what's been said:

    That's sort of looking at a novel that's character-driven vs. a novel that's plot driven. While neither 'driven' influences 100% of the story, often a the story told by an author leans one way or the other. If it's plot-driven, then the character fits within the storyline...and with character-driven, more the other way around.
     
  18. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I have done it both ways to be honest and this particular writing system works for me really well.
     
  19. Shayla
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    Shayla Member

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    It depends what you came up with first.

    If you come up with a plot for a story, you'll want to create the ideal characters to fit in with the setting which can be difficult as you'll want to think of the perfect characters to convey a story.

    If you think of a character first, I find it can be easier as you can put that character into any scenario you see fit and experiment with where that character can go.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, and yes.
     
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  21. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    As others have said, "both." Stories start as character(s) in a situation.

    But you, the author, are the ultimate driving force. You can give both the characters and the plotline their heads from time to time, but you have to be ready to rein them in or even switch them out if needed.

    For instance, perhaps you're writing a romance and you come up with what you decide are the perfect couple. But as you develop the guy, you realize he'd do better as the secret killer in a horror piece than as a romantic hero. What now? You can go with the character and write the horror piece instead. But you don't have to. You can send that horse back to the stable (to keep the equine metaphor going) and bring in a new hero, just as "real," to take your romance to the conclusion you wish.
     
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  22. Sonoran
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    Sonoran New Member

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    It's a matter of tightening and loosening the rope--you should look for a middle ground, and as the story begins taking shape there will be moments it seems you are veering one way or the other, which is good; it's sort of like calibrating both the story and the characters until the seams are invisible.
     
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  23. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reminds me of a music teacher. Used to try and point out that inspite of people tending to focus on one type of sound that a song only truly works because the sounds mix. Setting and Character are both part of picture and one shouln't be given true greatly higher importance other the other. Unless that is the point I suppose as with a picture anology I suppose a picture without a person would in a sense try to focus more on a setting. Me personally I usually do character first. Because after i get a basic character concept, I sort of build the world I think produced tem andthen give thm a direction.
     
  24. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    This is my rifle. There are many others like it but this one is mine. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.

    They compliment each other. Character and story must mesh together, not one change to suit the other.
     
  25. Franz Hansen
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    Franz Hansen Member

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    When I started to write my Draconia series, I created the main character first, then I developed the story.

    For short stories, I'll start with a situation and create the characters I need from there.
     

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