1. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Showing personality in limited space

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Hubardo, Jan 9, 2016.

    Someone whose opinion I find highly valuable said that in this story I wrote, the main flaw is the MCs don't really have personalities. It's a short story, and I'm trying to meet a contest deadline which is in six days, so I have limited space (words) and time (deadline).

    How would you go about developing an MC's personality in such limited space/time?

    Some ideas I had for what I might do today is make a very thorough character development chart from somewhere online and then plug various elements into the story in subtle ways. Not sure what else to do.
     
  2. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Conflict! Create conflict ASAP, preferably multiple forms of it that can show--rather than tell--the characters' distinct personalities.
     
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  3. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Second that notion! Even a short story needs a punch, and how can you get a punch without conflict?
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reactions as well as actions. Little details you can slip in without calling attention to them.
     
  5. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sounds great but can you guys elaborate? In terms of plot there is tons of conflict. I'm unclear on how this brings out personality.
     
  6. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Having read your story, I think I agree with your reviewer. I'll try and type up a more detailed review for you shortly, but just to address the character part here, I think you've basically just divided people into Good Guys and Bad Guys. There's no ambiguity and no real depth.

    As a for instance: Corinne lost her parents when a storm crashed into a refuge centre. No attention is given to how she survived that and she seems completely untraumatised by the event. Her parents aren't even mentioned apart from when the narrative tells us what happened to them. The rock stacks in the Graveyard don't remind her of them (loved that image, btw). She never sees anyone that causes her to remember her mother. She never has a flashback to anything her father said. She's just there and things happen to her, just like everyone else.

    In your story, you've got conflict, but it's all external. It's entirely plot focused. Make some of it internal, and you'll start to be writing about humans rather than cyphers.
     
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  7. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    uhm.. sorry about this but is that the place to discuss a specific critique? Shouldn't that go in the workshop?
     
  8. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eh, that's a very long way from a full critique and it's easier to explain the point with examples. My conscience is pretty clear over that.
     
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  9. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    After giving it a quick glance-over, I agree with @NigeTheHat and @BayView.
     
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  10. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me...the opening is hard to perceive with 'awakens' [awkward word]...then the 'oak tree' and a 'canyon down below.' Just a bump at the start here with your green and yellow colours, that's all. But I cannot visualise, immerse, and am further confused by the character waking from this peaceful nap - contrasted with a bustling refugee camp at her rear. This doesn't seem right, seems forced, incongruous s'pose - but easily fixed, she can walk into scene...then, then a biblical quote washes over me, and why? I become lost, lose confidence. Also, there's a stylistic inversion in all the prose that telescopes me away from scene. Let's try this paragraph:

    A woman beside Corinne cries into her ear, “Lord Jesus, my baby! Save my baby!” The woman clutches her head and grimaces as if she were just stabbed. Corinne is reminded of her own parents, who were washed away in the second storm. This woman’s agony reminds her why she came to this wretched camp to begin with.

    So...drafting, I'd fix the scene in mind's eye - even over-write description of position and place, because a reader forgives a little lostness, error also, down the line on page two, but makes up his mind whether to continue at all, here, obviously, at the beginning. Draw me in, give me confidence:

    [position]Corinne stands amidst pilgrims dressed in rags] “Lord Jesus, my baby! Save my baby!” says the woman, bowed at Corinne's elbow, an exhausted woman, grimaces as if she were stabbed. She crouches, a sight of despair upon sand, like my mother, my father, thinks Cor, her parents washed away in the Second Storm...apols,

    More passion.

    I hope this helps you along. I hope you win.

    ...don't like the 'fucking' so much...
     
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  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure I'd go with the exact style of @matwoolf's example (I'm not as comfortable with grammatical creativity as he is!) but I really like the way he brings it all into closer third POV. This entire passage (so, I guess the whole story) is from Corinne's POV, right? So zooming it in more makes total sense as a way to add some emotion. First person might do it, too, but if you want to stick with third, yeah, much closer third.

    It's a version of show don't tell, I guess - "Corinne is reminded of her parents" is tell, and I think you could use more show.

    So, my attempt at the same passage:

    A ragged woman clutches her head, grimaces as if stabbed, and cries toward the stage, her voice shrill in Corinne's ear. "Lord Jesus, my baby! Save my baby!"

    Corrine wrenches herself away. She can't let herself be distracted, can't give in to the memories. Her own parents, screaming, crying, reaching out to her as the flood waters of the second storm washed them away. The fear, the chaos, every horrible thing that had brought Corrine to this wretched camp to being with. No, she has no room in her mind for any of that, not yet.​
     
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  12. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Damn you guys are good. Don't think I'm gonna have time to make this piece worth $1,000 but as always it was enjoyable trying to meet another deadline. Will do my best to keep working it between now and Friday, despite all my other responsibilities. :/
     
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  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write it for Friday, fail. Write on for the next one. The one after that they'll get you :).
     
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