1. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Stengths and Weaknesses

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Pink-Angel-1992, Nov 25, 2011.

    I've been developing (and re-doing as my idea changes) initial character profiles. There just notes and for the most part I feel I can jot them down rather easily, or with a little research, can fill them in. However, when it comes to the strengths and weaknesses of the characters, I'm clueless. Other an looking at the personality traits of each character, I don't know what else I can put in this part!

    Strengths and weaknesses of a person has always escaped me. I've never know what to put for them, never mind when it comes to myself when people ask. So I was wondering if anyone can give me idea on things that can be seen as a person's strength and/or weakness!

    Thanks!
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've actually never liked character profiles that catalog things like strengths and weaknesses. If you can't tease those things out of your character concept and look at them in isolation, that may be a _good_ thing, one that indicates that you have a fully-drawn character rather than a manufactured hodgepodge of character traits.

    But if you really fear that they're missing depth, rather than being so deep that you can't disassemble them, you could think of this in other ways. For example, you could ask yourself questions based in the character's world:

    - Why do this character's friends like them?
    - Why do other people dislike them?
    - If they asked their boss for a recommendation, would the boss be happy to give one? What would the boss say?
    - If their friends heard that this character got fired or broke up with their romantic partner, what would they guess had happened?

    Most of those questions are about interpersonal relationships, because I tend to figure that any major issues will come out there, even if they affect other areas.

    ChickenFreak
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ChickenFreak's suggestions are pretty good, I think. Generally, a character doesn't exist in a vacuum; he exists in relation to other characters. Interpersonal relations are incredibly important in defining characters.

    This is the main reason I don't like to try to write up character sheets before I put the characters in the stories. It's just too hard to know who the characters are before we watch them in action. I find it easiest to write scenes involving the characters - scenes which may or may not actually be part of the finished story. Those scenes tell me who my characters are and what their relationships are like. I think that's better than any character profile sheet.

    Trust your imagination! Write scenes! Perform your trapeze act without a net! You'll find you're better at it than you think, and you'll find that you won't need your character profile sheets.
     
  4. Trytz
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    Trytz New Member

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    I also believe the best way to go about it is to jump straight in. Allow your character to develop on the go along with your imagination. Of course there will be flaws because of the lack of depth but thats where the revisions and clarity comes in. Another thing that is good about developing on the go is spontaneous ideas that are created with your quick wit. Hope this helps :) and im sure if you do this you will be satisfied with whatever you write.
     
  5. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    I could not agree more!

    I've been doing some writing exercises with a few characters lately where I put them in a scenario and see how they react. It helps give me a better understanding of their inner workings and how they'll respond to future conflicts and situations in my stories. In a sense this also brings out their strengths and weaknesses, along with many other personality traits.
    Example: Say you have two characters and they're standing outside the cinema staring at the movie board wondering which one to see. C1 wants to see a horror movie while C2 wants to see the latest comedy. How do these characters react? Do they solve this impasse? Which one will wield and why? Or will they both be stubborn?

    It's a great way to see your characters in a more realistic light without relying on a few dot points made up on the spot. It’s also quite fun.
    Good luck! :)
     
  6. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    Last Christmas to got this book and one of the chapters said to sit with a blank piece of paper or at a computer with a word document open and answer as many of the questions given as you can (I'll have to have a look at them again). Afterwards it said to ask your character them as if they were sat across from you and to keep the conversion going till you've asked them everything you want to know and given them the chance to ask you... Sounds really strange, but I'm going to give it ago, but I want an initial profile first for a bace to the questions. That's why I was wondering what people would say are strengths and weaknesses. Personality traits and skills/abilities could contribute to this, but other then those two, I don't know what else.

    Once I've done the interview for a character I'll try that scenario thing out to, because that could give more depth to the character!
    Thanks for the advice and comments so far!
     
  7. casteas16
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    casteas16 Member

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    I find the best way to give characters strengths and weaknesses - or as I prefer to call them, flaws and perks - is to envision them in as many different situations as possible. Strengths are easy to think of. A character could be trustworthy, reliable, honest, selfless, determined etc. These usually come to mind quite easily! =]
    You have to dig somewhat deeper to uncover their weaknesses. As I said above, imagine them in an array of situations, breaking up with a partner, arguing a point, fighting, preparing for a big show or presentation. Then think in each of these how the character would respond. Are they calm or nervous? Brave or afraid? Hot-headed or composed?

    If they are nervous before or during certain events in the story, then nerves are something they must overcome, and are therefore a weakness! Similar to being afraid of something, or quick to lose their temper. I personally find characters overcoming their shortcomings to be one of the most uplifting parts about reading a story.

    Anyway, yes. This is how I come up with weaknesses and flaws for my characters. Imagine your characters about to meet the president of America. If they're not nervous, then maybe you need to re-think the character somewhat ^^... or they're hugely arrogant and/or overconfident in themselves, in which case, that is your flaw right there!

    I may have babbled on ha! I'll shush now - this is ultimately up to you how you go about it. And good luck with your book =]!
     
  8. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    I've always thought that strengths and weaknesses were nothings you could merely plan out beforehand when creating a character. Not that you can't but if characters are reflections of yourself or others you've been with, then their strengths and weaknesses will display naturally. Just portray them interacting with one another and usually, their character quirks and elements whether good or bad will just naturally start to come out of the woodwork.
     
  9. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    The characters aren't a reflection of me or anyone that I know. The stoy is set on a fictional planet and the purpose of planning some weaknesses and strengths is for help and as a note to myself so that later on I'm not falling over myself - contradicting, I think the word is that I'm looking for (which I've probably spelt wrong!).

    I think I'll definatly have to give that sinario thing a try. Everyone who's commented so far has said that's want they do (or just jump straigh in, which I'm not brave enough to do!). I want to make sure that I know planty about my main/important characters before I start to write about them!

    Thanks for the advice!
     
  10. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Also, the same trait that's a strength in one setting can be a weakness in another, or if taken to an extreme. For example imagine someone who never gives up - a common strength of heroes, especially in shonen anime. If the situation really is unwinnable, they'll just get themselves killed pointlessly. If they have the wrong goal, they could easily morph into a villain. If their 'not giving up' takes the form of always trying 'the same but more' they could miss a clever solution that would be far easier and more effective (this is one thing that really bugs me about Ash Ketchum in Pokemon, with his complete lack of any sense of type effectiveness). Many weaknesses can also be strengths in the right setting, too. For example, a character who is a coward might be the one who survives a dangerous situation and manages to get help, because he ran away before they got trapped.
     
  11. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    That's a good point. I have thought before that confidence in a character can be both a strength an weakness give the situation, but when it came to jotting down a few for an initial character profile, I totaly forgot that a trait can be both! It's definatlly something that I need to remember, which that sinario thing may help with! Thanks for the advice!
     

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