1. Trave_xx
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    Trave_xx Member

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    Stereotype vs. Realistic vs. Complex Characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Trave_xx, May 2, 2007.

    I've just started to write my first book, and it hasn't brough many problems - then again, I just finished the second chapter.

    I have only stated five characters, three of which are main characters and/or have a lot of personality in the book.

    I simply want to know how everyone characterizes: Are most of your characters stereotypical, realistic, or complex? The main character is obviously in the realistic/complex area, but about the rest?

    Stereotypical - When your character can be described in one word. "Dumb." "Nerd." "Mischievous." "Random." All those words can become a single person. This method is used mainly for comical effect, simply because the read can't take these characters seriously.

    Realistic - When your character reacts the exact same way the "average" human being would, you have a realistic character. They are relatable. They are not over the top, and are described just enough so that they don't become complex. Most characters that are mentioned every once in a while can fall into this category because there is not enough characterization.

    Complex - When your character has emotions, feelings, opinion, and an original voice, the character is complex. Many times these characters are more relatable than the "Realistic" characters because a lot more is known about them. Most main characters fall into this. The character does not have to be normal, but there must be more than one side to them.

    I believe that depending on the story, the number of characters that fall into each category will change. A mystery book is more likely to have more stereotypical characters than realistic characters because of the limited number of characters (no room for realistic) and room for over-the-top characters. Even the main character won't be complex because there isn't much that is needed to say about them. On the other hand, a romance will have a larger number of complex characters, because these stories are full of voice, poit of views, etcetera.

    So yeah, I could ramble on but I would like to hear everyone's thoughts. Thank you.
     
  2. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    My characters aren't complex as you define them (I'm assuming you're thinking "troubled-past, mysterious intentions," types, like Sawyer, or really anyone from Lost), but you can't sum my characters up in a stereotype, and they are rarely realistic (Seeing as, considering humans today, "realistic" could be seen as synonymous with "whiny.")
    So...my writing doesn't quite fall into any of these categories, which makes it the most complex in itself, I guess!

    Just a musing: If you can some up your character with the world Realistic or Complex, doesn't that mean all your characters should go into Stereotype? What you've got set up here is a self-defeating exercise...
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Every character should have a purpose in the story, to move the plot forward, to add interest or conflict or resolution.

    Below is an article I wrote on different types of characters that may give some information on characters and their depth and purpose:
    Seven Common Character Types: http://www.fictionfactor.com/guests/common.html
     
  4. Trave_xx
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    Trave_xx Member

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    There are always exceptions, obviously. I'm being very general on the subject because there are more than three types of characters. I'm just pointing out a way of looking at characters differently.
     
  5. Ferret
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    Ferret Contributing Member

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    Breakfast Club = Win. If you do stereotypes, go way over the top.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i only look at my characters, or anyone else's, as well-befitting the plot, or not... that's really all that matters...

    why do people have to label everything?... fiction is 'creative writing' after all... believable, interesting characters that 'work' is all a writer should go for...

    sorry, but i get so tired of all the analyzing and jargon-tossing that goes on whenever a bevy of aspiring writers get together... i didn't hear any such ponderings from all the seasoned pros i used to know back in my old life's hometown of westport, ct [a well-known writer's colony from way back!]...

    bob ludlum did like to joke about his 'pancake' novels in which he only had to change names and places, but sure didn't agonize over what kind of characters he created... nor did any of the other best-selling authors i knew there...

    so, lighten up, peeps!... and just write characters you would like to read about... ;-)

    love and hugs, maia
     
  7. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    I agree with mm to an extent. Just write the characters. No need to over-analyze.
     

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