1. RLJ
    Offline

    RLJ Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2012
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Miami, Florida

    Still here. Still Stuck

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by RLJ, Aug 19, 2012.

    Hi guys! It's been a while. I've spent a fair amount of time (majority of the past two months) trying to get started with my writing, well I know what time period I want it to be in, and I can even develop, and picture how I want scenes to play out, but I can't seem to develop my characters, I feel like they are very one-sided and don't have room to develop throughout the course of the novel. When I sit down and start filling out my character charts, I've found that describing them as if someone is talking about the character makes it easier to create them in my mind, but I always seem to get stuck.
     
  2. B93
    Offline

    B93 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    32
    Perhaps after reading the good suggestions in other threads about character development and doing all the planning you feel you can do, it is time to just start writing. You may find the characters becoming more real to you and easier to refine if you have them doing something, interacting, and reacting rather than sitting for your mental portrait of them.
     
  3. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,821
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I'd get rid of the character charts, they can be ultimately confining and though
    helpful in sorting things out, until your character speaks, a lot of these items are
    what you'd call flat information.

    Examine other people, carry around a notebook and describe them - without using a lot of easy
    fall-backs like - blue eyes, blonde hair, listen in on conversations. Describe someone you
    love - without mentioning how they look but rather collect expressions, curious traits they have, nice
    things they've done. Why do you like them. Really think about it - don't be nice, jot down even the things that
    irritate you about this person. Now try and describe someone you don't like. Get away from
    looking at people in terms of looks, what they do, and what they have - as far as I'm concerned
    these are 'frills' - helpful but still frills, a real person is motivated by goals, old haunts, fears,
    desires, dreams - once you can make your characters goal driven, not just for the big stuff the
    plot stuff, but for minor stuff, you're on your way to making a believeable character.

    Practice a small scene with your hero - depending on your genre give him or
    her a small problem and force him/her to react - this will give you more understanding of your
    character than a dozen charts.

    Watching over a group of people buying ice cream, I saw one middleaged woman hand her
    black-cherry ice cream cone over to her reluctant husband. "Hold this." She ordered. "What for?" He
    already had his own cone in his hand and was busy licking. "Cause I need to go to the washroom."
    She might as well as added stupid, to the end of that statement. He waited till she disappeared
    around the corner before giving her cone a clandestine lick.

    Just based on this small action you can reveal the personalities of these two -
    without resorting to a lot of backstory, or description.
     
  4. Tom Fletch
    Offline

    Tom Fletch Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2012
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    I normally get the basics down and let it flow.

    Like, name, rough description (hair colour, size, clothing, age), who he is friends with and who he doesn't like to much (but only people he sees alot) and a general view on life.

    I hate giving examples from my own writing, but Felix is a wizard who has achieved immortality. As such, he doesn't mince his words (after all, he has eternity to find new friends/he cant be killed), but he's enjoying not aging/dying to much so he's generally happy go lucky,ish. He's young (part of the immortality thing) but has the wisdom of someone much older than him. He doesn't run into danger because he knows others can die from his actions even though he can't.

    Rough idea, and i have enough to write with. But recently he met with Death, and he became scared, even though nothing from my origional idea would lead you to belive he's scared of anything (nor his previous actions, he's a bit of an antihero at times).

    Felix turned a few shades paler, “Death? As in. The. Death.”
    “Yep. Wondered when I’d be seeing you.” Death said, perching himself on the edge of the table,
    “Does this mean I’m going to finally die?” Felix asked,
    “What? No. Well, if you want to.” Death said, “Personally though I couldn’t care less that your immortal.”

    Suddenly someone who is abit loud, brash and immortal is fearing for his life and being incredibly humble. But i never wanted him to be. Side note: Death was supposed to be pissed off at him, but he ended up not to being.

    TL:DR:-
    Don't plan everything, plan bits and the character will come to life. I know its a cliche, but it's true. If he seams abit 2-d, write with him 2-d, give him problems and they will deal with it in their own way. But trust your instinct, not your brain. I knew someone who wrote her villain finding out she had a mole in her evil organisation, but didn't kill her because the writer wanted the mole alive for abit more. And instantly the character seamed duller. (The villain had previously had no problem with murder and/or genocide)
     
  5. DanesDarkLand
    Offline

    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    The only time I feel that information on a separate sheet for a character is useful is when its not a main character, but a peripheral one. You can't expect yourself to keep tabs on what each minor player might do in a given situation, but you can expect yourself to know what your main characters will do. If they act out of context, such as exhibit fear when they shouldn't, or run when they never would, or even be a melancholy personality when they are upbeat, you have to have a reason for the break in character. Without a reason for the break, your just putting in details to make your characters fit the plot, or the story. It doesn't make them real for you, or for the reader. I quote Rowling on this one. "If you don't care about your characters, how can you expect your reader to?"
     
  6. marktx
    Offline

    marktx Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    202
    Likes Received:
    8
    Take a break from the novel and write something else, the lower the stakes, the better. Find a website where people write short stories (fanfiction is good), set up a screen name that nobody will ever trace back to you. Read the other stuff on the site. Allow yourself to become impatient with the quality of the writing you see. Read some more, and let yourself get more impatient. Finally, after you just can't stand it anymore, write your own fanfiction story and show them how it's done.

    At least, that's what worked for me. :D
     
  7. J. Blake
    Offline

    J. Blake Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    FL
    It's like auditions for a movie. Drop them in a scene and watch em go. That's usually the best way. Character sheets can be good (depending on what kind of writer you are), but more often than not are confining your character before he/she even has the chance to say anything.
     
  8. Carthonn
    Offline

    Carthonn Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2008
    Messages:
    407
    Likes Received:
    32
    I think you need to write some dialogue. When you have two character charts you need a way to connect them. The easiest way for me to connect two characters is through dialogue. Once the connection is made, tension may or may not occur. With tension come development.
     
  9. Fivvle
    Offline

    Fivvle Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2012
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Washington
    I write character monologues, which almost always give me deep insights and new ways of thinking about things. Monologues are my favorite :)
     
  10. JeffS65
    Offline

    JeffS65 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2009
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    Been a while since I posted...

    My thought:
    Spend less time thinking about scenes and such. Ultimately, the story is about the characters. Sure, you need a story to within which the characters exist but the characters are the reason you are reading. The reason you (ie - the reader) care about the story at all.

    Good character writing, in my opinion, is about representing things we know about people. Not the projections of a super hero and such but the flaws that I or my family members have. These things are universal to kings and garbage collectors.

    Ultimately the characters are not only the reason but the vehicle to tell the story. What is their place in the story. What element of the story are they going to tell. What part of their personality strengths and flaws drive the story forward. I often see people write projections of characters they want to see (ie - the super hero, evil villan etc) but don't consider what the readers needs to be compelled to read the story.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  11. Volcre
    Offline

    Volcre Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Perhaps an exercise worth trying?
    You said that you find that it works the best when you write about the character as though someone else was speaking about them? Why not write about each character from each other character's perspective? Like if you've got Jack, Jill and Jean, then write about how Jack thinks Jill is snobbish and condescending but Jean actually finds Jill to be intelligent and good-hearted if perhaps a little overconfident. And then of course you as the writer would know that Jill has confidence issues so she puts up a front.

    Remember that people are complex creatures and that everyone sees everyone else differently. Think about yourself. Of the people you know, how many people see you exactly alike? Your parents see you differently to the way your friends do. And they say see you differently than your enemies do. My advice? Just meet people. Meet a lot of new people and talk to them. Take the chance to talk to every new person you meet. And making notes can always help. They say the best fiction is based on reality. The more kinds of people you meet (both good and bad) the more experience you have to draw on when you write...
     
  12. RLJ
    Offline

    RLJ Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2012
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Miami, Florida
    Thanks guys! Things are starting to get better. I'm now trying to expand my plot past the superficial description it was when it first sprang into my head.
     

Share This Page