1. kcs
    Offline

    kcs New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2008
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0

    Thinking Up Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by kcs, Oct 27, 2008.

    I've started writing a short story about a few people being taken hostage but i cant think up any more characters. I've already got a few but i need atleast 3 more plus a few bad guys.

    How do you guys think up your characters?
     
  2. Nilfiry
    Offline

    Nilfiry Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Eternal Stream
    I base some characters on personalites I may like/experienced, real-life people, and/or sometimes what the plot needs. You can try to outline your story then create characters that may lead to each point in your outline, but just know things never go as planned.
     
  3. AnonyMouse
    Offline

    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,223
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    For me, characters usually come as the storyline comes; they go hand-in-hand. But occaisionally, I need an extra character or two and it really doesn't matter what kind of person he/she is. It seems like that's what you're facing.

    In that case, I usually come up with one trait that defines that person and use it as a temporay name:
    For example, "The Angry Guy" or "The Lady with the Hat" or "Nerdy Kid."

    Then, I start to elaborate on that trait, asking why these people have these defining features:
    Why is Angry Guy so angry? Why does Hat Lady have that weird hat on? And why won't Nerdy Kid put down that handheld video game, we're in a hostage situation, man?!

    After you answer that, you'll start to build a background story for these people:
    Angry Guy got fired from his job at the factory this morning. His boss gave him his last paycheck and he came straight to the bank to cash it, but got in a car accident on the way. Then, he gets here and some guys try to rob the place and he ends up as a hostage. As you can see, he's having a very bad day and can't wait to take it out on someone.

    Hat Lady actually owns the hat store across the street from the bank. Business isn't going so well. Rumor has it, she's closing up shop next week. But how's a little old lady supposed to make a living now that her hat shop is closed? Rob banks. She may be in on it; watch out for her.

    Kid with the video game is just a kid with a video game. Sorry, I'm out of ideas on that one. Maybe he gets killed for not listening to his captors; it'll show these robbers aren't messing around. Or you could also ask yourself where his parents are; kids don't hang out in banks alone. Maybe Nerdy Kid's dad is hiding in a back room waiting for the perfect opportunity to ambush the robbers. (I guess I had more ideas than I thought. :D)

    After all that, just give them each a name and you're ready to go. Hope this helps.
     
  4. Synoran
    Offline

    Synoran Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Colorado
    I actually don't think much about it. In the way my brain works, overthinking leads to disaster and confusion. I go with my gut on the inital design, then actually think on creating depth.
    Like Nilfiry said, things NEVER and I mean NEVER go as you plan. I think one of my character's personality has changed more than twentry times, don't get me started on the details. I even tweaked the plot to comply for said character, and I think I'm finally happy with him for the time being. But that method might not work for you.

    That being said, if you think you need more characters, create them, but you may find out later you don't need that many, and might have to axe a few, which is fine too. Don't try to stick to a plan. It won't work.
     
  5. Emerald
    Offline

    Emerald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Dublin
    Instinct. I try to balance my cast of characters. If I feel there's too many serious characters, I'll add a few more light-hearted ones. If there's too many with happy/normal pasts, I'll put in a few with tragic/mysterious pasts. Too many men, I'll put in more women, et cetera.

    Instead of being random, try to sit back and think "what sort of person does this story need?" If you keep coming up with nothing, then perhaps your story doesn't need any more characters. Or maybe you just need to finesse things so that you can make room for a new character... (for example, people can tell when a 'comic sidekick' is shoe-horned in to the story without any need for him being there other than that the author feels he ought to)
     
  6. Emerald
    Offline

    Emerald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Dublin
    Instinct. I try to balance my cast of characters. If I feel there's too many serious characters, I'll add a few more light-hearted ones. If there's too many with happy/normal pasts, I'll put in a few with tragic/mysterious pasts. Too many men, I'll put in more women, et cetera.

    Instead of being random, try to sit back and think "what sort of person does this story need?" If you keep coming up with nothing, then perhaps your story doesn't need any more characters. Or maybe you just need to finesse things so that you can make room for a new character... (for example, people can tell when a 'comic sidekick' is shoe-horned in to the story without any need for him being there other than that the author feels he ought to)
     
  7. Kylie
    Offline

    Kylie Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    America
    I think of people I know and use some of their personalities. Don't start off detailed, it'll come as you start writing. Plus, there's no need to give your character a (for example) hair color, unless it becomes necessary to the plot. Characters are very easy to change. So if someone isn't working, change them!

    Think about what type of person your story needs or what type of person would liven up your story.
     
  8. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    I have a few ways to think up characters:

    One way is thinking of an actor I like and what character I'd create for them.

    Other times I just start putting together the character and it just happens. I think you need to just create them. Think up different characters that could work in your scenario. Just use a little bit of imagination. Maybe you should take like a week off and just don't try to write but think on it. You might be surprised at just how much your brain helps you out.
     
  9. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    I don't know how I do it. They just pop in my head as if they have always lived there. They do most of the work to be honest.

    This one kid, in my novel I am working on, Vampire Stasis, is named Nox, and he is Emo. I didn't have Emo's in my generation. I never knew one personally, accept for lately on the Internet if that counts. I did know some cutters growing up, but the Emo fashion was not in yet.

    The point being is he just popped in my head, fully formed, with a past and everything. He is an intelligent kid who loves psychics, and he is sort of hyper and silly. For me he is one of the comedic characters. He doesn't like to share his feelings, not even about simple things, like about how he feels about his dog dying, so he cracks jokes about it instead.

    I am sure this post was totally not helpful.

    Nonetheless, the advice given here is good. Because sometimes new information about a character does pop in my head, and it is logically based on who they are.

    Asking questions is a good idea. Why does the nerd play his PSP while the bank is being robbed? Why isn't he scared, or is he?

    Perhaps he keeps playing his PSP because when he gets scared that is what he does, he plays video games. That is his attempt at escaping reality. The reason he got that way is because when ever he had troubles and tried to talk to his parents about them, they shut him out. Because he had no one to talk to he played video games a lot. In time that became his let out. When ever he got emotional he stopped going to his parents, and went to the games.

    Maybe during the bank robbery he starts to associate different people with characters in his RPG video game. The situation is too much for him and he mixes reality and his video game together. I think you get the idea.
     
  10. tehuti88
    Offline

    tehuti88 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Michigan
    Whenever I need a character, they show up on their own. I just write down what they say and do, and learn about them as we go along. If I tried MAKING a character, they would end up very flat and forced and useless. Somebody new will just show up when I need them.

    I realize that isn't helpful, but you did ask how we do it, and that's how I do it. *shrug*
     
  11. TheAdlerian
    Offline

    TheAdlerian Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    2
    I'd make this a philosophical argument. Each character would represent a different stance and attitude. You have to think up which of course.

    If you think about it what I've sais reflects reality. Hostage takers are unlikely to capture a group of suicidally depressed people who beg to be killed or skilled Ninjas with a thousand tricks to destroy them.
     
  12. Scarecrow28
    Offline

    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Messages:
    496
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    That's Classified
    The process that I use to create my characters varies a lot. My MC was originally based upon an exaggerated version of myself along with some of the traits typical of heroes in the thriller. That was around six years ago and my MC gradually took on his own traits with time.

    For the more minor characters, I'll base them off of either people I know and people I've seen. I've also gotten into the habit of using the names of thriller authors. Another technique is to take stereotypes and build upon them until I have a believable character.
     
  13. Little Miss Edi
    Offline

    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    South East, England
    Ditto. I know that isn't a great help but perhaps if you just keep writing they'll 'appear'. I write a stream of conscious 'splurge' alongside my work so that anything swimming around up then can be recorded. That, I find, helps develop my characters/idea/plot/structure etc.

    Good luck.
     

Share This Page