1. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Tiny details

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by colorthemap, Jun 22, 2011.

    I have the rough outlines for the characters in my novel, well at least 2 of them, but I just don't know how to bring it all together and make them 'characters'?

    So my question:

    How do you come up with their personalities and well names.
     
  2. WastelandSurvivor
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    WastelandSurvivor Member

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    I make an individual outline for each of my primary characters. In it I give them full names, birth dates, backgrounds and additional tidbits of information (medications they take, traumatic experiences, political views). Their personality sort of evolves from there, just like a real person--we are the sum of our experiences and our interpretation of those experiences.
     
  3. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone will have their own way of doing this.

    As opposed to the previous poster, I never write an outline or bio for my characters. Sometimes I brainstorm and jot down notes, but mostly ideas come to me as I develop the storyline and actually start writing.

    For my just-finished-manuscript, I wanted a male main character: enigmatic, somewhat stubborn but kind, someone who believes in 'justice'...

    From these few prompts I went on to think about the people around him, his job, the kind of girl he'd like... you see. These things were then all incorporated along the way. I didn't concentrate so much on describing him looks-wise and there's not much backstory, unless it's relevant to the story.

    The main thing, for me, was to show his character traits by the way he reacts to situations and obstacles around him.

    So my suggestion is to think about what motivates your character/s. Do you have a storyline worked out? What is the conflict in the story? Go from there.

    As for his name, that came a bit later. If it takes a while to come up with the best 'fit', that's no problem at all. You can always change it.
     
  4. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I endow people with personalities of people I know and my friends. As for the names, it depends on the Time and Place. If it was in the 1970s I may call them Star Child or Moon Beam and if in the past I would use Christian names instead of nick names.


    Good Luck.
     
  5. Diphenhydramine
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    Diphenhydramine New Member

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    Names for me are completely random. I pick names I think sound nice or, I guess appropriate, but I wouldn't try and divulge any meaning or anything from a name. Names are after all just identity labels.

    Personality of a protagonist is pretty important for writing anything. I would say to stick to what you know by which I mean do not construct primary characters who's personalities are vastly different from those you're familiar with (yourself, family, friends.)
     
  6. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    I think it simply takes time, thanks for the answers!
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I never brainstorm characters. They come about with the emotional journey, and once you have the bare fact you start writing them, and the story will help you see what you need to do with them. They're just a list of random attributes until you make them do something on the page.
     
  8. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I totally agree. You make the character to fit the role you need them to play in your story.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    charaters' personalities should be dictated by the needs of the story and the roles they play in it... how much formal 'construction' you do for yours is up to you... i just 'know' them as i write, while some new writers seem to need to use templates, backstory formulae and such...

    as for names, i just think them up, or browse through a phone book, if stuck...
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If I made a character to fit a story, I'd think I'd made a bad story and a bad character. Characters don't arise from stories; stories arise from characters.

    A story is what characters do. Characters come first. At least, for me they do.
     
  11. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I put the character in the story, try to imagine what they'd do, and as if through magic, they start acting in a unique way - like laughing in a certain way, or having some special quirk or habit. As I watch them act before my inner eye, I try to imagine what lies behind their quirks and mannerisms, and slowly, they grow in my mind, from the outside in.

    Often, a name that fits them reasonably well pops into my mind. But the name's not really important; after a while, you'll start associating a character's name with their personality traits.
     
  12. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I think the story/character combonation is a give and take.
    You have to have a story fit the character but the character must fit the story too.
    Kind of like connecting two pieces of clay, you mold the two together rather then cramming one into the other.

    Lord of the rings: would any person fit Frodo's character, and still be as good a story? Would Jack Sparrow(Pirates of the Carribean) in Froda's character be as good a story?
    It might be good, but not the same tale.

    Just like in life, what happens to us(our story), makes up some of who we are. How we handle the events is character/personality.
     

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