1. barcelonic
    Offline

    barcelonic Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Swansea, Wales

    To the test

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by barcelonic, Nov 22, 2013.

    Hi,

    I'm really interested in working on my storytelling skills and I'd like to start with character development as I feel it might be a strong point for me.

    I'd really appreciate if someone could just make up some basic info for me as a template with which to work.
    My intention is to keep working on this character for months and build a history for them - it's really more of a learning project for myself than anything else.

    Anyways if you'd like to help at all please fire away with some basic info (eg. age, nationality, job). It'd be hugely appreciated!

    Thanks :)
     
  2. EllBeEss
    Offline

    EllBeEss Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2013
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Perth
    Part of developing characters is coming up with them in the first place.
     
  3. Okon
    Offline

    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2013
    Messages:
    694
    Likes Received:
    389
    You want a template? Go for a walk or have a coffee at Tim Hortons. Plenty of templates out there, can't avoid them:).
     
    jannert and GingerCoffee like this.
  4. barcelonic
    Offline

    barcelonic Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Swansea, Wales
    Sadly I'm in a particularly unfortunate position as a wannabe writer - I have severe M.E. and am housebound. I manage to get out of the house a few times a year mostly but it is usually for necessary things like doctors appointments and haircuts and things like that.

    In my little, isolated world there is only so much inspiration to be had.

    Besides, this is partly about me receiving and then setting my mind to an assignment. I have been out of work for close to a decade and it can sometimes be hard to not feel worthless. I tried writing an article for a website last year and it made me realise how long of a way I have yet to go.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    What a great idea. Sit in a coffee shop, pick someone out and start imagining who they are and what they are like from what you see and hear.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Oh, OK. There are dozens of online sources you can use. Take someone's travel diary, there are thousands. You could infer a lot from someone's Tumblr or their Facebook pages. Or just pick out an image from Google or Pinterest.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  7. barcelonic
    Offline

    barcelonic Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Swansea, Wales
    Thanks thats not a bad idea :)

    Rite now i just need one though so really I'm just looking for a random age, job and nationality that isn't of my own choosing

    :)
     
  8. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    You could take any forum member, this forum or any other. Don't mention who you are using but you could read their posts, look at their profile page, imagine what they look like, build a personality for them based on what they have to say.
     
    jannert and barcelonic like this.
  9. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,993
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    27.

    Driving a cab and studying pre-law.

    United States.
     
    barcelonic likes this.
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    if it would help you to have a mentor, for feedback on your learning exercise and/or help with anything along the way, drop me a line any time... i've mentored many housebound aspiring writers with various illnesses or disorders, so i know how hard it is for you...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
    barcelonic likes this.
  11. Renee J
    Offline

    Renee J Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    463
    Likes Received:
    214
    Location:
    Reston, VA
    I love reading advice columns. You get complex and shallow people plus their side of the story. Then, from the columnist (and reader comments), you get another side. It's interesting how different people will view a situation.
     
    barcelonic likes this.
  12. barcelonic
    Offline

    barcelonic Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Swansea, Wales
    Thanks chickenfreak thats great :)

    And mammamia thanks i'm sending u a PM :)
     
  13. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    No insult intended, but it seems to me that you have to acquire them before you can work on them. By that I mean that the skills we use daily, when someone says, "How was your day?" or when we tell a story to a friend, are performance skills and of no use for writing fiction for the printed word, because your skills at placing emotion into the telling through your vocal delivery, and on the physical side through gesture, expression, etc., don't reproduce on the page.

    And though we talk about character development, writers don't mean it in the sense that our goal is to make the reader fully understand our protagonist. In reality, we can't give more than a tiny fraction of the complexity that makes up a real person. We can show only that part that relates to the problem at hand. And that's as it should be, because the reader wants to live the story, not analyze it. They want to feel that they're literally living the events in real time.

    The trick, and the art of writing fiction, is to make the reader not only feel they're on the scene, it's to make them react as the character does, and think it's their own reaction, not something we manipulated them into feeling. That's a bitch to do, and it's at the core of the craft of writing.

    My personal feeling is that if you're interested in writing—and I favor the idea—it's best to get a good understanding of what the elements of a story are and how to make them work for you. Write, by all means. But at the same time, work to acquire the storytelling techniques that work within the limitations of the printed word.

    Point of view, for example: Most new writers think POV refers to which personal pronoun you use, first person as against third and second. But that's only the mode of presenting POV, not what it is. So if you understand what it is and how to make it work, and the dozens of other things we don't learn about in our schooling or reading, you have a better chance of building a story that readers will cheer for. As an example, here's an article on how POV can influence the reader's perception of the story.
     
    barcelonic likes this.
  14. barcelonic
    Offline

    barcelonic Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Swansea, Wales
    Thanks for the article JayG and the advice too.

    I must confess, though, I feel a few presumptions may have been made. In particular, the reason I wish to develop a character to the degree I do, is not to lay it all out on the page for the reader but for me to build a complete person; i feel that with that much subtext behind a character it leads to limitless possibilities.

    But yes essentially i wish to "acquire" storytelling skills, if you prefer.

    Right now, however, my main interest is in going wild with one character for a very long time. I am in no rush and I toyed with screenwriting in my youth and I am just excited to do this project. This characer will likely never see a page anyway so I've no need to be concerned about doing too much with them.

    Again thanks for your remarks :)
     
  15. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    Who cares if you do? The reader gets only a tiny fraction, that part of the person that becomes obvious as they respond to whatever has their attention. You’re not going to be giving them lots of background and backstory because that’s informing, not entertaining.

    And guaranteed, on page ten you’re going to find that the character you’ve worked so hard to create isn’t going to be the kind of person who will respond to what’s going on as you need her/him to. So you’re going to have to either change that template or modify the conditions. And five pages later…

    Unless you have a rigid and fully thought out plot already in place you’re probably wasting your time building the character in advance.

    Now this is personal, and not to be taken as gospel, but what I find works for me is to create the character as they go, to fit the needs of the plot. The character still builds, but if s/he needs a background on gymnastics to handle a certain situation I can give it to them right then.

    At the bottom of the manuscript, which is usually just under where I’m typing, as I add a character I add an entry there with pertinent data, were I can refer to it easily, and add to it as the situation dictates.

    Below the character data I keep my notes on issues that must be addressed at some time in the future, things that I’ll have to add foreshadowing for, etc. And the comments feature of Word allows personal notes in the text on things that might need expansion/smoothing.
     
  16. barcelonic
    Offline

    barcelonic Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Swansea, Wales
    @JayG

    Like i said I appreciate the advice but I think the point I'm trying to get across here is that I am not writing fiction and this character is not for anything. It's something I feel will be fun but I'm a non-fiction writer who is simply trying to explore what he is or isn't good at when he comes to writing. I want to know my strong points, explore this process and more...

    I appreciate that you are a person who writes professionally and the end result is publication and payment. Well I am not; I'm an aspiring writer with many interests and perhaps one day I will try to write something professionally, but in the scenario you keep laying forth there is actually no "reader". I am really excited about the process, and I am particularly interested in taking it farther than necessary or usual.

    Respectfully, I'm sure there are others here who would benefit more from your writing experience & advice. Appreciated nonetheless. :)
     
  17. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,726
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    From my point of view, this is completely bass-ackwards. For me it's best to create a character, put him into a situation, and watch what he does. That becomes the plot.

    If you come up with the plot first, you wind up with a character who must do this action at that point, and say this line at some other point, and, in effect, is a robot programmed to go through the motions the plot requires. I can't bring myself to write like that - it's so wrong to me. That character will never surprise me, because he's a robot. The storyline he goes through won't enthrall me because it's a predefined maze I'm watching a preprogrammed robot negotiate.

    It's said there are only a few (three? seven? twelve?) basic plots. We've all read them a hundred times. Why do we still read? Because we're interested in the characters. Nobody ever said there are only three basic characters (or seven or twelve). The characters are what make your story special, even original. I say start with characters and let the plot take care of itself.
     
  18. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,819
    Likes Received:
    7,342
    Location:
    Scotland

    That is really unfortunate for you, but I think you're choosing a great hobby for yourself! Writing is ideal for somebody who has difficulty leaving the house for health reasons.

    Check out Rosemary Sutcliffe's bio, if you don't believe me. There is a lady who was an invalid from childhood, badly crippled and unable to get out and about at all, without help. But she exercised her imagination and wrote fantastic stories containing complicated characters, many of which have stood the test of time. One of her books was recently turned into a movie about Romans in Britain, called "The Eagle."

    You also have another resource she didn't have. TV. If you watch news programmes or any kind of programme that isn't already fiction, you'll see lots of people doing lots of things. Maybe base a character on one of them?
     
    barcelonic likes this.
  19. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    for the record, folks, i've browsed barcelonic's website and was delighted to find him an extremely gifted essayist and clear-eyed philosopher of keen intellect... he has much to say that needs to be said... and heard by all, in this mess of a world humans have fashioned for themselves...

    i'd be more than happy to help him explore the world of fiction writing and suspect he'll be able to write other beginners 'under the table' without half trying...
     
    barcelonic likes this.
  20. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    There's a kickstarter campaign about ME actually - it's finished now but I'll give you the link anyway (they met their secondary goal of raising over $200,000 to fund the documentary). I'd love to watch it when it's out. It's meant to document a number of ME sufferers and their experience in order to raise awareness, and the woman who organised this is an ME sufferer herself.

    Here's the link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/959776320/canary-in-a-coal-mine

    I hope you find inspiration in her story. I hope you see some kind of hope - that you can still achieve something in this life. You'll have it far harder than most of us, but you can get there. I hope you know that you are not worthless and that your worth is not measured in your achievements, not measured in your ability, not measured in the things that you do. You are worthwhile simply because you're human, and you're somebody's daughter or son, somebody's aunt/uncle, somebody's cousin, somebody's sister/brother, somebody's best friend, somebody's student, somebody's wife/husband, somebody's inspiration, somebody's encourager.

    Don't lose hope. You're not alone in this, as this kickstarter campaign has shown. There're sufferers worldwide who understands, and are still fighting, and keeping each other going via skype and emails and calls. And there're people worldwide who support ME sufferers, as can be seen in how far the campaign surpassed itself. $200k is quite a chunk of money, given by people who care. You're not alone. You just have to keep going.
     
    barcelonic likes this.
  21. barcelonic
    Offline

    barcelonic Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Swansea, Wales
    @minstrel i think you are after my own heart lol - i think similarly - i learned about character creation from Syd Fields (that the right name? lol), the screenplay guy. I read his book many years ago and was enticed by creating character depth and using that as a starting point to develop a unique story. :)

    @mammamaia Many, many thanks for what is no doubt the best & most valued endorsement i've ever had lol, thank you it means a lot and actually gives me more enthusiasm to get back to it soon (one day I shall have a blog that isn't empty lol!!)

    I wrote a poem a while back and it's nothing special but I liked the ending and what you've said below reminds me of it so I'll share it with you :)

    Clash
    ====

    Lost among most unusual trickery
    Outnumbered to the very last man
    Outgunned and overwhelmed by
    Forces we don't understand

    War is drawing ever nearer
    Confusion set in and stuck
    Fate holds us in the palm of her hand
    And arms us only with luck

    For those who hope to change tomorrow
    We all must look to the past
    And it must be known by ALL...
    That no mistake shall be our last.

    :)
     
    Mckk and minstrel like this.
  22. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yes, you got his name right... sadly, he just passed away last week and will be sorely missed, as he was the best 'screenwriting guru' to be found... thankfully, his teachings will be around and still timely as long as movies are being made...
     
    barcelonic likes this.

Share This Page