1. Ixloriana
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    Ixloriana Member

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    Trivial Details?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ixloriana, Jan 8, 2012.

    This came up in [thread=48857]another thread[/thread], and I said that I thought it was topic for another thread, so here it is.

    How much do you know about your characters that doesn't end up in the pages of your story? What details are trivial to you, and why? What details do you include that other writers you know don't, and why are they important to you?
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I create my characters as I write. They take on their own shapes and lives as they need to. I personally don't think sitting down and developing a character is a good way to make a character well-defined or -developed, so there's usually very little outside the pages. And because I don't usually start with an entire plot in mind, the plots are most often advanced by a certain character's actions, so I get plenty of chances to show all their different reactions.

    Hell, I don't even consider most of my character's backgrounds unless something minor comes up. In my novel, a character had a relationship similar to the one he's in at the time of the story, and it's barely ever mentioned. He thinks about it every now and then, but it's not a big part of the story. It's brought up twice in conversation, but then something more important takes over because it was never that important. It was just a part that made sense being there because it explains a lot of his actions. The extent of mentioning the relationship was a single sentence describing what happened in it, and the girl's name a few times.

    I just don't consider back story to be that important unless it actually relates to the story itself. I also very rarely describe anything of their appearance, and I haven't had a single character ever have a birthday so far.
     
  3. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    All I know is what I put into the narrative, because I build up my characters as I write. I've never used a template as I find it constrictive. In terms of what I put in, I tend to focus on specifics, which some writers don't do. For example, I like to put across the brands that the character likes, exactly what car he drives, exactly where he lives and what he eats, because this allows the reader to get to know the character like they would a real person. People form opinions about people because of what they eat and the car they drive, and I like to offer readers the chance to do this with my characters.
     
  4. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know my novel characters inside out whether or not it's important to the story. It's not a conscious effort (I don't use character templates or write up profiles for them) but it's just one of those things that happens. With short stories this isn't the case unless I end up expanding their story into a novel later on.
     
  5. Slinkywizard
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    Slinkywizard Member

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    Personality traits I plan before writing - AFTER plotting the whole story out. Anecdotal character stuff never makes it in; that's another story, not this one. Planning is important, but I only plan what I need to drive the character forward.

    Imagine your character is a car. Before you set off, check you have enough gas; mirror, signal, then manoevre. No need to write the technical manual for an engine your passenger never sees, nor even cares about.
     
  6. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I know a little too much about my characters that shouldn't make it onto the pages of my story, for the sake of my reader's sanity. I know most of their traits, hobbies, attitudes, styles, incomes, behaviours, psychological dispositions, and tiny quirks such as which character cannot pronounce "cinnamon" and which character has anger issues. I focus on the story and the character's personalities when writing, mostly, but I do make it a point to describe appearances. I know some writers don't describe appearances in order to let the reader decide what the character looks like, but I feel I have to because most of my characters are of different races and I want the reader to be aware of that. I'm guessing it's because I used to draw, so tiny details like placement of scars and body posture are also important to me.
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know some trivial details. Others I really don't care to know. lol But I know quite a bit.
     
  8. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    I'm in more or less the same boat as Yoshiko.

    You might be surprised how many details I devise for my characters and then leave by the wayside. I'm sure that many of the people that post here have thought of what their character might look like and what kind of person they are in circumstances that will never arise and never see fit to include this knowledge in the story.

    In fact, short stories placing your characters in random unrelated scenarios are a character development technique that I heartily recommend because it exposes parts of them you might not have otherwise thought of and can use in your narrative.

    In total, I probably "know" a good deal more trivial information about my characters than information that will play a part in the story they live in. Having said that, I don't "know" it because I went to the trouble of developing it or writing it down, I "know" because I thought of it while doing something else, thought "that might be interesting" and logged it away. Most of it isn't interesting, but I've got it regardless.

    As far as what details are included: Ordinarily I don't include details that have no impact on the story or perception of a character. If a character is dressed casually in a casual scenario or formally in a formal scenario, I wouldn't give more than a line in passing to their description. On the other hand, if their appearance stands out or has utilitarian value (from a narrative standpoint) then it's important to take note of the kevlar vest, the clown shoes or the obvious shock of red hair that singles them out as a foreigner in the Middle East.

    Anything more is self-indulgent and more than my readers need to know.
     
  9. Clipsey
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    Clipsey New Member

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    I feel that's how much any writer SHOULD know.
     

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