1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    What do you do in the very first stages of creating a character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Jan 2, 2012.

    Right now there's a character floating in my head. All I have is her physical description and not much else, not even a name. I also don't know what story to put her in.

    So, just in general, what do you do when you first create the character? How do you know which story he/she belongs to and what do you do if you can't figure out a place for them? Have you ever had difficulty creating a character?
     
  2. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    I generaly have a snippet of an idea for a story then fill it in with characters, the combination is normally what really gets the ideas flowing as you think about what you need to get your story going and start coming up with relationships etc between the characters.

    What's the physical description? Maybe we could all throw around a few ideas and see if it gets the ball rolling?
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, I see her in a modern setting. She's young, about early to mid teens with red hair. I see her wearing a cotton red sweater, white buttoned shirt and a dark-green skirt. It looks like a uniform, telling me that she may be in a boarding school for girls or some such. She also has braces on her teeth, legs, and uses crutches (the long metal kind with the arm rests and handles that stick out.) (Yes, her disability does have a personal story to the plot at large. Just haven't figure it out just yet.)

    Personality? She seems to remind me of a mixture of Lara Croft and Agatha Christie. (Rich girl from a good home, etc.)

    When I envision her in action, she's telling a group of people something as if she had figured out a mystery. Here, she seems to be the protagonist.
     
  4. BrianBrian
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    BrianBrian New Member

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    It is rare for me to start with a character first. I usually start with an idea that I want to convey through my story. When a character does appear in my head I let them sit there. At the moment I have a group of three people floating around in there. They have been up in my head for close to two months now. Eventually a story will come were they are needed. Let your character float around. Never force them out of your head underdeveloped.

    The most surprising thing about characters is that once you begin to write about them their life stories will begin to emerge. For example, if crutches girl starts telling a story about her parent's forcing her into beauty pageants when she was a child then go with it. As a writer you create the universe but the characters have free will to do whatever they want.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Usually when a character appear in my mind it's always connected with some kind of situation, something like "what if a person like this would end up doing this?" or something like that, but I can't say I just see the character without a potential story attached to him/her... Do you have any idea about what made you think of this character or in which situation you see him/her? Then just take it from there. Or try to understand what are this characters strongest traits and then think of a story where you could put him/her to the test, preferably a situation that forces this character to grow in some way. that is what I would do at least.
     
  6. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nothing in particular. Character development just kinda happens.
     
  7. Whirlwind
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    Whirlwind Member

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    The first step is to figure out why the character is there. What's her purpose.

    If she's the hero, then how will she change and bring about change.

    If she's the love-interest, then how will she be won.

    See what I mean.

    You need to position the character within the context of the story and then dress her with the right attributes.

    If she's Cinderella, she'll have certain attributes. If she's an ugly sister, she'll have other attributes.

    See what I mean.

    If you know story structure you can do this at the start. Most people don't and have to write their story before they are able to refine the character.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Characters and settings come to me almost simultaneously. I get an image that sets my imagination off. Last year I wrote a short story that's my favorite of anything I've written, and it started with the image of a middle-aged, grizzled man trying to light a fire on an empty beach, shielding the fire from the wind with his hat. Who is this guy? What is he doing? What is his goal in life? A story came to me right away.

    Put your character in a specific setting and give him a problem - something that forces him to act. The story will unfold.

    My stories always start with characters in situations. I can't imagine starting with a plot and trying to build a character to fit into it - that just seems backwards to me.
     
  9. Immy
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    Immy Member

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    I do the same - I create the plot and the story first, which eventually makes my charecters take form. I know the backgrounds and personalities and exactly how every charecter would answer every question you threw at them... except for my main charecter :rolleyes: Her name is Scarlett - I'm set on that. She's 19, and she's had a great life, growing up with her Mum and Aunt. Her Mum was a high profile lawyer, so they'd always been comfortable and she was an a very 'innocent' kind of girl, before her Mother's death.

    After her Mother's death, she decided to do what she thinks her Mum would have done - be determined to keep on living her life. She finds a job in a law firm as an administrative assistant, and throws herself into her work. By doing this, she does the opposite - she becomes a recluse, only ever going out the door in the process of going to work and returning from work, or maybe to get some food from the supermarket. She thinks this is normal, but she has a nagging voice in her head that tells her it's not, but like her mother, she's stubborn.

    She returns to the village where her Aunt lives, where she spent many of her summers before her mother's death. There, she is re-introduced to her old friends, including Harry who was her best friend, and maybe, her love. In a lot of ways, she's grown up and has a darker view of life now yet she's still amazingly innocent and naive. How do I get this over? Do I make her sarcastic and slightly depressing, or do I make her hide her negative side? Which would make a more interesting charecter? I'd like to hear your ideas.
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ditto this.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sometimes I think of a character and then a situation - but usually it's the other way around. They develop with the story, regardless of which one comes first.
     
  12. Party Poison
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    Party Poison Member

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    I just make them how I want to make them.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't create them... they create themselves in my head, then i simply write what they do, etc....

    i wouldn't have just a character without a story... they're always 'born' together, for me...
     
  14. Maalin
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    Maalin New Member

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    Usually a character just comes to me, comes knocking on the door into my head and rents a space. At first there's only fragments, pictures or sentences. Scenes. I've basically just started writing and as I go, pieces reveals themselves. I just feel that everything grows as I write. I get more scenes and fragments. I always have a notepad next to me or with me so I can just scribble it down. Sometimes it doesn't make sense until a month later though. Which is part of the fun!

    I've had difficulties, sometimes yes. I'm having one now even but while rare I'm going to take my own advice and just write, hopefully this stubborn character idea will shape itself. :)
     
  15. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine Member

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    Hi Link,

    Developing my characters is my fav part of writing and it's important to get them right as they are the ones who carry the reader through the story. Sometimes the character and everything about him/her come to my head others just a personality or physical description. I usually store this in my head then look at what my story is about. (as i usually get a story then the characters) and i work the character in.
    If it's a Crime maybe the character is a detective, a witness, the victim, or the criminal.
    Therefore i can start to plan the character into the story.
    If i have no story only a character i play around.
    With a Physical appearance you can get an age, persons values and a bit of personality (does he/she dressed posh, smartly untidy, with colours that clash) what name would this person suit? Sometimes i draw a picture to help.
    I go for easy things first then as he/she developes i pick harder things: career, education, back story, beliefs, worst fears, ambitions, secrets and who knows about them, meanest thing they ever did, last lie they told, sleeping patterns, what parts of their personality do they consciously try to improve (i'm shy so i try hard not to be).

    Once you get going you'll find you'll begin to roll with it

    Good Luck
    x
     

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