1. Alexander Kromyk
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    Alexander Kromyk New Member

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    When to finalize a character after creation?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Alexander Kromyk, May 14, 2016.

    I'm probably a bit in over my head here but I'm interested in jumping straight into fiction writing. The issue I've ran into in the past is that I can never settle on what characters I want or what their history and personalities should be. I tend to keep such details in a state of flux and it destroys the backbone of anything that would resemble a plot. Being a bit of a perfectionist probably doesn't help my situation either.

    When does one put the stamp on a character? Should they still be tweaked during plot creation? If so, then to what extent? Or should a character's history and personality be determined before any plot writing begins. Are there cases when the process of character and plot creation are intertwined? Does it depend on the importance of the character?
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I tweak mine not only during plotting but even as I'm actually writing.
     
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  3. Alexander Kromyk
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    Alexander Kromyk New Member

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    Doesn't that make it hard to connect with the characters while writing? That's a bit of another dilemma I've have had, reading seems a lot more personal than writing and I wonder whether it's because I haven't gone deep enough into character creation before starting.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It can. I allow room for them to change within confines of the plot, but I keep the plot sort of loose and big-picture. If the characters deviate too much I might decide not to implement the change, though if I really like it I would go back and rewrite the earlier parts. I've done that before.
     
  5. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Steerpike. My characters never stop changing. They should evolve with the story instead of being jammed into it.

    For example, in the first draft of my current WIP, my main character was a nice girl. She cared about everyone and everything. That was all well and good at the time. But then I realized that her personality didn't fit her backstory. So now she's not a nice girl. lol And in the same WIP, I went from one guy being the sweet guy in the beginning of the first draft to him being somewhat cold by the end of it.

    Writing works best when it all grows together. I've read so many how-to books, and most of them suggested building one aspect first then the other second. I respectfully disagree with that. Because what ends up happening is that your plot and characters don't mesh.

    In another WIP, I had another nice, quiet girl and a stubborn aloof man. The girl needed something from him but he was too stubborn to give it willingly and she was too kind to demand it. So I was stuck. Either I change my plot (which I couldn't do because this was essential to my story progressing) or I change my characters. So I changed the girl, and now she's a much better character.

    Writing shouldn't be like building a wall. (Okay, this brick goes here, then this one here, then this one.) It's more like painting. You lay down the base, the general shapes, then step back. Okay, this section needs more shadow. This one needs more highlight. I'll add a flower here to draw the eye. You're constantly adding and changing and morphing.

    If plot and characters don't grow together, the story will often suffer. So don't worry about being a perfectionist right now. Trust me, I know how hard it is. I was like that too at first. It takes practice to be able to adapt and change and work your way through problems. When you get stuck, it's okay to go backwards a little. Go back to before you got stuck and figure out what's hanging you up. Also, I've noticed a lot of my problems come when I try to be too complicated, so don't be afraid to keep it simple, especially in the beginning. Like I said, they should grow together. So putting too much into it right off the bat gives you too many elements to control and change if need be.

    Just take your time. :)
     
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  6. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    My characters mightn't change whilst I'm writing, but they do develop. Lots of little details that I'd never thought of have sprung up into my face whilst I'm working, and I think they've all made things better.

    So to answer your question: As soon as the broad strokes are done. After than, fine tune the detail as it comes to you.
     
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  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    What I've come to realize over the last year or so is this: no character is completely realized until the final words of the final draft of a story are written.

    I gave up on writing a character outline (or whatever it's called) because I'd get it just so and then the character would reveal yet another trait (the bastard!).

    With the current draft of my WIP, I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that giving up on set-in-stone story/plot outlines would also be a good idea, but that's another story. :rolleyes:
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I change characterization right up until final edits are done. I don't outline, so I don't really know my characters until I start writing them, and then I make up more details as I go along, realize things that need to be changed in order for the plot to be better, etc.
     
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  9. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I just evolve my as I go, while keeping the core elements that make them, them intact. Better to have them grow as opposed to locking them in their persona and not letting them be more than that. Let them breath and walk about, interact with the world and be more than just a thought in your head and on the page. :p
     
  10. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I usually have a sort of core attribute or a handful of them that don't change - probably because the plot depends on it, eg "important revelation happens because [character] is inherently curious/nosy/persistent" - but otherwise yeah, they definitely change over the course of planning, plotting, even writing. I don't see me ever saying, "Okay, this character is done." A lot of the time I find that characters react in ways I wouldn't have expected to plot points and other characters - but ways that are way more compelling and that I want to fold into who they are already. Maybe that happens on day two of brainstorming, maybe it happens in the last chapter. You can always shift things around and edit and rewrite.

    But since you're having trouble keeping things stable, I'd suggest deciding on what core attributes you want and making yourself stick to them. Have The Funny One and The Tough One and The Compassionate One and figure out how those base qualities interact and can affect a plot, and let other qualities come and go until you find combinations that work well together. Don't try to cram everything into one character - remember you can have as many different backstories and personalities as you want, in different characters. Come up with a new concept you want to try out but it clashes too much with existing ideas? New character.

    When I have trouble with some aspect of writing I just make myself do it even if I find it tedious or boring or whatever. It doesn't have to be the best thing ever, it just has to help you grow. So make yourself lay out who a character is going to be (fill out a character creation sheet or something) and stick to those attributes as strictly as possible until you can do it without having to try as hard.
     

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