1. Charisma

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

    Jul 23, 2007
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    Lahore, Pakistan

    'a' way to develop a character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Charisma, Oct 24, 2007.

    First things first. This is 'a' way - that is, it's just one simple and perhaps usless for many way of doing this. But I find it helpful for myself, so I thought I would share it with others. And just bear with these interruptions - I'm in a mood!

    In a mood. Hmmph! Gosh you make me the hero, and then kill me! What did I ever do to you?!
    Hush it. She's writing about us here, and you're yapping about your death. At least I could eat chocolates more often!
    But...but my dear Kuku bird! I used to earn day and night for you.
    Oh yeah? Thanks.
    Okay back to the topic.

    This is what goes on in my head when I'm writing (well aren't you just tired of killing me? ) Then again, this is a normal phenomenon in most of the writer's' minds. But I try to use it in a more realistic manner - and I let my characters have a opinion in the story (Liar! I don't want to DIE!) except...certain suggestions. As I sit down to write, I let myself reach the point where my characters would be. In first person POV, as this story (who characters won't stop babbling) was written, I try to feel their state of mind. If I'm writing in third person, I let myself feel the surroundings more than the person itself, and how I would conceive what he/she is doing. In this post I've written down both strategies.

    1st person
    Qs in mind: What is he/she doing? Where is he/she? What is the time? What the atmosphere? What is the nature's tone at the moment (e.g
    chirping of the birds, rustling of the leaves, etc)? Most importantly, how is he/she feeling?
    Ans technique: I'll make the person partially idle in most cases, or in midst of an action where they can indulge into thoughts. E.g., when I introduced my main character in this novel he was delivering a lunch box to his sister, walking through the corridor. Here's a mind map sort of thing for the next 4 questions:

    Gloomy -> Dusk/Dawn/Night -> Isolated Area -> Croaking of the frogs, high-pitched melodies of the crickets, humming of the bees, buzzing of fireflies, etc. [I would add - I necessarily do not take these times and places. The examples of a happy environment are applicable here.]

    Vivacious -> Night/Early noon/Afternoon -> Disco, House, School, Workplace -> Shouting, screaming, hooting, yelling, laughing, giggling, charismatic smiles, etc.

    Tense -> It really doesn't count in my opinion -> Isolation works for personal problems, and small grouping for wars, I guess -> Piercing silence, monotonous tears, passive groans, sympathies, etc.

    Feeling is not described in words. It is merely confirmed, or figured out - never described or told. Keeping that in mind, put yourself in that character's shoes. Here's an extract of my story, and with additions as to how I wrote it:

    [Note: This a girl's POV after being rejected by her family.]
    Treacherous love. Lifeless eyes. Hopeless words. Pathetic cries. (It was how I would feel after being told you're lying by those who love you. Think of it. Their love betrayed you. Your eyes were left lifeless. Your words [or their words, however you interpret it] held no affection/use. You cried, and moaned, but it was a waste. You were torn apart.)
    It was all that I believed, was a fable lost, a garnishment of lies and a momentum of insane poetry. (meaning, she did not believe it existed. just to brush up some element of surprise. Remember the dialogue: 'I never thought...') But how wrong I was! My loved ones cold significances, and my lifeless eyes, drenched with dead tears, and my mouth now tired, of saying hopeless words…and to top it all, were my pathetic cries. (Just an explanation of the four phrases in the beginning. For dwelling into emotion.) All these things were left for me to reside in. No one dared to listen to me after they heard Abby’s side of the story. Even people like Kanzah, Mat, and Uncle Roke tham believed I was doing this out of deviation from my young ambitions. Forgive me, Murtadha. My love for you has not been strong enough to overcome these obstacles and save your family from the curse they have embraced. (This is just an orientation to the story. Therefore, by now we have answered two questions: how did she feel and a tint of the atmosphere).
    I sipped cold milk from my cup. (what is she doping? idle.) I remember it so well. When I was six years old, Dad took us to Wal-Mart and we bought twin cups from there. It was written on it, in curly writing: ‘Terrific pair ov’ Twins.” I wish, it would have been true today. I wish my brother had listened to me. I wish. (this is a repetitive phrase to show her disappointment.)
    I brushed off bread crumbs from my night suit. (still idle. Andalib darling stop mourning. I still have my petitions to fill. Oh so you're jealous she's devoted a whole extract to me! You're a typical man. I wonder why I engaged you! Gosh you're so right man. I wish I had engaged your beautiful cousin! WHAT?! How do you know she's beautiful?! You haven't seen her... Uhhh...whatever. ANYWAYS... Soorry.) So silky and perfect! My mother had gotten it for me from a seamstress just this year. The seamstress had sewn it for her sister, but when my Mom saw the cravings in my eyes to buy it, she made a heavy offer to her, one she could not reject. I was so happy! She added: “Darling, I would always be there for you.” I wish, it would have been true today. I wish she would have taken my side today. I wish.
    I scrubbed off the icky sheet of tears from my cheeks. (Idle idle. But we know she's sad, [duh] so it's gloomy, she's idle, she's upset [in detail we've done it] and she's probably alone. Nature and atmosphere are absent). Along with that, came down my foundation. My father hated make-up, but last week we went to do some winter shopping. I literally fell in love with this enchanting foundation. He immediately bought it for me, and asking him why, he said: “Anything for you, Angel.” I wish, it would have been true today. I wish he would’ve went out of his way and done this one thing for me. I wish.

    This was an overview of how first person can convey their thoughts efficiently. Now the question: is there any character development here? Answer: no. Then let's look at an example where Andalib is developed:

    [this is when her fiance was alive and she went shopping for her engagement with her brother, and her fiance, his siblings and butler.]

    The horns honked irritably on the busy roads of Manhattan. The windows of the boutique were still being cleaned, owing to our early arrival. [ Immediately the place, atmosphere, nature (which is absent so we do not involve it much) and time is told] I picked out [her activity] a purple silk frock with beautiful frills at the bottom and star-shaped sleeves. The belt accompanying was of exquisite wool with a fancy ribbon-work done at the left side where the ends of the wool hung naturally but charmingly. Inversely, I had a yellow long-skirt with glittery ribbon-work as well as bead work done heavily. It had a full-sleeved shirt with fluffy, cushion-like feeling and an entrancing cut. I couldn’t decide which one to pick, and since the prices were almost equitable, it was as harder. [a detailed description of her dilemma, what she was doing and little insight on her feeling, which seems confused, and no character development.]
    “Angel! Not these.”
    “What’s wrong with these?”
    “It’s…western clothin’.”
    “So? I’m seventeen years, one month and two days western.”
    ”Ya may be, but your fiancé-to-be is certainly a Pakistani.”
    “Like I care. Look, I’m not his puppet that I’d die for him. He has to accept me, like I’ll accept him.”
    “Angel! Ya have no respect for your husband’s wishes.”
    “He won’t even see me wearing my engagement dress. What’s the point?”
    “True. But…but your wedding dress! That must be Pakistani.”
    “Because, he’ll see ya in that dress after your marriage, polygi?”
    “Aww man…look, I’ll change into my night gown before he comes into our room. Deal?” [We see she's arrogant.]
    “Angel, ya’re a wacky woman.”
    “Of course. What did you expect?”
    “How can someone tolerate you?”
    “Ask the guy who’s planning to marry me.”
    “Poor man…ya know, you’re incredibly irritating but sweet.”
    I pulled his cheeks, at which he wailed briefly.
    “That hurt…Somo Wrestler.”
    “Oh, I forgot. You are a rough draft while I’m a masterpiece. Works.”
    “You see, I was born approximately ten seconds and two milliseconds after you. So you’re the rough draft, and I’m the masterpiece.”
    “Oh…mama’s boy…”
    “Am not!”
    “Oh right…I’m sorry, you’re mama’s BABY.”
    “Aww, you’re too kind.”
    “I ought to…”
    “Kill me? Welcomed.” [Proud and a humorous on the dry side, dominating (a little insight) and perhaps irritable]
    “FORGET IT.”
    Yasir gritted his teeth and strutted away, mumbling all sorts of triple tyrannosaurus dares to me. I loved it when he got all jittery and started to act like a baby. Men were so impractical and egoistic. [Her thoughts. Very important because this is her pivotal characteristic in the story] I mean, get a life! I was never going to marry if it weren’t for the obnoxious fact that men and women must fall in love. Eck…love is overrated. [In view of her engagement, this sounds ferocious.] Then suddenly, a man appears in front of me.
    “You think?”
    “Well someone agrees. I mean, men are so pathetic and egoistic. Natural jerks! Why would you want to love one?”
    “I think women are sob-stories and attention-seekers. Natural losers! Why would you want to love one?”
    “Who are you?”
    “You know me.”
    “Where are you?”
    “For now, your mind is enough.”
    I sigh. I then tell myself to stop daydreaming [she daydreams. Lol for writers its no big but we get more and more answers] and decide which dress to buy. But my mind never stops irritating me.
    “You love me?”
    I smile, thinking…why this guy appears in my stories? Since ages, I’ve never been able to remove him from my novels. [she's a writer. Kaboom] Who was he? Did he just exist in my dreams? Or was he real? I knew his feeling was an illusion, a man-made fictional event, but…he seemed so near. I’m anxious to know, because if he’s near, I want to be the first to touch him. Thoughtfully, I answer my intellect.
    “Yes, I love you very much.” [well HELLO! I'm the guy!!!][a good way to know her likes and dislikes. SO:
    -Hates men
    -Wants a counterpart in her life (i.e. challenge loving)
    PTBN: This is not my overview as a writer, but a reader, because I'm completely aloof to any hidden message when I comment. Yes, this was my writing technique, but you saw how in a few words I developed her character.]

    Now third person.
    Qs in mind: What is he/she doing? Where is he/she? What time is it? What is the mood? What is the nature/atmosphere (don't waste time on developing these two questions too much in third person. The first three are more relevant since the writer is first person now, and the reader is Second person. In 1st person, the writer is 1st person again, but he/she is joined to the character's feelings. Right now, you just interpret them. Therefore detailed background is not needed) And how is he/she feeling?

    I'm copy pasting here the first three question maps with certain editing but not very important.

    Gloomy -> Anytime -> Any place you can retreat to a corner -> Croaking of the frogs, high-pitched melodies of the crickets, humming of the bees, buzzing of fireflies, vibrancy of silence, etc.

    Vivacious -> Anytime -> Disco, House, School, Workplace -> Shouting, screaming, hooting, yelling, laughing, giggling, charismatic smiles, etc.

    Tense -> It really doesn't count in my opinion -> Isolation works for personal problems, and small grouping for wars, I guess -> Looking blankly at each other, passing looks, biting nails, etc.

    You'll notice the mood is now in the back. It doesn't play a role as a pivot. Instead actions do. Because we can interpret mood from actions, which are more obvious in 3rd person.

    The mood can be developed by a simple line of how she felt because you can't write on her behalf too much. You need to stay as first person and the character as third person. Look below for example of feelings and mood. I will go directly to character development because in third person you do not need to develop mood which makes it much easier (I think).

    “There isn’t much choice.”
    “I know.”
    “We’ll have to do it for once and for all.”
    “I know.”
    “Possibly I could try telling Miss. Grace, but that would cost too much attention.”
    “I know.”
    “You know, we could try for the aisle instead.”
    “Did I happen to say, I know?”
    “I know. I know, I know, I know. We’ll have to do the ballet practice in front of my ma this weekend. You could come sharp at six.”
    “Aww, but I really want this to turn out good, Rain.”.
    Eve muffled, her curly black locks bouncing each time she spoke. Her buckled shoes were covered with dust particles of other shoes in her closet. [By now, we know they're a little tense, we know about Eve's actions, her style etc) Her green eyes reflected impatience of a perfect teen. [Impatient is what she felt]
    Rain sighed. Eve thought too much. Not that she wanted her to be a complete idiot, but she thought too much. Rain was an intellectual being who thought only for the significant, not for the school rubbish. She was just fifteen, but her voice was confident and clear like a grown-up. She loved her short, chestnut brown hair. [a brief overview of her character, and her 'opinion' on Eve.] Rain pointed her black eyes towards the corridor without saying a word. [ we know they're near a busy corner since corridors are such. So where, what, feeling, mood have been answered somewhat]
    Eve turned in the corridor’s direction and happened to see what Rain was looking at. It was Chloe, Eve’s science partner and best friend besides Rain. She was talking to Kim, the sportiest girl on the campus. Kim said in an unclear tone, “You know, I really need to sharpen in my logical skills”. Chloe smiled back, and said in a bold voice, “Hey, I’m open for science partners.” Kim screeched excitedly and gave Chloe a quick hi-five, and stormed into the gym, remembering it was time for basketball practice. Eve’s mouth hung open, and burst into infant tears.
    “She dumped me as if I was just nobody”, Eve sobbed, attracting almost every body's attention. Rain groaned. She hated when Eve sobbed like a five-year-old. She said in an uncomforting manner, “Get over it already. She dumped you, so what? Girls are total nemesis. Insult them in front of their ‘crowd’ and you’ll have thousands of them hanging in the laundry waiting to be your friend.”, and punched her like a gym trainer. Eve jumped up, as if she had just been electrified. She shot back at Rain, “You never even wanted to be friends with me. It was pretty much luck…how do you know what happens when two best friends break up?” She then moved up and down, frantically. Rain realized that everyone was looking at the two idiots who were blocking the corridor. [School. Eve is a cry-baby and sensitive girl. Rain is uncomforting, so-called mature and unmoved by school frets)
    “Elizabeth Mary Hawthorne and Raven Rocque. You’re blocking the entire school hallway. This place is built for moving, not for your petty gossip, got that?” Miss. Croc shouted at the top of her lungs. Every other kid hurried into their classroom. Rain never liked that wrinkled woman. She was the headmistress, everyone but Rain wasn’t afraid of her. Eve kept sobbing, which irritated Rain. What is it with love and girls? She sometimes felt like an alien. “Ma’am, we were just passing by the office to collect the folders”, Rain said, like an awfully sorry individual. “Which crooked folders? I didn’t know any folders were being taken”, Miss. Croc uttered, in a very vulgar manner. How’d a beast like her become a beauty?The really beauty must have exchanged her looks, terrified of the beast. “Oh ma’am, you didn’t know? You poor thing! Why, your farewell papers. The principal wanted to have those folders with her so she could get a fairly well copy of them. Then she could give them to you, so you’d remember this unfortunate moment of your life now and then”, Rain said, crying bitterly. Eve was frozen at Rain’s impression.
    Miss. Croc flung her arms, reaching for Rain. At first Rain thought she was going to choke her to death, but rather, she grabbed her from her arms and said helplessly, “What?!”
    Rain sobbed furiously, acting like a total maniac. Then she managed to speak, “I know it’s unbelievable – I’ll miss you very much, oh so very much!” her voice squeaking like a mouse. Miss. Croc let go of Rain, and hurried to the principal’s office, petrified. Eve was still in shock, but Rain let go of the situation and whispered quickly, “Move it. I am so not missing Geography lesson for you or this woman”, and pulled Eve along, who seemed to have not heard. [a clever, sharp actress that Rain. Bold, strong and the opposition. Eve is simple and stupid on the other hand. You can compile the traits yourself if you want to.]

    In 1st person, I've felt more than done. I've put myself in her shoes, handed out her characteristics. In 3rd person, I've done more than felt. For me, the story is relatively based on what's happening and what Rain is interpreting about it - rather than going through the process of it. I've written down a comment with these writings to show how I tried to develop a character, and what questions were in mind.

    I repeat - it helped me, doesn't mean it'll help you! And also, sorry for it being long.

    Ya whatever...you making me alive again or what?
    Go to your grave and let me study.
    Okay here's the deal...I'll tell your mother you're not studying...
    GREAT. Come on...
    No ways. Make me live again. Otherwise...MRS. ANJUM! LOOK, YOUR DAUGHTER'S USING THE COMPUTER AGAIN!

    (Okay...I'll deal with him now...just pray he stops this!;))

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