1. NigellaStory88

    NigellaStory88 Banned

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    Defining Character Personalities

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by NigellaStory88, May 11, 2019.

    Hi all,
    Just wondering as how do you define a character's personality? Do you use one character trait or multiple character traits?
    Thanks
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't really think in terms of "defining" anything or of having clear "traits", but I would certainly think that any interesting character would have more than one trait, wouldn't they?

    Like, thinking about my WIP, there's one character who's hot-tempered, reckless, sometimes destructive and anti-social and violent, but who's also funny, loyal, gentle with the weak, etc. He's strong but damaged. Defensive but brave. Lots of traits. I don't think it would really work if he was only one of those things.
     
  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think you have to be careful about 'defining characters' - most people are complicated, if you start defining your characters as bob is the strong one, bill is the clever one, teds the coward... you wind up with very shallow characters straight from the stereotype mine
     
  4. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    I often find that I come up with characters in pairs or groups--even if they're a loner, they can still complement or contrast other characters within the story. So rather than coming up with traits in a vacuum, it's more about what sort of dynamics I want to exist between the characters.
     
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  5. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I try to make my characters as true-to-life as possible, and since human beings as a rule have various traits (some of which can even contradict each other), creating multi-faceted characters is always my goal.
     
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  6. Pleasurist

    Pleasurist New Member

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    Any assessment or defining as it were of a character from a distance, involves judgements and prejudice.

    That seems to me...a must.
     
  7. Privateer

    Privateer Senior Member

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    Mine are mostly based on real people I know, so the hard part's already done.

    I think that might be cheating, actually.
     
  8. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I mean, there aren't much in terms of rules. And if you are merely based them off and not just ripping them out of your life directly, that's fine. We all take some inspiration for our own life and knowledge.
     
  9. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Florida Man in Training Contributor

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    I second this. In my WIP, one of the eight MCs (It's complicated. There's two teams and it bounces between them depending on which one is doing something more plot relevant) is a fusion of mine and my mother's experiences and the resulting person that comes from that, with a little undead parasitism thrown in. Another is a descendant of Sun Wukong, accompanied by characters that either make appearances so brief not even God knows what they actually do, or are related to characters that are from Journey to the West. Their are power dynamics, inter-personal relationships (ie, Sun Wukong killed one of the teammates brothers several centuries ago, and Sunnu is his heir, so there's no love lost there.) The characters personalities are more than just traits, they're how they see the world and interact with others. Now, I wish I could follow my own advice here, but other people have told me this and it works for them, so try having a "conversation" with your characters. Pull up a blank document and let your hands run the keyboard for the character, or talk to yourself, however works for you.
     
  10. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    We are all made up of every trait there is just about. I have zero temper, like I've never had an argument with anyone where there's shouting, a heated debate maybe, but never a real argument. I didn't think I had it in me to be confrontational. Then I entered the adult world and was in a situation where I had to throw a fit or risk losing what I cared about. So I did and the whole room went silent. I may not class myself as argumentative but I now know that trait is in me.

    A good thing is to realize a weakness can be a strength.

    Also the flaw should get the character into trouble.
     
  11. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

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    Personally, I do have a few "key" traits that easily define some characters. I find that most people cannot be simply summarised into a set category of traits or vices at stated earlier. However, I think there is still some key defining features one can sometime use. But as stated, I don't really "define" main characters with a key-list of terms - I find that becomes restrictive for main characters (or you start thinking in a restrictive mindset - an easy trap to fall into). But i'll say that it can be nice sometimes to summarise people for remembering who they are or something.

    However, I'll say that minor characters or unnamed characters like "the security guard" or whatever can easily be summarised in a couple traits.
     
  12. ILIAD HAEMIN

    ILIAD HAEMIN New Member

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    When describing a character, focus on what he does and what he "belches".
    You never call a friend to a stranger an asshole. You tell a funny story that makes him an ass. Your characters are the same.

    You know what you want him to be but don't describe him as brave, shy, confident etc. (Unless you are describing how he is speaking or acting in the moment)

    Giving characters traits spelt out makes it more likely for the reader to put them in that box and forget about his complexity.

    Instead have his words and actions speak for him.

    A loud man talks a lot. A drunk talks even more. A noble speaks low to draw people in with measured words. Etc.

    Make the character in a separate sheet always then based on those traits describe his words and actions acordingly.
     

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