How to character - help or advice with WIP

Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Foxxx, May 28, 2019.

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  1. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    It's good to know all of the different elements to writing a character, beyond accents or slang which can come across as being heavy-handed if not handled carefully. I'll try to pay more attention to the way my co-workers speak; it would work with customers too, but my interactions aren't nearly as lengthy and numerous, and I think there'd be plenty to gain from the people I work with on a regular basis. But sometimes there are very eccentric customers, or one can cautiously generalize across customers, which I'm sure would work fine for minor characters at the least.

    I'll also start analyzing some interviews! I have noticed that actors and other celebrities often have very unique personalities, and it's a lot more exaggerated.

    Thanks for reminding me! You're right that minor tweaks to how a character speaks (paired with the corresponding actions) with certain characters can reveal a lot about relationships, and the individual characters involved. It's something that one would probably only have to do a little bit in sprinkles to get across the point for the reader.

    It could be argued that somebody who doesn't do this^ has a very strong "take-it-or-leave-it" personality, and/or likely a position of great authority.

    I'd also like to get to a point where the dialogue also reflects changes in the character, growth or otherwise. For example, a character who initially is pretty positive, but that dwindles and eventually disappears at the end of their arc. Or similarly, a character who seems in high-spirits but in private is lost, which can be pretty typical of depression.

    Maybe I'm thinking about it too much, but you seem to hint at an implicit distinction, that characters don't just have motives relative to the plot but also motives that pertain to their own personalities. For example, "liking to be (and/or seem) knowledgeable" would have broader implications than just being limited to those that are oriented directly toward the plot.

    Keeping this in mind, I assume, would help in part to ensure that the characters aren't there to just deliver plot, as you say.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
  2. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    1. Something in real life tickles my imagination. Then it gets something more and more... And then there is the core.

    2. Through action.

    3. They have different cores, different identities, different personalities, different motivations, different manners, different... I hope that makes them sound different.

    4. I plot protagonists character arc in a vague way.

    5. No. Characters are fun! I love making them. Stories rise from characters.
     
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  3. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    He doesn't know, and his fear stems from that. Is leaving even possible? There's no way of knowing for certain because upon arrival one finds themselves in a state of amnesia. They wouldn't know if they'd been to Arago before. Does one die and return for eternity? Is death a way out? Will leaving the town render you lost forever, free, both?

    I do need to work on his motivation for why exactly he bears the role of protector, even if it means keeping people there against their will.

    "What if you were a murderer? Strapped-to-the-bed insane? Dying from a disease?" These are interesting questions and implicate the fact that there are many ways one may end up in such a place. This isn't a Hell, say, in the sense that some divine authority sends you here. You end up here on your own volition, or maybe life has crushed you into dust or blown you apart. Maybe it's guilt, or a terrible illness as you say. I need to figure out how to incorporate this into the structure of the story. But I don't want the focus just to be on "how do you get here", although that matters, and is a question I will need to answer to some degree when it comes to the characters. Still I want the story to explore what one does when they find themselves there.

    While all that definitely complicates matters, it also ties in nicely with the idea that each individual has their own journey they must embark on. I mean to extrapolate out commonalities from the diverse possibilities and seek a path of salvation, or at least elements that are found on such a path. They all have their demons to contend with, even if they're different ones.

    "What if it's better 'in here' than 'out there'?" An interesting inquiry. My best answer would be to resort to my personal philosophy, which is that it's better to feel something than nothing. So long as there is potential, there can be hope, faith, ingredients in the antidote to suffering that can bury you in a grave of depression.

    "What if someone leaving meant everyone goes back, too?" I am of the belief previously stated by another member (and one also held by a forum member on another site I frequent) that the only person who can heal you, is you. Others can guide, show you the way, encourage, but they cannot do it for you. To take away their salvation from them in that manner would be one of the greatest sins imaginable, a road laid by a strikingly well-intentioned construction crew. It'd be about as useful as somebody lifting your weights for you when you go to workout at the gym. Even if you free a man of his chains, he is still chained by the fact he does not know how to break free of chains. At best, he is chained to you.

    But through his struggle, the MC will become a friend, a leader by example, a spark of hope. At first one of his greatest chains is selfishness and feeling sorry for himself (although he has every right to be); it is through turning his focus to others that he can step free of that.

    Yet, one of the greatest lessons he has to learn is that he can't help everyone. As a lifeguard, you're of no further use if you drown trying to save somebody from drowning. Similarly, you cannot be everywhere at once.

    Ideally as he overcomes his inner struggle through outer struggle, others will join him or support him in some way.

    "Would that affect the voice of a character?" I now see the profundity of your questions. Yes, how a character answers all these questions - and many other questions - would influence the things they say, how they say them, and so forth. Their thoughts and actions need to largely be connected to their beliefs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  4. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    This is interesting as I imagine a murderer, say on death row, would fall into depression and end up here. But it begs the question, if said murderer is then struck with total amnesia, are they still a murderer?

    I agree. Good analogies.

    This may be true for some characters, or at least seem true.

    This is turning into quite the philosophical piece! I'd caution not to get too carried knowing all the answers straight away as this story is in danger of becoming too big.
     
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  5. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Yeah, I'm really trying to avoid what you've cautioned against.

    Right now I'm reading "Creating Character Arcs" by Weiland. Great book so far, although I'm definitely going to have to read it again because the theory is all new to me. It'll be a lot of work but I want to try to use the tools provided in her book and analyze past stories I've read. I've found it's better to do this with stories you've already read, as it can really take the fun out of reading if doing it from the get-go.

    Anyway, I'm bringing that up because I think focusing on the character will help keep this tumor from getting cancerous.

    I'm thinking about reading more Dostoyevsky, Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Sartor Resartus to get some clues about how to handle the philosophical in the literary form. As far as I can tell it's certainly not in the foreground of the painting, if you understand my meaning.

    ---

    I want to keep amnesia as an element, but I feel like "un-repressing" or overcoming what got one to Arago in the first place needs to be a key in the development (or lack thereof) of each character. Whether it's murder or some other horrific crime, or "love isn't real", or a lack of faith, or a fear, or being the victim of a malevolent act, etc.
     
  6. Maverick_nc

    Maverick_nc Active Member

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    I'm certainly intrigued to read this story, that I know. Your research and background reading sounds interesting, but don't forget - at some point you need to start writing the thing!

    All the best
    NC
     
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  7. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Strangely enough, the most difficult problem of them all.

    But deep existential and philosophical conundrums? Like a hot knife through butter, I daresay.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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