1. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Senior Member

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    Preferred Methods of Character Development

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by LastMindToSanity, Aug 24, 2019.

    I guess this thread's more about hearing what everyone thinks, rather than looking for advice. I was thinking about how I wanted to develop a character I have who used to have the "powerhouse" role in my story, when I got curious about how other authors handle it. I'll usually take a character and make them lose something they've always had, or make it so that their usual methods of handling problems was suddenly useless or even harmful in the current situation.

    This got me wondering how others usually go about character development. What are your preferred methods for pushing your characters further?
     
  2. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    They have a fatal flaw, and I make it cause more problems for them. They drink too much, they drink more. They're judgemental, they get more so etc. In my experience things tend to evolve fairly naturally out of that with the writing.
     
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  3. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    I know it's not your question, but I'm not clear on what you mean by "powerhouse" role?
     
  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I do the 'what could be even worse' exercise, at least to get the main flow going. What is this character's situation? What would make it worse? No, not that ...it's too easy. What would make it REALLY hard for him to deal with? In fact, is there a way to make this so bad he can't actually make it better? He can only cope, learn to work around it, etc. In other words, push the situation until it goes from uncomfortable to unsolveable. And see how he gets on. Or make it solveable, but only through great effort and sacrifice.

    I think if you work the situation more than the character, at this stage, you'll give yourself a richer framework for your story. Then start playing with the character's personality, etc. How would THIS character deal with what he's been given?
     
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  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Top of the buzzing to you. :) Supporter Contributor

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    I take a character, decide how they think based upon their profession
    and personality.
    Then I toss them into a situation that will complicated or challenging,
    and then make them play on the board so to speak to see how things
    pan out.
    Perhaps a sensitive science type is dragged into a day of paintballing
    with a bunch of marines, and is anxious because they all know the
    dynamics and joke, while the sensitive scientist is sweating up a
    storm about the simulated warfare and all the welts they will be
    headed home with at the end of the day. (Example only).
    Not every situation has to be at an extreme slant to challenge or
    complicate things for character building, just that they go in one
    way and come out for the better or worse about what they learned
    and endured along their journey. :)
     
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  6. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Senior Member

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    A character that is very good at overpowering someone/something. Doesn't really use their head as much as hitting the problem really hard.
     
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  7. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    Are you referring primarily to action/violence, or are you using this in a broader context?
     
  8. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    By showing that below complexity lies simplicity, and that below simplicity lies complexity. Everything else I care to write is about concepts. For me the characters in a story are window dressing; important but not the heart of the concept.
     
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  9. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Senior Member

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    I've really only seen them done in a more action/violence sense. Although, it'd be interesting to see the same type of character done in a more intellectual setting. They'd probably get through arguments by repeating their opinion over and over and punching holes in logic as they go until the other person submits.
     
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  10. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    Alright. And why doesn't your character play the "powerhouse" role anymore?

     
  11. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Senior Member

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    To make it short, massive overuse of god-like powers made the powers volatile, and the only solution was to completely remove them. It's a shift that takes her from playing the last-minute "We're all about to die and the power of love/friendship/whatever causes me to gain a massive power boost" character into the quicker, more tactical kind of character that can't take hits like she used to, but is more skilled now.

    Also, I use the character a lot and decided that she was getting stale. She did the same thing in each fight: attack really hard and sometimes show of her clever side. She needed an update as to not remain stagnant throughout this last story, so I took her god-like status/power and left her with her normal human power and decided to run with that. I like the results so far, though I'm still only in the planning stage.

    So, what about you, Mr. Bone? What're your preferred methods to develop a character?
     
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  12. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    Assuming you mean growth, then my character development is dependent on the needs of my story. There are stories where the main characters have little growth or none at all – Geralt of The Witcher series comes to mind, as well as lots of comedies. Other stories like Lord of Flies and Farenheit 451 require transformational character growth.

    I have to decide where I want my characters to wind up at the story's end, and who I want them to be. Then I work backwards from that destination to determine a compelling way to get them there.
     
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  13. Katibel

    Katibel Member

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    I've never thought about character development much, but let's see...

    My pattern seems to be to invent a personality, give that personality a history and body on which they have some opinions, then toss the newly formed character into a complicated situation. I know they are going to smash their faces into the problem until they bleed--they have to, after all, it's all they know. But it's at that face-smashed moment when I see whether or not the individual events leading up to the conflict are enough to convince the character to get more creative (hopefully in my predetermined direction, but, if not, then it's either a plot hole or I'm working with too hard a character).
     
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  14. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    It really depends on what comes into my mind the moment I think of them. Sometimes I'll think of a character and within 20 minutes they are a formed human being - others are just a vague outline that need some serious work.

    I usually think of them in a situation. I give them a "want", something to strive for, then I think of why it's hard for them to have it. I never create a character without thinking about the plot, setting and theme because I feel they all go hand in hand. So I draw a mind map, and in the center I write conflict and jot down ideas of how character, setting and plot might conflict. I prefer to be subtle and make the first problem realistic, rather than make everything as bad as it can possibly be from day one, that way you have stakes that can be raised.

    Then I begin to play with backstory. Events and people that might have happened to this character that shapes their beliefs and views of the world around them. I try to avoid the constant sob story because that it's often the case for most people. People tend to remember the horrible parts of their lives and overlook the good stuff - so I try to add a mixture. I give them flaws that get in their way and sometimes help them and other times hinder them. Sometimes, if I want a character to fall, I'll give them a fatal flaw that brings them down at the end.

    It's hard because I don't really have a method or think about it that much, I think it's just an instinctual thing.
     
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