1. InsaneXade

    InsaneXade Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2017
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    54

    .What's your favorite way to get to know your characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by InsaneXade, Oct 6, 2019.

    After seeing how some newer writers struggle with characters that don't fit in with their stories or are too similar to something else, like a movie, I thought I would try to create a resource thread. My question: What is your creative process and where do you write? in general writing is a resounding success, so I thought hard on and come up with this so we can point our newer here, where everyone shares how they create and mold their characters. If possible upload a sample file to share if it's going to be pages long.
    =======
    Here is my personal favorite way to create/refine a character.
    =======
    I first come up with a name and potential occupation role in the story. In this case

    Lamont Milson The villain of Without a Will (book 2)​

    I describe him, bearing in mind that the description may change at any time.

    Lamont is a man with long dreadlocks and skin the color of dark chocolate. He has a strong, muscular build and is in his 40s. His clothing preference is a snazzy tunic cinched by a thin belt. Vines cover his leggings because he likes vines that climb things. His dreadlocks are back in a large ponytail. He wears a single bracelet on his wrist.​

    I leave him alone for a while do some writing with him, in this case I used him as a main villain in the second book, hoping that he would develop along the way. However, this fails miserably. He was simply a jerk following orders via the main villain's magic talent. I pulled him out and started interviewing him. Here is the first page and a half, I continue for a total of 7 pages before I wrap it up.

    Lamont Milson Interview

    We’re going to yank Lamont out of the story and see what makes him tick. This is set in a magic world, with magic talents. This character is a mid level wizard with a great talent that he cannot control. Watch as I brainstorm a new background for him.


    Just before Lamont gets trapped in the stasis crystal I yank him out for an interview in an effort to make him a better character. After a few minor tweaks to make him compliant he is sitting in front of me having a milkshake in my local Steak-n-Shake, but without anyone but a server and the kitchen staff.

    Jen, the server, places our milkshakes down. “Your order will be ready shortly, Xade and company.”

    “Thanks,” I say, opening up my laptop. I open up Atlantis Ocean Mind and look up at Lamont, who is enjoying a double chocolate brownie, low-fat shake. “So, Lamont, you’ve been likened to an jerk following Thour’s orders and I wish to change that. Tell me about yourself.”

    “What would you like to know?” asks Lamont, taking his straw and opening it. “You made me so you already know all about me.”

    “Well, no I don’t know all about you, that is the meaning for this interview.” I say. “You are one of the more undeveloped characters. I already interviewed Thour for his motivations. Now it’s your turn.”

    “Well, he has my sons, a good father will do anything for his children.”

    “I used that on Mathias, and freed him in the adventure.” I say dismissively while I scoop the cherry out of my mint chocolate chip milkshake. “His daughter was in stasis. Let’s talk about why Thour let your sons mature and become close to Vincent. I never really gave much thought about that but it’s something that we can use to make the jerk deep.”

    “You want to make the jerk a deep man eh?” asks Lamont shrewdly. “I’ll play along with that if it makes the story better.”

    “It will.” I assure him, opening up a recording program.

    “Hmm,” Lamont takes a few moments to collect his thoughts, dipping his spoon into his shake and taking a bite. “I suppose I’ve always had this insecurity issue because of my talent.”

    “Go on,” I say when he pauses and looks at me for confirmation. “We can run with this any way you want, Lamont, providing that it stays true to the laws of Xade.”

    “Third degree mood manipulation.” Lamont stirs his spoon in his shake. “The thing with third degree is that it is always active to make me more likable or hateable, depending on the situation. A part is always working no matter what, there is no fine control like there would be on first or second.”

    “I could argue that point, depending on what the talent does,” I nod to Jen as she sets our steak burgers and fries before us. “First degree enhancement for example is almost always acting on the owner, enhancing parts that he does not notice. It all depends on the talent itself.”

    “Can I turn it off?”

    I pick up a fry and gesture with it. “Not you, no, that’s why it’s classified as third, just like Alexand’s reading hidden written things; every time he closes his eyes there’s always a chance he will see something, especially if it’s addressed to him or someone he cares about.”
    See the enclosed file
    =============
    Anyhow, My friend that I mention near the end suggested that. My favorite writing instructor author does something similar but she posts a "job request" and puts it away for a bit then reads it again every few days until a character steps forward from the back of her mind and "applies" for the job. She then interviews them for the job. If she decides they are a good fit she irons out all the details.

    So, what's your favorite way to invent r reinvent characters?
     
  2. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2017
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    231
    Location:
    Uppsala, Sweden
    I begin with the group psychology. Make a script with conversations and let the characters evolve with a pilot chapter. Can't just create random people and tell them to be friends.
     
  3. InsaneXade

    InsaneXade Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2017
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    54
    oh yeah, I forgot about the little script I make to see how the characters mesh while dining at a restaurant with me. Hehe, I never actually done that but I have been thinking about doing it.
     
  4. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Smooth like butter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    2,466
    Likes Received:
    5,270
    I'm a visual person; I like to see the character I am working with. So I tend to draw them out or design them. This lets me see their personality as well... like their choice in clothing, their choice in how they wear their hair. I created them with a frown... what does that say about their personality? I made them lower their eyes.... what does that say about their personality?

    When I cant get the visuals right, or cant find a doll designer (like how I created my profile picture) that fits what I'm looking for... I make a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet has personality traits, hair, clothing, what they like to eat, what colors they like, and other descriptors that can help me visualize the character.

    Sometimes i create a character and cannot get the visual right, OR the spreadsheet right. in those cases, its a struggle to write them because they really have no personality at all. I tend to put those on the back burner and pick them up when I actually have a visual. Sometimes I'll start something and wont have a visual until months down the road. Other times, if I don't have a visual, it becomes "stuck" and I just scrap it.
     
  5. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    4,470
    Likes Received:
    3,494
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I like to start with generalizations and abstractions and work my way towards more more concrete details. Starting with the basics – male or female, young or old, status, background. Then I look to the story and see what TYPE OF PERSON would work best to tell it. Sometimes I'll need to create another character as a catalyst knowing this character can't operate on his own steam. And it's this catalyst character where I probably can stir up the most conflict. And that's when I start to know who my character is – when they're struggling – doing emotional, physical or spiritual battle.
    I've been inspired by one of my favorite quotes by Nabokov - Caress the detail, the divine detail. Most of us have people in our lives that stand out by those sharp details and that's the feeling I want to create an exactness that brings the ordinary to life and makes it appear extraordinary.
     
  6. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2019
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    80
    I draw my characters to define their looks, create a sheet with info about them and then talk to friends about them. They ask me questions about them and I try to answer.
     
  7. SpokenSilence

    SpokenSilence Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    161
    I usually start oleplaying them. I came to find that RPG offers a great way of getting to know the charas, so I do throw them into diverse scenic situations, using established Charas as Partners. Then I write RPG - only with my charas interacting.

    It may sound strange, but it really works for me.
    Names often come last, when the final story is written.
     
  8. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2018
    Messages:
    1,417
    Likes Received:
    2,502
    Location:
    Texas
    Backstory and outline.

    I figure out more of a character's background than I really need for the book, things I would never include unless some bit just happens to come up. It doesn't even take much. knowing a few things about their childhood or past relationships is usually enough. I also outline. There's still a fair amount of discovery involved when writing an individual scene, but I learned a while back that anything I write over a couple of thousand words is going to need architecture to start. The outline and the character notes, including backstory, usually evolve simultaneously, and by the time I'm ready for actual paragraphs, I have a very real feel for the characters. The dialog and mannerisms come easily because I know these people inside out.

    I'm not one for asking my characters questions or throwing imaginary dinner parties for the simple fact that all of my characters are me. I've spoken of this in several threads over the last year, but these characters that start as figments and notions become a part of me and vice versa. It's like Jungian dream theory: Everyone and everything in your dream is you. Everyone I write is either me, an aspect of me or me in a very different set of circumstances, even the truly nasty ones. A character's actions and dialog become more like method acting and improvisation than imagining.
     
    LazyBear likes this.
  9. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2018
    Messages:
    842
    Likes Received:
    838
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    Mine is to literally start writing them. I find doing character plans for myself utterly useless (not the same with plot and setting). I look back over my plan and see I've written a totally different character than the one I planned. Basic stuff might be the same. So now I figure out plot and setting, then just free write my characters.
     
    Rzero and LazyBear like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice