1. Megs33

    Megs33 Active Member

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    When did you feel satisfied with a character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Megs33, Nov 17, 2016.

    As a newbie to the "no seriously, I'm gonna write a novel" scene, I've been surprised again and again by how naturally impatient I am while working to develop my characters (or during any aspect of the writing process, really).

    So I'm curious: when did you consider a character to be "complete"? Or to phrase that question better, at what point in the process did you start seeing your character as a tangible person/living being and not just writing on a page? Before you started writing your story? During a re-write? While creating oodles of back stories that you knew you'd never use in your actual published content?

    I get the feeling that I won't truly know my characters until after I've completed a really rough draft and a couple rounds of edits, allowing me to reveal each character's true nature and build on the personality foundations I've started. I get that this is an ongoing process, but it seems like there's a certain point where your knowledge and comfort level with your character allows story development to move a lot faster (as opposed to "Huh. I don't know what he'd do in this situation. Maybe he'd get upset and run away?").

    I'm interested in hearing how everyone's different journeys lead to a satisfying and structurally sound character. And for that matter, how do you define such a character? When does a character fall in to place for you?
     
  2. SardonicWriter

    SardonicWriter Member

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    I really like this question. First one I've come across here. Haven't seen too many questions really. Since I'm kinda like new.

    Interesting enough, I'm still very early in the process of working out my novel. And I have very good idea of who really my character is. And every facet of his
    psychology is clearer than before. But the more I write, the more I found out about my character. It's as if my character is already developed in my mind, but the
    more he is established on paper, the better I get to know him. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Q & A: I had the concept of my character before I had even begun writing, but he grew more tangible than ever along the process.

    With respect to rough drafts
    : I don't like rough drafts. To the best of my knowledge, rough drafts are simply a rough first work right? But can a rough outline also be the
    same work I'm currently on? I mean to say that I don't like creating something only skin deep and then try and fill in the gaps or correct later.
    I write and write as truthfully and best as I can, fixing things I don't like here and there as I go, and THEN at the end, I give it a review. I feel that way I'm more careful
    and the characters have more room to breathe and grow. I'm not worrying to get my entire story on paper or screen in a rush, perhaps losing some clever ideas
    in my haste.

    Absolutely. But writing more allows you to gain that knowledge and comfort and there's always going to be that place where you wrestle with yourself in
    trying to serve the character, as the character is simply allowing itself to be put in this world, rather than you creating it. A bit of philosophy there.
    Food for thought.


    A satisfying character for me is one that that's written easily and freely from near the beginning.

    Sorry for not being timely. Was busy.​
     
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  3. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    I'm not a big fan of character-driven fiction. One guy, or gal, is as good as another. I find it hard to accept a person can invent a person. We don't even know ourselves that well. I'm into the story, not the characters. The events drive the characters. Some of my favorite stuff is when normal people are thrown into extra-normal circumstances and have to dig deep inside themselves under adversity to bring forth the character to succeed. Characters that are bigger than the story? Not my cup of tea.

    To answer the question; I'm continually satisfied with the characters. They go where I place them, say what I want them to say, and do what I tell them to do right on cue. And, they're never late, or taking long lunch breaks.
     
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  4. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    As far as my two MCs, they've felt "real" for awhile now. The supporting cast is getting there, but I recently had a "breakthrough" moment with a side character that really made him "real" to me. He was originally just a way to get the MCs involved in the larger plot, a man who works in the shadows, has a huge network of informants, etc. etc. He rules a small city, but he's the power behind the throne. It'd always bugged me that he was just a plot device, until I thought: "Maybe he can't work openly because he's in hiding." That's when things started to fall into place - he'd done something in the past to piss off some powerful people, which is why he's all about the subterfuge, and why he can't just openly reveal what's going on and get some real help instead of relying on a couple of teenagers.

    It's not a person we're inventing, it's a persona. I think of it like a spy creating a new identity, or a role-player creating a character - name, background, history, likes and dislikes... it's just creating a "fake you", a mask, if you will, that you wear when you're working (or gaming) in order to get into character. When the work/game is over, you set the mask aside and revert to your old self.
     
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  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'm usually tweaking characterization right up until I send the story off to the editor/agent. And then often some more tweaks in the editing process.

    But I don't do a lot of the pre-writing stuff you seem to be working on, I just dive right in. So possibly if someone has spent more time on the pre-writing planning they wouldn't need to change anything later. Possibly.
     
  6. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    When the character acts on his own (or my subconscious makes them act on their own) ;) My MCs felt 'real' after I started research on their specific experiences, but it didn't need much to lock me into step with them. One book, two DVDs and I was a goner. I have never looked back :D
     
  7. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    I tend to be really character-driven rather than plot-driven (which is hilarious because I write sci-fi), and my thoughts would be the following:

    1) I don't know if I'm ever entirely satisfied with a character being "done". There's always more layers to uncover, and when you think you're satisfied, you'll find more layers from new situations.

    2) Generally I feel like the character is in good shape if I get to the point where they start "pushing back" a little on plot decisions. I'm not one who mentally interviews characters or feels like I watch them "rebel" without my conscious participation - but you do kind of get to a point where you start laying out your plot and then it hits you that "Vinya would totally never do that. I'll have to change this to fit her." I think that's probably the point at which I think I have a good enough understanding of how that person works, and when I can start making decisions on their actions based on how the character thinks rather than how I as an author think. Yes, it's still all in my head, so in the end it is how I think, but at that point the framework is built out enough that I can sink into their mindset and use that as a prism to view reality.

    3) That's all about getting the character ready in your head. Communicating that mindset on the page is a heck of a lot more work, and that's all about craft and learning writing skills.

    Also I lay in a lot of my backstory on the front end of character creation, because if I'm letting the character drive the car, so to speak, I need that character to be pretty fleshed out before I hand them the wheel.
     
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  8. Peper Shaker

    Peper Shaker Member

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    People aren't "done", ever. So why should characters be? That's why we give them arcs, that's why we experience through them all the changes and fluctuations.

    I understand your question though, maybe traits of the characters can change, but they remain the same in their core. I think finding out what that core is can be either from the beggining, while you're writing it, or just discovered at the end by yourself or someone else who has a different perspective.
     
  9. Anna100

    Anna100 Active Member

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    I don't think I've ever been dissatisfied with a character. Usually, I change stories all the time (without finishing) so there's only so much I get to explore before another character pops into my mind. But the thing is that I'm pretty sure it's the same character, just in a different 'suit'. :p They're different, but the same, and so they follow me from story to story. And even if they're not very developed, it doesn't bother me too much. I think someone once said that nothing is ever finished. And that's fine.
     
  10. texshelters

    texshelters Active Member

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    Call me a freak, but when I got teary eyed at one character's loss, she was real.

    On the other hand, when I felt heartfelt sympathy for a one despicable character, I also knew she was real to me. Like the writers, the characters are never fully developed; they are developing.

    Peace,
    Tex Shelters
     
  11. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I know I wrote a good character in my WIP when, no matter how many times I wrote down his name, it still excites me. Just starting a paragraph with his name is thrilling because there is such depth to him.
     
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  12. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Contributor

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    Have you read Bujold? Her books are all extremely character driven, and she writes Sci-Fi.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
  13. Ebenezer Lux

    Ebenezer Lux Member

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    I find my characters start coming to life as early as the first draft because I tend to write it very dialogue-heavy. There's a lot I learn about them from just seeing them interact with others in conversation.
     
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  14. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributor Contributor

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    Haven't done those, but there's a lot of character-driven sci-fi. I was just speaking more generally from experience that a lot of Sci-Fi and Fantasy tends to be world-driven or plot-driven - which is fine...the entire genres tend to rest on what-if questions about world. And I tend to come out in the minority (I think) in the sense that I'm usually more willing to change world and plot to fit character rather than vice versa (a lot of stuff I've seen has people changing character to fit the desired plot - where I tend to start from a general wold idea, then the next step is to find a person in that world and build out from them)
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
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