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Young Writers Society
Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:44 pm
So I'm writing a novel, and I know characterization is a really important part of the whole writing process. It's a romance novel, and I have an idea who my two main characters are and I do like them, but, I want to bring them more to life. I see other writers, including guys here who say their characters talk to them. Mine don't.
When I write, I want to make the reader feel that these are real people, not just puppets. So, I've paused the novel and I'm writing notes about them, getting to know them, their personalities, their histories, their likes and dislikes, etc.
Any ideas on how better to do that? On how to really get to know your characters?
Sun Aug 21, 2011 12:59 pm
Can you predict what they will do in almost any situation imaginable? Do they act differently when placed in those situations alone compared to when placed in that same situation with another character? Are their actions consistent with what they believe in rather than what is convenient for the plot?
If so, your characters are already alive enough for you. It's just a matter of refining your writing so that your readers can see how alive those characters are. Try posting up a section of what you have written, something a bit emotional, and see how folks receive it. And if the reception isn't all that great, you can always ask your reviewers why they felt your characters needed more work.
While profiles can be useful to keep track of various obscure character things, they're also quite dangerous as a list of traits alone does not a character make; it's the characters actions and interactions that make them believable. Profiling also leads to a tendency to try and include every detail in the profile into the story, which more often than not hurts the story as too many unnecessary and irrelevant details begin clogging it up.
Just try not to get carried away with the profiling, don't feel compelled to include every last detail in the profile into your story, and you should be fine.
Screwing with gender since 1995.
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There are no chickens in Hyrule.
Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:47 pm
To add onto Kyll's comment, I've found that thinking about their motivation can be one of the best things you can do, and tracking either a change in motivation or showing why a motivation would change is one of my prime ways of determining how a character can interact.
But after spending a few years with a character, the only way I've found to know a character is figure out why they behave a certain way. It means diving into backstory, culture, and upbringing in order to get a good grasp.
My suggestion is to just write out the drafts, start getting feedback on them, and working from there. Really, the best way to discover your characters is to write.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo
Ink is blood. Paper is bandages. The wounded press books to their heart to know they're not alone.
Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:04 pm
For my current novel, I began working on my characters (after getting used to the idea of them) by filling out a character profile for each of them, more specifically
Rich Hamper's Character Profile Sheet
. I also figure out the character's external and internal goals (what they want), motivations (why they want it), conflicts (what prevents them from getting what they want) and strategies (how they'd plan to overcome the conflict). After that, I write my first draft. I don't worry a lot about voice or consistency at this point - all I do is try to get a feel for the character. In my experience, no matter how much I plan a character in advance, they always end up changing. Suddenly, some of the information in the character profile has become false, and that's ok. When writing my first version of the story, I focus on finding my characters, their voices, and their purpose. Now that I'm at the end of the first draft, I've found that I know my characters much better than before: now I have the information I need to go back and add depth and consistency to their characterization, since now I instinctively know from experience how they react to all these different situations and people.
Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme / of things not found within recorded time.
- J. R. R. Tolkien: Mythopoeia ┃
Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:06 pm
I'll admit that I was in drama and doing so I tend to act out my characters and imagine that they are around me. It puts them into situations that I can solve in their way (or not if the case me be). My character Winnie got built up the most while I was in class, as did Lucifer, because I would be in the mind set of Winnie (what with my daydreaming) and Lucifer talks to Winnie via getting into her head. So imagine, if you will, acting like one character and then interecting with your other characters. How they play off each other develops them just as much.
Some charcters don't talk to you, they are parts of you.
Everything can lead to an adventure, I just try to write those adventures down
Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:22 am
Really, the best way you can get to know your characters is to write them. Seriously, I don't usually write notes about my characters at all. I just write them and see how they react to things.
My characters don't talk to me either. But I know what they want and where they've come from, so I write them based on that. And that can lead to revelations that I didn't think about before. A description of a look that lasts too long can lead to a whole understanding of a character's childhood, something I never would have decided on in a character chart. Actually organically working with a character is how development happens.
I am reminded of the babe by you.
Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:35 am
You've already gotten some pretty great advice from the previous posts, but I'll add that characters thrive well when you base them inspirationally off real people. Perhaps you know or have met someone in real life that can inspire you to base your fictional character off of. See, if I were to choose to write a story about a girl who was sick, I might base her off this girl I once knew in fifth grade who had a brain tumor. :[ She was the sweetest thing, and I feel like I would know how to write that character front to back if I let it fall in the silhouette of this actual person.
So yeah. Allow real people to inspire your characters in ways. You may mold them into something completely extraordinary that you're familiar with and have no trouble writing whatsoever. This isn't the only effective way to get a good solid character of course, but I do find that it helps in some cases. Maybe it could help you with future writing.
Also, think about your characters. A lot. 0.O Create scenes in your head that allow your characters to play themselves out. I do this a lot, and I notice this is when they truly start speaking to me. Their personalities begin to take on a life of their own and whatnot. But anyway, hope this helps, too!
Paul is my little, evil,
bundle of joy.
Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:42 am
To add to what SmylinG was saying, you can base a character off a real person, or you can base certain characteristics off of real people. Any one character of mine can have blends of multiple friends and family members - just little aspects that help me picture them a lot easier.
My characters don't talk to me either - they live in their own world and don't know I exist. But I watch them mingle. I see, and I hear them talk to each other. Perhaps it's my theatre background, but I can very easily slip into my character's shoes, into their heads, and it is a very comfortable place. I understand their thoughts. I know not just how they will act in a certain situation, but I know what they think about. So my suggestion is, you can always try to
the character. Whether you're playing out an interaction in your head, or wondering how they would respond to your real life setting, as I think has already been mentioned.
Ask yourself what motivates your characters. What do your characters desire and why? I feel this is a great place to start. Then ask yourself, what would they be like at their best? At their worse? Get to know them as you would a close friend.
Best of luck,
'Tis the season! Donate your poetry.
Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:10 pm
My characters never talk to me, they know better than to halt my train of thought or disrupt my sleep.
The best way to show characterization is not through profile, but action. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. It's not what your characters say, but what they do that defines who they are. The way they respond to some people, how they react to certain situations, it all shows what kind of person he or she is. If you're ever unsure how they might react to something, put yourself in their shoes and see what you would do in the same situation.
Chicken <-- Egg <-- Rocket Powered Fist
Take that, science!
These were autumn mornings, the time of year when kings of old went forth to conquest; and I, never stirring from my little corner in Calcutta, would let my mind wander over the whole world.
— Rabindranath Tagore, The Cabuliwallah
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