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robg213

Character development

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Some people develop characters as they go along and seem to do fine, but defining characters first helps to clear things up before the writing starts once you have the basic story plot points and outline done. Others don't even use anything formal, but it does help. If you have snippets of scenes, write those down. Bits and pieces of dialogue, write those down. First. Then:

 

1) Differences and similarities with other characters. Smarter, more shy, loner, easy to talk to, common interests, flaws.

 

2) Behaviors. Follows a set pattern. More adventurous than most. Tries to take advantage of certain situations.

 

3) Moral compass. Does not seem to have one. Very moral. About 50/50. Liar and likely to cheat or get involved in criminal activities.

 

4) In dramatic stories, while under pressure to do something, the character: gets scared and runs away, stands up and is (plausibly) heroic, or goes to get help.

 

 

If you saw yourself or was reminded of people you know in the above, then I've conveyed the bulk of what I want to say. Friends and even family members, all have unique to them characteristics, both physical and behaviors.

 

Then there are the 'characters in the background' that appear and disappear in stories. That unknown person who gives you directions or who does something that moves the story along. They can also help link otherwise unrelated events. It could be someone on the radio that sparks a thought or clarifies something going on in the story.

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This was interesting! I've not heard these before. I have a question to clarify. Do you suggest doing this for every character, the central characters, or only your main character? 

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Before my stroke, I used to create characters as I went along and with no problem- it was glorious!  But since my stroke I find that I am constantly experimenting with new methods of creating characters (and plot points, too), so thanks for this.

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And thank you for your replies.

When creating characters, the main characters need the most detail, followed by the secondary characters. Depending on the scope of the book, from space opera to large-scale military engagements (any era), there may be 4 to 6 main characters and a dozen secondary characters. Of course, main characters include the bad guy and those he most interacts with. Even in small-scale settings that involve a main character and a few others, the characters need to feel three dimensional. The reader should feel he can relate to them and the writer needs to add just the right amount of detail. So, what motivates the main characters? And, what qualities separate them from each other?

In heroic settings like Star Wars, the good guys are heroes but Luke Skywalker is not Han Solo.

Also, in Christian writing and in all writing, the characters should have a moral compass. Ideally, the good guys should be striving to do the right thing no matter how hard that might be and no matter how physically challenging that might be. That includes overcoming fear with planning. That can also include becoming a leader, even of a small group, because the character finds himself in that position. And it also includes having hope when it looks like things will not go well.

 

Looked at another way, a book should have a starting premise that needs to be fleshed out with a setting and characters. Those who create characters as they go along can try a more formal approach.

Age

Background

Job skills or military skills, plus any personal skills (first aid, computer skills, etc.).

How moral? Very, somewhat, depends on the situation, not very, minor criminal, major criminal and up to wants to take over or destroy the world. Criminal can be substituted with being a liar, not trustworthy, not reliable, especially when most needed, and so on.

I find that once I set up, or build, a character, I try out some situations on him. I determine how he will react to whatever situations that apply to the main story arc. Like scenes in a stage play, he may travel locally and interact with local situations or go to another country as a soldier or tourist or guest. In all cases, he goes from scene to scene in a way that makes sense and is seamless. The reader thinks, "Of course he has to go here or there because the story is going in that direction."

 

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On 10/10/2019 at 7:21 PM, robg213 said:

If you have snippets of scenes, write those down

As someone who tends to be a pantser, this is my workaround for characterization. Planning in any lengthy form is difficult for me, but writing scenes out of order and even extra scenes that I won’t use helps me explore my characters and learn about them. 

 

Great info!

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