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Characters? : Writers' Block Party • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Characters?

What's going on in your writing world? Connect with the writing community here and talk about whatever's on your mind.
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jackblossom
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Characters?

Postby jackblossom » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:37 pm

Hey everyone,
I've hit a writing slump, but I think it's mainly because I need to develop my characters. I keep going to write, but nothing flows because my characters are still in the ethereal spaces of my thoughts and not written down and defined on paper. I'm a list person, so having everything written out really helps me to think and process. Also, I'm trying to make my characters more people, since "character" reminds me of "caricature" and I want to make sure they're all fleshed out and as real as possible.

Anyone else have this problem? Any advice on character building? I'm currently working through the book The Writer's Little Helper (by Jim Smith) and it is doing wonders for my story.

Thanks, everyone!

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pls
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Re: Characters?

Postby pls » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:01 pm

Throw 'em down the stairs! Character is built through conflict, not description.
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wdarcy
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Re: Characters?

Postby wdarcy » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:11 pm

I agree with Paul. The last thing you want to do is waste time filling out those stupid character inventory lists. Who cares what a character's favorite color is or her birthdate or how often she has her hair styled, unless it is germane to the story? What those character lists never include is how a character reacts in a given situation, and that's what's really important. So put your characters in a tense situation and see how they react. And don't worry about whether they're blonde or brunette or the color of their eyes or how long their hair is or whether they wear glasses.

--Warren
"Wagner's 'Das Rheingold'" (Oxford 1993). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 1995.

"Elements of Sonata Theory" co-authored with James Hepokoski(Oxford 2006). Winner of the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award, 2008.

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shadowwalker
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Re: Characters?

Postby shadowwalker » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:47 pm

Agree with both above. I don't bother with anything more than a vague idea of what my characters are like - hell, most of my characters pop up during the story, as needed. Find out about them as your readers do - that's half the fun of writing for me.

Not to mention that waiting to get them "fully-formed" is a wonderful way of procrastinating. ;)
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

ALShonce
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Re: Characters?

Postby ALShonce » Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:03 am

is awesome when it comes to her writer's craft books. her most recent book, Writing Vivid Characters is one of the best tools I've ever gotten for characters. 4.99 is a little too much but it's worth every penny. Mostr of the time I catch her newest books on sale for the introductory price of 0.99. But if you write an honest review and email her she will send you a copy of any book to read.

Personally I have my own character sheet, where I keep the physical details, (I dont need Aden going from blond to redhead without a good reason) I also outlined a bad memory and good memory in his forming years, 4, 12, 16 and the older characters 21 and 35. One thing I found most handy is an interview. Just pluck them out of the story, sit them down in say a coffee shop and pretend you're a reporter. Dive into their past, tick them off, find out what makes them tick. I interviewed my villain and found out how his brothers tormented him because of [spoiler] so bad that he left to forge his own path and eventually became the arch villain that he is today. Thour is actually kind to his friends -- but woe-betide the one who gets on his bad side -- for he crushes them under his hooves without mercy.

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jackblossom
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Re: Characters?

Postby jackblossom » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:09 am


max2011
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Re: Characters?

Postby max2011 » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:51 am

You can always build the list as you go if you can't break the habit. I do this only when my story involves a lot of characters I want to keep track of who did what and when... or anything related to their past/family, especially if the characters each have a different magical power...

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TwoStepCharlie
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Re: Characters?

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:15 pm

Blow up the bridge?!

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cynicalwanderer
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Re: Characters?

Postby cynicalwanderer » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:08 pm

"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.

Niels Cornelis
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Re: Characters?

Postby Niels Cornelis » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:08 am

Usually, my characters come into being together with the story, as a dynamic coexistence they grow together. I'm thrilled when my characters surprise me or do something unexpected (but never too far out of character without a good reason!) while struggling against the antagonistic forces (like the concrete floor below the staircase :) ).

I guess if you're stuck with it, it can help to envision someone you know well. Then the responses to your character's surroundings are more likely to be real, because partly you draw them from memory. Of course you should not make a copy of your sister in your story—that might piss her off. But having your sister—or someone who looks like her—in mind can help the character become more human (provided that your sister is human, of course). I like the interview idea as well, and I tried it once or twice. But usually I just want to write my story, and this sort of actions delay my working flow.
Hi there, I'm looking for feedback on my stories. . Tell me what you think. Thanks!


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