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Topic Tuesday #12: Character Development


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It's Tuesday, and you know what that means... time for another Topic Tuesday! This week lets talk about your approach to Character Development.

 

In most stories, there's going to be at least one Character, or you can be like War and Peace, that epic Russian novel that has 600 Named Characters in 1440 pages. That's a lot to keep track of! Character Development is a basic tool and artform that writers quickly become proficient at as they continue to write. I've read several different ways people approach creating a character, that I can tell y'all this: there is no right way, or wrong way to create a character. Let me repeat, there is no right way or wrong way to create a character. If you have an agent or publisher saying that you are doing it wrong, drop them like a bad habit. We each have our own style when it comes to crafting, and we should use what works for us. Makes sense, right?

 

For me, I start with a concept:

For my latest project, Timeless the Main Character is an Ex-US Army Ranger, who medically retired after a mission in Afganistan, and lost both of his legs due to an I.E.D. He's in an experimental clinical trial, where he was implanted with a small computer interface system, to help him control some motorized prosthetic legs. While in the Army, he used the G.I. Bill to get a Master's Degree in Computer Science and works as a freelance developer, to supplement his income from Retiring from the Army, VA Benefits, and an extra stipend for having earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is also an Avid Gaymer and plays a VRMMORPG called Timeless.

 

Now that is a lot of detail for just a concept, but it's not the final work on the character. After I get the concept, then other details get added:

Name: Garrett Sullivan

Age: 43-years-old

Marital Status: Single, but is dating a 21-year-old Twink. On their 3rd date.

Vitals: 6ft., 190lbs., Broad-chested, Muscular, Black Hair, Emerald Green Eyes

Basic Likes: Coca-Cola, Cuban Cigars, Cookies-n-Cream Ice Cream, loves Texas BBQ, guilty pleasure of Taylor Swift music, and loves the Disney Movie Frozen.

Basic Dislikes: Slackers, People who Disrespect Veterans, Homophobic attitudes, Atheists.

Where does he live: Tampa, FL, relocated as part of a joint service with CentCom, before retirement, at MacDill AFB. Lives in a one-story Florida Style Ranch House, that has four bedrooms. Two have been converted into an office and exercise room. Hardwood floors, and predominately in Wood tones, Browns, and Greens.

 

There are more details, and that doesn't include the details of his in-game character, which will be the primary in the story. I keep it listed in my Notes Journal, or in OneNote.

 

I have a document that asks 100 questions to help me collect my thoughts on my character. I do not do all 100 questions. I use them to help inspire me to find what I know about the character, so that I may use him to the best of my ability in the story. This is my approach to character development and creation, and your's might be completely different than mine.

 

So, how about you? How do you craft your characters?

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I've always copied the character profile from this website, but I am still working on seeing what additions I can make.

 

In general, I'm still in the process of experimentation. Creating a character is one thing. Creating a realistic, believable character with unique quirks is where I struggle the most. I keep asking myself the same questions. What makes him/her special? What sets them apart from a generic personality? What do they have that others don't? I sometimes need to open my horizons and look at my surroundings in daily life. All people in real life have unique quirks, but often they can be subtle or you don't really think about it since you've known them for a while and that's just "who they are." However, I find that quirks can add to a character's flavour and is an essential part of my characterisation process.

 

Secondly, I believe that main characters need to learn something during the course of my story. They need to change, especially if it's a protagonist or a deuteragonist. I often find myself in a situation where I start writing a character profile, but continually make additions to it as my vision of story progresses because of character development. It adds another dimension or multiple dimensions to the whole structure of not only their personality but the plot as well. If characters are one-dimensional and do not change the plot will grow mundane after a while. That said, I am not yet willing to dismiss one-dimensional characters as unnecessary. I believe it can actually be a tool to set up a comparison between multi-dimensional characters and static characters. A stubborn individual can accentuate the flexibility of another individual. I've not really tried something like this but I am considering the potential. As of the moment, at least the protagonist and the main antagonist need to be multi-dimensional in my story and I put a lot of effort into their development. Maybe I can try a one-dimensional character becoming multi-dimensional as the plot progresses but I don't really know yet. The possibilities are plentiful.

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I write time lines for birthdays etc.  I make notes about events, and dates as i go along. i never write profiles .. my characters are in my head until they are on paper, so to speak. The more i plan and plot the less they become. So i don't.

 

i have a general outline, add notes as i go and just write it.

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20 minutes ago, Mikiesboy said:

I write time lines for birthdays etc.  I make notes about events, and dates as i go along. i never write profiles .. my characters are in my head until they are on paper, so to speak. The more i plan and plot the less they become. So i don't.

 

i have a general outline, add notes as i go and just write it.

I find the ability to do that rather remarkable. 😁 It isn't as if I haven't tried. I used to get caught up in the inspiration of the story and begin to write straight away. But if the story turns out too sophisticated I begin to lose interest. This is common trend with me: an idea is shorter and easier to think than what I can manage on paper. One chapter turns into two. Two chapters turn into four. Trying to follow a guideline both for plot and character for me is rather new. It can get tedious because I want to write the actual thing instead of planning, but I think it's better like this for me.

Edited by FindThySky
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I developed my characters based on my personal life.

 

For example, Jeremih, the main character of my novel is basically me.

 

He's a cashier

He has a fro

He was in love with another cashier.

 

those qualities are basically me. 

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19 hours ago, FindThySky said:

I've always copied the character profile from this website, but I am still working on seeing what additions I can make.

Interesting profile form. It does seem useful.

13 hours ago, Mikiesboy said:

I write time lines for birthdays etc.  I make notes about events, and dates as i go along. i never write profiles .. my characters are in my head until they are on paper, so to speak.

Hmm, interesting. I've never thought out about timelines for Birthdays, and major events. I think I'm going to add that to my character development. Thanks, tim.

12 hours ago, Larry Davis said:

I developed my characters based on my personal life.

There are minor elements of myself, in almost every story I've posted on GA. I don't think any of my characters are more like me, than the others.

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26 minutes ago, BHopper2 said:

Hmm, interesting. I've never thought out about timelines for Birthdays, and major events. I think I'm going to add that to my character development. Thanks, tim.

Did it for Changes .. cuz dates of the marathons, ages of Louis and Don when they met, married, when Miriam's kids were born ... were important.. and needed again.

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A lot but not all of my characters are based on real people I have met in the past or still know. That takes care of their personalities. My only written notes are ages, birthdays, and where they live. Everything else is in my mixed up brain along with everything else. If I try to be more methodical and write everything down first, I lose the plot. Quite literally.

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So far I've written half of one story. And I'd say both characters are pieces of me and other people I know. 

 

My best friend recognized one character as basically me when he read my first 2 chapters. Which, made me feel weird and transparent 

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  • 3 weeks later...

My Characters exist already on a higher vibration to our current reality. They talk to me in my sleep and while I eat ice cream.

 

One might be my boyfriend in a parallel universe. Another might be the ghost of a dead boy. Another might be a complete figment of my imagination. Another might be my twist on an already existing character that I’ve been allowed to develop. One might be one of the several mes on various vibrational frequencies cascading down out of the infinite universes that exist in planer physics.

 

My favorite is when a Greek God wants to be remembered after 2300 years.

 

I hope that simplifies things.

 

:heart:

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6 minutes ago, MrM said:

My favorite is when a Greek God wants to be remembered after 2300 years.

I have a story like that. But this guy has been around since the dawn of time. Primordial gods get a little randy after 13.8 billion years.

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I think I start with certain personality 'types' at first. Usually based on people that I know or knew growing up. That's sort of a basic outline. The shy guy, the funny guy, the standoffish guy, the bully, the romantic, the wise sage, the precocious mischief maker. Whatever the story needs at that particular point. Then I narrow things down with physical details. (Age, looks, hair, eyes, build) And keep sculpting each character with whatever details I feel are necessary to tell that particular story. Once that's done...I feel the best way to build characters is to include 'other characters' and allow them to sort of bounce ideas and dialogue off of one another. I feel that personal interaction gives the clearest picture of who a character is and what he/she feels. A single conversation with someone they are infatuated with can tell a lot about them. A conversation with someone they despise can tell an entirely different story. An emotional conversation with a parent can expose something totally different. So it allows you to build different layers to your character in a gradual manner that doesn't feel like it's being dumped on a reader all at once. Basically, start big...vague..then narrow things down to get a clearer picture. :)

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