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How do you relate to a character enough to write about them?


Thirdly

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Now, I generally draw inspiration in writing my characters from real people that I know and, of course, an aspect or two of myself. I also don't generally have a problem writing about side characters and villains that are nothing like my own personality. 

 

But, what happens when you can't get into the "head space" of a MAIN character that you are writing, especially before anything meaningful happens to them for them to grow?

 

If they feel almost alien to you because you can't justify their actions or their way of life?

 

...and you really don't want to walk in their shoes, but you have to?

 

Is this what actors go through before they choose a role? 

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3 minutes ago, Valkyrie said:

If you can't get into the 'head space' of a main character, it's going to show in the writing.   Sometimes actions or a way of life can't be justified, but just 'is'.  Maybe try not justifying the actions, but simply write them.  

 

Yeah, it's hard not to judge a character that you really, really don't like at first but would probably be friends with by the end...I guess because it's the character that I created, it's as if it's my child. And, as a parent, you want to teach your child discipline, good manners, playing nice, and to be tough...but, you can't force them into ANYTHING unless they themselves eventually choose to. You just kinda gotta watch over them and feed them and be there for them...but, Valkyrie, I swear all I wanna do is spank this character's bum. LMAO

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1 hour ago, Thirdly said:

 

Yeah, it's hard not to judge a character that you really, really don't like at first but would probably be friends with by the end...I guess because it's the character that I created, it's as if it's my child. And, as a parent, you want to teach your child discipline, good manners, playing nice, and to be tough...but, you can't force them into ANYTHING unless they themselves eventually choose to. You just kinda gotta watch over them and feed them and be there for them...but, Valkyrie, I swear all I wanna do is spank this character's bum. LMAO

 

I started out with a character like this. He was an arrogant egotist. The beautiful guy in the bar that everyone looks to when he walks in and is smug as hell about how he looks. A total Twunk (Twink+Hunk). The fun I had with him is battering him a bit with reality and shaping him as he could be as opposed to what he thought he was. I did two characters like this, actually, and set them opposed to one another until, naturally, they fell madly in love. Fun writing. I feel, sometimes, that I’m God watching them from above and throwing things at them to see how they’ll react.

 

It does take a bit of a Multiple Personality Disorder to achieve this, but it is fun to get into if you can. The trick is, make them who you would never want to be and then turn them into what you would love to be.

Edited by MrM
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1 minute ago, MrM said:

It does take a bit of a Multiple Personality Disorder to achieve this, but it is fun to get into if you can. The trick is, make them who you would never wasnt to be and them turn them into what you would love to be.

 

:lol: I'll try my best!

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One way I resolve this when it does arise is by using it as an opportunity for character growth and development.  If you can’t relate to your character, then certainly at least one of your other characters can’t either.  Have that character try to get to know your unrelatable character better.  As you said, sometimes you can’t get into their headspace before you’ve even gotten a chance to have them grow.  But maybe that could be your starting point.  The character is unrelatable to those around them, so use the other characters as an extension to accomplish just that.

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4 hours ago, aditus said:

If I can't relate to a character enough to write about them, the story is dead. I live my characters, good, bad or ugly.

 

But but but...it’s my child. I have to raise it for better or for worse! Let me sleep on it and see if I can dream up a solution.

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4 hours ago, Disjecta Membra said:

One way I resolve this when it does arise is by using it as an opportunity for character growth and development.  If you can’t relate to your character, then certainly at least one of your other characters can’t either.  Have that character try to get to know your unrelatable character better.  As you said, sometimes you can’t get into their headspace before you’ve even gotten a chance to have them grow.  But maybe that could be your starting point.  The character is unrelatable to those around them, so use the other characters as an extension to accomplish just that.

 

I see what you’re saying, to have a side character brave the waters/break the ice. Though there is s character that always tries to reach out to the mc(main char), the mc won’t let anyone in for quite a while. That’s why this one is...what’s the word I’m looking for? Challenging! I’ll dig around the mc’s brain somehow...find out why they are as they are. I can’t give up on this one, the mc has potential.

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2 minutes ago, Thirdly said:

 

But but but...it’s my child. I have to raise it for better or for worse! Let me sleep on it and see if I can dream up a solution.

 

Think of yourself less like his parent and more like his god.  Don't try to directly affect him.  Opt to use the story and the other characters to affect him.

 

Personally, I think your character just isn't quite ready to tell you his story yet.  I've had a couple do that to me.  Just have to be patient and coax it out of him over time.

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6 minutes ago, Jdonley75 said:

 

Think of yourself less like his parent and more like his god.  Don't try to directly affect him.  Opt to use the story and the other characters to affect him.

 

Personally, I think your character just isn't quite ready to tell you his story yet.  I've had a couple do that to me.  Just have to be patient and coax it out of him over time.

 

Everyone’s been giving me so many perspectives on this and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

 

Dagnabbit, so I shouldn’t try to forcefully rip out his reasoning like a cavity-filled tooth just to find out how he ticks? (I’ve been hanging around robin too long if I’m using teeth as an example ...she’s in dentistry lmao)

Edited by Thirdly
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4 minutes ago, Thirdly said:

 

Everyone’s been giving me so many perspectives on this and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

 

Dagnabbit, so I shouldn’t try to forcefully rip out his reasoning like a cavity-filled tooth just to find out how he ticks?

Well, it's your character, sweetie.  You can do whatever you want with him.

 

If it were me, I'd probably write up a character sheet on them and see what I can fill in and learn about them as I fill it in.

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I have a major character like this in Storms. I can't justify the things he does (and I wouldn't want to), and while I can't intuitively relate to him, I can try to learn to understand him, and then find a way to lead him on the right path and make him relatable in some way. If that makes any sense.

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3 hours ago, Thorn Wilde said:

I have a major character like this in Storms. I can't justify the things he does (and I wouldn't want to), and while I can't intuitively relate to him, I can try to learn to understand him, and then find a way to lead him on the right path and make him relatable in some way. If that makes any sense.

 

That's what I'm trying to do, to learn to understand this one. And his path is well and ready for him. I just need to know what he can handle and how he'll react when forced to go on that path...but, to do that, I have to find out his "whys" and "reasons" and he's not cooperating. Maybe I should bribe him with...well, I'd need to know what he likes first before I can bribe him with it. *shakes the mc* Why are you so difficult???

Edited by Thirdly
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All of this isn't going to waste, everyone. Got myself a good list so far that I'm gonna test with the MC (main character):

 

  • Sometimes actions or a way of life can't be justified. Don't justify the actions, just write them.
  • Write like the MC's god watching from above.
  • Live the character: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Use a side character to test the waters/break the ice.
  • Use the story and characters to affect him. Be his God, not his parent.
  • Try to kill him to see if a reason not to manifests.
  • If you cant intuitively relate to him, try to learn to understand him. 

Wish me luck and many thanks for all of your help and perspectives!!!  :worship:

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7 hours ago, Thirdly said:

All of this isn't going to waste, everyone. Got myself a good list so far that I'm gonna test with the MC (main character):

 

  • Sometimes actions or a way of life can't be justified. Don't justify the actions, just write them.
  • Write like the MC's god watching from above.
  • Live the character: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • Use a side character to test the waters/break the ice.
  • Use the story and characters to affect him. Be his God, not his parent.
  • Try to kill him to see if a reason not to manifests.
  • If you cant intuitively relate to him, try to learn to understand him. 

Wish me luck and many thanks for all of your help and perspectives!!!  :worship:

 

One last method:

 

Distract the MC (Main Character) with something very mundane, i.e. he's wearing boxers instead of briefs, he's running late, or he finds a banana :o  (Tons of fun things happen when you find a random banana :D )

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46 minutes ago, W_L said:

 

One last method:

 

Distract the MC (Main Character) with something very mundane, i.e. he's wearing boxers instead of briefs, he's running late, or he finds a banana :o  (Tons of fun things happen when you find a random banana :D )

 

That's kind of ironic, because I finally managed to nail him down by finding a few things we share in common, one of them being socks. Yes, socks. I got him down now, though. Took me days to fine tune his butt. And, boy, does he frighten me (he, himself isn't scary, the fact that he's gonna be the main perspective is). I don't think I've ever written a character exactly like him, but I'm almost ready!

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45 minutes ago, Thirdly said:

 

That's kind of ironic, because I finally managed to nail him down by finding a few things we share in common, one of them being socks. Yes, socks. I got him down now, though. Took me days to fine tune his butt. And, boy, does he frighten me (he, himself isn't scary, the fact that he's gonna be the main perspective is). I don't think I've ever written a character exactly like him, but I'm almost ready!

Good to hear.  Looking forward to meeting this guy when it's time. :D

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/13/2019 at 9:27 AM, Thirdly said:

...But, what happens when you can't get into the "head space" of a MAIN character that you are writing, especially before anything meaningful happens to them for them to grow?

 

Write in a POV that is not theirs.  They can be a main character, their actions can influence everything around them, they can even drive the plot...   

 

But you don't have to get in their head space and ruin the writing if you just can't.  

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23 minutes ago, Lugh said:

 

Write in a POV that is not theirs.  They can be a main character, their actions can influence everything around them, they can even drive the plot...   

 

But you don't have to get in their head space and ruin the writing if you just can't.  

 

Thanks so much for adding to this thread! I finally did manage to get into this character's head. But, now his world has become challenging. This is so difficult that I might have to do the inverse, sequence-wise, than I had originally planned. I didn't want to, but it's the solution. It's the total solution to everything dealing with this character. I can do this! 

Edited by Thirdly
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On 3/1/2019 at 4:11 PM, Thirdly said:

 

Thanks so much for adding to this thread! I finally did manage to get into this character's head. But, now his world has become challenging. This is so difficult that I might have to do the inverse, sequence-wise, than I had originally planned. I didn't want to, but it's the solution. It's the total solution to everything dealing with this character. I can do this! 

It's the hard ones that end up being the most interesting. Madness, odd points of view, and even just pure evil have their own attraction, but it takes some work to get there. It will all work out in the end. 

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