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DwayneA
03-13-2009, 07:10 AM
Whenever I read a book, I have a very difficult time getting to know the characters. It's hard for me to learn anything about them right away, for example whenever a new character is introduced, how the author describes them when they appear, or how they speak and act.

I've always had this difficulty even as a kid. What the heck is wrong with me?

blacbird
03-13-2009, 07:34 AM
Be one.

Observe others.

caw

Cyia
03-13-2009, 07:48 AM
It's all a matter of perception, just like in real life. People aren't always easy to read.

Linda Adams
03-13-2009, 02:39 PM
Might just be how you perceive things. For example, I have trouble with reading into things where that's required. I always had trouble with reading literary fiction where a teacher wanted me to interpret a passage into something else. I notice it particularly in critiques where a writer was trying to do something that needed to be interpreted, and everyone got it but me.

But knowing this is an issue is enough that you can think about what would help you get to know the characters better--and that's something you can take to your own story, perhaps to do something a little differently than everyone else.

tehuti88
03-13-2009, 06:43 PM
I don't so much have trouble learning about/getting to know characters, as I have trouble just relating to or liking them. I have to admit that in most published fiction I've read, the characters just don't resonate much with me, and always seem too calm and bland and composed. Even when they're throwing raging fits. I think this is why advice on forums to avoid excessive exclamation marks and speech tags and bodily movements to describe how people say/do things niggles at me--because that's just how I get to know characters.

I think I have a sort of "histrionic" perception--I NEED to see characters throwing fits and getting overly emotional, exclaiming things, screaming things, crying things, howling things, hissing things, waving their arms and rolling their eyes and stamping their feet and whatnot. It sounds juvenile, but that's just how I relate to people. People around me do that, I do that, so I want characters to do that--if they're NEVER allowed to do that in a story, then they just seem like robots to me. No, I don't want all characters to be histrionic all the time, but I also don't want writers to be afraid to show some excessive emotion here and there because some people really are like that, and those are the characters I find more relatable. I detest the excessive understatement used in characterization in books nowadays. Sometimes, one really can't tell from the dialogue whether somebody is yelling or is angry or whatnot--sometimes the writer needs to describe this. IMO, at least.

That's just how I relate to and perceive people. From what I've seen on this forum, most people aren't like this for some reason, but it's how I've always been. Maybe my brain is just stupid that way. *shrug*

Perhaps you've been reading books where the characters just don't resonate with you, and you need to find some different books. (In my case, I just write the books with the characters I find easier to relate to; I imagine people here would despise my histrionic creations, but they work for me.)

OR...perhaps you just have a problem getting to know/understand people in general. If this is the case, I really have no advice; it's something you have to tackle on your own.

ETA:


Might just be how you perceive things. For example, I have trouble with reading into things where that's required. I always had trouble with reading literary fiction where a teacher wanted me to interpret a passage into something else. I notice it particularly in critiques where a writer was trying to do something that needed to be interpreted, and everyone got it but me.

But knowing this is an issue is enough that you can think about what would help you get to know the characters better--and that's something you can take to your own story, perhaps to do something a little differently than everyone else.

This here is how I am, only in regards to how characters' emotions and reactions are described, rather than in regards to meaning and symbolism. Sometimes I honestly can't tell that somebody is yelling something or is angry based only on the dialogue used, and I need an exclamation mark or a tag saying "yelled angrily" or something to get the point across. I tend to be a pretty literal person at times, so if the writer doesn't come out and say exactly how the character is acting, then I might miss it and assume they're just standing there blandly. So that's why I write the histrionic characters I do, because I can relate to them--they express emotions, I express emotions. (I am not very understated at expressing my emotions, but most fiction nowadays is very understated, so I don't "get" it.)

Nivarion
03-13-2009, 06:49 PM
I think it is a mind wiring thing.

I can read a page without actually seeing the words, In my minds eye I see everything that happened and hear everything that was said, but I don't see the words.

This helps me greatly with my reading level, but hurts be bad with the writing.

Try thinking of them as a person that your are being written a letter about.

KikiteNeko
03-15-2009, 01:36 AM
I think you're over-thinking it. When you read a book, you're only meant to know what the author has written. If you never learn a character's eye color or hair color or physical build, it must not be essential to the plot. If you never learn the character's deepest childhood fear or favorite color, it must not be important. Don't try to form a bond this way. Read it, enjoy the ride, accept the info you're given. You may be surprised by the clarity of characters when you do this.

MetalDog
03-15-2009, 02:02 AM
You're not going to really know a character straight away - any more than you'd know a real person straight away. Getting to know them well will take time.

Or do you still have trouble a long way into books?