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huxley
10-08-2007, 06:58 PM
Hi. Do you guys have any tips on character development?

character attitudes, the psychological aspect of it. creating believable characters, why they act the way they act.

I need help creating characters, what are some steps.



thanks.

Siddow
10-08-2007, 07:04 PM
Go get a copy of Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. Great information in there.

I like to just get characters talking about themselves. Sit them down over a beer and say, "Tell me about yourself." I don't like character charts (you know, name, date of birth, educational background, height, weight, bleh.), but some people do. I suggest trying one and see if you're in the like it or hate it catagory.

Birol
10-08-2007, 07:14 PM
I talk to them.

Mel
10-08-2007, 07:20 PM
Try this Developing Realistic Characters (http://www.fictionfactor.com/articles/developingcharacters.html)

There's more on that site that might help. And, as Birol said, talk to them. Really. It works.

PeeDee
10-08-2007, 11:28 PM
Less is more. Let your characters flirt with the readers. And I don't mean in a freaky breaking-the-fourth-wall sort of way. I mean you don't have to tell me everything right away...you just have to give me someone to pay attention to.

Judg
10-09-2007, 07:40 AM
Good thought I read lately: Know what each of your characters notices. Somebody knowledgeable about mechanics will notice that engine running rough. A gardener will be eying the greenery and will use metaphors of growth and development and pruning. The ideas person will be listening to what someone says and be oblivious of how they're dressed and most of the environment around them. And so on... It will help you develop a unique voice for each one.

maestrowork
10-09-2007, 08:44 AM
Let the characters do things. They will eventually show their true colors. ;)

Sassee
10-09-2007, 07:36 PM
As a more drastic measure, toss your characters in a bar fight (or some other potential life-threatening situation) and see what they do :)

Shadow_Ferret
10-09-2007, 07:41 PM
My characters develop themselves, much to my relief.

MidnightMuse
10-09-2007, 09:18 PM
I talk to them, spend personal time with each of them (especially the cute ones) but keep most of that to myself - I like the reader to learn about them gradually, leaving some mystery. We don't walk into a room, meet a stranger, then spill our life stories, do we?

Well PeeDee does, but . . .

PeeDee
10-09-2007, 09:26 PM
I talk to them, spend personal time with each of them (especially the cute ones) but keep most of that to myself - I like the reader to learn about them gradually, leaving some mystery. We don't walk into a room, meet a stranger, then spill our life stories, do we?

Well PeeDee does, but . . .

I can't believe you'd say something so mean, after all I told you about my life and medical history...!

Novelhistorian
10-09-2007, 11:42 PM
Make your characters face situations in which no palatable choice of action exists, and you'll see what they're made of. If it's psychology you're after, try to make these choices internal rather than imposed from without (the threat of losing someone's love rather than the burning fuse on the dynamite), though they could be a mixture of the two.

Jamesaritchie
10-10-2007, 12:19 AM
Stop thinking of them as characters, and start thinking of them as real people you've know. Don't try to make them do anything. Let them do, act, feel, think just as you let all the real people you've known do these thing.

Good characters are always real people, singly or amalgamated, put down on paper. How would Uncle Bob react to, be affected by, a given situation?

PeeDee
10-10-2007, 12:27 AM
....if I don't have an Uncle Bob, can I not be a writer...?

*turns in his pen*

Shadow_Ferret
10-10-2007, 12:33 AM
Oh, c'mon, PeeDee, everyone knows a Bob.

MidnightMuse
10-10-2007, 01:36 AM
My father was Bob - does that mean I am a writer?

*rubs hands together with glee*

Zelenka
10-10-2007, 01:55 AM
About 90% of my uncles are Bobs... heh.

Anyway, on character, I tend to write a lot of biographies for them in my notes, even if some of the details aren't going to be used in the actual plot. I just find it helps to figure out someone's attitudes and personality if I've got into my head how they grew up, what their relationship with their parents was like, etc.

I try to think of smaller characteristics and quirks they might have too, usually things drawn from people I know in real life, such as phobias and the like.

L M Ashton
10-10-2007, 04:56 AM
I have an uncle Bob. :) But he's dead. :(

Soccer Mom
10-10-2007, 05:38 AM
Just talk to them and Bob's your uncle.



Sorry.


Yes, I think of them as real people. I often pick someone to model the character on and go from there.

I use index cards to keep track of characters and their traits, which I often discover as I'm writing. I sort out the important stuff like: He's married with no kids. But I rarely know all the little details until a character blurts out in a coffee shop: "Milk, two sugars and a splash of vanilla."

Birol
10-10-2007, 07:44 AM
I wish that were all my characters blurted out. No, we're just flowing along, everything's grand, and suddenly one of them says something to another that has a major impact on the story. Something like, "Did you ever get rid of that body in the trunk? We're going to need that space."

Whoa. What? Excuse me? What body in the trunk?

"Oh, didn't we tell you?" Yadda yadda yadda.

*&%$#@ characters.

julief
10-10-2007, 11:13 AM
I usually start thinking about their history first, what brought them to this point. For main characters, I will use a questionnaire set-up. Name, age, occupation, hair/eye color, identifying marks (tattoos, scars, moles), hobbies, social network, notable past events. By that point, I will turn it over to the character and let them talk (1st person) about what's happening now and how they feel about it. I'll imagine conversations with myself and with other characters.

Minor characters come on the fly, though. I'll make up their names, appearances, personalities in the moment they arrive in the story. They can bring up unexpected things about the main characters, too. One popped up and started calling my MC Gina-mina, which was apparently Gina's childhood nickname. I'd never thought about childhood nicknames before...

Azraelsbane
10-10-2007, 05:02 PM
I wish that were all my characters blurted out. No, we're just flowing along, everything's grand, and suddenly one of them says something to another that has a major impact on the story. Something like, "Did you ever get rid of that body in the trunk? We're going to need that space."

Whoa. What? Excuse me? What body in the trunk?

"Oh, didn't we tell you?" Yadda yadda yadda.

*&%$#@ characters.

Yeah, I'm with you. One of my protag MCs mentioned in passing that he was once in a serious relationship with my antagonist. That made my eye all twitchy, but to tell you the truth my antag's actions made a helluva lot more sense after that.

jodiodi
10-10-2007, 05:48 PM
My characters show up with everything. They may not tell me everything at once, but it's already there and I'm just writing down what they're doing. That way, things come out organically.

I found that if you try to 'make-up' characters, they read like paperboard cut-outs. Like some others have said, think of them as real people who have quirks and memories and had a life before they wandered into your story. Some people write notes, others 'interview' their characters and if that works for you, great. I just start writing what the characters tell me and see where it goes. They key is not to start out with a checklist of characteristics you think a character should have. Let them tell you what they're like.

donroc
10-10-2007, 06:06 PM
My characters develop themselves, much to my relief.

Same here. That is part of the wonderful adventure. Characters can take on an unintended life of their own, often for the best in my experience.

www.donaldmichaelplatt.com (http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com)

Bufty
10-10-2007, 06:33 PM
There's no better thrill than suddenly seeing one of your characters blurting out the seeds of a situation which would have taken you months to dream up.

huxley
10-10-2007, 07:01 PM
thanks for the info guys. About attitudes. How do you guys go about creating a character's attitude?

Birol
10-10-2007, 08:18 PM
They just have it. It's part of who they are. Part of what makes them real. It comes from their past, what they've experienced before, how they've handled it, and how it's affected them.

MidnightMuse
10-10-2007, 09:28 PM
Once you create a character, they'll have an attitude. During the course of your story, that attitude may change, or it may change the attitudes of the other characters.

Let them tell you what their attitudes are. Mine have surprised me on many occasion, and still keep me guessing sometimes.

TheIT
10-10-2007, 10:25 PM
Sometimes a character will pop up in the story because you need someone with a particular attitude. Are things going too well for the MCs? Then bring in someone who will oppose them.

Judg
10-11-2007, 01:57 AM
I am not very disciplined about the order I do things in, but I think it's important to know some key things about each major character by the time the first draft is done, anyway, whether the characters are "cooked up" ahead of time or flesh themselves out as the story progresses.

I want to know:
What motivates them? What do they really want and what do they really want to avoid? And what will they do to get/avoid it?

How do they see the world? Why?

How do they speak? This means level of diction, the things they like to talk about, pet words and phrases, and so on.

I get pretty bored with the questionnaires that expect me to figure out their favourite breakfast cereal, and the like. If it matters to the story, then I'll throw it in. But what makes them tick, and why, now that matters.