Oct 9, 2011

Character Development Part 1

character development

“A Day in the Life”
     I have decided that developing characters is much harder than developing relationships with real people. With real people, all you have to do is ask them what they like to do for fun or what their opinion is on something, but with characters you have to make up their response. And all the characters have to be different.
     I want my characters to feel like real people. So I decided to write them in different situations that would be normal life to them. For example, I wrote a short story about one of my characters taking a trip to a mall to go shoe shopping. Not a thrilling plot, and the story has no real “point,” but it really helped me discover more about what he thinks about himself and others, what he fears, what he likes, and, most importantly, what he wants.
     I wrote the story from 1st person POV, as if the character was telling me his story. I also purposefully avoided listening into the characters thoughts; so not only am I learning about my character, I’m also practicing my writing skills in “showing” instead of “telling.”
     That particular character is a new one I am adding to the story. For one of my original characters, I went through the old manuscript and pulled out everything that would tell me what kind of a person he is. It was tedious, but now I have a list of characteristics for him.
     How do you develop your characters?
Post Tenebras Lux!


The Director said...

Wow! You might be sorry you asked.... XD

I do a lot of different things. Finding my characters is super hard for me when I try and put down their personality in writing, but in my head I always have a basic semblance for who they are.

On a simple level, some of the things I do are:
~Read the "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories and pretend I'm on of my characters, so every decision 'I' make in the book is my character's choice (which, sadly, ends them up dead a lot of the time...)

^^ Even if you don't have those books at your disposal, it would be a fun exercise to come up with a thousand different scenarios and just ask yourself how your character would react in each one.

~Compare them to different movie/book characters. (And make notes about their characteristics that are similar to my character.)

~Write down traits I would want them to have... and then pick and choose between them.

On a slightly deeper level, there is a book called 45 Master Characters that I received from a friend that has helped a lot. It identifies the 45 basic "stereotype" male and female heroes, and supporting characters, and also supplies that Characters basic motivations and fears, etc. You might want to give it a look sometime ;)

I know there's something else I do, but I can't think of it right now... haha.

Have fun discovering your characters! :)

Storyteller said...

That's awesome advice, Director! I've never heard of those books. I have to admit that I am reluctant to use tools like that-- I want to create something new on my own! Maybe I'm just stubborn.

The Director said...

Tools like the Master Characters book? Aye, be wary of that one... you will start to see effects of it in daily life if you are like me :P But, it is very helpful and doesn't necessarily "make" stereotypes, it just points out the basic threads of characters. :]

Storyteller said...

Sounds cool. Know where I can find one?

The Director said...

Probably the library, or Amazon. I got mine from a kind friend who gave it to me out of the blue. :]

The Choose Your Own Adventure books would be found in the Juvenile section at the library; they're just fun books for kids that I have re-purposed :P

Storyteller said...

Great! Thank you.

The Director said...

No prob! :) Can't to see how the rest of your writerly journey goes! *epic stance*

The Director said...

I have to correct myself, though: the 45 Master Characters are archetypes, specifically.

Son of the King said...

Hey ST good to see you back on blogger! Lol I guess a lot of people have been off recently.

As for the questions how I develop my characters, well lets just say it is an extremely long process of planning, furbishing, and polishing until they are just the way I want them. Usually I will just write a short story with them as a main character then I can alter and perfect them until they are just the way I want them to be. However some times I just get a great idea and begin including them into my book and...voila, a perfected character.


Writer4Christ said...

I have a book on making good characters(called Characters make your Story, its kind of an old book but its helpful) and I've watched a few Youtube videos made by Scottishbooktrust about writing and that was helpful too. Making characters 3-dimensional is important. Like asking the questions: what is their talent? What is their ambition? What is their dream? What is their favorite color? Who is their best friend? Who is their worst enemy? What is their secret that they don't want anyone to know? What do they have in their pockets? I found that answering these questions about your characters is very helpful.

Storyteller said...

Good stuff, fellow writers!