Author Topic: Believable Characters  (Read 5066 times)

Offline Markopolo

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Believable Characters
« on: October 27, 2016, 05:02:12 AM »
Hi, Guy’s.

I need some advice on creating believable characters in my writing. I hear loads that my characters are wooden or that they don’t lead themselves in the story.

I want to fix this and was wondering if anyone has a template or set of questions they use to flesh out their characters. There must be a way!!!!!

It’s just not working for me.

Please help.

MP

hillwalker3000

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2016, 08:25:18 AM »
Do YOU believe your characters are real people who exist outside the story you are writing about? Do you trust them enough to find their own way through the plot - doing what they want (whether it comes naturally or not) rather than doing what YOU tell them to do?

The answer to both questions should be 'Yes'. The author's job is simply to take notes.

H3K

Offline Markopolo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2016, 09:26:35 AM »
Nope. I am still the puppet master so to speak.

I think what you have said is great, BUT how do I get to that point?

Are there certain things you get to know about your characters that make you think, Right this guy is ready to go tell a story?

I have seen things online where people go through 100 questions to get to know their character. Is that normal? Should I be doing that too?

MP
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 09:28:23 AM by Markopolo »

hillwalker3000

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2016, 09:35:49 AM »
There are gimmicky ways to do this - make a list of attributes such as their favourite colour, the name of the school they attended, the first pet they ever owned, etc. But that's hardly going to get you under their skin, is it?

The easiest way is to picture them in your mind as someone you already know vaguely. Walk around with them for a couple of days. Discover how they interact with the world and with other people. Watch how they fit in - or how they don't. Listen to the way they speak. The type of clothes they wear. What makes them uncomfortable. What makes them tick.

It's a bit like Role Play. You have an imaginary friend - but they're in charge of the relationship not you.

Have fun.

H3K

Offline Markopolo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2016, 09:42:14 AM »
I like it.

I will give it a try.

Thanks   

MP

Offline lamont cranston

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2016, 05:01:56 PM »

Start writing about things that are personal to you, that you feel passionately about, in other words, what you need to write about.  You will start to feel that your characters are people you know very well, like family members.

Nope. I am still the puppet master so to speak.

I think what you have said is great, BUT how do I get to that point?

Are there certain things you get to know about your characters that make you think, Right this guy is ready to go tell a story?

I have seen things online where people go through 100 questions to get to know their character. Is that normal? Should I be doing that too?

MP

Offline heidi52

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2016, 08:10:22 AM »
I don't think there is a shortcut for this. I think you need to spend time thinking about your characters until they become real to you. Only then you can write a real character.

Too often I think we have an idea of a story or a plot and we people it with "stock" characters so we can get on with telling the story. And the characters come off as two dimensional and not real, because they aren't.

You'll know you are on the right track when one (or more) of your characters starts talking back to you. Keep writing, keep thinking of the characters and it will happen. Very exciting (at least it was for me) when that happens.

Offline Markopolo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2016, 08:21:23 AM »
Thanks guys.

I will try my best.

MP

Offline ed

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2016, 09:14:54 PM »
Hi, Guy’s.

I need some advice on creating believable characters in my writing. I hear loads that my characters are wooden or that they don’t lead themselves in the story.

I want to fix this and was wondering if anyone has a template or set of questions they use to flesh out their characters. There must be a way!!!!!

It’s just not working for me.

Please help.

MP


Best book and only book i read on characters was Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. (Enders Game author)

It really is insightful. To sum it up in a soundbite.

Characters are their reputation, what they do, and their quirks.

Offline Markopolo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2016, 01:56:54 AM »
Thanks Ed.

Just ordered this. The reviews on amazon look great. I think I need to have a fundamental understanding of what a character is before doing anything else. I really want to write well and throwing out rubbish time after time is frustrating.

Once I've read this I'll take the other advice on board. I've Been  watching the mother in law closely the last few days H3K. She has so many emotions flying around it's blown my mind lol. I think I'll start with someone less complicated.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 02:26:26 AM by Markopolo »

Jo Bannister

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2016, 04:57:57 AM »
For what it's worth, I find it best not to obsess about this when I'm writing.  I learn about the characters by writing their story: when the story's told and it's time to start editing, I can change anything that now seems out of character, and flesh out what started as matchstick men with what I've learned about them in the previous six months.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2016, 05:05:27 AM »
Two more thoughts for you, Marco.

1)  Don't be afraid to people-watch yourself as well.  We are all far more multi-faceted than we realise.  When you find yourself doing/thinking something which seems out of character explore that possibility for a while.

2)  Do your thinking on the page.  With pen in hand or fingers on the keys.  If you do it all just in your head you'll find most of it slips away afterwards, no matter how fascinating it may seem at the time.

Gyppo

My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Markopolo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2016, 05:11:21 AM »
Thanks Jo. My characters are definetly matchstick men lol.

Thanks Gypo. I'll give it a try.

Offline Markopolo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2016, 05:43:53 AM »
This book is interesting Ed.

I am certain it's going to help. Thanks for pointing it out.

MP

Offline Markopolo

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Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2016, 05:57:30 AM »
Hi, Guys.

I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading on this character situation. The book by Orson Scott Card has really helped Ed. Thank you for pointing me in that direction.

I also get why some people say look at how people in your life act, speak and interact as they can be modelled on.

I just wanted to see if I am on the right tracks here. There is too much info to go into from Scott’s book especially with character development. However, the first chapter (what is a character?) He focuses on a few points. The first three to him are the most important.
•   A character is what he does (How they act and interact in situations)
•   Motive (Why they act the way they do)
•   Past (Knowing their past means we understand the character better)
•   Reputation (What others think of the character)
•   Stereotypes
•   Network (How the character acts around different groups/people)
•   Habits and patterns (Cracking knuckles – twitch when nervous – biting fingernails.)
•   Talents and abilities. (Do they play piano, football, present to a group well...)
•   Tastes and preference (If they like poetry, Woody Allen movies, dislike religion.)
•   Body – This was listed last on purpose. (He says its best to show they person rather than describe them. Tom got on his tiptoes, then grabbed the beans from the top shelf. He fingered his glasses back onto his nose and flicked his greasy hair back out of his eyes.) 

I haven’t read any of his books, so I bought Enders game just to see how he puts it into practice. This is what I have taken from it. Can anyone let me know if I am on the right track?

Chapter one starts with Ender having a monitor taken out of his neck. The lady taking it out points out that he must be sick of having it stuck there for so long. (Past)

Ender then furthers that point by letting us know how strange it will be without it. In the shower, pressing against his neck when lying in bed and so on. (Past)

He brings his brother Peter into the story. Talks about how Peter will accept him now that he hasn’t made the grade either. Shows how they interacted and how Peter seems to be the boss of the pair.  (Past)

He introduces briefly someone who taught him arithmetic when he was three. (Past)

He is in a scene with kids in his school trying to beat him up – (Network and reputation)

He shows that he is clever as he was the person who figured out how to send three dimension messages. (Talents and abilities.)

I felt like I knew Ender at the end of that chapter, so it worked on me. Am I on the right track do you think?

MP