Author Topic: Believable Characters  (Read 5060 times)

Offline Markopolo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 188
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2016, 11:11:48 AM »
No Worries Gyppo.

Thanks

Offline TheOtherAdrian

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 126
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2016, 12:34:32 PM »
I think what they are disagreeing with is the advice concerning a 'character bible', because that's terrible. The thing is, you can collect as many tips as you like, the fact remains that a character is something you cannot pin down with numbers or charts or lists. As soon as you do that, you kill your character and replace them with a bland collection of attributes.

Offline Markopolo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 188
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #32 on: November 09, 2016, 03:24:10 PM »
Thank you. I suppose it's trying to strike a balance. Giving your character enough substance but not overdoing so they aren't too predictable.

hillwalker3000

  • Guest
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #33 on: November 09, 2016, 05:26:54 PM »
You've got to do the hard work of character creation and it is work.  The character bible or card which is a detailed run out of everything about that character, and I mean everything.  If you do this it will help you.  There are many craft books on this. Or Google character bible.

Heaven help us if raw creativity comes down to this character-by-numbers nonsense.

H3K

Offline G. London

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 65
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #34 on: November 09, 2016, 09:16:25 PM »
Human beings are extremely complex and extremely different than one another.  I can name two dozen writers that have sold into the multi-millions that employ some form of this method of differentiating their characters.  How can one possibly create unforgettable unique characters that jump off the page and millions fall in love with, if you as the author don't intimately know who they are to begin with. "Cardboard"? It's the opposite of cardboard.  It's Dan Brown, Stieg Larrson, and JK Rowling. 

If I ever let my own creations surprise me then I'm in the wrong business. It's my business to surprise my audience with depth subtly, nuance and multi dimension of character.  That can't happen unless I know them inside and out.


Jo Bannister

  • Guest
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #35 on: November 10, 2016, 02:56:46 AM »
It's not knowing them that is interesting.  It's getting to know them.


hillwalker3000

  • Guest
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #36 on: November 10, 2016, 05:55:42 AM »
Quoting Dan Brown ::) as an example of an established writer who makes his characters leap to life off the page is not helping sell the idea to me.
If your characters don't surprise you then you're taking too much control. Mine constantly surprise me - even frustrate me - the same way real people do.

H3K

Offline lamont cranston

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 198
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2016, 06:46:50 AM »
Creating a sort of character 'spreadsheet' does seem excessively contrived and lifeless to me.  Is there any chance that it could be a tool to lead a person to developing a more realistic, lifelike characters eventually? 

In asking this, I'm not considering people who deliberately stick to it as a formulaic way to avoid deeper or more natural/intuitive knowledge of their characters.

Offline Markopolo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 188
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #38 on: November 10, 2016, 07:03:42 AM »
I think that's the way I will be approaching it Lamont. It's been extremely interesting to see what everyone thinks. I don't believe having every single part of their life and make up written down is the right way to go. However, I do think having enough information to build on and still let them breathe so to speak is how I will proceed. It will be trial and error as I see it anyway. Another nice learning curve.  ;D

Offline Simple Things

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1824
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #39 on: November 10, 2016, 07:45:24 AM »
A lot of interesting ideas and styles mentioned here. I used to develop them right off the cuff; perhaps I still do at times for shorter stories. But for longer versions I believe my characters would benefit having an outline of their characteristics, maybe even a drawn sketch(something to nudge me when my scene's direction pauses in indecision, where I can perhaps look at a particular character, smirk and think, 'yeah, that bastard would go for it' and then write on).

I don't believe it needs to be in great detail, where every line in their face is drawn in permanent marker, because I believe a character should always have the flexibility for edits - like any story - a writer needs to prepare for that.

I guess an answer to your question would be to have your story support your characters, and they support others. How they react, not only to situations, but also the reaction from others, which helps develop and deepen their characteristics, helping the reader to 'know' them more. It's not always about how 'you the writer portrays them' but how the reader does too.

Pay attention to what readers have noticed about your characters. Learn, correct, apply. Don't let 'your beliefs' interfere with theirs.

I'm sure you'll find your way
« Last Edit: November 10, 2016, 07:50:10 AM by Simple Things »

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #40 on: November 10, 2016, 07:57:48 AM »
There is no single method which is going to suit every single writer.  Some will indeed need the 'paint by numbers' guidelines which they have laboriously created.  Others will wildly 'wing it', with a great deal of rewriting.  The man who churns out a novel a month for Kindle Direct  like a sausage machine has to have a strict formula in order to meet his deadlines.

Others will spend years writing a single story - sometimes because they fall in love with it and don't want to share it with the world.

Most writers will fall somewhere between the two, but usually with a bias one way or the other.

I like to feel my stories are character led, because I know, instinctively, that interesting characters - just like real life people - will have interesting stories.  This is why I get to know them as the story develops - thinking on the page.

But it takes a certain kind of person to just plunge in and see where it goes.  You have to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie rather than a precise and methodical accountant.  You have to accept that you will have a decent sized collection of false beginnings.  But they are all part of your personal learning curve.

There is another sort of person - inherently neither better or worse - who cannot even start writing unless they know where they're going to end.  These people want characters they can stage manage, micro-manage even, and simply cannot conceive working any other way.

Both methods can produce excellent work.  But if you want to be a happy little soul you need to know which you are.

Explore both, see which feels best for you.  But don't force yourself to walk a mile in an accountant's shoes if you are a natural barefooted scamperer  through life.  Alternatively if you need your three piece suit and your office to work then don't waste too long sitting on a beach with your laptop.

Also, keep in mind that no matter what you do some readers will love it and others will hate it.

Writer, know thyself.  Then work with that knowledge.  

Gyppo
« Last Edit: November 11, 2016, 06:54:05 PM by 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

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 188
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #41 on: November 11, 2016, 12:46:58 PM »
Thanks Gyppo

Offline lamont cranston

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 198
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #42 on: January 01, 2017, 09:41:05 AM »
I think you need a deeper emotional involvement with your characters.  You need to talk to them, figuratively anyway.

My husband and I often play a game called "HE'D NEVER DO THAT!"

He quizzes me on various aspects of the person and what they would or wouldn't do.  And why.

I wind up feeling like I'm defending or explaining a dear friend.

And maybe you could write a simpler story that is more manageable and more about a simple common event in life, and more like something in real life.  Have you written short stories?  You might write a few.  I spent a lot of time writing about NON heroic characters doing things from every day life.  Simple, ordinary things.  Just one main character.

A little kid whose dog dies.  A teenager who is told she can't go on an overnight party with her friends.  A housewife who is spending her first night in a little apartment, without her kids, after getting divorced.

How about writing about something that happened to you in real life, and writing a real, non-fictionalized account of it?  Something that really moved you emotionally?  Buying your first car, or starting your first job.  The death of a grandparent.

Something you really feel about. 

To write emotional, living characters, I think it's really important for you to examine and think about, how you feel, what emotions you feel, how life has affected you.

One thing I do is borrow some of the character from real life.  Not all.  That doesn't work for me.  But there may be one aspect of a person I know from which the writing 'takes off'.

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 lamont cranston

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 198
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #43 on: January 01, 2017, 09:48:11 AM »
I do think things like this may help the beginning writer.

As I've often been told by people who 'intuitively' learned and practiced real art, 'there's a lot of sweat behind art'.

It's necessary to work to learn things, and there are tools that help a person.  Once the person is more practiced, he should not need the tools any more.

My understanding from reading a lot of author's bios and autobiographies, from listening to their interviews, and even, in a few cases, from talking directly to them, is that they did not 'spring from the head of Zeus, fully formed'.

I saw Borges many years ago.  I think he was a hell of a good writer.  He told us that he was an incredibly lousy writer when he started.  I do think people work to get to be good.  I don't think anyone knows how good anyone will ever be.  So I have no problem with using a 'gimmick' at first, when 'the art' is still a long way from being intuitive or 'natural'.


Heaven help us if raw creativity comes down to this character-by-numbers nonsense.

H3K

Offline lamont cranston

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 198
Re: Believable Characters
« Reply #44 on: January 01, 2017, 09:50:21 AM »
I like reading Dan Brown sometimes (because I like reading about horses), but his characters are 'easy'.  Very 'easy'.

Some people like that.  It's very common, I have found, in genre writing.

Quoting Dan Brown ::) as an example of an established writer who makes his characters leap to life off the page is not helping sell the idea to me.
If your characters don't surprise you then you're taking too much control. Mine constantly surprise me - even frustrate me - the same way real people do.

H3K