Obstacle #3: Character(s)

Hoozah, I made it to a third post!

As I mentioned in my last post, I inspired myself by mentioning creating characters. Well, it sounds very duh, as they’re essential to a good story, but I hear there’s a method to that madness, or rather, several methods.

This is where I must come clean… I don’t really adhere to methods or conventions, but that’ll be further discussed in next week’s post.

So, when you come up with a story idea, does the story develop itself first or the character(s)? Or do you come up with a character first and the story develops from there? Does it ever happen simultaneously? I think I get the story first but I feel half the time is simultaneous, but regardless, we all have to create characters at some point or another.

There are many ways to create characters, starting from the basic information (name, age, hair/eye/skin color, spoken languages, ancestry, strengths, weaknesses, ticks, mannerisms, etc) and gradually working your way up and through until anyone can toss any situation at you and you could write your character’s response without pondering “Well, would s/he really do that though? What about ____?”

I get that there are “templates” or worksheets out there, I have a few myself. And while they might help in the beginning, I don’t find myself using them a whole lot. (I’m trying though, do I get a gold star?) I don’t know if I can’t or if I just don’t like it, but half the time I write (when the muses sing loud enough) things just come out, whether I anticipated them or not. (Needless to say revisions are necessary…) The characters take a life of their own, and from there, I don’t really need to spend hours creating them because– they just are. (Is that weird or do you know what I’m talking about?)

But I admit, I’m not particularly good at writing characters whose age ranges far beyond mine (aka children or 30+ adults?), perhaps mostly because I haven’t really tried (yet). Maybe that’ll come just as easily after more observation and imagination? I’ll let you know after I give it a shot. 😉

Next up, villains! They’re characters too, and just as important (if not sometimes more) as the main character(s). What makes a compelling villain? Reasoning beyond their madness, or whatever afflicts them. What’s scarier, some crazy guy who loves stabbing people in the face, or some well-respected doctor who can’t stop experimenting on humans? I’d go with the second, but it depends on the story, setting, and extent of the villain’s part in the plot and just about everything else?

There’s a lot I’m not touching on, because… of… lack of time? Also I don’t know if I could pick and ‘discuss’ everything that goes in character creation, because frankly, it takes a while. “Practice makes perfect” they say, and– well, yeah. Maybe not ‘perfect’ perfect, but at least it leads to improvement! (If it doesn’t, um… I don’t know, go in forums, get a beta, take a class?)

So, tell me. How do you make create your characters? Do you extensively use worksheets? Do you not prepare anything at all and just wing it? Who’s your favorite villain? (Oops, I don’t know my own answer…)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Damyanti
    Oct 31, 2013 @ 01:04:25

    Characters appear before me, usually doing something innocuous which I can describe in a sentence. Then I just take them from there.

    Reply

    • Alison Juste
      Oct 31, 2013 @ 19:53:30

      Nice! It’s like that with some of my characters (mostly main), but I have a harder time with the supporting characters… :/ Practice makes perfect, I guess?

      Reply

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