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06-11-2009, 08:45 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: los estados unidos
Re: Character Development
Characters are one of my favorite parts of writing. Really, they are.
I think one of the things I've learned about characterization in my writing career is that what makes a story relatable--even if it takes place in an unfamiliar setting, even if it deals with abstract themes and unrealistic things--is characters. Every good story I've ever read has delved, even if only a little, into human nature and the human condition.
Which raises the question: how is a writer to create characters who are believable, even when the world is not? Furthermore, how do we develop them to a realistic level?
But before I go into development, I would first like to talk about characterization. For a while, I thought that characters were divided essentially into two categories: important characters and unimportant characters. There were the characters who were major who I focused on, and the minor ones whose purpose, above all, was to get the story going: walking, talking plot devices, really. The moral of this story is, of course, that I was totally wrong and my writing suffered from it. EVERY character in the story is important for different reasons. Primary and secondary characters are important for obvious reasons, but it is the lesser important ones--the bartender your characters stop and chat with, the tour guide, the man who fixes their car--who make the world believable. The extent to which you describe the annoying habits of these seemingly unimportant people, their manners of speaking, their clothing, can either enrich or wash out your tone and setting.
But back to characterization.
This is going to sound kind of obvious, but most of my ideas from characters--their personalities, strengths and weaknesses--come with those I meet around me. I used to think that if I thought about them real long and hard, the characters I wrote would be flawlessly written with realistic personality traits. Once again, I was wrong. The best way to write people, I have found, is to base them--if only partially--on real people. Thinking about the people you know and the way they express themselves and the way they deal with tragedy and the way they change over time can help you write your characters, and invent ways THEY deal with the roadblocks in their lives. If it sounds a little uncreative and unoriginal--well, it is. But I find it works a lot better for me and I'm a lot happier with the people I have created.
Anyway, I hope that helped somewhat.
look at me now // i'm gettin paper
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