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Wesleycl
June 13th, 2003, 11:14 AM
After reading a number of my own stories, I believe that some of my characters are at times lifeless and 2 demensional.

Any suggestion on how to develope a 3d charter would be much appreciated

Cheers

Wes

pcarney
June 13th, 2003, 12:04 PM
Originally posted by Wesleycl
After reading a number of my own stories, I believe that some of my characters are at times lifeless and 2 demensional.

Any suggestion on how to develope a 3d charter would be much appreciated

Cheers

Wes

When I'm working on bigger projects, I like to write up a quick character profile. Not only physical, but history, psyche, etc. I also find it useful to profile how they interact socially. Although all this stuff might not make it into the story, it will give you a better idea of where the character is coming from, and I think that will translate into a more fleshed out character.

Also, make sure you always know the reason for why a character acts and how they make decisions. That is, I hate villains who are evil for no particular reason. Everyone has a reason, however twisted, for how they act, a way to justify their behavior. Including that will help flesh out the character.

KatG
June 13th, 2003, 12:06 PM
Well, why don't we start with why you think your characters might be lifeless and two-dimensional. If you can better identify the problem, you're more likely to find a solution.

Wesleycl
June 13th, 2003, 12:10 PM
Ok!

Well it seems that my lead characters all seem to do what they aree meant to, but reading the story you don't see why they are acting in that manner, does this make any sense?

I, Brian
June 15th, 2003, 03:25 AM
It just means you're developing as a writer. :)

Identifying own weaknesses is one of the most important tasks of a writer. Because if you don't, everyone else will.

As for advice - the writer doesn't just write - the writer studies real people. Get out a lot, be in social environments - *observe*. And notice your own motivations and thoughts with different moods.

Lucky Joe
June 15th, 2003, 08:17 AM
I agree with I brian, understanding why people do the things they do in real life has got to help.

It always helps me to make sure I know all the background and motives (or at least most of) for my characters even if I don't include this info in the story, it allows me to have more confidence in my writing and I'd like to think that shows through.

KatG
June 15th, 2003, 04:07 PM
Originally posted by Wesleycl
Ok!

Well it seems that my lead characters all seem to do what they aree meant to, but reading the story you don't see why they are acting in that manner, does this make any sense?
It's a common problem. We often get so hooked up on plot and making everything come out right, that we move the characters around like chips on a board. But if character reasoning and plot action aren't working together, you're often left with boring characters. In written fiction, a car chase is not very interesting, for instance, but a car chase in which characters are panicked or determined or angry gets a bit more intriguing.

It sounds like you know why your characters are doing what you want them to do, but you don't see it getting down on the page, which is another common problem. The main options open to you for showing a character's inner reasoning are:

1) the inner thoughts and feelings, and the observations and analyses of those observations of viewpoint characters,

2) what characters say and do,

3) characters' body language and facial expressions,

4) assessment of and speculation about a character by other characters,

5) if you're writing in third person omniscient, you also can use the omniscient storytelling narrator to provide info and commentary.

Or to put it more simply, the asking yourself why a character does X and then figuring out how you're going to show why a character does X process. And quite often, having to show why a character does X instead of doing Y.

I don't suppose that's all that helpful, but since you're able to zero in on what's bothering you about your characters, you can start taking steps to remedy it. A good method, which I think someone else already mentioned, is to look at the writers you like most and break down their text, looking specifically for how they show their characters' reasoning in taking action. Then try the same approach on your own characters. It gets easier with practice, but even experienced writers have this problem all the time. It's just something they try to weed out in the drafts and revision stages. And it pays off, because then you're getting full use out of your characters, instead of just half.

Kirby
June 16th, 2003, 05:37 AM
Once again I will recommend my most favourite book ever - "Impro" by Keith Johnstone.

Only because he explains how I feel about the inner workings of characters far better than I can.
:)

I am a character animator by profession, as well as being of the amateur writing sort.

Characters have always come first over plot for me, as I find that if I don't enjoy the character (i.e. - find any emotional investment in that character) then I don't care about what he/she/it is doing - no matter how grand the plot.
Plots are bones, characters are the soul.

I am always willing to let a character grow on me - therefore, they don't have to be fully explained right from the get-go.

I think only a minimum of explanation is required to start with. Their name, and their current state of mind (preferably as reflected in their actions rather than outright described).
Action with inner monologue is fine, although I'm not fond of overexplanation for why a character is doing something - it's like being led by the hand, as if I were incapable of being able to realise the relevance of that action, later on in the story.

Evolution is good - this comes from seeing how they react off other characters/situations they are introduced to.

When writing, I find it best to visualise the scene and ask myself what the most obvious thing for them to do, is (as befits what I already know of their character), or if I feel "yes, this (insert new train of thought/action) is still in keeping" with their nature, I will go with that.

Obviousness is very important.
Too many people try to be clever - when the obvious answer is usually the best, and feels right.
"Being clever" often comes from a fear of being unoriginal.

Being obvious and logical will still just as likely lead you to more interesting heights than you can probably imagine, and yet will still feel right.
The "different" sometimes doesn't sit so well - hence the awkward feeling - this is where the author is forcing their will over the fundamental nature of the character.
Writers should collaborate with their characters.
It makes sense to "listen" to your character (in the context of the story, that is!. :))

On building -
If you start your character from simple solid basics, i.e. their name, and general attitude to life, then you have a good base to build on.
If you have too many ideas about what your character might be, before you get to know the character, this can turn out to be messy.
Sometimes going through the messy route, a notion may come up - whereby you preserve that notion, discard the rest, and then build your character from there, me, I prefer starting from scratch to see what evolves. Either way works, but the simple method is quicker. :)

Your character's back history will evolve as you learn more about the character.
The possibilities are endless :)

Thar be my two ducats 'orth!

Cephus
June 16th, 2003, 02:17 PM
Characters have always come first over plot for me, as I find that if I don't enjoy the character (i.e. - find any emotional investment in that character) then I don't care about what he/she/it is doing - no matter how grand the plot.
Plots are bones, characters are the soul.[/B]

Yes and no. I've seen far too many writers try to have interesting characters and completely forget about the plot. They hope that the characters will do something interesting but in reality, that rarely happens. Without something for the characters to do, something for them to be involved in, it's just a bunch of talking heads on a page and I find utterly no interest in that.

You need both strong characters and a strong plot to make a story work. Selling either side short is a recipe for trouble.

Kirby
June 16th, 2003, 08:49 PM
That is why I said plots are the bones. :)
I am not dismissing plot - it's like the skeleton by which everything is suspended on.
Personally though, I will not be interested in the plot if I am not interested in the main character/s.

Hence the reference to action. :D

The actions may be something relative to the plot, or something that reflects the essence of the character (i.e. how a character deals with things - be they simple or serious.) I guess action, observation, and dialogue, make up the flesh of the story.

That's also why I stop to visualise, when I feel stuck, paying attention to the scene in my mind's eye.
I know they are not just standing there doing nothing.
Even if they are only shifting weight from one foot to the other, or not making eye contact with anyone, (which in turn gives the other characters reason to feel mistrusting, which may dictate further dialogue/action, etc etc.) - I feel like a fly-on-the-wall observer - and sooner or later (as a writer) something will catch my interest.
Then I continue the writing.
If it doesn't work, then "hey". :) Sometimes it does later on.

Trying to have a character appear "interesting" is the same, in my mind, as "being clever". If they are boring, this is usually because the reader doesn't care about them.
I think most characters start out with some degree of interest inherent. This will either grow or decline.
That is why I think getting to know a character through ordinary means (at the outset) is important for establishing a base, and I also think that the base does not have to be complex or clever.

How does a person choose their friends in RL?
Because they do interesting things?
Or because they have personal qualities that someone likes/dislikes?

They may be admired from afar for the first, but it is the second by which they will be known.

Lordy, I do burble on! Take my views with a pinch of salt - I am not a published author. I just get a tad obsessed on the subject!

Cheers ~ T. :D