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nisim
December 23rd, 2004, 12:35 PM
I have talked with a lot of people about what character development is and every one had a difference of opinions. Moreover, it seems that no one knows an actual technical definition for character development but that it is rather a matter of opinion. For instance, I absolutely love the main characters in the original Dragonlance Trilogy. I thought that the characters were developed rather well and that I, as the reader, really related with them and understood their inner struggles. Heck, I even cried when Sturm died because I felt that close to his character. I found it strange that on a different site a few weeks ago someone said that the character development in that trilogy was horrible. Now either I have the wrong idea of what character development is or he just didn't know what he was talking about.

I would like to know what all of you think character development is. This is important to me right now because I'm starting my first novel and if I get nothing else correct, I at least want to create memorable characters.

Thanks

Nisim

Drew
December 23rd, 2004, 02:15 PM
Well, for me the definition is simple: have dynamic characters.

I don't want to read a story and see the same character at the beginning and the end. He has to be transformed somehow to differintiate himself. A static character who doesn't change doesn't offer me much as a reader. It seems lazy and a cop-out for the author.

In real life, you change every day. Whether you learn some patience, a new word or phrase, or have something that changes your mood-you change. That is the idea to me behind developing characters is to have them... well, develop. Start them off rough, and bring them around in the end.

That's my opinion, but I am willing to hear others.

JRMurdock
December 23rd, 2004, 03:50 PM
I think a more in-depth explanation would be tell us about the character by putting the character into situations.

Not only does your character need to do things, we need an internal monologue to let us know what is going on inside the character's head. This will help the reader know your character. You may know that your character is thinking of running away from a situation because you KNOW that character. We don't. Don't just give us body language and facial expressions to go on. Give us the way things are said, but most of all, what is the character thinking? Has he/she/it dealt with this in the past. Is there something that the reader can relate to that'll help better understand the characters and his mannerisims or quirks?

For me, my character development drastically improved when I started toying with internal monologue and my narative voice. These talk directly to the reader to explan something by showing the reader not telling.

TheEarCollector
December 23rd, 2004, 11:32 PM
Character development, to me at least, has nothing to do with creating characters that the reader can relate to or likes. Character development is how the character is developed (seems like the definition you give when you have no clue... right?).

Characters have reasons for everything they do (or at least they should, because that is how people function). If we can anticipate a character's actions then he/she has been developed well because we know how they tend to react. Having arbitrary, or seemingly arbitrary, responses to situations is what writers do when they need to PUSH their story in a certain direction but the character would not normally act that way (or there are things about the character that the writer never told us).

I hope that helps clear it up. Development is more of... helping us get to know them and why they are the way they are. Being memorable is really something of how unique a character is, or how well you as an individual can relate to the character.

MrBF1V3
December 25th, 2004, 01:22 PM
Yes, it does seem to be a matter of opinion. Let me add mine, althought we have some really good opinions so far.
The character has to learn something, it has to be part of a definition of a story, otherwise what you have is a segment. (At least that's what the editor scribbled all over the front page of one of my stories once.) The character ought to be interesting in some way, obviously. And the character has to be someone that the reader can identify with in some way. If you look in the "who do you love" thread, you will see several writers (and my own) comments, and there seems to be a concensus that the characters they are fond of are the ones who are similar them, in some way. Once the identification is made, when the character learns something, so does the reader.
B5

ShellyS
December 25th, 2004, 01:40 PM
To me, character development is building a character. I don't agree that we all change a bit everyday. Maybe we do, but a lot isn't noticeable. And a lot depends, story-wise, on whether or not you're writing character or plot-driven stories. Hercule Poirot never changed from one mystery novel to the next, but I loved those books by Agatha Christie.

And in my own writing, some characters change while others don't. In my WIR, one character ends pretty much where he started, tho his situation in life has worsened, while the protagonist and the third main character both grow and realize things about themselves. But that's just one aspect of character development to me. It can be there, but it's not required.

I think of character development as slowly bringing a character to life on the page. I write often in layers. I do a basic bio for the characters, then make adjustments to the characters as I learn things about them as I write them in the story. They develop quirks or bad habits. They develop nobility or prove themselves stubborn SOBs. A basic personality type at the onset becomes a richly (I hope) developed, "complete" personality by the end, even if I have to go back and layer things I've learned later into the earlier scenes.

TheEarCollector
December 26th, 2004, 01:09 PM
Another part of character development that I just thought of:
The character is developed through actions instead of having the reader just come out and tell us. If you want to say he is chivalrous, let us know by having him hold the door open for women instead of just telling us, "He was a chivalrous man."

Drew
December 26th, 2004, 09:26 PM
To me, character development is building a character. I don't agree that we all change a bit everyday. Maybe we do, but a lot isn't noticeable. And a lot depends, story-wise, on whether or not you're writing character or plot-driven stories. Hercule Poirot never changed from one mystery novel to the next, but I loved those books by Agatha Christie.

And in my own writing, some characters change while others don't. In my WIR, one character ends pretty much where he started, tho his situation in life has worsened, while the protagonist and the third main character both grow and realize things about themselves. But that's just one aspect of character development to me. It can be there, but it's not required.

I think of character development as slowly bringing a character to life on the page. I write often in layers. I do a basic bio for the characters, then make adjustments to the characters as I learn things about them as I write them in the story. They develop quirks or bad habits. They develop nobility or prove themselves stubborn SOBs. A basic personality type at the onset becomes a richly (I hope) developed, "complete" personality by the end, even if I have to go back and layer things I've learned later into the earlier scenes.

Poking at me, eh? :p

I was thinking about this as I posted, but didn't want to bring it up unless someone else picked up on it.

Sometimes the best thing about a character is their lack of change. I have been doing a bit of reading on an old DC comic called "Hellblazer" of which they are making a movie, "Constantine." The thing I am picking up about this character is that he has been to hell and back, literally, and still doesn't change or become noble. This may be a bad example to you comic buffs out there, as I have seen little. But it is an interesting thing to see how stubborn and unchanged he may be.

TheEarCollector
December 26th, 2004, 10:53 PM
The sheriff in The Crucible doesn't show any change either. At first he truly believes that everyone is a witch, but when he discovers that the girls were actually lying he still decides to execute the accused because he said he would. How's that for a stubborn, unchanging character?

But that is off topic...

Expendable
December 26th, 2004, 11:58 PM
The sheriff in The Crucible doesn't show any change either. At first he truly believes that everyone is a witch, but when he discovers that the girls were actually lying he still decides to execute the accused because he said he would. How's that for a stubborn, unchanging character?

Unchanging? Or a negative development? Even the bad is part of character development.