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  1. #1
    Aver0n 2o11
    Guest

    Growing characters

    Bob and Jill are the central characters to my story. My problem is that I know who Bob and Jill are. I know that one of Bob's best friends likes to pick his nose and I know that Jill has a dog called Max and he's an interesting character on his own. But I can't for the life of me figure out who Bob's parents and cousins are. I know that Jill is in a relationship with her boyfriend of many years but I don't know who her boyfriend's friends and relatives are either. How do I grow the character of Bob and Jill so that I know all the people that come into their lives? It just seems like I can't seem to get past the baseline - if the core story is about Bob and Jill, I will happily write about Bob and Jill to the neglect of their friends and family. I know that their world is connected, but I can't seem to get that connection up and running as I am too caught up with the bond between Bob and Jill that's driving the story. It's like going to see "When Sally Met Harry" and coming out and your friend asks you "what happened?" and you say "well, they met" so she says "anything else?" and you scratch your head and say "I can't remember".



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    508

    Re: Growing characters

    Averon,

    I'm not sure what you're asking.

    You've got two main characters, whom you feel you know quite well, but you can't get a handle on all the friends and family in their lives? Is that it?

    I know some writers do character sketches, some create journals in which they write as various characters to create a unique voice for each. I like to pick and choose traits and backgrounds from among various real people I know or observe. I sometimes download images of the cars, clothes, houses, haircuts, scars, whatever, for characters and pin them on the wall. I even have some sound files for a couple of character's voices. For me, though, most of creating a character happens when I'm just writing away and inventing the character as I go. When I realize a character, say, can't sustain eye contact during a conversation, I just go back to that character's other scenes and include the new bit I know about him or her. Once I've got a good draft, I go back through and look at how characters are functioning in each scene in terms of archetypes. If cousin Joe is functioning as something of a herald for Bob and Jill in a scene, I'll look at how to make the most of his herald duties.

    But maybe that's not what you're asking.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    487

    Re: Growing characters

    This is not necessarily the best or even a good way to attack the problem, but it is fun - and if it doesn't work you'll know why. Take what you know about Bob and deduce from that all the logical, obvious characteristics his father should have. For example, if Bob is a neurologist, then his father logically is a high-income, well-educated guy, probably a doctor himself, with a tendency to push his son into the career he's chosen for him, and maybe he's a conservative Republican to boot.

    Then write a scene introducing Bob's father as the complete OPPOSITE of the individual you've just pictured.

    You may find that the interactions between Bob and his dad quickly become interesting and complex. In fact, you may be surprised at what comes out of your own pen (or keyboard).

    On the other hand, the whole thing may not work, in which case that's probably a sign that the obvious, logical fellow should be Bob's dad instead.

    Good luck.

    JH

  4. #4
    martin shaw
    Guest

    Re: Growing characters

    Averon.

    The nose picker is the key, as foreign lands in him are abound, gripping in the ruts in his finger print and hanging there, dangling… like Cow Gum. It’s a very sticky past that he has with his Klingons.

    Max is an intelligent dog, and can write stories on a carpet with his weeping glands . Do not buy him a skateboard, or he will die.

    You Averon, you play the bongos and write poetry. Your cup is half full, mine is half empty. Together we have breast cancer, but still have one good pair of tits.

    Be gone, or enlighten me with your work

  5. #5
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Southern Georgia
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    1,756

    Re: Growing characters

    Don't worry about the relatives until you write a scene where they're needed. Then write them in, you'll quickly discover what kind of person they are. Don't create characters that may not be necessary before you need them. At least this is what works for me. You'll figure out what works best for you.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    24

    Re: Growing characters

    I have laboured over characters before writing and although I am new at this I find it helps me move forward knowing that little bit more. A prompt if you will. I really like John H's idea about creating the logical relation and then flipping him upside down. I'll give that a try.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    21

    Re: Growing characters

    I look around the village for someone who fits the vague description of the character I want. Then I change them; a little, a lot, whatever.
    Or, I look on the Net for pictures of people with the physical form I want characters to have.

    We are surrounded by people. Sit in a coffee shop and watch the customers; note their nervous habits, their individual dress sense, their choice of friends. You may well find a nose-picker in that crowd!

    Also, keep a separate file of your characters and their attributes. I learned early on how frustrating it was to plough back through umpteen pages to find the name of the father of my MC.




    ''If you fail, you learn.
    If you succeed, you get big-headed.''

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