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Posts tagged character development

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A Short Posts on Introverts and Extroverts

clevergirlhelps:

  • Extrovert – someone who prefers the company of others over being alone; someone who thinks as they speak
  • Introvert – someone who prefers the company of themselves over others; someone who thinks before they speak

If you want to think of it the way I do:

  • Extrovert – recharges their emotional batteries around people; drains their emotional batteries while alone
  • Introvert – recharges their emotional batteries away from people; drains their emotional batteries while with people

It’s not that extroverts constantly seek out conversation and are naturally socially adept, it’s that they feel more comfortable talking with people. Often, for extroverts, talking about ideas or concepts with others makes them more tangible and therefore easier to understand. Likewise, introversion is not about being shy and secretly possessing a genius level intellect that loud-mouthed extroverts don’t understand. Introverts like having a grasp of what they are going to say before they share it with others. Introverts do have conversations and have friends. They just tend to have fewer acquaintances than extroverts.

An extrovert is more likely to enter a conversation with a stranger and/or hold a conversation with others about general things, like the weather or sports teams. They are also fastest to react to a sudden question or challenge. Extroverts are also more likely to be socially confident, which means they might visibly stand up to authority figures, whereas the introvert would take a more subtle approach. An introvert s conversely less likely to enter a conversation with a stranger and more likely to, say, read a magazine. Introverts do hold general topic conversations, but they generally speak when they need to. An introvert takes longer to arrive at the same conclusion as an extrovert. However, whereas extroverts add things as they think of them, the introvert will present all their ideas at once. Introverts are not as visibly rebellious as extroverts.

Here are some examples of extroverts and introverts reacting to the same situation. Remember that your character’s reaction will be unique because of their past and situation. This is only meant to serve as a baseline. In these examples, Sabato is an extrovert and Hyun is an introvert.

The waiting room is as cold and sterile as a hospital ward. It contains one other patient: a woman with a coughing child. You have been waiting to see the orthodontist for ten minutes now.

Sabato: I notice that the woman is carrying an umbrella. I didn’t think it was going to rain today. I should ask her about the forecast.

Hyun: The ceiling is rectangular. It is four tiles wide and fifteen tiles long. That means the ceiling has sixty tiles on it.

You are serving on the prom committee. Your advisor has just told you that the total from the prom fundraiser was two thousand than expected. She is asking you for ideas to close the two thousand dollar gap.

Sabato: I say, “I think that holding a chicken barbeque would be a good idea. We would need to rent grills, though. I think I know someone who can help us. We’ll also need tents in case it rains. Making order forms would be a good idea so we don’t make any extra chicken. The order form should include different types of barbeque sauce so we can appeal to more people…”

Hyun: I think about it for a moment. I think that a chicken barbeque would be a good idea because who doesn’t like barbecued chicken? We’ll need umbrellas if it rains. Can we find enough umbrellas? Can we find enough grills for the chicken? Yes, to both. OK, I’m going to present my opinion verbally. 

You dislike your English teacher because he’s too opinionated and has a very short temper. You’re assigned a five page paper over the weekend. You and your classmates have already been given ten pages of homework in another class.

Sabato: “Is it possible that we could change the deadline? We already have a lot of homework for another class?”

Hyun: I’m going to write an over-exaggerated version of what he wants us to write. He won’t even know I’m mocking his writing style.

(via mysavedwritinghelp)

Filed under Introverts extroverts character types Writer Resources character development

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Anonymous asked: I have a couple of questions. Is the "Troubled Genius" trope problematic? If it is, how do I go about writing such a character without sounding like I am romanticizing (I hope it's the right word) the "troubled" aspect? Thank you.

thewritingcafe:

How it’s written can be cliche and it can be an issue, but the trope by itself is not inherently bad. Here are some common (and possibly troublesome) traits I see with this trope:

  • The Genius is an Arrogant Jerk: And everyone lets them get away with it because their jerkiness is blamed on their genius. A lot of writers who create a Troubled Genius make them rude, selfish, and nosy. These characters do not respect personal boundaries and are often condescending to other people. This wouldn’t be a problem, if the authors handled it in a different way. Jerk geniuses are never called out on their behavior and the author writes it as something desirable, funny, cool, or intelligent. That is a problem. Abusive and invasive behavior is not a symptom of intelligence.
  • Never Fit In: This isn’t really a social problem, but it’s kind of cliche. Many troubled geniuses do not have friends, were always a little odd as a child, are loners, and were bullied as children. While skipping grades or being ahead intellectually can definitely affect a child’s ability to make and keep friends, they can still have relationships and they do not have to be bullied to be a troubled genius. Give your character some friends or something if you want to make them a bit different from other characters in this trope.
  • Genius is a Curse: The Trouble Genius’s intellect always causes conflict for them. Why not something else? Why is their intellect always the reason for X, Y, Z? Characters are more than their intelligence and your character should have internal conflicts that do not relate to their intelligence as well, just like everyone else. When a character’s intelligence is painted as a curse or a burden and as the only internal conflict your character faces, that character starts to become two-dimensional.
  • Math and Science: These characters are usually geniuses in math and science. You can be considered a genius in many fields, from history to acting to painting.
  • Male: They are always male.

To romanticize something is to take something undesirable and make it seem desirable or beautiful. Show the troubled part as it truly is. If your character deals with mental illness, don’t show it as something that makes them smarter or more desirable. Show all the bad things that come with it. Show it realistically. The same goes for any other type of conflict, whether it’s internal or external. Make it realistic and don’t leave out the bad stuff and show that actions (if your character fits in the first point made above) have consequences.

Filed under Genius troubled genius tropes archetypes cliches smart character development

1,940 notes

Focusing on Secondary Characters

fictionwritingtips:

If you feel like you have a well-developed main character, but your secondary characters aren’t getting enough focus—there are certain things you can do. It’s important that your protagonist is thought-out, but you also need to worry about the other characters that are helping to support the story.  

Here are a few ways to ensure you’re not neglecting anyone:

  • Take the time to fill out character sheets or brainstorm about ALL your important characters. Obviously, not every character needs this done, but you need to spend time thinking about those that have an effect on your main story and the plot. Filling out character sheets is fun and will help you understand each character. It will also help give you ideas for scenes.
  • Focus on why each character is important. How do they support your main character? How does their presence change the plot? Are there scenes that focus specifically on a secondary character? Knowing all of these things will help you decide who to keep and who to cut. Each character in your story should have a specific purpose for being in your story. It’s often easy to forget that.
  • Try writing a short passage from the POV of each secondary character. I know you probably won’t use them, but it really helps. Getting into the mind of each character will help you develop them thoroughly. You’ll also care about them more, so you’ll focus on their stories.
  • Know how all your characters are connected and who will interact with each other. Each character in every scene of your novel should make sense. There should be a reason why everyone is there, even if it’s a small one. This will help you with character motivation and piecing the full plot together. Let your characters speak for you.

Basically, it’s about understanding the motivation of each character you write. There needs to be a reason for all your characters and you need to get into their heads. Every character should be important to the plot.

-Kris Noel

(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under Secondary characters character development Writing tips

1,583 notes

Reverse-Engineering Your Character Arc

writeworld:

Thank you for your question, lunabeck!

I’d spend some time figuring out what changes will be made to this character over the course of the story and why these changes are made. Where along the plotline of the story does your character acquire some of these changes you’re talking about? Why do these changes occur? What was your character like before the changes?

Examples? You betcha!

Example One:

So let’s say that your character (let’s call her Tara) feels a certain way about this guy Bert at the end of the story. She likes him. Cool. Did Tara always like Bert? Is it a worthy plot point to make her not like Bert at some time before the end of the story? If so, what changed her mind?

Perhaps Tara met Bert at the beginning of the story and they totally started off on the wrong foot. Maybe Bert insulted Tara’s friend. Maybe Bert had had a few too many Long Island Iced Teas and acted foolishly. Fair enough. It happens to the best of us. Over the course of the story, Tara has to grow to like Bert, though, right? Because at the end of the story, she likes him, and we know that going in. So what changes?

Bert could get a kitten. Everyone likes kittens. Then maybe Bert helps Tara move. That’s always endearing. Maybe Bert apologizes to Tara for insulting her friend, and Tara realizes that she’s been super hard on Bert for months over some tiny thing. Maybe this interaction puts Tara into an introspective mood, and she finally understands how judgemental she can be toward strangers because of her own fear of inadequacy. Then she and Bert move forward as equals in their friendship. Roll Credits.

The point is that Tara doesn’t always have to have liked Bert. It might actually be more interesting if they don’t start off as besties, you know? Tension between characters is conflict, and conflict drives stories. Maybe play around with what changing relationships might do for Tara’s character arc. If she likes Bert when she didn’t before, how has that changed her emotionally? How would such a change affect her reactions to events in the beginning of the story versus the end of the story?

Example Two:

Maybe Tara moonwalks her way through the story as a kind, generous person and an epic dancer. That’s fantastic (and definitely fun to have at parties), but it doesn’t have to be that way.

What if Tara starts off sort of dull and rude? And she can’t dance. Lame. 

Basically, what if Beginning-of-the-Book Tara and End-of-the-Book Tara are exact opposites? How could you make that a thing?

What events would have to occur in the story to change Tara from rude and dull to kind and generous, from a non-dancer to an epic dancer? 

Maybe she starts going to therapy to figure out how to transform her critical eye into a force for good instead of evil. Instead of valuing the short-lived high that comes from commenting on other people’s shortcomings, Tara could teach herself to use that critical eye to identify problems and her considerable intellect to work with others on creating solutions. Boom. Rudeness into kind generosity. 

Now, a change like this could take the whole story to evolve properly. This isn’t a one-trip-to-the-therapist change; this is a life-altering choice Tara has to make. It needs space. It needs time.

What about the dancing, you ask? Well, have her take lessons. (That sort of takes care of the dullness, too. Everyone needs a hobby!) Maybe dance class is where she meets Bert!

(These are, of course, extreme examples. Most character arcs are slightly more nuanced than this.)

If you’ve already got a character that is, in your mind, a finished project, it’s worthwhile to spend some time slowly unbraiding that character. Where do they seem weakest in terms of personality? How can you exploit these flaws in the beginning of the story? What personal or external struggles would cause even a subtle change in their personality?

At the end of the story, Tara, your character, is still human. If, say, Tara went from being incredibly ungrateful to counting her blessings, it is very rarely so drastic a change. Those are the kind of changes you really only see in articles about character development because they make for the clearest examples. They seem forced, inhuman even. It is more likely that if Tara starts off the story being incredibly ungrateful, she will still struggle with being ungrateful at the end of the story, if only internally. After all, the only type of finished person is a dead person. 

So if you have an end-of-the-book character in your mind and you’re trying to chart her journey, and maybe she has a habit of taking things for granted, or struggles with it a little, you can trace this character trait back to when it was at its worst and start there. You might even think about mapping out Tara’s development. Creating a map might help you visualize your character’s development vs. the story’s progression if that is where your trouble lies. It might help with timing and syncing up development with events in the story with each step of the character arc.

Essentially what you’re doing with character arcs is throwing rocks (story events) at a wall (the character) over a given period of time (the story). The rocks chip the paint. They crack the moulding. They dent the drywall. Eventually, if the rock is big enough or you throw enough little rocks at one spot on the wall, you’ll make a hole. At that point, the wall is changed forever. Even patching the hole won’t be perfect, and a patch can’t ever undo the fact that there was once a hole.

To reverse-engineer a character arc, figure out the chips and cracks and holes in the wall of your character, then find rocks that seem to match and decide how to throw them. 

Thanks again for your question!

-C and Hannah (theroadpavedwithwords)

(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under Character arc character development Plotting writing advice

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On writing divorce

Anonymous by request:

To the anon asking about childhood divorce and how that affects teenagers: I have some information for you that you might find useful.

My parents divorced when I was nine (I’m seventeen now) and my brother and I ended up transferring between houses every two weeks. My mother and father both remarried and we gained a step family at both places, thus putting us in the “separate families” category.

For me this meant:

Constantly picking up your life and moving it elsewhere

Questioning what “home” means and if I actually had one

Questioning if I had any “real” family at all.

A general sense of confusion and lack of control over my life, and some estrangement from my parents.

But also,

A strong sense of independence

The development of a larger inner world and appreciation for the little things in life

The mental reliance on things that were consistent,
(i.e.: school, friends, siblings, hobbies) which helped strengthen skills and relationships.

The eventual realization that relationships with people have nothing to do with how I came to know them, only what I put into it.

So, for example:

Your character may have become a fantastic dancer over the years because it was something that kept them stable through the moving back and forth, but can also be anal and unpleasant about little details like appointments and dates because of a need to exert control over the things they can. So on and so forth.

Theses were just my personal experiences, but I figure that it happens to a lot of kids in my boat and the perspective could help you flesh out your character if you happen to put them in a similar situation.

Good luck writing! :)

Filed under Divorce anon character development

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Revision Checklist Series One: Character

thedancingwriter:

I’m going to now start writing a series of articles that focus on different aspects of revision, such as character, plot, openings, middles, endings, exposition, voice, style, and point of view; setting and description; dialogue; theme; and polishing your novel. I will be linking to previous articles in this series so that way you can re-blog it for your own use or save the link. I will also be keeping track of these posts in my newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. I will release my newsletter on the sixth of every month. The advantages to signing up to this newsletter will mean that you can archive it in a folder, keeping track of important articles I’ve written on my Tumblr blog—as well as my Wordpress one. There are a lot of other advantages, too.

Let me begin by talking about the revision checklist for your lead character.

Key Questions

  • Why is your lead worth reading about? What makes this lead separate from other characters that this lead’s story is more important to tell than the other characters in your book?
  • How can you make your lead stronger?
  • Will readers bond to your lead?
  • Is your lead well-rounded enough that readers can relate to said lead and see this lead as a whole, complex person?

Compelling Characters

  • Your characters need to be compelling. They must be as human as we are, with the ability to surprise readers with their character development. If your main character seems flat, you need to assess the reasons why he/she is flat. One way you can remedy this situation is by writing out a list of likes and dislikes your character has. You can write about their passions, their motivations, and what they want to achieve. You can also participate in a thread titled ‘How well do you know your MC?’ on AbsoluteWrite in the YA forum. Another way you can remedy this is by getting excited about your character. One way to do this is to choose a celebrity you think would be cast based on your character’s personality. Using the voice of your character, write journal entries. Look at your favorite books too. What makes these characters as human as we are?

Emotions

  • Identify the emotions of your characters in a particular scene. Assess how realistic these emotions are in terms of who your character is. Your character must desire something, whether it’s getting a scholarship to a prestigious university, trying to save the world from some catastrophe, or something. These desires flow from scene-to-scene. What does your character desire in a particular scene? As people we all strive for something in our lives. Your characters need to do that as well. How far are they willing to go in achieving their goals? What emotions do they feel on the path of achieving this goal? Amelia’s goal in When Stars Die is to protect her loved ones and the world she grew up in from Shadowmen who seek revenge on the people who made them Shadowmen in the first place. On this journey, she experiences heartache, bitterness, anger, love, fear, doubt, and other emotions as well. You then need to identify what is trying to impede that desire and what emotions follow in trying to fight against what is blocking your character’s goal. When you can identify these emotions and what they do to your character, you have a better chance of creating a character readers can relate to.

Character Voice

  • How have the events in your story changed your character?
  • How has your character developed from these events? Remember, character development is crucial. Your character must be different at the ending than he/she was in the beginning.
  • Does your character wish he/she had done something different in achieving his/her goal?
  • Is your character bitter about the outcome? Or does your character love the outcome?
  • If your character is bitter, why? If your character loves the ending, why?

Character Charting

I myself don’t do any charting—just outlines and notes; however, I do know charts have been very, very helpful for many writers.

  • Assess every part in your manuscript where your character has developed in some way, like a revelation, for example. Mark parts where the character has revealed something about him/herself that adds to character development.
  • Read your marked parts in order. Are these inner bits about your character believable? Are there any inconsistencies in characterization, such as an inconsistent voice or something that your character would not do? Are there any other places where more character development is needed?
  • Here is one character chart I found that I think will be helpful in developing your character during revisions.

Any questions on this particular subject, feel free to ask. Next topic will cover revising your plot.

Filed under character development Revision Writer Resources character questions

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Keeping characters consistent

writedemon:

In life the people we know are usually consistent to their own personalities and characters; whether this be consistently pessimistic or consistently unpredictable. keeping your characters as true to their, well, character isn’t always easy. Of course it helps if you know your charactersinside out, back to front and all around. They should be like people to you, like friends you never meet in person or old work colleagues you haven’t seen for a while. Once you know them it’s much easier to apply their unique personality to paper with consistency and efficiency. 

Here’s a checklist that will help you to do so;

  1. Consider their physical abilities (and awareness of them); most people are aware of their physical abilities and limitations, some think they’re Glasgow/Berlin/Atlanta’s answer to superman or catwoman. This is as much a part of their personality as anything else; an arrogant individual may think they can overcome their physical limits when they really have to, a delusional one may think they have no limits. Though the first is quite common, the second might hint at any number of factors that cloud the mind, think: alcohol, drugs, mental illness. If you want some quick advice on physical capabilities and how to exceed them see; Here and Here, respectively.
  2. Consider their personality; are they argumentative? Shy? Do they seek confrontation or actively avoid it? Remember a personality is made up of many facets; a person who looks for confrontation, has a short temper and is a staunch pessimist will react differently to a situation that someone who hold these qualities but is an optimist. While the first will see reasons to be angry and people to argue with more often, the second may need to be actively argued with or antagonised before they ‘snap’. They may also be more forgiving. 
  3. Consider the reality of the situations you put them in; almost every person, when cornered, when desperate, is capable of killing (mentally). It may be that they lack the physical capability to kill but no living creature is born without the desire to live and will to fight for survival. Arguably only a true saint or complete coward could face torture or certain death without fighting back. So think; is your character one of these types? Are they the kind of person who would lash out only as a last resort? Or the kind who uses violence of all kinds without guilt? Does your characters reaction to the situation you create fit them or do they act this way to service the story? If the second is true then you might need to reevaluate your character arc in order to bring them to a point where this act fits their psyche.
  4. Evaluate their motivation; it should be something that the reader, knowing your character, believes would move them to act in certain ways. We wouldn’t believe that, upon receiving good news, someone would become agitated and angry but if we were then told that for some reason this was not good news for them we would reevaluate our stance.  For example, consider the (fantastic) film ‘Steel magnolias’; in any normal circumstance we would be shocked that a mother would react badly to her daughters planned, consensual and desired pregnancy. But considering the fact that Shelby has severe diabetes and runs the risk of compromising her long term health with a pregnancy, suddenly, we understand her mother’s actions; she is fearful. She loves her daughter and thus is angry at what she sees as a flippant disregard for her own life.

By asking the right questions during the revision stage of writing you can easily determine where your characters are straying slightly, if it’s not already obvious to you as the author. The most reliable way to catch character deviations like this, however, is to give the story to someone else to read, someone who likes the genre you’re writing in, too. An interested reader will pick up on small falters in characterisation with the ruthless efficiency of a bloodhound and, if you pick the right person, they wont be afraid to tell you. If these issue come to your attention, no matter how, these four points can be used, also, to fashion a ‘repair’ for these issues. Just as you use them to confirm that actions are consistent with characterisation, you can use them to answer the question “If this is not what they’d do, what would they do?”

Is your kind and intelligent but quick tempered teacher realistically going to slap a child? No, probably not.

 So what would they do?

Well; a kind, intelligent, quick tempered teach might physically lash out at a pupil if they;

  1. Were facing physical violence from a pupil and had no other options; not to be crude but anyone would lash out if faced with assault, rape, murder or extreme humiliation.
  2. Were under the influence of mind, and therefore, personality altering substances; drugs/drink etc. Some antidepressants, on the rare occasion, can induce anger in an individual.
  3. Had experienced something that altered them as a person for good; we’re not talking the boiler breaking down or a partner cheating. We’re talking loss of life, limb or individuals; we’re talking stuck in an elevator for three days, forced to survive on a kitkat and tear open the rusted escape hatch with your fingernails. Real, permanent and irreversible change of a person’s psychological fingerprint requires a high impact situation. Certainly it needn’t be a physical situation but it should match the corresponding change in magnitude.

Lacking real change they’re likely to;

  1. Bite their tongue and soldier on; someone with a passion for teaching would most likely wish to help all their pupils, even the troublesome ones. Especially if this person were also inherently kind. 
  2. Shout or, verbally, lose their temper; they might feel guilty afterwards, or remonstrate themselves for lacking in professionalism. 
  3. Turn the anger inward and, if the situation is long term, persistent and severe, self destruct.

This is a limited example but, I hope, is helpful nonetheless. 

Filed under Character consistence character development Consistent writer reference Favorite

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Anonymous asked: Should size and weight be put into consideration when picking a weapon that a character is going to use most of the time in fighting? Or is it more about training, or both?

howtofightwrite:

I assume we’re talking about weapons, in which case, size and weight are both very important considerations, though possibly not for the reasons you’d think.

Size is critical for determining reach. This is how far you can reach out and impale someone. Generally speaking, longer weapons have a significant advantage over shorter ones. I say “generally” because there are a ton of specific exceptions, but if you can stab someone before they can reach you, that’s a combat advantage.

Weight is a major issue, but it’s never about being able to lift a weapon, (unless we’re talking about weapons designed to be used from an emplacement, like the M2 Browning) it’s about how agile the weapon is, and making sure that you can carry and use it all day.

This is why the heaviest swords intended for combat rarely exceed 8lbs. It needed to be light enough that its wielder could carry it and a couple other weapons and use them during constant physical exertion.

That “intended for combat” bit is a fairly important distinction, though. Parade swords were the historical equivalent of your friend’s gaudy katana display. They were there to look cool, not to be useful. Parade swords could get into the 20lb range. Some of those are amazing pieces of art in their own right, but they’re not practical weapons.

If we’re talking about your character? Then size and weight aren’t major considerations. Overall physical fitness is vitally important, but beyond that weight isn’t a huge issue. Depending on climate and diet, weight is semi-independent of physical fitness. I realize that may sound insane, but particularly in cold climates, it’s entirely possible for someone to bulk up while maintaining a layer of fat as insulation.

Size isn’t a huge issue unless your character is unusually large or unusually small. Characters that are less than a foot taller (or shorter) than their opponent should have roughly similar (unarmed) reach.

That said, shorter individuals do have lower centers of gravity, which makes it much easier for them to get into more stable stances.

It’s worth pointing out that: women have a lower center of gravity for their height than men.

-Starke

Filed under Choosing weapons combat character development Weapon writer reference

3,189 notes

Anonymous asked: I write a lot and have a lot of different stories. However, I've gotten the critique that often my antagonists are really similar: Big, tyrannical despot type characters who have a lot of power. The problem is usually with my stories I /need/ a really powerful bad guy, or else they wouldn't be able to pose a challenge to the main characters. I've gotten better about it, but any suggestions?

fuckyeahcharacterdevelopment:

When you think of ‘a really powerful bad guy’, how do you imagine them? Someone with a lot of money? Status? Pawns?

Power can be a lot more than someone with a lot of resources… Let’s look at some of the different types of power:

  • Physical power. Someone with great physical strength. Their power is best demonstrated in a physical fight. They use total dominance and aggressive, scare-tactics to maintain their position. If they lose a fight, they lose their influence of fear…
  • Intellectual power. Someone with a vast quantity of knowledge. Their power is in the information they have, and how they decide to use or apply it.
  • Coercive Power. This is power attained through the punishment of those who don’t comply. The power accumulates when others actively try to avoid bringing a punishment upon themselves.
  • Informational Power. This person knows things the other characters want or need to know. They can exercise their power by purposely withholding information, or only giving it in the way they specifically choose.
  • Legitimate Power. Someone in a high position, whether it be in government, the military or any standard work place. Their power is in their rank - without their title, they lose everything that comes with it.
  • Generational Power. This person comes from a long-line of powerful people. All of their power is in their reputation, so they must uphold it if they wish to be respected as their ancestors were. This power can also manifest as a bloodline power or ability.
  • Expert Power. The best of the best, this person is hailed as the most knowledgeable in a specific field. Therefore, they hold onto power not only through intrigue and recommendation, but by consistently proving they are better than any of the competition.
  • Ownership Power. This person only has power because they have claimed ownership of everything they command.
  • Reward Power. Someone who can offer special treatment or material items as a reward for desired behaviour from their subordinates. If they have something that is heavily sought-after, then their power grows all the more.
  • Referent Power. This person may have very little that entitles them to power, but the way they are received by others demands respect and reverence. In essence, they are worthy of power only if those who ‘worship’ them continue to believe they deserve their admiration.

When you imagine a ‘tyrannical despot’ character, you’re automatically taking from this list more than one form of power. That’s not to say a character can’t possess more than one type… but the despot character is a very specific one, along with the kinds of power they can exercise.

A despot maintains legitimate power - more often than not - by forcing their way into the seat (otherwise they wouldn’t be despotic). Since they fear their title cannot retain their power alone, they begin to exercise other types of power to keep their status. So, for example, reward power to those they want to keep close, coercive power to those who look like they may not be loyal to the cause, etc.

When you find yourself thinking up an antagonist, try to think about what other kind of powers might be in their reach.

Ultimately, in a story, there is The Big Bad. So, in Shaman King, although Yoh and his friends go through the tournament facing-off against a lot of different Shamans in one-on-one/group battles (arguably, mini-antagonists with different extents of power), the ultimate bad guy is Hao, who plots to win and use the legitimate power that comes with that to reform the world into a Shaman-only place.

Hao isn’t the Shaman world’s equivalent of a CEO or national leader; all he has from the list above is generational power and great physical power based on the fact that his spirit ally is nails as hell. He isn’t already the Shaman King… it’s something he is shown to work his way towards becoming.

You don’t always have to create the character to be at their peak from the very beginning. Even those without great legitimate power can hold something over the heads of your main cast in order to antagonise them throughout the story.

Power comes in all forms, and it’s not always, ‘the most powerful and influential person in the world’. Alongside Hao, there are other great and powerful shamans in Shaman King that hold power over Yoh and the other characters in some way. Just look at Lyserg, who becomes completely taken over by the X-Laws even though they’re not in a leadership role; they win him over by claiming expert power and using Iron Maiden Jeanne’s referent power as a poster for their ‘worthiness’.

Additionally, the shaman world coexists with the real world and even though the humans still have powerful representatives, those people have no influence on the story’s events.

I think all you really need to do here is think about new ways of creating your ‘really powerful bad guy’ by re-establishing the types of power they will need in order to do their job as your bad guy. When you start to think about making the biggest, baddest of the lot, scale the character down a little and think about other ways they could influence the lives of your other cast members. Basically, take away all of their resources and re-imagine what they would have to use and/or do to exert the power you want to give them.

Nobody is saying this character can’t become the biggest and the baddest… but they don’t always have to start out that way.

I hope this helps… Followers, any additional thoughts?

- enlee

Filed under antagonist character development Villain character traits

536 notes

Anonymous asked: I want to write a character (or characters) that is genuinely unlikable, like Walder Frey from Game of Thrones or Hans from Frozen. The kind of person people will read about and think, "Douche."

clevergirlhelps:

Incorporate some of the Universal Douche Behaviors:

  • Betrayal/broken promises
  • Having fun at the expense of other people
  • Not being considerate of others’ wishes or rules (e.g. listening to music without headphones in a library, bouncing a tennis ball when someone has asked you to stop)
  • Manipulating someone for personal gain
  • Hogging things (the ball in a game, the shower, someone)
  • Acting entitled
  • Petty thievery
  • Refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions

Filed under Character traits douche unlivable character mean character development

1,323 notes

writeworld:

Arcanewriter: Writing Tips #93: Use Archetypes to Create Literary Characters

bookgeekconfessions:

image

In essence, any literary character is drawn from one or more archetypes. An archetype is basically the pattern for a character, associated with a trait or a concept. Archetypes are most easily recognized in genre fiction — science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller — but they are applicable to any fiction, whether of high or low literary aspiration. The key is to select one or more archetypes as just the first step in character building.

But there are many types of archetypes from various belief systems and other sources. Try, for example, associating a character with one of the figures from the Chinese zodiac — boar, dog, dragon, horse, goat, monkey, ox, rabbit, rat, rooster, snake, and tiger — each of which is endowed with a complex array of both positive and negative traits (which I’ll let you research for yourself). For that matter, what’s your character’s (Western) astrological sign? (You don’t have to believe in astrology or any other belief system to derive characters from it.)

Alternatively, draw on mythology, legends, fairy tales, or folklore, or existing literature, including Shakespearean characters, or on Tarot cards, for that matter. (The noncharacter cards can inspire you to develop the plot, too.)

Here are some classic archetypes, including some based on Jungian psychology, to get you started:

  • Child
  • Guardian
  • Herald
  • Hermit
  • Hero
  • Hunter
  • Judge
  • Mentor
  • Sage
  • Shadow
  • Shaman
  • Sidekick
  • Trickster
  • Wanderer

Note that there are often multiple subtypes. Heroes are especially variable: They can be loners, or collaborators, they can be willing, or unwilling, they can be comic, serious, or tragic, they can be cheerful, or cynical. Combinations of archetypes are easily achieved, too; a mentor can be a guardian, a hermit, a judge, a sage, a shaman, a trickster, or a wanderer as well, or two or more of the above.

Read More

Filed under Archetypes tropes character development Character types Writer Resources

273 notes

fanboywatchtower asked: How would you write a compelling villain? My friend thinks only a villain who is sympathetic and has humanity is interesting. I think while that is viable, a villain completely devoid of humanity can be just as, if not more, compelling. Any advice?

characterandwritinghelp:

I have a lot of thoughts about villains, my friend. Here are some more.

I think villains are phenomenal almost without fail, no matter how you spin them. The monstrous villain, sympathetic villain, omnicidal maniac villain, even lack of a villain can be compelling. However, this is only one aspect of their character. What makes a villain interesting, scary, fascinating, or worthy of fandom scrutiny is a lot more than their motive or their backstory.

Here’s what I think: My “compelling villain” is marked in part by their redeemability or humanity, sure. But there are other, just as important markers in their role in the plot, their interactions with other characters, their dialogue and body language, their action or inaction at plot points… In short, my compelling villain depends on everything that makes them a character existing within the plot of my story. Trying to hand out a “best villain” or even a “best kind of villain” title is an exercise in futility, since it will almost certainly discount in leaps and bounds what makes a villain work or not work.

Before I go on, know that I don’t mean to tear down these villain types as unsustainable or overdone. Rather, I think sometimes it is harder to see why something does not work than to see why it does, especially if it is something we like. A cursory look around Tumblr proves that fans will find all manner of villains interesting and worthy of praise (if not more).

Say you have a complete monster villain. This works in some stories, without a doubt; the complete monster is not without their place. Yet, in some cases, if the villain is being terrible for the sake of being terrible, sometimes the story will suffer for it. The Generic Doomsday Villain is a villain that is all about the deed rather than the method or reason behind said evil deed. In another particular incarnation, complete monster villainy might be a form of Diabolus ex Nihilo (Devil from Nothing), a sort of inverse to Deus ex Machina in that the Diabolus ex Nihilo villain is one who serves no narrative purpose beyond antagonizing the heroes before dying/being removed from the story.

Conversely, say you have a Cry for the Devil villain. This villain can also work in some stories and is a much loved trope. However, this villain can become Unintentionally Unsympathetic if mishandled or if the sympathetic angle is pushed too hard/ineffectively. A worst case scenario would be if the readers start to actively hate the villain/their backstory/all attempts to make them sympathetic, going past Unintentionally Unsympathetic and turning them into The Scrappy despite all your best efforts. Some sympathetic villains are also prone to several types of decay, namely Villain Decay (in which a villain becomes progressively less scary/villainous) and Badass Decay (in which a character becomes progressively less badass, sometimes as a result of natural character development/sympathizing).

Something to further consider is the Audience Reaction and the sheer amount of different reactions that exist. We as writers are fond of yanking heartstrings with our works and evoking tears, yells, laughs, what have you. However, in the end, the audience will see what they see and react the way they want: we cannot control everything about our readers. Trying to dictate how a character (or plot element, or twist, or…) will be received by the audience is another exercise in futility. Personal preference plays a huge part in fiction. What I find compelling might not necessarily match up with Knockout’s idea of compelling, or yours or your friend’s.

Short answer: In the end, whether or not the audience finds the villain (or any other character) compelling, interesting, effective, scary, or anything else might just as well come down to personal preference, no matter what you do. Every villain and every type of villain has their pros and cons. What makes a villain work depends on a lot more than whether or not they have humanity: you will need to focus on a lot more than that in order to create a truly interesting villain.

-Headless

Filed under Villains antagonist character development Writer Resources

935 notes

writethroughmysoul asked: What about japanese characters?? Do ylu have some tips?

I think a lot of media fetishizes Japanese culture. You can see it in 47 Ronin, The Wolverine, etc. Don’t write a Japanese character just because they are “exotic” to you, and you want to portray the “coolness” of the samurai culture. Big no nos. Do lots of research if your Japanese character is into mainstream culture such as Cosplay. Watch films that portray modern japanese characters (instead of this weird imperial historically inaccurate Japan that we are getting). There’s a great character played by Rinko Kikuchi in Babel that you can look at. I’m not too well versed with Japanese movies, but I’m sure that if you ask around and search around you can find a great list. (When I was growing up, I watched this live action tv series of Sailor Moon. Don’t know how accurate that is….) I grew up watching a lot of Japanese cartoons (Doraemon, Gegege No Kitaro, Arale-chan, Chibi maruko chan), so I sort of can see how Japan is portrayed through their eyes. You can check that out and incorporate these into your character.

Here is a list of media tropes of Japanese characters. Be sure to note the stereotypes and try to find a way not to conform. 

Further reading:

Hope that helps!

Filed under Japanese japan character development Culture Writer Resources

16,671 notes

bioshockinfinitebooker:

rnarstar:

ive been seeing a ton of character creator stuff going around on tumblr and i wanted to make my own! so here you go, one with eye color, hair length, hair color, height, weight, clothing style, emotions, poses, and species

feel free to pick and choose if you dont like a catagory, an option you got, or if one doesnt make sense (aka if you get the pose “on one knee” and the species “mermaid”)

have fun guys, and if you draw a character using this, tag it with “marcharcreator”, id love to see it! reblogs are also really appreciated. enjoy!

hey guys, i made this yesterday, have fun using it and please reblog :D

(Source: marsinstars, via clevergirlhelps)

Filed under character development character creation Writer Resources

3,189 notes

Anonymous asked: I write a lot and have a lot of different stories. However, I've gotten the critique that often my antagonists are really similar: Big, tyrannical despot type characters who have a lot of power. The problem is usually with my stories I /need/ a really powerful bad guy, or else they wouldn't be able to pose a challenge to the main characters. I've gotten better about it, but any suggestions?

fuckyeahcharacterdevelopment:

When you think of ‘a really powerful bad guy’, how do you imagine them? Someone with a lot of money? Status? Pawns?

Power can be a lot more than someone with a lot of resources… Let’s look at some of the different types of power:

  • Physical power. Someone with great physical strength. Their power is best demonstrated in a physical fight. They use total dominance and aggressive, scare-tactics to maintain their position. If they lose a fight, they lose their influence of fear…
  • Intellectual power. Someone with a vast quantity of knowledge. Their power is in the information they have, and how they decide to use or apply it.
  • Coercive Power. This is power attained through the punishment of those who don’t comply. The power accumulates when others actively try to avoid bringing a punishment upon themselves.
  • Informational Power. This person knows things the other characters want or need to know. They can exercise their power by purposely withholding information, or only giving it in the way they specifically choose.
  • Legitimate Power. Someone in a high position, whether it be in government, the military or any standard work place. Their power is in their rank - without their title, they lose everything that comes with it.
  • Generational Power. This person comes from a long-line of powerful people. All of their power is in their reputation, so they must uphold it if they wish to be respected as their ancestors were. This power can also manifest as a bloodline power or ability.
  • Expert Power. The best of the best, this person is hailed as the most knowledgeable in a specific field. Therefore, they hold onto power not only through intrigue and recommendation, but by consistently proving they are better than any of the competition.
  • Ownership Power. This person only has power because they have claimed ownership of everything they command.
  • Reward Power. Someone who can offer special treatment or material items as a reward for desired behaviour from their subordinates. If they have something that is heavily sought-after, then their power grows all the more.
  • Referent Power. This person may have very little that entitles them to power, but the way they are received by others demands respect and reverence. In essence, they are worthy of power only if those who ‘worship’ them continue to believe they deserve their admiration.

When you imagine a ‘tyrannical despot’ character, you’re automatically taking from this list more than one form of power. That’s not to say a character can’t possess more than one type… but the despot character is a very specific one, along with the kinds of power they can exercise.

A despot maintains legitimate power - more often than not - by forcing their way into the seat (otherwise they wouldn’t be despotic). Since they fear their title cannot retain their power alone, they begin to exercise other types of power to keep their status. So, for example, reward power to those they want to keep close, coercive power to those who look like they may not be loyal to the cause, etc.

When you find yourself thinking up an antagonist, try to think about what other kind of powers might be in their reach.

Ultimately, in a story, there is The Big Bad. So, in Shaman King, although Yoh and his friends go through the tournament facing-off against a lot of different Shamans in one-on-one/group battles (arguably, mini-antagonists with different extents of power), the ultimate bad guy is Hao, who plots to win and use the legitimate power that comes with that to reform the world into a Shaman-only place.

Hao isn’t the Shaman world’s equivalent of a CEO or national leader; all he has from the list above is generational power and great physical power based on the fact that his spirit ally is nails as hell. He isn’t already the Shaman King… it’s something he is shown to work his way towards becoming.

You don’t always have to create the character to be at their peak from the very beginning. Even those without great legitimate power can hold something over the heads of your main cast in order to antagonise them throughout the story.

Power comes in all forms, and it’s not always, ‘the most powerful and influential person in the world’. Alongside Hao, there are other great and powerful shamans in Shaman King that hold power over Yoh and the other characters in some way. Just look at Lyserg, who becomes completely taken over by the X-Laws even though they’re not in a leadership role; they win him over by claiming expert power and using Iron Maiden Jeanne’s referent power as a poster for their ‘worthiness’.

Additionally, the shaman world coexists with the real world and even though the humans still have powerful representatives, those people have no influence on the story’s events.

I think all you really need to do here is think about new ways of creating your ‘really powerful bad guy’ by re-establishing the types of power they will need in order to do their job as your bad guy. When you start to think about making the biggest, baddest of the lot, scale the character down a little and think about other ways they could influence the lives of your other cast members. Basically, take away all of their resources and re-imagine what they would have to use and/or do to exert the power you want to give them.

Nobody is saying this character can’t become the biggest and the baddest… but they don’t always have to start out that way.

I hope this helps… Followers, any additional thoughts?

- enlee

Filed under antagonist Villain writer reference character development