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Posts tagged 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

139 notes

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

174 notes

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

3,100 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

528 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

1,284 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

274 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

649 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

16,158 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

3,100 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

579 notes

nekou-nekori asked: My main character, female, is a badass, reckless woman. I don't want her to be a typical hero, I want her to be kind of anti hero, she does bad things, you know, but at the same time I want her to be likeable, I want readers to root for her a bit, despite the fact she's not good (like Walter White from Breaking Bad?). How can I do that with not turning her into a hero?

fixyourwritinghabits:

You’re in luck! Both anti-heroes and unsympathetic but likeable characters aren’t that uncommon in fiction. Things you need to keep in mind:

  • Your character is going to do bad things. Don’t let these things get a pass or come off as good just because your character is the main character.
  • Your character is going to do good things too. Giving your character some ‘save the cat’ moments to show that they’re still a hero, even if they’re kind of a bad person, is essential. (And if you want them to cross the line, having them do the opposite of something food they did later is a good way to show that.)
  • Your character is going to do things for complicated reasons. A lot of flat anti-heroes are always confident in everything they do, but a real character is going to feel at least conflicted about making tough or morally wrong decisions. If they no longer feel conflicted or at least acknowledge that it’s not the right thing to do, they’re less a hero and more a villain.

Here’s some good links:

Filed under Anti hero antihero character development Motivation Writer Resources

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Anonymous asked: I'm struggling to write a character with an INFJ personality type. I have an INFJ personality myself, but I'm having trouble writing the character's quirks, views, and morales without making an exaggerated version of myself. Can you help? Thank you!

clevergirlhelps:

Hello, fellow IN-J friend. I read a basic description of INFJs here and that’s what I’m basing the rest of this post off.

  • Put emphasis on different aspects. The website says INFJs are creative, intuitive, stubborn, and warm to those close to them. Let’s say you’re really intuitive, really creative, but not terribly stubborn or warm. You might make the character different by making them really stubborn and creative, and not so intuitive. They are still within the INFJ personality, but their major personality traits are different. 
  • Give them different quirks and interests. Nothing says all INFJs bite their nails or like action flicks. You can diversify there. You can also explore the INFJ’s personality through said interests. They like action movies because they follow a structure, and this INFJ likes structure and order in their lives. 
  • They don’t need the same morals. Your character doesn’t need to share deep convictions like political alignment, religion, morality, and thoughts on controversial topics with you. They don’t even need to believe in them for the same reasons you follow your convictions. Again, emphasize different parts of their personality. If your INFJ is very orderly, they could be religious because it gives the world structure. If your INFJ is very warm to those close, they might find and oppose “others” who are not part of their group. 
  • Give them different flaws. General INFJ flaws are stubbornness, perceived aloofness to strangers, messiness, sensitivity to conflict, and ignoring other people’s ideas. I’m sure you have some but not all of these flaws, and in different levels, ex. being aloof but generally organized. Your character will have some but not all of these problems, and in different levels than you do, ex. being very sensitive, kind of aloof (like you, but to a lesser degree), and messy.

Filed under character types character traits personality traits infj character development

1,689 notes

The Psychology of Writing: Character Development and Sadness

cutsceneaddict:

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From The Lion King to The Lord of the Rings, every great story features characters that experience sadness. Grief is a natural part of the human condition, and learning to write sadness believably is an integral part of developing a fleshed-out character. Like anger, which we discussed previously, sadness often falls prey to melodrama. A better understanding of sadness—its causes and symptoms—can help writers (like you) develop sadness in a character without resorting to unrealistic melodrama.

So, in today’s post, let’s talk about:

  • What causes sadness
  • Physical signs of sadness
  • Internal sensations of sadness
  • Mental responses to sadness
  • Cues of long-term sadness
  • Signs of suppressed sadness

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(via characterandwritinghelp)

Filed under Sadness grief body language depression character development Psychology

1,959 notes

On Writing: Classist Characters

readingwithavengeance:

This one is for mynamesdrstuff, who asked how to write a classist character.

  • Classist characters don’t have to be mean.  As in, they don’t have to be willfully malicious about their classism.  Classism is a systemic form of prejudice in which both individuals and the society/system at large treat people differently based on their class or perceived class.  A person does not have to be cackling and twirling a handlebar mustache while kicking orphans in order to achieve this.  They can, in fact, be perfectly cordial with a world of sympathy in their eyes while telling the homeless man that they won’t hire him because he’s probably a drunk.  They can even smile while offering pay for rehab.  If they make the assumption that homeless = drunk without any proof beyond their own suppositions, they’re still classist.  So the first step to writing a classist character is to accept that a whole range of actions from well-meaning to mean-spirited fall under the classist banner.  Understand that you need to write your classist character as having motivations that span that range.  (Or, at least, a human-sized portion of it.)  Displaying classist characters too narrowly (especially if you’re narrowed in on the evil end) means that readers are going to get a warped vision of what classism is.  We need to see classists as squishy and human, not in an attempt to forgive/absolve them, but because squishy human problems need squishy human solutions.  Coming at things from a cartoon villain angle just compounds the issue.

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(via thewritingcafe)

Filed under Classist character development Writer Resources

2,837 notes

The Psychology of Writing: Character Development and Anger

cutsceneaddict:

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Sooner or later, your character is going to get mad. And I don’t mean “mad dog” mad, I mean steam-out-the-nostrils mad. Because anger is such a human emotion, it’s important to be able to portray an angry character without resorting to melodrama. Finding that realistic, human balance isn’t always easy, but it can be made easier if you—the writer—take a few minutes to research this natural, emotional response.

So, in today’s post, let’s talk about:

  • What causes anger
  • Physical signals of anger
  • Internal sensations of anger
  • Mental responses to anger
  • Cues of long-term anger
  • Signs of suppressed anger

Read More

(via referenceforwriters)

Filed under Psychology anger character development Emotion body language Writer Resources Rage