Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12/28/2011 Writing Wednesday!

Welcome back! The year is almost over and man has it been a productive one! Thanks for your patience with my lack of post on Monday, after last week at work I really just needed a full day off after it and the holiday. If anyone is familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000 and/or Rifftrax, I highly recommend checking them out, they can make any terrible movie enjoyable.

Today I thought I would continue the trend of last week, this time focusing on characters rather than plot development. Remember these are characters that are being made from scratch, so they take a bit more time than ones you're let's say, basing off characters that someone else made like from a weekly tabletop game, or fanfiction.

The first, and sometimes the most difficult choice is do you want your character to be a man or a woman. Writing styles are going to change rather drastically depending on which one you pick, since men and women think in different ways. This is for the main protagonist too, you can have your main protagonist be a male, and have another character be female and jump between the two, this is just the starting point.

Next you need to figure out what they do, nothing too specific, but at least so you can get some idea of the world they live in and also the skills they may have. Your character, let's say his name's Phillipe, maybe a farm hand turned mob boss, that is going to tell you he's likely diligent, good at organizing, and always able to get the work done. Maybe he runs things on a strict schedule, and always knows where his people are, and also how to solve the problems they're in. You know he's going to be decent with heavy machinery, various farm tools, and weapons. In the right circumstances he can be terrifying.

After you know the basics, it's time to work out some kind of back story. This can be long or short, depending on how detailed you want to get, either way it's important to know where the character comes from. Let's use Phillipe again for all intensive purposes; he was orphaned and left in a barn as an infant, he was raised by a loving couple who couldn't have children of their own. When the father came into debt, Phillipe could only watch as the man was killed before his eyes by the powerful crime lord, and he made it his goal in life to become powerful enough to protect his adoptive mother from the same fate. He stole some money from people on the street until she could pay back the mob, then used himself as a bargaining chip, saying they could take him if they left her alone. They then trained him, taught him the ways of the hardened criminal, and somewhere in that time, Phillipe started to lose sight of what his true goals were, and success became the only option. He rose through the ranks until the Don, sick and dying in his bed, proclaimed that his successor would be the young man. Before anyone could protest, the elder man passed away, leaving Phillipe to carry on his legacy.

Something like that will tell you also what kind of personality the character will have. Sure you have the criminal boss who is ruthless and likely a killer, but on the other hand, he was raised by two very sweet people, there's likely going to be some kind of soft spot there, it will just be hard to bring out unless someone tries incredibly hard, or tugs at what little heart strings he has left. Now, I know that at this time, the 'jerk with charisma' is the cool thing to do, but in my opinion, that only works in TV/movies. When it comes to reading a book, if the main character is constantly cruel, uncaring, non-sympathic, and so forth, it's going to make it incredibly difficult to actually feel attached to that character, especially if it's the main protagonist, because that's the person the readers are supposed to focus on. If they don't have any redeeming qualities, they're going to get mad and throw your book across the room.

When you have their background figured out, it's now time to figure out how they will be fitting into that plot you figured out last week. This will also help you decide other characters, secondary and antagonist as well. It's up to you if you want to toss in the love interest, since they will likely be a driving force for a lot of character development/background reveling, but that is also something that a new 'second in command' or protege can do as well.

Thanks for stopping by! On Friday there will be another book posted up here for you all to look at. Next week I'll go into melding the character into the plot a bit more as well. I hope everyone had a fun holiday weekend, and I look forward to seeing you all again in a couple days!

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