Getting into a character's mind
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June 29th, 2010 (1:49 PM).
The Local Trickster
Join Date: Nov 2008
*Crawls out of the woodwork*
This really surprises me that a lot of you are having problems coming up with characters, or trying to interpret your own. This is my specialty though, so if anyone is having troubles, big or small, feel free to send me a PM and I can help.
As for understanding characters, I find the easiest way to get to know them is to understand their needs, wants, and desires. To know what motivates them to do what they are doing is a key part in writing out their actions.
Just as important is their back story. Did they grow up normally, with a sister or brother and two loving parents? Or were they abandoned at an early age and have since lived with foster parents? Did they suffer from anxiety and were picked on at school? Your experiences as a human being shapes who you are, and likewise a character's past shapes their personality. Someone who is bitter, cold, and sarcastic may have had some bad run-ins with the wrong crowd, or suffered through traumatic events that have left them hollow and indifferent. On the flip side, they may just
antisocial, when really they're just awkward people who don't know how to express themselves.
To be honest, sometimes the best way to understand characters is to watch them. If you have a favorite TV show or anime, pick your favorite character and watch them. Don't watch the show, just watch the character you're interested in. Watch what they say in comparison to the other characters, and figure out why they say the things they do. Subtle body language movements are also a wonderful thing to look out for, because it gives deeper insight into their mind. This tends to work better for TV shows, since actors are always moving, but it works in anime as well, if you have a decent series. They might not move all the time, but they are drawn in each panel/frame that way for a reason. Try to understand what they are thinking, even if they are not the one speaking.
Once you've gotten the ability to completely analyze characters you see, you might find it's easier to come up with your own. You'll be so used to watching body movements and character reactions, that the characters you make tend to have the same effect on paper. No, I don't advise writing every single movement your character makes when writing, but leaving in occasional things, like the way your character sits or handles certain items, can help give your readers a look into their mind.
Starting out however, just make a web chart and branch out aspects of your character's personality. Explain all the different aspects and how they got there, and you'll have the basic framework for a person. Details come on their own time, and you may even want to save most of the legwork until later, when your plot is complete.
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