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Old June 24th, 2010 (06:52 PM).
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Note: Astinus has approved this.

I am currently writing a non-Pokemon fic called "Plea for the Reaper". There is one character in my story that I'm having a lot of trouble with. The question is: are other people having trouble with certain characters as well? Naturally, this thread won't be just to help myself but other people, too.
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Old June 24th, 2010 (07:16 PM).
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I normally have lots of trouble thinking about the character's likes, dislikes, and personality. You have to make the personality the same as like what a Happy person would like, or a gloomy person.
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Old June 24th, 2010 (07:21 PM).
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Normally, I'm okay. But there is one character, a Borzoi, who uses captivating words that I can't quite seem to get into his mind. I've tried, and I keep trying, but it's not working.
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Old June 24th, 2010 (07:28 PM).
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Well, for me, when I'm creating a character, I go in-depth.

You say Borzoi uses captivating words? Why does he do so?

I hope I'm understanding what you mean. :C
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Old June 24th, 2010 (07:54 PM).
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Well you can try to make him a cynic and that's why he uses those words to captivate people or a romantic
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Old June 24th, 2010 (08:27 PM). Edited June 24th, 2010 by Delusions of Originality.
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By "uses captivating words", what precisely do you mean? Eloquent speech in general, or does he always sound like he's deliberately trying to entice people into doing something?

And what's giving you difficulty? Coming up with his dialogue? Figuring out how he'd react to a certain situation? Both? Something else?

Sorry for all the questions, but I just want to be clear.

Anyway, sometimes when I'm having difficulty figuring a character out, I try taking personality quizzes and the like as though I am that character. (Obviously this doesn't work if you don't know anything about the character's personality, as you do need at least some sort of baseline, but then you probably couldn't call it a character without knowing something about it anyway.) I don't mean those silly things pasted all over Quizilla or most Pokémon websites; you can try those if you want, but they're generally too shallow and simple to account for a wide variety of characters (my asexual characters mentally rage over all those "omg your crush just asked you out what do you do?!?! :D" questions). Really detailed questionnaires, though, like the personality type quiz on MyPersonality, give you a lot of different situations to think about. I also found this one on deviantART, and it's relatively interesting. I even have a book, What Would Your Character Do, that sets up thirty distinct scenarios and tries to you figure out how your character would react. Search around for things like this and you'll probably find a lot of others that could be even more useful to you.

No one quiz/interview/questionnaire/whatever is ever going to be totally relevant to what you're writing, but as you answer the questions you can it gets you thinking about "yeah, I do think this is what my character would do here" or "...eh, would he really say that?" Even questions or answers that are entirely irrelevant can be helpful (again, for example, how would an asexual character react to being asked "do you have fun with your significant other?" and seeing that the only options are "I luff them!", "All we do is screw around", and "I'm totally cheating on them with someone else"?). That, in turn, can be helpful when trying to fill in any blanks in your character's personality.

Characters tend to develop their own personalities the more time you spend with them, so spending that time getting to know them is usually a good course of action. Ask them questions, put them in exciting or uncomfortable situations, maybe even try some stream-of-consciousness writing as the character, and see how your mind has them respond.
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Old June 24th, 2010 (11:01 PM).
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When I read "uses captivating words," my first thought was politician. Thinking about it, I came up with five possible character paths for Borzoi.

- Politician - A person who only thinks about himself and is only bothered to do something when it affects himself/herself
- Debater - A person who thinks things carefully and uses facts to his/her advantage
- Preacher - Knowledgeable person who gives advice and/or thinks of himself/herself as a higher person than others
- Recruiter - Person who "instantaneously becomes another's best friend" [My brother is one and said it exactly like that XD]
- Mastermind - A control-freak in charge of something important to himself/herself

Think like one of the above?
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Old June 25th, 2010 (05:07 AM).
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To be perfectly honest, I've just needed a couple days of thinking to get into a character's head. Personality quizzes and the like haven't really been used much at all, but perhaps my way will work for you: create mental scenarios focusing around that character. Inject him into a scene talking to the villain of the story, or maybe the hero. Generate a badass pre-battle pose. Find a theme song and make a mental AMV with your character. Get to understand him better and his personality will out eventually, where you can take it and shape it into the awesomeness that is Borzoi.
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Old June 25th, 2010 (06:07 AM).
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Quote originally posted by Giratina ♀:
To be perfectly honest, I've just needed a couple days of thinking to get into a character's head. Personality quizzes and the like haven't really been used much at all, but perhaps my way will work for you: create mental scenarios focusing around that character. Inject him into a scene talking to the villain of the story, or maybe the hero. Generate a badass pre-battle pose. Find a theme song and make a mental AMV with your character. Get to understand him better and his personality will out eventually, where you can take it and shape it into the awesomeness that is Borzoi.
This is about what I would suggest. Roleplay your character until you can switch out of it like a light-switch.

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Old June 25th, 2010 (03:12 PM).
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Whoa, so many responses, not enough time to answer them. All I can really say, everyone, is thank you for your input. Would anyone else like to contribute any suggestions?
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Old June 25th, 2010 (05:51 PM).
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For me, I don't try to get into my character's minds they just kinda invade mine and tell me what they want to.

That seems kinda odd but my own characters do indeed have lives of their own and I do know more about them then they are willing to say but sometimes they do tell me new info about themselves.

Give your character some time to develop themselves. It may take a bit longer but you might just find out more.
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Old June 25th, 2010 (06:30 PM).
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In my personal opinion and experience Legendarian, when you begin to try to make something happen it doesn't occur because you are forcing yourself to do something that is not happening. Instead of trying to get inside the characters head, try and become the character, what would you do if you were using eloquent words.

Put yourself into your characters shoes so to speak, if you are still struggling, become the 3rd person someone who is in the background watching the story unfold, if you were from that point of view, what do you see that character doing, what is he saying?

If it still is not happening, try and see if you can use another character that you feel more comfortable, trying to use a character whom does not resemble, yourself, a family member or friend is very difficult to do because its no someone you know.
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Old June 25th, 2010 (08:27 PM).
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Quote originally posted by Lunyka:
For me, I don't try to get into my character's minds they just kinda invade mine and tell me what they want to.
Yes, this exactly! That's what I do with my characters. I don't make up their personality. I just take something really basic, like the way they look, and wait for the rest of their lives to come to me.

I periodically do kind of like what Giratina does: place my character in a scenario and see how zie acts, how zie talks and to whom, how zie treats other people. It's kind of like that game people play when they look at someone in a public place and make a story about them. You glance at someone, judge them by what they say/do/act towards others, and think of a motivation as to why they do the things they do.
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Old June 26th, 2010 (02:53 PM).
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Yeah i normally have trouble when thinking up of new characters. Because they have to be unique and not too much like your other ones, its sometimes hard to think of everything that will make it unique. Try and get some inspiration for it though. Maybe base it off one of ur family members or freinds. It dosent have to be EXACTLY like them, your character could have for example:

Your dads sense of humour
Your mum's caring nature
Your freinds annoying habits

Things like that really make a character unique so try and mix and match a few things till you have what you want
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Old June 28th, 2010 (10:28 PM).
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I would always develop an overall impression of a character's mind, but unless it was integral to the plot, I would usually invent specifics (hopefully being consistent) as they are needed.

The technique I used for getting into character's minds was a kind of short-burst writing exercise, where I'd take one or more characters and put them in a situation completely outside the story. I found that that way I could see how they react to a plot I'm not emotionally invested in, so then I could (in theory) have a more accurate thought process by my characters. I found that when I didn't do this, my characters were more prone to be wooden and slavishly conforming to their archetype.
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Old June 29th, 2010 (01:49 PM).
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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 seem 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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