Staying In Character Part 1

Sunday, September 20


Over the weekend (by the way, sorry for not posting in so long) I learned a little tidbit about charcters. I kind of split them into sections.

DOING THINGS FOR THE SAKE OF DOING THEM
One of the things I find the most annoying when I read, is when the character does something COMPLETELY out of character for the sake of a cool scene.

I wrote a scene a few days ago where the main character got into trouble. The point of the scene was not to get him killed/captured so I had to have him rescued.
Unfortunately, the only person around to save him was a character who hated him.
So I had to mess around with that scene for a while.
Yes, they saved his life. But I got rid of the "Are you okay?" and the "Hey, thanks for saving my life."

DYNAMIC CHARACTERS
I once read a story where the character is completely shy and then suddenly steps forward and becomes a leader. I was left floundering for a split second going, “Um…what just happened?”

Yes, you want character development. (The official literary definition is a dynamic character.)
But you want the character to change in DEGREES, slowly, step by step. Not a big WHOOSH all of a sudden they're no longer shy, no longer bitter, no longer...whatever.

KNOWING YOUR CHARCTER
It's also hard to stay in character if you don't even know who your character is. I occasionally use a character sketch when this happens. The best one I've found is R.L. LaFevers's;

Family’s social status/income level - because poverty greatly affect worldview

Any ethnic background or influences?

What is their family dynamics? Parents married, divorced, single? Siblings? Birth order?

What sort of student is the character?

How popular are they at school?
Who is his best friend?

Who is their worst enemy?

Do they have any hobbies? If so, how did they come to those hobbies?

Are they athletic? Good at sports? If so, which ones. If not, how does that affect their life?

What is the character’s most treasured possession?

Do they have any superstitions?

What is their general attitude toward life? Optimist? Pessimist? What went into forming that attitude?

What are they afraid of?

What are his hopes and dreams? Both immediate and long term.

What does he long for?

Does he have any food likes or dislikes?

What about pets?

Is there anything he feels guilty about?

What is his favorite book, TV show, or computer game?

What is his relationship with technology? Do they have four TVs? No computer? A cell phone at age 10? An email account? (in historical or fantasy novels, this question is a whopper as it encompasses the other world you're building into your story.)

What are his character strengths?

What are his character flaws?

What about Quirks?

Does he have any physical weaknesses? Uncoordinated, asthma, small for his age, etc.

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