Quick Q & A on Characters


Again, I’m so behind on questions and I do want to answer all of them, so I’m running a second round of “Quick Q & A” today to focus on questions that focus on character, creating characters, character development, and so on. 

Anonymous asked: “How do you suggest to best develop your characters and their relationships?”

This is kind of a general question. Character development is pretty broad. Just for starters, the thing I recommend for it is to have your characters talk to each other. What do they have in common? What can they share together? To develop a relationship means to build that relationship – confiding in each other, sharing things about themselves with another person that are personal. Even if they’ve known each other for years, the way they talk about things that matter will help develop them and reveal or grow their relationship. 

Anonymous asked: “Could you kindly do a post explaining the psychopathic trope? Like trigger points that could slowly direct a character into psychopathy.”

Tropes exist and it’s fine if they crop up in your novel, but I don’t believe in writing them. I wouldn’t ever sit down and decide that I’m going to write a character modeled off of a trope. The thought of that is just alien to me, so I’m never going to be a writer that will explain a trope. It’s just not me. 

As far as psychopathic characters go, do research. I tend to be very critical of how mental disorders are portrayed in fiction. I don’t have a problem with writers talking about mental disorders, but many examples I come across tend to be inaccurate or even offensive. Be mindful of this as you write. 

Anonymous asked: “For a change, I want to write about different kinds of characters like psycho, complicated, less happy and more dark, violent, or very mysterious. I struggle with them, my characters are usually less unique and more normal, how to understand this characters and represent them?”

Just like the last question, I’ll say it again, mental illnesses and disorders are often misrepresented. If that’s something you wish to include in your work, do your research. If that’s not something you want to explicitly include in your work, dark and violent characters, I’m not someone who really believes there needs to be a reason as to why a character is the way they are, especially if they are abusive or cruel. I think the big piece of advice I can give you is that a little goes a long way when it comes to these kinds of characteristics. All people will generally think of themselves as relatively reasonable and normal – even when they aren’t. 

Anonymous asked: “Do you have any tips on writing characters with social anxiety disorder? I am currently writing a story in which the protagonist suffers from social anxiety. I myself have social anxiety but I thought I should take advice from others as well instead of just basing it on my own experiences.”

Writing from your own experiences are a great idea. There’s no wrong way to do it when writing from your personal experience. It will help you to write with accuracy. If you don’t want to write too closely to your own experiences because it is difficult, that’s perfectly understandable. One way to get around this is to predetermine how you want your character to differ from yourself. Decide what kind of things you’re comfortable with talking about and sharing too. This will help set some kinds of boundaries and in my experience with similar topics, can make you feel more comfortable and confident to continue writing. 

Anonymous asked: “What is the best way to write about a mysterious  character? In my story at first all info about the character are told by people surrounding him, but after am planning to speak in his own voice and later he will open up a bit more to the female he likes, am struggling to deliver his own voice and thoughts, I don’t want to ruin his original character with some drastic changes!”

Only you can know what your character is like. If your character is not acting like themselves, only you can know how to change that. When this happens to me, I go back to right around where I thought there was some issue and say to myself, “Okay, this is one version, but what really happened here with this character? What did he really say?” 

Someone who is ‘mysterious’ can open up later on. They might seem less ‘mysterious’ as a result, but it’s a matter of deciding what made this character seem mysterious to begin with. Is it that he tends not to open up to many people until after he gets to know them or feel comfortable with them? Or maybe he tends to be secretive and has decided that he can confide in this person? It doesn’t need to be a drastic change for him to open up, just an extension of who he really is. 

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