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Lately, my method has been to role play a character into development, to jot down notes as I learn new things about them while avoiding writer's block, and having them being put into situations that I didn't pre-consent to having them face. But that has limited my ability to develop certain characters. I'm not pleased with that.

I'm sick of writing plot-driven stories. I want to mature as a writer and make that transition to character driven stories.

However, I cannot do that alone, and I have some writer's block issues. I'm curious as to what works for others to develop their characters?
hawthorn hallow's avatar

Timid Bloodsucker

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Generally for me at least, character development and plot goes hand in hand; one needs at least a bare semblance of the other in order to function fully. I generally use role-playing and drabble writing in order to develop them.
wandering in the meadows
Generally for me at least, character development and plot goes hand in hand; one needs at least a bare semblance of the other in order to function fully. I generally use role-playing and drabble writing in order to develop them.


Would you mind elaborating a bit on this for me?
hawthorn hallow's avatar

Timid Bloodsucker

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wandering in the meadows
Generally for me at least, character development and plot goes hand in hand; one needs at least a bare semblance of the other in order to function fully. I generally use role-playing and drabble writing in order to develop them.


Would you mind elaborating a bit on this for me?


Well, a plot requires characters, correct? Even if they are just for background.
A character also generally has aspects of a plot (or multiple plots) in them, be it ranging from something major like conscripting into an army to defend against a ruthless evil or something minor, like getting up the courage to get a date to the next festival. Day to day life could almost be called a plot in a way, as it is a pattern of events.
That's true. So, characters are pre-existent to a story... Maybe my development should be a little pre-story. Like, I could write myself a prequel, and start the real story wherever I feel it fits. I want to write realistic fiction, so day-to-day life is what my characters will be facing.

Thoughts and feelings?
Even in plot-driven stories, characters change. Even in character-driven stories, there's a plot.

Take a character, make them want a cookie or glass of water, then put an obstacle in the way.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

I have a survey! Here.

It's not really for taking characters from Square One, I've found it to be more useful when I have some idea what I want to do with them and too many personality features rather than too little.
Kita-Ysabell
I have a survey! Here.

It's not really for taking characters from Square One, I've found it to be more useful when I have some idea what I want to do with them and too many personality features rather than too little.

Just a few of these helps get to know a character very well.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

The Phoenix Rises Again
Kita-Ysabell
I have a survey! Here.

It's not really for taking characters from Square One, I've found it to be more useful when I have some idea what I want to do with them and too many personality features rather than too little.

Just a few of these helps get to know a character very well.
As in most of them are useless?

Eh, they're useful for what I use them for, not so much as a character generator, and they're all aligned to my paradigm of writing, so I won't put a guarantee on how well they'd work for other people. I can never remember all the disclaimers I want to tag on when I post a link to those questions, but rest assured, I don't intend to present them as a panacea for character development.
Kita-Ysabell
The Phoenix Rises Again
Kita-Ysabell
I have a survey! Here.

It's not really for taking characters from Square One, I've found it to be more useful when I have some idea what I want to do with them and too many personality features rather than too little.

Just a few of these helps get to know a character very well.
As in most of them are useless?


As in they're all good. As in they're each so good, you might only need a few.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

The Phoenix Rises Again
Kita-Ysabell
The Phoenix Rises Again
Kita-Ysabell
I have a survey! Here.

It's not really for taking characters from Square One, I've found it to be more useful when I have some idea what I want to do with them and too many personality features rather than too little.

Just a few of these helps get to know a character very well.
As in most of them are useless?


As in they're all good. As in they're each so good, you might only need a few.
Oh, thanks.
PH0ENIX D0WN's avatar

Frozen Hero

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I was curious to that as well not too long ago. I went and googled
"character development" and found a couple of things which might be helpful.
101 Development Questions for Writers and Character Development Tips.
NikkouNew's avatar

Romantic Explorer

I'd say put your characters in a bunch of situations and see what they do next. I've done that a lot and sometimes I end up using the scenes that come out of them. Other than that, what everyone else has been saying/referring to is good too.
Normally, when I develop a character, I figure out the following things:

arrow What does this character want, and what is his/her motive?
(The reasoning behind this is purely for plot.)

arrow What are they willing to do to get what they want?
(Will the character stomp all over everyone else or find a more practical means to achieve their goal?)

arrow What's their alignment, and why?
(Believe it or not, but even in real world situations, people have an alignment. Some are bad, some are good, some are horrible, and some are amazing. There's a reason behind this. Some were not taught consequences of their actions, while others were abused, mistreated, or suicidal. Of course, these are extremes,and as most of us know, some choose to be the way they are, despite their upbringing.)

arrow What's the basis of their nature?
(Are they introverted or naturally outgoing? Things like this can help provide the basis of dialogue and actions.)

arrow What are their strengths and weaknesses?
(The reason for this is to figure out exactly what they're good at and what they're bad at, which helps flesh out personality.)

arrow What are their best characteristics?
(These should be legitimate reasons of why someone would like them.)

arrow What are their flaws?
(Flaws make a character more realistic.)

arrow What's their body type, height, weight, and possible handicaps?
(This determines physical limitations. Handicaps are not necessarily medical in this case. Does a character have trouble jumping? That fence isn't going to clear itself, you know. That character better find a way around. Things like that are helpful for when characters are placed in certain situations, everything from gym class to murder.)

arrow Do they have a specific quirk?
(These are important, as they help a character seem more realistic.)

arrow How do other characters perceive this particular character?
(Normally, I take this into a bit of a character development game. I write at least a few paragraphs on what each character who knows this particular character thinks of her/him and why. Not every character will have the same opinion, and even they do, it's generally for different reasons.)

arrow Fight or flight?
(What's the reaction to situations? Does the character run from problems or take them head-on?)
Queen Lucia 's avatar

Autobiographer

I get inspired by the essence of a person or character I've seen before, and write a biography immediately after. Their home life, the people they interacted with, and the surrounding circumstances help me mold what I'm wanting to convey, while adding in extra character details and flaws that could arise. From there, I think about what it is that this person desires or hopes to achieve after growing up the way that they did.

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