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Author: Subject: How do you write main characters?
lily.catherine
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[*] posted on 7-4-2011 at 05:07 PM
How do you write main characters?


I have a hard time deciding what my main characters will look like, if they're male or female, etc. In a couple of my stories, they're boys--younger than me, though, usually--but I've been intimidated to write main characters as boys for my original fiction. I don't think I understand them enough to write something believable from their point of view. So my MC for the story I'm working on right now is a girl--a couple years older than I am at the moment.

But even then there are limitations. I'm a very short person, so I find when I try to write a tall or lanky character the descriptions of their actions seem forced. And I have no idea how their bodies fit into the world. What does it feel like to have your head scrape the top edge of short-people doorways? What is it like to be able to see the tops of people's heads? What's it like to look down for most conversations? Since I never see higher than most people's shoulders and am consistently craning my neck back almost all the way to talk with people, I have little idea how to write someone else.

In my current novel, I leave most physical description about MC out. I'm sure I'll have a better idea of her later, but for now, I'm having her sort of average on all fronts. I don't know if being blond, for example, has a different psychological implication than being brunette, like me. Or having brown eyes...is that very much different than having green ones?

How do you guys choose to write your main characters? Are they like you in description and personality? I tend to write personalities with bits of mine and bits of people I admire--for example, they'll be very quiet but very socially adaptable at the same time. MC for this novel is an artist but is very outgoing and able to adapt to most situations. There's much more I could say on the topic, but I'd like to hear what you're all doing :)
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Ender Delphiki
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[*] posted on 7-4-2011 at 05:26 PM


All you really can do is just continue trying. Try writing a passage then having someone else read it with the intended focus on the writing and have that person criticize just that aspect of the writing.

One tip I have is writing with a male MC (but we're in the middle of a Wrimo so maybe you can try this later... I'm a guy, and I face the same troubles the other way around, but after writing 3 novels with girl MCs, I don't know if I'll ever go back (maybe it's just that I'm too different from most other guys? I can't picture a character like myself appearing in anything I would write). As for description, I tend to just look out the window and describe the first person of appropriate description I see. Sometimes I don't even have an appearance until later (such as my current one, as you can see in my progress thread) and sometimes I don't ever have an appearance. I don't mind lack of appearance- it gives the reader more room for imagination. Eragon was never described except for hair and eyes and the big scar on his back. DO NOT HAVE YOUR CHARACTER LOOK IN A REFLECTION!!! Overdone!!!

Personality... this one can be tricky. Sometimes just going on with the story is enough, but sometimes you have to note sarcasm versus plain rude, but that's basically it. There are very few occasions where you would describe personality of a character.

And with that... back to my war!!!

[Edited on 7-4-11 by Ender Delphiki]




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TheChainAlchemist
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[*] posted on 7-4-2011 at 07:16 PM


My characters normally end up having black hair, and that's about all I describe. Black or brunette hair, I think one of my short stories has an MC with red hair, and typically blue or brown eyes. I don't normally let the appearance affect the writing much, and I find it's more fun to leave the other things to readers.

As for the gender difference, the vast majority of my MCs are girls because I find that to be easier than trying to write with a male MC. And I don't normally give a description on height, which just leads me to write them like they're about average height, not to tall, not to short. At best, I'd say that a character they run to is something like 'a head taller' or 'two heads shorter' or something along those lines.

Basically, the appearance doesn't really matter. I normally find this fact easy because I tend to write in first person, but I'll go into third person point of view and it doesn't change much. Just write your story and, at most, describe the hair and eyes with at leas their color, and move on.




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inkybetterdays
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[*] posted on 7-6-2011 at 12:13 PM


Hmmm....this is a tricky one. I actually love working with different character types and my stories tend to be more character-heavy than plot-central, but it's a hard thing to explain.

For example, boys vs. girls: I understand that there is a general psychological difference here, but try to imagine each as simply 'human' first. Take insecurity: different people have different methods of responding to insecurity, but it's something everyone feels. Love, anger, passion, hormones: these work the same way.

It's not the emotions that differ from person to person, but rather how a character responds to emotion. Think of everything your character does as a reaction to something else: those reactions are how you shape a character and how you give them personality.

Take a look at insecurity again. Different reactions pertaining to different sorts of people may be: an antisocial/wallflower, being outgoing/loud/silly, being obnoxious, being angry, etc. There's always a reason why people are the way they are. Look at that character's life, their history, their family, what they've had to deal with, then try to figure out how they would react to their surroundings. After a while, you'll get more a sense of that character and you'll begin to realize you know them well enough to predict exactly how they'd react in particular situations.
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Foodmoon
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[*] posted on 7-7-2011 at 01:14 AM


Observation is a wonderful thing, and I don't mean this snarkily. Watch the reactions of the sort people that you don't "get" very well. Watch how they act, how they interact, pay attention to what they say and how they move. It is really enlightening.
And most people are happy to give you answers to stupid questions about how they feel or react to things. (Go figure.)
I find that unless I'm challenging myself, its best to go with a MC that I like, "get", and am not intimidated by. However, its also good to give yourself a wide variety of descriptions for various MC's so you're not just reusing the same one/different name over and over. Pick hair and eye color by what appeals to you in context of the story.
And remember, its not writing for others that makes a good story, it's writing for your own enjoyment. ^^

I kinda let MCs pick themselves, but I usually write mostly male MCs, which might be a little funny since I'm a female. Most of them have one or two traits similar to my own personality, but I don't base them on me or anyone in particular. Instead, I try to understand other types of personalities and use the overall types as a basis. Looks can be anything, though I don't relate to "super-ugly" so I avoid characters that are, particularly ones that are really ugly inside rather than out. I don't stress too much over it, because that takes the enjoyment away. Some MCs get lots of description, some almost none. The main thing is that my MC can't bore me, or I walk away. I mean, why write something you find boring? Its a waste of time, unless its for English class or something like that. :)

[Edited on 7-7-2011 by Foodmoon]

[Edited on 7-7-2011 by Foodmoon]

[Edited on 7-7-2011 by Foodmoon]
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