Writers Block Battering Ram discussion

Characters > Rick Riordan's Character Sheet

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message 1: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (last edited Feb 06, 2009 07:59AM) (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
Age in story:
Hair color, length, style:
Regional influences:
Accent: (include voice, style of speech, slang, signature phrases or words)
Marital status:
Scars or other notable physical attributes:
Handicaps: (emotional, physical, mental)
Athletic? Inactive? Overall health?
Style of dress:
Favorite colors:
How does the character feel about his/her appearance?
Relationship with parents:
Memories about childhood:
Educational background: (street smart? Formal? Does he/she read?)
Work experience:
Where does the character live now? Describe home (emotional atmosphere as well as physical)
Neat or messy?
Women friends/men friends:
Enemies? Why?
Basic nature:
Personality traits (shy, outgoing, domineering, doormat, honest, kind, sense of humor):
Strongest trait:
Weakest trait:
What does the character fear?
What is the character proud of?
What is the character ashamed of?
Outlook on life (optimistic, pessimistic, cynic, idealist)
How does the character see himself/herself?
How is the character seen by others?
Do you like this person? Why or why not?
Will readers like or dislike?
Most important thing to know about this character:
Present problem:
How it will get worse:
What is the character’s goal in the story?
What traits will help/hurt the character in achieving this goal?
What makes the character different from similar characters?
Why will readers remember this character vividly?

get the online version here, a long with a bunch of other stuff.

message 2: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
yah. You should do it for your police woman and stuff.

message 3: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
Because characters with no character are- well- think Maximum Ride.

message 4: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
yah... I like it. I don't fill out every single thing, but...

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)


message 6: by Leiko (new)

Leiko Xantara (arrogant_protector) that is awesome!

message 7: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
Which character, kandy?

message 8: by Paul (last edited Feb 14, 2009 05:04AM) (new)

Paul Some character advice - in no particular order.

You must know everything about your main characters - that's the protagonist, antagonist, love interest(s) and major companions.

When you close your eyes, you can see your characters, complete in every detail.

For the physical appearance, use an actor who you would like to play the part when your book is made into a film.

Your protagonist must have a flaw (or several flaws) - which may prove to be fatal when they are forced into a confrontation with their nemesis.

A major part of any novel is the development of the characters from their starting point.

Part of that development could be the forming of romantic attachments or friendships with their comrades.

Another part is their acquiring the skills, talents and companions they will need to overcome their nemesis.

Another part is them confronting their biggest fear and overcoming it (thereby removing one of their biggest flaws).

The nemesis (antagonist, villain, baddie) must also be a believable character, not just a generalised evil type thing.

The nemesis must also have a fatal flaw, that our hero will exploit in the ultimate final conflict.

Nobody is ever all good or all bad. Everyone has their moments.

OK, so now you know everything there is to know about your characters. Just write the story. You will never reveal more than perhaps ten percent of what you know about your characters. Only reveal the bits that have some significance to their development or to the plot. You will find that you automatically present a rounded, vivid, real picture of them because you know them so well.

Hope that helps.

message 9: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (caladhiel) That's great, Paul! Thanks so much! :)

message 10: by Leiko (new)

Leiko Xantara (arrogant_protector) On the actor thing, I just use someone I see. I don't know about actors.

message 11: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (caladhiel) I think that's okay too. I have some characters that I can put to actors, but I also have other ones that are so unique that I'd have to really look to find someone to whom I could say they resemble.

message 12: by Paul (new)

Paul I just put that bit about the actors in because that's what I do with film scripts - I imagine an actor to play e.g. the hero, then watch or rewatch a couple of their films. When the script is done, I send them a copy. They can immediately see themselves in that role - which means they love the script immediately.

Of course, so far, none of them has loved a script enough to put their hands in their pockets and finance pilot films, but they are at least spreading the word. I think once a certain number of actors are saying how good your scripts are, a 'critical mass' if you like, the job of selling it to a studio gets much easier.

message 13: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
That's really cool. Great advice- thanks! (Are you doing a character workshop in WWW?) The actor thing- I don't know if that would work for me, but maybe... fourteen year old actors are hard to find.

message 14: by Leiko (new)

Leiko Xantara (arrogant_protector) I don't know any actors by name or face, so it wouldn't work for me.

message 15: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod

message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul Yes, that is a bit of a problem. Maybe you could look at seventeen or eighteen year old actors - there must be some of them. They could play a mature fourteen or fifteen year old, I think.

I'm not doing a character workshop, except incidentally. My major focus will be on what makes a good story good - the key elements that must be in a story for it to be effective. We might drift onto character during the course of it.

message 17: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
you should do characters, because a bad characters ruin the story e.g. Maximum Ride... I might post what I have of my character, because I'm having trouble with her.

message 18: by Paul (new)

Paul OK, I'll add a bit about characters as well.

I know that Maximum Ride was aimed at an audience about forty years younger than me, but I didn't enjoy it at all. I only had it because a book club sold me a complete collection of James Patterson's stuff, including MR.

message 19: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
I thought some of the plot was kind of creative, but Max is a Mary Sue, he never resolves the thing between her and Fang, the fourth book was pathetic, you never find out how erasers track them, the first one tries to cram too much plot in, there's a voice in her head that tells her what to do, they 'mutate' to have cool powers, and the big escape from the schools is that hawks come and save them? I mean, seriously.

message 20: by Paul (new)

Paul Yes, I know. The fake science sucks as well - When the North Wind Blows is particularly bad at that.

message 21: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
When the North Wind Blows? What's that? I thought we were talking about Maximum Ride??

message 22: by Paul (new)

Paul Yep, When the North Wind Blows was where Patterson first introduced the character of Max - though that was adult fiction rather than YA. Also a couple of other fliers called Peter and Wendy. It was also bigger than most of his books, around 350 pages I think.

message 23: by S (new)

S | 111 comments Really? I could have sworn there was a notice in the front of all the MR books saying that the two series weren't connected, although there are several similarities.

message 24: by Amy, Writer Blocked in Chief (new)

Amy (runawaymarbles) | 329 comments Mod
*shrug* dunno.

message 25: by Trish (new)

Trish Great tips about character development Paul. I often use the actor technique that you use. It helps me to visualize.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

I love all this advice, and I feel like it's really helping me with my writing, but I feel like someone just stabbed me in the heart. I can't just sit and day dream about what I want to write, there has to be a plot, and and antagonist, and everything else.

message 27: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) As always Paul you are a bottomless pit...of wisdom. When creating my characters I don't actually do an outline as detailed as the one posted. Not on paper anyway. I do a vague outline, age, gender, appearance (which I tag with actor, friend, random stranger) and then I'll list little quirks, flaws, strengths. I don't get too into it then. I begin the story and the characters begin to make themselves. When I'm about half through it I'll look at the outlines and compare them to where the story is going. Often I find I've added characters or not used others. That's when I worry about details and make notes about things I've mentioned about them that will have relevance later. I guess it sounds confusing but when writing the story it makes perfect sense.
If I make a rigid outline like the one Marisol posted, I find that I feel limited in the development of the character. I never stick to what I originally planned for them so most of it is useless to me anyway. If your really inside your character's heads, all that matters is that you see them clearly. If making a 'bio' helps then definitely do it. But realize it is not the only way. Sometimes it's fun and just as effective to let their voices guide you as you go.

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