How much time do you spend with your characters?

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Voight-Kampff
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How much time do you spend with your characters?

#1 Post by Voight-Kampff » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:45 am

I'm wondering - just how well do you know the characters that you put in your stories?

The balance between plot and characters always seems to be precarious, at best. One's plot - as originally conceived - typically needs certain events to unfold in very specific ways. But if the characters one develops are too, shall we say, independent, then either one has to alter the plot to accommodate the character, or alter the behavior of the character to accommodate the plot.

I suppose what I'm interested in knowing is: do you primarily rely on the plot to dictate how the characters behave? Or do the actions of your characters dictate how the plot unfolds? Or perhaps you employ a combination of developing both at the same time?

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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#2 Post by Deji » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:40 am

I wasn't gifted with the ability to write, but I like creating stories and brainstorming them with other people. I also like to get to know my characters and imagine them in different situations and see how they would behave.

So sometimes I encounter problems when there's something I want to happen in the story in a certain way but the characters I have won't respond the way I want them to.
Or sometimes the story starts developing certain angles I never intended because I realize that because of character's B behavior/background and characters D's demeanor, this or that is just bound to happen.
On those occasions, If I want the story to go a certain way, I change the story slightly to fit my characters behaviors/personalities so things can go the way I want and/or I check the character's background or other characters backgrounds to see if there's something I can use from there to move the story to where I want.
Sometimes all that doesn't work and I just have to change something about the characters themselves so what I need them to do will make sense.

I have a random cliche, basic and boring example at hand.
I had a Girl MC with a female and a male best friends, who were best friends themselves as well. Due how thought the characters, it was absolutely obvious the female best friend liked the male best friend (who in turn liked the MC), but I didn't want a triangle to happen, and I didn't have anything in-story I could use to prevent that, so I had to go back to her (the female best friend) and make her like older guys and actually have a crush on somebody else, preventing the triangle.
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#3 Post by ~Julia~ » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:16 am

I work extensively on my characters and flesh them out to make them sem as "human" or "rational" as possible. I think that having great characters is a very high priority for ANY story because if the characters aren't likeable then regardless of how good/bad the story is I won't care. Some of my favorite tales have crappy/non-senceical plots but because of the awesome characters I'm drawn in (for anime my best example would be School Rumble and for games it would be No More Heroes!)

Case in point for my own work, when I first started Devil Gene R I really just added alot of characters for no real reason and they were really 1 dimensional. They were kinda just there to be hit and guide the main character from point A to B. But as time progressed, without cutting a character, I've reached the point where EVERY character has some major relevence and whose actions make the plot itself progress. It's funny because the main character is almost the least important character, not to say she doesn't have a big role (she's still the lead!) but her importance is just down the way.

So if anything as my characters developed and mature so did my plot.
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#4 Post by number473 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:25 am

This clearly depends on the type of story you are going for - you could design your characters and just let them run wild, which could be fun, but the story would be lacking. If you have an idea where you want the story to go though, as long as the characters have a similar goal, or you keep goading the in the right direction, you'll end up in the right place. In a VN you of course have the advantage of multiple storylines, so you can to some degree be whimsical and go ahead and write that side-story. Of course if you main character is really lazy e.g. then youre going to have trouble getting him to go on a quest or sthing like that. So my answer is that they are free to do as they like as long as they stay in line and dont mess with my story.
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#5 Post by number473 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:26 am

(Sorry about the double post, I can't find the delete button now ;_; Forums really do hate me ;_;)
Last edited by number473 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#6 Post by A Terrible Rabbit » Fri Jan 22, 2010 12:45 pm

I usually come up with a character first. Then, once I like their personality, I think of another character they could get along with, and what their common goal is. Once I have two characters who work well together working towards something, the rest of the plot just falls into place.


So how long do I spend? Years, usually 2-3. But I think up lots of characters and scenarios at a time, so I always have a character I can look back to and continue working with if I need to.

(The Kyuuketsuki BonBon characters are coming up on their third year, even though I've only been coding a few months o_o;;)

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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#7 Post by Tsundere Lightning » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:40 pm

I much prefer to let my characters dictate the plot. That being said, it generally alternates between "Serious Problem" and "Character Response," with an over-arching 'plot' determining the nature of the problems.
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#8 Post by pkt » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:51 pm

I've been working on some storylnes since I was 8 so I've done a little of both. With developing characters to a story there seems to be a bit more to work with first to tailor them. But I prefer developing characters first as that is my way nowadays. It's a bit like getting an idea and building on it. Letting the story be built around a character will tend to get somethings out of the way quickly such as dialogue. It's best to keep them simple at first and build them up as the story grows. When a character has too much of a life I leave them out of stories since they only start to fit in certain places. Kinda like typecasting an actor. I've gotta work around that though.
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#9 Post by LVUER » Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:39 pm

I usually build the characters along with the story (or could also be said the story along with the characters). Since some changes could happen anytime, especially in long story, it's kinda pointless to build character too deep.

I only build my character as necessary to begin the story (general personality, background story, goal, his/her role for main character, and his/her potential in far future). And then I further develop that character along the way and make changes as necessary. Hey, even real life person could change at some point of his/her life.

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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#10 Post by pkt » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:10 pm

@LVUER Sounds like the right way to do things to me.
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#11 Post by Pyre Sieg » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:54 am

I can barely go anywhere without paper and something to write with, and if I do I get a little uneasy because I never know when an idea pops up to jot down and I'm caught without a place to tuck it away in (while I could remember it for quite some time, often doing this leads to the idea being more spoiled and less dynamic or specific than it would be had I wrote it right then and there).

I guess this translates to how I end up thinking about my characters almost on an ongoing and constant basis since often the ideas either translate to something I would add for an existing character or open the doors to a new one.

A lot of the time I have to make separate notes in different stashes because while the ideas may keep coming, some of them apply to an entirely different project or could be saved for one. The characters themselves also give inspiration when they're growing and becoming more developed, although I have to back track a lot while monitoring them because some may write new ideas and plot points for themselves that make sense, while others tend to do this faster and more abundantly than the rest of the cast, causing them to seem very close to mary sueism unless some of those roles are swapped to another character (usually one a little behind on the development race).

It's all great and helpful since I'm kept busy and it builds the stepping stones for a project they can come to life in (which I hope one includes a ren'py pick your own, at least), but the problem is this often leads to it taking more time than I'd like and sometimes I'm also guilty of writing about things even I'm not fully aware of the details for, even though one of the characters would know. (I'm told the latter is a terrible thing to do when writing but sometimes it can't be helped.)

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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#12 Post by ludeshka » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:01 am

I'm kind of disorganized.

Say, I've listened to a really cool song, and think "Hey, this is totally a song for a fight" and think of a fight scene; or I've seen a movie where a scene goes one way, say, a cop chases a killer and stops him, so I think "What would have happened if he HADN'T stopped him?"
Things like that trigger a scene.
When I have a scene, I sort of have characters, but I don't know who the hell they are, so I'm like "Ok, but what's this person's problem?" and then I try to answer my question, and when I have another question I try to answer that too, and so on and so forth.
And that's how most of my stories are born. XD
I make things up as I go along. I do eventually know a ton of things about my characters, but when I start writing the story, I know very, very little. :)

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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#13 Post by curry nochi rice » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:50 am

I spend like 5 hours conceptualizing characters....but sometimes, the idea just comes out and i get to writing...even if there was no story, I'm just making a characters first then make the background story for that character when it's time to use them...
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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#14 Post by Blue Sky » Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:48 am

I spend all of my production time on characters (which is why I never get much done).

First, I try to sketch out what my characters will look like. I'm a visual person, so this works best for me. Than I give them a name and start wondering about how they might act. I'll think about this for months. Eventually during all of this thinking, a backstory and motivation will pop up, though it's mostly gradual and I usually don't have to try too hard to make everything work together with the plot. Generally solutions will just form and take shape in my mind. It doesn't happen at the snap of a finger, but instead over the course of many quiet afternoons.

Even after figuring all of that out, I'll still think about my characters. I want them to come across like real people with real emotions. More than perfect characters, I want perfect emotions and response from the audience. And for that, you need good characters.

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Re: How much time do you spend with your characters?

#15 Post by lepapillonrouge » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:30 pm

As for me, I think about them...a good half of the day, every day, thinking about my characters. More or less.

I usually think of characters before plot. In black butterfly, the characters ..are the plot.
I like to think about what they like, how they are connected, how they act, how they affect the plot...
Then after I figure out their personalities, I draw them. ^-^;
And then I figure the plot.

My other game is more balanced, I suppose. It's more like the main character is the plot...in a way.
But character development and plot are intertwined...
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