How to write and designing a character correctly?

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ScarletKnives
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How to write and designing a character correctly?

#1 Post by ScarletKnives » Mon May 15, 2017 12:47 pm

I am an artist, but I somewhat mainly designing characters. However, for every 5 or more characters I design and create, I only trully like 1, and thats kinda frustating. Right now I want to create some short of Dating Sim, with 5 or 6 girls and their respective routes, and since it will be inspired in real life and not in fantasy, I need to create a new set of OCs for the VN (because I have animal girls, elves, aliens, etc. and only a few humans)

Casting aside that I will need to decide what types of girls should I use (and creating the main plot), I have one of the stories for a female character decided; problem is... I dont really how I shoud design-write her; I dont want to get bored from her like with a lot of my OCs... I need to make her charming, but original at the same time. She is one of those anime girls who are good at sports and studies, and wear bike shorts and ponytail, and they are pretty popular and friendly with other people, etc...

But the fact is I need to create more girls (one of them is already designed but without a role or story), or adapt some of the current human girls I have to the VN setup (and I dont have a lot of humans, and some of they are from another project I have on mind)

So, what should I do? How I can write a character to be loved by me as well as for the readers? How should I design her physical body? Im pretty new to VN and I have a lot of doubts XD

PS: If you want, you can check my current OCs in my DA's gallery, inside the "My OCs" tab

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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#2 Post by Mammon » Mon May 15, 2017 2:32 pm

With indie VNs, there's not a lot to worry about with design style-wise, as long as they're generally the same style and coloring it should be fine.

About liking your characters, and making them stick, that's a bit more difficult. From what I can tell, you might be designing the characters a bit too early. Try making their story, and then develop the girl upon what she'll do and what kind of personality the story would work with best. If you make a character with the idea, 'I'll add her into the story and make some plot for her, I guess.' you'll probably going to be hitting this problem more often.

Knowing what your character looks like while writing the first draft is very useful, it really helps to visualise what the scene will be like. But to have the designs ready before the outline/plot of the story is written is not really recommendable, at least in my opinion. Once you've got the design you'll feel that the character is set in stone, while at that point your mind and story must be free.

So:
-Make an outline, just a summary of the story in chronological order. I recommend trying to make such an outline about 5% of the story's planned length, not counting character descriptions and such. It's a lot easier to write a plot and change it when you don't have to worry about grammar and pacing, this is only for your eyes.
-Write the first draft, this is the story with you trying to use proper grammar and the best pacing you can do, but no backtracking to rewrite stuff. Meanwhile, start with the character designs, for which you'll now have a list of the cast and their relevance.
-Second draft; the rewrites and fixing pacing issues.
-Third draft; improving, adding scenes if deemed necessary, and maybe already add the expression commands. Also keep track of which expressions your characters will need.
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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#3 Post by SKTwriter » Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:58 pm

If you have the story you know how the character must act. Because the story spin over choices and actions that they do.
About liking your characters, and making them stick, that's a bit more difficult. From what I can tell, you might be designing the characters a bit too early. Try making their story, and then develop the girl upon what she'll do and what kind of personality the story would work with best. If you make a character with the idea, 'I'll add her into the story and make some plot for her, I guess.' you'll probably going to be hitting this problem more often.
That´s rigth generally, almost allways you have the characters after finish the story, but sometimes you make a lovely, cool or charming character, you speak about it to yours friends and they like it...but you don´t have the story yet so, where and how you put it? I put it in a folio or folder where I keep ideas, concept and character i can´t use yet. Maybe i´ll use it or maybe not.
Casting aside that I will need to decide what types of girls should I use (and creating the main plot), I have one of the stories for a female character decided; problem is... I dont really how I shoud design-write her; I dont want to get bored from her like with a lot of my OCs... I need to make her charming, but original at the same time. She is one of those anime girls who are good at sports and studies, and wear bike shorts and ponytail, and they are pretty popular and friendly with other people, etc...
If you want make a character feels real, make they answer this question, What I do? Why I do it? How i do it? If you characters follows that principles it will feels real cuz they have a psysche.

Well, that´s my opinion, I wish the best to you and your project :D

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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#4 Post by Skye0 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:49 pm

So, what should I do? How I can write a character to be loved by me as well as for the readers? How should I design her physical body? Im pretty new to VN and I have a lot of doubts XD
I'll do my best to give you some information that I've learned over the years! :)

First of all, instead of thinking that you're building a character, make yourself believe that you're building a person. In real life, personalities are VERY complex. Their desires and actions do not always match, and there will probably be scenarios where their different desires clash against each other. When writing out their personality in an outline, do NOT state things such as "gets mad easily". Instead, describe HOW they express emotions and WHAT triggers those emotions.

Characters should also a struggle of some sort. It can be some they try to fix, or it can be something they're afraid of even acknowledging. You should also take note of why that character is so fixated on the problem, and you should know what caused it in the first place. Having struggles that a character is forced to deal with prevents them from remaining static. Statics characters undergo little to no change, and they are generally boring to see. But you shouldn't always give your characters struggles that are seen as very serious or tragic, such as a martyr complex or dealing with the death of others. They can be smaller things, such as a trait the character dislikes about themselves. Maybe they want to become more independent. Having a good variety of struggles for different characters will not only make the story more realistic, but it will bring out the individuality of each character and make them more likable.

Next, make sure your characters have around the same amount of strengths and weaknesses. They should generally effect their everyday life. And while it's fine for particular strengths to benefit a character even more frequently, the character's weakness should hinder them just as often. On other sites I've seen people be upfront about a character's intelligence, but for a weakness they'll say something along the lines of "sometimes they are shy". Try not to do this. If anything, you should be looking for situations to exploit your character's weaknesses (similar to how you show off their strengths). Do they have bad social skills? Make them come off as rude! Let them make mistakes! And even better, let the character and others acknowledge those mistakes. This will give the character more things to improve about themselves, and it gives them a lot more depth.

* Also, the reason you want around the same amount of strengths and weaknesses is to make sure they don't outshine each other. If a character has too many strengths, those strengths appear less valuable and impressive since they don't have many weaknesses to compare them to. Likewise, if a character has to many weaknesses, their strengths won't appear very strong since they have so many hindrances.

As for their physical body design, their personality and habits should give you enough information. Are they lazy and a binge eater? Make them chubby or fat! Are they very active? If so, depending on the activities, they can be very muscular or lean. Do they care about their fashion sense? If not, they may just pick out whatever they find in a thrift store. If they do, they may follow trends more closely. If they're shy, they'll likely dress more modestly. If they're confident, they may show some more skin. You should also take note of the location (don't give them shorts if there's snow on the ground).

* Keep in mind fashion is a lot more flexible depending on the style of your project. But the information about builds should be followed to make your characters more individualized.

And when it comes to making characters of minorities that you may not belong to (LGBT, different races, disabled, ect.) you should show your character to people in those groups to get their opinion. There is no better way of making characters who are part of minorities than talking to real life minorities. You could also have people of those minorities help write for that specific character.

And that's all I have for now. Sorry if it's a tad unorganized, I didn't have much time. I just saw this thread and really wanted to reply! :)

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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#5 Post by YonYonYon » Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:16 pm

If you want to do what you like, the answer is easy, do what you like! :mrgreen: like, why are you writing a slice of life story with humans if you don't like it? Are you trying to expand your horizons? Trying to challenge yourself to be a better artist? No, seriously, ask yourself why are you doing what you're doing. Doing something "just because" isn't a very productive way, having a goal is much better.

And then you can choose your course of action with your goal in mind.

The same goes with the characters. What are you trying to accomplish with them? What kind of feeling you want to convey? What is your goal? Why don't you like the results of your work? What elements are missing? Ask yourself lots of Whys. Analyze. Write everything down, and analyze some more.

Later, after making needed presentations, I'll post breaking down how I designed some of my characters I love very much, if you're interested.
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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#6 Post by caterwaulings » Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:44 am

Hey! Everyone is giving you great advice. I have a lot of experience creating dynamic characters and I would be more than happy to chat with you and maybe answer any questions you might come up with as you start working on your characters. I'm on Discord and Googlehangouts a lot if you want to chat.
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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#7 Post by SundownKid » Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:01 am

Base, characters, on, the world!

Don't just make it a checklist of the most common character tropes (like, "I'll need an elf girl, and a catgirl, and...")

If you want to make truly memorable characters then you will first need to construct the environment in which they live and then design the character around that. Even moreso if they are fictional races.

For example, consider how the culture of the elves would differ from humans, how that would affect their clothing, behavior, unique traits compared to your stereotypical elf. They don't ALL have to be Lord of the Rings elves, just because they have pointy ears, they could really be anything.

Just as an example, Va-11 Hall-A wanted to add in a catgirl, but instead of just making a stereotypical catgirl, they invented a backstory where people needed to be spliced with cat DNA to cure a disease. This reflected in the character's backstory and made them a more interesting character due to society's views and maybe prejudices of these types of humans.

But even if you want to make humans, think about what environment they grew up in and how they got to where they were, their backstory should stem naturally from their world.

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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#8 Post by Reiirin » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:07 am

A few things I tend to consider when developing a character:

- What is their personal conflict? This can be internal or external, and there can be several conflicts. Does the conflict relate to any of the other characters and affect their interactions?
- What are their flaws, and how aware are they of dealing with the flaws? How do these flaws impact interaction with others?
- In what ways are their main personality traits an asses, and when do they become a liability?

And above all I go by this motto:
If I don't feel interested in my character I need to do a better job of coming up with stuff.

Maybe they need some more hobbies. Maybe they need a new quirk. Maybe they don't have enough conflict in their lives. Maybe they're too perfect and need a flaw to spice things up a little.

Regarding physical appearance I'd like to see more characters that don't look perfect, and have a wider variation of body shapes, but that's just me personally. There's a lot of scope for variation that tends to be neglected in favor of slim, pretty girls. Try to create designs that reflect their likes and interests. Of course you can also use this for contrast, by having a character look in a way that makes us expect a different personality.

Also, even if you follow the best advice in the world there are still people who will not like your character. There may be people who are annoyed by traits you find charming and cute. Don't let that deter you. You can't please everyone.
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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#9 Post by Katy133 » Wed Jun 14, 2017 6:02 pm

I highly recommend watching these two videos that give exercises on creating engaging characters. They are both by Startoon (a Canadian initiative to help artists workshop their characters) and even though both videos focus on the intent of creating characters for animated series, I think these exercises will help with visual novel characters as well.

The first video is a meditation exercise which allows you to clear your mind and calm yourself in order to focus on your imaginary character forming in your mind. In the exercise, you focus on one body part of the character (Their feet: Do they were adventurer shoes or fashionable shoes?), to the next (Their tongue: Do they use it as a weapon or as a way to diffuse conflict?).

The second video talks about different questions you can ask your character, and why those questions are helpful:
  1. What is your best/worst childhood memory? (The character's past/backstory.)
  2. What is your greatest secret? (Their hidden depths.)
  3. If you had one wish, what would it be? (Their wants/motivation.)
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (Their goals./How they see themselves./What they think they're capable of.)
  5. What is your most embarrassing moment? (What do they find shameful.)
  6. What makes you special? (How they see themselves./Your character's hook.)
  7. What did you have for breakfast? (Their morning routine.)
Hope these help! :D
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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#10 Post by quinnsea » Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:27 pm

When it comes to making characters, the design for them is usually the last thing that comes to mind actually! Usually when I come up with the design first, I end up struggling more to keep the character. I feel like it might be because it isn't built on anything, it's just an idea I had that I never end up fleshing out.

What I do when I make a character is that I end up taking a small part of what makes me who I am, and then build up on it. A lot of people say that I have a really big vocabulary, so I made a character that knows a lot of big words. Alright, so why does this person know all these big words? He likes words and language a lot. Why? He feels like connections with people are very important, so the more he knows the easier he thinks it'll be to communicate with people.

But he ends up knowing too much. He uses too many fancy words, and it's a struggle for the people around him to understand a word he's saying. After a while, he feels a bit embarrassed by it. He just assumes people could never understand him, so he stops making efforts trying to connect with people...

Just from starting off with 'big vocabulary', I've already ended up giving him personality traits like 'shy', 'studious', and 'presumptuous'. I even ended up with a backstory!

I understand that not everyone is going to have this domino effect right away. Usually if I don't end up coming up with something in that domino effect style with whatever point I start with, I start roleplaying my character with other people. I write as them, just letting them interact with others to see what happens. (Lately, its mostly been my friends but it still helps getting them fleshed out.) I feel like a lot of what makes someone who they are is the way they talk to people which is why I feel like roleplaying helps me out so much.

If I ever do get a firm grasp on who they are, that's when I start designing them. It's when I take those traits I ended up with and show them outright. Since the character I just mentioned is shy, I designed him with long hair to hide behind. A lot of people that have characters that are studious might give them glasses. Most memorable characters' personalities reflect strongly in their design. People can tell a lot about characters from the way they look.

Looking at Cruella De Vil, you can immediately tell that she's vain and egotistical just from her fur coat alone. Her messy black and white hair gives the impression that she is an unstable person, and you could infer a bunch of personality traits pretty easily with just about any picture of a main Disney character.

But there isn't really a right or wrong way to make a character. This is just the way I do it. Some people might do it in the reverse way, designing a character and realizing "Hey, since this character has a trench coat maybe I should make them a detective" or something along those lines. Others might just have entire characters come to them out of the blue. It all depends on your creative process.

I hope this helps!
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Re: How to write and designing a character correctly?

#11 Post by hoihoisoi » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:49 am

Personally, I think building the plot and the story is essential for your characters to come together. I'm not saying you should totally throw your characters aside, but instead, by building up your plot/story/setting/genre first, you'll be able to easier identify your characters. What I'm saying is kinda like, the environment decides your character.

What I mean by this is, the world you're going to build around your character will technically 'shape' your character in certain ways. Similarly, the plot of the story will be crucial to what kind of character will suit best for the role. You can always start out with an average joe character with very generic traits and write out your first draft with that. But as you go along, writing in the events and also what he/she experiences, you'll begin to be able to 'feel' what your character feels. And that is the key part of your first draft, understanding, based on the events/plot you have written out, how you want the character to feel in those events.

After you're done with your first draft or are three quarters through your first draft, you will probably have a good idea of how your character is going to be at that point. From that point on, you can go back and reedit your draft, amplifying the characteristics you find you want in that said character. As you go through this, it's also probably a good idea to think of 'why he/she became like this' in the first place. That gives you some background and insight into who he/she is and slowly, he/she'll start to develop an individual history that sets him/her apart from the rest of the cast.

Finally, based on the 'history' you have created for your character in your head, it's time to layer your character with similar/contrasting traits. These traits would be based upon the 'history' you have made up for your character. And by the time you have already set it all up, you'll probably have a pretty strong character in your mind and have a pretty good idea of what he/she likes, dislikes, their skills, personality, way of thinking etc. Essentially, you've just created an imaginary friend whom you know inside out and can probably guess what he/she would say and act in different situations. Once you've reached that point, it's much easier to write about said character.

That's usually how I go about creating my characters. To me, they're unique individuals more because of the 'history' part which you've already made up in your mind. You know them as a friend and therefore you know how they will act and think. It might sound a bit odd, but that's one way to build a character I guess.

Good luck with your project and I hope this helps! :D
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