Do your characters surprise you?

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sciencewarrior
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Do your characters surprise you?

#1 Post by sciencewarrior » Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:17 am

I write my characters' bios and personality profiles in advance, but when I actually write the story, they show all these facets I knew nothing about: the shy girl asks deeply personal questions out of the blue, the strong girl pouts when she doesn't get things her way. And what's worse, I don't know if I'm being too lenient with them, but they have this tendency to just do what they want instead of sticking to my plot outline. Yesterday I had to add an early good ending, because in a certain path the heroine simply grabbed the MC and kissed him!

Is it normal or am I just a bad writer? Does it get better with experience?
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#2 Post by Endorphin » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:34 am

Hmmm... I rarely get surprised anymore. o_o
You know, after a while of character design you have the feeling that you can combine everything with everything - the human psyche is quite complex, and characterizing terms like "shy" leave a lot of open space for "hidden" stuff. And people aren't very consistent anyway - some are acting "OOC" from time to time.
the shy girl asks deeply personal questions out of the blue, the strong girl pouts when she doesn't get things her way
This is not only normal but also essential - it's superboring when a person is "only shy".

It's actually like coloring things.
Image
The thingy above is my palette for hair - it might is hard to judge by the palette alone but believe me the left one brings you better results.
And it's the same with characters.
[For this example I'm going to make the character a "he" as writing her/his is a little ugly.]
The character might is quite a sarcastic one, but because of personal experience (maybe he had troubles finding friends as people were not good at handling his sarcasm?) he doesn't speak his mind, even though he's actually quite curious about the other person.
(Which might also is a point - maybe the character had friends and because of his curiosity they told him their personal experience, but he had troubles not reacting with sarcasm. They were vulnerable at this moment and got hurt or were uncomfortable, which made our character decide that it's better to keep your mouth shut before going through all that again. This would make the character appear shy to the player while he actually isn't or rather is in a different way.)
But, like with drawing, you also have to blend thingy correctly - if you would take my palette and cell-shade with it, it would be pretty weird.
Character traits need to be flow into each other (not too much - you don't use a blurfilter with 50 on your picture) - some might be a little harder as the character himself has troubles with it (remember that people are not always perfectly in line with themselves), some might be more blended as it might be a shade, a trait, that is usually combined with the other.
You don't strive for finding the perfect shade of color for your character - you strive for the whole picture.
No matter how contradicting the characteristics seem to be at first, at the end the reader should have the feeling that even by removing just one color it would be ruined as it is perfect as it is.

... Whatever. Just ignore me, I'm just babbling. Did that even make sense?

I think you're on a good way - I'm really curious now. :>
Oh, and about that:
Yesterday I had to add an early good ending, because in a certain path the heroine simply grabbed the MC and kissed him!
Totally go for it.
VNs have this "you are both madly in love BUT you can only confess your feelings after 30 days of playtime because that's what we programmed" - I'm always pleased when game creators break out of this - it's more dynamic.

But, you know... I'm not a writer. x'D
(A least I wouldn't call myself that - I write my dialogues etc. but I rarely write stories.)
I guess the pro-like writers can help you a lot more than I. :'D

Have fun writing~ :>

- R.

PS. I think changing your plot so that it's more based on the specific desires of your characters is a good thing.
If your plot would still be the same even if you replaces all characters there would just be something wrong with that - most people play, read something rather for the characters instead of the plot (well, there are also people who prefer the plot over the characters of course), and by editing the plot to fit the characters it'll all be more unique. This way people can feel the characters and the plot is realistic and interesting instead of being some kind of "frame" in which this characters act - the story just flows naturally.
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#3 Post by GratuitousMoonspeak » Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:08 pm

I think it's pretty normal for characters to "develop" personalities, so to speak. I feel that if I just force them to act the way that I want them to, they come across as robotic and unfeeling instead of as people.

Personally, I like writing because it's always kind of an adventure. You know where you intend to go, but you don't really know how you'll get there or if it'll be what you expected once you reach the end.
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#4 Post by jjbproductions » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:59 am

sciencewarrior wrote:I write my characters' bios and personality profiles in advance, but when I actually write the story, they show all these facets I knew nothing about: the shy girl asks deeply personal questions out of the blue, the strong girl pouts when she doesn't get things her way. And what's worse, I don't know if I'm being too lenient with them, but they have this tendency to just do what they want instead of sticking to my plot outline. Yesterday I had to add an early good ending, because in a certain path the heroine simply grabbed the MC and kissed him!

Is it normal or am I just a bad writer? Does it get better with experience?
It is definitely normal. You are not a bad writer, and in fact, with experience, your characters should surprise you more, not less. If your characters stick completely to a bio and don't do anything to surprise you, then they are not like "living beings", but are more like robots. Robots do as they are told, and don't do much to surprise you. My characters surprise me all the time. There are some writers who don't let their characters surprise them and have everything planned from the beginning, which is fine, but it doesn't allow them to get creative.

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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#5 Post by sciencewarrior » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:42 pm

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies, folks. Ryouko even graphically illustrated her point! I feel a bit more confident now, and ready for the final push. (17k words, estimated 5k more to go)
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#6 Post by Taleweaver » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:03 am

My characters do this all the time. In one of my earlier stories, the main villain even killed off one of my heroines without me wanting him to - it was just the most convenient way for him to resolve a tricky situation. And frankly, somehow saving her with some deus ex machina just didn't feel appropriate - so she stayed dead, and the story went quite differently from that point on...
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#7 Post by MiSi » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:20 am

I always treat my characters like real beings, so... of course they're surprising me from time to time. Sometimes the whole plot of the story changes at some point, only because of an unexpected action one of the characters came up with.
Also funny is the fact, that after setting the traits and hobbies of the characters, some of them don't seem to like those I gave to them. As if they would choose themselves, what's suiting them and what not. It feels as if the story is actually writing itself, only using me as transmitter or catalyst :lol:

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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#8 Post by crGrey » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:05 pm

My characters surprise me constantly. My characters are like my friends - I can give them advice, but they don't have to take it. If your characters are real, then they surprise you, just like real people.
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#9 Post by Tsundere Lightning » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:02 pm

This is normal, and an essential part of characterization.
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#10 Post by Sapphi » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:25 pm

I always seem to unearth weird kinks in my characters as I develop them. It's kind of embarrassing... knowing something that personal about a person who's never met you. :P
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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#11 Post by Dakishimete » Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:40 pm

I wouldn't really say that they suprise me. I learned to treat them as a people and no matter how well you know someone, they may still suprise you in real life. I would rather say, that they are stubborn and often don't do the things I'd like them to do. For example, I may try to make my egoistic character act honorable, but he just can't, it seems like he's lying to himself, me and everyone around. But the other time he may do something he shouldn't, like devoting himself to someone and in that perticular situation it seems just right and natural. Complicated, well created characters often do these kind of things. It makes them seem more alive. Deep inside I knew they would, they're like children to me.

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Re: Do your characters surprise you?

#12 Post by icecheetah » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:58 pm

It's normal. In fact, it's good!
Apparantly, when that happens it means that you predicting your character's actions using the same system as you would use to 'predict' the actions of a person you know. You literally are using your brain like you would if they were real people, and that both increses how fleshsed out they are (good) and makes it more likely that they will alter the plot (could be good, could be bad if, to quote "Yun JiUn" on her character Hye-Min, the character is "so stubborn it's hard to move the plot forwards" or something).

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