Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Character Development Plus

Review: (Just to show you I may know a little about characterization.:))

~If you know anything about psychology, then you will recognize the classic symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder within this novel. I found the story to be unlike any I have read before. Author Cait London clearly did a lot of research on the subject. Since I have known someone with the disorder, I found myself astounded at how well the author described the adult Cammie's routine and fears. Cait London even nailed the tiny things, the eccentrics. This made the story very realistic. Expect chills as you read this suspense filled book! HUNTRESS REVIEWS

 No matter what you write in fiction, characterization is uppermost.

One of the best primers is Debra Dixon’s  GMC, Goals Motivation and Conflict.

Every writer has their strengths, and should work them. My own may be characterization. (As a novice writer, I definitely had to learn plotting.) Story building focuses on the characters, plot driven or not.

Here are some of my own “think pieces”  for characterization and I am saving the best/what I consider critical for last:

1. CHARACTER BACKGROUND: this includes the study of The Family, the situation of The Family in which the character grew up.  Character molding can/or cannot take place entirely within  early years with the family. Study the family and the character’s position within it. What happened to the character within this family? This is critical to understand the character.

2. EVENTS: What events along life’s road has impacted the character? Hardships? Loss of a dear one? Emotional loss can be devastating.

The first two important factors impact the character tremendously.  This may tell us why the character has trust issues, why the character is locked in the past, why the character reacts to a certain situation, i.e. if he wants to help someone who reminds him of his sister; if he never again wants to eat tuna fish, or wear secondhand clothes, inspirations and aspirations (goals).

Let’s separate the rest, possibly resulting factors—and then, what I consider uppermost and the most forgotten in some fiction pieces…. 

1. NEEDS.  Some writers put this under the label of motivation. But I believe that there are just some needs that spring from nowhere, and the character must serve them. For instance, Helen doesn’t know why she prefers blue on Sundays, and pink in the morning, or certain movies, but she does. She has a need to explore, and is/is not attracted to certain people. She wants the wind in her face, the sensory feel of it. This can be a physical, emotional, mental etc. UNEXPLAINED NEED.

2. SPEECH HABITS:  How does the character speak? With an accent? Slowly? Hesitantly?

If the character is well-traveled, no doubt he will have picked up a slight accent. If he speaks abruptly, with dominance, making certain he is heard, is that a reflection of a weakness he hopes to hide? If he speaks carefully, precisely is he thinking at the same time?

2. TRIGGERS: What sets his character off, what makes him react in a certain way, are all triggers that occur in everyday life. What makes him remember something, What makes him step out of his normal actions?   **!!This is where you get twists, unexpected reactions.

The Outward. This is external; something others can actually see: 

A.) Going back to his background, i.e. very poor/shabby, he may need to have an expensive wristwatch or shoes, or brand of clothing, or hairstyle, etc. How he clads himself, his armor in which he presents himself to the world. 
B.) His physical gestures:  relaxed, smooths his hands over a wood finish he likes very much, affectionate gestures, physical stance, athletic movements, direct/avoiding eye contact or anything a poker player might consider a “Tell”, including Expressions, a vein in a forehead pounding when the character has anger, a fist clenching, a jaw tensing, etc.
C:) More on the above: ECCENTRIC BEHAVIOR, and believe me, we all have our oddness. :)

THE BEST TIP: How does this character react to the others within his framework of individuals?

I see characters like the wheels of a clock. Add: Action/Reaction, a writer's best tools. What impact do characters have upon each other. One character clicks with another, changes that character, then moves on.

There’s an old saying, “You are what your friends are.” What's that about "No man is an island"?
We have different friends to meet different parts of our lives. They all impact upon the main character. The character reacts differently to each character.

And that is true character development, how one character impacts another, specifically the main characters.

We're talking about the Cast of Characters within a story. Each one brings with them, a background, a conflict, a need, etc.

And that, my friends, is Characterization.  This is where you get texture, depth, and life to your story.

Now: Please reread SILENCE THE WHISPERS review and note that I did not study personality disorder, rather, I started with a story nugget and built upon it... putting myself within the character's life box. It's all about the life boxes....

1 comment:

Donna Fasano said...

I have always fancied myself an armchair psychologist. I love to delve into the WHYs of any personality. People are SO interesting. Thanks for the great article!