Real questions about imaginary people.

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37
votes
20answers
4k views

How to name the characters of your story?

I find it hard to name my characters. Every normal name sounds funny if applied to a product of my fantasy. If I take a common name, I may get the image of someone I know into my head. And that may ...
21
votes
9answers
5k views

Killing the protagonist - should it be done?

I am an aspiring author, but I have written several short 'test novels.' With each of those, it became increasingly clear how you have to develop the main character, the protagonist. After all, the ...
18
votes
5answers
5k views

How to describe the point-of-view character without using mirrors

In fiction, the main character is often the first person we meet in the story. Given that the story is written from his/her point of view, how would you describe what they look like? The classical ...
17
votes
4answers
316 views

Resources about different people types?

I'm native German, but trying to write in English for various reasons. One of the big points in a story is to keep the characters very distinct from each other, and that requires some knowledge about ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

How do you make a character quintessential, but not cliched or cartoony?

I think it's hard to make a character standout and embody their traits without becoming cliched or cartoons. How do you do this? What are some tips to enlivening a character and making them memorable? ...
15
votes
3answers
502 views

Is there a quick way to know I have created a Mary Sue?

For those who don't know what a Mary Sue is: see here. The problem is, there are far too many ways a character can be a Mary Sue, as seen here. Many websites that offer tests to see if your ...
14
votes
5answers
3k views

How should I introduce my characters?

I'm pretty good at creating compelling characters with decent personalities and motivations. I like the comradery vibe, so they're generally already part of a posse of some sort at the beginning of my ...
13
votes
13answers
661 views

Resources for character development

I'm weak at building characters. What resources are there to create rich characters? I'm thinking beyond name generators: Quirks, biography, diseases like allergies, hobbies and jobs, wealth, omens, ...
13
votes
9answers
2k views

Source ideas for monsters in a fantasy novel?

Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go to get some ideas on different types of monsters that can be created for a fantasy novel? I'm not talking about different variations of zombies or ...
11
votes
3answers
643 views

How/When to create deliberately boring characters?

Among a million other ambitions under the general heading of "Writing," I have this fantasy where I write a major series, several books long with a giant cast. But I started thinking. In giant series ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Software for developing and organizing characters

I'm looking for a software that helps me develop and organize the characters for my novel. What I want: something like a filesystem, with a file for each character it should have or allow me to ...
10
votes
9answers
377 views

Sympathetic portrayal of devout, rule-abiding characters

I'm having trouble portraying religious, devout characters as protagonists or viewpoint characters. When I try, I get the sense that the reader - not sharing the characters' beliefs - will have ...
10
votes
6answers
718 views

Sympathetic portrayal of an evil protagonist with good motivations

I'm contemplating writing about a character with good motivations whose actions would be considered evil. In short the story would be about a necromancer killing an entire nation so that he can bring ...
10
votes
2answers
780 views

Finding the 'voice' of a character

This is a very general question that I want to throw out there just to get some insight into different approaches used. I have my own, but am intrigued to know what others might try. I'm wondering ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

Is it better to describe the main character's physical appearance early on in the story?

I'm writing a novel, and I just realized I don't describe be main character's appearance until Chapter 3 (each chapter is 1500~2000 words long and there are 25 chapters in total). I do mention that ...
9
votes
2answers
306 views

Is it typical to add variation to the words used for a character's name to keep it spicy?

A friend has asked me to read through a chapter of his story and give my opinion. Lets say he has two main characters Mr John de Havilland and Mrs Sally de Havilland. I've noticed that the author ...
9
votes
4answers
353 views

Balancing loads of equally-important characters

If you have a dozen good guys, but four of them are the protagonists and the other six are more in the background, it's not that hard to skew the pagetime of each character towards those that are more ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

How often do writers develop characters before plot, and why?

As someone who writes a little as a hobby, this is something that I haven't really thought about until just recently, but... Is it common for a writer to develop characters before actually coming up ...
8
votes
5answers
441 views

My cool character is doing nothing for the plot. How do I deal with him?

So I have this great character( not the main protagonist), who is funny and intelligent. Each scene I write for him is a delight. But the problem is, he is doing nothing for the plot. I have tried to ...
8
votes
4answers
280 views

What to do when characters disagree with the plot?

I'm writing a romance novel and have hit a brick wall. The problem is every way I think the future lovebirds could meet and become friends is totally cliché. After thinking about it, I've realized ...
8
votes
5answers
641 views

Is this character generator useful?

After some feedback from this site and a training course, I developed a little tool to help with character generation. It's called "20 Questions" and works just like that: It picks 20 questions (or ...
8
votes
6answers
412 views

The polymath's dilemma…?

The main character of a YA story I am working on is fast becoming a polymath, i.e. someone with a broad base of skills and interests across unrelated areas of endeavor. I really like how this ...
8
votes
3answers
200 views

How to tell or retell basic character and setting information in a series?

I am writing a short children's novel and I want to expand this into a series made of several short novels. I intend to write the whole series at once so that the internal universe is consistent and ...
7
votes
6answers
789 views

The opposite sex in first person?

I have been writing about not just one, but two females; sisters. I've toyed with different methods/persons in this, but it seems I've come to an obvious roadblock. I wouldn't call it "writer's block" ...
7
votes
7answers
2k views

Is it OK to refer to some characters by first name and to others by last name?

I'm writing the outline for my first novel, which has three main characters. I'm very happy with their names, however I recently noticed that I was naturally referring to the first two by first name, ...
7
votes
5answers
798 views

“multiple personalities” for character development in writing?

How can I train myself to think in "multiple personalities" so I can use these personalities for character development in writing?
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Killing off a character: deciding if, when and how

Killing off a character is a serious issue. Secondary characters or even extras can pass away without too much negative response from the readers but main characters are a whole different matter. It ...
7
votes
4answers
179 views

Must protagonists be flawed for satisfying character evolution?

Many screenwriting theories hold that the prozagonist should be flawed at the story's beginning and overcome this flaw by its end. Now there are stories, where the protagonist is thrown out of a ...
7
votes
3answers
110 views

Needing to Believe the Story Is Real

I am writing a series of interconnected metafiction stories revolving around epic fantasy tropes. The basic premise involves gradually building up an epic narrative and then breaking it down, and the ...
6
votes
8answers
3k views

Example of a fictional story without any characters (the story being 1000+ words)

Guessing that there is no such example, but if there is, I'm very interested in knowing about it. Just as a short example, just to make it clear it's possible; the example is not intended to be a ...
6
votes
5answers
605 views

Character Development - How much is too much?

I've read loads of books where the reaction and development of characters seems to extreme for the events that effect them in the story. However not having any development makes the character boring, ...
6
votes
9answers
462 views

Problems with character development?

I'm 1/4 through my first novel, with a pretty solid 12 page outline of the whole thing. After years of reading books about story structure, I think I have a good grasp on how to make a plot work. My ...
6
votes
8answers
692 views

Tools for generating characters' names

I found this name generator: http://www.fakenamegenerator.com And I'm wondering if maybe there are others? Has anybody found this kind of tool useful? What about tools for fantasy names? Should I ...
6
votes
6answers
306 views

Is it possible to write a novel completely devoid of dialogue?

I am in the process of writing a novel, and I'm just trying to get some ideas and thought on this. I am not sure yet if I want to completely remove all dialogue, but at this point I feel that dialogue ...
6
votes
2answers
205 views

Is it ok to be autobiographical with a main character?

This question really comes down to a personal issue I've had present in my fiction. I'm still very new as far as being a writer is concerned. So a few (if not all) of my main characters seem to be ...
6
votes
3answers
153 views

How can I keep my characters' identities a mystery successfully?

There was a similar post about keeping a character nameless in order to contribute to his closed off personality. My concern is is keeping all my characters nameless, only describing their actions ...
5
votes
9answers
718 views

How do I round out a powerful character?

I've created a character named "Mathias Mindblade" who is trained by a wise wizard to lead a rebellion against the Darkness Empire and eventually to establish an Empire of Light. Mathias has some ...
5
votes
5answers
787 views

How to refer to character of focus in a story

I find that when I write, I'm not always sure how to refer to the character of focus. You can only say "he/she" so many times before it feels choppy and repetitive. Constantly referring to character ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

How to create varying, yet realistic, speech patterns

Different characters speak differently. If someone reads me a letter written by an immediate relative, I can tell right away who wrote it. I believe --and correct me if I'm wrong-- that giving each ...
5
votes
5answers
123 views

How should changing the point of view be handled?

I am writing a book with the particular twist that between chapters it switches the point of view. For example, in the first chapter it is from the main character's point of view, then in the second ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you develop a strong female character?

Are there specific characteristics that one should strive for when trying to develop a strong female character? Is it truly dependent on the genre of the book, or are there certain elements that carry ...
5
votes
3answers
202 views

A POV character who's a slave?

I'm currently working on a novel, in which one of the POV characters is a slave. He was born to a slave (so he was born a slave) of a rich merchant family and was treated well most of his life. One ...
5
votes
2answers
460 views

Are there more character alignment grids (like D&D)

One thing that I find helpful when trying to create a character is some sort of grid stereotypes. For example, Dungeons & Dragons (before they broke it in 4e, but that's another story) has a 3x3 ...
5
votes
2answers
147 views

What exercises will help me write my co-author's character?

I'm working on a novel together with my co-author, K. K's come up with this great character - a sassy were-cat name Garlic. Unfortunately, I'm having a really tough time writing for Garlic - K has a ...
5
votes
4answers
121 views

Methods for writing from an alternate gender/age/cultural viewpoint?

While many aspects of a culture, etc, can be researched - there are intrinsic difficulties to writing from the PoV of a woman as a male author and vice versa, and I'd argue even harder for an adult to ...
4
votes
5answers
315 views

What gender do you think the narrator is?

Once again, I traveled three hours only to eat sushi, alone. Cars passed by and people streamed along the sidewalk. Hanging in the air, I could feel the faint scent of spring. Or maybe it was just ...
4
votes
3answers
406 views

Tips for adding more personality to characters?

Often I read a new book only to find that the characters are flat, boring, and lacking in personality. Sometimes I even find that in my own characters, and when that happens I usually just remove it. ...
4
votes
4answers
807 views

Can I use real presidents (past and present) and real companies in a fictional story?

I'm not sure if I want to use real people and companies or make up an entirely different world with different people, presidents, and companies than our real world. If I did the latter I would offer ...
4
votes
4answers
140 views

Is Jaime Lannister a “telling not showing” example?

Warning: spoilers of A Song of Ice and Fire. I was reading through this site that you should avoid telling what a character is by using other characters, example "Dan is the funniest person I know" - ...
4
votes
5answers
679 views

Writing character cards?

I read somewhere that authors sometimes use cards to write down information about the characters in their stories. I assume these were small cards so what was written them had to be concise. What sort ...