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46

So Sméagol, Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins do not sound silly? Honestly, don't care too much, if they sound silly or not. First, you can change them, second, I've read some great stories with very silly named characters. If you want make up fantasy names and have no good idea how to start, here is what I do: Find out what the profession/status of this ...


23

It's definitely possible to do this without losing the reader. The New Testament is a story where the "protagonist" dies towards the end. I'm sure plenty of readers are quite satisfied with that. Much like the Gospels, killing the protagonist is advisable only if it really means something. Emphasis on the really. Even if you make your character a martyr ...


19

Give him his own story so he's not stealing scenes in someone else's. If he's that awesome, he should be starring in his own book rather than sucking all the oxygen out of this one.


19

Here's a set of guidelines I really like: You can refer to each character by the moniker most appropriate to him, so long as you use the same one consistently. Readers will happily accept any name that seems appropriate; the important thing is not to confuse them by referring to one individual by a dozen different tags. You can have different characters ...


18

On one side of the spectrum, some ways of describing have the particularity that, instead of describing all of the character, they define them little by little. For instance: I. You can highlight their body while they do something. a) Indirectly: I gladly helped her take the book from the high shelf. (Implying a tall character) b) Directly: ...


17

If your character sounds too good to be true, then it is probably a Mary Sue. If your character always seems to be in the middle of everything and is always the one to resolve any issues/problems, then it could be a Mary Sue. If your character is more attractive/powerful/impressive than any other character by a mile, then it is probably a Mary Sue. Unless ...


17

If the characters are strong, the name gets molded to the character; if they're weak, it's the other way around. "The World According to Garp" makes a pretty big deal about Garp's name - both the word "Garp" and why Garp's mother selected that name play important roles. Nonetheless, I don't think the story would have had a significantly different impact on ...


16

This isn't really any different than any other important information you want to get across early. Here's a few thoughts: A character considering how s/he might look to others is classic and pretty non-intrusive - e.g. "Somehow, people just see my blond hair and my perky smile, and never imagine such a cheerful, innocent-looking person might be a private ...


16

I was taught to do character writing exercises. The biggest questions you need to answer about your characters are along the lines of the following: What does she want most out of this situation? What is his deepest fear? What does she love? What does he hate? What motivates her to do [thing]? What does he want from her? Basically you need to find the ...


16

The real question is: boring to the writer, boring to the reader, or boring to the other characters? If the character bores you as the writer, either change the character or excise him/her. That person has no place in your story. I just had to do this myself two weeks ago, and it made a massive, awesome improvement in the entire book. If the character is ...


14

If you're asking yourself this question, you may well have a problem, or... this could be normal writers' insecurity. Sherlock Holmes, say, was a polymath who was believable because he was an unbearably obnoxious person who loved to show off his genius; James Bond is also a bit of a polymath in ins field, but impatient, careless, and a misogynistic ...


14

Some tool such as this could be useful, but I believe you are asking the wrong questions. In my answer to the question you linked and another answer in that question by Fox Cutter, the questions we posed weren't life detail questions. They were motivation questions. There's a key difference. I might create this shell man who gets up at 6:45 on the dot ...


13

Orson Scott Card answers your question precisely and eloquently in his excellent Character and Viewpoint, under the heading One Name Per Character. Go, read. For posterity, I'll summarize: Names should be treated as "invisible words" - they're so common, the reader hardly notices them. You can repeat them as often as you like, without worrying about ...


13

One bit to add about names: if you use fantasy names (because you are, like, writing a fantasy story ;-), take care to make them consistent. Meaning names of people belonging to the same race/people/whatever need to sound/feel "similar" in style. Hard to give an example (I'm bad at finding fantasy names myself :D), but... well, if you give all characters ...


13

From what I've experienced, you don't need to give everyone equal spotlight. Take Star Wars for instance. Darth Vader has considerably less screen time and fewer lines than Han Solo or Luke Skywalker, but nevertheless he's an icon and one of the most memorable parts of the film. It isn't about duration: it's about quality. A well-crafted character can make ...


13

I'm not an accomplished writer (heck, I'm not even an unaccomplished writer), but here are some techniques used by actual real-life authors: Charlotte's Web: The eponymous character (the spider) dies near the end, but the author deals with this by having two main characters; the spider and the pig. When the spider dies, the attention is drawn to the pig, ...


12

Here's a technique that can help: Identify each instance of he saw or he heard or he thought. If you're writing a close third person POV, you can often eliminate those by simply saying what he saw or heard or thought. Instead of: He saw Sandra cross the room. you can say: Sandra crossed the room. Other times the edit isn't quite so simple, but ...


12

I do it by interviewing my characters. The main idea is to probe and challenge the character, then follow the character's energy. Ask a question that invites the character to tell me something new Listen for emotional intensity in the answer. Sometimes the emotion is subtle, and other times it’s big and obvious. Ask my next question based on that emotion. ...


12

There are some different diagnoses that might be appropriate here. The Xander You've clearly established how the character came to be involved, but now that he is, he doesn't seem to actually be very helpful. He's kinda there all the time, and occasionally he just happens to have precisely the right skill for saving the day - but most of the time, he's ...


12

There's two issues here. In no particular order: Avoid cliche Make Quintessential Some of the best advice I ever had about making quintessential characters came from James N. Frey author of "How To Write Damn Good Fiction". In that book he gave two essential pointers to making a good protagonist which is a great start. Again in no particular order: ...


12

WARNING: This answer contains numerous links to TV Tropes, an irreverent taxonomy of common tropes in film and fiction. TV Tropes is highly addictive, wasting hours of "just checking the definition of one more term." You have been duly warned. Obviously, "strong female character" can cover a lot of territory! But here's what I see as the general ...


12

Why just as antagonists? But well ... One of the best monsters out there is a human being. A nice guy. No-one expects (i.e the reader) that he is a monster. A well known pattern with uncountable variations--use them. Reading mythology of all kind (Greek, Northern, Indian) is a good source for monsters (Tolkien has proved that). When your kid next time is ...


12

The biggest risk you have by describing the physical appearance of your character later on in your story is that your readers' mental image is shattered when you describe your character in detail. This can be quite jarring. The only way you're going to know for sure is when you ask someone to review your novel. Perhaps once you're ready you could ask them ...


11

No parent takes naming their child as an indifferent thing. Before the baby is even born, the name we give the child is an identity that will stick with him/her for the rest of that baby's life. Or to quote Orson Scott Card: "A name is part of who a person is. It's the label that stands for everything you've done and everything you are." (Characters & ...


11

It is possible to have a story without character - that is living beings that have thought processes and some amount of intelligence. This would include people, animals, aliens, robots, etc. There are two types of characters - flat and round. Flat characters are generally those that are background characters that don't evolve or change throughout the piece. ...


10

There is no need for the characters to remark on each other's traits because your prose should be showing those traits as the story moves along. You already do some showing in He dropped it from his flipper. The same kind of showing can be used to illustrate an angry character: The lug wrench clanged to the floor as Jerry dropped it from his flipper. ...


10

Smart, clever, insightful, thoughtful, reserved, and mysterious are all abstract qualities. They are summaries. And the summaries lack all of the juicy details that lead people to attribute those qualities. Instead of describing such abstract characteristics, demonstrate them. Show the character doing clever things, or mysterious things. Let the reader ...


9

Allow me to respectfully disagree with the other answers currently given. It's quite possible to do this, and I think it's a really interesting challenge. The first thing to remember is that bad guys don't think they're bad. In the usual plot structure, where the POV follows the good protagonists, it's hard to present this fact, but your story is in the POV ...


9

Romance itself is a cliche, really (and this is coming from a Romance author), so I wouldn't worry too much about fighting for originality. Find a way to write the cliche in an interesting way, and get going. That said, Romance is also all about characters and characterization, and you can't afford to violate that in the service of plot. If it isn't ...


9

Consider the different characters': Level of intelligence stupid characters contribute stupid thoughts to conversation smart characters might only contribute when they know they have something important to say Interest in the conversation Social personality: whether introverted or extraverted Subject matter of interest (since they would continually ...



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