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Submitted on
November 30, 2012
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Your characters aren't real.

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 12:48 AM
One of the most popular discussions among writers on any website has got to be some variation of 'what's your relationship with your characters like?' And especially on a site like here where a lot of people are coming from an RP background, people start in on these long conversations about how their characters run around and do things and would love to tear 'em one for that scene where they lose their whole family.

And you know what?

I can't participate in this conversation because I don't see characters like that and I'm so jealous I'm going to rant about it now

Okay, I was just guessing how you'd feel after reading this rant. I swear I have a serious point to make, though.



First things first. It confuses me when you talk like your characters are people. I just don't get it. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. I start with the plot and setting and then come up with characters, so anything I make is tied to the story.
  2. How can I create an independent existence for something that was created to work best with a specific plot? They're intertwined. Also, I'd rather write a good story kthxbye.
  3. I never had imaginary friends, so the concept of wanting to do this is foreign to me.
  4. I have no imagination.

Again, I'm sure that last one is where you've gotten by now. And it's what I used to think: maybe I can't do this because I'm just not imaginative enough. What's wrong with me?

And then I decided y'all crazy.

What prompted this?

Well, I don't know. It might have been this:

Yeah, I was just writing my story and Xenophon Jr decided he didn't want to go fight the werewolves! LOL!

Or, I dunno. Maybe it was this one.

Guys, I cried like the whole time I wrote this scene because I could not believe I was doing this to Jeremy IT'S SO SAD T_T

I don't get it. And yes, guys, I know you all don't talk like this and it sounds condescending when I put it this way. The point is that it's how it comes off to someone who is completely outside the whole thing. I'm sure I come off as a cold bitch when I say I don't see characters as people. (You insightful bastard.)

Anyway, look. I don't care if you want to say your characters are doing stuff by themselves. But I do care when you say it's all them, not you, and you go completely helpless and don't know what to do. Self-respect, have it.


IT IS YOUR STORY. YOURS.


For fuckssake, pat yourself on the back when good things happen and take responsibility when you write yourself into a hole or can't make a scene convincing enough.

I just cannot repeat enough how much it bothers me when people, I don't know, have low self-esteem and can't give themselves credit for planning something so good it spreads like jam on toast when they go to write it. Or when people cannot come face-to-face with the fact that they were so determined to write that setting and those characters that they kind of forgot to make sure it would work coherently with the plot.

Do not tell me you were surprised where your story went. I know it feels natural sometimes. I know other times, it takes forever and you get a thousand false starts. What I didn't know, though, is that you could completely miss those words that you just typed with your own two hands.

And if you were too busy having emotions all over this character inside your head that we're only catching glimpses of, I doubt I will have half the feelers you did. The fact is, people who write assuming their readers are on the same page as them when they have a huge invisible backstory—are wrong.


Now please excuse me while I do some furious backpedaling and maybe even calm your (righteous) rage a bit.

No one has ever accused me of writing bad characters (if you disagree, where have you been?! CRITIQUE PLS). So you don't need some gimmick like 'my character is right here talking to me' in order to write a convincing story. What you need is the ability to go, 'what would a person of this demographic do in this situation'—and if it's not what you want to happen with the plot, then why exactly did you pick that character in the first place?

And pretending characters are real can be fun. I like playing God (when I can actually think of a character for it—seriously, I don't have a ten-year-running OC cast I keep developing and developing). Some people need to imagine a talking, walking person in order to get a scene out. And, for a longer project, it keeps the tedium from setting in when you're in that horribly boring middle part or are low on ideas for what to do next, that kind of thing.

Okay. Fine. I don't get it and I think you're weird until you admit it's all in your head, but whatever. People say I'm weird for using German numbers as insults. Weird isn't always bad.

What actually bothers me is that thing I said above.


TAKE RESPONSIBLITY FOR YOUR WRITING.


An exercise you use to make your writing easier/fun/better is not a valid excuse for a shitty scene or getting stuck because you can't figure out what to do. It is not an excuse for keeping characters alive for no reason, or drawing out their deaths because you can't let them go, or for being boring because no other person can relate to your headspace.

I don't care if you're just phrasing it like 'heehee, it's not me, it's them, now please can you help me figure out what to do' because it sounds fun or whatever. Language shapes thought.

As a writer, you should know that.



I didn't think this post had enough Eric, so have one more GIF.




You are not a monkey with a typewriter. Don't make yourself into one.

I know I'm firmly in the minority opinion, at least on this site, in worrying about people who talk like their characters are people. So have fun tearing this rant a new one! GUYS I LOVE OPINIONS. But read it first and please don't state the obvious. The GIFs are intentionally placed. Hit 'Esc' to stop them animating.

Thank you, Merry, for wanting the same things I want from a set of True Blood GIFs. Also—man I hate this so much—the skin isn't credited just because I made a few changes. The original is by =winnietehpoohie.

I'm not sorry for this. I'll have you know my imagination is just fine :stare: Although fine I toned down things just a little. You know I love you.
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:iconchiikabeats:
To understand what a character means to a person, you have to be an artistic writer yourself. There are several types of writing styles, and creative or artistic writing falls under this. For an author to try and get their work published, one of the very few things they have holding their hopes up, is their characters. They understand you just as well as you understand them, because they are literally a part of you. They come from your heart and your imagination, be it based on your own personal struggles, a person you with you could be come, or simply just a design that has been drifting around in your head for a while. While I partially agree with what you're saying, it also sounds to me like you're saying a good story cannot be produced if the author is attached to their characters. Which I disagree with. Being attached to your characters allows for an even better piece of work, because you become more involved with your characters. You know their personalities like the back of your hand, and you understand whether of not they would or wouldn't do certain things. Characters do not exist physically, but they do exist in the hearts of those who create them. I this makes sense :)
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:icontrainx3000:
Critique by trainx3000 Dec 3, 2012, 9:03:53 PM
As an engineer, I understand what you mean when you say you must completely detach yourself emotionally from a project to make it truly great. The nice part about my job is that that's easy to do. There's hardly anything to feel in how much stress a block of concrete can take, and that is partially why we are so good at using those blocks of concrete in various applications. With art, it's a little messier. I like to believe all artists at least start creating art because a part of them wanted to express the emotions that their right half of their brain was making but couldn't get out on its own (all your speech and logic centers are in your left brain). The principal purpose of the characters they create becomes to exemplify what they feel, not entertain someone else, and so they are given long and winding back stories whose plot is built up around them, not the other way around. Analyzed using purely your left brain, though, we find that all that info about them is somewhat superfluous and since the plot is built around them, it will often either have a conflict that never gets resolved (because they want to continue to express the sadness in that), or one that contains no conflict to begin with (because they want to maintain the current state of affairs), leading to an incredibly boring and unfulfilling story from a reader's perspective. So yes, being emotionally attached to a character might make for a boring story, but it might be the writers only way of showing you what he feels and why. Not all art is meant for the sole enjoyment of others.
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:iconcelvas:
Celvas Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014
I am my characters. To clarify: They are not me. I am them. I create them and shape them by putting myself in their shoes. I feel their emotions as mine, which gives me a better understanding of the character I wish to portray. I am often surprised by what information I get out of this. How they move, gesticulate, their facial expressions, temper, how their voice sounds, frequently used phrases and words, accents. I find out what makes the character tick. BUT... yep, capitals... I never. Ever. EVER... create a character that has no reason to exist inside my story. My focus clearly lies with the characters, but they never get in the way of the story. While I do all this, all this investment into their creation, I regard them as plot devices. It's not just characthers driving the plot, or characters being driven by the plot. The tone of the story depends on how well characters and plot are fused together. It happened once to me that a character's personality got in the way of the plot. I didn't go, "Oh woe is me!" I decided where to chop the arm off and moved on.

Now, the important characters do have this huge invisible backstory, and I feel it is imperative to my stories that I do not talk about it to anyone. It's just one more way for me to define the actions of my characters. Choose how past events shaped them, and more often than not I create past events by how I need a character to be. From backstory to character, from character to backstory. I do not tell anyone, "Annie sliced the cake in circles because reasons and she's a moron anyway." If through Annie's behavior I am unable to show you her personality, then what the hell am I doing here? It's with stories like it's with jokes: They aren't fun anymore when you got to explain them. I want people to draw their own conclusions. They may be starkly different from what I originally had in mind, but as long as it all works it's perfectly fine with me. Go ahead and take from my characters and stories whatever you like. Keep guessing. Keep wondering. Stay hooked.

Well, anyway. You got a point. There are people who go overboard with their affection for their mental products. I won't lie, I'm one of them. I love my characters. Each one. Then they grow up and I gotta let them go. They put some countries between the two of us, maybe a continent, and after a year I'm like, "Oh yeah, that one. Fun times. Anyway, Annie, what the god-forsaken heck are you doing to the cake?"

Zwei!
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I start with the plot, but yeah, I do end up where you are. It's hard to write realistic dialogue if you can't plop into their shoes for a moment.

Hahahaha, but reasons and moronicness are so central to the plot or something ;p Sounds like a good magic trick to me.

:highfive:
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:iconoceanblue-art:
Oceanblue-Art Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013  Student General Artist
I think that there are three types of writers: the upper extreme, people (like me, heh) who have characters that are like their best friends; the lower extreme, people who have an emotional disconnect and see characters as merely the building blocks of the plot; and the middle, people who don't see their characters as their children but aren't completely disconnected. These types of people can write equally good and bad stories; one type is not better than the other. 
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's interesting that you would split writers that way; I go with simply people who start with characters or plot. Of course the end result requires work to be done on both sides: not having an emotional connection to characters doesn't mean they won't be real within the story, and caring about characters doesn't mean undermining the plot for the author's peace of mind.
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:iconrokulie:
rokulie Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2013   Traditional Artist
That's an interesting point of view, but it's got nothing to do with self-esteem. I don't even know how to describe it because I didn't think the concept could be so foreign to another creator. I guess it has something to do with tapping into your intuition?

I've noticed that a lot of people on the nanowrimo forums do this, and I think J.K. Rowling has even admitted to doing this, but I don't remember the exact quote. It had something to do with the possibility of "letting" Harry Potter die. I didn't think it was just something roleplayers did, and you kind of make it sound like only fangirls/fanboys do this--but I bet you're right, it probably is related to them too. Just not solely those people.

I personally start off with characters, and then a universe and storyline sort of morphs around them. Come to think of it, I also prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven ones. If something has poorly written characters, then it's really hard for me to enjoy any other part of the story, because I connect to the story through dynamic and well-written personalities and their relationships with one another. I'm sure everyone's creative process is just different.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No idea :B I mean, I know people who make it work. but they will admit that the problem is them when something comes up, instead of giggling about it and then doing an abrupt about face and bitching about writers block.

Yeah, I know I do plot before characters. But at the end of the day, if they aren't equally strong, you won't have a good story.
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:iconmkgpro:
MKGPro Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012   Digital Artist
Well to be honest, I understand my OCs and characters are NOT REAL. But I still get emotional, I cry and laugh at them and I mean it's good. As much as you seem to not understand that I'd like to explain my reasoning.

I'm not the biggest and baddest person out there but through characters and stuff I can create and do so much, but I can't NOT feel emotions towards the characters. They are in the story, living breathing beings and experience the ammount of emotion we would, what better way to express that than to be emotional yourself.

I get attached to my characters and creations, give them a little life of their own and there's nothing wrong with loving them and being emotional towards them. It's natural and very good.

My only issue with this is that you also state how you don't like it but you don't understand. Which in all cases seems to be a wrong assumption. Before even ranting try to find out more about the subject and understand it.

And I've seen things being thrown around like 'freaks' and 'crazy'. We don't have an emotional or psychological problem, please refrain from that it's rude.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not sure you saw this bit, so allow me to quote myself: "I don't care if you want to say your characters are doing stuff by themselves. But I do care when you say it's all them, not you, and you go completely helpless and don't know what to do. Self-respect, have it."

It's not something I can understand (not the same as comprehend, this is on a more intuitive level of 'just don't get it'), but who am I to even care how a good thing happens?

I agree that freak is not a great word, if you could point it out in the original post I'd like to remove it. Crazy is not appropriate to apply to a mental illness and I don't use it as such, though obviously it could use more context here. If I can think of an equally facetious alternative that I would also use to refer to myself (I do some pretty crazy shit and I don't think that's a bad thing), I'll change it. But, frankly, I don't think it's a bad word. Even if it did relate to mental illness, what's wrong with having one?
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:iconfieldsoffire:
FieldsOfFire Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
I think you're...overreacting. For starters, when I see a lot of people do this, it's with tongue planted firmly in cheek, or with some indication that they in fact know that they're not talking about people who actually exist.

Secondly, when I see people talk about it, it's more a method of getting into character when writing than anything. Not really different from, say, drawing a brainstorm map or stream-of-consciousness writing. The authors who do this that I've seen, tend to think the opposite way you do: characters first, plot second. They determine the path of the story by figuring out what the individual character would be likely to do. In practical terms, I see it as a sort of safeguard against derailing one's own characterization, writing unrealistically neat conclusions, etc. One of the most famous examples of "I don't know how a story's going to end when I write it" is Stephen King, so...well, OK, maybe that's a bad argument against probable insanity, but my point is that it's not just something that 14-year-olds do when RP'ing Hetalia OC's with their friends. It's a tried-and-true tactic that some people find useful, not mass psychosis or a low self-esteem epidemic.

Now, maybe there's the occasional person out there who seriously earnestly thinks their character is a real person and that they talk to them in real life all the time. And you know...I find it hard to begrudge people an active fantasy life. It seems like there's so much else to worry about in the world, and I don't think it's terribly different from using recreational drugs and such in order to cope. I'm not one of those people who thinks that clinical insanity is no more than a colorful personality trait, but I also think it's a bit overkill on your part to say that people who think about writing differently than you have some sort of mental or emotional problem.

Honestly, you sound...way, way more concerned about this than you should be. Just think of it as a technique that some people find helpful but that you don't really understand.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Doesn't make it any less strange to me. And I grew out of the concern. It is really only the people who use their characters as an excuse whom I have a problem with.

"to say that people who think about writing differently than you have some sort of mental or emotional problem." —where did you see this? It wasn't even vaguely my intention. Unless you think "y'all crazy" was meant to be taken seriously, in which case I'll pull it or make the sarcasm clearer.
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:iconfieldsoffire:
FieldsOfFire Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
Oh, don't edit anything on my account. I was more thinking about how you seem to be implying that people aren't willing to take 'responsibility' for their stories, whatever that means, and implying that it's a product of low self-esteem or some sort of psychological need for a scapegoat. That's the impression I got, anyway.

It seems like what you're mostly mad at is bad plotting. Well, there's lots of excuses for that, and lots of them (like this one) can be turned into strengths at the hands of a talented writer. But I don't think there's a connection between getting really emotionally involved with your characters and poor writing.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Some people actually don't. And the former was definitely implied (and I hear that is the case sometimes, hmm), though I'm still going to poke through and see if the latter comes out more than intended. Seems like a valid possible reading, even if it's not something I intended.

I think there's a connection between losing sight of everything but your characters and poor writing. I mean, there's being emotionally involved, and then there's forgetting you're writing a story for other people. (A better title for this would be 'your characters aren't real to your readers.')

Thanks!
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:iconofonesoul:
OfOneSoul Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I am the exact same way about beginning a story. It's all about what's going to happen... not who it's happening to. When I was a teenager... sure, I wrote around the characters I created. Original Characters were cool and were my dirty obsession... :paranoid:

Now, however... when I'm seeking to make writing a career - I can't afford to work that way. I will admit that I'm finding a hard time making my characters 3-Dimensional. Still, it's a skill that is earned, and I am sure I will eventually perfect. :love: Great rant. :tighthug:
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:giggle: I mean, you could totally do the latter if you remembered to make adjustments when the story needed it. Likewise with plot!

Thank youuuuuu.
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:iconofonesoul:
OfOneSoul Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome, darling! :smooch:
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:love:
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:iconflyaway-555:
FlyAway-555 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Haha I really enjoyed reading this. Great work. it was really easy to understand, and I could see exactly where you were coming from, however, you were a little repetitive at time, but that could just be you stressing your points.
Def worth the share, though. :)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks :iconrlyplz: and yes, the repetition is on purpose.
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:iconflyaway-555:
FlyAway-555 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love your avatar, it looks so yummy! :D (Yep, that was all I wanted to add)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:fear: I'm not food!
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:iconflyaway-555:
FlyAway-555 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Famous last words said while facing a clan of cannibals.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
D:
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:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
There is never enough Eric.

I never understood the whole real life character thing all that well either, honestly. It is why I have to do writing exercises to get into the "voice" of my characters for longer works. Then I have to constantly refer to those exercises if I feel like I'm slipping too far out of character. :B

Here's the thing about writing good characters. Read psychology books. Seriously, a few chapters on Freud and Jung (or whichever thinkers are prevalent in your society) and you should have absolutely NO trouble coming up with perfectly believable complex characters because most humans from the same culture draw from the same subset of inner dynamics. It is learned behavior. All you need to do to write a good character is translate those traits onto paper. It helps, therefore, to know what those traits are, how they work, and how people generally respond to them. :)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I can get into character, but it's not that person to me, it's that amalgamation of traits. They don't come off the page, but I fit into it for a while.

Okay, too much Freud and you'll rip off Aeschylus (right?) :p that's a good point though. My background is in neurobiology and it helps.
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:iconplantress:
Plantress Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Student Writer
I know my characters aren't real. I know that the plot is dependent on me and the decisions I make with it fall squarely on my shoulders. If I write myself into a corner, that is my fault. If I come up with a good direction for a story then it's something I can be proud of. The characters, and the actions they take, are things I control.

I still joke with my friends about the characters bossing me around. 'Character A is being stubborn/stupid/annoying' is just our shorthand for having a difficult time with that character or a particular scene. 'Character B just wen off on his own and derailed the whole plot!' is usually something I use when the plot takes a turn that I hadn't anticipated but makes sense with the way I had the characters reacting in the story. Either I just decide to go with the flow, or I go back, erase something, and get my plot back on track depending on what the story demands. Most of my friends use the same sort of wording when we start talking about writing. We aren't being serious about it, and most of the people I know would react with alarm if someone really did think a character they had created was real. I honestly don't see what's wrong with having a little fun at your own expense, with characters you created.

I also don't see what's wrong about feeling emotional about a scene that you're writing that is going to be a heavy emotional scene in the story? Getting into a particular scene is very important to me and I do feel sad when I write a sad scene happening to a main character, or slightly spooked when I'm trying to writing a frightening scene. For me, it really help set the tone for how I'm going to get the scene going.

Maybe our different views just have to do with our different creative processes? I know for me, all my original works start with the characters first, and the story I want to tell with them, before I step back to fully develop the world they inhabit.
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:iconangelicempyress:
AngelicEmpyress Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
i am EXACTLY the same way :D
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't see anything wrong with what you've described ;) (Although I'm, okay, fine kind of incapable of getting that emotionally caught up in my own stuff. But I'm not that emotional.)

The problem I'm having is people who cannot accept that 1) they're awesome writers and can make easy writing, and they should go ahead and take credit for that! and 2) people who honest-to-god(s) cannot accept that the problem isn't their 'characters' refusing to cooperate, it's the way they're writing it.

But, like I said, I see the fun of wanting to be like 'those sneaky bastards! I KILL THEM ALL MUAHAHA.'
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I can see the appeal of thinking of characters as friends. Not real people, but something you can draw comfort from. Oddly enough I do this more now than I did when I started writing as a teenager. Escapism has always appealed to me, so maybe I’m just seeking it in new ways as the years pass. Much of it is a response to stress or boredom, and is never intended to be included in my writing projects. I don’t think I’ve ever phrased a rough patch of writing as “the character doesn’t want to cooperate,” but I do talk to them on occasion. Not sure where that fits on the weirdness scale. =p

One point I strongly agree with is establishing context. I try to look at a story as having the potential to confuse the reader and try to make sure everything holds up so they don’t have to read my whole gallery to get it.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Ooh. I draw comfort from reading sometimes (or ogling hot, hot men in TV shows yes shh), when I've got a mood associated with a book.

:giggle: Right in the middle?

Yeah. Being like 'don't you looooove this' can make you lose perspective, and FYI I've read about a third of the Wendigo stuff so far and had no problems.
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That’s great to hear. I like using short stories as a way to develop new aspects of a character’s personality, but at the same time I usually try to present each one as if it were the first time the reader were encountering that character.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:nod: It's working! That said, I wonder if someone who read the whole collection would end up skimming the bits where you get into what he is over time. But, eh, they like it enough to follow it anyway :P
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I can see how that’s a bit messy depending on the way you read it. I figure if I ever string them together they’ll get edited down a bit.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oooh. Is there an overall narrative pushing forward? I didn't see that much, although I've seen episodes where you see different sides of his personality and different times.
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It’s pretty meandering. It started out with a one-shot short story and I never planned on using the character again, so I kind of keep developing him as I go with each story. The timeline I chose to write in jumps all over the place, and some of the older stories will have details I have since changed. I do know where the story will go if I ever push myself to reach that point, but at the moment I lack the discipline to stick with long plot arcs. :XD:
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, word.

I hear NaNo is useful for that kind of thing?
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(1 Reply)
:icongoldfish-in-space:
Goldfish-In-Space Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012   Writer
I agree with a lot of points in this 'rant', especially about writers taking responsibility for their story. One thing I have noticed in the writers in my classes who are less confident with narrative, is that they say they are just vehicles for their character's stories. I used to do this, too. When I stopped is hard to pin down, but as my confidence grew I was less and less likely to hide behind it. Now I tend to agree that this is not taking responsibility for your writing and it's success or failures.

I can't agree with either perspective here... I want my characters to be able to come across as real people, because that's what makes them believable. They need to be complex and have conflicts and motives that make sense with their personalities. For me the narrative grows around the characters. They inform the voice of the story, and how the conflict will manifest. A nine year old girl would have very different actions than a full grown, warrior woman would, even in the same situation, and each would have their own unique ways of dealing with their challenges. Character is an integral building block of narrative, and for me part of the magic of it is knowing them well enough for their actions to be autonomous of my actual consciousness. Not on a giant scale, but dialogue, details and smaller choices in the piece.

I've never given them the option of just opting out of a conflict. I don't know them on that level; we're not personal friends, and they can't back down because I know they're uncomfortable. I think when people say that their characters 'just didn't want to" they are projecting their own discomfort with writing a certain scene. That's author intervention and has nothing to do with the actual lives of the characters. Most people involved in stressful situations don't want to, but that means nothing. Life keeps happening around them, and being able to opt out and everything being fine is not good storytelling. Whatever existence my characters have, it is within their own world and I can't halt all the movement in their lives because "they don't want to".

Are my characters alive? Kind of... but that doesn't mean they can opt out of the lives their stories take place in. That doesn't have anything to do with them being 'real' or not. It has a lot more to do with an author not being willing to do what the story calls for.

Well, there's my own rant on the subject. I've been kind of bad for that, lately.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:iconlovely-plz:

Hm, so it is a self-esteem thing? Cool.

You don't have to start with character, but I know most people enjoy it. Or don't see it as natural to try another way. I mean, I love jerking characters around, but I think of it from the stance of 'is the reader having fun' more than 'fuck youuuuuuu'

Sounds like you've found a good balance for where to be with this.

Pff, was not a rant! No one got flamed.
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:icongoldfish-in-space:
Goldfish-In-Space Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012   Writer
I don't know if it has to be a self esteem thing, but that's usually what it looks like.

This is also where I realize that I have taken "Murder your Darlings" out of the quotes in my comment signature. I don't remember why I did that, because it sums up my relationship to my characters nicely. I can like them, but if they're going to die, then they're going to die. A narrative needs to be interesting and worth reading, and that can't happen if the worst thing your characters encounter is an empty jar of jam (what will they put on their toast now?!?!).

So far I've been choosing to believe that no one has been flamed because the DA lit people participating in this discussion are all awesome, rational adults willing to deal with other awesome, rational adults who may or may not agree with them in all cases.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Whooo knows.

Haha, awesome. Put it back!

But the adults don't need advice :nuu:
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:icongoldfish-in-space:
Goldfish-In-Space Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012   Writer
Maybe we should consider it a form of idea-sharing, then.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I like it.
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:iconerinm31:
ErinM31 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012
I reject your reality and substitute my own! :ignore:

While I have to agree that the type of examples you gave are rather ridiculous, I do get how characters seem increasingly real as you write their story. I love and write for those moments when I discover something about my characters as I am writing a scene! =D
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:giggle: Seriously, I would love to try this on. It sounds fuuuun.
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:iconamasteria:
Amasteria Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I completely agree with you. I have several friends who talk like their characters are real. They will be talking then do something, like laugh randomly, then say "Oh sorry. That was _______." It has gotten to the point that I don't really talk to them anymore. They have turned super creepy and annoying about it. The biggest problem is is that every time I talk to them, they only want to talk about their characters, and if I ask for advice on mine they just sort of ignore me then go back to the whole "_______ just threw a fish at ______." I simply don't know how to take them, it is a really weird situation that actually had me thinking there was something mentally wrong with them all.

These same people, there are five or six I think, are writing a huge multi-volume multi-plot mind maze. Last time I checked they had over 200 characters for this behemoth. Each story intersects with the others at random points (if you read manga, think Clamp on steroids.)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Man, that's just kind of mean to you. :/ New friends time? They come off as completely self-absorbed. Like if 'Bridge to Terabithia' were a morality story about taking your fictional world too far....
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:iconamasteria:
Amasteria Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Meh. I don't even bother with them. After the one tried to say that my one character wasn't "anatomically correct" I started to distance myself.

Top one is mine. She was saying the legs are wrong. She has no claim to this character at all.....

[link]
vs.
[link]
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
They're whatever you want them to be, right?

Classy :/
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:iconamasteria:
Amasteria Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Ya. I never understood her logic....I watched her "fix" the character, but in my mind I was like "Wait...Alexis is of a race I created...How could a made up race be....Oh My God she turned Alexis into a guy!"
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:lol: And that's the point where you go do whatever you want with your stuff.
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:iconamasteria:
Amasteria Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Exactly.
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