Character Survey Thread

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Character Survey Thread

Postby Raneth » September 15th, 2011, 8:01:13 am

So, as much as I like writing, I like talking about writing too. I'm sure I'm not the only one, right?

I've been curious for a while about how people approach writing their characters. Some people have just a few characters they write about, other have dozens. I figured I would ask the questions I'm curious about in a little survey, and people could have fun answering it. Especially on a site like this one, I'm interested to see what people's responses are.

So, without further ado, the questions. Note that these all concern original characters.

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?
5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?
6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?


As for my answers...

1. I never base my characters off of myself. I'm just not that interesting. :D

2. I find it much easier to write male characters. Writing females is harder for me, plus I always feel like people judge female characters more harshly.

3. This is a hard one...I do get attached to my characters, but only on a very shallow level. I obviously care if I decide to kill them off or otherwise make them suffer, but it doesn't crush me, and most of the time I see it as potential for growth. (Although there is one character that I'm dreading killing off in one of my other works because I do like him a lot, but it must be done.) My characters are objects, to do with what I will, not people. Their purpose is to entertain me and my readers.

Naturally, though, I do my best to flesh them out as people-but I don't perceive them as such. I don't have character "muses" or anything. I think getting too attached to your own characters can be a writing weakness, as it can increase the chances of creating a Mary Sue, or of adding in some stupid Deus Ex Machina to save them. It also lures people into the trap of perceiving their character a certain way without actually showing it to the audience.

4. I have a really hard time getting attached to other people's characters. It's kind of annoying, too, because enjoyment of a book is affected by my enjoyment of the characters. I can't get attached if the writing is poor or the characters are shallow archetypes. Some people can, and they can salvage a poor story because of it, but I simply can't. I have read books where the character gets raped and tortured at the end and just been like "And I care why?" because the character is a flat archetype throughout the story. Archetypes should be used to help begin the set up of a character, not be the character itself. It's the skeleton that must be fleshed out.

When a character is fully developed, I do get attached, but not to an extreme level. My rule of thumb is that if I care if the character died (either sad or happy about it, in the case of a villain) then I cared enough.

5. I typically come up with the setting first, and the plot and characters grow out of that. Even then, I typically have a plot planned out, and the characters add in the branches of the tree, so to speak-but they don't have any bearing on the ultimate outcome of the story.

6. Most of my characters pop into my head. I don't do much character outlining or anything before a story begins-I write and the characters react to their surroundings with the personality constraints that I set on them, with background put in when it fits. I'm not sure this is the best way to write characters, though-I've been dinged on characterization before by readers of certain works, especially older works. Characterization is not easy for me, especially in first person.

So what about you guys? What thought processes go into making your characters, and how attached do you get?
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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby MadameRed » September 15th, 2011, 5:15:48 pm

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
Not many of them.
I have dozens upon dozens of characters that I've not displayed here, nor do I have any intention of doing so. They're mine, for my own amusement. However, since you bring up keep stories, I'll address my own. Red is somewhat like me, and I'll not lie that I took her name from my very own username. However, this was merely a coincidence. I'd been building Red up in my mind for a long while before I became MadameRed. Red only has a few aspects of my personality, like her fondness of romance and her desire to be closer to creatures than to fellow humans. She also has my eyes, but that's about where the similarities end.

2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
I enjoy writing them both. It's difficult to say which I prefer, because both have their merits. It's easy to write female characters, because I am a female. Men and women think differently, see things differently. This makes it slightly more difficult to get into the head of a man, but I think that challenge makes it fun. I enjoy creating the characters and giving them life through words, whether they're men or women.

3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
Very, depending on how deep I get into them. For example, I'm very attached to Nikko, the male protagonist in my "keep story" (though it's not even a keep story anymore, they don't really stay at Shoal Keep very long). I adore him so much, I'm really pleased with the way he came out. Red's mother, however, I'm not exactly fond off. I didn't put much thought into her, but I just don't care for her much.

I can see it being a problem. There's no way I'd be able to kill certain characters of mine, it would just depress me. Even if it would be great for the plot (which I've thought of doing), I simply couldn't do it.

4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?
It depends. On published novels, I become extremely attached to certain characters. /nudges my Raistlin avatar.

I am also rather fond of Phe's characters. Red and Pheona are described as being good friends.

5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?
This depends on which I create first - the plot, or the characters. After a while, the characters and the plot will build upon each other and it'll all snowball from there. I'm working on an idea in my head, and the base three characters are there. They are, as of now, only gendered. They don't have looks or voices or names. They simply exist. The plot is building around them. Eventually, they will be someones.

Usually, I have a plot first, to be honest. I then create a character that will fit the needs of plot progression. I will give them their strengths and their faults, and I will give them backgrounds and pasts.

6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?
Hm. I never really thought about a 'method'. They usually just flit into my head and plop down grinning at me until I give them form. I guess that method can't work with everyone, though.
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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby Mokarran » September 16th, 2011, 2:13:04 am

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
I'm sure all of my characters have pieces of me in them, but writing is a form of escape--from reality and from myself--so I usually write characters that are nothing like me. There is one that I consciously based off myself, but he was an exception.

2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
Male. Not sure why, exactly. I can write female characters and I like the ones that I have created, but most of them are male.

3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
I can get pretty attached, but not to the point where I shield them from bad things in the story. Just the opposite, usually. The more I like them, the more horrible things I do to them. Getting too attached becomes a problem when it interferes with the natural progression of the story.

4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?
I can get very attached to other people's characters. I don't really know why some seem more real to me than others, what it is that makes me connect with them, but if it happens, I get very attached.

5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?
Both. It depends on which comes to me first--the story or the character.

6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?
If the character comes to me first, I'll usually wool-gather or daydream for a while, letting him/her develop in my subconscious. If the story comes first, then I'll sit down and brainstorm what kind of character would make the story the most interesting. I think it works just fine for me.
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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby Kestrad » September 17th, 2011, 7:09:32 pm

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
My magi is vaguely based on me, mainly because I wanted a keep story that was a little bit like a role play. I suppose all the characters I've written have a piece of me in them, but (aside from characters I invented in middle school) most aren't actually based on me.

2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
I prefer writing female characters, probably because most of the books I read featured female protagonists, and so my first forays into writing also involved female characters. I can and will write male characters too; I just like female characters more.

3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
It's been a long time since I've written anything involving my own characters, and what I did write about them was quite short. So I can't really say how attached I get. If I wrote enough with them, I probably would get pretty attached. But I don't think I'd have a problem with subjecting them to bad situations or killing them off, either.

4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?
Depends. Is the story well written? If so, you bet I will be attached. The better the story is at drawing me in, the more attached I will be. You also need to give me something for me to sympathize with. Some aspect that makes me feel that the character is interesting. Perhaps that there's more to him/her than just what we're seeing. Also, I write fanfiction, and I've gotten quite attached to the characters I write most often. The more I know about them, the more fascinated I've become.

5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?
Also depends. Right now I'm only generating Hetalia fanfiction, so a lot of the time I don't come up with the plot myself--it comes from the prompts that people give. When I am writing without a prompt, though, it does tend to be writing a story to fit my characters. But Hetalia characters, particularly the ones I write, aren't very fully developed, so I have lots and lots of leeway to add my own interpretation. So the story and the characters kind of come to fit each other.

6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?
I came up with the characters I use most seriously for an OCT audition. A good character description sheet to fill out is really nice for making you flesh out your characters' attributes and personality.

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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby anyanka » September 18th, 2011, 6:00:19 pm

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
I usually base them off how I want to be, or how I don't want to be (if I'm writing about the villain XD)
2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
Females, because I can relate to them better than I can with males.
3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
I'm only attached to one of them, but that's because she's my alter ego, so to speak XD And getting too attached really isn't a problem for me, since then I can relate with them better, thus developing them.
4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?
That depends on the character :tard: There's some I can't stand, and some I wish existed RL.
5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?
The first option.
6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?
I usually create one character, and then the other ones, based on what he/she needs. Like, they need an ex-friend? No prob, give them an ex-friend!

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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby Twiggy » September 19th, 2011, 12:16:53 am

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
Hm.. come to think of it other then a personality quirk or even a common thought that we both share theres not much there that me and all my people have in common.
2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
I love writing male characters and I have a feeling that I can create as well as control them much better than a female even if I am a girl in real life. I'm not sure how this all happened but I guess it has something to do with the fact I'm a tom boy and I have issues just trying to figure out other girls.
3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
I say theres a healthy attachment to me and my people. (Though there might be an issue if I keep calling them people instead of characters.) I let them run around free when I'm working with them but the most problems I have with being too attached is that with a few I have a tendency to act out certain parts of their lives. Most of the time its un savory parts such as beatings and the wars that they have seen sometimes just pure loneliness they suffer from. Now I know that that for a fact isn't good since it feels real at times.
4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?To others?? Hm well not too attached, yeah I'll get up set and cry some if they die but I'm not going to stop reading their story.
5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?I would say that its both of them depending on my mood. But if I come up with a random idea and I can't record it the story does get based around the character rather than the story.
6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method? Day dreams, I tend to come up with good people that way. Most of the time I think of whats going on and then I pick who ever sounds the funnest to write about.
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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby winterkitten » September 19th, 2011, 8:31:38 am

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
I do write but I hardly show any of it here, and I don't have a "Keep Story"- I do have a few characters based off me, but they're pretty boring since I am a pretty boring person as well. Sooner or later I deviated towards other characters.

2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
Generally female characters, because I'm a female and it would be easier to write- but it really depends on the personality of the character. For example, I would prefer writing about a normal-ish boy than a girl gone into depression or mental instability after a particularly traumatic event in her life because I don't have experience with traumatic events and writing about the girl would be much more difficult for me in this case.

3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
It depends on the character, but I can get extremely attached to my characters. I'm more likely be able to write about my favorite character than one I hardly know, and I'll enjoy it more too.
Of course, there are problems that come with being too attached- having to kill them off would be a problem. I've avoided having to kill any of my favorite characters so far, but there have been near misses. :P

4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?
Again, it depends; but I can get very attached as well. I write fanfiction, and some of the canon characters fascinate me- but most of the time I'd get attacted to characters that I can sympathize with. The story they're in should be well written too- that's a given, really.
Once a fellow RPer in a roleplay on another site would be away for a while and gave me permission to RP one of his characters. When he couldn't find time to come back on even past the date he said he would be back, I started using his character even more than my usual ones XP The other RPer eventually decided to drop out. Bascally I've adopted that character now, with everyone's agreement. That's how attached I can get.

5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?
Both. Usually it's a mixture- as the plot goes on I add more to each character, and as each character develops I fashion the plot according to how they'd react to their current situation. They affect each other. I don't think you can do one without doing the other, but that's my opinion.

6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?
Um, I wing it. Most of my characters I think up of on the spot when I need them; and as the story goes on I add more to their character. XP
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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby Piney » September 20th, 2011, 11:00:34 pm

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."

I base characters off aspects of my personality. Someone might be shy like me, or smart like me, or 'average' like me. I don't think I have a character that's full-blown me though. I usually build their personality up from that one aspect to make someone that's different than me. I don't tend to write characters that are too unrealistic or outside my comfort level. Like I don't enjoy writing characters that are twisted, sick in the mind, and torture for pleasure, because I feel sorry for the victim and end up toning it down and if I do that what's the point?

2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?

I prefer female characters though I'm comfortable writing male characters too. When I write male characters I sometimes worry that I'm making him too feminine or he doesn't act like a guy, because like I said above I put aspects of me in my characters sometimes. And probably for this reason my male characters fall flat though I'm trying to improve on it. With female characters I just have to worry if the personality is realistic for a human and not if it's ok for the gender. I know that there's probably no difference between guys and girls but I guess it's my subconscious.

3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?

I get attached very easily. Since each of my characters have a little bit of me I can relate to them a lot easier. I don't think it gets in the way, since I can still do terrible things and not-so-terrible things to them. I haven't killed off a character yet because my stories don't get that far but I'm open to the possibility if it would advance the story in a good way. Getting attached might be a good thing actually because you can write the character easier when you're that in sync with them.

4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?

Not very. It depends on the story and the quality but I only usually get attached when something bad happens and I'm like 'baaaaaw'.

5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?

I make a story first then create characters to fit it. I usually make stronger stories than characters so if I do it the other way around my stories will probably fall flat. And honestly making the story fit the character might make the character more of a Mary Sue or make the story pull deus ex machinas out of no where or something.

6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?

Well I think about the background first. The background should tie into the story. And then I make a personality from the background, since past experiences usually dictates what sort of actions a character takes and such. I usually put a character in a situation (social, battle, family, etc) and try to figure out how they'd react, and that becomes a part of their personality. Also, I try to give reasons why they act like they do. Why they're on this certain quest or something. The last thing I think about is their appearance. I think most of my characters don't have solid appearances since I change my mind often about it anyways.
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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby starpokewars » September 22nd, 2011, 7:45:40 am

1. Although I try to avoid self inserts unless it's a story like a keep story I do enjoy using a character like myself.
2. Male characters. I'm male and I hang out with a lot more males. But loud mouthed females are really really fun to write.
3. Typically I don't get attached to my characters. Writing is like a horror story, the be ready for the best character to die. Being to attached to a character might alter how you want the story to go just because your afraid to have him get his legs blown off while he attempts to save the other character from falling down a mine shaft.
4. Not to attached. If they die, they die.
5. Well after I've come up with a main character who will fit into the genre of the story I have to decide how this plot will start working around them. I suppose it's a mix of the two.
6. First I decide a genre to write in, sometimes it's chosen for me. Then I have to decide if I want a male or female character. After that I just come up with a character who has a pretty even personality. Other characters, like secondary main characters, are typically when I add on the more interesting personality. Never EVER like the main character.
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Re: Character Survey Thread

Postby Padfootsmistress777 » September 22nd, 2011, 12:04:34 pm

1. Are any of your characters based off of you? I notice this a lot with the so called "Keep Stories" where people call their character "my magi."
I don't base any of my characters off myself directly, however I may take one or two traits and exaggerate it here or there to make it a main personality trait.
2. Do you prefer writing male or female characters? Why?
I am comfortable with both, I prefer writing as a female character since I am female, however I often find myself writing from a male perspective about equally...
3. How attached do you get to your own characters? Do you think getting too attached is a problem?
It depends, in RP's I tend to get rather attached to specific characters, and actually have a list of my favorite characters and their information so I can use them whenever I want.
For stories it depends on how long I've been writing, since I tend to fall away from a lot of my stories I don't get as attached to characters, but I have a story I'm writing that's a little over a hundred hand written pages and I'm very attached to those characters.
I actually don't think it's that much of a problem because it gives you a chance to delve deeper into that character, figuring out their personality more, however it can make it difficult to kill the character off if the plot demands it...o.O Not that I've done that yet...*huggles characters* please don't need to die

4. How attached do you get to other people's characters?
It depends on the character, I admit to absolutely loving some other people's characters, and especially in novels I will get upset if something bad happens to a favorite character of mine.
This doesn't often happen if I'm reading something a friend wrote, or another Role Play character, however I have found myself very fond of RPC's before...

5. Do you formulate a story to fit your characters, or do you write characters to fit a story?
It's about 50-50 for me. I've had a character fleshed out and no story to go with them, but I've had story idea and absolutely no idea for a character. I actually tend to find making a character much more difficult than thinking of a plot, especially since you can always edit a plot...I tend to find it difficult to change characters in any major way, often it'll be getting rid of a small personality trait, or exaggerating something, or just mellowing something out and that can often just come through character development and something you can just add into the story as opposed to rewriting the character to fit your new idea...
6. How do you go about making a character? Do you think it's an effective method?
I'll often have a personality in mind, no matter how general, and try to flesh that out. Then I'll try and think of a name to fit that personality, even if the name doesn't *mean* anything in terms of the character, it has to fit. I wouldn't name a moody loner who prefers to spend time by herself "Abigail"... Appearances and how I think the character would look usually come last, and I tend to not think about background/history until I've started writing just because I never know right off the bat.
It's usually pretty effective for me, others may have different ways of going about things, and I don't always stick to the same formula... I actually usually use a basic "RP" form for personal characters it helps me keep things organized :tard: .
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