*sighs* Okay, lemme just go ahead and get all this out so maybe ppl will stop with the flames... my e-mail box is going to explode soon -_-
1) I am aware that making characters should be natural, and not forced, no help article in the world can make someone create wonderful characters, but sometimes even writers who can make characters need advice
2) For the umtenth time. THIS IS NOT A HOW TO GUIDE there is no such thing as a 'how to make wonderful characters'
3) This is what *I* do, not what you HAVE to do to make a good character, this is just some friendly advice
4) I am aware that Rukie is an extreme of uniqueness; that is the point of the article people, why else would it be called Creating Memorable and Unique Characters let's use those brains a little please************
Creating Memorable and Unique Characters
Lestat; Harry Potter; Frodo Baggins. What do all these characters have in common? They're all memorable. Most anyone who reads will know whom at least one of those three is, even if just from watching the movies based on the books. People recognize the names.
How do you make a character like that? How do you make your character(s) stand out against all the millions of other characters? Well, it helps to make them unique, something not seen very often.
For example, one of my popular characters is Rukie; she's an elf fighting against the dark forces. Sounds pretty cliché', huh? Wrong, that sentence barely scratches the surface of Rukie's character. I'm going to use her as an example in this article.
I usually start with appearance on all my characters; maybe I see someone with the most gorgeous black hair I've ever seen and want a character to have hair like that. That's a start, black hair.
Now Rukie has white hair. Where did I get this idea? No, I didn't see granny walking around with her white hair, and think it was cool. I researched. I gave Rukie a unique appearance. She's albino. An albino dark elf. Now we're beginning to scratch the surface; I know albino's hair is a pale golden color. I researched, however, since Rukie is a dark elf, and their hair is usually white, however in MY world their hair is black, and since elves are inhuman, and albinos lack pigment, I gave her white hair. Simple enough. That's one original thing, an albino dark elf.
Her eyes are baby blue with red pupils; once again I know not all albino's have eyes like, but this is fantasy, however, I did keep the fact that albino's generally have bad eyesight and sensitivity to the sun in tact. An almost blind albino dark elf, now, how many of those are walking around?
Now, how many times have you read, 'The tall, graceful elf maiden walked through the forest, her steps light, and silent...' blah, blah. Yes, the usual elf girl, now while having an attractive character is fine, that's not how Rukie is.
Rukie's face is covered in scars, and she's blind in one eye, giving her worse eyesight than even a human; part of her left ear is missing, making her almost deaf in that ear. Her throats been slit so many times, she sounds like an orc. Now how often do you run into that? Okay, so maybe I'm full of it, but I personally have not run across many scarred, and ugly albino dark elves.
Now, let's see a basic profile to start with, I'm not giving you the ten page ones I have written out, though that really does help, if you know your character inside out, that will make them come alive. But let's stick with basics.
Age (appearance wise):
Special Features (tattoos; scars; birthmarks; etc.):
Now that's basic enough, you don't even have to have height and weight, it's not very often to read, 'She was 5'5 and 120 pounds.' and if you do read that, then odds are that writer needs to work on their style, however some writers can put that and it sounds fine, it all depends on the writer.
Now, in my opinion this is where a lot of writers mess up, they forget about things usually not talked about. Your character's beliefs, or morals; their religion, and their phobia, and while it's usually not used, when someone who is terrified of heights reads about a character with a similar fear, they can relate, and keeping your reader related and/or attached to a character is the only way to keep them reading.
Rukie's believes in a whole slew of gods, but she follows the ogre's belief system, worshipping mainly the gods of forge, beer, and war. She has little to no morals, but she does refuse to lower herself to an orc's level by killing for no reason, while she does have a short temper, she very rarely fights, and tends to take her anger out on herself. Now, I'll go into this more in depth later on.
And now for her phobia, it seems quite ridiculous, but she has chionophobia; meaning she's afraid of snow. She's irrational afraid of snow; it seems silly, even stupid, but if you add a past trauma to give them that phobia, it adds to the realness of the character. Rukie was abandoned by her real parents and left alone in a snowstorm, and she's been afraid of it ever since. Now, the phobia makes more sense, and can evoke sympathy from the reader, and that adds to the attachment to a character, which keeps people reading a story late into the night.
A great place to find phobias is
Style. What's your character's style? Are they prim and proper? Grungy? Callous? Naive'? How do they hold themselves, are they confident? Or shy? Do they act open to the world, but keep their arms crossed, signifying they're very defensive, and keeping themselves locked away? This is where you can either soar or crash and burn. This is where knowledge of how people act comes in handy; look up personality types; personality disorders; anything that you think could come in handy.
Make your character come alive. Let them scream out, 'This is me!' Don't leave the reader to guess about whether or not the hero is an airhead or a genius, keep it constant. Giving an 'airhead' a few genius moments is fine, but make it understandable. Now, watching the people around you will help you discover styles of different people. How do they walk, talk, dress, act; smile? Simple things can add all the difference, I have seen stories where a 'punk' is seen giggling, and flipping her hair, that is a big, fat NO, unless they are a poser, never, ever do that. Keep style's constant unless you explain the character's evolving style. Observing people comes in very handy.
Rukie is a cold-hearted child. She never got to grow up, and still thinks a lot like a child, but all her years on anguish have made her sarcastic and cynical, and a pessimist. She prepares for the worst so she won't be disappointed. She's learned not to grow attached to anyone; and is a clever manipulator when it comes down to it; these are common traits among abandoned children as far as I know.
Now, this is where it gets tricky. Making a list of your character's family helps. Now I don't mean make a family tree all the way to their great great great great grand uncle, just their direct family, or any other family member who is significant, and then add reactions. How does the character feel about their family? Are they a close-knit family? Or estranged? Does the character know who their biological family is, or are they adopted. If they are adopted, make out a list for both the biological family, and adopted family. Now, here's an example:
Character Name: Rukie
Biological Father: Sakmi
Relationship: She hates him with a passion; she wants him to suffer as much as possible
Biological Mother: Totry
Relationship: she has no clear memory of her mother, and no attachment or opinion of her
Adopted Mother: Lysander (high elf)
Relationship: Rukie hates her adopted mother as much as her real parents
Adopted Father: Minjonet (high elf)
Relationship: Hates him more than her adopted mother
Adopted Father #2 (this means she was adopted twice, once by the family above and once by this family): Thor
Relationship: He is the dearest person to her, though she is not overly attached or even very attached at all to him, she's respectful, and grateful to him.
Adopted Mother #2: N.A.
Now, see it wasn't THAT bad, now was it? These are little things that can make your character come to life.
The beautiful damsel in distress; the dashing hero saves her. they live happily ever after. No one wants to see that anymore, it's too cliché'. You can put twists into it, but I would stay far away from that topic as possible. Antiheros are popular nowadays, the guy thrown into the battle to save the world, but he just doesn't care about anything other then his smokes. That's an antihero. Now it's getting to the point where antiheros are becoming cliché'. Here are some stereotypes to watch out for
This is the most popular mistake Newbies in character development make. Mary Sue is a term that applies to all those girls who are perfect at everything. For example: Mary Sue walked into the room, she had wavy blonde hair, and dazzling blue eyes, and a perfect body. She was captain of the cheerleading squad; class president; straight A student; volunteer animal shelter worker; star of the basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, track, and chess team; and everybody loved her.' Now, is that a flat character or what? No offence to Mary Sue, but she's too shallow. Stay away from this stereotype, and unless you really know what you're doing, most people hate 'Mary Sues' this also applies for to male characters, though they tend to be anti-heroes.
Now, these are not totally stereotypes yet, but they're close. Gone are the days of knights in shining armor. Everyone wants the cute brooding guy in the corner, who is a trained martial artist; swordsmen; sharp shooter; etc. whose master was killed by someone (who will usually be the villain) only he doesn't know, he thinks it was his fault his master died, and thus ran away from home (sounds like Lion King, huh?)
Anti-heroes can still be extremely effective, in fact, Rukie's an anti- hero, it all depends on characterizing, and giving the character dimension.
Ah, the princess, who runs away from home to prove she can take of herself, OR her family was killed, and she was adopted and doesn't know she's a princess. Either way, somewhere along she meets the main character (most likely an anti-hero who she wins over in the end) or, she is the main character. She is the most powerful source of magical energy in all the universe, because she's the reincarnated goddess/phoenix/priestess/dragon/demon OR she is the freed spirit of a demon so powerful it was sealed away, and thus she ends up in a battle with herself to overcome her 'dark' side, and either:
a) Dies in the process, and all other characters cry; even the
b) Becomes a demon and tries to destroy the world, but the anti-
hero yells, 'I love you!' and she is instantly back to normal, queue
hugging, and kissing, and happily ever after ending
c) She'll overcome the demon and become a hero, and her and the
antihero will live happily ever after.
Unless you are really skilled, stay away from the magical princess
thing. Actually stay away from any character that is the most powerful
magic force in the universe, unless there is a good reason. Like if
you were writing about Greek mythology, making Zeus all powerful would
be understandable, but then again all powerful main characters are no
fun, where's the challenge? So handle this stereotype with caution.
Elves (and other fantasy races)-
Now, here's where things get tricky, because Elvin traits ARE stereotypical. Their race is known for their grace, beauty, and wisdom, so by all means keep those traits! BUT, not all elves act the same; maybe your Elvin character can't fire a bow, but is a master with a sword. Maybe they have a fondness for dwarves, or a fondness for human inventions. Now, I will never go so extreme like I did with Rukie again; it's more trouble than it's worth.
Rukie is an elf without grace, beauty, and a sense of sarcasm so cynical any wisdom she does have, she'd never tell, and she hates other elves. NEVER, EVER will I make a character as extreme as Rukie.
Now, for other fantasy races, most of them have their own traits, trolls are big and stupid; dwarves like mining, and living underground, etc. It's not the traits that make the character it's their actions.
All, and all, extremely unique characters can either be well made or a total disaster, and I was expecting a disaster with Rukie. But for those of you who have commented on Journeys of Sarcasm, it seems Rukie is fairly popular.
Now, first off there is no 'normal' character, those are consider stereotypes, which were listed earlier. To create a more normal character there actually isn't much difference from how to make a unique character and a normal character. But, one of the best ways to make a 'normal' character is to use your beliefs, phobias, etc. That way the character will be 'normal' to you at least, and not the rest of the world.
This is basically the same, but for a more normal character try to stick with hair colors natural to their race (now Japanese people's hair color is not naturally black according to popular animes, so I suppose you can splurge on that ^_~)
Same thing with eye color, nothing wild, unless you want a normal character with some unusual traits, which is the most popular character type I have seen and created. But we're talking about 'normal' characters here. The profile listed earlier works here too.
This is one area where using yourself is a bad idea, most people would prefer to change the appearance of their character so it differs from you, the creator. But it's free choice here.
Okay, now, same thing here as with unique characters, except give them more believable and understood beliefs/Religions/Phobias. I'm not saying go make a character who believes everything everyone believes; that's bordering on stereotypical, give them their own beliefs, just because their normal doesn't mean their character can be two dimensional. Once again, use your own beliefs here if you need/want to.
Now, this is the easiest part to make; what is your style? Are you a punk? Prep? Goth? Alternative? Nerd? (I mean that in a loving way of course, I know I'm a nerd ^_~) Does everyone notice you when you walk through a door? Or does the world seem to forget you exist? Use that! Your character is an extension of yourself; doesn't have to be, but generally is.
The more 'normal' the character the simpler their history usually is, so the family/relationships should be short, and sweet.
Now, I already listed stereotypes, so go back and re-read them if you want. Once again, this is NOT a 'How-To' guide, these are things *I* do, I just put them up to help, and offer advice, so please no more flames. I'm just 15, so stop picking on me L
************Now, I'm going to leave this up for a while, and put up more as I get the time to write. So, any suggestions just post in your review or e- mail me at silverdreams13 and please, no flames, I know I'm not an expert writer, this is just from my experiences ^_~
Oh, and if anyone wants to read about Rukie, check out my Journeys of Sarcasm story, Ciao and happy writing! **********************