My characters have grown along with me, and as my writing voice has evolved, so have they. I'm terribly fond of them, seeing as I've had them for about 7 or so years. Still, while I'm not one to go mass-genocide on characters, I'm not afraid to pop one off if the situation calls for it.
"Everyone and everything has a time to die." - Terciel, Abhorsen preceding Sabriel, Garth Nix's Sabriel
I think knowing the character too well is one of the downs of taking a really long time in planning. Then you have to force yourself to have them be ragged and rough around the edges at the beginning when you start writing, even though in your mind you've smoothed out all the problems already.
Precisely. So, whenI think up a character at first, I only do it on purpose to know the absolute minimum about them. Check out my latest story, for example. There is a bit of info on a new character. As my stories will move on, that new character has potential to develop.
As long as you can recognize their usefulness and how to utilize them it shouldn't matter if you are or aren't that attached I don't think. As long as you don't go George Lucas style and get super attached to some Jar Jar Binks son of a _.
I love all my characters, even the misunderstood ones.
Not really. Some of them I hate, some of them I love, some of them are just there, and I don't care either way about them. They all feel like real people to me, though. You might be scared if you knew how much I meant that.
See, that's the thing. I don't really hate my characters. Some I like more than others, but I don't outright hate some. That was probably the wrong word to use in the OP, eh? How could you hate a character that you created? It's like, hating your kid. And you created the character to be like that, so why not like them?
Oh yes. If my characters suddenly became real people I would not be surprised.
But you know, some people do hate their kids! I hate very very few of them, but there's this one girl who's acting like a friend and helping, but she's really reporting to their enemy, and nearly gets all of them killed more than once. I can't do anything but hate her.
Neither would I. It would be a little weird and SOMEONE would get hurt along the way, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Oh, I'm very attached to my characters because I have stuck with them with many years. I've watched them grow, develop, and deal with their own problems. Now, I am seeing the double edged sword of that. My main protagonist is now spiraling into insanity and has terrible, millennia old data in his head that will help save thousands of worlds, but will destroy him if he doesn't get it out.
I'm attached because in watching them grow from late childhood/early adulthood to their current ages (Main character has aged 5 years during the stories so far), they're kind of like my kids in a way, and I hope I can follow them until at the end, they do lay down for some rest one last time, whether it's on the battlefield, or in their beds. Either way, it'll be one hell of a ride.
I completely agree. For some of my characters, I know them simply because I feel like I've experienced what they have, and can see what they're going through. I know. It tears me up inside a little when I have to kill one, or have one betray another. You know what I mean?
don't care if i don't personally like them that much, as long as they're crucial to the story and progress it, and work. i only don't like my characters when i realize they can just not be there and the story moves on without em as it would've anyways
I know it sound cliche but I have never actually made a character I regret making...
I think its important to feel some form of attachment to your characters, because you created them. each one is a tiny reflection of yourself, even if the villain is a complete and utter heartless bastard prepared to kill for personal gain. Most of my characters reflect my mind somehow, Reen is my childish side who never wants to let go of the security and lack of fear that comes with immaturity and youth. Charlie is my naive, wanting to do things which I cannot do side. Racour is the courage and determined side I wish would surface in my own reality >.< Even 'Corsair', my villain, is a reflection of myself through my frustration, depression and anger.
In my opinion, being attached give a character more soul and heart, more sense of solidarity and actual existence. If you can put your own attachment into words and write it effectively, each of your characters can be someoneelse's attachment too when they read it.
So yes, I am attached to my characters as they are me?... haha
BUT on the other hand I feel I'm distanced from them. I don't 'want' them to get hurt, or be sad, or lose everything. Neither do I want them to have an easy ride, have everything perfect. The real world doesn't work like that, why should it in this one I have created xD
Even though they are reflections of me, I am not them. Distancing gives you freedom, because In my opinion, once you get close to them, you start to be afraid to do things, take risks with the story. Be in control.
So having taken both sides, I think its important to have both. I couldn't just be a bastard and make them suffer, not giving a toss to my characters and work. But I also couldn't just... let them run rampant with no consequences to their actions because I like them. ^_^ Both are important when equal xD
Yes, I suppose it would be similar to raising a child. (I do not have any, but I work a lot with children as I'm training to be a Primary school teacher ) If you become too attached to a child, give into their demands, reward them for doing nothing in-particular and have them sheltered, they learn nothing. They will not grow to become rounded people. In creative writing terms, they will become "Mary-sue"d xD
Sometimes I find that even killing off a character I personally really like is the best thing. If my readers also like the character, it can add another depth to the story. (PLUS, I like to find ingenius ways to in ways re-introduce/ reincarnate them through a clever, yet subtle plot xD )
Alas, I have seen many a spoiled child. Not a pretty sight.
Bringing characters back works well if done correctly, I find. Sadly, it's not done well very often. Most of the time it just sucks. And it's usually better a while after the character has died, not just a few days. That's my opinion anyways. It gives the readers time to adjust to the story without that person, so it makes more of an impact than if they come back a few pages later.
Characters I invent are, maximally, the equivalent of more or less complex software subsystems that run in my own mind. I suppose I have a few ongoing characters I wish were real, but it's nonsensical to be either close to them or distant from them since all of them exist in my head.
YTcyberpunkFeatured By OwnerNov 25, 2012Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I've read FAR too many novels where it was obvious that the author didn't give a damn about his characters. I'm talking about authors who give their characters one personality trait tops, refuse to tell you what they look like, won't give them ages, and then expect you to give a crap when they "dramatically" kill them off.
I hate Mary Sues as much as the next person, but usually, I'll take an author who spends too much time on characters than too less.
Yes, I see what you mean. It really does show when the person doesn't care about the characters. In my novel I couldn't care less what happens to them, which makes for pretty crappy writing and lots of rewriting.
I can't stand novels where the author pauses to tell us that, by the way, Joe is seventeen years old. Why does it matter?
But ugh, it is awful when they "dramatically" kill off characters. Half the time it's not even someone important (however poorly developed they may be). It's like: "NOOOOOOOOO! That guy from Chapter 2 is dead!!! I spoke to him twice and now I don't know what I'll do without him. Come, people who actually matter to this story. Onwards to the dark land of Dormor! We must avenge Chapter 2 Guy's death!"
On the whole, there are very few characters I've created that I'm not attached to. I'm also an actor, and I'm very much a method actor, so I approach character creation for fiction in the same way as I would for a performance.
Being attached to the characters doesn't get in the way of doing what needs to be done. I'm mean to my characters. I think if they were real, half of them would have beaten me to a bloody pulp. I don't ask "what would character do?" I just push them off the proverbial branch, and see if they fly or die. Often they fly, even if it is clumsily, and in an unorthodox way. Sometimes they die.
It can alter my story though, because I let my characters dictate, to some degree, when the time is right for something to happen. Sometimes they've got too tight a grip on the branch to fall off.
For example, one secondary character right now, a Templar named Jules, is proving harder to plant a seed of doubt in than I originally thought; I think I need to put him through another tough battle before he's ready, he just hasn't been through enough for the suggestion of my main character to not offend his sensibilities. Etienne's ready, he's just waiting for Jules. Again.
That difference in readiness for the next major plot point has already made for a tense little scene between Jules and Etienne, so letting Jules have his way here has been beneficial. It also means I get to write another battle scene or two, which is going to be enjoyable, and I think it will be good for the pacing too, because I've slowed to a crawl in the action in favor of some introspection while they recover from a tough ordeal.
I don't think another battle is going to do Etienne any favors, he's tired enough already, but if it breaks Etienne even more, that's fine by me, it just means he has one fewer proverbial fingers to grip onto the next branch with.
I might even make it real fingers, why not? Thanks for planting that idea by posting this thread.
The desert, somewhere between Jerusalem and Bosra.
Etienne: (Looking up at the sky) Please tell me you jest.
That's a really good way of putting it, I've never thought of it that way before! I just fear that sometimes love for a character might get in the way of the plot, making stuff easier for them and eventually turning them into a Mary Sue. I've never just 'shoved them off a branch' like that. I should, my chars are getting too soft
It's kinda like that with my NaNo novel. I'm writing it as I go, with a rough plot in mind, and adding scenes and events and subplots here and there, going back and editing things so they actually make sense...
You mention you have trouble with cliches and flaws. Rather than slapping flaws, you could try thinking of the character's personality and thinking of how their traits could be strengths or weaknesses in different situations.
E.g. A sweet caring girl who is good at helping her friends with their problems could be considered nosy and intrusive if she's sticking her nose into other people's business and asking them personal questions even if she is trying to help them.
Yes, things like that. I have one character that is blind, which stops him from doing things from fighting to simply going to run some errands. He becomes more stubborn and insists he can take care of himself, making him not a very pleasant person to be around, blah blah blah. Flaws that aren't so much personality based, as more of a real thing that ends up affecting them negatively.
Usually for my characters, I spend months, even years, developing them, which leads to me becoming attached to them. However, I'm not overly attached. They aren't my children or anything. But I do feel that it's good to become attached to them in some way.
It's easier to stay true to the character's personality and character itself if you're familiar with them and their feelings, otherwise, it's a lot harder to stay true to them if you're writing about them.
As for the freedom in writing, it's the creator's own preference. I like to know my own characters better before attempting to write a novel with them, hence why I like making reference sheets for them. But that's just me. :3 Other people may think or feel differently.
Characters are fictional. They don't exist. I am not attached to any of them. They exist in the story to serve a variety of purposes. They do what I need them to, go where I want them to. They die as necessary and live as necessary in the story. And when I'm finished with the story, I rarely think about them again.
I don't think characters are something you should be attached to. They should be created, understood, developed and discarded with a cold, scientific, methodical attitude. I find this is the best way to achieve consistency and write them into and out of any kind of situation I want.
I kind of disagree with that. I feel that the characters are fictional out of definition, true, but a good character, in my opinion, is a real character. Real in the sense that they are believable in their lives and their mannerisms. It isn't so much that the characters *are* real, but that they *could* be real. In my opinion, characters that I can interact and get attached to are vital to having a long term story. To me, Characters move the story along. Events might move the story along too, but characters are vital in moving the characters too.
Of course a common thing that a reader would think in this opinion is if you don't take the characters seriously, why should the reader? People who can relate to the characters, or recognize them of potentially being real people get attached to your story, and will come back to figure out what happens to them. Getting rid of important characters at will basically reminds me of reading a history textbook pretty much. The hero is doing so well, and simply gets blindsided by a bullet or cannonball. Story over, next. This is a very god-like way of viewing a story where the characters only serve the purpose you want them to and you discard them. Cold yes. Harsh maybe. An uncommon ideal that stands out? Oh very much so.
There's a difference between characters being "realistic" and characters being "real". We should try and make characters "realistic" (with some exceptions. Particularly in comedy and parody) as a general rule.
But real? No. My characters are not real. They do not dictate anything on their own. I do not struggle with them or argue with them. They do not bounce around in my head. They are a collection of ideas and words inserted into a narrative.
They are considered, they are developped, they are written and rewritten until they seem "realistic" as a person and they interact with the narrative and the world built around them in a natural seeming way. But they are not my children. I do not get attached to them. Because as realistic as they might be, they are not real and don't have minds of their own.