WritersBeat.com

WritersBeat.com (http://forums.writersbeat.com/index.php)
-   Tips & Advice (http://forums.writersbeat.com/forumdisplay.php?f=20)
-   -   what defines a good character cast? (http://forums.writersbeat.com/showthread.php?t=57506)

Motley Crew 07-28-2015 05:58 PM

what defines a good character cast?
 
I am well aware each writer will have a different answer. I believe personaly the characters I enjoy writing for the most are the ones whose actions I can't predict making the story more compelling to write. I saw another piece called baby robots, forgive my lack of italics and capitolization. These early hybrid models of the com-typer are QUITE tempermental! But baby robots is a fairly good example of the type of stories I am associated with. Mine are primarily for television however. So do you prefer characters who pull the whool over your eyes on occassion? Or the characters who are simple minded computerized algirythms that the writer supplies with little choice as to what the outcommes are trapped in their little four walled room of unlimmitted size? Hope this peeked your curiosity. But I've gotta go. My breathing apparatus sprung a leak!!

Motley Crew 07-29-2015 02:54 PM

I realize I'm a newbie to this site. However given how MANY posted to rules of sci-fi and multi-racial characters I expected THIS thread to be hopping! There were a couple other aspects of this site that I want to take a look at. So I probably won't check this thread, today. I also only have one hour until I'll be able to interface with the humble telescope. I thought about using Kepler. But he was too arrogant!

Mike C 07-30-2015 07:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Motley Crew (Post 702165)
So do you prefer characters who pull the whool over your eyes on occassion? Or the characters who are simple minded computerized algirythms...?

Loaded questions never pique my curiosity.

Good characters are 3 dimensional people who behave in believable ways even when acting irrationally. They will make me believe they existed before the story began and will continue to exist after I've finished reading.

Motley Crew 07-30-2015 10:59 AM

That is essentially what I was trying to say. I believe the term 'writer' does not describe this profession to justice. When the characters exist before and after a story in my personal experience it's because the role I fill is historian. The person whose job it is to do a biography on these characters so that they'll get out of my head and give me some peace. Also who is Je Suis Charlie? Part of his name seems to be from a race I've met. Charlie seems like a Saxophone name. But I've never met a Saxophone with a last name of Charlie. Or is Charlie what your C stands for?

Motley Crew 08-10-2015 10:57 PM

Only one person on the whole site even has an opinion! Must be a stumper question!!!

Cloverish 08-12-2015 07:27 AM

I don't really get the full of the question... Flat characters aren't exicting. Readers don't like flat characters. No one likes flat characters unless they are secandary, playing a minor personality to build on the others. Unless it's for the genre. The obviously stereotyped players of the game. The snotty rich kid, the preppy cheerleader, all those. If they are the MC then making them at first come off as one sided is great characterization for later when you do finally go deeper than the outer line.

So... Characterization is a must, and if a writer employs that then their Character won't be flat. And being flat is characterization in its own.

What I think is a harder thing to do and learn and answer is whether your character react to their enviroment, or actively engage it. It's even hard to define. I read it once and the words stuck with me.

Mike C 08-13-2015 09:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Motley Crew (Post 702370)
I believe the term 'writer' does not describe this profession to justice. When the characters exist before and after a story in my personal experience it's because the role I fill is historian.

Writer does the trick just fine. Anything else is just self-aggrandisement and pompousness.

Redlorry 08-14-2015 02:47 AM

If the reader can engage with you characters then you're going in the right direction. It doesn't matter if they love them or hate them, as long as they feel something.

Bland, two-dimensional characters make for a pointless reading. If the reader is indifferent to their joy and their pain you might as well give up. Fictional characters have reach out from the page and unapologetically grab the reader by the throat!

And like Mike said, the best of them will stay with you long, long after you're done reading their story.

Gaines 08-14-2015 11:39 AM

Well written characters should evoke an emotion, whatever it is, in the reader. Unless he is that crew member of the Starship Enterprise wearing the odd colored shirt. We already know that when he gets beamed to a planet with the main characters he is dead meat. We feel nothing for him.

FallenShandeh 08-17-2015 04:32 AM

Something I consider important and which I haven't seen mentioned (because people seem to be addressing singular characters, not the cast as a whole) is diversity. Not necessarily racial diversity, or other forms of diversity we consider (such as representation of LGBT+ persons), but a range of different characters who think, speak, and act differently.

A trap that a lot of newer writers get sucked into is always writing the same characters, who all feel much the same and react in the same manner to the same things. Humans are all different to one another and that must be reflected in the cast of characters if the author wishes to keep the reader interested.

Mike C 08-17-2015 05:34 AM

Interesting point, Fallen, to which I have mixed feelings:

Yes, your cast of characters should be as diverse as the real world is, but not if it means inserting token lesbians, cross-dressers, etc.

The bottom line is that people like characters they can identify with. So while it's right and proper that your MC might have a gay friend, have a comical encounter with a transsexual (and who aongst us here hasn't!), if you want maximum readership the likelihood is that your MC will be white, average, and non-diverse.

FallenShandeh 08-17-2015 06:38 AM

That's not exactly what I meant. I meant diverse personalities. It's not okay to have a token gay, or a token trans, or a token person of colour. Having a character who happens to be a PoC or happens to be LGBT+ but is not solely there to be that is okay.

What I meant, though, is not to fall into the trap of writing the same character copied and pasted to fill all the roles. For example, my MC's appearance is likely never to be mentioned (because I write him first person and he's not a narcissist) so he could be anything, but I see him as about 5'10 (medieval fantasy, he's stupidly tall for the time period), black haired and blue eyed, with fair skin. His sexuality doesn't matter because this story isn't a romance, though there will most likely end up being romantic sub-plots (I see him as straight though). What's interesting about him is WHO he is, not WHAT he is. He's new but he's already proving to be quite a complicated fellow and I'm really enjoying writing him.

My MC in another story is a 6'3 supersoldier. She's got dark skin and she's a lesbian but those two points are unimportant to the story and her involvement in it. Again, what's interesting about her is her personality. She's certifiably insane, partly due to her traumatic past and partly because she just is.

Another character I have is a redheaded Irishman (stereotypical I know!) who is entirely different in personality again.

Be diverse in WHO they are, not just WHAT they are, and you have a successful cast.

Motley Crew 08-21-2015 10:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FallenShandeh (Post 704574)
That's not exactly what I meant. I meant diverse personalities. It's not okay to have a token gay, or a token trans, or a token person of colour. Having a character who happens to be a PoC or happens to be LGBT+ but is not solely there to be that is okay.

What I meant, though, is not to fall into the trap of writing the same character copied and pasted to fill all the roles. For example, my MC's appearance is likely never to be mentioned (because I write him first person and he's not a narcissist) so he could be anything, but I see him as about 5'10 (medieval fantasy, he's stupidly tall for the time period), black haired and blue eyed, with fair skin. His sexuality doesn't matter because this story isn't a romance, though there will most likely end up being romantic sub-plots (I see him as straight though). What's interesting about him is WHO he is, not WHAT he is. He's new but he's already proving to be quite a complicated fellow and I'm really enjoying writing him.

My MC in another story is a 6'3 supersoldier. She's got dark skin and she's a lesbian but those two points are unimportant to the story and her involvement in it. Again, what's interesting about her is her personality. She's certifiably insane, partly due to her traumatic past and partly because she just is.

Another character I have is a redheaded Irishman (stereotypical I know!) who is entirely different in personality again.

Be diverse in WHO they are, not just WHAT they are, and you have a successful cast.

Exactly!!! The last line, especially! I personally can't write for a homosexual but can write for both genders, with romantic interest in each. Is that kind of the same thing? But the diversity is what I was waiting for someone else to point out. Especially in sci-fi. Having most of the aliens having sterio-typically American personalities, or even just European doesn't cut it! And I agree with your 'token' remarks as well. I have characters that fit sterio-types because of who they are. Not who they're designed to be. I also have characters that challenge sterio-types. And that's the point I was trying to make. The author must be able to incorporate the villain the hero, the coward the child the show-off wanna be and the wisest person alive as well as any character referenced who's none of the above. Also your avatar art is surprisingly eye-catching. Did you make it yourself?

The Motley Crew.

FallenShandeh 08-21-2015 04:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Motley Crew (Post 705064)
I personally can't write for a homosexual

I find this interesting because all sexualities are just people. The trap people fall into is TRYING to write a character to be flamboyantly gay, when in fact out of all the gay people I know (which is quite a few, because I'm part of the LGBT+ community myself) only one of them is "fabulous" - the rest, you wouldn't know were gay until you saw them with their partners. Sexuality does not define a person.

If you write a character who is a person, and just happens to be LGBT, your character will feel much more authentic, and will not offend anybody (except maybe bigots).


Quote:

Originally Posted by Motley Crew (Post 705064)
Also your avatar art is surprisingly eye-catching. Did you make it yourself?

Thank you! :) I did indeed. I heavily referenced the drawing from another artwork by an artist I greatly admire (no, not traced, not beyond basic shapes at least) but made it my own, to fit a character who may or may not appear in my novel. His name is Japhrimel, and he's half demon, half elf. But he's that massive cliche of "good guy despite being fathered by the most evil creature in existence" and takes it to such an extreme that he's Lucifer's own son... but is a demon-hunter. So I'm tempted to have him appear briefly as a side character, instead of giving him any significant role.

Motley Crew 08-22-2015 10:57 AM

Firstly forgive my clumsiness I'm posting from a phone!
Quote:

Originally Posted by FallenShandeh (Post 705088)
I find this interesting because all sexualities are just people. The trap people fall into is TRYING to write a character to be flamboyantly gay, when in fact out of all the gay people I know (which is quite a few, because I'm part of the LGBT+ community myself) only one of them is "fabulous" - the rest, you wouldn't know were gay until you saw them with their partners. Sexuality does not define a person.

If you write a character who is a person, and just happens to be LGBT, your character will feel much more authentic, and will not offend anybody (except maybe bigots).

I agree upon reading this. I had been thinking along the lines of getting deep within the character's head. However there is no way being male that I can experience pregnancy anymore than I can having a sexual orientation not my own. And your post reminded me that I had contemplated adding a homosexual character to an in progress season/novel I'm working on. I got writer's block on the whole concept early on because an actor I wanted to use died and while I was trying to figure out what to do about it, I got sidetracked onto other ideas that only used unknown actors. But I think after this I'm definitely going to include him, because you're right. People are people. Some of my characters are 'fabulous' as you said and intended as heterosexual! I guess I just needed a good swift kick in the pants in this area. Hope I didn't offend you.


Quote:

Thank you! :) I did indeed. I heavily referenced the drawing from another artwork by an artist I greatly admire (no, not traced, not beyond basic shapes at least) but made it my own, to fit a character who may or may not appear in my novel. His name is Japhrimel, and he's half demon, half elf. But he's that massive cliche of "good guy despite being fathered by the most evil creature in existence" and takes it to such an extreme that he's Lucifer's own son... but is a demon-hunter. So I'm tempted to have him appear briefly as a side character, instead of giving him any significant role.
If he's taken up enough interest to become your avatar I'll tell you from personal experience that intentionally or not... He is going to be a frequently used character be it foreground or background! I made a character specifically so I could use him in one episode. Only like Corporal Maxwell Klinger, he was too much of a character to be a disposable camera character. (Use him once and then no more.) So just have fun. Let the story flow and it should be good!

Hope I forced the quote brackets properly.

Johili Meshuva.

FallenShandeh 08-22-2015 12:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Motley Crew (Post 705153)
Firstly forgive my clumsiness I'm posting from a phone!

I agree upon reading this. I had been thinking along the lines of getting deep within the character's head. However there is no way being male that I can experience pregnancy anymore than I can having a sexual orientation not my own. And your post reminded me that I had contemplated adding a homosexual character to an in progress season/novel I'm working on. I got writer's block on the whole concept early on because an actor I wanted to use died and while I was trying to figure out what to do about it, I got sidetracked onto other ideas that only used unknown actors. But I think after this I'm definitely going to include him, because you're right. People are people. Some of my characters are 'fabulous' as you said and intended as heterosexual! I guess I just needed a good swift kick in the pants in this area. Hope I didn't offend you.

I'm not offended at all :) I believe that education is the solution to all problems. Writing all characters as people, while remembering that diversity both of character and of character's race/orientation, goes a long way towards showing the world as a whole that just because a person is different doesn't mean they aren't equally deserving of respect. Because when it comes down to it, regardless of the things that make us different to one another, there's one thing that makes us all the same - we are all human.

I've been criticised for being so open about my sexuality (bi) and my gender identity (which is fluid) but I don't think keeping who I am locked away is constructive for anyone.

Quote:

If he's taken up enough interest to become your avatar I'll tell you from personal experience that intentionally or not... He is going to be a frequently used character be it foreground or background! I made a character specifically so I could use him in one episode. Only like Corporal Maxwell Klinger, he was too much of a character to be a disposable camera character. (Use him once and then no more.) So just have fun. Let the story flow and it should be good!

Hope I forced the quote brackets properly.

Johili Meshuva.
Japh's a semi-important character in my head, but because he's a walking cliche, I'm not especially eager to put him into the spotlight in my stories. He's likely to be used despite my misgivings but I can't give him a major role.

And yes, your quotes worked properly :)

K.S. Crooks 08-23-2015 06:12 AM

For a cast each character should bring something different to the story. Whether they are good or bad they should think and do things in at least a slightly different manner than the other characters.

calligraphy 08-23-2015 10:40 PM

I'm doing evaluations for Authors now and my biggest pet peeve is planted characters for world view. Bring your world view into the story, certainly...If it is ORGANIC.

All characters can be built, constructed, and then you have to see if they will fly. If they don't, stop forcing them upon us as readers because you dreamt of making YOUR story different.

For me, my characters come out diverse because I grew up in a diverse community. I don't write them to seem "diverse", I grew up in a place as a minority myself.

When they say "Write what you know", what they mean is draw from your own experiences enough that you have a texture of it that doesn't sound like a copy from your recent sitcom.

With a "character cast" these people should tick the way you've seen people in real life tick, first, and then if you want to add a sheen of fiction to them, something completely fiction, then go ahead.

Most of my characters are a blend of people I knew, quirks, things I've seen, personalities I like/dislike. They come to me in all forms, but I reject them hands down if it's too much effort to get them to really jump off the page.

One of the biggest things I've learned recently is every. character. matters.

Ones that YOU didn't think were integral, become so over time, especially in a series.

Motley Crew 08-26-2015 04:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by calligraphy (Post 705258)
I'm doing evaluations for Authors now and my biggest pet peeve is planted characters for world view. Bring your world view into the story, certainly...If it is ORGANIC.

All characters can be built, constructed, and then you have to see if they will fly. If they don't, stop forcing them upon us as readers because you dreamt of making YOUR story different.

For me, my characters come out diverse because I grew up in a diverse community. I don't write them to seem "diverse", I grew up in a place as a minority myself.

When they say "Write what you know", what they mean is draw from your own experiences enough that you have a texture of it that doesn't sound like a copy from your recent sitcom.

With a "character cast" these people should tick the way you've seen people in real life tick, first, and then if you want to add a sheen of fiction to them, something completely fiction, then go ahead.

Most of my characters are a blend of people I knew, quirks, things I've seen, personalities I like/dislike. They come to me in all forms, but I reject them hands down if it's too much effort to get them to really jump off the page.

One of the biggest things I've learned recently is every. character. matters.

Ones that YOU didn't think were integral, become so over time, especially in a series.

I'd have to agree. I definitely have thrown out stories that I started specifically to share my world view. But it wasn't flowing naturally. I don't think the diversity part fits me, though. I got around it by writing primarily about aliens giving me total control over their societies! Well mostly. So there are many ways to portray diversity without it seeming forced. And I agree especially with the last paragraph.

Ensign Piotr Cosov.

Jacobs 10-09-2015 08:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Motley Crew (Post 702165)
what defines a good character cast?

One way is to focus on the primary arc and identify the minimum numbers of characters in the particular story needed to achieve it.

trombone77 05-31-2016 06:08 AM

I'll also throw in one suggestion: get each character involved. This is a little bit easier for a novel, a novel series, or even a short story series. Just make sure that each character of your cast has a day in the limelight. This doesn't mean that if you have seven characters, then you necessarily have to make seven stories, but it does mean that each character should have some time to be the center of the action.

As for a short story, this is a bit harder, but I would focus on trying to keep all the characters doing something and not just have characters who are present by name only.

Going off of the "day in the limelight," I would also plan out a backstory for each character, whether good, tragic, or neutral. You could use the backstories to inform their decisions and actions. It can also be a good way for the audience to get a better idea of your character before or after they do something.

JP_Inkswell 05-31-2016 08:43 AM

Not that I enjoy throwing gasoline on a fire. ( The hell I don't ), but how would any of you write a character that actually is flat, cliché, and two dimensional? There are after all billions of such unfortunates littering the real world.

Unpredictabloo 07-04-2016 08:36 PM

I interpreted the original question to mean what mix of characters is best, assuming all of those characters are already well-rounded and believable. Right? A 3-dimensional character still needs a good cast around it to function.

I'm still trying to figure it out myself... characters with really conflicting personalities always help because they make for easy plot development. Just put them in the same room and something is bound to happen.

Unpredictable characters are fun, but personally I find them hard to work with. I need to know what/why my characters are doing!


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:06 PM.

vBulletin, Copyright © 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.