characterisation

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Wolfenstein: New Order is probably my favourite first person shooter of the last decade, which is a hugely surprising thing to be able to say about a Wolfenstein game.

There’s a long, nonviolent underwater part in it where BJ Blazkowicz gives some occasional voiceover about times he swam when he was a kid. For whatever reason I super dug it. BJ Blazkowicz is a surprisingly well-characterised lump of meat. Incidental, non-instructional dialogue is one of many, many great things New Order bothers with that shooters rarely do anymore. There’s also a whole lot of voiceover that only gets triggered if you look at a particular environmental detail for a certain amount of time, something you’d think would be common but which I don’t remember seeing much of. Last I recall was probably Half-Life 2.

“Calm breaths. It’s just the moon. Seen it a thousand times.”

Fans making this show solely about the ship dis wrecking the fandom. The show is about so much more than ships; the incredible characterisation, the world building, and the complex relationships. So fans scaling that down to a single ship becoming canon completely takes away meaning from the show. The 100 is so much more than its ships and people need to start recognising it as such.

i think its pretty safe to say that ppl can expect more of these crit posts about starfighter from me in the future

its been over half a year since ive gotten into this fandom and ive mostly just been drawing my way through it. nowadays i dont draw for it so much anymore but while thats happening im finding i have more and more words for it instead

its just that there is a distinct, unjustified difference in the characterisation in the early chapters and what we’re seeing now and i think thats worth talking about

Okay, I’ve made it to the end of season one and I like it!

Yes, there are some ridiculous plot/script/characterisation elements (for audience purposes which I get) but it manages to overcome that with some real heart and some great characters!

I’m fully prepared to board the ship Bellarke soon - I’m hoping by the time I’m caught up maybe something positive will have happened for them? Cos he’s the king and she’s the princess ;)

The LEGO Movie was my favorite movie of 2014, but it strikes me that the main character was male, because I feel like in our current culture, he HAD to be. The whole point of Emmett is that he’s the most boring average person in the world. It’s impossible to imagine a female character playing that role, because according to our pop culture, if she’s female she’s already SOMEthing, because she’s not male. The baseline is male. The average person is male.

You can see this all over but it’s weirdly prevalent in children’s entertainment. Why are almost all of the muppets dudes, except for Miss Piggy, who’s a parody of femininity? Why do all of the Despicable Me minions, genderless blobs, have boy names? I love the story (which I read on Wikipedia) that when the director of The Brave Little Toaster cast a woman to play the toaster, one of the guys on the crew was so mad he stormed out of the room. Because he thought the toaster was a man. A TOASTER. The character is a toaster.

I try to think about that when writing new characters— is there anything inherently gendered about what this character is doing? Or is it a toaster?

—  Bojack Horseman creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg commenting on how weird gendered defaults in entertainment are, and why we should think twice about them. Excerpted from this longer original post.
Writing: Your Characters Must Earn (or Have Earned) Their Skills
  • Magic (and other skills—especially physical skills) must be practiced. Yes, your wizard could be the “chosen one,” but remember that even Harry Potter had to practice his patronus charm. In The Matrix, Neo had to learn how to get used to working within the system.
  • Knowledge must be studied: Your character probably wasn’t born with world knowledge floating around in her brain. She might have a high IQ, but she still needs to study. Hermione Granger read Hogwarts: A History well before she attended it. NOTE: This also applies to knowledge about science fiction technology.
  • Wisdom often comes from making mistakes earlier in life: My dad will often say he learned most of his knowledge about woodworking from “the school of hard knocks.” He usually follows that with a story about how he screwed something up. Your skilled characters probably have a lot of stories. Wisdom can also come from watching others make mistakes and choosing not to go down the same path.
  • Wisdom also comes from experience: A legendary general will have seen many ways to fight a war. He knows what works and what doesn’t based on what he has seen.

-by M. B. Weston and continued at mbweston.com

8

Clara Oswald’s normal, everyday life — here meaning her biological family (Mum, Dad, Gran, Linda), her quasi-adopted family (Angie, Artie, and Mr Maitland), or her job as a teacher — has been a part of 70% of her episodes so far. Not always a major part, but there is a continual commitment to showing her roots, that travelling with the Doctor is an addition to her normal life and not the whole of her life.

Chat Noir as Ladybug’s  Impulse Control

Has anyone else noticed that Chat Noir seems to be Ladybug’s impulse control?

Like take The Bubbler episode for example; When Ladybug is on her own, she impulsively uses ‘Lucky Charm’ when she sees Adrien being harassed by Chloe.

In Timebreaker, Ladybug becomes more impulsive almost immediately after Chat starts to fade.

 Lady Wifi: Chat and Ladybug are separated and instead of waiting for Chat to join her, LB runs after Wifi and gets trapped in the kitchen. 

Animan? I’m sure we’ve all seen the dinosaur moment. Chat almost gets chomped, Ladybug jumps into the mouth.

Antibug is the interesting one. Chat is in danger and trying to fight off the invisible Sabrina and Ladybug has to get Chloe (who was being a complete moron and a danger to everyone) out of the fight. So Ladybug impulsively ignores the advice given to her by Chloe as Chat is unavailable. (I don’t blame her but that’s another post)

In all of these moments, Chat is either not present or is in some sort of danger making Ladybug react more impulsively. 

Alternatively, during Dark Cupid: Ladybug seems to analyse everything before making a move. Everything she does is all about Chat. 

Mr Pigeonshows us that when Chat goes to reaction impulse, Ladybug is the one to put a stop to it.

So while Chat trusts Ladybug to lead the duo, Chat forces Ladybug to think about the duo’s safety and the consequences of her actions when doing so.

I’m not a fan of character questionnaires because they often don’t actually help you develop your character. You might know a lot about them, but do you understand them? Do you really know who they are?

I’ve put together a list of 30 questions you should ask your characters – and I mean actually ask – to help you understand them, rather than just knowing things about them that won’t help you write their story. I want you to interview your character so that you can write their responses in their voice

30 Questions You Should Ask Your Characters

  1. What would need to happen for you to consider yourself at rock bottom?
  2. What would need to happen for you to consider yourself perfectly happy?
  3. What five things do you value the most?
  4. How do you react when your friends and loved ones flout these values?
  5. What is the personal quality you are most ashamed of? 
  6. What is the one thing you would never do no matter what? 
  7. What is the one thing that you would do even if you knew it wasn’t a good idea? 
  8. What are you good at?
  9. What are you bad at?
  10. Do you like who you are?
  11. What do you like about yourself?
  12. What do you wish you could change about yourself?
  13. What’s the worst physical pain you have ever felt?
  14. What’s the worst emotional pain you’ve ever felt?
  15. Who do you think is above you?
  16. Who do you think is beneath you?
  17. What have been the biggest struggles in your life?
  18. What have been your greatest achievements? 
  19. What do you think makes a person evil?
  20. What do you think makes a person good? 
  21. Are you open-minded or narrow-minded? 
  22. How is your bedroom decorated? Did you decorate it that way? If you could decorate it differently, how would it look?
  23. Describe your ideal Saturday. 
  24. Are you biased or prejudiced against anything or anyone? Even secretly or shamefully?
  25. Are you a leader or a follower?
  26. How do you deal with conflict? In what situations would you deal with conflict differently?
  27. To what extent do you care what others think of you? 
  28. If you had the opportunity to bring in one change in political policy, what would it be?
  29. Do you have any memories that make you wince?
  30. What would you make a scene in public about?
Character Talents and Skills: Regeneration

Description: the ability to restore one’s physical condition to an optimal state, healing wounds and bodily damage at a cellular level.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: to achieve this ability, one would require an evolved level of mental control so that the healing progress could be triggered at will. Superior genes and intelligence would both be needed to direct the allocation of energy, ensuring that if necessary, calorie intake, stored fat and even muscle tissue could be refocused to repair tissue or organ damage. Being able to consume large quantities of high energy foods without getting sick and learning to sleep at will would both heighten one’s ability to regenerate and recover as needed.

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: focus, intelligence, determination, adaptability, gluttony, conservative, self-controlled

Required Resources and Training: While a large part of regeneration would have to be genetically imparted (unless it came about through taking a drug or some kind of nano technology), a great deal of concentration and study would be required to learn how to harness and focus healing, especially during times of high stress. Meditation and having a mentor who can lead one through exercises to boost one’s mental prowess would help one master this skill. Additionally, a deep understanding of the body, organ placement and how everything works in concert would be necessary to perform regeneration without over extending oneself and depleting energy stores beyond recovery. As well, a person with regenerative skills would have to have constant access to an energy source (food, sleep, a drug, etc.) to power one’s ability to regenerate.


Keep Reading at Writers Helping Writers · Article written by Angela Ackerman

  • INTERVIEWER:Does The Doctor have the same feelings for people and things that he did before he regenerated? Does he have the same feelings for Sarah Jane that he did in the '70s?
  • DAVID TENNANT:Not necessarily, but with Rose, he certainly did. Meeting Sarah Jane again was deeply moving for him, I think. And what was interesting there was, he, in a sense, has gotten younger. That's The Doctor's eternal problem: he will always outlive his earthbound friends. And that's a great dramatic opportunity that you don't get in normal drama. You've got this character who's virtually immortal, certainly in terms of anyone from Earth, and how does that impact on those relationships? Even within a fantasy action/adventure scenario, you get to play these wonderful emotional beats. It's unlike anything else.
Character Agency

One of the most basic and fundamental aspects of writing a character is making them feel like a person, and not simply a collection of traits. The most direct way to accomplish this is to get into their mindset and have them make decisions that make sense for their personalities. Their values, ego, and understanding of the world and its rules should all come together to form a coherent decision-making process, and the various aspects of their character should reflect that process. Characters should possess a sense of agency and ego, which is to say that they should be making decisions “themselves” based on their own desires and ideas.

- by J. Shea and continued at Exploring Believability

It’s complicated. He’s had some very difficult experiences, with the Time War that we hear snatches of. He was clearly there when his own people perished. That left him with emotional scars, and he does have this tendency - there seems to be a slightly alarming tendency to bloodlust, in there somewhere. It’s quite well repressed. He’s basically morally pure and righteous, but there’s a possibility of hubris in there. And that’s something we will explore in these final stories. There’s an Achilles heel there that he isn’t entirely resistant to.
— 

David Tennant (2009): 

Your Doctor can be a very destructive force. Donna says he needs to be controlled and all that. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy in your mind? A mix of things? Something more complicated?”

The Importance of Backstory

Think about the person your character is today. What about them is a direct result of something from their past? What scars, and what strengths, do they carry with them? What lessons have they learned, and which mistakes do they keep repeating?

They are a result of what has happened to them before, whether they have risen above it, changed their life because of it, been crushed by it, or just run from it.

Your character’s life doesn’t begin at chapter 1 of your story. Nor does it end with the last chapter. (Ok, sometimes it does, but in most cases it probably doesn’t.)

Your character comes alive when you give them backstory. Not only does it colour the person they are, but it gives them motives for every action, or inaction.

Your readers don’t need to know your character’s entire life story. But you do. Give your reader flashes of it, the important bits, the parts that motivate your character’s actions. It makes them believable, relateable, real.

And it’s the real characters that readers can fall in love with. It’s real characters they want to root for, that keep them reading.

All My Characters Sound like Me!

Sometimes I have a problem with my dialogue: it sounds like I’m having a conversation with myself. A lot of the time, especially in first drafts, my characters all sound like different versions of me. This, obviously, is not good. If I wanted to talk to myself, I’d find a mirror…

It’s important all your characters sound different in the same way that everyone in real life sounds different. Everyone has a different personality and this comes out in the way they speak, from the words they use to the way they say them. This can be hard to convey on paper though because your readers are reading words (unless you’re writing a script) and will read them in their own voice. So it’s your job to make your dialogue distinctive.

I once heard that a writer should be able to cover up the ‘he said, she said’ part and still know who is talking. While that sounds extremely hard to do all the time, there’re definitely things you can do make your characters sound different.

Variation

The key to showing different characters is variation. They’re so many words in the English language, but I bet you use the same ones on a daily basis, because we all do. Making characters say words and phrases that you don’t will instantly stop them sounding like you. Then if you make each character say phrases another character wouldn’t, you have a cast of individual sounding characters.

This is easier said than done, so listen to the way your family speaks, your friends, strangers on the street, and people on TV. After a while you’ll be able to easily identify the little and big things that make people sound different.

Personality

A characters personality will impact on what they say and how they say it. A kind person wouldn’t say something mean, and a funny person wouldn’t say something sombre (under normal circumstances). If your character’s shy they may not say much, so play around with the amount said and sentence length as well.

Background

Where a character grew up, who they hung around with and how much education they received will also impact on their speech. You probably sound similar to the people around you, but different to those a hundred miles away. Remember not everyone is completely different. People that have grown up together in the same place will sound similar.

Dialect & Accent

Everyone has an accent and certain dialect, so if your character comes from a place with a distinctive one, use it. It can be shown through words used or their syntax. Not everyone speaks grammatically correct. Try not to show it through misspelling and don’t take on a dialect unless you know it or have researched it very well - people will know instantly if it’s wrong. It can also get annoying if the speech is hard to understand, so sometimes suggestion works better that full reproductions.

Occupation & Age

A toddler will sound different to a teenager, who will sound different to an adult. A toddler might have trouble making themselves understood and an older person might forget what they are saying halfway through (clichéd, but it happens). Making a character’s dialogue suited to their age will differentiate them and make them more realistic.

Different jargon is used for different jobs. So, a soldier will use different language to a scientist. Whether they are in work or school, they will speak a certain way.

Catchphrases

These aren’t only for sitcoms. Do you have certain phrases you say out of habit? You know, that annoying one your dad always says. Character’s will too. They can then easily be identified by saying similar phrases over the course of the story. But make sure you don’t overuse them or make them over the top.

I hope these tips help you make your characters sound different. Let me know!

Happy Writing!

(More character tips here.)