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The 10 Elements of a MAIN CHARACTER

To all the writers who have ever been told “Your characters have to be three dimensional!” or “They should be well-rounded!” and just felt like saying: “What does that even MEAN?! What goes into a 3-dimensional character? Specifically? And how do you go about creating one?!”

Good news. There’s a way. 

Great main characters – heroes, protagonists, deuteragonist, whatever you want to call them – have ten things in common. Ten things that are easily developed, once you know what to create within your character. So no one will ever be able to tell you “needs to be more three dimensional!” ever again. Ha. 

1) Weaknesses: Main characters should be flawed, but I’m not saying this because it will make them more realistic (though it will) – I’m saying they need to be flawed because if they’re not, they shouldn’t be a main character. Story is another word for change, or more accurately, character growth. Not character as in “fictional person”, character meaning “heart and soul”. Story is someone’s character changing, for better or worse. Main characters at the beginning of the story are lacking something vital, some knowledge of themselves, some knowledge of how to live a better life, and this void is ruining their lives. They must overcome these weaknesses, if they’re going to become complete, and reach a happy ending. There are two types of weaknesses: Psychological and Moral. Psychological ones only hurt the main character. Moral ones cause the main character to hurt other people. Easy.  

2) Goal: Characters exist because they want something. Desiring something, and the fight against opposition for that desire, is the lifeblood of story; and because character is story, it’s also desire that can breathe life into words on a page, and begin the process of creating a real person in a reader’s mind. It’s this ‘desire for something’ that sparks that first connection between reader and character. It makes us think “Well, now I have to find out if this person gets what they want.” This is a powerful link. (How many mediocre movies do we suffer through, when we could easily stop watching, because we’re still trapped by that question of “what happens?”) So if this is powerful enough to keep people watching an annoying movie, imagine how powerful it can be in an excellent story. 

Like in Up, the goal is to get the house to Paradise Falls.

3) Want: If the main character wants something, they want it for a darn good reason. Usually, they think that attaining the goal will fill the void they can sense in their lives, the deficiency they can feel, but don’t know how to fix. And they’re almost always wrong. Getting the goal doesn’t help anything; which is why, while pursuing that goal, they discover a deeper need that will heal them. Which brings us to …

4) Need/Elixir: Main characters are missing something, a weakness in their innermost selves is causing them to live a less-than-wonderful life. Through story, these main characters can be healed. Once they discover what’s missing, and accept it, and change the way they live to include this truth they’ve uncovered … they’re healed. Learning this truth, whatever it is, forms the purpose of the story for the main character. The reader, and the character, think the story is about achieving that big tangible goal the premise talks about; really, underneath it all, the story is about someone achieving a big intangible truth, that will ultimately save their life and future. Often, this need is exactly what the character fears or professes to hate. 

Like Finding Nemo, where Dory states exactly what Marlin needs to learn. 

5) Ghosts: 

Not this kind of ghosts.

Ghosts are events in your character’s past which mark the source of their weaknesses and strengths. Because these happened, the character became who they are. All we need to know about backstory are these moments, because who the character became is all we care about. There’s really only one ghost you absolutely need: the source of their moral and psychological weakness. Something happened that knocked the character’s world off kilter, and everything from that moment onward has been tainted by what happened. This moment haunts them (hence the name), and holds them back from uncovering that need that will heal their weaknesses. Pixar are masters of this: the source of Carl being stuck in the past, curmudgeonly, unable of loving anyone new? Ellie dying; his ghost. In Finding Nemo, the source of Marlin being suffocating, protective to the point of being harmful, possessive, and fearful? His wife and 99% of his children being eaten in front of him; his ghost. 

6) True Character: These are the strengths, values, convictions, fears, faults, beliefs, worldview, and outlook on life that make the main character who they truly are. 

7) Characterization: This is everything on the surface of a main character. The way they look, talk, act, etc. All of this originates from those deeper elements of their being, the strengths, values, ghosts, weaknesses, needs, that make them who they truly are. So often, you can think of this as a facade they’re projecting, a way to shield the the truth about themselves, how they wish to be perceived. The story, and the other characters, are slowly going to see deeper than this characterization, revealing more and more of the reasons it is the way it is. 

8) Arc: If the character is going to change from “Incomplete Person” to “Complete Person” there’s going to be a journey they go on to make that possible. The external story, the pursuit of that big tangible goal the premise is about, is causing an inner journey to take place. What they have to do in pursuit of that external goal will apply pressure to those weaknesses, and pressure causes change. This process has seven steps, but if I write it all here this post is going to be obscenely long. So I might wait and give this its own post.

9) Changed Person: Who is the character going to be at the end of this story? They better be different, or else the story didn’t work. How do they show how different they’ve become? What is the moral choice they make, that spins their trajectory from “the future doesn’t look so great” to “happily ever after”? This should be known right away, maybe even before anything else is settled about the character. This gives a distinct end goal, a way to work backwards, a destination in mind that you can navigate towards.  

10) Fascination and Illumination: The surface characterization, and the brief glimpses of the true character underneath create curiosity in the reader/audience. What the character says, and the implied subtext beneath the dialogue, creates a puzzle the audience wants to solve. Actions they take work the same way; if the writer indicates there’s deeper motivation behind why a character behaves in the way they do, we buy into solving that mystery right away. We can’t help it. “Who are you really? Why are you the way you are? And how is that going to effect the story?” These are all the unspoken, almost not consciously acknowledged, questions that fascinating characters provoke. Searching out meaning, connecting the dots to find the truth – we can’t resist this. We’re not fascinated by tons of backstory and exposition about a character; we’re fascinated by story, by mystery, by the technique of withholding information and having to interpret and hunt out the truth on our own.  So gradually, the story and the characters will force that character to reveal a little more, and a little more, until we have a complete picture of who this person is. Crucial that this information isn’t told up front. Gradually illuminate it. It’s just like getting to know a real person. 

So how does this work in a real character? Let’s take a look at Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert, because almost everybody has seen that movie. 

Moral Weaknesses: He’s selfish. He’s a little greedy. He’s a little rude. He uses his charisma and bravado to keep people at a distance from the real him. 

Psychological Weaknesses: Insecurity, fear of vulnerability, feels like the real him (Eugene) would be unwanted, unlovable, and have nothing – just like when he was an orphaned kid. Also, he doesn’t know who he wants to be, what he wants to live for. 

Goal: Flynn wants to get that crown. So he has to get Blondie to see the floating lights, so she’ll give it back to him, and then they can part ways as unlikely friends.  

Want: Why does he want the crown? What does it mean for him? He actually states it (reluctantly) in song: “I have dreams like you, no really. Just much less touchy feely. They mainly happen somewhere warm and sunny. On an island that I own, tanned and rested and alone. Surrounded by enormous piles of money.” He senses there’s something off in his life, something is missing. But he mistakenly believes this missing piece is money, which will allow him to buy a lonely island, where he can live out his days as Flynn and no one will ever know Eugene. 

Need: “All those days chasing down a daydream. All those years living in a blur. All that time never truly seeing, things the way they were. Now she’s here, shining in the starlight. Now she’s here, suddenly I know. If she’s here, it’s crystal clear, I’m where I’m meant to go.” He wants a crown … he needs to fall in love with Rapunzel. He needs to love something more than himself, and find out that love isn’t something to fear and push away. He needs to abandon the 'Tales of Flynnagin Rider’ ambition, and get a more worthwhile, new dream. 

Ghost: The source of all of his weaknesses can be linked to his “little bit of a downer” childhood as an orphan. Interestingly, he isn’t aware of another facet of that ghost, and Rapunzel points it out to him. “Was he a thief too?” she asks. He looks taken aback, before answering “Uh, no.” Something’s gone wrong. The choices he’s making are not living up to that original role model.  

Characterization: Flynn’s charming, funny, smart, charismatic, and arrogant (in a somehow charming sort of way). He’s also rude, contemptuous, and sarcastic. All traits that help him keep up that 'swashbuckling rogue’ facade, and push people away from the real him. 

True Character: Underneath all that, he’s a Disney prince. That pretty much sums it up.  

Changed Person: “Started going by Eugene again, stopped thieving, and basically turned it all around.” He started the story as the guarded and evasive Flynn, he ends as the selfless and thoroughly-in-love Eugene. 

Fascination and Illumination: Imagine if everything about Flynn had been told, right up front. We know he’s an orphan, we know he’s upheld a fake reputation, we know he’s a kind and loving guy underneath it all, we even know about his “tales of Flynnagin” childhood dream. You know what happens? We like him … but we’re not interested in him. There’s nothing we need to find out. There’s no curiosity. And if there’s no curiosity, and nothing being illuminated, your story’s not going anywhere. So instead, we find out – alongside Rapunzel – more about Flynn as the story progresses. And that is how it should be. 

So!

Developing characters in this way, I’ve found, really reduces worries about how “well-rounded” and three dimensional I’ve made them. They feel real to me. And besides helping me create characters, this ten element technique has also let me analyze characters I like, which is strangely fun. It’s a great way to figure out why a character works, what causes them to be so effective, and how you can go about creating them yourself. 

Yeah, I’m a bit of a nerd. 

But if you want, try it out. Develop a character. Analyze a character. You might find it as useful/fun as I do.

oh hey, here’s an idea — how about instead of making a live-action Hollywood adaptation of One Piece, Oda hires a top-notch Japanese animation studio to animate the entire ‘what-if’ scenario of Sabo saving Ace at Marineford, and we get to see the ASL bros fighting side by side, their tearful reunion, them catching up with each other’s lives, and perhaps even going on a mini-adventure together, hmmm??

anonymous asked:

BODY 👏 SWAP 👏 TROPE 👏 Hcs for members switching bodies with another member for a day what would they do 👻 You can pick who switches with who ~ love you 💕

i am loving this freaky friday shit

Yoosung in Jumin’s body

  • suddenly sleep deprived gamer boy has to play head of a massive corporation for the day?
  • he hates it
  • FIRST OF ALL, he cant understand anything anyone is saying
  • he cant even enjoy all the luxury of being Jumin, he’s too busy answering confusing phone calls that he has to clumsily stutter his way through
  • “Mr. Han, did you look over the marketing teams newest proposal for re-branding products to better appeal to a wider range of potential clients?”
  • “um…yea it was good. sounds like a good idea”
  •  “excellent. when you have time today please email me with-”
  • “yea sure tell Jaehee and i’ll do it”
  • “Mr. Han, i think-”
  • he hangs up, and that happens a few times before he even gets to work
  • gets lost like three times looking for his own office
  • as soon as he sees Jaehee he runs up to her and hugs her
  • “Jaehee oh my god this has been the worst morning ever everyone talks like their 50 years old and i-”
  • “Mr. Han? i dont think this behavior is-”
  • he lets go and brushes himself off, clearing his throat
  • “ah..um..yes, of course. i’ll be in my office…..assistant Kang…”
  • tries to pull his office door open, discovering that its a push door
  • all day:

Zen in Jaehee’s body

  • first of all
  • he knew Jaehee was a fan but like….
  • not this big of a fan
  • he is both overwhelmed by how thankful he is to have so much support and…a little freaked out?
  • also, he thinks Jaehee is attractive but who are we kidding, when he looked in the mirror and saw not himself, he was pretty upset
  • also pretty disappointed in Jaehee’s fashion sense but thats another subject for another day
  • there is no way in hell Zen was gonna go play Jumin assistant all day, he would rather die probably
  • and Zen knows better than anyone just how desperately this poor girl needs a break
  • so he decides to have a little treat yo self day!
  • he goes shopping and drinks fancy starbucks coffee and even gets a massage
  • he even snags a few cute boys numbers
  • (which yknow….Jaehee doesnt really need….but anyway)
  • he isnt really giving Jaehee a day off by doing this
  • but at least the massage will leave her feeling good in the morning!!

Jaehee in Seven’s body

  • cleaning
  • just, so much cleaning
  • also leaving the house to buy groceries
  • then getting a violent reminder that Seven is a very busy person when his boss calls
  • he sounds so scary and keeps talking about a “hard deadline” and someone named “agent vanderwood”
  • isnt that Sevens maid or something….?
  • well, no one can work on an empty stomach. not even the defender of justice
  • when she returns, agent vanderwood is there but she doesnt know its him
  • probably goes all martial arts on him, thinking its an intruder
  • vanderwood is a trained agent so he fights back a bit before being like SEVEN WHatTHE FUCK WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING ME ILL LITERALLY TAZE YOU
  • “taze me? arent you here to clean?”
  • VANDERWOOD IS READY TO KILL
  • “just do your work, alright?”
  • “um…yea…of course….”
  • KEYBOARD MASHING
  • Jaehee has no idea whats going on but she knows how to make it sound like she’s doing shit
  • starts working on C&R projects at one point

Jumin in Zen’s body

  • first thing he does is wake up and chop his hair off
  • all that hair just gets in the way?? he hates it??
  • that will be a nice surprise for Zen the next day :)
  • he knows that Zen probably has rehearsal and stuff but he’s not an actor
  • and he has a more important job to do anyway at C&R 
  • uuuggHHHH why doesnt Zen own any NICE suits??!
  • spends Zen’s money on a 3 piece suit
  • much better :)
  • then he tried to go into work just, as Zen
  • so many people tried to stop and ask who he was but he just walked past them
  • theres no time to try and prove his identity, he has to start the work day
  • finally he gets to his floor, where Jaehee is working at her desk
  • “assisstant Kang, i will be working in Zen’s body today. please forward my massages”
  • JAEHEE IS AEUFGGKWBEKJNSDVIHSEFN
  • THATS ZENS VOICE
  • but?? is that zen???
  • so upset because he has to reschedule all his meetings for that day
  • “i cant meet with the board looking like this”

707 in Yoosungs body

  • TIME FOR SCHOOL, KIDS
  • he has so much fun being Yoosung
  • hates Yoosung’s laptop so much
  • he misses his high performance laptop
  • finds a planner with Yoosungs class schedule in it
  • Yoosung doodles all over his planner, thats so cute
  • alright, he has to do everything he can with his one day back in college
  • upon entering his first class, he finds they’re taking an exam
  • its calc 2 so he aces it, of course
  • you’re so welcome, Yoosung
  • acts like a total smart ass all day
  • after classes he plays LOLOL for like 6 hours straight
  • Yoosung is literally so lucky to have me inside his body today
  • (lolololololololol)
  • also does all of Yoosungs homework for him
  • thinks to himself all day wow Seven, you’re such a saint

THANKS FOR READING!!!! SORRY FOR PUSHING MY YOOSEVEN AGENDA ALL THE TIME

edit: i love you too
6

What was the truth of it, my lord? Why did you betray those closest to you all those years ago? 

2

AH JUST GOT MY PACKAGE FROM @dement09 !!! Oh my god it’s so gorgeous and vibrant in person! !! I’m so happy qwq she even drew me a fantastic portrait (I looked so great in my twenties before the wrinkles set in) that’s just adorable!!! XD even sent me a couple small bonuses as well!!! Aw… cherishing this forever :3

📷 by @alannamode
Newt Scamander by @ekwolfwood​ (me!)

“My creatures are currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet– humans.”

PSA for Requesters

I take pride in my work. I love making my art and I love making that art for other people.

But there have been some people who have just REALLY ticked me off.

I will not call anyone out on this, but if you think this post is about you, it probably is.

1. Reblog the art you request. Likes are just the *seen* notification. It’s depressing.

2. DON’T BEFRIEND SOMEONE SO THEY CAN GIVE YOU ART

3. Giving away other people’s art as gifts, even if the piece was made for you specifically, is stealing and it’s wrong.

4. Some artists are stuck in an awkward phase where the only people who are giving them the attention they need for their work are the slave drivers like the ones mentioned above and they can’t say “no” to them because without their requests, they may never get noticed in the art world as a professional artist who gets an income of some sort.

I know I’ll be stepping on some toes with this post, but I have had enough. This is MY ART and what you are asking of me is UNFAIR. If you don’t like it just remember that I am not an art producing machine in your computer. I am a human being who has a life and would like to pay the bills.