About how different writing styles handle character creation and consistency.
I picked this topic because I began to realize what I do for characters when I am writing. Besides being a newbie and a panster writer sometimes the combination isn’t good. I have learned a few things by reviewing other people's work on novels and short stories. I learned that my idea of a good character was one I invented on the spot to fill in for needed plot advancement or to bring humor or plot twist as I am writing along.
Let’s be honest how believable is a character just invented on the spot and left for editing later. This is how I work most of my fleshing out and description is filled out in another chapter or two as part of the progression but some characters are just for the one scene never to be seen or heard of again. I have had a few reviews saying I use too many characters or have too many to keep track of. My only question is why are you trying to keep track of a one use only character? What made it memorable to you to add it to a growing list we all mentally keep when reading books or watching movies. Now that I am aware of this what readers like to do to all characters they meet. I now like to stop creating throw away characters and reuse a sub main in the same spot and transition them to this new scene. I also find it fun to add another detail about this character.
I’ll bet you are going how on earth does a Panster keep track of all his characters and their personalities? The truth is I don’t, but my time lines and character names and notes on the information I just wrote about them posted in there does it for me. That is how I keep track is a separate document that I keep new ideas and changes or additions to my characters. I have seen some of the all around character sheets that other authors use to keep track of their characters. I have to say I feel they are a great exercise in imagination.
Who doesn’t love a chance to show off what we can think up about our characters? Still, does it really work for us? I make mine live by my story more than create a 2D rap sheet. But other authors make them live and very memorable with the use of a rap sheet.
Some of the ways to really breathe life into a character are to color them. When you look at your character in your mind what color do you see? One of the best gauges of how strong our characters really are is to try and visualize them. Can we see this as a person that we can love or hate or laugh at? Because if we the writer cannot see them, how do you expect the reader to see them?
Sometimes I have a little fun with my characters since I love to write science fiction I like to have surprise characters. Like this one:
“Hi, I am Betty. I welcome you aboard the Empire Warship Betty. Since you are new to my crew and this is your first day for you. You are allowed to ask questions from any rank and get answers. After your first day, I will be addressed as Fleet Admiral Betty. You will address me only through the chain of command. I am the ship’s living computer and in charge of our battle group. Today I am free to work with my new crew members so take advantage of this day.”
The cadet that the ship's computer is talking to is a throwaway character that I was using to breathe some life into the main character. If I wrote a rap sheet on Betty you can imagine the fun of filling it out. She just doesn’t fit into a normal character sheet that I listed below, therefore, I created one of my own for her.
Prejudices (if any)
Best Friend from School
Friends and Family (their profiles come later)
Issues with Friends and Family
Make and Model of Car
Favorite Midnight Snack
Taste in Men/Women
Name: Fleet Admiral Betty
Occupation: Empire Warship
Eyes: None (She uses ship’s cameras and micro mini cameras she launches into space at an area no other ship has been before.)
Body description: She is a round ball twice the size of any tall humanoid male. Her insides consist of advanced computer cores and memory banks. The inside of her hull metal shell is designed to hold a living soul of a once living person. This is her shell when she is in place inside the Command center.
Since she is the ship and running all functions of a spaceship you could say she is the size of a ten story building and round like a ball ten stories wide. She holds fighters and drones for a crew of one thousand and a maintenance crew of one hundred.
Abilities: She has the ability to function as a real person and create holograms of herself. Since most living computers never remember the dying husk they were transferred from they tend to get creative on humanoid looks.
She in conjunction with her computer cores is the only way the Empire Warships can travel in hyperspace it takes the speed and computing power combined together for it to work fast enough to have precise control of the faster than light drive.
Voice: Now voice tends to get interesting being a computer she can be sexy and commanding all in one breath. She can change her sex at any time and for any reason, she thinks fit. Since no one really knows their true sex they go with what they feel like they are.
Now you can see the fun you can have with a machine main character and how you can add to their growth as you develop their feelings for other mains and of sub chars. You can really develop them with dialog and actions. This is the reason why I love writing science fiction. You can make anything you can imagine a character.