Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » "Main" Character Creation

   
Author Topic: "Main" Character Creation
teedee
Member
Member # 2741

 - posted      Profile for teedee   Email teedee         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For some reason I always have trouble creating a main character. I don't want to follow a cookie-cutter mold of a conflicted person who triumphs over evil or what not, but rather something less cliche.

Anyone have any tips?


Posts: 35 | Registered: Jul 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
dpatridge
Member
Member # 2208

 - posted      Profile for dpatridge   Email dpatridge         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Actually, I never make a "main character." Never. I make a character to fit a certain position in my stories social structure. That character, during creation, then tells me more about themselves, and might eventually prove themselves to be the main character.
Posts: 477 | Registered: Oct 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
teedee
Member
Member # 2741

 - posted      Profile for teedee   Email teedee         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, my main problem is that I really like my supporting character more, but then I'd have to scrap the entire Earth part of the story.

The main character is supposed to be a human who undergoes a serious event that throws him into severe depression and amnesia. Recently I read Zelazny's Amber series and the main char, Corwin, starts off with amnesia... so I feel a little wierd about that. Although, the char having amnesia is an integral part of the story.

Having this book based on psychic powers is also killing me, but that's a different problem entirely.



Posts: 35 | Registered: Jul 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
dee_boncci
Member
Member # 2733

 - posted      Profile for dee_boncci   Email dee_boncci         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Your post made me smile. There is so much emphasis in current writing on creating characters as you describe to avoid cliches that the MC you summarize might be turning into one.

I do have to admit that there are many times when the internal conflicts a character battles makes me want to scream "Get over it already!"


Posts: 612 | Registered: Jul 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
teedee
Member
Member # 2741

 - posted      Profile for teedee   Email teedee         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
lol, argh!

I don't want him to be too cliche or like Richard Rahl in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, where he acts like Mr.Perfect all the time.

I just got OSC's Characters & Viewpoint so maybe that will help.


Posts: 35 | Registered: Jul 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Jeraliey
Member
Member # 2147

 - posted      Profile for Jeraliey   Email Jeraliey         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you like your supporting character more, make him/her the POV character. (That is, if he's eligible to be.) A large part of your MC development could be what your POV character thinks of him/her.

[This message has been edited by Jeraliey (edited July 24, 2005).]


Posts: 1041 | Registered: Aug 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
wbriggs
Member
Member # 2267

 - posted      Profile for wbriggs   Email wbriggs         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Characer & Viewpoint-- good. Especially building characters with multiple motivations; and a thousand ideas in an hour.
Posts: 2830 | Registered: Dec 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
pixydust
Member
Member # 2311

 - posted      Profile for pixydust   Email pixydust         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you want your readers to like your main character it's better if you also like him/her. It's also a lot easier to make them come alive if you like them or can at least find a way into their head. If you're struggling it could be a sign that you're going in the wrong direction--then again you could just need to re-evaluate the character. Maybe tweak their motives or personality more. And it's a lot easier to avoid cliched characters if you make them real people. Real people aren't perfect, and we don't always run around daydreaming about how conflicted we are.

And read that book before you type another word.


Posts: 811 | Registered: Jan 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyre Dynasty
Member
Member # 1947

 - posted      Profile for Pyre Dynasty   Email Pyre Dynasty         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have to ask. What is so wrong about scrapping the "entire Earth part"? if your supporting char is standing out more then perhaps he should be the Main Character.
Posts: 1871 | Registered: Mar 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
teedee
Member
Member # 2741

 - posted      Profile for teedee   Email teedee         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Jeraliey - The problem is that they're not at the same place all the time.

wbriggs - Yeah, it's starting to help me a bit.

pixy - Good advice once again, thanks. I guess I can model him as me, a depressed schizophrenic insomniac!

Pyre - Wow...thanks a lot. You just led me on to a whole new universal setting! Die Earth!!


Posts: 35 | Registered: Jul 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
SteeleGregory
Member
Member # 2049

 - posted      Profile for SteeleGregory   Email SteeleGregory         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you haven't read any of the Sherlock Holmes stories, pick one up. Those stories are a fine example of where a secondary character is more likeable than the hero. Sure, we're all in awe of Holmes' abilities, but we relate to Watson. He's the regular guy we can understand and care about.
Posts: 103 | Registered: Jun 2004  | Report this post to a Moderator
teedee
Member
Member # 2741

 - posted      Profile for teedee   Email teedee         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, Watson is just there to be the POV so we don't know what Holmes is thinking until the end.

Although, I guess I could make my secondary chars have the POV. I'm still having trouble changing my story to suit my tweaking.

I think I need to finish school before this massive mental block dissolves


Posts: 35 | Registered: Jul 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Elan
Member
Member # 2442

 - posted      Profile for Elan           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I am of the opinion that there should be shades of gray in every character. I want good guys who have faults; I want bad guys who have the potential to do good things. Perhaps they have a noble REASON for what they do, it's merely that they trample everyone to get there. Black and white novels of goodie-good guys and baddie-villains don't interest me. It's why I finally, sadly, quit reading authors like Mercedes Lackey and C.J. Cherryh. Their stuff became predictable and their characters two-dimensional. Alas and alack.
Posts: 2025 | Registered: Mar 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I know you didn't just lump Cherryh in with Lackey. Particularly on the issue of one-dimensional characters.
Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
Elan
Member
Member # 2442

 - posted      Profile for Elan           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sorry, Survivor, my mistake. I meant Anne MacCaffrey. Good catch.
Posts: 2025 | Registered: Mar 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Woo! I'll say!
Posts: 8029 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  | Report this post to a Moderator
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Administrator
Member # 59

 - posted      Profile for Kathleen Dalton Woodbury   Email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
A "parlor trick" you can use to help round out characters is to look through one of the many personality descriptions given to go with the various zodiac signs. Assign the sign that seems closest to your character and add the negative characteristics that go with that sign to your understanding of your character's personality.

If you want to see how your character might relate to other characters in your story, give them all zodiac signs and then use a book like LInda Goodman's LOVE SIGNS that talks about which signs are compatible and which aren't, and why. At the very least, it can give you ideas for possible personality conflicts.

If you want to make your character especially complicated, have the zodiac sign you've chosen be the character's sun sign (and have that be how your character thinks), then pick a different sign for the character's moon sign (and have that be how your character feels or responds emotionally to things), and then pick a third sign for the character's ascendant (and have that be how the character would like other people to perceive him or her--a "shell" personality, so to speak).

And then figure out how those different aspects of the character will cause inner conflict (LOVE SIGNS, again) which can either parallel or mirror the outer conflicts the character also has to deal with.


Posts: 8029 | Registered: A Long Time Ago!  | Report this post to a Moderator
yanos
Member
Member # 1831

 - posted      Profile for yanos   Email yanos         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You could put them into certain hypothetical situations and work out how they'd rect - very similar to RPG character generation. It gives you a feel for the type of decisions your character will make, especially when there is not a perfect choice. And I too am relieved by the Cherryh correction.
Posts: 575 | Registered: Dec 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
teedee
Member
Member # 2741

 - posted      Profile for teedee   Email teedee         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Great advice Kathleen and yanos, thank you. Your ideas fit together so nicely!

i.e - How would a Pisces react if a Taurus flirted with her Sagitarius boyfriend?


Posts: 35 | Registered: Jul 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Spaceman
New Member
Member # 9240

 - posted      Profile for Spaceman           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You could always follow in the footsteps of one Samual Clemens. One book for Tom Sawyer, one book for Huck Finn.
Posts: 2 | Registered: Aug 2010  | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
But would zodiac personalities really work? Aren't they usually pretty generic stuff?
Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
Ahavah
Member
Member # 2599

 - posted      Profile for Ahavah   Email Ahavah         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The main sun sign descriptions can be fairly generic without taking into account ascending whatevers and houses and all that...

Obviously I really know what I'm talking about here.

But they do give you some good info to start tweaking your own character with.

Now, I personally don't have this software (but I want it), but there is a computer software you can get to plug in your date/time/place of birth and it will just print out PAGES AND PAGES of info tailored specifically to that person. I had mine and some family members done, and it was AMAZING. I mean, right on the button. I'd prefer that over the 'generic' books, but IMO I've found that those are often close anyway. Or at least close enough to get the old brain cogs moving.


Posts: 239 | Registered: May 2005  | Report this post to a Moderator
Survivor
Member
Member # 213

 - posted      Profile for Survivor   Email Survivor         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
But I've found that a description generated for randomly picked data always works just as well for me in any astrological system I've ever encountered. That's what I meant by "generic", the descriptions could apply to anyone if they think that there's some reason it should apply.
Posts: 8322 | Registered: Aug 1999  | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2