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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Character Creation Advise

   
Author Topic: Character Creation Advise
macmicool
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I would like to know if anyone has some tips on how one develops a character distinctly opposite from him/her self.

I have a villan, antagonist, that is polar opposite of myself in most ways, but is still very human. He is in possition of tyranical control, yet trully believes himself justified in his rule. His goals are actually noble, believable, and sought after in life; but his methods are detrimental. People believe my antagonist goals and methods even when they have negitive effects.

Ok, that is a description of what this difficult character is like, but it is his personality that I am at a loss for. Any suggestions and tips to help me solidify this personality would be much appreciated.

Mike


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shimiqua
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I think you should take something about yourself that you are proud of, and give him that trait. No one is completely evil. Maybe he is driven, or stubborn, or insecure, or kind to cats.

Give him habits, whistling, clicking his tongue, playing chess, reading, listening to music, etc.

Make the reason for his goals super clear in your mind, and forgive him for being contrary to your hero.

Because although the hero is the hero of the story, you are the author of both of the characters, and you have the responsibility to love them, kind of the way a mother loves all her children, even the psychopath that killed her.
~Sheena


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Robert Nowall
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Hard to say...strictly speaking, I put a little of myself in everybody I write about, hero and villain. (Or protagonist and antagonist, 'cause hardly anyone's really nasty, at least of late.)
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TamesonYip
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I include something of myself in my villains because there is a little evil in me, as well as the good.
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AndrewR
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When creating a character opposite from yourself, you first have to understand yourself.

The Myers-Briggs (sic) personality index is a good place to start. It identifies the basic characteristics of a person--basically, the opposing values that our society approves of.

As I recently read in an ethics module at work, there are four different "Right-vs-Right" dilemmas in our culture:

Individual vs. Community
Short-term Benefit vs. Long-Term Benefit
Justice vs. Mercy
Truth vs. Loyalty

For every dilemma where there is a conflict between two of these values, there is no right answer. Either way will be "right" and have its supporters.

For instance, let's say you are in high school and have a friend whose parents are going through a divorce. He is taking drugs to help ease the pain. Should you tell his parents so they can help him, or do you try to help him yourself. Both are "right" answers to the problem.

A Justice/Truth kind of person would believe telling his parents is the right thing to do. A Mercy/Loyalty kind of person would not, and would try to help him instead.

For the character you described, I would guess that he would be a Justice kind of guy, worried more about the Community than with Individual freedom, and more concerned about the Long-Term Benefits than the Short-Term problems caused by such.

When you frame in in that light ("yes, there are drawbacks, but the long-term benefit to the community outweighs them..."), then I think you can create a character who is both admired, justified, and ruthless (if need be).

Hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by AndrewR (edited June 11, 2010).]

[This message has been edited by AndrewR (edited June 11, 2010).]


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macmicool
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Wow, thank you all so much.
That helps get me started on him, now for his name...

I have to say that the Brigs-myers test makes me laugh. When I took the test it labeled me a an INTP type personality. It went on to explain that this personality type mirrors almost every other one. It kind of sounds like a fancy way of telling me "I don't know what you are".


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rich
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I took the Myers-Briggs test, and it labeled me WEIRD.
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TamesonYip
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When I worked, I was in a job where just about everyone was INTJ. I am ENPF, which I thought explained nicely why I never really felt comfy there.
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Ethereon
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Another fun personality typing system is the enneagram. It's kind of "folk-psychology" and doesn't have the kind of respectable status that the M-B has, but I think it could provide some good fodder for character creation. A neat aspect is that it discusses how each personality type acts when most healthy and least healthy (ex. when under stress and coping poorly).

Another idea might be to think of someone you know who opperates kind of like your villian (ex. a highly effective manager who's medothds you don't agree with), take their traits and imagine them blown out of proportion.

I'm trying to learn about character creation too, so I'm just throwing around some ideas.

[This message has been edited by Ethereon (edited June 13, 2010).]


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dee_boncci
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I think as long as the reader understands you character's motives, what the needs and desires are that compel the character to act, seen through the character's thoughts, sufficient "personality" will emerge for the purpose of a story.

One thing you could do is align the character's basic personality traits with his/her role in the story. For example, if the character is seeking/using political power in the public arena, then an outgoing gregarious personality might be fitting. Or you could try putting an introvert into that situation to create an inner-outer conflict.

Either way, making the choices based on the needs of the story might be advisable over making them the opposite of yourself simply as a matter of principal. Then there's always the problem of do you want the character's personality to be truly opposite of yours, or the opposite your perception of your personality (usually two different things)?


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WouldBe
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WWMD?

What would macmicool do on those tests. Your antag would do the opposite, I guess.

Update: Hatrack also has the "Character Interview" forum which might help.

[This message has been edited by WouldBe (edited June 14, 2010).]


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MikeL
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Hi, first of all I'd like to comment that I am macmicool. Didn't like my name. Yes, I can't make up my mind.

Anyway... Thanks for all your responses I think I will try the character interview section for this character.


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TamesonYip
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I changed my handle recently. It was kind of sad- went from being around like 4 years, now only a few months. Of course, my activity recently is more than for most of those three years so it wasn't like anyone remembered me from 2006 anyway.

[This message has been edited by TamesonYip (edited June 15, 2010).]


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Robert Nowall
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That is why I post under my real name.
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MikeL
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Which is what I decided to do, post under my real name.

Btw, I have created a character interview under the topic 'My Name?' as I haven't even come up with his name yet. Also, I don't think this charater would like his name given anyway. He would be mad at me for doing so.


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TamesonYip
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I switched to my real name too.
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