Re: How do you make your characters feel consistent?

#21
For me, I tend to do two things.  First of all, I write profiles for my characters to some extent, writing their details and backstories so I have them all down and can reference them.  

But also, as a second thing, which often ties into the first thing, I give them very distinct and memorable goals.   What do they want?  What are they working for?  In what ways will experiences affect those things about them?  What is their core beliefs and desires?   By defining those, and making each one distinct, it helps me flesh them out more.   

Re: How do you make your characters feel consistent?

#22
I don't know how much help this will be, but I have a strategy I use. Sometimes character sheets feel a bit esoteric with vague descriptions. Try this. Attach each character to a real person you know. Think in a given situation, what would X do? Obviously this isn't going to be a perfect 1 to 1 (it's unlikely you know any ghastly supervillains, for example), but I find it can be a bit more concrete that personality traits written on a page.

Re: How do you make your characters feel consistent?

#23

Jacob Wrote: I don't know how much help this will be, but I have a strategy I use. Sometimes character sheets feel a bit esoteric with vague descriptions. Try this. Attach each character to a real person you know. Think in a given situation, what would X do? Obviously this isn't going to be a perfect 1 to 1 (it's unlikely you know any ghastly supervillains, for example), but I find it can be a bit more concrete that personality traits written on a page.

So... Assume for a moment I dont know any real people?

Re: How do you make your characters feel consistent?

#24
From the perspective of a pantser writer, far more important than the flat characteristics and backstory you can put on a character sheet is the "flavour" of each character, they way they talk, the mannerisms and behaviours they default to, and what kinds of circumstances would make them deviate from those defaults. I frequently discover new facets of my characters' personalities as my stories progress, but they are all consistent because they share that flavour with what else I previously knew about them. Also, I definitely inhabit their heads while I'm writing scenes rather than letting them end up being what I'm currently feeling that day.

It's also helpful to realize how to separate and amplify different aspects of your own personality to make them into distinctive characters, so that many characters end up being a sort of modified self-insert, with self-inserts being by far the easiest type of character to write. The main character for my most famous fiction is an admitted full self-insert plopped straight into a LitRPG, but almost every other character in my writing also draws from a major aspect of my personality, making it far easier to inhabit their heads and write them realistically.

Re: How do you make your characters feel consistent?

#25

Zelda_Anne_Link Wrote: So... Assume for a moment I dont know any real people?

In that case, really good fake people works.  If you have favorite books, tv shows, anime or games or something, you have an idea of what your favorite characters are like, and what behaviors would throw you right out of the story.  And remember that good writers write- but great writers steal.

Take Hawkeye from FMA, for example.  She's a quiet person, calm, collected and focused.  Rarely given to informal behaviors or expressions of strong emotion.  Now imagine Hawkeye in a situation where she's giggling like a schoolgirl and making ribald comments to Roy.  Bit of a brain lock, eh?  You can still do things like this, but once you have set a character's general personality there needs to be a reason for any dramatic shifts.

Characters will have good days and bad days.  You can have a normally wild and crazy, hedonist character have introspective moments.  That can be a good tool in the writer's toolbox: create an expectation from the reader, and then in one scene of dramatic shift, add depth to them.  Perhaps your crazy hedonist has a dark past she is mentally running away from.  They did some bad things, let down people important to them, now they don't take anything seriously because to do so risks psychic pain.

Only cardboard cut-outs remain static.  Every character is going to have some variation in their behavior.  Brave characters get frozen with fear from time to time.  Comedic relief occasionally get their chance to be serious.  Hard charging protagonists might have days they just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over their heads.  The character that *loves* pastries might be convinced to one day try the soup and bread at her favorite shop, and find it quite satisfying.

Unice5656's advice on behaviors is good, too.  That helps cement in the reader's mind just who the character is.  Nervous twitches, the way their attention is always drawn to a certain other character, or habits of speech work to reinforce this, and it doesn't take much to set the idea.  Remember to show, not tell. 

Re: How do you make your characters feel consistent?

#26

Zelda_Anne_Link Wrote:
Jacob Wrote: I don't know how much help this will be, but I have a strategy I use. Sometimes character sheets feel a bit esoteric with vague descriptions. Try this. Attach each character to a real person you know. Think in a given situation, what would X do? Obviously this isn't going to be a perfect 1 to 1 (it's unlikely you know any ghastly supervillains, for example), but I find it can be a bit more concrete that personality traits written on a page.

So... Assume for a moment I dont know any real people?



Funnily enough...base it off other fictional characters you know well. The point is that there are character archetypes that exist everywhere. Use them as a template, and add in little details to make them feel unique.

Re: How do you make your characters feel consistent?

#27
Honestly, the way I do it is by not even trying on my first draft. That's about flooding out the ideas and getting all the story correct. If I get the character feel correct, then great, but I really focus on tone when I do my next pass. That two-pronged approach works for me because it allows me to focus on different story elements separately. I also have multiple character viewpoints in my book, so it's hugely beneficial to do a tone pass on all of a given character's chapters at once, rather than doing the whole book in chronological order.