TC’s Tutorials: Create that Character!
So you have an idea for a great Neopian Times story? No, what you have
is THE greatest story of all great stories, the epitome of greatness, the best
story the NT has ever seen, and will ever see!
There’s just one problem; you have no character! Without your main character,
how are you going to have the adventure? It’s like Garin being on Kreludor when
what you really need is for him to be in Maraqua, where the adventure is! Plain
and simply; no character – no story, you just can’t write even the simplest
of tales without one, let alone the amazing epic you have in mind!
1) The Name of Fame
So where do you start when it comes to creating a character that is just right
for your story? Well, a name would be as good a place as any! But, like the
character, the name has to suit the story you intend place it in. After all,
you can’t have a hero called Henry Smithington VII if you’re planning a space
saga, right? And what use is Hagar the Dragonslayer when it comes to solving
No, a Neopian character’s name should match the character itself. This can
be achieved in a variety of different ways, here are just a few and hopefully
they’ll inspire you to think of new ways.
First, what are the main characteristics of your main character? Is he charming,
sarcastic, happy, glum, evil, zany, serious, logical, dumb, what? Once you get
a good idea of the kind of person you want to write about, the name should come
more easily. For example, say I wanted to write about a cheerful little girl
who discovered a rare new flower that had magic powers. Well, there I’ve already
described what she’s like, what she does and has done! Now all I’d have to do
is think of all the happy, cheerful-sounding names a girl could have. Already
I can think of a few; Heidi, Sunny, Rei (as in ray of sunshine), Eve…the list
could go on and on, believe me.
Now, for an exercise, we’ll do the same again, but this time with a different
character. Let’s say we want to write all about the exploits of a posh, sour-faced
man who refuses to be happy and never takes part in any Neopian holidays.
What would you call him? Write down four or five names then scroll down to see
how close you got to what I would have called him.
Right, did you call the grumpy old so-and-so any of these (or anything close
to these)? The names I chose were Frederick, Harold, Ebenezer (or Scrooge if
you really must), Mr. Smith (too boring to have a first name) and Henry Edwards
Okay, so the last one was a bit unfair, but a long posh-sounding name could
instantly portray a stuck-up, pompous character far better then a block of descriptions
ever could. Just the mere fact that he chose to live with it would tell your
readers what a puffed up prune he actually is from the offset. Other than that,
were any of your chosen names close to any of mine? If so, then well done! You’re
getting the hang of this…but if not, never mind! Just keep trying that little
method (a trait, then a simple description of the storyline, then draw your
names from the two), and you’ll be originally naming your characters in no time!
2) Conversations with Characters
I know what you’re thinking; “Watch out, the Chimp’s flipped…again,”
and usually I’d agree with you, but I’m absolutely serious. Once you have an
idea for a story, a basic plot (no, they’re not entirely the same thing. For
example, a story can be about finding lost treasure, but the plot would
tell the reader how it was found, by whom and what happened to them whilst they
searched for it), and a good name for your character, there’s not much more
you can do other than choose a species and a color for your character, right?
You see, even the greatest premise of a character can fall apart at the seams
if it isn’t solid enough, not fully fleshed-out and 3-D. By this, of course,
I mean that every character needs more than just the bare essentials. A name,
species and color are all very well, but when it comes to the crunch in your
story, you won’t know what to do 9 times out of 10 because you haven’t sat down
and thought what kind of person your character will be. Placing him in some
ancient death-trap isn’t the cleverest option if you aren’t sure your character
can handle it, you need a level-headed, experienced adventurer who never panics
and laughs in the face of danger!
So how are you supposed to find out what type of person your character is,
I hear you ask? Well, the answer is simple enough, but it sounds totally insane
to those that don’t stop and think: you talk to your character.
Yes, that’s right; sit you and your character down on the imaginary ground
under some tree that isn’t really there and talk. Get to know him or her, ask
them what they want in life, what they enjoy doing, what their short-term aspirations
are, a little bit about their past, whatever you believe will help you gain
a better understanding of your character…and here’s the really crazy bit. Your
character will actually appear to be answering your questions by themselves.
It’s true! This is because somewhere deep inside your mind you already have
a firm understanding of your character’s life, or, to put it another way, you
character is already there, inside your head. Writing down this conversation
will help bring out that hidden information about them, making all the much
easier to write a story around them!
3) Plan Ahead
Well, you’ve nearly done it; your own complete character. You’ve given them
a great name, really got to know them, and now you’re ready to begin their adventures…but
hold up! One more thing before I leave you to your own devices.
You see, every author plans ahead before they right a story, even if it’s just
a sentence or two ahead at a time. This is to help stop the common mistake of
putting your character in a position that he or she just wasn’t meant (or created)
to deal with. What do I mean by this? Well, imagine you’ve spent a very long
time creating a character that is good being friendly, peaceful, and so on…the
last thing you’d want to put them up against is a huge Grarrl aching for a fight…your
character just wouldn’t be able to do anything!
And if, by some amazing stroke of luck, they were…then you’ll have cheated
by making the character do something the reader knew they weren’t supposed to
do. This is called a Deus Ex Machina, and is generally frowned upon as a last
resort as it causes you to take the quick and easy way out of a difficult situation.
To stop such things happening, think ahead as far you think is necessary in
order to avert any such situations from arising. You’ll find its easier then
it sounds, believe me on that.
Well, there you go! Hopefully, in these 3 short and simple steps you’ve been
able to create a more solid, understandable character that you will be able
to use more efficiently in your stories to come.
Until next time!
Author’s Note: Hope this helped! Feel free to Neomail me with any comments
an/or suggestions for future tutorials! Bye!
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