How Does You Character See Them-self?


I am getting my butt kicked right now by a person that doesn’t fully exist in my own mind.  Before you call the insane asylum let me explain.  In my current WIP I am attempting to bring to life the 2nd most important character and I just can’t get my head around him yet.  While taking a little break I came up with something that I think is a very important question, How does you character see them-self?

I have created a back-story for the character, hobbies, obsessions, motivations, etc, etc.  But I am struggling to find the character’s voice.  So if I can figure out how the character see’s himself then I should be able to find out WHO he is, instead of simply what he has been through.  All of us has an image of who we are.  Now it doesn’t necessarily mean who we THINK we are accurately reflects reality, but I believe it gives us clues into how we think.

I have shared before that I mild social-anxiety.  When I get into large groups of people I get very nervous, quiet, tongue-tied, the whole nine yards.  In my head everything that comes out of my mouth at these times doesn’t make sense, comes out as a whisper, and generally makes me look like an idiot.  Yet unless I tell people about my condition they generally don’t know.  They will tell me I seem witty, charismatic, and relaxed.   Now I am not just telling you this to let you know how cool I am (but that is honestly the point of this whole post), I am telling you this because people who barely know me see me one way, while those who know me will see me in another.

So what is more important?  How I see myself or how others see me?  I believe to have a fully fledged character you have to know & understand both.  Right now I understand how other people see my character but I have yet to understand how he see’s himself.

I am no longer interested in what my character physically looks like, I want to know how he THINKS he looks.  I don’t want to know what his friends think of him, I want to know what he thinks his friends think of him  :-p   I can tell it is going to be a struggle but the more I “learn” about this character the better and more believable he will be.

What do you all do to help develop a character who refuses to take form?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “How Does You Character See Them-self?

  1. Hmm, I usually drop the character… If it doesn’t flow, it doesn’t flow… Though I know absolutely nothing about your story, so perhaps this would not work… If I knew more about this character, or how it plays a role in your Piece, I might be able to give a better answer. Otherwise, like I say, I don’t like anything to stand in the way of Story Flow. But perhaps you are more of a Warrior than me, and bend characters to your will, lol

    DarkJade-

  2. I’ve tried free-writing some scenes with my characters that are partially or sometimes totally outside the context of the story. Such as – what would the character say if he were talking with me in the lunch line at my high school?

  3. Since I don’t write fiction, I’m stepping unto a thin branch over a sheer piece of ice, but here goes…

    I’d talk to myself (as your obstinate half-developed character) in the mirror and have a real heart-to heart talk. Please don’t do this when anyone can hear you or videotape you! I just find that talking to myself in the mirror is a good way to get to the crux of an sticky issue I’m having with myself without having to pay a therapist. If I get caught, well, I’m going to have to pay a therapist!

    Give it a whirl. If you have a dramatic bone in your body, you’ll quickly lose yourself in the conversation and amazing things will reveal themselves…

    Good luck! And, oh, I never told you this… 😉

  4. It may be that you are overanalysing this character. Ultimately, what matters is how the reader sees this character, and that’s up to the author – how s/he presents the character to the reader in the narration and in the character’s actions. Whatever you do, don’t let it bog you down. Just keep on writing the WIP; these problems often iron themselves out as you go along.
    Best,
    Danielle

  5. I interview my characters (letting my crazy show here). I just open up a blank word document and type out a question, like I’m doing an interview and then I let the character answer the question. In a way I’m kinda breaking the fourth wall between character and writer, but it works for me. I can easily get into the character’s head and even figure out how they think they are perceived.

    • I know I’ve certainly found deep heart-to-hearts with my characters delightfully enlightening. Coincidence City: I was actually just talking about this technique with another blogger, this morning. For ideas on the sorts of questions you may wish to use to grill your charries, I recommend something like the questionnaire I’ve gone through with several of fictional friends (you never know what kind of answers you’ll get!):
      https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=243408602347725

      • How cool! Thanks so much for sharing! I always feel like I’m putting on my Oprah hat with the goal to get the characters to cry on a couch. Wow … I just let my crazy show, didn’t I?

  6. Gratz Man, I’m Awarding you with the Versatile Blogger Award, check it out http://darkjade68.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/versatile-blogger-award/

    DarkJade-

  7. It’s great that you are trying to find your characters. I think that is perhaps the most important thing in a story. If the character doesn’t know who he is, how can the readers? I often engage dialogs between characters to help flesh them out. Mostly in my head, but sometimes I can carried away and start having the conversation with myself. If I have room, it usually helps me to walk around or pace. Good luck!

  8. tereseh

    I take the characters to an imaginary cafe and interview them. Then I write down everything they do, from slurping coffee to flirt with other people in the cafe to talk about their own storyline.

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