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X's Guide to Crafting a Character
X's Guide to Crafting a Character
Since I began Eternity Concepts, I have mostly been contacted about it's writing; Most of my major fans are aspiring writers, and ask me constantly about the script of Eternity Concepts. When I started, I thought people would--and I hoped they would--contact me about the art.
That never happened; People only contacted me to find out how I wrote it, not how I drew it. In the end, I'm fine with that; I know good writing is more important, in the end, than great art.
. . .But I never thought I was a writer.
The problem is, I think, this; I didn't go to college to write. I didn't research other scripts. I didn't give a fuck. I wrote it the way it worked for me to write it. And these were the steps. Most people first ask about how to make characters, so we'll start there.
That Itch to Draw and Not Write
My good friend, fan, and interviewer DJ mentioned to me that she felt as if she had a problem in just wanting to draw the characters. She felt she was wasting a lot of time this way.
I realized I did this, too. I did this before I began Eternity Concepts--I wanted to draw a manga, but had no ideas. No nothing. Everything I could come up with was derivative. So I sat around, drawing characters I thought just looked cool. They had no purpose outside of this.
One day, I drew Hollow. As soon as I laid eyes on Hollow's face, a personality began to form in my mind. And instantly, a story. Not just any story; One I had never seen or heard of anything remotely alike before.
To be fair; Originally, it was a one-shot idea. I was still working on a piece of derivative shit, where I had a priest character who was blonde. The idea was that Hollow would be a beat up guy on a bus, clearly needing help; Julian would ignore him. The end.
. . .But I thought, I don't have to stop there.
And so I drew the priest. Julian's original design had slightly different hair. On my second attempt at drawing him, my arm got bumped--I was sitting in my eighth grade art class--and resulted in the unusual style Julian bears to this day. Like with Hollow, when I saw it, I just knew it was perfect; And I knew who he was.
I did do some tweaks to both designs; Subtle changes. Eye shapes, facial lines, facial structure. And with all the changes, I noted the genealogy of the parents of whomever I noticed these traits in. I wrote these genes in as the parents, eventually, totally blowing off the idea that everyone in manga is at least half-Japanese.
I then also noted how behaviors would result in their faces to this day; Someone who worried often, for example, still looks, now, a little sad and concerned. The way we move our eyebrows, how often we smile--it effects how we end up aging, forming, in some cases.
With these traits in mind, I added events to the characters backstories that would explain why these effects were in play.
Your childhood shapes a lot of who you are. So do your parents, the school you went to, the church you went to, the things you ate, the things that happened to you. Any small, seemingly meaningless event? Can be reacted to by someone in multiple ways. Kids can grow up feeling traumatized over not getting a coveted toy for Christmas, even blaming their parents well into adulthood, or by something far darker. Not everything is as it seems, and sometimes, kids react to things in unplanned ways.
Their parents are the first key, here; However the parents treat them, the child views it first as absolutely totally normal. Everything at home? That's how they assume everyone's life is.
In a happy environment, that means aside some occasional personal embarrassments, this doesn't effect them much later. In a bad one, the child is eventually forced to realize this is not normal. . .and wonder why.
Depending on what happens, these things can and do carry into adulthood; Left unaddressed, they can manifest into all sorts of mental health issues. These, in turn, effect how your character interacts and behaves with others, and how they think.
Everyone has a way they think that leads them to conclude the things that they do. Figuring out how one character thinks versus another can be very entertaining. For example, Julian is openly romantic--where as Ezra is secretly romantic. Ezra's knee-jerk reaction to Julian's open, honest, innocent views of romance is to mock it with harsh reality; Not because he likes or agrees with that reality, but to actually mock himself for believing in it, too.
This simple difference fuels a huge amount of the jokes Ezra makes; And people love these jokes, it turns out.
Additionally, it makes writing both of these characters easier once I noticed traits in how they talked, what about, when, how they emphasized words.
Something many do not know about men and women is, we choose to emphasize different words in a sentence when we talk. For example:
Women: Get out of here!
Men: Get out of here!
When someone gets a sex change, they actually need some speech therapy to teach them to change this means of talking; And you can see the difference in how a male or female will type a sentence, too, and emphasize words. If you read a Marvel comic, you can tell that writer is male--at least, I can; The words that writer choose to emphasize in a sentence are not the ones I would.
Here, the childhood environment comes back into play; The parents will influence how the child talks, as they learn to talk by mimicking the parent. From there, they will have their speech influenced by those that surround them; Ezra has a bit of a southern-ish slang that he uses, despite his genetics, but thanks to his childhood environment. Since his father didn't sea this way, not from this culture, Ezra only has a few, occasional words he says that sound this way. Otherwise, he mostly doesn't speak this way.
Everyone suffers a trauma; They do not always recover or react the same way, or even as you'd expect. Depending on the age, trauma, reaction, treatment, and so on, this trauma can shape their entire world. . .or become a footnote in their history. The choice comes down not to you. . .but your character.
You have to ask yourself; Would my character be willing to get help? Would they be able to get help? Would the people helping actually help?
And don't just randomly decide; Look at the history of the character. Given all that information already, go with the most realistic thing to have happen under the circumstances.
Keep in mind; Adults can be traumatized, too.
Everyone experiences and has fears; Weird fears, pointless fears, big fears, little fears. We react to them in various ways and have various reasons for these fears--a lot of them tied back to a childhood memory, that accepted or not, changed their behavior the same as a traumatic experience does. Exposer to the fear can trigger all sorts of results, some mild, some extreme, depending on how deeply the character truly fears this thing.
How a character feels about themselves makes just as much impact and difference as you, personally, feel about yourself on any given day. Maybe one day you're feeling low; You probably visually reflect this. With low self esteem, or victims, these types slump their shoulders, have poor posture, and look down at the ground mainly. We regard people without these traits as being of a higher level of self esteem.
Self esteem will also factor into all sorts of things; How long hey tolerate problems in their lives caused by others, who they talk to, and how they interoperate what others say.
Regardless of your beliefs, our intent now is to build a full personality. Some parts of our personalities are what they simply are. Determine a birthday, then research the astrology of it. Your purpose isn't to rely on it, but use it help you factor in additional, small, specific traits.
The Story Behind Everything
Remember; For every choice you make, there needs to be a pattern leading up to this choice. The reason of why they made this choice to begin with. People reading will want to know why a character has certain trait or fear or nitpick--an for everything, there needs to be an origin story of it in their life. When and how this all began. From why their favorite food is what it is, to what kin of car they drive, to the color of their eyes--people will, eventually, want to know how and why it all was that way.
The Stories They Tell
Human beings have long since used story-telling as a means to communicate. inkling relaying personal events. Everyone has a few stories; Working these out, and in, give a heightened sense of realism as characters recount events the same as a real person we know does.
It's important to note men and women tell stories differently. Take two children, one of each gender, recounting the story of how a peer skins their knee:
Boy: I was riding my bike and saw him and he fell and skinned his knee.
Girl: I went out to buy ice cream and while I was walking home I stopped to watch this bird. Then I started to walk home when I saw him, and he fell and skinned his knee.
Notice the female child recounts A.) More speific details and B.) The full journey arriving to these details, whereas the male child is more direct and cuts to the point of the story, leaving out details and journey in favor of simplification and directness. This difference causes a lot of communication issues in people, as women put emphases on details in a story, and men put it on directness, both of which can cause the other to find the other very frustrating at times.
Romance is a natural part of human behavior. At the sae time, these romances impact us, even years later. Even romances that never kindle can leave an effect on the sufferer.
Additionally, family relationships, or even the lack thereof, make notable differences. Many serial killers, for example, are thought to have A.) A poor relationship with their mother and B.) The absence of a father figure.
Even family members occasionally seen can leave impacts; Bear in mind, no one out there is 100% 'normal', so there's always that family member whose different than rest. Seeing them even once in their lives can provide an interesting experience.
Body language is one of the keys of communicating silently; Most others can pick up a lot of information from a pose someone is in. Look at how they use and holds their hands, how they stand, their posture, how they walk, how they stand.
Undiagnosed and Former Physical Illness and Ailments
If you have a character who suffered in a car accident, note should be made of how and if this still has any impact on them. For some, this could be a limp (Applying itself also to body language), a lack of a leg, or a knee that 'acts up when it rains'.
If you character has a condition not yet discovered, research early symptoms and make sure to include these slowly. This happens in real life as well, and creates a pattern of events that allows the educated or aware reader to notice and realize were intentional identifying markers. This, too, helps provide a better sense of a realism.
On the long term, consider your characters life, and eventual job--be that job something mundane or to be the hero. Imagine the long term draw backs and effects, and how this can impact health and mental condition. Artists often suffer from carpal tunnel, for example; And these small traits and mentions, casually referenced earlier in, and slowly more frequently, again provide a more realistic feel to the eventual revelation.
Sense of Style and Impacts on the Body
The clothes you wear can damage your body as time goes on. Women who often wear high-hells actually end up leaving an effect on their bones in this area as a result. Corsets worn in early eras deformed the body as time went on (And still are sometimes used for this intentionally.) These things are worth considering for design and realism.
Diet and Substance Use Effects, Exercise, Daily Calorie Burn
People who eat healthier tend to look healthier. And things like drinking can damage the body. Factor in if your character does any of these things, why or why not, and how often. If you character is a foodie obsessed with sweets, for example, also consider how that character is burning off those calories. If they aren't, the character needs to either have a highly active life style involving a lot of physical activities and exercise, a job with a lot of physical work involved, or to gain weight. If they still refuse to, factor in a metabolism speed, and the heart's over all health; Consider, too, that diet can cause long-term problems down the line, such as diabetes.
Daily Routine, Weekend Routines, Spontaneousness
Your character likely has a daily routine of some kind; Consider what this is each day. Also factor in what they typically do on days off--like the weekend.
Everyone is occasionally spontaneous, but this, too, can fall into a pattern and make more sense when using additional details to choose what the character is most likely to want to do.
People do not work like we like to make them do on paper; Sometimes they do things, or react in ways, that don't really add up with the rest of their personality. It's important to note a few things of this nature; Everyone has a few.
If you read through this and wondered if I really did factor in this information, all of this, for each and every character? Check out the bio's on the site. Everything here has been factored in, even in the smallest mentions.