Indeed. How can you make characters be characters? How can you make them interesting? Fun? Exciting to watch/read?
Chris and Cooper ELKIN are here to tell you how they do it.
Right after the jump! Click Continue Reading! —>
Chris: Hey, fans! Some of you might be working on your fanfictions, books/novels, maybe movies or even theatre plays. This is awesome!
Cooper: It’s awesome because you have complete control over the story and your characters.
Chris: But what makes a character a character?
Cooper: Chris had the idea for this article’s title. Apologies in advance.. >.>
Chris: Shush! I am a genius ahead of his time… but enough about the real world, let’s talk fiction!
1. The Fictional World and Your Character’s Status in it
Chris: Let’s say you have this awesome story in your head about a Kingdom. Of course, every self-respecting kingdom needs a self-respecting King.
Cooper: The King is your main character — we’re just pretending now, we’re not dictating you your next book.
Chris(leans over): I think they got that, Cooper.
Cooper: Just making sure.
Chris: …Aaa-ny-waaay, your character is there! Boom! King! …King.. Bob. King Bob.
Chris: It’s for demo-purposes. It’s good.
Cooper: I bet half of them stopped reading this.
Chris: Shush! King Bob has spoken!
Cooper: You have established a super-easy-sketch of your world and the status this character has. You don’t have to go too in-depth with it, for now.
Chris: Make him smart, handsome and epic! …yes, you may use me as inspiration.
Cooper: Will you stop it?!
Chris: What? What did I do–
Cooper: QUALITIES …are important, dear readers. It’s what attracts. Qualities in a character make him funny, cool, exciting to read about.
Chris: I once saw this movie… there was this woman and she was babbling about how uninteresting her life was. The entire thing lasted for 10 minutes and, at the end, she stated how life has forgotten her, or something.
Chris: Yeah, depressing.. imagine THAT turned into a book.
Cooper: Or a brochure.
Chris: Most likely a scribbled napkin. A brochure has too much depth.
Cooper: Sidetracking aside — don’t go too wild with the qualities. If you want to make him unique, say.. a magician..
Chris: A Magician King, I like that!
Cooper: ..feel free to do so, but don’t make him a magician mind-reader that can fight dragons by headbutting them and who is also a great chef.
Chris: ……. That. Sounds. AWESOME! I wanna change our book now.
Cooper: You’ve probably heard it a million times before — add flaws to your character.
Chris: It’s true. If qualities attract you as a reader, FLAWS will make you feel empathic. You will relate to the character, its emotions and needs.
Chris: So let’s make him stupid! 😀
Cooper: What?! No!
Chris: It IS a flaw..
Cooper: Well yes but there are OTHER flaws we can use! For example, let’s say King..uh.. Bob… King Bob… is…. is…
Chris: Scared of toilets?
Chris: Maybe he’s actually a robot in disguise who plans World Domination only to discover that he… was actually a PONY in disguise!
Chris: Too much?
Cooper: A bit. Let’s just make him stubborn.
Chris: Okay, I guess that works too.
Cooper: So, now we have King Bob the Magician who is stubborn!
Chris: What is the Role of our King Bob the Stubborn Magician?
Cooper: Well, we need a conflict for that. If his kingdom would be under attack, his role would be to defend it.
Chris: Or if he is bored of being King, his role would be to go on a journey of self-discovery.
Cooper: As.. complex as that sounds, yes, that could work too.
Cooper: You see, dear readers, the role you give to a character depends on the story you are trying to tell. The idea is to have such an interesting character that, no matter what journey you set him/her/it on, he/she/it will always go through interesting choices, decisions and outcomes!
Chris: Wow… we should write a book!
Chris: Like a ball?
Cooper *rolls eyes*: Yes, Chris, like a ball…
Cooper: What does your character need to develop and keep things fresh throughout the journey?
Chris: Characters. Other characters that he can bounce off of. The term “bounce” basically refers to the idea of action-reaction.
Cooper: For example — King Bob the Stubborn Magician can have an argument with one of his loyal subjects.
Chris: Or even better, the QUEEN! Haha!
Cooper: Ha, yes!
Chris: Imagine King Bob talking with his beloved wife over dinner regarding the proper way of entertaining royal guests.
Cooper: She could be very open-minded and, why not, a juggler. She starts juggling with the plates, to his disapproval.
Chris: He tries to stop her but eventually gives up, seeing his guests are having fun. He ends up tossing even more dishes to her as she expertly juggles them all–
Cooper: –and right then, his mother-in-law enters to room, with a petrified look on her face. “How improper!” She startles them, making the Queen miss a plate …everything resulting in a big apple pie in the mother-in-law’s hair.
Chris: There are plenty of hilarious twists one might write about given certain characters and particular situations.
Cooper: That’s the key here… create a conflicted character and make him face conflictual situations — proper dinner manners or entertained royal guests?
Chris: Now I’m hungry.
Cooper: Me too.
Chris: It’s important to understand that these guidelines apply to ANY type of book / novel / comic / fanfic you are writing. Not only Comedy.
Cooper: Imagine that dinner-scene again… only this time, the King’s stubbornness makes him react angrily at his wife, in front of the guests, creating an embarrassing scene. BAM! You have Drama.
Chris: The Queen, in a depressing fit, burns down the castle — Tragedy!
Cooper: The King leaves the kingdom in search of a new castle and queen. He finds a peasant girl who understands him properly — Romance!
Chris: ..but she was actually the mother-in-law who wanted revenge in the name of her daughter. She plans to murder the King! — Action / Thriller
Cooper: Anything goes! In any direction! All these are limited to your imagination only!
Chris: Write about his wishes, his desires, his secrets, his losses, his gains, what makes him happy, what makes him sad, what scares him, what comforts him!
Cooper: A character has lessons to learn. Always.
Chris: Maybe the lesson is given to him but he does not learn it. However, the lesson IS there.
Cooper: The ending that you offer to your reader must mean something.
Chris: I once saw another movie–
Cooper: You should stop watching movies.
Chris: No, listen, it’s a good example! There was this guy and he was depressed. The short movie began with: “Hello, I am John and by the end of this movie I am going to die.”
Chris: It was stupid, it was annoying, nothing happened on screen — except this John walking along the beach, contemplating life — and nothing was learned from it. The character didn’t learn anything, the viewers didn’t learn anything.
Cooper: If he would’ve had 5 more minutes to live, the conflict is great for an interesting, intense short movie.
Chris: Yeah but… the writers did nothing with that idea. It was boring as hay.
Cooper: Point taken. Therefore, dear readers, a character must have a lesson to learn or encounter a change in his life that is significant at the end of the story.
Chris: Happy endings are nice… but if you’re aiming for a sad ending, you have to give it a DAYUM-good reason for it to be sad, not just to satisfy a need of torturing a character.
Chris: KING Bob!
Cooper: King Bob’s powers… He quickly uses magic to remove the apple pie from the mother-in-law’s hair aaaand discovers that she had an unexpectedly good sense of humor. She laughed at the situation and King Bob the Stubborn Magician learned that, sometimes, it’s good to be less stubborn since magic can always fix things.
Chris: Ah! I like how you didn’t cancel his stubbornness completely! ^-^
Cooper: Well, of course, the character needs to remain human until the end.
Chris: Well, these are our tips for you. Thanks for reading aaaand get ready for our next poll tomorrow!
Cooper: We have a very important question for you… which might mean more work for us but definitely a worthy outcome for all! 😀
Chris: Cya tomorrow!