#1 Edited by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

So, called me out yesterday saying that he wanted to have a sort of... class-y thing made for the fan-fic boards, with various writers giving classes on various aspects of fanfiction and handing out tips of their own. I chose the category of "Characterization" and agreed to make a post to start things off. I will have you warned that I am a poor teacher.

A lot of my readers have noted that the characterization of the folks I use is among my most noticeable traits. I attribute this to a few things:

1. Know the characters. This may seem obvious, at first, but I have a feeling that a lot of people write fanfiction (or even original fiction) starring characters they don't truly understand. In order to truly understand a character you have to see more than the hero. For example, let me present the character I'm most often praised for, Harley Quinn:

Who is she?

- A villain. Most people won't see past that. She's "bad".

- Joker's old girlfriend. People who look past the first will then see this.

- Highly Educated

- A Psychiatrist

- Insane

- Childlike

- Romantic

- And a pile of other things.

By taking note of all of these things (relevant to your character, obviously) you get a better and better feel for them. Try to piece these together, ESPECIALLY the ones that don't seem like they should work. An insane psychiatrist? How does that work? A childish romantic? That makes no sense! But they all do make sense. Make them make sense to you, and you shall achieve understanding! This is going to be the most important part. Knowing the character's history is also a good idea -- I can't tell you to read every issue of any comic that your character has ever appeared in, but you should have a solid understanding of where they've been and what they've been through. Keeping these things in mind will help you know how they'll react when similar situations come along.

2. Make that knowledge work for you. You can know everything about a character but still not be sure exactly how to get your ideas across to a reader. This is why I usually write in the first person, when I can -- writing from a character's perspective forces you to see things through their eyes, and once you do that, you force the reader to do the same. Even with third person, however, characterization can be achieved through internal monologue. Describing how a character feels about a given situation in great detail shows the reader what kind of person you're talking about.

3. Make them HUMAN. When I write characters, I have a strong tendency to use their real names as opposed to their "super" names. When you start to get up-close and personal with a character, readers want to hear what's happening with Karen Starr -- not Power Girl. Superman is a title, not a name. Clark Kent is where the important internal struggles and tragedy happens. Remember their flaws -- so you're writing Daredevil? He's blind, but he's fine, right? He has that radar sense and stuff. But that doesn't mean he can see the color of a daffodil, stare out across the wide blue ocean, or see the red of a lover's lips before he kisses them. He's alone in a world of gray, and it's your job to convey that drama and emotion. Just because he can GET BY without eyes doesn't make not really wish he still had them. Obviously, this doesn't count for all non-human characters... in that case, make them martian or whatever.

4. When all else fails, fake it 'til you make it. Most characters have tics and other traits that can be EXPLOITED FOR YOUR GAIN (mwahahahah). For example, Harley has her distinctive accent -- even if you have difficulty grasping her playful demeanor, using the accent will both help you "get in the zone" and may trick your reader into thinking you're doing a good job. When writing Catwoman, use cat puns. When writing Batman, use his trademarked vanishing trick. When writing Etrigan, speak in rhyme. You'll figure it out soon enough!

This concludes my lecture on characterization. I hope you all enjoyed it, and for those aspiring writers, I hope this helped.

#2 Posted by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

Bump for those who may have missed it.

#3 Posted by batkevin74 (12332 posts) - - Show Bio

Well done

#4 Posted by wildvine (10961 posts) - - Show Bio

This is very informative.

#5 Posted by primepower53 (6064 posts) - - Show Bio

I like it!

#6 Posted by Ravager4 (1688 posts) - - Show Bio

Stripper Harley approves

#7 Posted by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

^ What in the world is that from? I recognize it not one iota. Anyway, thanks for reading, to you and all the other folkz.

#8 Posted by Ravager4 (1688 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: It's from the wonderful and amazing Secret Six, by Gail Simone. That's one of Liana's (the stripper girlfriend of Scandal Savage at the time) work friends. She speaks entirely in emotes. Like squee. And baaawww. It's amazing.

#9 Posted by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

Ahw! I really need to get that whole damn run, is there a compilation anywhere? I keep checking up on it when I get money but I never know when to start.

#10 Posted by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

Bump with updates to the article.

#11 Posted by Irishlad (651 posts) - - Show Bio

Wow it looks extra tidy and shiny well done! :)

#12 Posted by batkevin74 (12332 posts) - - Show Bio
#13 Posted by tomdickharry1984 (842 posts) - - Show Bio


#14 Posted by batkevin74 (12332 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: Bumped

#15 Posted by xxxddd (3706 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: So if a character is perfect, then they're completely unrelatable?

#16 Posted by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

Basically, yeah. That's called a "Mary Sue".

#17 Posted by Pyrogram (42534 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: And that is why I hate superman.

#18 Posted by Irishlad (651 posts) - - Show Bio

While Superman is very powerful he still has his weaknesses like magic, kryptonite and just personal conflicts in general in a way he's no different than the god in your av.

A mary sue is someone who always says the right thing and who can never be beaten. *phew* rant over :P

#19 Posted by Pyrogram (42534 posts) - - Show Bio

@Irishlad: I was joking mate :P I know what a mary superman sue is xD

#20 Posted by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

@Irishlad: @Pyrogram: Rofl, Irish gets exhausted after a single small paragraph. :P

#21 Posted by Pyrogram (42534 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: He would hate the off-topic rants xD

#22 Posted by Project_Worm (3784 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl said:

@Irishlad: @Pyrogram: Rofl, Irish gets exhausted after a single small paragraph. :P

Same here!! That's why I can never finish anything. >_>

#23 Posted by Mediumflyer7 (314 posts) - - Show Bio

Helpful ideas :)

#24 Posted by xxxddd (3706 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: Thanks.

#25 Edited by xxxddd (3706 posts) - - Show Bio

I've made the mistake of writing my stories based on mere events, and not character development. And what I've ended up creating is a bland mess with nothing connecting with me(as the reader) since the story isn't based on character conflict and development.

#26 Posted by Joygirl (20840 posts) - - Show Bio

@xxxddd: That can be a toughie. D: Hope this helped a bit. ^_^

#27 Posted by xxxddd (3706 posts) - - Show Bio
#28 Posted by anurag_50 (174 posts) - - Show Bio


Is it working?

#29 Edited by johnny_blaze (1286 posts) - - Show Bio

Not bad.