...the ideal mathematical model of spacetime topography. I'm trying to rectify this but I don't have any real people skills to help me. Anyone have ideas on how I can make my characters more... I don't know, character-y?
What exactly is your issue? Are you just writing characters whose personality doesn't flow naturally and seemed forced, or what?
Yes and no. I end up always starting with a character who's basically a meatbag plot device (They still drive the plot, but not in any significant way. basically, a gear with free will could easily replace them) and then when I try to change them into a person, they become a meatbag plot device with character traits drawn on the outside.
Well, show me and example of a character piece you have and I'll try tell you what's wrong to the best of my abilities.
For example, in the story I'm currently writing, you can be either James or Hannah. I've only really established two traits for them:
James is non-threatening and listens to music on the way to school
Hannah is easily spooked and counts potholes on the way to school
I can't figure out how to add more to them without it feeling shoehorned and seemingly detracting from the story; obviously, they're terribly boring characters.
It's actually pretty funny if all writers did this. I can imagine Kratos awkwardly trying to put the moods on Zeus.
It's hilarious, but also horrifying when you realize something like this is like the primordial spawning place of all AU shipping fics.
I've never done the 'send the characters on a date' thing, but writing mostly fantasy and sci-fi I used to enjoy playing around with 'these characters who hate each other are now stuck hanging out or working together for [vague unspecified reasons]' scenarios.
You've given me the best advice about this so far, which is hilarious because of your username.
It's like role play! But lonelier.
Try writing from experience? Surely you have friends whom you don't consider meatbags of a plot device that you can take inspiration from.
There are: my brothers and my dad. I don't want all my characters to be my brothers and my dad, and that also leaves no space for female characters.
Is there some reason the only people you've ever observed or interacted with are your brothers and your dad?
Do...do we need to call the police?
Is... is he another basement prisoner? Did I just make a friend?
You can't have basements in this part of california.
No. I'm homeschooled and am not part of a homeschool organization so I really only interact with my family on a regular basis. I still do boring stuff like go to the grocery store, but there aren't any character worthy interactions there. It's not like I'm locked in a basement and do nothing but sit in front of a computer.
Although, your concern is noted, thank you.
I was homeschooled for most of my life. I still socialized. If you don't have opportunities, make them.
I'm going to college this august so there's that, but growing up we were in and out of bad financial situations and living in neighborhoods that were less than safe. The neighborhood I'm currently living in is full of people who don't like my family for some reason. Tangentially: the internet doesn't convey emotion well.
Depends on how you're talking and who you're talking to on that last bit. (I'd respond with more, but my thoughts are a tad muddled after being bitched at by a... bafflingly annoyed family member.)
the first idea won't work because I don't know many people, but the second idea is great. I could keep a speadsheet to keep track of the characters' personalities.
What is your plot?
What are the major decisions your character's have made to affect the plot?
Why did they make thsee decisions?
Boom, you now have one extra thing.
I always just build up from archetypes. For example:
I take 'The Villain' and give him some powers. Then I ask to myself, why is he acting this way? Clearly, he doesn't view himself as the villain. There must be something to drive him; something as powerful as what drives the hero. Then, I go through his train of thought on how he deals with the guilt of comitting villainous acts and how he rationalizes his behavior.
so basically, take a two dimensional character and build one more dimension on top of it.
in other words you read TV tropes.
no. I come up with their motivations myself. Or do you mean I read TVTropes for the archetypes?
I mean the second thing but you may take it as the first thing if you wish.
If you're still a teenager, odds are good that you don't have enough life experience yet to write compelling characters, because you need to understand people before you can write them in a realistic way. This is something that will improve with time. That said, well-rounded, interesting characters tend to have the following characteristics.
- Goal. They should want something very badly and actively try to achieve it.
- Motivation. Why do they want to achieve this goal so badly? The more personal and specific you make it, the better.
- Conflict. What's stopping them from achieving their goal? Ideally this is a mixture of internal and external conflict. Internal conflict in particular is really important for making characters feel three-dimensional.
- Change over the course of the story. How do they grow as people in pursuit of their goal? How do they overcome whatever flaws are the source of their internal conflict?
In general, if your characters are boring, you probably need more of one (or several) of the above. Try raising the stakes and making their needs and conflicts more primal.
There's been a lot of good advice given in this thread, but that bit about goals and conflict may be what's most necessary in this situation. The example we were given was 'sitting on the bus on the way to school'. Well, unless there's something going on during this bus ride, that's a scenario that would have even more interesting characters sitting there liked a lump.
If the only thing that happens is counting potholes or listening to music, why was that scene included? How does it advance the story?
And while it's true it's hard to write people believably while you're still a teenager, and a sheltered one at that--I've read plenty of stories (and probably written more than a few) that were technically proficient, but just hilarious because none of the characters or their motivations or reactions were remotely realistic and it was obvious the author was just clueless and out of touch. Kids trying to write about adult conflicts or war, for instance--but you have access to an unending supply of books and other media to help fill in the gaps. Next best thing to experiencing something yourself is in getting into the mind of someone who has.
Though of course, there's always the old 'write what you know'. Maybe your protagonist shouldn't be some average kid riding the bus to public school if that's not something you're too familiar with yourself. Because most of your readers will be, and any area your story is lacking in or any place where it rings false will be all the more glaringly obvious because of it.
The scene is there for one character to be brutally murdered without the other one able to stop it, but I suppose you have a good point there. It's also true that I have no idea what a public school is like and, scientific works on education research aside, I don't think I've ever read anything that was actually about a school.