Do you write the characters or let them write themselves?

Paul_Tromba

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Do you have a specific written character sheet for each of your characters with every detail about them listed? or rather, do you decide on a character type and background but leave the rest up to how they act in certain situation and discussions in order to decide on their personality? I usually do the later as it allows more freedom and makes them less of a cardboard cutout of a personality. However, this is just my opinion. I've talked to a couple of writers that swear by the first way. what do you all think?
 

NotaNuffian

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Do you have a specific written character sheet for each of your characters with every detail about them listed? or rather, do you decide on a character type and background but leave the rest up to how they act in certain situation and discussions in order to decide on their personality? I usually do the later as it allows more freedom and makes them less of a cardboard cutout of a personality. However, this is just my opinion. I've talked to a couple of writers that swear by the first way. what do you all think?
The first is good in that as a writer, your character will act accordingly to the preprogrammed manner, this is especially useful when you have already created the entire skeleton of the work and you are just pasting the meat in.

To be honest, most of us here are the latter type because everyone here tends to not plan out the entire work and just freeballing.
 

JayDirex

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No one-way is the right way. sometimes I'll base a character on certain tropes and flesh them out (natural leader, Tsundere, etc.)

But some writer on the internet said something that I liked and didn't forget:

He says, imagine the character you are writing is walking down the street and they run into an old acquaintance that they haven't seen in a long time. How the character greets the acquaintance will tell you a lot about the character. (give it a try with the characters in your story. fun little thought expirment. 😁)
 
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Biggest-Kusa-Out-There

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I make character cheets with a little information, likes, dislikes, things they tolerate, motivations/goals, etc. How they act in response to them or how they achieve them is free space.
 

SootShade

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With the story I'm writing right now, it's been almost entirely the latter, since I started out with practically nothing planned.

But when I actually plan out a story, I come up with key details that in some way define the character, usually depending on a specific purpose they serve in the story concept, whether it's how they act/look/think, or some event from their past. From there, the characters will largely define the rest of the story, and are fleshed out in the process. The story's background gets extra details when it has to explain why the character is how they are. The personality of the character has to somehow tie to their predefined qualities. The further the character's personality is defined, the more they have clear motivations, and those motivations then become the major driving forces of that direct the entire narrative, within the limits of the setting.
 

bigbear51

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It's a good idea to have a character sheet because you should be planning out your story from start to finish before the first words are even written. I think that's mostly why people struggle to finish their works other than things popping up in their lives. However, the most I ever outline any of my characters is to put out an outline and write one or two paragraphs that describe them or their backstories.
 

Jemini

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Do you have a specific written character sheet for each of your characters with every detail about them listed? or rather, do you decide on a character type and background but leave the rest up to how they act in certain situation and discussions in order to decide on their personality? I usually do the later as it allows more freedom and makes them less of a cardboard cutout of a personality. However, this is just my opinion. I've talked to a couple of writers that swear by the first way. what do you all think?

I don't exactly do either. At the same time, I sort of do both. What I do is I base all my characters off of favorite characters from other stories or on people I know in real life. Then, I alter their personality a little to fit the circumstances of the story I put them into which is more or less a method based on the 1st one you talked about.
 

LordAstrea

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I have the majority of my work planned out up to a number of volumes ahead. I don't have every specific detail for so much content (mainly the important plot points), so sometimes I need to get multiple chapters done for plot consistency. With the characters, I had their personalities, backstories, relationships and likes planned out, but then they pretty much start taking over after the initial groundwork.
 

Snusmumriken

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Most of my characters are planned rather intensively, but only up to their introduction in the story. From there on I use the plot to shape them while they shape the plot themselves.

Because of that my plot-line is rather loose and has only major milestones mapped out, with only the next 5-10 chapters having more fleshed out but still broad ideas mapped out.

The reason for extensive planning is that i want certain milestones to happen and i need certain personalities for them to occur. beyond that, it is free for all.
 

AKnightWithaKnife

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I good writer rarely has everything decided about their character. A bad writer would have almost everything planned about him or her and the story would suffer greatly from a unmoving point of view
 

AliceShiki

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I don't plan almost anything about a character... Usually my characters are kinda created on the spot as I need a character for a given situation tbh.

As they start interacting with other characters, their personality starts to naturally get fleshed out, so I stick to it... This ends up leading me into thinking of their backstory, and once I decided on it, I go back to the earlier parts and see if it's consistent with the now existent backstory... If it is, great, if not, edit and make it consistent.

Basically, I let my characters write themselves down for the most part. If I need to make any changes to them, I make... If not, I just let them act on their own~
 

EternalSunset0

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Do you have a specific written character sheet for each of your characters with every detail about them listed? or rather, do you decide on a character type and background but leave the rest up to how they act in certain situation and discussions in order to decide on their personality? I usually do the later as it allows more freedom and makes them less of a cardboard cutout of a personality. However, this is just my opinion. I've talked to a couple of writers that swear by the first way. what do you all think?
Completely the former. I'm just a planner in general so before I start writing, I already got their quirks or character arcs plotted out. I go with the standard archetypes but try to give them character arcs at least to mitigate the "cardboard cutout-ness"

Of course, there are times the pre-planned arcs just don't work when they get put on document already, which causes a couple of rewrites that can get annoying due to the delays they cause. My volume 3 in particular suffered from that, and a bit in the current one I'm writing.
 

skillet

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For main characters, I start as the former and end up as the latter. It's like I formed them, and then they became their own selves that I have to now kind of adhere to. Haha. I've had to revamp my entire story plot multiple times because of that :'D
For side characters, they usually just form on the spot, probably because they're less important to the plot?
 

MoodyFoxCat

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Mine goes both ways, I wrote the story first, worked my plot around bit by bit every chapter, and soon began to form my characters. Along the way I came to the decision of giving more life about them in a sense while I think of what else to add, while making sure everything just connects from both past and presently where the reader is currently reading. By this I meant at least in the book that they are looking over.

Sooner or later when I finally reach the end of my first story, the puzzle pieces will connect and everything will make sense, but for now I will just continue to write until the journey is complete.

Like always, the best-written stories are ones most enjoyed by the writer and not when the writer loses hope and will in making it.
 

ElliePorter

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In one of my novels...I introduce this character like bam. He/she suddenly popped out of nowhere!

Then on the next chapter is that characters backstory
I mean, if you let your character write themselves, they would rather mourn the death of their parents who just died than to go on an adventure and make a harem.
Is this batman?
 

Agentt

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In one of my novels...I introduce this character like bam. He/she suddenly popped out of nowhere!

Then on the next chapter is that characters backstory

Is this batman?
Oh my god, imagine batman being an isekai hero and making a harem
 

LoliGent

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Interesting case I have.

I am planning characters right now for a future story. Though not so much as I only intend to write a short story, so I only need enough for the story's longevity. However, my current story that I'm writing is just an experiment, as in it was only intended to last like 10 chapters. That means that the characters were literally nothing but blanks, only rendered by the very ludicrous title I gave it and only named due to the first name that came to my mind, Elon Musk. The characters were intended to be as one dimensional as possible just to fulfill the 10 chapter quota I estimated.

Then the story started getting traction. After realizing that the story could be fleshed out, I figured that maybe I should start planning somethings, but I never did. The story continue to just be written as I go and the characters have to be designed on the fly.

A strange phenomena happened. The characters started to be fleshed out by their own will, in some strange way. I have nothing planned except for the story's title. That is literally the only thing that was planned and only due to the weird premise I thought of. Yet, the story itself started building the character's personalities. It has gone beyond just a dumb scenario into some deep dive into the psychological, and the characters are all in it for the ride.

Though there is a limit to this. The beginning seems disconnected to me now. Since this story started out with no planning, that is to be expected. So the characters are more or less basic in the beginning, and now they have transformed into something more. I'm quite shocked at how well it has worked out.

I might do this again after the story ends and see how the characters develop in another experimental story, should I chose to. For now, I'm planning a more structured story and I need to make those character bios, but this was a very interesting experiment for sure.

He says, imagine the character you are writing is walking down the street and they run into an old acquaintance that they haven't seen in a long time. How the character greets the acquaintance will tell you a lot about the character. (give it a try with the characters in your story. fun little thought challenge. 😁)

Sure. Let's try it.

... and she never had any friends due to her social anxiety!!! :cry:
 

LotsChrono

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The first is good in that as a writer, your character will act accordingly to the preprogrammed manner, this is especially useful when you have already created the entire skeleton of the work and you are just pasting the meat in.

To be honest, most of us here are the latter type because everyone here tends to not plan out the entire work and just freeballing.
Perfect response.
Do you have a specific written character sheet for each of your characters with every detail about them listed? or rather, do you decide on a character type and background but leave the rest up to how they act in certain situation and discussions in order to decide on their personality? I usually do the later as it allows more freedom and makes them less of a cardboard cutout of a personality. However, this is just my opinion. I've talked to a couple of writers that swear by the first way. what do you all think?
What @NotaNuffian said. Though, even when I do plot things out, I do still tend to let the characters write themselves because (1) Writing is more enjoyable to me that way (2) I surprise myself with my own story and (3) It feels more natural to me. I never force my characters to follow a plot or do something they wouldn't naturally do unless proper development has been given.
 
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