Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 13, 2016 - 10:34pm

My favorite way to explore characters is to have two of them argue. It just works. Maybe because people get passionate when they argue, I'm not entirely sure. But it's conflict and it gets them moving and talking, that's for sure.

What's yours?

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 14, 2016 - 6:15am

I like to see how they behave when someone, or something, dies.

What are their beliefs on death? How did they get those beliefs? Who taught them? When did it click that this is what happens?

I can pretty much reconstruct their lives based on how they handle death. The religious have the worst time with it for some reason.

Humboldt Lycanthrope's picture
Humboldt Lycanthrope from California is reading Sing, Unburied, Sing July 14, 2016 - 10:50am

Arguments are great. Nearly all of my dialogue is on the verge of an argument. You have desire vs. opposition, attack vs. counter attack. Even when my characters are being sweet to each other, there is a playful back and forth that reveals their relationship.

Of course minor flaws are an excellent way to explore a character. Their fears of failure, impatience, lust, laziness. These can all be explored through their internal questions and desires.

I really like Jose's comment. How they react to death is a deep, fundamental and existential character reveal.

Also how they react to criticism and praise can show their humility level and their egotism. 

I also like little traits that don't really explore the character deeply, but just lend a personal touch to them. Like constantly cleaning their glasses on their shirt tail, rubbing their chin, looking at their feet or conversely looking through or over people, i.e the thirty yard stare.

Great blog post. I'm curious what others are going to say. This is a great topic.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 17, 2016 - 2:46am

Get them drunk and or high.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Chelsea Cain! July 19, 2016 - 8:39am

Acts of rebellion and the (sometimes simple things) that can completely destroy people on an emotional level.

I also love the back and forth of a snark exchange - either for mutual sport or the tipping point of an argument.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann July 20, 2016 - 1:20pm

My English advisor and favorite Lit professor taught me a few techniques to overcome academic writer's block that I've found also work wonders for writing fiction. They're surrealist free-writing techniques that require you to work strictly with impulse and imagination. They're a way of freely engaging with the imagination without thinking ahead or trying to set structural limitations. Two of the techniques that I've continued to use are imaginary dialogues and another one that doesn't really have a name (that I'm aware of). It involves writing a potentially infinitely long sentence using non-restrictive modifiers and a method lifted from Thomas Mann's descriptive writing technique.

For the exploration of character, I mostly use the imaginary dialogues. You need 2 speakers, a clear subject of conversation, and every exchange has to end with one speaker asking the other one a question. Typically, you aim to do about 20 exchanges, with 1 exchange consisting of speaker 1 saying something and speaker 2 responding. It's usually the most helpful if you have them disagree with each other completely. I will take on the role of speaker 1 and interview one of my characters, speaker 2, in attempt to find out their motives or what happens in a scene that I can't seem to completely visualize. Often times, certain characters will be more reticent than others on some topics and will not give me all the information I need. At that point, I will go to another character who is close to the first one and ask them the same question. Often times, for some reason, the other character will be able to tell me what the original one was hiding about themselves. It's very strange and a wonderful way of tapping into your subconscious ideas on who your characters are and what makes them tick.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 20, 2016 - 4:27pm

^i think someone likes my have them argue idea..?

JeffreyGrantBarr's picture
JeffreyGrantBarr from Oregon is reading https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/10268733-jeff-barr?shelf=currently-reading July 20, 2016 - 10:16pm

I like to explore my characters with my tongue. 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 21, 2016 - 2:04am

I like to kill my female crushes in stories through the legal system, exploring the inner misery of their older teen lovers with their lives permanently changed in the aftermath of their girlfriend's death. I guess it is a bit of a stereotype for Lesbian fiction.

But keep in mind what do you expect when writing about female gendered French serial killers dating girls in the American Guillotine Gun family dynasty.

I have a thing for French female gendered serial killers. Something about broken birds and being guillotined, it's kind of sexy and scary at the same time.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann July 21, 2016 - 11:19am

^i think someone likes my have them argue idea..?

For the unique breed of simplistic, hostile stupidity that springs from your mind to be so persistent, always there like fungus in a humid place, it takes an impressive fertilizer of not just stupidity of such a gargantuan weight that the one who bears it goes blind and senseless from the effort, but also ego of monumental proportions—whereby one's head is so big, the illuminating light of reason is forever blocked from view. The latter quality is especially important because it ensures that ignorance will always persist and that the peddler of idiocy has no way of ever gaining the insight to realize exactly how stupid they are. Because, you see, the intelligence and self-awareness that it would take to become cognizant of the stupidity that's taken root and continues to shoot spores every time the words begin, and to wrest it from you like the parasite it is, is assuredly beyond you.

I congratulate you, however, on the comfortable bliss you must feel. With a brain uncluttered by the mad fever of stupidity catalyzed by narcissism, it's difficult to find such unflinching confidence as a writer. You've surpassed us all. Yes, the length of IM's that you type to people are a great literary model for how you should write paragraphs. Absolutely, the subjective way that you feel in response to comma placement is a far greater heuristic to effectively plot out sentences than the established grammatical rules of the English language. Indeed, French surrealist techniques with specific guidelines that were taught to me over a period of weeks are simply my copying your ever-shining brevity of brilliance to "have them argue". If only the likes of Orwell, Joyce, Woolf, and Shakespeare had been alive to sit at your feet and learn from these instincts that so compactly and impressionistically simplify academic learning that you never participated in into brief, narcissistic belches that I'm blessed to have always coming in response to anything I ever write on this forum.

Please, teach me. I have nothing of value to offer myself. You simply must. I cannot go on as a writer otherwise. I'm just a girl with two degrees.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 21, 2016 - 11:28am

^

I believe if we reduce this with minimalism, it roughly translates to "Fuck you you ignorant fuck."

Maybe that's too reductive.

Bethwenn, That was awesome. I know I'm not out of your crosshair, but that was just great.

ahahahahaha

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 21, 2016 - 2:12pm

Woo-whee! I was just asking if we were on the same page, more or less, with the intention of following up on the differences, in any, of what you were talking about and what I'd said. I thought we'd stumbled upon similar strategies independently and both found success with them!

Perhaps the minimalist nature of my rhetoric failed to adequarely convey the nuances of my internal monologue and instead negated the potential eventuality of having an apropos civilized discourse wherein said referenced nuances of my proposal vis a vis yours, rather your professors.

I do, nonetheless, congratulate you, on whatever bliss you must feel with a brain so cluttered with rhetorical textbook jargon and vocabulary that spills out your mind via your fingertips, the internet, and this forum in a manner so opposed to minimalism that, perhaps, in the same way that darkness defines light, you have defined minimalism by moving so completely, thoroughly, and inarguably in the opposite direction. As do I also congratulate you on your sex and multiple degrees, for both are reason in and of themselves to deserve commondation. If "elitist" be the derrogatory term to describe someone of your stature, I insist that we only ever refer to, and think of you, as superior in all ways that matter. If only the likes of Atwood, Bronte, Rowling, Alcott, etc., were here to learn from your blah-blah-blah I'm tired of this...

Etc etc etc...

Minimalist version of the above: jesus fucking christ, pull the stick out. Did I attack you? No.

 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 21, 2016 - 2:15pm

PS

Pretty much every other post in this thread, that I hope doesn't go horribly, horribly wrong as it seems it's about to, have been great. Get them drunk/high and make them deal with death were my two personal favorites, but all wonderful ideas, and I hope people keep them up.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated July 21, 2016 - 3:29pm

@bethwenn - Chill. Pretend you are one of my characters and have a drink.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 21, 2016 - 8:47pm

I wish I didn't get easily lost, not to different from me drinking. But not the target of the question. I get very giggly I hear.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann August 5, 2016 - 8:31pm

I like Jose's revision. ;)

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal August 5, 2016 - 9:14pm

Me too! Much more to the point...