Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Are you looking to make your characters more interesting?
deezy at 10:28AM, June 16, 2010
(offline)
posts: 11
joined: 6-13-2010
Here's the secret. Its real simple all you have to do is make a your character want something. It could be anything as long character wants it bad enough. Think about the last good movie you saw. Did the character desperately desire to accomplish something? Did the character ever achieve it? As soon as your character wants to attain a goal your story becomes focused and clear and easy to understand.

Here's the second part of this little tidbit. Don't give your character what they want. At least not yet. Let them suffer, throw everything in their way including the kitchen sink. Make sure that we see that the character wants it badly and is willing to do anything to get it.

Have you ever watched a movie that was extremely boring? Take that movie and think about what the character wanted. Chances are the character wasn't motivated enough to carry the movie. Now think if the character was faced with deadly or impossible odds would the movie be different?

That's the reason why newscasters love showing car chases because the person is motivated to escape the police. Its not even important to know why the guy is trying to out drive the police.

Strong desires make good stories because we want to know what happens next. Remember your character isn't real so they don't hurt or feel. People like underdogs especially underdogs that win.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Genejoke at 9:41AM, June 17, 2010
(online)
posts: 3,077
joined: 4-9-2010
That doesn't make the characters more interesting it makes the story more interesting. Character motivation is essential to stories but not characters, what makes the characters interesting is how they deal with the situation and how they relate to other characters.

Your advice isn't bad, but motivation alone does not make a character.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:33PM
BlkKnight at 11:52AM, June 17, 2010
(online)
posts: 1,101
joined: 5-28-2007
It definitely helps, but a character can yearn for something, not get it, but still be dry, sterotypical, etc. as any other bad character.
That's “Dr. BlkKnight” to all of you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:26AM
patrickdevine at 12:02PM, June 17, 2010
(online)
posts: 759
joined: 4-26-2007
I agree to a point and most of the caveats I have have already been brought up. A character that is motivated to do something is sort of a given, though I would say that it's not always a constant and I think it's more interesting when it's not. When characters develop and change as the story goes on I think their motivations ought to as well.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM
deezy at 3:28AM, June 18, 2010
(offline)
posts: 11
joined: 6-13-2010
I disagree. Characters can go through numerous obstacles which can be physical, emotional, moral, ethical, relational and so on. These kind of obstacles exposes whats beneath the character. When a person is put into a dire situation that is where their true colors show.And yes Genjoke how they deal with problems is important that's the whole point.

I also disagree that this only relates to story. Character is story. Without the character there is no story. and yes there are other ways to tell make characters interesting, but this one is definitely tried and true method.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
BlkKnight at 11:02AM, June 18, 2010
(online)
posts: 1,101
joined: 5-28-2007
deezy
I also disagree that this only relates to story. Character is story. Without the character there is no story.

A character is a component of a story not the story itself. Someone could also write a descriptive passage that could be just as interesting but contains no characters by definition.

deezy
and yes there are other ways to tell make characters interesting, but this one is definitely tried and true method.

Citations? Proof? If you're going to make claims like this, you need support.
That's “Dr. BlkKnight” to all of you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:26AM
kyupol at 9:26PM, June 18, 2010
(online)
posts: 3,712
joined: 1-12-2006
deezy
Here's the secret. Its real simple all you have to do is make a your character want something. It could be anything as long character wants it bad enough. Think about the last good movie you saw. Did the character desperately desire to accomplish something? Did the character ever achieve it? As soon as your character wants to attain a goal your story becomes focused and clear and easy to understand.

Here's the second part of this little tidbit. Don't give your character what they want. At least not yet. Let them suffer, throw everything in their way including the kitchen sink. Make sure that we see that the character wants it badly and is willing to do anything to get it.

Have you ever watched a movie that was extremely boring? Take that movie and think about what the character wanted. Chances are the character wasn't motivated enough to carry the movie. Now think if the character was faced with deadly or impossible odds would the movie be different?

That's the reason why newscasters love showing car chases because the person is motivated to escape the police. Its not even important to know why the guy is trying to out drive the police.

Strong desires make good stories because we want to know what happens next. Remember your character isn't real so they don't hurt or feel. People like underdogs especially underdogs that win.

Exactly what I do to my characters.

However, I've been criticized that I overdone it with Eman from MAG-ISA.
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:27PM
deezy at 10:51PM, June 18, 2010
(offline)
posts: 11
joined: 6-13-2010
BlkKnight
A character is a component of a story not the story itself. Someone could also write a descriptive passage that could be just as interesting but contains no characters by definition.

So when someone asks you “how was your day?” you think of yourself as a component in your story? Look your'e making this too mechanical. Storytelling is more about making a emotional connection with the audience or reader. The moment you throw any barriers in front of the audience, (like component)the story becomes hazy, because people aren't sure how to feel about the story.

We live in complex age where it is very difficult to get people's attention. Its especially difficult to retain their attention. You say that you can tell descriptive passages. I agree, but good writers make sure that passage is a reflection of the protagonists or the world that they are in which still relates to character.

The point is the only way to get people's attention is present a strong desire because as humans we understand this very clearly.You said I need supply references? I could cite references, but why? This isn't history class, besides you can find this in pretty much all good movies.

Small List of good movies with incredibly motivated characters:

Frodo in LOTR
Lola in Run Lola Run
Michael Corleone in GodFatherII
Main Guy in 3:10 to Yuma
The Bride In Kill Bill
Toy Story 1,2, and 3
etc,etc, etc infinity
Nothing Great was ever achieved without strong desire.(I forgot who said the quote)



last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
demontales at 7:02PM, June 19, 2010
(online)
posts: 305
joined: 7-18-2009
Somedays I want something, others I don't. I'm still the same person, but not more interesting. Same applies for characters. If they want something, it opens the door to action, obstacles as you said and so forth. Which makes the story more interesting.

If a character is an asshole I can't stand, I won't like him more if he's on some quest he'd give his life for. The formula you're saying has been proven I agree, it's the formula of almost all stories that are created. The good ones and the bad ones. But if you want to make the character particularly interesting, I think you have to go deeper than that. There are also tons of characters who are very motivated, but are boring because they're too generic.

Someone
Character is story. Without the character there is no story.

As well as without places and time and actions and so on. It does vary from a person to the other tho and sometimes it is almost only characters I agree. If I tell you “This movie is about a man who tries to kill his ennemy”, does that say anything about the character? Does that say something about the story?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
Joneko at 8:36PM, June 19, 2010
(online)
posts: 31
joined: 4-23-2007
It's good advice, but try not to be so defensive when people disagree. The advice itself was unsolicited, and people are going to have differing opinions.

There are many ways to go about making interesting characters, and there are many different kinds of stories. In some stories, the character is the story or visa versa. In some, this isn't the case. Some stories require that the character have some great motivation but in others, things just happen to the character and the story revolves around the character's reaction.

So, your advice is valid! But just keep in mind that it's not the ONLY way to create interesting characters, and try not to be insulted or impatient with people who disagree. If everyone created their characters the same way, stories would eventually get very, very boring, I'd think.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
deezy at 9:41AM, June 20, 2010
(offline)
posts: 11
joined: 6-13-2010
Joneko
It's good advice, but try not to be so defensive when people disagree. The advice itself was unsolicited, and people are going to have differing opinion.

I totally agree, I think I may have gotten carried away, but its cool. I agree there's many ways to tell stories. I found that most people don't want to tell greatest tale ever told but just want to tell a story that they like and that's fine.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
IndifferentlyEvil at 6:11PM, July 13, 2010
(online)
posts: 26
joined: 9-22-2008
What I thought was good advice comes from a review of “The Phantom Menace” I saw on youtube (a seven part review - it is awesome!) It made these points:

A great way to have the world explained and the plot points delivered (without just TELLING people awkwardly) is to have a protagonist who starts off slow, has major setbacks, then grows and learns with the audience. Something needs explaining? Explain it to the protagonist!
Luke Skywalker was the protagonist in “A New Hope” - a simple bumpkin who had to have the ways of the Force and the politics of the Empire explained to him, with the audience picking it up as he did.
There was no real protagonist in “The Phantom Menace”. Obiwan spent half of it on a ship, and just whined most of the movie, while Annakin only appeared 45 mins into the movie.

Another important point the reviewer made was by asking people to describe, without talking about their jobs, their looks or the way they dress, the following characters:
From “A New Hope”: Luke, Han, C3PO.
Pretty easy, huh?
Now let's try:
Qui-gon (sp?), Queen Armidala (sp?)
Not so easy, huh?
The more modern movie sucked because the characters were one-dimensional, if that.

If you are going to make a comic, make your characters real (unless you WANT them to be one-dimensional!) I LIKE it when a bad guy does something slightly out of character, or the good guy does something justifiable, but nasty. It makes them more real.

Anyways, enough ranting, tata.
I draw stuff.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
deepcheese at 7:38PM, Oct. 11, 2010
(online)
posts: 295
joined: 9-3-2006
@ IndifferentlyEvil: I love that review! That guy is a genius, I've watched all his reviews- my favorite is the 9 part review he did for ‘Attack of the Clones’ that was something like 90 minutes long- worth every second.

Anyway, back on topic-
I think the main problem that people are having with this advice- and it IS good advice- is that it dosen't really take into account the characters personality, or the other things that make them who they are.
A characters motivation and actions are the essence of story- they're what drive the plot forward.
But that alone doesn't really make them likable or relate-able to the audience.

Say you have a character that has to… I don't know, win a race. Giving them a good motivation will certainly move the story along, but it doesn't necessarily make them more interesting to watch. They need to have an interesting personality, relatable quirks and unique mannerisms too.


last edited on July 14, 2011 12:10PM
rxavier at 4:48AM, Nov. 25, 2010
(offline)
posts: 2
joined: 8-4-2010
The advice in this thread so far has been great. Character motivation is good; otherwise, there's no plot. Making the characters deep and quirky is good, too: it makes them memorable.

Here's my two cents: make your character someone you'd want to read about.

In my opinion, nothing kills a story faster than a character that the author doesn't like at least a little bit. And some of the best characters are the kinds the author really likes. The energy you've got when you're making a character you like will come through into the story, and make the character more sympathetic, and more readable.

Just don't be afraid to have bad things happen to your character. There's no plot without conflict, and for there to be conflict, usually bad things have to happen to this character that you hopefully like.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:15PM
Darth Mongoose at 3:54PM, Nov. 28, 2010
(online)
posts: 488
joined: 1-7-2006
This is an interesting thread.
My general feeling is that yes, a character with a goal makes for strong storytelling (this is a serious problem in the manga ‘Bleach’, Ichigo doesn't desire anything besides a rather nebulous goal of ‘protecting people’, meaning that as a protagonist, he never acts, only reacts. Sometimes he makes a short-term goal of rescuing somebody, but he has no long-term goals) but there is another requirement. The character also needs motivation.

Now, you may have heard of the ‘hierarchy of needs’. It's a theory that people must fulfil certain ‘tiers’ or ‘levels’ of needs before they can focus on an abstract, complex goal. You can find a full explanation of it on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

Now, love it or hate it, the manga ‘Naruto’ makes very good use of this with the titular character:
-On the first level, Naruto needs to fulfil his bodily needs. He loves eating ramen and we regularly see him eating, drinking, sleeping etc. and are shown that he has trouble fighting when hungry. He also shows interest in attractive girls around his own age. Basically he functions as a normal human being and pursues these needs.
-On the next level up, Naruto doesn't have a lot to worry about. He has a house, and a secure job. Protecting himself from injury is the most important one here. He regularly has to fight off people who mean him and his friends harm.
-At the third level, we hit one of Naruto's driving motivations. He wants to be loved! As an ostracised orphan, much of his motivation in the early comics came from an intense need to be liked. Lacking parents or siblings, or any idea how to do this, he would pull pranks, seeing people's laughter as a form of affection. He grows a lot as a character on realising that he has amassed friends to support him.
-Going up a level, we hit Naruto's first major driving goal, which is his goal right through the first series. Naruto wants esteem. He wants attention, fame, recognition. To do this, he wants to be the Hokage, leader of his village…. But, and the point the series has reached now, he has achieved this to some degree without actually becoming the Hokage. The fact that he has achieved this has allowed him to grow as a person…
-Naruto has reached level five, self-actualisation. He has reached his potential, accepted the facts and now has a higher, moral goal to make the world a better place.

Now, how high up the list your character can climb will vary. In a survival horror, for instance, your character may find just fulfilling the bottom tier, finding food, sleep, drink etc. is their major need and motivation for many chapters.
At any given time, A person may desire many things, and they may conflict each other. Somebody's desire for friendship may be at odds with their need for food if the friend just took the last sandwich and they're really hungry. Perhaps they have a big moral agenda which conflicts their desire to keep their job and comfortable lifestyle. Sexual desire is a bottom-level motivation, and one which often causes people to act against their better judgement, hence it comes up often in stories.

So don't just think about ‘what my character wants’, but also ‘why do they want it?’ and ‘what do they need?’ Sometimes what you need has to come before what you want, and sometimes what you want is fulfilling a more basic need, or even many needs. Spider-man, when he first got his powers, used his powers to gain money, reknown, interest from the opposite sex etc. It was only when his Uncle died that he achieved self-actualisation and decided that he wanted to fight crime and make people's lives better. He still, of course, finds that this goal is sometimes made very difficult by his needs for food, shelter, security and affection.
Put yourself into your characters' shoes and consider how well their needs are being fulfilled.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
Evil_Hare at 12:56PM, Dec. 6, 2010
(online)
posts: 183
joined: 9-28-2009
Hmm.. my character desperately wants to be a super hero, and he's got all kinds of enemies, but the critics still think there's no story :P

Ah well, at least the rabbit is cute.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:24PM
itsjustaar at 3:06AM, Dec. 7, 2010
(online)
posts: 409
joined: 12-2-2010
The best characters in any story are the villains. They're there to make the heroes look good, but above all else, they drive the motivation. You cannot have a Professor Moriarty without a Sherlock Holmes; you can't have a Maggie Simpson without the Gerald Samson; the list goes on.

In my opinion, the step a little bit above that are the supporting characters - the people who drive the character home, provide relief, assistance, whathaveyou. Sometimes these characters, good or bad, can really help make the comic shine; even if the character might not get a few bits of screen time for the camera - keep his role up. To me, I look at everyday people I've met and known over the years online and offline; everyone is different, use those as your inspiration into creating something original.

Mike Judge, as they say, named ‘Butt-Head’ named the character from someone he knew in school that apparently had a strong behind. *shrug* I mean, y'know? Doesn't have to literally be based on them; take the parts you like and play around with them a bit until you've got something fresh on your hands.

Just my two bits, mate.
“Keeping Up with Thursday” - Updated Every 3 Days!
“ZombieToons Must Die” - hiatus. D:
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved