Comic Talk and General Discussion *

What makes a well written or poorly written character?
Banes at 10:01AM, March 21, 2015
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After several interesting discussions about Mary Sues, we'd like to talk about characters a little more.

Please let us know your thoughts on what makes a well written character vs a poorly written one. You can talk about your favorite and least favorite characters in fiction and why you dig or don't dig them…

…as well as your own characters, and how you put them together!
ozoneocean at 10:13AM, March 21, 2015
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What a great idea for a topic!
 
I'll start by saying that making a character relatable is a good way to go.
They don't have to be completely relatable in every way, they just have to have something about them that the audience can identify with… Well, maybe that's only for protagonists?I don't know, I think making characters relatable in some way works for any and all of them: villians, sidekicks, victims, bullies, opressors, friends, co-workers, any sort of character at all.

Unless they're meant to be totally unrelatable like some perfect crush a protagonist is infatuated with?
 
Genejoke at 11:05AM, March 21, 2015
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Good question, this is somethign i struggle with.
A good chaacter is well defined, I don't mean in the manga sense.
His name is xaioloopyialotyx, he is bi sexual, he is 17 years old and is a master of 10 thousand martial arts. his favourite food is lasagne and he hates curry.  he is a little bit arrogant and some people think he is a jerk, but he is actually really kind to small animals and annoying school girls.
I hate that shit, not manga so much but the oot useless information stuff.
In BASO I have a lot of characters and many aren't that widely fleshed out and it probably shows, but I do know how they will react and what their limits are. Stavlov is seemingly the generic action hero, he was created solely for that purpose, but it was important for me to play with that a little. He is initially portrayed as a a good guy but all along I have shown he has a mean streak.  I know the key elements, i know wat drives him, i know what it takes to break him and what way he will break. But I think readers will agree he isn't the most interesting of characters. Then again i don't write every character to be a strong personality. 
I often come up with a rough character archetype, then come up with a history for them to help define the who behind the what. The detalsl often come out when scripting. Which leads me to the other part, using the story and dialogue to show the character.
You can have the best thought out character in the world but if you don't write them well they still come across flat, or all characters can come across exactly the same.  As i said it is somethign i struggle with, so i'm probably the worst person to be writing on the subject.
HippieVan at 5:28PM, March 21, 2015
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I think an overall cast of characters is more important than any single character. A single character can be really unlikeable without ruining a story if they're balanced out by other, better characters. I had to read a book in high school called The House of the Spirits that had a huge cast of characters, just about every one of them grating. Reading the book was really frustrating.
Meanwhile in the Brothers Karamazov, two of the brothers are kind of awful and self-centred but they're balanced out by Alexei, who is basically a perfect person. If the entire cast were too awful or too nice, their characters wouldn't work. 
 
Specific things that bother me:
When all the characters take themselves too seriously. The story's universe legitimizes the character's self-absorption - the whole world cares about their drama. If they argue or share a passionate kiss with someone with someone in public, everyone watches, enraptured. They're never just eating breakfast or whatever - if they're not doing something exciting or talking about something exciting, you can bet they'll be brooding. They don't sound like real people when they talk, because everything they say is intense and meaningful. They're not pleasant to people, but it's because they're troubled. They don't make actual jokes that you're meant to laugh at.
I genuinely can't watch American television or movies any more, because they LOVE characters like this. Not to say that dark or troubled characters don't have their place, but they don't need to be all the main characters in every story ever.
 
What I do like: Characters with neuroses, especially self-deprecating ones - see Woody Allen in like, all of his movies. Characters who are overly friendly - see Jimmy Stewart in Harvey. Characters who care about other people - I think most good stories do this, but a surprising number of bad ones don't. I also often like characters who are clever - maybe not so much the super-genius characters, but I think having a main character who is just slightly more clever than the people around them can work really well providing they don't start falling into those other things in my last paragraph there - Odysseus, Sherlock Holmes, Coraline, etc.
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
Kroatz at 3:34AM, March 22, 2015
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I'm sure I'll be mentioning a lot of things that others have already thought of, so feel free to ignore any words that seem redundant. I don't take any responsibility for the loss of logic if you do though.

A well written character, to me, is a character that exists between the pages. They have hopes and dreams, interests and fears, and none of those have anything to do with the plot. These things do not need to be apparent, or even mentioned in the actual comic or book, but the writer needs to know them. The character needs to be real to the one making them up. A lot of writers seem to think that this means that they should write a list of foods they like, as well as a list of questions and answers, and they're not wrong, but information about someone does not equal knowing them.

I know that the TMNT like pizza, but that is not something that really helps me in getting to know or believe in them. Their views on racism as they meet an African-American hobo would though. Their first thought as they wake up in the morning, staring at their leaking sewer ceiling, would as well. The fears for their brothers that run through their heads as they head to a confrontation with Shredder would as well. These things are more nuanced, more important, and a character that does not have these kinds of things attached to them because the writer has not thought about them will have a very difficult time becoming as interesting as a real character.

Also, I could never enjoy a character that is completely happy with their life. This does not make for good fucking storytelling, nor does it ever happen in real life. Everyone is miserable about something, and so should your characters.
The feeling you get, right before you poop.
That's the best feeling in the world.

- Albert Einstein
KimLuster at 8:41PM, March 22, 2015
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Hrrmmmm…  a very subjective question, of course.  The knee-jerk answer is if a character is popular then they're likely well-written, but Bella of Twilight squashes that theory instantly!  Let's just go stream of consciousness here…  A well-written character should:
…have their own distinct personality.  You have to be able to imagine them as a person in their own right
…be motivated!  Have dream and goals that at least make some sort of sense within their own minds.  This even applies to villains.   Wanting to take over the world ‘just because’ is boring!  Why?
…be relatetable.  If you can't put yourself in their head and it a least be coherent, then that character is just a plot device for other characters (or just a poorly-written character)
…be good at something!  Even great!  Even larger than life maybe…  Not good at everything - such characters are eye-rolling… but characters that are good at nothing you just wanna put out of their misery.
…have an appearance you can visualize.  If I can't see the character in my head by page 50 I put the book back on the shelf
… Consistent!  The Crimson King from Stephen Kings ‘the Dark Tower’ series is basically the dark force driving the whole thing - for him to be released to a screeching clownish maniac hurling sneetches (end of the last book) was a horrible let down…
… A Past!  Only Clint Eastwood can pull of the Man with no Name - other characters need a back story to really be interesting!
… A Cool Name:  Imagine this soundbite in a movie preview: "No one could stand before the Syndicate!  The mafia families trembled at their mention!  Even goverments dreaded facing them…!  But the Syndicate never counted on… Eustice!!  The right name, at least for the main character, matters so much…!
Okay, I can go on forever - gotta stop somewhere!  If you guys end up needing more I'll try to come with more :D
Genejoke at 1:01AM, March 23, 2015
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I'm gonna disagree with Kimluster here.  Bella from twilight isn't a poorly written character, but before you all throw your toys out of the pram, let me expalin.
She is well thought out, she has a past, she has desires and hopes. such as they are for a moody teen, he logic all makes sense. She has a distinct personality, although not a very appealling one. She's an ideal cypher, which is part iof her role in the series.  I won't try and claim she is a great lead character, or even overly likeable, but she (that) isn't poorly written. Edward on the other hand…
Motivation, a lot depends on the role of the character.  A lead character needs motivation and drive more than the supporting cast, but it isn't the be all and end all as long as the story has a driving force. A story is not always the centrel character.  That said, main motivation of a character can make them easily recognisable and easier to relate to.  So, I kind of half agree, but I think motivaion is more a plot tool that character essential.
Be good at something… uh not quite. Having noteable strengths and weaknesses is essential. And no I don't mean, strong in fire magic, weak to cold magic.  I like eugene in the walking dead, he is pretty pathetic, his motivastion is merely to survive, but that weakness and his manipultation makes him a memorable character. 
Kroatz at 4:04AM, March 23, 2015
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I hate characters with cool names. Richard Cypher, Masterchief, Nathan Drake, Ugh… If a character is well written, their name becomes associated with the character, which means that any name could work. It's more important that the name makes sense in the world than that the writer gets all giddy when they make the name up. And if you really need an interesting name, just go for some alliteration, or just steal the names of your favourite writers.

For naming people and stuff, take a look at Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Twoflower, EcksEcksEcks, Rincewind, Bloody Stupid Johnson, Mightily Oats. But that's not what this thread is about…

A main character doesn't have to be good at anything, as long as they're better at it by the end of a story. There needs to be a contrast between the start and the end. For more on this, just read a lot of books, and actually analyze which character you still like by the end of the book. Unchanging characters are not interesting, which is why there is not a lot of great writing in mainstream comic books.

Finally, I'm a little saddened by KimLuster… One of the main characters in my Radioplay is called Eustace.
The feeling you get, right before you poop.
That's the best feeling in the world.

- Albert Einstein
bravo1102 at 4:29AM, March 23, 2015
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Kimluster: the Man with No Name did have a past. It was always hinted at but never explained.  Like the samurai films the mysterious stranger was a trope in westerns. The classic one  is of course Shane from the movie and book of the same name. 

And honestly what is wrong with calling a character Master Chief if he is a Master Chief Petty officer? It's a title not a name. If a character's name was Masterchief that would be rather stupid and wouldn't work except in a satire like Major Major Major in Catch-22. Terry Pratchett's names are prime examples of satire names not real ones.  Though you could make the guy's name matter by having a satirical nickname.  Like Marty McFly taking Clint Eastwood as his name in the old west and even dressing like him as opposed to the 1950's view of how people in the west dressed when he first arrives. Satire.

Eustace has been used as a change-up name any number of times. Just like Aloysius (pronounced Al-e-wish-us) or Erasmus or Desmond. The cool guy who at the end of the story has the weird mundane name that must have been hell to grow up with. Another trope in action films.  Eustace is better known as Ernie the Eraser. One of the toughest accountants the world of organized crime has ever seen (laughable but quite realistic if you know about the classic Mafia. After all Capone was brought down by tough G-men accountants)

What's this all have to do with well-drawn characters? Change-ups. Making a quirky character work as opposed to being a stupid collection of weirdisms just because. 
last edited on March 23, 2015 6:35AM
bravo1102 at 4:46AM, March 23, 2015
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As far as obscure facts about your characters, as a writing exercise you can fill pages upon pages with interesting and obscure minutae about your characters. But only you need to know it, or it can appear on the panel when the anime goes to commerical break.  But it can have no other relation at all to the story and never be mentioned again.  In Those who Hunt Elves it was silly quirk that one of the characters was obsessed with curry. But it actually comes to be a plot point later on about the convergence of worlds.

Sometimes obscure character traits can become relevant to the story or even be the whole crux of the story but they aren't necessary.  It may only matter to you the creator and help you flesh out the character. Honestly the favorite food of my characters has never really mattered and for the most part I don't know that fact about any of them except those where it mattered in the story. Example in Belle's Best Aunt Trish, Aunt Trish is partial to steak. She grew up on a cattle ranch in California. Background information that fleshes out a conversation and makes the characters more relatable but not there jsut for the joy of it. I've been writing about Belinda Brandon for years and I still have no idea what her favorite food is.  It has never mattered.
KimLuster at 4:59AM, March 23, 2015
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lol…  Everyone, I could've written dozens of more ellipse points - and I could've expanded a lot more on the ones I did include…  There's exceptions to everything - I merely pointed out what would be considered a badly written character in MOST story situations - and it's just my subjective opinion.  The Man with no Name can work in SOME stories.  Names like Eustace (or Gilbert or Gertrude) are fine names and CAN work in the right story, but tell me you wouldn't get a chuckle with Ann Rice's latest book ‘The Vampire Dilbert’ (there's a very good reason that name appear in a humorous comic strip and not a sweeping novel series).
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I thought I'd written enough, but I guess I'm gonna have to include disclaimers on every point of this very subjective topic *chuckles*
last edited on March 23, 2015 5:01AM
Genejoke at 6:11AM, March 23, 2015
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Make sure you write loads, and make the sentence structure awkward. That way, when banes or ozone are putting on a funny voice and reading it aloud for the quackcast it maximises comedic effect. 
bravo1102 at 6:19AM, March 23, 2015
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They weren't the best examples as they are all tropes in genre fiction.  And that the mysterious stanger Man with no Name has more of background than most viewers of the various movies realize. Sometimes the whole gist of the story is the dicovery of that background.

And yes this is very subjective. And there is nothing saying any answer is wrong or right. The whole point is HOW you use them. The silliest stupid trite character no-no can work if the writer is aware to what he/she is doing in the context of what he/she is writing.  

There have been plenty of characters with embarrassing real names who go under a  “cool” alias. Look at that guy Marion Michael Morrison (John Wayne)) or Archibald Leach (Cary Grant) Or an historical character who changes their name or adopt nicknames for one reason or another to make it more or less memorable:  Naboleone Bounoparte (Napoleon) Hiram Ulysses Grant (U.S. “Sam” Grant) James “Pete” Longstreet.

A lot of times it's not the character that fails but the writer who fails.   You can create the most interesting real character ever but if he/she is portrayed as flat with quirks and angst that seem fake and forced it doesn't work no matter how well thought-out and rounded out the writer's intentions were. A bad story can pull down great characters just as often as a great story can succeed with flat characters. Sometimes a flat character can be so vividly drawn that it more than makes up for how shallow and fake he/she is.  (Watch the movie Laura (1944)  or Casablanca ) 
bravo1102 at 6:20AM, March 23, 2015
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Genejoke wrote:
Make sure you write loads, and make the sentence structure awkward. That way, when banes or ozone are putting on a funny voice and reading it aloud for the quackcast it maximises comedic effect. 
 Precisely don't you know. Note to self: gots to remember to put in the Ed Wynn-isms for Banes.
 Of course if they bothered to contact the writers  to read their own words it could sound better.  Some of the folk around here have great speaking voices and it's a shame we get the same strained silly voices each Quackcast. Quirddy, diddly doo don't you know.
 
last edited on March 23, 2015 6:30AM
KimLuster at 6:22AM, March 23, 2015
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I've committed what is sort of a sin on internet forums and that's giving actual examples of what I consider ‘bad’.  Almost always, if you give a RL negative example of anything to bolster your point on a messageboard, someone is gonna take exception to it and if you defend your example it often devolves into subjective debates like what's better: Star Wars or Star Trek?  
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But such things can be fun, so a small defense ;)
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The Man with no Name does work in certain niche settings; the prime example being particular Western stories/films.  The dark mysterious stranger has a certain charm.  Roland the Gunslinger from Stephen King's Dark Tower series even pays a homage to him.  But, if Roland had been an actual Man with no Name (not the well-fleshed out character he is) then he would've been badly written, in my opinion.  For MOST stories, the protagonist has to be more that this…
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I think Bella from Twilight is badly writtten because she's a depressing pouty girl who acts near-suicidal when her perfect dream guy is taken from her.  Well before I read anything about Stephanie Meyer I was thinking, wow, the Author sure is pining for the things that matter to teenagers.  She's created a dream dude who wouldn't be out of place on a poster on a 14-year old's wall, and she's in love with him, and she created a standin so she could be with him.  I thought this before reading anything about Meyer, and now I believe it all the more…  And yeah, Edward is even more horribly written (a decades-old being from the Edwardian era (see what i did there) pretending to be a highschool teenager, over and over and over… Puke!)
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So, as I've proven, I'm right about these examples and you guys are wrong!! *Big smile*
last edited on March 23, 2015 7:34AM
KimLuster at 6:43AM, March 23, 2015
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@Bravo: Yes, I painted with a broad brush…  Lord the nature of this topic is such that if you flesh out everything you're could write a whole thesis…  To me, exceptions do NOT make the rule.  Yes, a good writer can make any exception work… but…
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Take Buffy the Vampire Slayer…  Buffy is a name that comes with certain connotations, and the very initial story lampshaded that perfectly…  What is a high-school cheerleader in a campy vamp flick gonna be named?  Buffy, of course…
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Now as the series progressed, became more established, it could get more serious and the name was just an ironic contrast that made the story better…  But for the initial campy story she had to be Buffy!  Linda the Vampire Slayer just doesn't work…!  It takes extra work to make Buffy work in a serious story, and even then it will always carry certain baggage.
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Thomas Hardy could've made ‘Buffy of the d’Urbervilles' work…!  Sure he could've…  And with the right stuff she still would've been a great character.  Badly-written largely is subjective and often contextual.  All I'm saying is the name matters greatly.  Any name you pick is going to resonate a certain way with the reader and you need to be aware of that, and if it's a name that goes against the genre of your story, you have to sort of go out of way to work it.
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Hot Dogs are not ‘Bad Food’ but if you go to a super-ritzy restaurant and tell them to bring to you their very best dish, and they bring out Hot Dogs and Fries…  Context is everything!
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My comic, The Godstrain, has a very particular theme - and there's a reason the main character is not named Gitsy!
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Oh well, I didn't wanna write this much - I think I'll avoid anymore examples… :D
KimLuster at 7:37AM, March 23, 2015
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I'd like to see some real examples of what anyone considers a badly-written character…
bravo1102 at 7:45AM, March 23, 2015
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KimLuster: and is precisely why a romantic leading man could not be named Archibald Leach and a rough and rugged action movie actor could not be named Marion Michael Morrison. I really agree with you.

I'm pointing out that it's the context an author creates that can make or break the character.

I agree with you. A good writer can pull it off. But I know I can't. Thugh I have used names for satire. (See Attack of the Robofemoids for some of my satirical Russian names)

The names of Belinda Brandon and her two sisters were chosen with such contextual care. Belinda (Belle) for a bubbly popular actress type, Brenda who is more serious and sarcastic career military person and Barbara for the wife and mother.  Barbara was nicknamed “Babs” but the nickname is never mentioned because she's the steady one who practically raised her two sisters after their mother got ill.  In the context of the fictional family the names make sense. And their father wanted the B-B names. 
KimLuster at 7:55AM, March 23, 2015
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@Bravo: I think you and I almost always end up seeing things the same way…  I just have a knee-jerk tendency to post what I initially think without properly elaborating on the reasons, exceptions, and disclaimers - it's gotten me into trouble more than once lol
Genejoke at 1:43PM, March 23, 2015
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KimLuster wrote:
I'd like to see some real examples of what anyone considers a badly-written character…
well, there is this webcomic called the godstrain…

Seriously though, badly written characters… in comics it is hard, but Grant morrisons take on batman made him the least interesting character in the DC universe. Batmans mental prowess is so amazing he can restart himself in safe mode? genius…  nope, not a hint of sarcam there. nosiree!!!
Major comics are tough because at various times writers change. Batman should be a hard one to do badly, but even harder to nail as he is pretty iconic.  It's why I like certain writers rather than characters. 
Oh, Professor X.  Started off as the generic wise good guy, he got developed and was excellent. Much like the character we get in the movies.  Sadly somewhere in the last ten years or it got fuzzy and he bacame less relevent and no one has been able to make use of him. they killed him, probably about ten times.  I've lost track of the crap they have tried. they did the same with Magneto, only it worked better.  
Iceman suffered a lot too.  Started out as the wise cracking clown, he went through stuff, they made him lose confidence, did the edgy thing and settled into a more interesting character, then writers changed, they didn't know what to do with him and made him revert to being a clown, then angsty again then I think they gave up.  I lost track.
Okay, not comics…  Alice, resident evil movies. aside from being played by the same actress I think the character has been different in every movie. I couldn't tell you anything about her other than she can kick ass. of course to varying degrees depending on plot requirement.  Remember when she was a jedi?  I do, then she lost her magic and became a muggle again, wait no.  a super soldier, then she got proper muggled. i think someone mistook inconsistency for character development.
An example of some mistakes in TV.  Arrow.  in series one Oliver Queen comes back from being thought dead for five years and has some serious skills, despite being a rich playboy douche before leaving.  as well as the fighting prowess he is an expert hacker as he can hack back accounts. Yet by the second series those skills have vanished as he has his pretty assistant do the techno stuff for him. they try and write around it, but I didn't buy it. Then there is his shifting moral compass. Yet, i'm pretty forgiving of it, as I can just about put that down to him being batshit crazy.  Okay they haven't gone down that route yet, but mark my words, they will.
Dexter. First four series were fine.  COme series five and more so series six, the character was unravelling, but the writers never really got a handle on how. His code, wich is what got him through the first four series was inconsistant and when he fundamantally broke it one week, then it was back to the status quo. Elements of the character were lost, such as his intellect and ruthlessness, because the writers wanted to string out a plot. Or maybe they didn't have the balls to follow through with where it should have gone. Dexter is a prime example of bad character writing fucking up a series. The shark wasn't jumped so much as taken to a gay bar, camped up, and made a bad parody of itself. 
tupapayon at 1:52PM, March 23, 2015
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Wow… some great comments… A well written character… that is indeed a very subjective topic… what makes a good character, one that works for the story and the target audience, could be define in many ways, and all of them could be wrong many times, and right at the same time. So many shades of grey… at least fourty nine… maybe more…. I'll break some of my rules and start judging… I'm gonna start with Les Misérables (if you've got the right pronunciation of the title I'll give you a kiss), Jean Valjean. I read the book ages ago (in Spanish, never in French), so some of my facts could be erroneous because I'm using my memory (Perhaps I should use google). In my opinion that's a well written character, a man who was morally damaged encounters a godly man who showed him mercy and is brought from evil to become a good person… he seeks redemption, and his resolve makes him risk what he has accomplished in order to keep his integrity, while at the same time he acts deceivingly. His act of love also goes agaist the law. His tendency towards being “saintly” is stained by his criminal attitudess. In my opinion, that balance makes him a good character, well written. But I wonder, how do you create your characters? All of you who come up with great comics inhabitated by those fantastic individuals, how do you do it?…
Genejoke at 2:27PM, March 23, 2015
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Good call on les miserables.  A classic struggle there and it is convincingly portrayed. 
Lord of the rings.
The hobbits are all great characters, all very similar at heart yet unique. Gandalf is less a character more an epic tool of exposition, yet tolkien makes him so human for all his other worldliness.  I always assumed gandalf was tolkien doing a mary sue. Yet aragorn, boromir, legolas and gimli are less rounded, or maybe that is my poor memory, it's been a long time since I read the books. Aragorn has aath, he has doubts, ad s n, yet I remember reading the books that I never felt i knew who aragorn was, but i know of him.
Genejoke at 2:51PM, March 23, 2015
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Speaking of the writing good characters, I was working on a comic with Banes before it fell by the wayside.  The concept and core characeters were my outline which we were hashing out before scripting, which I think I managed about five pages of… anyway.  I had an outline which included two science type students.  Banes says to me, do we need two? can't we merge them into one character as two scientists will be too alike.  So I had a think, I came back with a greater character breakdown for the two of them and how they differ and how the group dynamic might work.  Those discussions with Banes greatly enhanced how I looked at the characters.  Maybe someday that comic will get made as I think the character dynamics would have been superior to anything I have created single handedly.
Sway at 8:24PM, March 23, 2015
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A well-written character can be defined just as strongly by their failures as their successes. And I don't mean in a “underdog hero gets punched for a couple of pages, remembers what his father once told him and uses it to beat the bad guy” sense. You shouldn't be afraid to let your characters fail. Hard. Take Jack Torrence, the main protagonist/antagonist of The Shining. He's an alcoholic, abusive husband/father who is descending slowly into madness over the course of a long winter. But he's also funny, intelligent, and creative. The important thing is that he's not just defined as the alcoholic, or the madman, or the scholor, but all three things at different times. Never be too precious about your characters; breaking them down is half the fun. And rebuilding them paves the way for catharsis. And that - that moment of relief, of revenge, of "f-ck yeah" - is what every fan ultimately wants when they crack open a book, flip open a comic, or turn on a movie. But to make that moment really work, has to be earned. And you earn that not through ease or Deus Ex Machina, but through the blood, sweat, and tears that you viscerally wring out of your characters. 
last edited on March 23, 2015 8:57PM
Gunwallace at 9:02PM, March 23, 2015
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What makes a well written or poorly written character?
The writer.
David ‘Gunwallace’ Tulloch, www.virtuallycomics.com
ozoneocean at 9:51PM, March 23, 2015
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Gunwallace wrote:
 

What makes a well written or poorly written character?
The writer.
 
:BAAAANNNNEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!
 
Genejoke at 3:48AM, March 24, 2015
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Gunwallace wrote:
 

What makes a well written or poorly written character?
The writer.
 
All you need. Would make for shortest quackcast ever. 
KimLuster at 6:31AM, March 24, 2015
(online)
posts: 795
joined: 5-15-2012
Genejoke mentions that Batman under Grant Morrison was ‘uninteresting’ - I've never read that but I suppose I'm one of the few unwashed heathens that's not impressed with Christopher Nolan's Batman, esp. in movies 2 & 3.  
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(*mild spoilers*) Joker steals Batman's thunder so many times.  Batman can't decide if the people of Gotham are strong or weak-willed.  He lauds them for not giving in to Joker's game in the Ferry-Bomb-Standoff but then doesn't trust them to handle the truth about Harvey Dent (they have to believe a lie to have hope!).  And in Dark Knight Rises I can't shake the feeling the Gotham would've never been taken hostage, never suffered so much death and destruction, if Batman never existed to begin with - the City suffered because of Batman much worse in comparison to how much he ever helped them…  Batman should've flown off with that bomb and gone out with it!
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Yeah I'm sure I'm missing all the subtle nuances that make this the greatest Batman ever *shrug*
Banes at 7:34AM, March 24, 2015
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posts: 459
joined: 8-13-2008
Some of my favorite fictional characters…
Jughead
The Dude
The Joker
Rob Fleming/Gordon (High Fidelity)
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Rowf the dog (Muppets)
George Costanza
Huckleberry Finn
The Evil Queen/Sorceress (Snow White, sleeping beauty, etc..)
Pit Face

To figure out what appeals to me in characters, I had to make a list of characters I really like. This is more “characters who appeal to me” than “well written characters” I guess…but the appeal is a result of the way the character is written, generally, right?

I guess I like characters who struggle…with the world at large but also with themselves. They have rough edges that make them not quite fit in the world. They have a contradictory nature that makes their lives more difficult.

They struggle to make their way, but they are often standing apart and commenting on the world more than really engaging. I like outsiders. They can be rough and tumble types like Indiana Jones or Sully, or comedians/weirdos like Jughead, George Costanza/Larry David. Or even villains like Dr. Evil and the Joker. Actually I really have a soft spot for villains.

Characters with a bit of a melancholy streak appeal to me…Rob in High Fidelity, Batman, Kermit the Frog, Charlie Brown…

Badly written characters…hmm. That's harder. I guess characters who are written “cool”, with dry quips and glibness, but from whom you don't believe it, or in situations where people could never be glib. Emma, from the series Once Upon a Time can fall into this. A lot of characters in low budget horror movies are like this, too.
Snarkiness that seems inauthentic. This sometimes comes down to acting, but I've read characters in prose that are eye-rollingly glib.
Aside from the believability thing, the jokes not being funny are often the problem here.

I've got a problem with passive characters…by which I mean I create too many of them. The leads in too many series are bland, passive and annoying. The “regular nice guy” archetype that often ends up boring and annoying the audience. The lead in my comic was created before I realized the danger here. So in an ongoing series, the challenge is to stay true to that character, but keep him from becoming annoying.

I read a novel once with a passive lead character, whose husband left her, then almost came back, then left her again. She grew more and more depressed, and the novel literally ended with her killing herself. GAH, I've never finished a book and been so angry!

A character in a single story is connected to the plot of that story. So what the character wants, and what's in the way, and how they get through it is all tied up together.

In an ongoing series, I agree with HippieVan; it's more about the combination of characters and how they fit (or don't fit) with each other. A nice variety of temperaments and attitudes is a great way to go.

This is running long. Better stop for now…
last edited on March 28, 2015 11:28AM
KimLuster at 8:20AM, March 24, 2015
(online)
posts: 795
joined: 5-15-2012
Banes wrote:
I've got a problem with passive characters…
I wanted to strangle Madame de Tourvel (of Dangerous Liasons)

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