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Casting Characters in Comics - Larger casts, personality and temperament

Banes at 12:00AM, Aug. 9, 2018

Last week there was a post about smaller regular casts in a series - The Loner series, the Duo, and the Trio. Here's that post:

With a larger cast, things start to get more complicated - but with more possibilities for different relationships and conflicts between the regular characters.

There are many ways to figure out a cast of characters, of course - you can base them on your friends, family, co-workers, or whatever; they can be adaptations of existing characters with some details changed…

I'll go into an idea here that you may not have tried.

Personality and Temperament

I sometimes like to figure out the temperaments of a cast of characters I'm creating, to see if there's a balance, or somewhat of a balance. If there are too many of the same type, things may need to be adjusted.

There is an ancient pseudoscience to do with the body's “humors” - different body fluids were thought to represent different particulars and illnesses in the body. The personality types were Choleric, Phlegmatic, Sanguine and…I think Melancholic? Something like that. It's explored here on TV Tropes:

My approach (when I use it) is similar but a little bit different - I don't like how the Four Temperament lists certain personalities as “emotionally unstable”.

I like the idea of the line between a logical, left brained person and a creative, right brained person, crossed with a spectrum of a more active, extroverted, action taking temperament and a more nurturing, introverted type.

So if you cross the lines, you get four quadrants, just like in that Tvtropes link.

One type will be passive or nurturing and logical
One will be action-taking and logical/practical
One will be more creative/flexible and extraverted/action oriented,
and One will be creative/flexible and more passive and introverted.

Put these four characters together and you've got a pretty well-rounded cast of temperaments!

This can be expanded to more than four characters, with other castmembers falling in between the extremes more, and some being less mature than others, which would change them as well.

Notice that this has nothing to do with the relationships between the characters, their jobs or functions in the story, but DOES show you how they might react (very differently) to the things they experience in the series!

So anyway, that's the temperament approach!

Have a fine Thursday,




bravo1102 at 1:11AM, Aug. 10, 2018

I kind of pick up on group dynamics through lots of observation. That is a small payoff for being the person others feel comfortable venting to.

usedbooks at 4:53PM, Aug. 9, 2018

My big concern with writing casts is to balance the down-to-earthness and the quirkiness. A character that fits the boring protagonist mold is going to vanish and be uninteresting if companions have clearer "gimmicks." And sometimes I end up with a tertiary character that is just way more interesting than the main cast. I end up with mixed feelings when readers react so strongly to a one-off character I made up to fill some small role (while showing no reaction to some significant player I introduce after painstaking development).

usedbooks at 4:48PM, Aug. 9, 2018

When I was a kid, I wrote a story with a team of six, each represented by a color. I gave them traits I associated with the colors. That kind of thing at least helps you visualize -- even if it's abstract.

Banes at 4:37PM, Aug. 9, 2018

The Fantastic Four was created based on the Elements - for their POWERS, not personalities, but it could be used to establish personalities too ...and the opposites effect is still there, really - Fire and Water, Earth and Air.

Banes at 4:14PM, Aug. 9, 2018

I hear you! Kim referenced the idea of characters fitting too neatly into a box. They probably shouldn't fit too neatly - but the idea of temperaments is not a bad place to start! Say one character is an artist at their core, and wants to feel deep emotions. One is an explorer, who deep down wants to travel, and learn, and have experiences. One is driven to better themselves. And one is...say, a builder, a nurturer who wants to construct stuff (whether it's a family, or a business, or trains, or whatever). Then the rest of their individual quirks bubble up from those deep core values/identities.

usedbooks at 11:57AM, Aug. 9, 2018

I have five main protagonists and two significant semi-antagonists in my side project (a novel I'm writing), and it's been tricky to get a feel for them. I love creating characters, but when you get a group, you can't really work on the opposites/extremes angle. I feel like I would have an easier time writing if I nailed down a good stereotype/archtype they fit.

Banes at 8:15AM, Aug. 9, 2018

Thanks KL! Yeah, I wonder what beliefs we have that will be proven totally wrong in the future. I can see the balance in your characters for sure! I'm gonna google that hard problem of consciousness - I had it last night while trying to stay awake while reading!

KimLuster at 5:20AM, Aug. 9, 2018

Wonderful! I distinctly made the four 'people' Kimber Lee infected with the Godstrain to represent different personality aspects, and different ways of viewing the Godstrain (and thus reality at large...). Not sure they fall neatly in these four quadrants, but there does seem to be a symmetry! Ah, the humors! It's so interesting what people used to believe about the mind/brain, and what we still believe. I think we're still much more in the dark that we think (google the Hard Problem of Consciousness...)

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