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Character

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” -Hemingway

Characters are an integral part of poems, story writing, and playwriting. They are people within your work who carry the action, represent a larger idea, and show readers the heart of the conflict within your story. There’s no rule on how many characters you need for a work to be effective, but there are certainly rules to writing characters well. Consider the five dimensions of effective character writing:

1. IMAGE: What does your character look like?

Marlin, an orange cartoon fish from the Disney/Pixar movie Finding Nemo

The most effective aspect of all Disney movies is the attention paid to the character’s “image.” Most importantly, are there two different images: The image the character wants others to believe and the image the character shows a select few.

2. VOICE: What does your character sound like?

Norman Bates grins menacingly in Anthony Perkins's portrayal from the 1960 film Psycho

You want your characters to have unique voices. Each character should be easily distinguished from the next without signal phrases like “X said” or “Y cried.” How do you create a unique voice? Remember, diction, rhythm, and perspective. 

3. DESIRE: What does your character want?

Every primary character should have a goal. I don’t mean an abstract goal. I mean a literal goal. The more specific it is, the easier it is to push your story forward.

Marlin the Pixar/Disney character, with a look of concern, says, "We have to find my son!"
4. CONFLICT: Who/what gets in the way of your character getting this want?

The action comes from your character(s) not getting what they want immediately. What gets in the way of their desires? Think Harry Potter villains or internal setback like anxiety, confusion, insecurities.

Actor Ralph Fiennes in character as Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter film franchise with one arm raised and mouth agape
5. ACTION: What does your character do? This can be quite literal—what does the character physically do in the text? Or it can mean figuring out how your character tries to achieve their want.

A woman with brightly dyed red hair runs down a city street in the German film Run, Loyla, Run

Run, Lola, Run is a 90-minute thrill ride. It follows Lola as she runs to get what she wants: the safety of her boyfriend and a significant amount of cash. What does she do to get her want? She runs!

 

Characters

Characters:

 

Katherine

Image: Short, Athletic, mid 30’s

Desires: Want to travel, 

Actions: quits her job

Conflict: She feels like life has passed her by

Voice: Strong voice, but sweet.

 

Michael:

Image: Tall, dark brown hair, athletic

Desires: Become a teacher

Actions: goes to the gym, works and goes to school

Conflict: Does not like his job and wants to quit

Voice: well-spoken fast but clear

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Dialogue Post

 

Image:      Jay, a 30 year old young man. Loves himself and is self- confident. He is very intelligent,, articulates well and has much                                 potential.  Jay has an athletic figure, plays basketball and is good at it. He has a serious appearance.

Voice:      Jay has a sexy voice; an American accent and Trinidadian flare to it.

Conflict:  Jay wants the best for him and his family, but is going about it the wrong way.  He refuses to take advice from others which is to                  obtain a job to support his family.  Instead, he becomes a struggling DJ and believes that it will work out which is straining the                    marriage at every angle.

Desire:    Jay wants to build a beautiful life for his family by being an entrepreneur and giving his wife the desire to stay at home.

Action:    The marriage becomes extremely dysfunctional forcing Jay to abandon his family.  Jay resides in Europe continuing being an                        unsuccessful DJ. From time to time he sends pocket change for his son.  Jay is thinking of returning to the US for good.

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Character Build

Character 1: Josie Porter

Image: Josie is a petite 27 years old female with a sharp face and straight black hair. She wears only designer suits. She’s Russian and has green eyes. She’s very serious at all times and does not know how to relax.

Voice: Josie has a very strong Russian accent but her voice is honeyed (sweet but slightly untrustworthy) and give a feeling of suspicion.

Conflict: Josie wants to live a regular life while working in the city but she can’t seem to get away from her past which is a life full of drugs and crime due to the career of her ex husband who keeps trying to find her.

Desire: She wants to be a new person and have a normal family with a great husband and kids.

Action: Josie was part of the crime life and has experience dealing with the danger of her past. When her husband keeps looking for her she takes it into her own hands to get rid of him. She plays the role of a detective to find out her husbands plans and rejoins her life of crime in order to reach him and to get money to disappear.

 

Character 2: Mark Reynolds

Image: Mark is 29 years old. He is tall and has a slim athletic build. His hair is dark blond and his eyes are blue. He’s very basic is his outfits. He likes to relax and have a good time and write but he’s also adventurous.

Voice: His voice is modulated (controlled and pleasant) and he speaks a bit fast.

Conflict: Mark wants a life full of adventure and thinks the answer to his prayers is Josie’s interesting life. He wants to be a successful writer but hasn’t gotten a big hit but after meeting Josie and feeling like she hiding something, she becomes the muse for his new story as he attempts to follow her around.

Desire: His desire is to find out what’s so special about Josie and to find out what she’s hiding while trying to write his novel.

Action: He’s nosy and is always trying to find a way to talk to Josie at work. He places a recorder in her office in an attempt to get closer to her. When she starts to like him he uses that as an advantage to go further in her personal life.

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Character

image

jack Keats. 6ft. He is Hispanic in his early 20’s. He wears glasses for prescription and is blind as a bat without them. He has facial hair that’s a bit reddish unlike the top of his head which is light brown. He is on the hairy side but In a overly groomed kind of way. He never has a hair out place, and likes to tuck in his shirt. He dresses casual usually with black t shirts and jeans with vans.

Eve Lynn. 5 ft. Long wavy auburn hair. Green eyes. Olive skin. Irish. Has a favorite Jean jacket that she wears all year round. 19-20 years old. Not fit, but not overweight, average.

voice

Jack Keats, New York accent. Very strong tone , never wavers.

eve Lynn, soft Irish accent, but the American accent is taking over.

Desire

jack wants eve. In all ways. Jack wants to be independent from his family. He likes teaching but would rather be an archeologist. Indiana Jones is his hero.

Eve wants her family back.she wants love.

conflict

Jack is mr.cool guy and eve wants nothing to do with it. She is still in pain over the death of her parents. She initially tries to give him a chance but he is too careless with his words. Eve pushes him away.

action

Jack becomes obsessed. He first tries to play the nice guy but she continues to deny him. He decides he’ll do anything to have her. Jack is an assistant professor. Eve is a student.

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Character

Thomas Behnke

Prof. Walia

ENW302

10/03/2019

 

Character Sketch

 

CHARACTER: David Talbot

  1. IMAGE: What does your character look like?\

David is a white male in his early 40s. He has longer than fashionable blond hair, is tall and angular. He is a writer and usually dresses casually, but today he wearing a dress shirt and tie, which he wears with equal success and comfort.

  1. VOICE: What does your character sound like?

David has a low tenor voice with a New York (Bronx) accent. The intensity of that accent correlates exactly to the amount of emotion he is feeling..

  1. DESIRE: What does your character want?

David wants to heal the rift between himself and his teenage daughter, Laura, who is graduating high school today. He has not seen or spoken to her in over two years.

  1. CONFLICT: Who gets in the way of your character getting this want?

David has several obstacles to his goal, including both his actions and inaction in the past regarding his relationship with both his wife and his daughter. He feels he is winning the battle with his past demons, but the fight has affected the people close to him and he has made mistakes. The ultimate obstacle is David’s ex-wife, Laura’s mother, who has involved Laura in their marital problems, and through her actions has alienated Laura from David. In the immediate sense, the train David is on is also an obstacle as there is a long delay when David is heading toward the graduation, threatening to make him late.

  1. ACTION: What does your character do? This can be quite literal—what does the character physically do in your story? Or it can mean figuring out how your character tries to achieve their want.

David has not been invited to the graduation and surely will not be welcome, but he is going anyway. He has written a journal that he wants to give to Laura that explains his side of the story, including how much he loves her and misses her and the reasons he had to leave. He chose the journal because he is never allowed to be alone with Laura and anything he says is immediately contradicted by her mother. He is hoping Laura will read the unfiltered journal in private. He plans to watch the graduation as anonymously as possible, and once the ceremony is over, give Laura the book and leave.

 

 

 

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Character Prompt

Ysabelle 

  1. image 

She’s Filipino-American. She has black hair that reaches her back. She’s very slender. Her eyes are light brown. She’s 20 years old. Her skin is a bit tan. She always has her nails done. She dresses in athletic wear a lot of the time because she’s a dancer. 

  1. Voice 

She is from the Bronx. She uses slang a lot. She is also outspoken. She speaks her mind whenever she wants. 

  1. Desire 

She wants to move out of her parent’s home. (freedom) She wants to have a better relationship with her mother. 

  1. Conflict 

Her mother demands her to take care of the younger siblings because the father left them for another woman. The mom constantly puts down Ysabelle and makes her feel like she is not important. 

  1. Action 

She works two jobs in order to make more money to put into her savings to move out. She begins to go against her mother’s wishes and doesn’t watch the children sometimes. She tries to have a heart to heart talks with her mom about her life. She spends time with her mom by taking her out to dinner, buying her a gift, and helping to pay the bills. 

 

Joseph 

  1. Image 

He’s 6’3. He’s African-American but light skin. He has brown eyes. He has a lot of tattoos. His hair is short. 

  1. Voice 

He is rude. He likes to joke around. He is blunt. He is easily irritated. 

  1. Desire

He wants to break up with his girlfriend of 3 years. He wants to stop working so much. 

  1. Conflict 

His girlfriend’s parents died in a car crash. He doesn’t want to leave her alone in her time of need. He gets fired from his current job that pays well because he cursed out his boss. He cannot afford to be without his job because his lifestyle is expensive. 

  1. Action

He begins searching for a new job. He fights with his girlfriend about small things. He tries to avoid seeing her all day until it’s time to go to bed. He goes out every weekend to hang out with his friends. He begins to see someone else at the same time. He becomes frustrated when his new job isn’t what he wants.

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Character

  1. IMAGE:What does your character look like?

Mayor Geraldine Hanover is in her late fifties. She is aging gracefully. She has short, businesslike gray hair. She dresses professionally at all times—even her pajamas are courtly, like flannel versions of her signature pantsuits. She thinks her style makes her look dignified and official, but it has the unintended (and politically dangerous) consequence of stuffiness and artifice. She knows that the public, and her critics, will hold a much sharper magnifying glass to the way she looks and dresses compared to her male counterparts, so she always puts significant effort into planning out which shade of pearls to wear or which heel size is appropriate.

  1. VOICE:What does your character sound like?

Behind closed doors, the mayor speaks in a more relaxed, sometimes even blunt, tone. She only lets go of her politically savvy inhibitions when speaking with her most trusted associates (her family and a few of her staff members). In all other contexts, she speaks with authoritative, orthodox, stately carefulness. Decades of political and legal experience have conditioned her to behave almost robotically, but lately her shell of decorum has started to crack.

  1. DESIRE:What does your character want?

She wants to put an end to the crises plaguing her town. Her handling of a devastating storm last winter and its impacts on local infrastructure was the subject of merciless ridicule, and it set many townspeople against her. There have been several deaths due to opioids. She wants to improve the town’s education system, because the district has been lagging behind in academic test scores in recent years. She earnestly desires to solve these issues, so her care for the well-being of others is a major factor in her desire to remain in power, but she would be lying if she claimed re-election and a lifelong hunger for recognition have not also come into play.

  1. CONFLICT:Who/what gets in the way of your character getting this want?

For the first time in twenty years, she is facing a challenger in the upcoming primary election. Her competitor is younger, friendlier, does not have all the hefty baggage that comes with a decades-long political career, and is more adept at connecting with citizens in a way that seems genuine.

Recency Bias has caused the public to forget about Mayor Hanover’s previous accomplishments—helping the town recover from the 2008 recession, increasing awareness of mental health in schools, and championing environmental causes since the 90’s—and focus solely on her current fumbles. Her public image has never been spottier, and she needs to overhaul her entire persona if she wants to maintain her people’s trust (and coveted ballots).

  1. ACTION:What does your character do? This can be quite literal—what does the character physically do in the text? Or it can mean figuring out how your character tries to achieve their want.

She is weary of trying to be “hip” like her competitor because she worries it could make her look even more tone-deaf and out of touch than she already appears, but she has made some concrete efforts to be more attuned to the changes that are affecting her town. She has hired more diverse, people-oriented strategists and staff. She has been doing more groundwork, speaking directly to the residents and workers of the town to listen (or at least seem to listen) to their concerns. She is walking a fine line between cringeworthily clinging to relevance and coming across as a real human being who understands her constituents and their livelihoods, anxieties, and complexities.

 

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Character Prompt

Character #1: Rhea

Image: She has smooth olive skin and long, but frizzy curly hair. Her eyes are big, brown and curious, her eyelashes naturally long and curled. Her athletic body shows that she enjoys exercising or at the very least cares about her health, yet her fashion sense prioritizes comfort over appearance and femininity. People often assume she is much younger than she really is because of her kind face and the lightness of her steps.

Voice: She is quiet and soft-spoken, but can also be sarcastic and assertive when she feels comfortable with the people around her or in the place that she is in. She has been an avid reader from a young age and this shows in her speech when words that are outdated or unusual in daily speech slip in conversation. She speaks hurriedly when she is nervous or anxious and sometimes a slight Hispanic accent becomes noticeable when she talks to family and friends.

Desire: She wants a caring boyfriend, someone that will understand and accept her and all of her quirks. She wants to figure out what she wants to do as a career. She wants to know what makes her so special and whether she is special at all. Initially she wants to stay in the “In Between”, the alternate dimension she discovered when she held her breath for too long, and where she has met a boy that she likes.

Conflict: The death of her grandmother interferes with her desire to stay in the “In Between”. Her vanity and idea of what the “perfect guy” should look like initially gets in the way of her developing a relationship with the boy from the “In Between”. She is torn between picking medicine or writing as a career because she wants to help people but also loves books, however, she is also unsure of whether picking anything at all is worth it because she might end up staying in the “In Between”.

Action: She starts dating a very attractive guy on Earth and realizes that the perfect guy does not necessarily have to be conventionally handsome. She attempts to read most of the books from the library in the “In Between” in order to understand more about Earth and about the “In Between” and make her decision.

Character #2: Alvis

Image: Alvis is a tall old man. He has a long beard that almost touches the floor and he wears round glasses. He lives in the library and wears ankle-length dress pants with ankle socks peeking from underneath, oxford shoes, and knitted sweaters over printed button-downs.

Voice: Alvis’ voice is really low and he speaks very slowly and softly. His speech seems calculated and educated, he sounds like the kind of man who has lived many lives and thinks before he talks.

Desire: Alvis wants to go back to Earth, although he seems to be stuck in the In Between. He wants to help Rhea learn about all the great things that she would be missing if she left her life on Earth and ultimately convince her to go back.

Conflict: Initially, Alvis is only interested in helping Rhea because he believes she is the key to figuring out how he can go back to Earth. However, as he gets to know her, he becomes her close friend and his moral compass and genuine care for her get in the way of his plan to take advantage of her for his own selfish benefit.

Action: Alvis spends most of his days reading, he holds the record for the man who has read the most books in a lifetime. He also teaches Rhea about science, philosophy, history and everything she needs to know in order to make her decision.

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Character Prompt

Jessica aka Jassi

image:She’s an Indian woman. She’s beautiful, with smooth caramel skin and long beautiful black hair. She is slim and tall and is well accomplished in her life. She is a teacher, who was supposed to be a nurse. She had just received tenure at her job and is one of the youngest teachers to receive it. She is independent now she was not before. And she sees herself as the one who is independent and most accomplished out of her whole family, but they do not see it this way. She is living two separate lives.

 

Voice: Jassi has a soft-spoken voice. She speaks to everyone with respect and has manners. In her family she is not allowed to speak up for herself but when she is away from them, she is well able to. She teaches young children, elementary students. Her voice itself is firm but kind.

 

Desire: She wants to be independent in her eyes not her parents. She does not want her parent’s approval anymore for anything. She wants to begin to do things on her own. Wants to be under control of her own life not what her parents want, they keep forcing the med school on her. She definitely does not want to marry an Indian man.

 

Conflict:Disapproval from family about everything she desires. Forceful arranged marriage. Family keeps forcing a med school on her. The strict Indian culture.

 

Action:Jassi keeps doing things that her parents aren’t approving of. She goes into teaching rather than nursing. She is a different person when she is not with her family. She changes herself by slowly rebelling by not being disrespectful towards her family.

 

Mom (Suni)

Image:Typical Indian mom. Jassi is a spitting image of her. Though mom is shorter than she use to be and is getting older now. Suni was a nurse and is now retired at the age of 50. She encountered some health problems that involved her knees and her diabetic issues. She is a housewife now and she hates it. She loves her Indian serials (shows) and she loves to cook. Her mom (nani) taught her at a very young age. She loves her kids especially Jassi, she sees a lot of potential in her that she wishes she had. She is always pushing her more than the younger siblings.

 

Voice:Suni has a loud voice. She is very blunt; she tells things as it is and she never holds back. She always says what’s on her mind. Especially when it comes to disciplining, her husband (papa/raj) does not come in the way of that. She is an independent woman, just like Jassi and she makes it known that she has accomplished a lot such as getting her nursing license and leveling up to nursing management.

 

Desire:Wants the best for her family. She is especially rooting for Jassi to be like her because she was born in India and somewhat raised there so she knows the culture, traditions, and family values. She wants her to have the best career that is not teaching and wants her to marry into another Indian family. She wants a lot for her family because she is accomplished and provided for hers and wants jassi to do the same but the “Indian” way.

 

 

Conflict:Though Jassi is respectful of her family her and Suni don’t see eye to eye. Suni is always having snarky remarks about jassi’s career and keeps pushing things on her.

 

Action:Suni (mom) communicates in a different way than Jassi wants her to. She is not understanding and only wants her opinions to be heard and just tells Jassi to listen to her.

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Character

Ysabelle 

  1. image 

    She’s filipino-american. She has black hair that reaches her back. She’s very slender. Her eyes are a light brown. She’s 20 years old. Her skin is a bit tan. She always has her nails done. She dresses in athletic wear a lot of the time because she’s a dancer. 

  1. Voice 

She is from the Bronx. She uses slang a lot. She is also outspoken. She speaks her mind whenever she wants. 

  1. Desire 

She wants to move out of her parent’s home. (freedom) She wants to have a better relationship with her mother. 

  1. Conflict 

Her mother demands her to take care of the younger siblings because the father left them for another woman. The mom constantly puts down Ysabelle and makes her feel like she is not important. 

  1. Action 

She works two jobs in order to make more money to put into her savings to move out. She begins to go against her mother’s wishes and doesn’t watch the children sometimes. She tries to have heart to heart talks with her mom about her life. She spends time with her mom by taking her out to dinner, buying her a gift, and helping to pay the bills. 

 

Joseph 

  1. Image 

He’s 6’3. He’s African-American but light skin. He has brown eyes. He has a lot of tattoos. His hair is short. 

  1. Voice 

He is rude. He likes to joke around. He is blunt. He is easily irritated. 

  1. Desire

He wants to break up with his girlfriend of 3 years. He wants to stop working so much. 

  1. Conflict 

His girlfriend’s parents died in a car crash. He is doesn’t want to leave her alone in her time of need. He gets fired from his current job that pays well because he cursed out his boss. He cannot afford to be without his job because his lifestyle is expensive. 

  1. Action

He begins searching for a new job. He fights with his girlfriend about small things. He tries to avoid seeing her all day until it’s time to go to bed. He goes out every weekend to hang out with his friends. He begins to see someone else at the same time. He becomes frustrated when his new job isn’t what he wants.

 

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