Writing - Creating Distinct Characters | Aleksina Teto | Skillshare

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Writing - Creating Distinct Characters

teacher avatar Aleksina Teto, Illustrator, Designer, Writer.

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction - Character Diversity


    • 2.



    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.

      Keeping a Character True to Her or Him Self


    • 7.



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About This Class

The protagonist has been created, maybe the character is even the main reason for writing this book or short story. Then, writing the second doesn't seem too bad. But, then you need more characters, and it's getting a little harder. And wait, you've reached chapter 6, and they are all starting too look a little too similar, maybe even starting to look a little too much like the writer.

That's where this class comes in, it hopes to help you be able to better define characters, help with thinking up characters, as well as aid in keeping those characters distinct.

Meet Your Teacher

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Aleksina Teto

Illustrator, Designer, Writer.


I'm Aleksina, or AlT, some weird Canadian who is fascinated in critical theory and the human condition as well as just creativity. I have a Writing and Publishing diploma from Okanagan College. I enjoy all mediums to express self and other.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction - Character Diversity: something I've always struggled with and still sometimes do is writing with character diversity. I find myself falling into the pit full of all my characters, blending into being the same character I am me. And it can be easy to go into the comfort of rating in my own perspective and the character becoming a version of the writer. The purpose of this class is to give you some easy tricks to help with character diversity . We'll talk about defining character by means of motivation. Traits intend and their influences will, internally and externally, will also cover techniques for keeping a character true to him or herself. And finally, how to document that information to keep you on track. So even when you've put down a piece for weeks, months or even years, you can still be true to each character. Welcome to writing character diversity. I am excited to help you even a little bit on your reading journey 2. Motivation: defining character motivation. The central part of any character is what motivates them. Why do they do what they do? What is their motor that makes them act? Maybe this is easy for you to define. Maybe you have a sense but no concrete definition. And finally, maybe you have yet to decipher it. Either way, this is a great exercise for you. I want you to write down a few things that your characters do. Maybe they play flute, fight, cook or sit in thought, find a few things and write them all down. Now I ask you, why are they doing each thing? What do they think of or feel while doing it? Are they thinking back to playing flute with her mother? Maybe they're venting anger through their fighting. Let's say you chose playing flute. If that character is thinking back to playing with her mother, that character can now be defined as having part of their focused on nostalgia, yearning for the past and maternal connection. Thus, we can define one motivator as nostalgic, driven by past experiences or family, maybe even all three, depending on your character. But if that character played flute with a desire to reach a professional level there. Motivator might be success or self validation. If they're fighting and trying to vent anger, you need to contemplate the root of that anger. Is that anger fueled by a wrongdoer feeling weak or something else entirely? From there, you can find a defining motivator, such as proving self internally and externally, or vengeance. I specifically want you to narrow them down toe one word or phrase because really knowing, Ah, concrete motivator or multiple motivators helps you steer the actions of your characters. 3. Traits: traits in this context. When I say traits, I'm talking about personality traits. Yes, characters evolve and change, and the personality can morph. But most people will have concrete personality traits that will never leave them. Really. Establishing even just two or three adjectives for a character can be the defining factor. How a character will react emotionally and physically toe any situation. This makes writing a scene with a Folger be almost instantaneous. Instead of having to spend time sitting there and sometimes overly polishing reactions for best appearances, personality traits are both flaws and what makes characters great. Those trades should both help and cause issue for the character, so knowing those traits can help you not overwrite scenes for some examples. Lucy Smith. Materialistic, loyal and cerebral. When writing Lucy, you will know she's prone to being attached to possessions and want more possessions. She might even find her value in the things she owns, but ultimately she will be there for those close to her. But she will hesitate if it affects her physical belongings. In this hesitation, she will probably be rationalizing with methodical thought. Joe Smith, energetic, competitive and open. Now Joe will be prone to including himself in everything. His level of energy will make him not listen super role and be distractible and pulled toe . Whatever seems most high energy and interesting, what we'll keep him focused is his competitive nature having so much energy he'll last in competitive situations, way past anyone else through this all. You know, if you ask him anything or tell him anything, he will give you an honest answer and never actively hide anything, even his strong desire to win within different contacts. What are your characters defining traits? What are three traits? One of your characters, ideally, the character for whom you defined motivation. 4. Intent: intent. Speaking of intent, I want to mainly focus on ethics and morals. Of course, intent can indicate infinite other things, but in this context, I mean ethics and morals. Mainly, I also will overlap a bit with motivation. Not all characters have holistic and altruistic intent. They may be fully self focused or fully focused on others. If you were anything like me, you will accidentally try and have all characters morph to having extremely externally progressive intent or evolved to it. Having characters black and white is not going to be engaging to the same level as having a variety. A story shouldn't have the protagonist with holier than thou intent and antagonised with fully every moment malicious intent, possibly who ends with holier than thou intend. What we do want is balance. We want evolution, but we also want stagnation. This is a builder of tension, a story, the best friend. Let's go back to Lucy. We're going to say she has a very logical intent due to her cerebral treat. Her intentions are centered on taking in facts and less emotion to measure both sides and come to a very fair result, though, as we will talk about later her influences. They might shape her logic, whether she is more conservative, the liberal or wherever she is on the spectrum. In some perspectives, she might appear less ethical and to have questionable morals. For Joe, he would have more selfish in 10. Due to being competitive in most situations, he is focused on winning. Whether that is ethically or morally right or not, he would be prone to more flexible morals and ethics. To contrast Lucy, he might have holier than now or close to it influencers and tend to be able to step a sign from his competitive nature to make a more ethically or morally sound decision based on his influencers. 5. Influence: influence. This can put a monkey wrench in a lot of other defining aspects of character. It will be a factor to bend their traits or intentions, but will probably have less effect on their core motivators. Those have surrounded and currently surrounded character sculpt a large portion of them. Maybe Lucy was raised by develop Catholics but later ended up living or hanging mainly around atheist. Whether those initial influences are still a large part of her life or not will affect how much she changes based off of her surroundings. Even the physical environment will influence. Did they ever have snow? Will they ever have snow? Are they in a big city? Are the isolated? We're going to say that Joe was raised in the city with just slightly more liberal than conservative parents and spent and continues to spend a lot of time around more conservative people. He also ends up not spending time aside from holidays with his parents, on top of that weakens, living in a small village in another country. If he were to have spent most of his time around his parents before moving, he might have been the strongest influencer changing those around him more than himself. But due to spending more time with friends, he'll most likely be more altered by those around him. A final note on influence is how it can make a character interact with a new acquaintance or someone they don't see regularly, each having a different circle. Their addiction, behavior and appearance will differ. Use that tool for really showing off the difference of cultures, whether ones you've created or you are including. Think of your characters influencers from when they were younger, both people and setting who are their current influences. 6. Keeping a Character True to Her or Him Self: keeping a character true to her or himself. Hopefully, with the last few exercises, you will have a better sense of your character. There's a high chance. It is easier to keep a character more grounded in their personality and psyche with what you have heard so far, keeping a character true to him or herself. This probably sounds like what you were just working on. In this case, I don't mean so much knowing your character. So you keep your writing consistent. This is about the evolution or lack of evolution of a character. Whether due to motivators, traits or influencers, Characters will change to a different degree as the age and accomplish what you put them through in writing. What I really want you to be attentive of is to make sure not all characters change of the same rate have some characters that are just really no ready to get past one emotional hurdle yet well, another would never be more ready. The tension will be enhanced, which we want. Use this to bond different characters or pull them apart. Maybe what makes your intake anus is there need to stay rooted? All they were so far and not moving on or evolving. That could even make your protagonist for you from a scale of 1 to 10. What is your characters? Amount of changeability. This might change as the story goes on, but I want you to be cautious of the difference between characters. 7. Conclusion: and now it's time for the conclusion. The project from this lesson is to create three complete character sheets, each with two motivators, three traits, their intent to past influences to present influences and a noted degree of changeability, whether from 1 to 10 or another rubric that works better for you. Rating a character when not fully fleshed out beforehand, they can readily, all more into the writer. As you get further into the book, it is natural. The writer is who they are, and it's easiest to right. From that point of view, I hope that with his class, you can have some more tools to help you define characters to keep them as unique from one another as when you wrote the first sentence to the last sentence in the book or in your short story.