How to write the characters

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Oddball
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How to write the characters

Post by Oddball » Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:10 pm

This is a discussion that came up elsewhere and I thought it could use a topic of it's own.

The discussion was about how to write Rin without being over the top, but I thought it could expand to other characters as well.

Now for writing Rin you need to understand that she is a fully functional individual. She might not get everything, but she's able to interact with others just fine. She she will notice when people have problems understanding her, but that doesn't mean she can explain things any easier.

Another thing is that she uses the amount of words that she thinks is necessary for a reply. If the answer is "no" that's all she'll feel the need to say. On the flipside, if she isn't quite sure how to express herself, she's ramble on and trip over her words trying to get things to make sense.

One thing you do NOT want to do is try to have Rin be random just to be "zany". When she's random she's usually at her most serious and even then wouldn't say anything that she doesn't think makes sense. Now she is capable of telling jokes, and she should, but just having her spout out random words and phrases probably isn't going to be as funny as you think it is.

I try write her with the logic of a easily distracted daydreamer.

... and while we're on the subject of hard to writer characters, there's Kenji.

Whenever I see stories where Kenji is randomly shouting at the top of his lungs about a feminist conspiracy and launching attacks on the girls, I just have to roll my eyes. Kenji is not going to be that overt. He doesn't WANT to make himself a target. He's also fully capable of interacting with girls without blowing up on then. Remember the scene with him and Hanako helping Lilly's class or when he causes Lilly to fall? He's actually overly polite when dealing with girls (usually.)

He's paranoid, and he's a bit delusional, but he doesn't go out of his way to hurt people or drive them away.

So, anyone else want to share a bit on how they write certain characters?
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Mysterious Fox
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by Mysterious Fox » Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:20 pm

Here is one pattern I've seen.

A suggestion for longer pieces featuring Rin:

One thing I felt made Rin work well in the original game is the sense that the "crazy" things she says early on take on deeper personal meanings as the story progresses. In a second playthrough, you are able to understand her in greater clarity and realize she knew what she was saying, even if you thought otherwise the first time.

So, Act 1 Rin is sitting in front of the mural with Hisao, talking about the mural being nameless and not having a plan or purpose. In the moment, it sounds like she's a cloudcuckoolander stereotype, but, later, I thought back on that scene and suspected it was Rin opening up to you a little and making herself vulnerable, in her own way. She's talking about herself.

Rin's abstract way of speaking can be used as a means of setting the groundwork for future emotional payoffs. Silly in the moment, serious in hindsight.

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Re: How to write the characters

Post by Numb » Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:39 pm

I've never written Rin into my work, but the advice above is indeed valid. Reading scenes with Rin is always a different experience between authors, but never in a good way. Some will make her seem like a mental health patient, some make her seem deep and philosophical. Honestly, if I were to write Rin, I'd write her as a confused teenager (which she is) who likes making the occasional weird analogy. I've done it in the past, but I can communicate normally with others the majority of the time. Rin is the same, she can't talk about her problems because she compares them to things people don't usually imagine, but she is completely normal in social context. Snarky and witty, but normal.

While I'm here, I might as well point out Jigoro. While he is rarely used, people generally make him seem MUCH worse than he ever was in the VN. They're very subtle, but there are moments in Jigoro's dialogue in the VN that let you see into his past. The main one I remember is when he is ranting about Hisao telling him not to criticise Shizune, where he essentially admits he has legitimately had a hard time raising Shizune.

He may have hired tutors and translators to try making her 'normal', but that shows instantly that he cares about Shizune. He didn't shove her to Yamaku so he wouldn't have to deal with her anymore, he sent her there because they can help her more than he can. I also like to believe that's why he always seems to be shouting at her. He knows he couldn't give her the treatment she needs, and he hates himself for it. The shouting is merely a way to vent.

A good way to handle Jigoro is to go back and read ALL of the scenes he is involved in. Without reading it in his shouting voice. Try giving him a weary voice, take away his energy. This is how you notice the cracks, you instinctively add a sigh or something similar to certain lines. Just remember, Jigoro is old, he has two children, his wife is either dead or almost never home, he has to support an effeminate son despite the embarrassment he is caused from his friends taunts. Assuming he actually has friends. Jigoro is harsh because he hasn't had a chance to rest for nearly two decades.

He also doesn't hate Hisao. He is overly protective of his daughter, like most fathers, and is testing the limits of Hisao's love for her. If he can't put up with a loud dad, he isn't good enough for Shizune, despite what they may say. This point is important to remember. Don't let Jigoro's tests be picked up on, make him seem like a douche, but make sure he is justified. Make Hisao hate him, don't make the reader hate him. Put some of those small cracks of the past in his dialogue, but not too many so as to build up a subplot relating to him (unless you want that).

That should do for now, I'll probably remember something important after posting this, but I'll leave some points for you guys to suggest for him :lol:
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by Guest Poster » Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:13 am

You'd think a man that ashamed about how his life turned out wouldn't have someone write an autobiography about it.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:16 am

Guest Poster wrote:You'd think a man that ashamed about how his life turned out wouldn't have someone write an autobiography about it.
Yeah, it's an autobiography, he'd write it himself and force it down everybody else's throats. :)
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:54 am

"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction." - Oscar Wilde

Anyway, my ¥2 on Rin: one thing I picked up about her on the replay of her route is that she is very intelligent. Thus, her inability to properly communicate and to "read the air" (as one might say) is more frustrating to her than it would be to others. It may even lead to those periodic "word explosions" seen in her route.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:19 pm

I think the one big thing I've learnt in my brief time in these forums, from people like dewelar and Helbereth, is that the internal monologue of each character is not the same as the external dialogue. When we play KS, we get Hisao's internal monologue and some of his external dialogue; but we get very little of the internal monologue of the characters except what the unreliable lens of Hisao's perceptions tells us.

That's not to say that Emi inside is not Emi outside, for example. The two are obviously linked. But people choose what they want to say, or find it hard to choose what to say from the many things they want to say, or find it hard to think about what exactly they want to say.

So for external dialogue, I try to base it on KS canon, and apply shading effects of time and maturity if moving forward chronologically. For internal monologue, I purposely add nuance and complexity. But the two must always have some sort of plausible psychological link.

As people have pointed out to me, my writing suffers when I overdo one or the other. I'm still learning, so I'm glad this thread is here; I will be writing Hanako and Rin soon and all this good advice is much appreciated.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by bhtooefr » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:02 pm

Speaking of Hanako, one thing is that Hanako is far snarkier internally than she lets on. And, she thinks a lot before, and while, saying what little she usually says. She directs a fair amount of the snark at herself, though. You can see that she's a bit of a prankster, too, but is afraid to let that side of herself out.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by Guest Poster » Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:32 pm

Where does it say that Hanako's snarky inside, rather than merely being unable to give people the benefit of the doubt? And where does it say that she's a bit of a prankster?
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by bhtooefr » Sun Mar 23, 2014 4:02 pm

It doesn't outright say it, but they're things that leak out here and there. I'd need to find specific examples of where her internal snark starts to leak out, but the prankster thing... it's implied that she's quite a bit more experienced at pool than she claims, really.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by dewelar » Sun Mar 23, 2014 4:25 pm

bhtooefr wrote:the prankster thing... it's implied that she's quite a bit more experienced at pool than she claims, really.
I think this can be chalked up to either self-deprecation, lack of confidence or simple humility. I could definitely see Hanako as being internally snarky, though, given her dim view of most people.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by Guest Poster » Sun Mar 23, 2014 4:58 pm

it's implied that she's quite a bit more experienced at pool than she claims, really.
That probably has less to do with pranking people and more with being too insecure about herself to brag about stuff she does well. Given the fact she's probably been the target of pranks herself, I don't really see her as that much of a prankster.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by bhtooefr » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:23 pm

Oh, a better example may be her "experiments", but fanon is blending with canon there.

(I know I've at least read fanfic that's implied that she will intentionally do a "bad" experiment just to troll Lilly.)
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by Oddball » Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:21 pm

I don't see snaky or prankster in Hanako's character at all. Nor do I see her trying to troll Lilly.

It's more likely that Hanako just isn't always that great of a cook, or even that she has different tastes than Lilly. For example, she might like her foods spicy, while the excessive spice is a bit more than Lilly's more sensitive tastebuds can handle.
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Re: How to write the characters

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:11 pm

Something I find that can be helpful for writing a character with which you can't "get" is to consider a similar character that you do "get". Rin is a character with whom people often struggle. I myself find it hard to follow her train of thought at times, even when I'm writing her! But when I get stuck, I think about how Luna Lovegood might act under the same circumstances. They are by no means the same character, but they share enough quirks that, by imagining how Luna might act, I can segue into how Rin might act. Of course this is by no means perfect and it's very easy to do it badly, but I think if you have a good sense about who the characters are you shouldn't have any trouble.

It's worth remembering someone like Rin does not think in terms of circular logic; it's more like an omega shape; you still get to the point, but you'll just take a very roundabout and not necessarily optimal way to get there. I've received rather a lot of praise for how I wrote Rin in my fic, Waiting, so those looking to write her may gain some benefit from reading it.

Other characters can have the same sort of treatment applied to them. Off the top of my head, you might compare Hanako to Simon in the first half of Gurren Lagann in some respects, and to pre-contract Homura in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Just be careful not to write Simon or Homura instead.

Also worth noting is that readers are perfectly willing to accept something outside of established canon, provided you explain or justify it well enough, so don't be afraid to experiment a little! Pidgeonholing yourself won't do you any good at all.
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