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so im trying to write a book
the subject theme is decided, so does their overall design
but im not sure how many should i design, what power do they have, their affinities and relationships

and how many should be involved?
trying to make this all "cohesive"
any idea? to know each of their power or "properties", relatisonships or affinity yo each others, and the..amounts?

what should i refer to?


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The more characters you include as main characters who have their own POVs, the greater the risk they will feel thin and underdeveloped. For POV characters I limit myself to two or three. It could be characters who are on opposite sides of a conflict or feud, so I can explore both sides and allow each character the chance to give their take on what happens.

I try very hard not to write complete assholes, or villains without any redeeming characteristics. Even a villain ought to have a sound motivation, and things he cares about, even things he would not do.

Even secondary characters can end up blending into one unless they are developed enough. No limit on how many characters I have as secondary, but if one character can fill the space for two, and appear more fleshed out, then I would probably cut the other character.

In one of my current stories I have 121 pages of outlines and placeholder dialogue; just descriptions of what happens, some stand-in dialogue I will rework later, and at the beginning of the text I have a breakdown of the chapters so I know what happens in each chapter, and a dramatis personæ, a list of all the characters who appear, and this is basically a small bio, where I go into some detail about their appearance, personality, and background. Some, or even most, of this bio may not make it into the finished story, but it helps me stay true to the character when I write, having that information in mind.


ah cool… what about how many characters to include? as in, how much people in it, how diverse they are and how are they should be related to one another to compliment the story?


Not sure what the upper limit of characters ought to be - it depends partially on the length of the book/story, and how much you want to focus on the core characters and the scope of the story.
If I remember correctly Agatha Christie would introduce a ton of characters early on to confuse the reader and keep on edge, make them pay extra attention.

If you have several settings, big cities, it might feel more natural to include more characters to make the place feel more 'alive'.
I don't have any fixed numbers or limits when I set out - it flows better when you let the story go where it needs to go, and introduce characters as needed.
Without intending to I've ended up fleshing out some minor character who only appears once or twice more than some characters who appear several times, but are really interchangeable.

The number of main characters probably shouldn't be more than three, IMHO, but if it is a lengthy story with a large vision, you need to fill in the world with background characters so it doesn't feel empty and lifeless. Some of these background characters can be painted in broader strokes, maybe one or two moments to give the illusion of depth.
That could be a thing to aim for - try to give the illusion of depth and things happening in the background, characters caring about their own issues that are only slightly alluded to in the periphery.


i see….what about their roles? and affinity? maybe this steps in too much into symbolism… but say a detective story will definitely need a detective OR someone acting as detective and then possible murderers?

in different case, how should i decide how many…roles for these characters? depending on the size of the story, are "roles", important? does a story need? otherwise how would you define the importance of characters to the plots and each other?


Perhaps I ought to have made this clear earlier, but I am a complete and utter hack, so most of my stories are a few decent scenes cobbled together to form a semi-coherent narrative.
Kubrick talked about 'non-submersible units': these are fundamental story-pieces, the irreducible core of a narrative when all the non essential 'padding' has been stripped away. Brian Adliss: "[Stanley] had a contempt for narrative, I was hooked on narrative. But he said to me: forget it, all you need for a movie is 6 or 8 non-submersible units."

I've no idea if this method works outside of film, but that is my approach to writing.
I am even guilty of J. J. Abrams' 'mystery box' approach: I come up with a mystery for the characters to look into/investigate, and then make it up as I write. As long as the reader can follow the logic in where the story and investigation goes, and I ground the story enough, it could work. Hopefully. I include a lot of details surrounding the case, details that help sell the idea that this is a real case, and the investigators know what they are doing and follow the leads, but in actuality I have no idea where it is going, or if there is anything of importance to a particular clue.

Some clues may end up becoming redherrings, while other may end up being important. If I, as the writer, have no real idea where it is going, it forces me to be creative, makes me think on how I can connect these clues in a logical and interesting way.

In my 'dramatis personæ' list I make sure to include their relationships to the other characters if that is important - relative, love interest, acquaintances, enemies, etc.
If you are lucky the bio you come up with for characters can prove to be important down the line, how characters interact and think about each other.

I'm betting people will overlook most of my stories' faults as long as there are a few scenes that really work, and the characters are engaging.


>>2168 i see… i am a complete hack myself without any chance of success. but curiously of course, wondering if the elements that makes stories good are all reliant on, cohesive pieces in a certain way?

otherwise things just looks like a mess… whether star trek's khan and …the main guy's duality or benedict cumberbatch casting against chris pine…
or the jedi sith relation?

maybe i wonder too much about it and it cripples me..
otherwise then wouldnt you be making and remaking a certain thing all the time without retaining come recycled elements that has somewhat "good" ratings in it? what do you think?


>maybe i wonder too much about it and it cripples me..
That could be it. Fuck the haters and the fear of screwing up. Just write what you want.
Nothing I ever write will ever be published, so I may as well write what I want and put it online, rather than trying to appeal to some non-existent audience or adhere to genres and styles just because that is 'how it is supposed to be done'.

If you write just to have fun and get better, then just do it and see how it turns out. If you do put it up online you could end up getting some useful feedback. AO3 allows original fiction, but even fanfiction is helpful to get your toes wet. You can just use these existing characters and settings and scenarios and add your own plot/idea and just start writing without having to come up with all new characters on your own. That can take up so much time you could be using on just writing with pre-existing characters.
That is a helpful way to test your skills and scenarios.


>>2171 im not going all anarchist like that but yes you have a point, thank you


I'm not saying go nuts and drop any coherent narrative, but to be less bound by traditional writing styles and techniques. That hampers creativity, I think.
If you are writing something for serious publication, then yes, write what you think will get published. But if you are writing something (mostly) for your own enjoyment, why not be more creative and focus on mood, atmosphere, and make some segments flow nicely, albeit in an unconventional way, and focus more on developing those special scenes, rather than adhering to conventional story structure and narrative?
Explore different writing styles for different characters - some characters might use more 'flowery' expressions, different words, and have an outlook on life that gives them a special and distinctive flare. Other characters might be more reserved and logical, and their POV would be noticeably different from other characters. Just small things that help set the characters apart and give an indication of their personality.

Personally I have tried to adopt Lucio Fulci's approach in literary form for some of my stories:
<Both [The Beyond & Inferno], intentionally, have no structure. We tried in Italy to make films based on pure themes, without a plot, and The Beyond, like Inferno, refuses conventions and traditional structures, while there are some threads in my other films: The House is about a monster, The Ripper is an Hitchcockian thriller, City of the Living Dead deals with Evil, Zombi 2 was death and the macabre. I like The Beyond very much because I think it was an interesting attempt. People who blame The Beyond for its lack of story have not understood that it's a film of images, which must be received without any reflection. They say it is very difficult to interpret such a film, but it is very easy to interpret a film with threads: any idiot can understand Molinaro's La Cage aux Folles, or even Carpenter's Escape from New York, while The Beyond or Argento's Inferno are absolute films.

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