CFS: Part 7



Greetings,

At last! The last one!

7. ‘How’ Stage

    1. How does your character display his various moods?

      What are the distinctive mannerisms that show the various moods of your character? What does he do/say when he is pensive, angry, afraid, excited, in love, etc.? Be simple (“whenever he is afraid he stands on his head and yodels” is not quite right), realistic (but imaginative), and natural (would he really do that?).

    2. How does your character live normal life? habits/hobbies/normal life

      What habits guide your character during his day to day life? What are his hobbies and curious interests? What is normal about him? Now is when you get to say that he likes blueberries but not blackberries, and that he likes to look at the stars, or that he hates running. Also, does he brush his teeth? Is he neat and tidy? Or is he like me: toss-it-there-so-you-can-find-it-later?

    3. What is your character’s frame?

      What shape is your character? Is he tall, short, wide, lean, muscular, wimpy? What shape is his face? Does he have a strong jaw, a high forehead, maybe a wide cranium? How well built is he?

    4. How does your character fight?

      What system of martial arts does your character use predominantly? Does he prefer to keep at a distance and cast projectiles, or use a sword and spear at closer range? Does he prefer striking to ground fighting? Does he fight at all? What sort of tactics does he use?

    5. What are your character’s features?

      Everyone has certain distinctive characteristics that are unique about his or her face and body. These make up what we immediately recognize as that person, even before we hear their voice. Most people realize this, and spend time filling out endless character charts of the hair and eye color and etc. of their characters. There is a lot more. George MacDonald said no description of a character was complete until you had described, among other things, their nose. Therefore, we have compiled a short, and by no means exhaustive, list of features to consider in your description of your character: hair, eyebrows, facial hair, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, cheekbones, ears, chin, hands, fingers, and complexion.

    6. How does your character speak?

      Does your character have a deep, high, whiny, cruel, or cold voice? Is there any particular turn of speech that is distinctive to him? Does he ask questions in a particular way, or does he neglect a certain grammatical rule? Does he have an accent? Is he proper, witty, or laconic? You get the point.

    7. What does your character wear or carry with him?

      What is you character’s choice of clothing? Of course, he will end up in situations that will dictate his garb, but what about when he is able to choose? Does he dress very austerely, or very casually? Does he like foreign clothes, or maybe he likes to make his own (odd, but you never know)? What weapons does he carry about with him? What heirlooms are important to him?

  1. How does your character look? What are the distinctive characteristics of his appearance? This is the last stage, and you can at last have fun with what your character looks like. Yes, it is important (just not as important as the rest), so go be creative and artistic!

There you go, our fractalling system for characters. We are very proud of it. Though, to be honest, we have not yet succeeded in sending one of our characters all the way through it. I tried once, and ended up with a very deep character, and a novel to boot, before I got to the sixth step on the first stage. Oh well. I hope you will benefit from reading this very long system, even if you don’t use all of it.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

Advertisements

CFS: Part 6

Greetings,

This is the next to last one.

6. ‘Where’ Stage

    1. Where does your character’s national culture come from?

      Figure out the nation that most influenced his lifestyle by its culture. Tell what got impressed into him. Study how his nation became assimilated into his blood.

    2. Where is your character located in his nation’s creeds or castes?

      Each nation has its own system of hierarchies. Some nations focus on a division by your religion, others by your occupation, others by your level of success, others by other random, various things (maybe bearded people are ostracized…). How does this affect your character? And where does he fit into it all?

    3. Where does your character have his allegiance to?

      Some people are from one nation’s culture, but his allegiance is to some place completely different. If his nation and another went to war, which side would he be on? What would he do? Does he despise patriotism entirely?

    4. What is your character’s education and expertise?

      What does he know? What has he learned? Does he value learning? Does he like to learn? Is he an expert on ancient hair follicles? Or maybe extinct pigs teeth? Or just possibly something rather ordinary, like rat health.

    5. What race or tribe does your character come from?

      Hmmm, rather self evident there. But think about it. Elves are rather different from Dwarves by most accounts, and French people are very different from Chinese people I am told. Centaurs are definitely different from Griffins.

    6. What language does your character speak?

      Ah, language. I love languages (or maybe I just love talking). But language really affects your character and how he thinks. Study his language, and see what it might tell you about him. The definitions of terms define the debate. The definitions that a man uses define his thoughts.

    7. What occupation does your character have?

      Is your character an artisan, a priest, a carpenter, an architect, a scholar, an assassin? How does he view his job? How does he work? Is he skilled and professional? Or is he slovenly and lazy? How does he view other jobs? Is he content?

  1. A person’s location, mentally and physically, affects him greatly. You need to study out how a person’s environment affects him and his life.

See you next time…

CFS: Part 5

Greetings,

Yet another, we are almost done!

5. ‘When’ Stage

    1. When someone first meets your character, what does he know about him?

      First impressions are very important: what do people notice first about your character? A lot of times it is not representative of his real self, but it is very important to understand this aspect of his character.

    2. When someone works with your character for a while, what does he know about him?

      Working with someone really shows some interesting things. You learn different things about him than you would in other ways. It is almost like he is a different person, but not really. How does this apply to your character?

    3. When someone goes through a tragedy with your character, what does he know about him?

      Tragedies mold lives in ways nothing else can. It knits together, tears apart, and builds very strange relationships. How does your character handle tragedies with other people?

    4. When someone is an enemy of your character, how does he perceive him?

      Imagine that you only ever saw your character through a gauze of anger, distrust, and deceit. What would stand out to you? What weaknesses would you notice and try to exploit? What sort of an effect would your character’s personality have on you and your devious schemes to destroy him?

    5. When someone has been a friend of your character for years, what does he know about him?

      When a character finally opens up more than before, what do you see? What can you tell about him by adding up several years of experience with him? What rare occasions have enlightened you to some otherwise obscure passage in his life? How does he treat you?

    6. When someone has known your character all his life, or is married to him, what does he/she know about him?

      What are the deepest things that can be known about your character? What never comes to light, except to those extremely close to him? Even if no one is that close to him, say ‘What if’ and explore.

    7. What is there about your character that no one knows, and never will know?

      There are things about your character’s history and personality that only God and himself know. Sometimes not even he knows them. There will be very few things like this that you will be able to ferret out, and they will probably not go into the story, of course (it is possible to do it, but it needs to be done well). But they will lend depth to the rest of him. I would say this is hardest part.

  1. It takes time to get to know people. And different people let others into their lives at different speeds and in different ways. This is a very important part of you character that you need to develop. It is dependent on many of the other things that we have already figured out, but it still has a lot of creativity left in it. Finding out the timing of your character is very important, so let’s go.

Keep going if you are trying this!

CFS: Part 4

Greetings,

Next…

4. ‘If’ Stage

    1. What if your character’s religion was different? If your character believed something very different than what he does, how would he act with the other religion? If he was a catholic, what kind of catholic would he be? If he was an atheist, what kind of atheist would he be? If he was a Christian, what kind of a Christian would he be? Would he hold to this or that denomination? Would he tithe, go to church, or just act the same as before?
    2. What if your character lived in a different world?If your character grew up in our world (if this is a fantasy story), what jobs, skills, habits would he have? What if he grew up in Narnia or some other fantasy world that someone has created? What would be different about him, and what would be the same?
    3. What if your character had a different history (family, friends, etc.)? If your character grew up in a broken home, what would he be like if he grew up, instead, in a close-knit home? If his family had been from a different religion, or immigrants, or richer, or poorer, what would be different? If that girl hadn’t turned him down, if that friend had betrayed him, what would he have done?
    4. What if your character was a different gender? If your character is a boy, what would he have been like if he was a girl? If your character is a girl, what would she be like if she was a boy? This is a really hard one, but it provides some very interesting insights into your character, and into the opposite gender from you as well. 🙂
    5. What if your character had a different occupation or abilities? What if your character was an archer instead of a swordmaster? What if he was a policeman instead of a doctor? What if he was a king instead of a businessman? What if he was skilled at wrestling? What if he liked art?
    6. What if your character was from a different race or nation? What if he was a centaur? What if he was an Elf? What if he was from a different nation? If you are not doing fantasy (and of course there is only one race on earth), you can still look at the very different cultural people groups of our world and change that.
    7. What if your character looked different? Let us say you know that your character hates being short: what if he was tall? Change his appearance. If your character is a girl, this has more of an effect, I think, but not much more.
  1. This stage will force you to violently separate your character from your perception of his circumstances and attributes: from everything that he has no choice about and some that he does. You will need to imagine what your character would be like if he was in a different place or if he was in a different situation or if he looked different, etc. You might not know what your character really is in many of these questions, but that just makes it easier. Simply try various combinations of these variables and see how your character changes, and what stays the same.

Have any of you got anything yet?

CFS: Part 3

Greetings,

Next part…

3. ‘Why’ Stage

    1. What axioms and definitions influence your character’s decisions? Everyone has certain unique definitions and fundamental assumptions that act as the foundation for his beliefs. For example: materialists define science in a way that excludes God, and this affects their use of science dramatically: they will not allow a divine foot in the door. What are the assumptions, dogmas, and biases that your character has as an integral part of his nature?
    2. What does your character believe about origins and how does that influence his decisions? What does your character believe about where we all came from? What does he believe about creation? How does he view his beliefs? How does it affect the way he acts and makes decisions? Does he believe that a god created everything, or does he believe that everything made itself? Was it long ages ago, or only recently? Does he believe that we cannot know?
    3. What does your character believe about afterlife and how does that influence his decisions? What does your character believe about what happens when we die? Do we just vanish into oblivion? Do we have another chance? Do we reincarnate? Are we faced with a judgment day? How does he see this as affecting his life? Does he care?
    4. What does your character believe about law and how does that influence his decisions? What is your character’s source of morals? Who does he hold to be the authority? Whose commands does he respect? Does he value authority at all? Does he consider the Bible (or whatever is in your world if this is fantasy) to be the revealed Word of God? Does he let any of this impact his life or decisions?
    5. How does your character’s family influence his decisions? What was the situation with your character’s family? How did his parents bring him up? Did he know his parents? Was he the oldest, the youngest, an only child? Maybe he was abandoned, and didn’t know his parents? These all affect a person a lot, and will provide experience from which he draws to help him decide how to react to the world. How does he allow these circumstances to influence him?
    6. How do your character’s friends influence his decisions? Does your character have friends? What kind of friends are they? Where are they leading him? What do they want him to be like and act? Are they close, or distant? Do they like him, and how does he perceive them?
    7. What religion does your character subscribe to externally? Not everyone actually believes in the religion that they claim to practice. We have already settled what your character believes, but what does he subscribe to, or practice? He might be an atheist, but maybe he acts like a catholic because he likes the traditions. Why does he act religious? Does he act religiously at all?
  1. Everyone has a worldview: a set of beliefs that defines how they make their decisions. Everyone also has a history of circumstances that works with those beliefs to influence how and why they act the way they do. These two facets of your character make up the Why of their actions and decisions. You need to understand this part of your character intimately or else he will be very shallow indeed. Remember that not everyone is consistent or predictable (actually, no one is), so do not be too picky about making sure that he makes complete sense. The important part is that he makes sense to himself.

Are you liking these?

CFS: Part 2

Greetings,

Here is the second stage.

2. ‘What’ Stage

    1. What is your character’s Extroversion(E)/Introversion(I) preference?

      Everyone has a preference for how they interact with the world and where they direct their energy. Is your character energized by being with other people (E) or by being alone (I)? Does he prefer breadth (E) or depth (I)? Does he act (E) or think (I) first? Does he tend to think our loud (E) or to think things through inside his own head (I)?

    2. What is your character’s Sensing(S)/Intuition(N) preference?

      Everyone has a preference for the kind of information they naturally notice. Does your character trust what is certain and concrete (S) or inspiration and inference (N)? Is he oriented to the present (S) or the future (N)? Does he value realism and common sense (S), or imagination and innovation (N)?

    3. What is your character’s Thinking(T)/Feeling(F) preference?

      Everyone has a preference for how they make decisions. Does your character step back and apply impersonal analyses to problems (T), or step forward and consider the effect of actions on others (F)? Does he value logic, justice, and fairness (T), or does he value empathy and harmony (F)? Is he motivated by a desire for achievement and accomplishment (T), or by a desire to be appreciated (F)?

    4. What is your character’s Judging(J)/Perceiving(P) preference?

      Everyone has a preference for whether they prefer to live in a more structured way (making decisions), or in a more spontaneous way (taking in information). Is your character happiest after decisions have been made (J), or by leaving options open (P)? Does he set goals and work towards achieving them on time (J), or does he change goals as new information becomes available (P)? Does he prefer knowing what he is getting into (J), or does he like adapting to new situations (P)?

    5. What are the weaknesses/strengths of your character?

      Each personality type has inherent strengths and weaknesses. These vary from person to person, depending on how strong his type preferences are. What is the unique signature of your character in his strengths and weaknesses?

    6. What is your character’s love language?

      Everyone has a primary way that they perceive and give love. People also have secondary and even tertiary languages with which the communicate love. This is very important to understand. There are five languages of love: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, and Gifts. What are your character’s primary and secondary love languages? Read the book for more info.

    7. What is the story of how your character’s personality changes?

      Everyone’s personality changes as they grow, mature, and go through major events in life. This is a unique signature. How does this affect your character? How does he change as he goes through life and major events?

  1. Now we can get into the nitty-gritty. What is your character’s personality? Now, most people would write a simple paragraph or a sentence talking about how their character is either ‘impulsive’ or ‘steady’ or ‘a strong leader.’ Maybe they are irritable or proud. This is okay (and better than many things that I have seen), but nowhere near what we are going to do here. We are going to develop your character using the Myers-Briggs type indicator and the Five Love Languages. If you are not familiar with these, you need to be: for your own life if not for your writing. The best thing to do is to get the books about them (there is way too much for me to explain here): try Do What You Are by Paul Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Much of the descriptions below are paraphrased from descriptions in the books.

Have fun! Let me know what you think.

CFS: Part 1

Greetings,

Here is the first section of our Character Fractalling System.

1. ‘Who’ Stage

    1. Who is your character as described in one sentence?

      Write one sentence giving an overview or summary of your character. This is generally pretty hard to do (and that is good), but it is very helpful. It will not cover everything in the character by no means. It will simply give you a snapshot view of the character. Do not include anything about what the character looks like! That is not what this is for. Wait patiently for that.

    2. Who is your character as described by several key words?

      Take several key words from the sentence in the last step. Now think of some other words that might help describe your character abstractly. Is he more like Lightning, or more like an Ember?

    3. Who is your character as described in one paragraph?

      Take your key words and expand them into a paragraph of several sentences. Remember that this is not primarily a description of your character’s appearance, but his persona, his inner self. You can also put some of his history in here, if they are vital to his existence and explaining him.

    4. Who is your character as described by several key phrases?

      Take several phrases out of the paragraph that you just made that seem to be key to your character. Stuff like ‘fighting for liberty’ or ‘enveloped in shame’ are good. Then make some more that you couldn’t fit into the descriptions so far. Make a list.

    5. Who is your character as described by several paragraphs?

      Now you get to write a whole page or more (or less) about your character! Take your key phrases and expand each into a full paragraph talking about that particular aspect of your character. If this is getting repetitive, not to worry, that is how fractalling is done! Don’t lose your steam: keep right on going!

    6. Who is your character as described by several essence maps?

      Alright, this is where it gets confusing, maybe. Hopefully not. Understanding essence, meta-essence, and essence mapping is very very useful, and is crucial to these last two steps. If you can do it, do it, because it will help the rest of your development of your character tremendously. Anyways, take each paragraph that you wrote in the last step and create one, small (or large if you wish), essence map for it. Each essence map will give you a glimpse into that facet of your character that will be invaluable to you. If you really do not get essence and are starting to liken it to a hulking, slimy monster that wants to stir fry your mind in molasses, skip it. Just write down a list of similes or metaphors for each paragraph.

    7. Who is your character as described by an essence map?

      Now write one big essence map for your character. You should already have a bird’s eye view of your perception of him, and so this should not be too hard if you understand essence mapping and meta-essence at all. If you still cannot bring yourself to make an essence map, just give a very artistic description of your character’s personality and character and etc. using lots and lots of similes and metaphors (don’t let yourself focus on the character’s appearance, remember).

  1. This is the first and most foundational of all the stages. This is where you create an abstract character to work with. You are mainly creating the material with which to create a character, if you will. If you have a general idea of your character, no idea at all, or even if you already have a well developed character, then this step needs to be your first step (which pretty much exhausts the possibilities, hence our placement of it at the beginning). At the end you will have an abstract, summarial view of what the character is going to look like after you are done with the fractalling. But expect this to change: this and all other steps are subject to revision from later steps!

Have fun!