Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writing for Manga and Graphic Novels: Creating Characters-Part 1

I will be writing a short series of posts on how to write scripts for mangas and graphic novels. And I’ll start writing the series now. ^_^
Actually these new articles are a continuation of the two articles I wrote on hubpages. If you want to start from the beginning, you can read those articles right here:
If you want to jump right into creating characters, then read on.
After coming up with a basic idea for your graphic novel and defining the theme and goal, it’s time to start creating characters. Before drawing characters (Character design), they need to be created with words (Character description). The family background, personality traits, and lifestyle of your character will effect the way they are dracover closewed.
Creating characters goes beyond simple personality traits; it also involves considering the way a character’s personality would cause them to act in certain situations, and what things in their past would cause them to act the way that they do. Figuring out the origins of a character’s personality traits is the key to making main characters that are well-rounded. I will generally refer to characters as people, but the same stuff applies to characters that are not people (like animals, robots, aliens…)
Traits of well-rounded main characters:
They have a family history:
It’s good to know if a character is living with both parents or just one parent, or has no siblings or many—but knowing the family of a character should go beyond that. Main characters that lack family history tend to be flat. They don’t have the push of genetics on their side. Even if the character’s family doesn’t appear in the story, it’s helpful as a creator to know your main character’s family.
For example, your story has a main character that is very intelligent. Turns out, intelligence is an inheritable trait, so maybe this character had a grandfather who was a ground breaking scientist or who was innovative in general. Knowing that adds history to the character, and what their ancestors accomplished in the past could move the main character to accomplish more in the future. Other genetic factors that can affect a character’s life is a family history of mental illness.
Also when it comes to parents, it’s all too easy to make them generic. Remember that parents are people too, and that their personality has a huge effect on their children.
In short, don’t neglect the families of the main characters. It’s their past that will make them who they are in your story.

They have conflicting personality traits:
People often contradict themselves. There are people who are very outgoing when they’re on a stage in front of an audience, but extremely shy in person. There are people who are courageous for the most part, but when faced with something that hits their weakness, they become afraid. Make sure that the main characters have opposing forces within themselves. For every strong personality trait, they should have a weaker one that opposes that. The weaker personality trait can be something that’s always there deep inside of the character or that appears only when the character is facing a special situation.
By the way, a strong personality trait doesn’t always have to be something positive, and a weak personality trait isn’t necessarily something negative.
Flat characters don’t have traits that are conflicting. They can be all optimistic or all pessimistic—they’re all or nothing. Real people aren’t like that.
They have life experiences:
The past is what shapes our likes, dislikes, and overall personality. A character who was well liked by other children when they were a child will grow up to be a different person from someone who was bullied. Use a character’s memories to build their personality traits.
For example, let’s say you’re making a character who is totally full of himself. Why does he have so much pride? Is it because he always got a lot of praise from family and friends? Is it because he has a long list of past accomplishments? Or is it because his friends and family were always doubting him, so as a result he made this over-confident personality so he would feel more important?
A character has even more power when the memories that effect their personality are also elements of the plot. Like, a character may be suffering from low-self esteem from the guilt that they feel from something they did in the past. So for them, low self-esteem is a strong personality trait. This can be explored in a plot about how their past comes back to haunt them and how they overcome it, and in overcoming it, they also overcome their low self-esteem.
They have inner motivation:
A well rounded character has an internal motivating purpose. It’s what makes them wake up in morning and pursue the course of the plot. For example, in Skip Beat!, a manga by Yoshiki Nakamura,  Kyoko’s motivation is at first to get revenge on her childhood friend for the way that he took advantage of her, but as the story progresses, her real motivation is to rediscover herself through acting.
Many times, the character’s inner motivation will go along with the goal of your story.So if you’re writing a story where the goal is at by the end, the main character will  be a world famous actress, the character’s inner motivation would be why they want to be one and what they hope to accomplish.
The inner motivation is why the main character does what they do and what they hope to gain from it.

In part two, I’ll briefly write about the importance of relationships between characters and along with a simple character planning list. =^_^=