Character study for the 2016 Top Cow Talent Hunt
I am currently working on my submission for the 2016 Top Cow Talent Hunt. This year, I must write a 22 pages Comicbook script which takes place in the futuristic world from the Aphrodite IX and IX Generation series.
Though I have a pretty good idea of which character I would like to focus on and what type of story I’d like to tell, I decided to do some thorough studying first. I am currently re-reading the books in order to get a clear picture of the world and the characters in it. I am building a timeline, gathering information about the settings, and doing related research. One thing I am forcing myself to focus on are the characters and, more specifically, the nine self-proclaimed gods from IX generation. If I am to write a story featuring one of them, I want to make sure I know them well and that I truly nail their individual voices. In order to do so, I use my background in Theater Arts (especially Acting) and gather information about the characters so that I can appropriately “play” them.
In order to achieve that, I do character study using an Acting script analysis method. I ask myself two very simple questions as I go through the script.
1)What does the character say about him/herself?
2)What do other characters say about him/her?
For example, in the case of Ares:
From what this character says, Ares is “dumber” than intended…
… and he is also, according to Hades, gay.
I go through the entire books , gathering info for all the characters I study. It provides me with a clear picture of who they are and how they are perceived by others. Of course, you also have to take their actions in account ( actions speak louder than words, right?) and even their appearance.
You do not want to take everything for granted though. What a character says about somebody else is not always the truth. They might have motives as to why they are saying something about someone else or even about themselves. Simply put, all the information you gather should be taken with a grain of salt and you should always look back on it with a critical eye. Ares might be dumb, but he is still a great strategist. He has the best army in the world after all. Characters are not one dimensional and it is their inner contradictions that make them interesting. Find those contradictions or create them in your new characters, using the Dig Deep questionnaire:
With all those character elements figured out, you should be able to more easily find the character’s voice. The character might even start having a life of their own in your head (freaky!).
One more helpful thing is to try and find someone in your real life on whom to base the character on. It is not uncommon for writers to create characters based on their friends and/or family. For example, Comicbook Writer Brian Michael Bendis wrote his version of the character of Aunt May (from Ultimate Spiderman) after his own mother.
Alright, I have got to go back to studying now. Good luck to all.