Using TV Characters as guides for creating your own, original Characters


Children of Earth has a huge cast of main and supporting characters. There are six main characters to follow, and each of those main characters has their own plot and supporting cast to follow. How do I keep all these faces and names in line? How do I make each of these characters original and exciting? I take hints and tips from my favorite television shows and movies. Especially the ones with large casts and multiple storylines.
One show that I love to use for character inspiration is Lost. Lost had the largest cast of any primetime television show, and still continues to enthrall and gain followers, despite ending many years ago. Why is this? Because the characters are all unique. They each have their own backstories, sometimes unbelievable backstories, and each has their own distinct personalities. And throughout the series they stayed true to their crazy, if not sometimes annoying personalities, driving us all crazy. Would they never learn that trapezing through the jungle was bad?
Take Locke for example. He started out as a mystery, full of unlimited philosophies and dark humor. You could always expect him to say something about Faith in the Island or whine about his father. And yet, he was redeemable for these things by his ability to help others in need and his undying curiosity about the island. I used Locke as a good backboard for Greisin, my Montclaif Turielle. Using Locke as a basis for comparison, Greisin developed into a loving father (like how Locke cared for Claire and her baby) with philosophical wisdom. It is important to also recognize if your book characters are too much like your TV/ movie characters. In this way, Greisin is much more tentative than Locke, not as prone to wandering where he shouldn’t. Greisin would also never put others at risk for the sake of curiosity like Locke did. In this way, I learned from the follies of Locke.
As another example, I frequently use Lord of the Rings as a character comparison. And the Hobbit of course. The latter Lord of the Rings movies were a perfect teacher for me when trying to juggle multiple storylines that paralleled and criss-crossed. The Hobbit, with each of those distinct Dwarves was great for developing characters that could play off of eachother yet still remain unique.
My advice to you is to watch a movie or television show that has more than 3 storylines. Examine each of the characters in these storylines, and list the pros and cons of each character. Would you want any of your characters to make the same decisions they do? They could use these personality faults to grow and learn as well.
Overall, if you’re having a hard time developing unique characters, there is a world of resources for you in your bookshelf and television. Though I don’t encourage you to spend too much time watching the telly.


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