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I am wanting a site where I can do any character development in a form with lots of questions. So far I have found a few android apps but they don't satisfy me(most of the good ones have a price). I have already found hiveword but are there any other free sites like it?

Character development is important for me in this Kepler Bb story because I have so many events with my characters. It would even be good if I could separate 1 character into different ages so that I could see development not just at that moment but over time.

I would prefer it to be online like hiveword but it would also be nice if you gave me the names of good free android apps for this exact purpose.

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There is a page-based physical app (what my grandmother used to call a "book") called the Writer's Guide to Character Traits that does a good job of what you're looking for. It gives an excellent, high-level, discussion of character traits, along with general examples of how such traits develop, co-morbidity, and how they will present at different ages.

Written by Linda Edelstein, it's not free but sounds like it might suit the bill.

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One that I know of is CharaHub.com. It's a good site to get a feel for things and keep your characters organized, and even upload pictures.

Another option which always a good idea, though a little slow and requiring meticulousness from the creator, is to create a character document. You can do this with an iOS app/Android app or a plain old Word document (I recommend this since there seems to be a dearth of writing apps in the Google Play store). What you do is you organize everything by character, including the questions. If it does not pertain to that particular character, then you leave it out or stick it somewhere else.

A good place to get questions from is Tumblr, where they have things called "memes"* - specified for writing, they just might get your creativity going. You could also visit various writing blogs on the site.

*search the tags for 'writing meme' or something similar. A lot of roleplayers use these to understand their characters.

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I ask my own questions. Only I know what my story is about and what character traits are relevant to that story. When I try to ask generic questions that I have found on the web (e.g. "What is the favourite food of your character?"), the answers are usually meaningless to my writing.

I have looked at character software, but I found that their preconceived structures of character relations (e.g. protagonist-antagonist or hero-sidekick) or their pseudoscientific concepts of personality (e.g. the Enneagram) have more stifled my creativity and made my stories generic and unoriginal. I sometimes do use some lists of character questions I find on the web when I need inspiration, but once my imagination has been sparked, I quickly abandon them and let my mind roam free.

If you want to be original and creative, then using another person's concept of character will hinder you.

I take writing to be a dynamic process. I don't have to answer all questions about all my characters before I begin to write. I can always stop the writing and answer further questions, as they are raised by the advancing plot. I have found that I rarely had to rewrite anything I had written before because of these new Q&A.

To keep my characters organized I use a spreadsheet app (Excel), because it allows me to ask the same question (row) of all characters (columns) and see their different answers side by side and compare them. I can even easily highlight certain columns that currently interest me the most, or rearrange rows or include images. A spreadsheet app works better for me than a text editor (Word), where relations between pieces of content are difficult to visualize.


One method I employ to understand my characters better is to act them out.

I got this idea from drawing. When you try to draw a figure in a certain pose, it is sometimes difficult to translate what you see into lines of the page. To better understand the pose and how it exists in space, I often simply get myself into the same position (or, if I'm in a public space, imagine myself in that position, which works almost as well, because your mind remembers your body holdin certain poses). I can't explain how this works, but once I know my own body in the pose I see, I find it much more easy to render that pose on the page, often even without looking much at the model anymore.

In writing, I do the same. I actually often get up from the table and do what my character would do and say what they would say. Again, if I'm in a public place, I try to imagine acting it out as intently as possible. Interestingly enough this helps me better imagine what another person would do.

The book Getting into Character Brandilyn Collins explains this method. She adapts Stanislavski's technique of method acting to writing. I haven't read the book, so I don't know how good it is, but the description seems promising, if you need more detail and (probably) additional ideas.

  • regarding your shared characters spreadsheet. How do you cope with the characters changing over time? They don't all change and develop at the same time, so making a timeline of multiple characters traits and development is surely a bit harder to get right! Or do you just have a different spreadsheet, or maybe tab, for each particular time period you are interested in (say each year, or after particularly character defining events). I could imagine you could get a few too many tabs if the story is over a particularly long period of time... – EveryBitHelps Aug 6 '16 at 17:18
  • @EveryBitHelps The spreadsheet is mainly for basic character development. Who the character is when the story begins. I sometimes do have cells that briefly summarize how a character behaves or changes in relation to certain elements of the story that I already know before I start writing. But I use other tools to work out the throughlines or story arcs or whatever dynamic the story has. I usually do that on paper, as I find that the most flexible and visually comprehensible. I use Aeon Timeline to track complex parallel storylines, but the plotting itself is done on paper. – user5645 Aug 6 '16 at 20:29
  • I try to avoid the computer as much as possible, as I find that it stifles my creativity and thinking. I only use it for the actual writing (as a better typewriter), and when the structure of what I want to create is very simple and straightforward or invovles lots of rewriting. I work with paper notebooks, where I work out the first draft of the text itself, lots of small slips of paper that I can rearrange, each representing an event or motif or other element, and large sheets of paper for the relations between everything or the plot lines. – user5645 Aug 6 '16 at 20:38
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    Being able to see all of it at the same time, spread out on my floor, makes the whole thing easily comprehensible to me, while having it hidden in files and windows, one behind the other, on my computer screen, confused me and makes me forget what is there. – user5645 Aug 6 '16 at 20:39
  • Well I don't think it would hinder me since I can take those questions from character questionnaires and take out any questions I can't or won't answer and put in my own questions. For example if it doesn't have a "Pregnant right now?" question, I can add that and based off of that I can add things like "Is it a multiple pregnancy?" and "How many are you expecting?" and "How is this different from your previous pregnancy(if this is a subsequent pregnancy)?" Likewise I can get rid of things like "How much income?" and "What class are you?" since those aren't important to me. – Caters Aug 7 '16 at 4:49

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