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Feb, 17, 2018 - Capricon:Saturday Characters
The panelists were Johathan P. Brazee, Lauren Jankowski, Tina Jens, Sean Mead, and Kristine Smith.

This was a lively panel with a bunch of takeaways.

There are three "standard" character types in a story:

Dynamic character
These characters row and change. They have a character arc. Your hero (or heroine) should be in this class. (Unless you're writing a detective or action/adventure series where the plot is everything. Perry Mason had no character arc, nor did Miss Marple or Shell Scott.)

Static character
These characters don't change during story. They start bad (or good) and stay that way. This could be the sidekick, or maybe the antagonist.
Stock character
In D&D terms, this is an NPC with no real character. The hotel clerk that checks our hero into his room (and alerts the Gestapo that he's there) or the waiter that keeps interrupting our hero when he's interrogating a suspect.

You can make characters more interesting by giving them more than one problem. Save the world and cope with a divorce. Think of Peter Parker constantly worrying about Aunt May.

Interestingly, in a panel-vote, the women start with a character and develop a plot, while the guys started with a plot and developed characters to push it forward.

There was some discussion of villains as well as heroes. One trick is to give you villain a weakness that's not a plot breaker. Maybe he's diabetic, or has an ailing daughter. It just can't be something that makes him (too) sympathetic to the reader. (Oh, he's not all bad, he runs a Sick Puppy Rescue!)

Sean pointed out that the modern trend is toward gray villains, not pure black mustache twirlers like Fu Manchu and Snidley Whiplash.

Tina mentioned The Nazi Doctors. This nonfiction book demonstrated how good men become evil in tiny little baby steps. She pointed out that if you can create a villain that follows that sort of progression, your book will have a strong antagonist.

There were also several suggestions for getting into your character's heads, including:

  1. Tina uses an astrology deck - just a three card past/present/future "reading" to get her working on how the characters got here and where they are going.

  2. Kristine suggested cutting photos that "look like your character" from old magazines (or maybe google images). Seeing them in different clothes and poses helps solidify your image of the character.

  3. Lauren makes play-lists for her characters. She decides what music they relax to, work to,