August Wrap-Up: Characters, Creamsicles, and the Coming Month

August was quite the month.  Once again, I, Captain America, get to wrap it up for you with links, gifs, tweets, and pictures galore.  In case you didn't already know, August was the month for Characters and Character Development.  It's a broad topic, so I can't promise we hit everything, but like the Hulk, we hit just about everything we could.

The month begins with a lovely post from Hawkeye, about naming characters.  You may not realize it, but two days before he posted, it was his birthday.  What's a better birthday gift than writing a thousand words about naming characters?  (Oh, right.  Explosive arrows.  Well, Hawkeye is Hawkeye.)  Birthdays aside, the post delved into the importance of names, how they work for quick characterization, and a lot of resources for finding the perfect name.  I'll be revisiting this post before NaNoWriMo, for sure.

Bruce Banner, whose lime-colored brawn graces the gif above, followed up with an excellent how-to on backstory.  How do you balance the troubles of the past with the adventures of the present?  How do you make sure the reader doesn't feel left out by obscure references?  How do you keep from dumping the entire thing on a reader's head like a bucket of Loki?  ALL THE QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED.

We interrupt this programming to bring you another funny picture of Thor, having a creamsicle, as released by the @YAvengers Twitter feed.  You're welcome.

Despite Thor's antics, Agent Coulson takes a serious (and frankly, brilliant) note with his post on side characters.  Not everyone can be a main character, but everyone should be a good character.  (Not necessarily morally good, as we'll see later, but well-written.  Calm down, Loki.)  Coulson delves into the problems of making side characters people instead of cardboard cutouts, which many new writers (including me) forget.

What advice does the god of thunder himself have for us mortals?  He suggests asking questions to fill in the personalities of all your characters.  From questionnaires to interviews to simply writing and seeing where the character goes, Thor's advice rings true.  Personally, I have had some great success with exactly this method of filling in characters.  Listen to this guy, even if he does enjoy a creamsicle now and again.

It's Tony Stark's turn to post, with moral ambiguity abounding.  Citing George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire at every turn, he pulls morals into the light and dissects them with glee.  It was quite a show.  For me, who can't understand Stark on a normal basis, this post was a great window into his soul.  I don't think he intended it that way.  But nevertheless, it was a helpful post for when you want someone to do something like... well, this:

Black Widow pulls out a similar topic, but with a different spin: character darkness.  Instead of focusing on moral ambiguity, she focuses on secrets; why some must be kept hidden, why others must, inevitably, come to light.  It's a fascinating concept, described perfectly by an expert at keeping such secrets.  (I know I'm not alone in wondering— Budapest?  If you don't want me to wonder about it, stop hinting.)

I don't think Loki had a choice about his topic— he's uniquely qualified to talk about villains.  And with villains being such integral parts of any story, I'm glad he picked it up.  He goes in-depth, looking at what a villain should and shouldn't be, how they see themselves, and how to subvert several of the topics from earlier this month to suit such an evil character.  It's pretty awesome to see his views on it.

And am I once again the last man standing between Loki and the end of the world?  Well, the end of the month, at least.  I posted about creating untrustworthy characters by utilizing backstory, secrets, moral ambiguity, villains, and several other concepts the others already described.  It was a fun post, and I realized new stuff while writing it— I'm going to use all those character types sometime soon.

Although we hit a lot of topics this month, we didn't hit all of them.  What about making characters engaging?  What about having characters change throughout the story?  We focused a lot on the creation of characters and a little on their development, but not enough.  I don't think I'm alone in saying we'll have another character month eventually.  This topic is far too broad for only one month.

As the first month with all the YAvengers officially assembled, I had a blast.  I hope you've read all the posts from this month, and if you haven't, you should check them out.  If they don't do you any good now, they will in a couple months, when you're in a whole new stage of the writing process.  Speaking of which, I should let you get back to your WIPs.  As always, thank you all for reading.  Next month promises awesomeness as Pre-Writing Decisions month, where we tackle tense, viewpoint, and all the other fun, technical stuff you might have to worry about before you dive into a story.  Be there, and keep writing.  The world needs your words.

~Captain America

We're writing.  Totally.

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