Gideoncrawle wrote a writer's workshop and I decided to do one, too. In this one I'll list several tips dealing with creating characters, and developing them. If anyone has tips of their own, please feel free to give them. This is basically suggestions as to what I like to do/see with characters. It's not meant to say that nobody else does it right, or should write the way I do.
When creating characters, I normally have in mind the characters possible interactions, then I build the teams accordingly. If you plan for two characters to make the merge that would interact, you can put them on separate teams, and save that story for the merge (if there is one), unless it's important for them to interact earlier. Try to vary with your characters but make them complement each other. Take for example Beau and Yancy. I had planned to make the two of them very close friends, and it's shown in their bios that they are complete opposites. Beau has trouble controlling himself when it comes to girls, and they are attracted to him. Yancy's life revolves around getting a girlfriend, though he always fails at attracting one. Initially, the two bios would suggest that the boys would not be fond of each other, and initially Yancy was jealous of Beau. The two extreme personalities were later able to gel, and help the other with their problem. Obviously, they are not the same character, otherwise it might feel redundant, but they still complement each other.
Many times, I use a character type and then try to think about and analyze what could possibly explain why that character is that way, or why they could be misinterpreted as that. I don't do that with every character, though.
Write what you know or feel comfortable with. If you know of a disorder (or other situation), but know very little about it, have little interest in it, or don't fully understand it, it may be best to not write about it. It may offend someone who went through it. If you really want to write about it, look up reliable information about it. If you want to tackle an issue like this, try to keep it respectful, and have some meaning, as opposed to just another plot point. Try not to use sensitive subjects just for shock value.
Not every character needs to be a statement or have a dark history. Limiting the amount of dark topics or backgrounds keeps from overwhelming your reader.
Try to make your characters interesting, but believable. If you have a plain character, put something in their personality that is fun to read, or interesting.
When creating characters, try to think of something different. We've seen the original Total Drama characters before, so you may as well use them if you plan on using similar characters. You can always use a personality type that was on Total Drama, and try to mix them with a completely original group to see how they would react in different circumstances. There are tons of different personalities to choose from, but don't be too afraid to do something another writer here has done, just try to make it your own, or use them in a different way if you plan on doing that. For example, Audrey and Audrey II have major similarities, but they do differ.
If you do write for the Total Drama characters, try to keep them in character.
As for inspiration, take something you know about and feel comfortable writing for (while keeping in mind what might not work with your reader). Take a character you enjoy, a person you know, a random stranger you saw on the bus or walking by who you imagine a story behind their life, or whatever else, and try making a character out of them. Try to be respectful, expecially when you base it on someone you know, and not put something meant to embarrass them or that is too personal. You shopuld probably have a larger amount of characters not based on anyone specific, however.
In short: Try to be original, or take a familiar personality in a new direction. Think about who the character might interact with and how. Try to think logically about how they might intereact with each other character.
Character bios are fairly important. They can be used in several ways. For example, they can be used to give an indication to what will happen with the character. If you decide to write a bio that foreshadows how they will be, try a subtle approach. The bio isn't about what happens on the show, but in their personal life. Often times, how they are in their personal life comes out on the show in another way. Try to avoid flat out saying what happens to them on the show (assuming this is a competition fic). Write an adjective that describes them. Say Jimmy (random name) has a problem with being overly gullible, and that is used against him in the competition. His bio could say an experience that shows that, like, "Jimmy often gets told wrong information about his schoolwork by his classmates, which he instantly believes and puts on his tests." That is more subtle than saying "Jimmy is gullible." but still has the same effect, and makes his gullibility believable, and not random, as if there was no hint at it. It's not always necessary to foreshadow, though, as some experiences will be new, or you may want them to feel more surprising.
Another suggestion is to not make the bio too revealing. Let's say you have an idea for a character that blames themselves for an accident that ends up hurting a friend or sibling. Your bio could instantly say that fact. But if you put that in your bio, you ruin any sort of surprise. Personally, I like to not mention something I plan to incorporate in the story to be a surprise in the bios. If you want to, it would be best to just hint at it. I would suggest not saying, "This character has a deep secret." As the reader then expects something from that character, now. You could put some sort of behavior in the bio that may seem normal at first glance, but then receives more explanation in the story.
When creating characters, keep your readers in mind. You don't want to put in anything too disturbing or heavy in the bios just for shock value, or to be the first to do it. A lot of readers here are younger.
In short: Use a bio to give a general feel for the character, or give a vague indication of what will happen with them in your story. Try to avoid being blunt when describing a main attribute of a character, unless you plan to make that the main focus of the character's story, or plan on making it deeper. Don't be overly disturbing with your subject matter so you don't needlessly offend or disturb a younger (or any other easily offended reader) reader.
Character development is tricky. There are several things that can affect characters and how they develop. I usually like to have subtle hints about what will happen later. Like, a character looks at another one, or they blush at one point but not another, though similar. Here are some things that may cause certain reactions from certain characters:
1. Past experience. A character can be disturbed or associate one thing with something that happened in their past. Their behavior could be because of that. It can be positive or negative. One example is Quintin. He told Chris not to call him dude in the first chapter. That could be shrugged off as not liking the expression. Later, it's revealed that the term hurts him, because his deceased brother called him that constantly. Sometimes you can plan stuff like that from the start. Other times the idea may come to you later after rereading your early chapters or thinking about it. Make sure it fits and complements what was originally written, and doesn't feel random. With Quintin, it seems insignificant and subtle at first, but works and doesn't feel like it came from nowhere (I hope). Try to avoid just flat out saying what bothers a contestant right away. It can work sometimes, though, if they say it in confessional or in confidence to another character. That way the reader knows what's going on while the other contestants can think something else. In that instance, the character's reactions or misconception are the surprise, and not the actual fact that affects the character.
2. New feelings or experiences. A character can be confused by something and not know how to deal with their new emotions, or a new event. The event can be something that shocks them. Like an accident or a blindside or something another character did to somebody else. You can take the basic personality of the character, and think about how they would react to it, and think about the different possible reactions of several characters.
3. Competition. Competition can bring out the best or worst in some people. You can use that to have them have good or bad behavior. Some trait could be magnified because of the contest.
In every form, subtlety works best, I think. The story is going to be so many chapters long, that you don't want to put all your development in one chapter. Spread it out. Try to think about how your characters would react to certain situations, or why they may act a certain way. Leave each character open for some sort of development for separate chapters. Not every character should have a devastating secret, as it would probably feel forced. You can use that, though, to get other characters reactions. When giving a revelation by a character, try to make it feel natural to the situation. Like they probably wouldn't reveal it to any random character, or just blurt it out (unless provoked, or an awkward character). They may feel the need to explain why they act a certain way, when they realize their behavior is obviously strange.
If you write mostly comedy stories, most of my advice isn't too effective, but lighter development is also possible from some of the above advice.
In short: Use past experience, new situations for the characters, or the heat of competition as basic tools to make the character develop.
I find subtlety to be very important. In this section I'm going to analyze a character that had a big reveal in one of my stories, to show how insignificant seeming things related to his problem. Also how it permeates throughout his individual story. This isn't to give tips as much as it is to explain the meaning behind many subtle things, to hopefully show how to make certain things seem subtle or explainable without revealing their real meaning, or the fact that their even is a real problem. It's probably best to not make every utterance from a character have a deep meaning unless you feel you can do it without revealing the character's storyline. If the storyline would be obvious through the subtle hints, or not easily explained as something different, it might be best to limit it. If you would like to read Total Drama Reality with no spoilers, if you haven't read it, yet, please avoid this section. I prefer showing examples as to explaining, so hopefully writing what I was thinking is beneficial.
I wold like to analyze how I led up to a certain character's problem. That character is Cary. He was a bulimic boy who felt so insecure that he was very harsh with others. His problem could have been a lot of things, and his reaction could have been a lot of different ways, but let's look at the indications.
It's obvious from the very beginning that Cary treats his twin brother, Grant, with very little respect. This may just seem like a conceited egomaniac who has no remorse when belittling other people. In the second chapter, Cary's disrespect is shown to not be limited to his brother. Tsuyoshi, a gay character, becomes a target of Cary's behavior. Tsuoshi was an easy target for Cary, as he's different from the other contestants in a n obvious way, that everyone found out (as opposed to maybe someone with a hidden detail about themselves). As for the other characters going along with Cary, his blatant mistreatment of Tsuyoshi brought out their own discomfort with being around a homosexual, which they may have not addressed if Cary's attitude was not presented. Cary quickly let Tsuyoshi know that he was different, and ostracized him. All of this was simply to make Cary feel better about his own situation.
Grant is shown to heavily care about what Cary thinks. He doesn't want to disappoint him because he knows Cary's secret. Another point about Grant, is that he often says things that make Cary feel better, but points to the fact that Cary might think a mistake is his own fault. Grant says in chapter two, "Cary put me in charge of this. I have to do what he says, or he'll get mad at me." (or something like that) The focus of what Grant is worried about isn't "I might fail." but what Cary's involvement is in if Grant did fail. Cary might blame himself for putting Grant in charge. Melinda reveals that Cary is having a difficult time with his own assignment, and Grant's instant reaction is to go help him.
Chapter three shows Cary's explanation as to why Grant basically serves him, "I rock and he knows it." This excuse is incredibly flimsy. Grant's level of devotion is far beyond admiration. Cary often adds bitter insults to what he says, to make them that much worse. He purposely tried to hurt their feelings. Basically because he doesn't want to be the only person to hurt. Cary's behavior instantly takes the guise of homophobia, even to Tsuyoshi. Tsuyoshi dismisses it as such, and even makes the excuse for Cary. Here's a little excerpt that I'll explain:
Tsuyoshi says, "Let me approach this logically. Ruth likes drawing, so she'll sketch. Herman made his own costume, apparently, so he can be the main sewing person. Naomi can assist, and Val can purchase the materials. The model will be..." Tsuyoshi points out his index finger and points at Cary. Cary looks confident. Tsuyoshi moves his finger passed Cary, then Priscilla, then Melinda, then Grant, and then he stops on Naomi. "Brent," Tsuyoshi says.
His team gasps. Cary says, "I'm way hotter than Brent." Grant nods.
Tsuyoshi says, "That's debatable. Besides, we need someone with the blank model stare, and no personality. You have way too much personality, and the completely wrong dimensions."
Cary looks peeved, "What's that supposed to be mean?"
Grant says, "He didn't mean anything by it. You're perfect, Cary."
Cary says, "I know."
Tsuyoshi is basically trying to insult Cary, though he doesn't know Cary's problem with his appearance. Cary instantly gets defensive over Tsuyoshi's comment, showing a glimpse of him taking it personally. Grant is there to compliment Cary, and quiet the situation. He knows Cary's problem with his appearance, and therefore tried to comfort Cary, knowing that it was something very hurtful to Cary (though unintentionally, because Tsuyoshi didn't know the facts).
Chapter 4, Cary resorts to calling Grant names, again to make him feel better about himself. When Grant explains to Ophelia why he lets Cary treat him badly, he says it's because he's honest. This isn't the truth, because he doesn't want to reveal it. Again, the explanation is weak (making it seem more like a lie). Grant then told Ophelia that she didn't understand their relationship, so she shouldn't interfere. Their relationship is very unhealthy, though they view it as a way to help Cary, but it seems like a different sort of unhealthy relationship, basically a verbally abusive one. Cary also compliments himself at times when it isn't appropriate. He doesn't want to be told he's not good at something, as it makes him feel that he is inferior, so he acts like he's good at things he has no experience in. Sheena mentions the word obviously several times when talking with Grant. She says the Cary is obviously insecure, to which Grant says 'Obviously?' This is disguised by all the other obviouslies in the sentence. Grant is prone to talk negatively about himself, basically because he feels deep guilt over Cary's situation. After losing the challenge, Cary berates Grant and blames him for the loss, even though he was in charge of the challenge. As I've said this is a taking out of frustration mostly because he himself failed at the challenge, though he tries to blame Grant. Grant then felt he failed his brother. Grant got himself eliminated leaving Cary completely vulnerable to negativity from that point on.
Chapter five, Cary's clothes are stolen, as a prank. He feels confident, still. The others point out things about his body that make him embarrassed, because they feel it's what he deserves. Cary mentions that this was the most embarrassed he'd ever been, and this foreshadows his embarrassing experience in the next chapter. Only now does he start feeling bad about himself, because he has no reassurance from Grant. He begs the others to stop, because the words hurt. He then goes as far as to wear the clothes that Grant left behind, even though they were insulting. Cary is then shown in confessional eating a high calorie granola bar, showing that he turns to food when depressed. When chosen to be the leader in the challenge, this is the first time Cary turns it down, and begs not to be the one. He even notes that he isn't funny, something he would have lied about earlier on. Cary was also heavily hurt by the others saying it was okay to make fun of him because he was mean.
Chapter six, Cary gets kicked out of the bedroom, like he did to Tsuyoshi early on. Cary insults Grant and Tsuyoshi, causing Tsuyoshi to say incredibly hurtful things to Cary. Cary tried to make it sound like he wasn't hurt by what Tsuyoshi said, but when he should have been sleeping, the chapter mentions that he held his knees toward his chest and stared into the kitchen. This is basically a way of saying that he wanted to deal with his feelings by eating, but he tried to resist. For the Biggest Loser themed challenge, Cary was not supported by his team, he had trouble, but didn't receive any help so he gave up and left to sit by himself for the entire week. When seeing Cary later, Tsuyoshi saw that Cary looked different, this was referring to his weight gain without flat out saying it. At the weigh in, Cary expressed again that it wasn't fair when no one teased Jonathan when his shorts fell down, showing that he felt it was unfair for him to be targetted with teasing. When weighing in, Cary's weight gain was obvious to all, and when the boy saw the devastating number on the scale, it wasn't met with sympathy but with teasing and laughter (his weight gain was from overeating unhealthy food, and not purging because of the cameras in the confessionals). This made him even more embarrassed than earlier, and he ran from the scene with tears in his eyes. Tsuyoshi followed him to comfort him, and he eventually admitted to not being normal. Instead of flat out saying what the problem was, I attempted to get the reader to assume that Cary was homosexual, as that's the assumption Tsuyoshi made. Cary then revealed his eating disorder and why he acted the way he did earlier. Cary is voted out because he didn't want Tsuyoshi to let the others know what was wrong, understandably.
In the 'check up on the eliminated players' chapters, Cary is a different person. He is far lighter, and nicer. He also shows signs of not wanting his feelings hurt and caring about what others think of him, as he turns sad when someone begins to say something mean. Cary is seen to be dealing with his problem in a more healthy manner.
In short: Make a character with a background, and keep it hidden from your reader. Provide behavior that is explained by whatever their situation is without revealing it. Slowly make the amount of hints at the problem increase when you're about ready to reveal it (if that's what you want to do). Use sparingly. If every character has some major twist in their character it becomes repetitive.
Thanks for reading, hopefully this is helpful. If you have any advice or tips, please share it. If you want me to explain anything further or explain something you need help understanding, please let me know. Again, this isn't an attempt to get everyone to conform to how I write characters, but just to help in areas that I get a lot of questions.