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02 September 2007 @ 06:11 pm
Character studies  
I really like character studies. A lot. And in conversation with radioreverie, we got to thinking that a character study challenge would be a really great idea. 'Cool!' I thought. 'I could organise that...' Except then I got to Step 1: Define character study. And ever since then I've been floundering in inaction. So I'm throwing it out to the rest of you. How would you define a character study? And, perhaps more importantly, are you interested in them? :)

I think character studies are the sort of things you know when you see/read them, but which are very hard to define. I was afraid, fandom might yawn at the idea, assuming that smut was ruled out--but I don't think so since I can think of several pieces I'd called character studies that were pretty much porn from start to finish. But perhaps they're not 'shippy'? Again, not necessarily: there are cases where a character is explored in an interesting way within a ship context. See how tricky it is?!!

I guess the best thing I've come up with is that a character study illuminates an aspect of a character that I either wasn't aware of before or which isn't commonly explored. It casts a spotlight on a particular character and portrays them in a well-rounded fashion, not necessarily presenting them as a 'hero' character, but exploring their inner world, behaviour, emotions or relationships with others. Or something.

What do you think? The poll box is quite small so if your answer is complicated, you might prefer to comment. *g*

Poll #1048889 Character studies

Would you participate in a character study challenge?

Yes, I'd write or vid
11(31.4%)
Maybe
10(28.6%)
No, but I'd read or watch them
14(40.0%)
No way!
0(0.0%)

How would you define a character study?

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Nickyobsessive24 on September 2nd, 2007 08:47 am (UTC)
Leaving aside fun comedy/dance type vids for now and just concentrating on "serious" ones, for me, a really good vid has to have aspects of a character study regardless of the main content. If it's mainly shipper, then I need to know why this relationship works and that goes down to who these characters are and how they interact. If it's an ensemble, then again I need to see how the characters connect to each other and play off each other. I can't really conceive of any "serious" vid that doesn't have some sort of character study at its very roots.

Can you please explain a little more about what the challenge entails? Would everyone have to do it on one character or is it just pick any character you want? How would that differ from what people would normally do on their own creative schedules?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW Sally Sparrowbop_radar on September 2nd, 2007 08:58 am (UTC)
I can't really conceive of any "serious" vid that doesn't have some sort of character study at its very roots.
That's true--I'd have to agree with that, which is why I'm wondering if it's too broad a category. But then, I still like the idea. :)

Would everyone have to do it on one character or is it just pick any character you want?
We were thinking it could be run similar to oxoniensis's porn battles--people submit characters' names and perhaps a prompt with them that they'd be interested in seeing, a master list gets posted, people select from that and post submissions which get archived centrally. Of course, I think the time provided for submissions would have to be longer in this case.
Nickyobsessive24 on September 2nd, 2007 09:00 am (UTC)
Ooh, that sounds interesting. I would like to do that, time permitting.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya lanternbop_radar on September 2nd, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)
Cool! :)
Le courage ne craint pas le crime: Revenge plans!attaccabottoni on September 2nd, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
I've never done challenges (because how I fare on self-imposed ones does not inspire confidence), but my consideration is largely dependent on the timing (specifically, Sept-Oct are my busiest months in the year). What's the prospective date(s) for the challenge? (Yes, I am optimistic that there's going to be a considerable interest in this.)

What I would personally consider as character study is usually in meta format, but your idea of using prompts is a great idea. I'd prefer writing plot-based stories with little character studies incorporated in them, but I know prompt-based short stories are excellent practice for brevity in writing (which I always have a problem with). I find the "character study" theme dauntingly broad, though. There should be some unifying factor to the "studies" but I can't think of just one thing, so I'm throwing my ideas in:
1. *gulps* Gen only? (Still too broad)
2. Beliefs? (on a certain object/person, or based on a particular affiliation may it be religious/political/cultural, philosophical prompts are already covered by philosophy_20 for fanfic)
3. Reality/Setting-based? (like, how does the character view the setting? What is real to him? Or, will he/she still be the same person if displaced?)
4. Psychology? (not limited to the psych_30 prompts, and more focus on how the character understands his own personality/behavior, because the line between introspection and conjectural self-diagnosis of mental disorders is very thin, esp. for those with informal knowledge :D)
5. Some particular action? (I can't think of a general test of character, except for the "Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking" quote.)

Okay, I'm just geeky enough to admit that I'm pretty excited about this, if it's not yet obvious. :D
Le courage ne craint pas le crime: We need Love & Peace like Lex & Coffee!attaccabottoni on September 2nd, 2007 05:17 pm (UTC)
addendum
Meep, I seem to have been fanfic-oriented when I thought all that, so I don't know how to apply my suggestions to vids. I think character studies can also be applied in fan art too. (Or perhaps even fan soundtracks/fanmixes too?) But the vids/art/mixes have their own limits in composition, not even counting the time needed in making them. Oh, I may have drunk too much coffee. Must think/sleep this over. XD
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark identity crisisbop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 02:51 am (UTC)
Re: addendum
That's ok! :) I'm better equipped to thinking of it in terms of vids, I think. Though I am very hazy about other art forms. I think there's a lot of similarities in the definition for both fics and vids though: not plot based, focussed on one character, drawing out their psychology or inner world or capturing their 'essence', etc.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex golden fieldbop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 02:44 am (UTC)
Ohh, thanks for the interest and the comprehensive response. :)

At this stage just about everything is up for negotiation. I had hoped to start it soon (which I guess does mean Sep-Oct), but if it's successful I'm sure there could be subsequent rounds.

I find the "character study" theme dauntingly broad, though
I hear you! That's why I'd hoped to give a definition. It's also why I think prompts will be crucial.

more focus on how the character understands his own personality/behavior, because the line between introspection and conjectural self-diagnosis of mental disorders is very thin, esp. for those with informal knowledge :D
Hee! So true! And I really like that addition--thank you. :)

At this point I'm just kind of gauging interest and taking feedback but it's great to know you are excited about the idea. I will keep my thinking hat on and hopefully hone in on a workable model. :)
Talitha: duskwillow-lois-troublemakertalitha78 on September 2nd, 2007 06:09 pm (UTC)
Well, let me ask you this: do you consider "Short Skirt" to be a character study? Because that's about as deep as I get right now. By your definition above, I don't think it qualifies. But if it does, then I'm working on a Lex character study at the moment. :)
Enderenderwiggin24 on September 2nd, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
O-O!!
how fabulous! you have a lex vid in making!
now i feel much less sick!
Lex!cures!all!
Talitha: betrue lex in whitetalitha78 on September 2nd, 2007 07:32 pm (UTC)
Re: O-O!!
Hee! Well, it's nowhere near finished, but yes, I agree. Lex cures all. :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois smirkbop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 01:45 am (UTC)
See, I probably would. :) That may be because I love it so much and am totally biassed, or it may be because I don't necessarily think character study = deep. After all, if it captures the spirit or essence of a character, that's a character study, right? And your Lois vid definitely did that!

Personally I have no problem with being very open and inclusive with this definition but I wondered whether other people held hard and fast ideas on what they constitute.
Jenny: broken brainladydreamer on September 2nd, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
a character study illuminates an aspect of a character that I either wasn't aware of before or which isn't commonly explored. It casts a spotlight on a particular character and portrays them in a well-rounded fashion, not necessarily presenting them as a 'hero' character, but exploring their inner world, behaviour, emotions or relationships with others.
See... okay, I don't know how this is different from what I do all the time in between plot. I'm all up in their heads. And frankly, I assume good fic has taken some time to "illuminate an aspect of a character" or explore them in more depth than we've seen in the source material. Particularly LATELY fic can be used to freaken explain what the characters are thinking when they say something in one episode and do the opposite in the next. Fanfic AS an implicit argument. Meta-fic, or something. I think that's a specific case though...

I keep trying to work this out in my head and confusing myself. I think it's definitely a good idea, though. If there were more character study, there would be more fic that I'd be interested in reading. PWP isn't my cup of tea. Porn that shows you a character's inner disfunction: SWEET.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lex mysterybop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 02:46 am (UTC)
frankly, I assume good fic has taken some time to "illuminate an aspect of a character" or explore them in more depth than we've seen in the source material
That's what I run up against when I think about it too. :) And there I thought it was just me!

If there were more character study, there would be more fic that I'd be interested in reading. PWP isn't my cup of tea. Porn that shows you a character's inner disfunction: SWEET.
Right. Right! :) See, it seems like a good idea, but how do you explain it to people?! 'No PWP'? Or really it's 'no PWC': plot without characters? Gah! 'Tis hard.
issyadore on September 2nd, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Interesting idea.

I tend to think that character studies are stories in which most of the action is internal. Things like an inner monologue and lots of sensory descriptions are also things I'd put in that category.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 02:47 am (UTC)
*nods* True--thanks for the input! I've been thinking along the same lines: fics of vids where the plot is not the central most important thing.
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on September 2nd, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
Well, upon waking I'm not sure how much I would add to your definition, except to say that a character study tends to focus on a particular character rather than a relationship, and any plot action is more for the sake of illustrating character traits than for other purposes.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Yay!bop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
Perfect! Perfect! See you are great. :)

Vacuum state of peace: dw_sally_smilebzoppa on September 2nd, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC)
I'm interested! I answered maybe because I know myself, I don't really follow through on the pieces I want to write.

(Sally Sparrow's excited)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Buffy Willow friends hugbop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 02:49 am (UTC)
I know the feeling. ;) 'Maybe' is just fine. And I'd very much hope that someone would do a Sally Sparrow piece! :)
Vacuum state of peace: poltergeistbzoppa on September 3rd, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
"Why Sally Sparrow would make a better companion than Martha Jones" by bzoppa.

;)

I was actually thinking of being more ambitious and doing something on the Doctor. Obviously not a complete case study but there are these wonderful clues to a darker side of him strewn throughout the show that give me chills when they come up.

I've also gained a new appreciation of Rose, whom I really disliked watching the first two seasons.

So many ideas :) And this would be a good warm-up for the upcoming season!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW Sally Sparrowbop_radar on September 3rd, 2007 05:13 pm (UTC)
Well those all sound like things I'd love to read! :) Regardless of when they're done or whether they're formally for a character study challenge or not. But yes, I thought it could be a good thing to get in before the new seasons kick off... (it would help if I was more organised though!)

I'm interested in your new appreciation for Rose too, as I struggled with her.
Alexandra Leaving: Burne-Jones - The Wedding of Psychealexandral on September 3rd, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
This will be my first character study since high school.. :D I guess for me it is about the character's main traits and their development during the time we watch/read and also about his/her interacting with the others???
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW Madame Pompadourbop_radar on September 4th, 2007 03:02 am (UTC)
Cool! :) Thanks for the input.
brokenmnemonic: Coldbrokenmnemonic on September 6th, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC)
I'm trying all sorts of extreme measures to try and get my writing head working, because it's a diaster zone atm. If you can give me prompts and parameters to work within, I'll try joining in :) *daunted*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on September 6th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
Yay! Glad to hear it. :) Well, prompts will be accepted from Saturday on (and detailed guidelines/instructions will be given in that post), and I'm sure there will be some that you could work with. I would love you to contribute: consider it a down payment on a future vid beta! ;)
smact46smact46 on September 6th, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC)
A character study for me, provides an opportunity to A character study provides an opportunity to examine a personal viewpoint about the character which is supported with examples of what they think, say and do and what others think, say and do in response - their impression on the world around them.examine a personal viewpoint about the character which is supported with examples of what they think, say and do and what others think, say and do in response - their impression on the world around them.

This might include such character facets as:

-initial impressions
-past history and the impact of this
-what the character thinks of himself?
-how do others interact and what do others think of him?
-problems and concerns for the character
-development of the character throughout the arc of the story
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Karabop_radar on September 6th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
Lovely contribution! Thank you so much. :) Do you mind if I link to this at some point? I think people are finding these sort of definitions useful for triggering ideas.

PS. I really want to read/comment on the Kara piece you posted recently. Please nudge me if I haven't done so soon--I've just been struggling to find time.
smact46smact46 on September 7th, 2007 12:17 am (UTC)
"Do you mind if I link to this at some point?"

Oh, no, not at all. If it is helpful, I would be pleased. I must admit, your question caused a great deal of pontification an brow creasing. I haven't thought of such things in a very long time. I guess the roots were there, but become an unconscious process maybe?

"I really want to read/comment on the Kara piece you posted recently"

I know how difficult it can be to find time. I am trying to get over a bout of pnemonia (haven't had a good time of it lately) so I have had some extra time to think and read (anything to shift my overdeveloped sense of responsibility away from my inherent feelings about letting everyone at work down again). Definitely haven't been up to much else that's for sure.

It is a speculative exploration of Kara really, I really want to understand some of her motivations better, and I have been a little surprised by how much more I now understand Lee and Kara by doing that. It has been really interesting. I must say though that I was heavily inspired by Latte's pic spam and your great essay. Your challenge sparked my interest, because I have been thinking about how I might explore Lee a bit more.

Hope that things get a bit easier for you.

How is puss?

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW kittenbop_radar on September 7th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
Pneumonia?! Eek! That's really not good. And it's dreadful to be plagued by work guilt too. But I am sure everyone at your work just wants you to get better! (Speaking as someone filling in for a sick boss myself right now!)

Latte's picspam was an absolute delight and it's great to know it sparked thoughts in others. And I'm always interested in more Lee-exploration. ;)

The puss is much better--thank you! He's allowed outside now so he's a much happier cat and so far no sign of it having spread. Perhaps they really do have nine lives!