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Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters



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  #1  
Old September 5th, 2011, 6:25 am
FollowtheOwls  Undisclosed.gif FollowtheOwls is offline
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Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

For those of you that don't just assign a day at random, what is your method for selecting a birthday? The closest I can get is narrowing it down to a range of dates. For example, picking a horoscope. Is there a special calendar somewhere that has the significance of each day of the year? To my knowledge, only a handful of days, such as April Fool's, have much individual significance.


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  #2  
Old September 5th, 2011, 1:42 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

Sometimes I want a particular sun sign, but mostly I use family birthdays. Fortunately, I have a very large family because I have a very large stable of characters.

If you want to get really picky, the first 10 days of any sun sign picks up traits from the previous sign and the last 10 days picks up traits from the next sign. There are many aspects of a horoscope that make up a personality. Most people just go by sun sign because that's by far the easiest to determine and that's what some of your readers will see.

My big problem is picking names which need to fit both the character and the time period.


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Old September 5th, 2011, 2:42 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

Unless the date of birth is significant to the story I wouldn't bother.


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Old September 5th, 2011, 4:14 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

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Originally Posted by FollowtheOwls View Post
To my knowledge, only a handful of days, such as April Fool's, have much individual significance.
Depends on how you define significance, I suppose. Barely a day goes by which is not a national day, or a day for a cause, or a saint's feast day or other religious festival.


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Old September 6th, 2011, 1:40 am
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

Assigning a birthday can be important if the book spans several years. It helps me keep track of characters ages and can be used for family gatherings if needed. I don't always put it in the story, but it's important for me to know. It goes in the character blurbs that I keep at the end of the ms for quick reference.


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Old September 10th, 2011, 9:20 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

If I were to finish the novel I want to write and eventually write others, my style would have three defining traits. Having a lot of hidden nuggets for the more-than-casual reader to find would be one of them. Therefore, if I were ever to bother giving a character a birthday, I'd most likely have the character share birthdays with a significant historical figure that was connected to the character. For instance, an idealist who becomes a somewhat dictatorial personality in reaction to story events and his surroundings would share birthdays with Robespierre.

Alternately, I'd use some convoluted process, such as giving a character similar to Majnun, from Layla and Majnun, a birthday by taking the nickname Majnun; adding up the value of the English letters as 13 + 1 + 10 + 14 + 21 + 14 = 73; finding 73 = 11 mod 31; then taking the name of his lover Layla, adding up her name letter values to 51, finding 51 = 3 mod 12, and deciding the birth month is March.

Or I'd come up with a random birthday that has no significance, present it in the narrative as if it does, then sit back and laugh at all the silly people trying to interpret the meaning behind the date.


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Old September 10th, 2011, 11:51 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

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Originally Posted by APolaris View Post
If I were to finish the novel I want to write and eventually write others, my style would have three defining traits. Having a lot of hidden nuggets for the more-than-casual reader to find would be one of them. Therefore, if I were ever to bother giving a character a birthday, I'd most likely have the character share birthdays with a significant historical figure that was connected to the character. For instance, an idealist who becomes a somewhat dictatorial personality in reaction to story events and his surroundings would share birthdays with Robespierre.

Alternately, I'd use some convoluted process, such as giving a character similar to Majnun, from Layla and Majnun, a birthday by taking the nickname Majnun; adding up the value of the English letters as 13 + 1 + 10 + 14 + 21 + 14 = 73; finding 73 = 11 mod 31; then taking the name of his lover Layla, adding up her name letter values to 51, finding 51 = 3 mod 12, and deciding the birth month is March.

Or I'd come up with a random birthday that has no significance, present it in the narrative as if it does, then sit back and laugh at all the silly people trying to interpret the meaning behind the date.
Are your real initials JKR?


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  #8  
Old September 11th, 2011, 9:57 am
APolaris  Male.gif APolaris is offline
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

JKR's initials total 39.
My initials total 27.
27 is exactly 9/13ths of 39.
9/13 is September 13.
September 13 is 2 days from now.
Therefore, two days from now I will be the female author of Harry Potter.

... wait a minute, what?



Last edited by APolaris; September 11th, 2011 at 10:00 am.
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  #9  
Old September 11th, 2011, 8:06 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

Quote:
Originally Posted by APolaris View Post
JKR's initials total 39.
My initials total 27.
27 is exactly 9/13ths of 39.
9/13 is September 13.
September 13 is 2 days from now.
Therefore, two days from now I will be the female author of Harry Potter.

... wait a minute, what?
Hmmm, I think I followed that


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  #10  
Old November 11th, 2011, 9:39 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

Aaah, the great Birthday Assigning. I don't generally worry about birthdays unless it is a very special character or important to the plot. When I do, I go a little crazy...

There is a book. This book to be exact. I narrow it down to which horoscope fits their personality the best. Then I read every day within that horoscope to find which best suits the character. It's a load of work, but a lot of fun.


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  #11  
Old November 15th, 2011, 10:19 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

Sometimes I use astrology and go by the traits I want my character to exhibit. I don't believe in astrology, but it helps to come up with birthdays.


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Old November 16th, 2011, 3:18 am
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

I just go with what feels right. I have a character whose birthday was once the fifth of may or something, but now it's April 18, and it's gonna stay that way.


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Old November 16th, 2011, 8:08 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

The 5th of May...that's my sister's birthday. [/off topic]

Yeah, I like to sometimes just randomly pick birthdays using the eenie-meenie-minie-moe system.


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  #14  
Old January 2nd, 2012, 6:48 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

I normally pick whatever first comes into my head. But if I'm basing a character off of someone I know, I'll use that person's birthday. Sometimes I pick big event dates, like one of my characters birthday is July 15th, the day HPDHp2 came out, well in the US anyways. But I got to see an advanced screening of it in 3d, (cuz my totally awesome sister won tickets!!!), on the 12th of July so now my character's bday is on the 12th! sorry went off on a tangent there, i get distracted easily


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  #15  
Old January 3rd, 2012, 4:09 am
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

First,I would search any teen gossip magazine from the time period your book takes place in to see what the horoscope has to say about the character.If this is a book that takes place in the future,I recommend odd months and even days for boys,and vice versa for girls.


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Old January 17th, 2012, 10:23 pm
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

Horoscopes are greatly inaccurate/not statistical valid in determining personality type. But if you're looking to try and find a birth date for a character then it's as good a way as any to determine one!

I tend to think about things like Birthdays... like if I am planning to include a characters birthday at some point in the plot I think about where I maybe have a gap I could fill and place it there.

When it's irrelevant and simply for my own back planning, I go randomly.


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  #17  
Old January 18th, 2012, 12:55 am
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

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Unless the date of birth is significant to the story I wouldn't bother.
That said I now realise that birthdays were integral to one of my published works because the protagonists were twins and one was born late on the 28th of February and the second early on the 29th.


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  #18  
Old January 18th, 2012, 5:46 am
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

If the story spans more than a year, you need a birthday so you know when your character ages.


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  #19  
Old January 18th, 2012, 7:15 am
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

People don't immediately age on their birthdays.


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A patriot is someone who wants the best for his country, including the best laws and the best ideals. It's something other people should call you -- you shouldn't call yourself that. People who call themselves patriots are usually liars. -- Donald Woods

You got what anybody gets . . . You got a lifetime. -- Death of the Endless
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  #20  
Old July 17th, 2012, 4:52 am
BmasterofdeathB  Female.gif BmasterofdeathB is offline
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Re: Assigning Birthdays to Your Characters

My characters are inspired by real people in my life, but not so much just one person. For example, one of my characteres is inspired by a mixture of my sister and my cousin. For their birthday, I used the month that my cousin was born in (May) and the day that my sister was born,(12th) making the character's birthday May 12th.


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