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sunandshadow

characters

11 posts in this topic

So how does everyone go about creating characters? Do you use RPG-style character sheets? Do you draw your character? How do you come up with their name? How do you decide what personality/stereotype characters you want to have? Do you create your characters on at a time or in character dynamic groups? (A character dynamic group would be hero and sidekick, bad guy and flunkies, romantic triangle, character and person they idolize, etc.) What order do you do everything in?
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hmmm....
Step One
I open Word 97.

Step Two
I go fetch my maps and books about the world.

Step Three
Thinking about how he''ll fit into everything, I write down everything about him.Where he was born, his parents'' jobs, where he grew up etc
Also what he thinks about other characters and of course his personality.His appearence, skills, etc etc.I try to analyze him as much as possible.

Step Four
I get a terrible headache and go to bed .

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I look at his role in the story, and try to explain WHY he does what he does. A little trial and error. When I come to something that isn''t done to death, I take it. Repeat for subplots.

If, after that, I haven''t got a character who feels real, OR it''s a main or central character; I write the character after someone I know. That tends to fill them out quite a bit.

I hate to base a character arund a world, though, I base the character around the STORY. Worlds are a bad writing tool, they carry with them the problem of contiuity. If the character and story are FINISHED before the world is even started, then you have allthe continuity you need.
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What makes a good character?
Is a good character the same as a memorable character?
Does anyone know of any reference books that are useful for creating characters?
This looks cool but I have to dig up the money for it.
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Joseph Campbell, mentioned in some other recent threads, was a prominant researcher of myths and their signifigance. That''s one way to go, using mythical archetypes to model your character, but in my experience that only determines their role in the PLOT, not their personality or their, well; character!

There''s an old saying in Writing: Write what you know. When this applies to character writing, (and it does) they say to write WHO you know. Nothing fleshes out a fictional character more than a real world counterpart. It adds a flavor to the character you just CAN''T get out of any archetypal theme or snappy dialog...
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For me a character should come naturally to the environment to which they are supposed to be apart of. Then i try to work out what separates them from this environment... what makes them different from everyone else here. Then i build upon this in relation to the story.

I think the worst thing you can do is build too much character straight up, just fill it in a you make the story then come back later to the earlier parts and add what you left out about the character that would seem appropriate. It''s all part of the creative process in my eyes.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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Actually, I think of characters as if they are already there, in the story that I''m trying to discern, and all I have to do is discover them.
I know there is a story, with some really interesting characters, and as I''m writing, I''m just putting down what I am seeing as the story unfolds. It''s kindof interesting, because I''ve actually had my own characters surprise me ~ by seeing things that I was not expecting. It might sound like a complete load of bull, but I''m not kidding.


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
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That''s funny, i didn''t notice that you''d changed your profile signature until now MadkeithV. and coincidentially, its quite fitting for this topic on Character building isn''t it?! It makes ME think anyhow (not just what it says but it''s relevence).

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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Well Paul, my old sig was boring me, and I agree that this one seems to have a lot of significance in what we are trying to achieve with games and interactive entertainment...

( Now if only we knew what that was )


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
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It depends on what you start with when you create an idea. If you start with character, it is usually because you''ve already got a character in your head and know who they are. If you start with a world or a plot, the character may be a big blank that needs filling in. If the latter is the case, then consider the environment. What kind of story can be told in that world? What kind of person lives in that world? What about it would make them unhappy? What would they want to change about themselves? Give them motives and personality will follow. If you start with a plot rather than a location, then you need to look at the plot and wonder what kind of a lead character is needed to reach the climax. If your plot is that two alien cultures meet and almost destroy each other because of a misunderstanding, ask yourself about the incident in detail and characters will appear. Who caused the misunderstanding? Did they do it on purpose? Were they maybe not from either culture, but a third culture? Who could stop the aliens from self destruction? Do they know who caused the misunderstanding? Maybe that is their arch enemy. Now you have a general idea of who the protagonist and antagonist are. The more questions you ask, the more answers you''ll find. Even ask little questions; sometimes they will lead to big answers. And if they don''t, you can discard the answers.

Filling out a character sheet can be a start, but it will mean nothing if your character doesn''t have a *reason* to exist. That is the most important part of a character -- why it is there. Even one-dimensional characters need motives. If you find your motive, you''ll find your character.
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I agree that the more questions you ask the better but it''s also just as important to ask the right questions for the situation at hand.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!
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OK-

This isn''t what I do, but it works for some people. ( I tend to go w/, as MadKeith said, treating them as if they already exist in this world that I''m discovering. I''ve even gone so far as to hold a ''conference'' w/ the various characters and let them speak their own roles in the plot events. Anywho, I think that''s the wardens at my door soooo. . .)

Many view their stories more holistically, as a dramatic exposition of colliding philosophical viewpoints. By this view, the characters exist for the purpose of the story, not t''other way ''round. So lets say the theme is free will v. societal pressures. Character A (Bob) represents the inveterate slacker, disdainful of convention, perhaps a guitarist for some shitty punk band. Character B (Bruce) is an upstanding citizen who looks down his nose at Bob and his freewheeling ways. And of course Character C (Sally) represents the conflict itself, as she is in love w/ Bob, but is being wooed by Bruce. Sally might be the protaganist, and is pulled by Bruce''s stability, rich family, etc. on the one hand, but on the other, Bob''s music makes her SO DAMN HORNY. Or whatever. The point is, the characters say what is needed for the exposition of the theme. They do what is needed for the exposition of the theme. And their individual quirks (Bob''s Knox-Gelatin spikes v. Bruce''s combed over part, Bob''s high-strung stutter v. Bruce''s smooth-as-velvet demeanor) all exist to personify the philosophical forces they represent.

It sounds alot like allegory, but its alot closer to the traditional novel in the actual technique. Its alot subtler than allegory. The representations are never spelled out for the reader, and the artist is bound by his craft to allow the conflict to play itself out truthfully, unlike allegory, where the resolution is usually forced.

Oh well, its interesting enough, but I''d never use it. As a programmer, I like the "neatness" and the architectural aspect of it, but its too manipulative. Anyway, its an idea, innit?



If you see the Buddha on the road, Kill Him. -apocryphal
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