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What do you start with when creating a character?

Discussion in 'Main Lobby' started by 0rganist, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. 0rganist

    0rganist Eternal Wanderer of the Plains

    So pretty self explanatory question in the title, but also, how much is too much info on a character?

    I always start with their brains, I determine how happy/sad they are, what their goals are, how they view and interact with the world around them. After that I move onto the superficial things, likes and dislikes, their faces, their names etc.,

    I feel like I can never stop developing a character, which is why I wondered how much is "too much" for other writers. I feel like I treat my characters as if they were living things that are always changing and growing... so I never really "stunt" their growth by stopping their stories.

    So yeah. Let me know what y'alls think c:
    RainiSage likes this.
  2. Constance Ardeth

    Constance Ardeth Soli Deo Gloria

    I usually begin with their looks, and then I move to their likes and dislikes, and after that I begin to discover who my character is, and I sort of think of them as a friend.
    Tutski19 and 0rganist like this.
  3. Angel2Mars

    Angel2Mars Crazy Cat Lady

    Hey there! I usually begin with a concept of what the character is: rogue, mechanic, princess, then move onto abilities such as magic using if they are that type of character. Unless inspired by a picture, I usually go for the looks last. Personality sort of happens naturally through the process.

    I also agree completely that a character is sort of a like a real person in that in order for your story to grow and maintain, your character has to grow, change, and adapt with it. If you have a character who stays the same the entire story, your character and your story can become stagnant. So, really what I'm saying is that I think character development is an ongoing process and necessity.
    0rganist and Constance Ardeth like this.
  4. Miren Baines

    Miren Baines New Member

    There are plenty of ways to go about this but for the purpose of roleplay - I suppose the best place to start is the character’s gender/race and physical attributes just as most character based games begins whether it’s a written character sheet or a console/PC format.
    0rganist and __Flatline___ like this.
  5. __Flatline___

    __Flatline___ She Who Must Not Be Named

    I usually start with the way they look and then I go on to their personality. I never feel like I have enough on my character and develop them as I go further into a roleplay. I share the basics with my roleplay partner though at first. I want it to really feel as if they and their character is meeting mine for the first time. If that makes sense. o_O Afterall, who doesn't like surprises?
    0rganist likes this.
  6. 0rganist

    0rganist Eternal Wanderer of the Plains

    Thanks for your responses everyone!

    I was definitely interested in the writing process others undergo when creating something, so that I can try to improve my own.

    I find it interesting that most appear to tackle appearances first!
  7. __Flatline___

    __Flatline___ She Who Must Not Be Named

    It's just a matter of doing what is easier for me first. To me appearances are easy to come up with, once I get into the mind of a character there is so much to think about. The mind is like a whole universe and it takes some time for me to really make a diverse and realistic personality that isn't flat and boring.
  8. Miren Baines

    Miren Baines New Member

    It also depends on how detailed you want it to be.

    If its a long going roleplay with deep character development then I would suggest a more deeper planning as to what the character would look like within the accepted cannon tale you or your writing partner would plan on creating.

    In a more casual - write-as-you-go approach... one would probably want to ease up on the details and just go with it. A name. A face. A quick background and boom --- off to the RP lands you go.
  9. midorino

    midorino Member

    Usually, I'd start with an idea for the character's personality. I kind of think of a one-sentence blurb for the character that includes things about his personality and probably occupation like "rebellious and independent insectoid alien" or "reserved pyromaniac magician who's only confident when performing". Yeah, my character ideas are kinda weird.

    After this, I flesh out their personality and history. I think these two come hand in hand, so I work on them kind of the same time. The last thing I work on is the appearance.
  10. King Diamond

    King Diamond New Member

    I determine a premise and shape everything from there, I do this since it makes me think out of the box. If I wanted a arrogant man who is cunning and cold I'd have a long list of premises for a character, but if I work backwards it works better imo.
  11. Nogyseo

    Nogyseo Pastel Rodent

    For me I always start with the character's role/job or what have you. Whatever they are doing in the roleplay in question. Then I build around that. What caused them to start doing what they do? What might have happened in their past to shape them into who they are?

    So, I go role → history → personality → appearance

    To me, the appearance is really the least important part, to be honest.
  12. WimsyWillow

    WimsyWillow Lady of the Forest

    Honestly unless I already have a general idea for a character, I start with an image. (I have a giant board on Pinterest dedicated to new characters)
    Now, I narrow down the image according to what type of character I'm looking for typically, then work from there. I look at the image like I would a person, and try to guess everything about them.
    What are their likes? Dislikes? What was their family life like and what do they want to be when they grow up?
    I go through everything I can think of that would define a person, and apply it to the picture.
    The easiest way to shape a character is to think of them as another human being, with everything that entails. You have to imagine voice, body language, common gestures and ways of speaking that they use. Favorite music, how they'd react when threatened, what do they do for a living? Ask yourself everything you can think of about the person you're creating.
    The biggest thing to keep in mind when creating a new character is that you will rub off on your character. Most commonly when making a character, they will end up with a part of you. Be it shyness, loyalty, taste in clothing, taste in music... they will get something from you, and that's ok. It's completely fine because it's what makes it easy for you to play them, and why it will never feel right when someone else does.
    Keep in mind this is how I create my characters, but it's not how you have to. I start with an image because their image is the hardest thing for me to come up with. I'm a writer, not an artist, and to me what makes up a character is who they are, not what they look like. Knowing what they look like always helps when trying to describe them, however, and I can never find the right picture to capture a character after shaping them, so I start with the picture.

    So in summary, start with a character however you wish. In the end though, make sure you have a person.

    God that was a rambling post, I'm sorry if it just causes more confusion. D:

  13. The_Dujke

    The_Dujke Woosh, you have anal cancer.

    I usually start with how they look. Then go on from there.
  14. Lore Weaver

    Lore Weaver Member

    I don't really have a consistent answer for this. A lot of it depends on what the setting/genre is and whether I am building the story around the character/characters or fitting them into the framework of the story.

    If it is the former, than it is more wide-open. I can start with the name, traits, pression or status. Sometimes I roll up a character like I am playing an RPG so then at least some of the attributes are random and I willbuild upon that.
    If I am tailoring the character to fit into a story, than the character building usually starts with the profession.role the character and the traits and everything else are built from there.

    But most of the character building tends to take place as the story evolves, even the background. information. I tend to world build in the same way,so I discover things about the world/character as the story evolves.
  15. I like to start with who they are and then let a name come to mind after or vise versa. Then i try to come up with my characters personality and then background
    Wintergreen likes this.
  16. GreatestSoldier

    GreatestSoldier New Member

    As for my OCs, I tend to focus on their abilities first. What can they be capable of? Once I get a hold of that, I then focus on the looks, name, and then backstory. And poof! New character!
  17. Trust

    Trust The Nobody in particular

    I usually look for a faceclaim first, then use the image to come up with a story, but occasionally, I have an idea in my mind that I want to go for then find a faceclaim for that! Quite dependent on how inspired I am xD
  18. Space Man

    Space Man "Free Yourself Roleplaying" Refugee

    For me, when I make a character I always start by looking at other's character, and keep the setting, genre, and atmosphere of a role play in mind. I start with the personality of my characters, then appearance.
  19. AeroStrike

    AeroStrike New Member

    Well, it's a very unorganized mess when I try to come up with a character, but I'll try to help best I can ^^

    I begin with the world, because the world that surrounds them really shapes who your character is going to be, ie, if the surrounding world is cyberpunk post apocalyptic chaos, then a character will very well be affected by it, making him or her less trusting or more resourceful. Two minutes of this thinking can get a whole list of traits.

    You can also take it a step further, and think about how your character responds to their environment due to the conditions. Going back to the cyber punk, he or she is a loner because they don't trust anyone. The loneliness could regress and make them cold and unfeeling, or it could explode, and leave them a psychotic husk of a human being.

    So you have a vague representation for what your character will be due to her experiences in the world your role play is set in. In this case, a lone-wolf scavenger cyberpunk. After this is usually when I come up with the personal story of the character. Instead of thinking about how the world functions around them, think of how they experience the world around them, and slowly build a cohesive background.

    In our scenario, we have our cyberpunk, born of a middle class family. After a certain few nations get their hands on highly advanced mysterious tech, there is a massive global conflict on how it's to be used and distributed. One nation threatens another with the tech on their side, and a trigger happy executive fires a nuclear bomb, triggering a chain reaction of mutually assured destruction, and decimating the world with radiation. However, fortunately for our protagonist, she was on a field trip away from her hometown, which was ground zero for an explosion. Weak from radiation and desperately homesick, our protagonist slowly learns the hard way that life isn't all cupcakes and rainbows. Betrayals, stealing, lying, and killing filled her life, blah blah, generic apoc stuff.

    Now is the point where I flesh out the details, and build a better, more cohesive plot line, and define my character's appearance, which can change dynamically with how your character develops. Things like appearance, likes, dislikes, favorites, I all figure out here. It's especially easy if I'm already thinking of what the character will be doing. It comes to you more naturally in a sense. Going back to the epiphany where life isn't 'cupcakes and rainbows', she could strongly dislike these things due to the fact that her childhood was taken from her in such a violent and destructive manner, leaving her bitter at the reminder of what could have been. On the other hand, she could like these things, knowing that while the world is crumbling, there were, and will still be, rays of sunshine, triggering feelings of nostalgia.

    (Yes, I may be influenced by other stories, and this is just a character I rattled off, sorry if it seems a bit generic.)

    I hope this helps dood. Near the beginning, I mentioned how messy my style is. I said that because while I had an order of how I make a character, I often jump back to other steps in light of new or better plot points, replacing old, clashing timelines and plot points with a smoother story that makes more sense.

    And whether or not it's 'too much', it all depends on how much you want to give on your character. I never reveal everything initially in a role play, or even just writing. You just play it by ear, and you'll do fine.
  20. Featherling

    Featherling New Member

    Making a character is a pretty complex process in general. I personally like to come up with the name, then traits like personality, dreams/goals/whatever motivates them in life. Then comes the physical aspect, which I do by imagining whatever world I want them to be in. To do this, I go through made up scenarios in my mind between them an a character (typically another fictional one). This also helps me build the character's personality!

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