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What Should I Avoid While Creating a Character?

Discussion in 'Writer's Circle' started by Miss Claire Elizabeth, Dec 30, 2016.

  1. Miss Claire Elizabeth

    Miss Claire Elizabeth very small and easily startled

    I know a lot of personality types, looks, attitudes, etc. are overused and quite obnoxious. So, before I create my first character, I would like to know what are some major (or minor?) mistakes/clichés I can try to avoid? Anything helps!
  2. Morph

    Morph Best Villain 2016*

    Assassin characters are incredibly popular. I'm sure you know the type: dresses in dark colors, loves hoods and long coats/cloaks, abrasive personality, first solution to any problem is murder...

    If you play an assassin, try to avoid using more than one of those traits I just listed.
    Astaroth likes this.
  3. Southpaw

    Southpaw *pulls the wrong lever*

    IMO, any character trope can work if you are passionate about the idea, and smart with their weaknesses! But I agree with Morph: dark, brooding, witty characters that can seem to do no wrong while being "super duper cool". Basically, if they seem too good to be true, they probably should be avoided.
  4. Silaries

    Silaries Lord of Weissburg


    -Dead parents
    -Mental health problems ranging from depression to shizophrenia and other more exotic ones.
    -Being either super smart or super strong in terms of fighting.
    -"X is usually super shy but open around friends"
    -Black or generally dark clothing such as black semi long hair (especially dudes)

    Just because they are clichés it doesn't mean someone can't make a character with those characteristics and still play it good.
  5. Nilum

    Nilum A Curious Man Benefactor Absolutely Fabulous

    Avoid writing something because you feel you have to do it. Beyond that? Do what you most enjoy, and learn how to give it some depth. Remember one key rule: The more antisocial a character is, the harder it will be for you to play that character in a role play.
    lil_kreen, Arthro, BrookeDi and 4 others like this.
  6. Conman2163

    Conman2163 New Member

    I feel one of the most misplayed tropes must be the "Multiple Personality Disorder" type character. They show up so often as characters who have two "night and day" type personalities living inside of them that change at random. This character type can grow to get quite old and annoying rather quickly, particularly if you aren't good at rping two different characters.
    Silaries likes this.
  7. Emily

    Emily New Member

    I think the hardest thing is not going too far trying to avoid cliches. Occam's razor: if it makes more sense for their parents to be dead than for them to have some other crazy reason for wanting to... keep Gotham safe or care for Orphans than I say by all means use that. The issue is not going overboard.
  8. Tiko

    Tiko Demon Goat Staff Member Administrator Chronicles of the Omniverse GM

    I remember playing a character with disassociative personality disorder for months in a roleplay. One of the other players finally realized it and their response? ".... she has multiple personalities? That explains so much."

    Was a point of pride for me that they didn't figure it out right away, and it explained what people thought where holes and inconsistencies when they did figure it out. I never once wrote IC that they had the disorder :)

    I would lead that on back to the OP's original question and offer my advise in the form of 'any idea can work, if done right and in the appropriate time/place'. Everything that's considered overdone/cliche can work if given a new spin. If you take a cliche idea and run with it 'just because I can' and it makes no sense to the story or context that the character is being played in, then you run into problems (IE the aforementioned assassin characters that tend to not make any sense, or sit around in bars asking people to hire them to kill someone). Another failing is to take cliche ideas because they're easy. IE, dead parents so you don't need to worry about writing for them, but they have no actual impact, depth, or bearing on the story. This tends to feel like a cop out and doesn't illicit any sort of emotion from readers other than maybe exasperation.

    However if you take an overly abused idea (IE multiple personalities, vampires, dead parents, etc) and make it your own. Give it depth and meaning, and make it make sense for the overarching story? Then there's nothing wrong with a cliche.

    I have a character with a dead mother. Mother passed away due to natural causes. The death of the mother is in there specifically to facilitate and explain the strong the bond between the character and her father. The mother isn't just some name on a sheet to forget about. The father is known to reminisce about the mother during periods of nostalgia and the mother is as much a character as the living ones. To me this is a fine way to implement a sometimes overdone concept (dead parents) for a story purpose. It's not just a 'what can you tell me a bout your characters parents' being met with 'oh, they're dead so I don't need to think anything up'.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  9. Rue

    Rue Acting Maniac

    I feel that you should be allowed to RP a character with metal illness, but if you're going to do that, make sure you do your research first. So many mental illness' are misrepresented in media and it could get to the point that members within your forum that have that illness could become offended.
  10. Caw-caw man

    Caw-caw man Knight of Kickass

    I always try to avoid extremely moe characters simply because you have to pretend to be cute, its also not really realistic depending on what your doing, but yea, : P
  11. PigeonOfAstora

    PigeonOfAstora Pigeon of Astora, Storyseeker

    Most people think that cliches are to be avoided at all costs, but really, they can be played with perfect accuracy and still be interesting. However, when using cliches you must keep in mind what's unique and what makes the character feel different from all the rest. That being said, here are some of the most used cliches:

    - Dead Parents
    - Lone Survivor
    - Last of the Line
    (The above three usually go hand-in-hand)
    - Antisocial
    - Mary Sue (Perfect characters with a mental problem. Usually the above.)
    - Mad Scientist
    - Chosen One
    - Knight in Shining Armour
    Astaroth likes this.
  12. kawaiipolicy

    kawaiipolicy Officially A Princess

    Try making sure their strengths and weaknesses are balanced out-
    for example, superman is a well known character but he can really only fight crime and when he gets hurt it is always for the same cliche reason because he only has one weakness. Characters need weaknesses- more than one- and sometimes more weaknesses than strengths. Weaknesses can also be fears or even something like 'to much pride'.
    Astaroth likes this.
  13. JessieJames

    JessieJames Dream as if you were dying.

    When creating a character you should know the setting and how you entend that character to be used. For example, "R" is a vampire made for an open enviroment. While "X" is made for a ninja setting. Also don't just create a character because you are bored with your current one --I have done this and regret it so much-- you should just try getting your character to have a break through to change something you don't like.

    Another thing I would suggest is don't create a character without some back-ground. If your character is flat and has no written past you might find yourself struggling to define why the character is the way they are.
    Astaroth likes this.
  14. JayTea

    JayTea New Member

    Avoid making cliché tropes like dead parents, lone survivors, and all that kind of stuff unless you can put a twist on it. For example, if your parents weren't really dead but faked it, or if your group wasn't all gone and some just ran away for a better life.

    Also, it may seem pretty obvious, but don't make a god of all forms of combat. Specialize on some aspects and choose weak points, like if you had a hacker then you could focus on infiltration, or if you had a swordsman then you could be bad with ranged gear. It gives a sense of development down certain trees of combat that really make a character interesting.
  15. Niceni

    Niceni New Member

    My biggest pet peeve is when people make character's that are just completely unrealistic and are lacking any thoughts/anything that makes someone a fallible human (or whatever race you've chosen). The real beauty of a character lies in their flaws just as much as their strengths. Couple of examples:
    • Can adapt instantly to any situation, however bizarre or unexpected.
    • Can instantly see through puzzles without any thought required.
    • Never gets anything wrong or never makes a poor decision.
    I could go on and on but you get the gist. So many people claim their character's have weaknesses but then can't bring themselves to actually demonstrate that in the course of the story.
    Astaroth likes this.
  16. Joshua Raxter

    Joshua Raxter Member

    My biggest problem with writer sites like this is....some people can get so petty in their character creation to the point of almost stating. "My character can out do anything yours can!"

    Doing that drives me nuts! So I usually throw in a character that throws a whole kink in the armor of the story.
    I was in a magic academy RP one time that it was that petty. So I created a character that their magic resistance was so high they canceled out all magic within a 10 ft radius. I had a huge flaw...The character was blind. But all these other people kicked me out instead of forcing their characters to work around an obstacle, just because....I don't know why really....Lazy perhaps? Mad I found a loop hole? I don't know.
  17. kribblefish

    kribblefish wiggles too much

    I don't know about the "chosen one" as being a nuisance though. If they're not in some ways a mary sue or something like it then the reader might feel disappointed. Well not a Mary Sue exactly, but you know even the characters that are not pretty are usually smart, among other things.
  18. kribblefish

    kribblefish wiggles too much

    I think a mistake with writing a character is using their back story to hold them up as interesting. Sure a back story adds a twist, but it won't hold them up for very long. I think characters who greed for something or have some other issue are rather interesting(if you can weed this into their daily lives).
  19. Nilum

    Nilum A Curious Man Benefactor Absolutely Fabulous

    Back story is best used to create mystery. Whether it's for a world, or a character. Use it to set up interesting conversations, and secrets. Things to discover, things to learn. Through that, you create the building blocks of a character.
    Astaroth likes this.
  20. kribblefish

    kribblefish wiggles too much

    No. I did not mean a backstory wasn't important. I meant that just giving a character some tragedy will not in itself give them, I think, as much depth or appeal as you could by actually developing their personality.
    CeruleanRaindrops and Astaroth like this.

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