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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. Raffia Kiryuin

    Raffia Kiryuin Nothing to see here humans The Evrensel Conflict GM

    I have seen quite a few people write out 30K plus word character sheets that leave 0 room for character development. i really try my best to leave room for that and sometimes am being purposefully vague to let others discover more about a character. in the end...just don't go overly detailed on your sheet. int he end there wont be room for further development.
  2. Dizzy

    Dizzy New Member

    Generally, avoid making a character that was already accomplished like 80% of their personal goals unless that's the point. Avoid too much detail, I find that 1-3 paragraphs is all you need to describe a character in full and then leave the rest for discovering RP. Don't fall into the trap of making a ton of characters and roleplaying none of them!
    Nilum and BloodInDaWater like this.
  3. Agreed!
  4. Red Coil

    Red Coil Energy Storage

    I'm a big fan of not writing loners or characters that really don't have a reason to interact with other players, stay in the group, or when the character has negative traits that really don't encourage other characters to interact with them (generally traits such as being a complete loner, psychopath/sociopath, etc.).
    Keen likes this.
  5. emilou

    emilou Friendly Neighborhood Gremlin

    Most of the time, every character needs a specific trait that makes them stand out, whether that is in a character sheet or revealed through the roleplay. They can be almost exactly the same as one character in personality, but have one to a few traits that make them their own.
    BloodInDaWater likes this.
  6. Where would that leave the (Joker) and like characters? Any character type can be written and effective. The limitations rest solely between those behind, said characters.

    I find that dealing with challenging character personalities, can be both, frustrating and rewarding at times. But the make or break of the situation always comes down to the driver of the character and never the actual character themselves.
  7. Red Coil

    Red Coil Energy Storage

    I think it depends a bit on what you are writing (e.g., format).

    For an RP, I find interaction to be one of the most important aspects of participating. So in an RP (play-by-post or Table Top), I've found that characters that are hard to interact with (or where it's hard to see why anyone would choose to interact with them), tend to be less fun. Of course, there are ways to "bind" characters together (which results in a bit more forced narrative), but many RPs, especially play-by-posts tend to not favor the amount of control required for that too work.

    For writing in general, I think that that heuristic is far less applicable (for obvious reasons).

    It's also a case of experience and probability for me, can someone write a character like the Joker in an RP? Sure, have I seen it done well or in a way that ends up being fun? Almost never.

    Now, character flaws, difficult personalities, and the like are interesting, but pathological behavior and serious mental illnesses are much harder to do justice in writing (so I tend to think most people should just avoid them).

    TL;DR: Have characters with flaws, but avoid extremes.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
    Nilum and BloodInDaWater like this.
  8. Nilum

    Nilum A Curious Man Benefactor Absolutely Fabulous

    Agreed, with a caveat.

    That caveat being that this is also correct.

    Technically speaking, you can make almost any character in any medium function. You can have a mute protagonist in a novel, you can have a non-human protagonist in a video game, you can have a bloodthirsty psychopath as your protagonist in a movie. It's better to perceive it as a difficulty to execute, which is modified by the type of narrative you're entering. Playing as a bloodthirsty monster ala Joker in, say, a Romantic Comedy, wouldn't be appropriate in any context outside of bizarre shock humour. Meanwhile, playing in a story about a survival horror, a total monster of a character might just fit quite well!

    Then, there's Nation RP's to consider too. The format allows each player to control a host of characters as opposed to any singular character, and having a methodical authoritarian in charge of an empire, or a bloodthirsty monster in charge of the military, can fit quite well there, and without any need to "force" it.

    Ultimately, it's up to the skill of the player, and the cooperation of other players around them, and the type of narrative and conflict you're engaging with as to whether or not a particular character will work. In most narratives, I agree that the bloodthirsty Joker-esque anti-social mass murderer definitely doesn't work and I would turn it down immediately. In some narratives, though, it definitely not only works--but fits in such an appropriate way that it would almost hurt the narrative not to make one.

    So, you know. Communication is key, as it always is, in ensuring that everyone is on board with the same general objectives and thematic goals in mind.
    Silvir, Red Coil and BloodInDaWater like this.
  9. Perfectly stated! I agree!
  10. Red Coil

    Red Coil Energy Storage

    If people could communicate better (or if they would at least put more effort into communicating) so many issues could be resolved (or more likely avoided). :D
    Nilum and BloodInDaWater like this.
  11. Silvir

    Silvir Member

    I would to begin to say. As a beginner begin with simplicity use the cliché's but avoid starting with them. Rather instead grow into them trough the RP.
    If one looks around a bit most writers start by inserting their own ideas and fantasies AKA what they would do. So an early character easily becomes an avatar of ones own dreams.
    This is both good and bad. Good it will be quite fun immensley so, Bad it is a part of what makes majority of Roleplaying stories short lived because you struggle with your own ego and a story.

    Never be afraid to make any kind of stereotype. But allways keep in mind. How much beyond the basic stereotype do you know about these personalities.
    why are they dark and brooding, why shy or why social. What in their minds and lives makes them do or be like that.
    And never be afraid to try and play a different character or go out of your comfort zone. Failure is a great teacher and one has to start somewhere.
  12. Sightseer

    Sightseer Sleepless Punk

    Avoid writing what you don't understand.

    Avoid using tragedy purely as a way to add depth (tragedy can assuredly be an interesting element to a character's background, but often people seem to assume that a tragic background makes a character inherently interesting, which I find to rarely be the case).

    Avoid using mental illness as a way to add depth (you can totally write a great character suffering from a mental illness, but randomly tossing in a mental illness or psychopathology doesn't make your character better or more interesting).

    Avoid writing yourself into a story (use elements of yourself or others that you know, but don't throw yourself into a story, that just leads to ego-tripping and wish-fulfillment).

    Avoid making a character that is just an entity created to allow for a certain set of skills. The skills or occupation of a character are certainly important, but unless you want to bore everyone else to death, throw in some actual history and personality into the mix.

    Avoid not communicating, RPing is a social (online) endeavor, learning to communicate well is key to being a successful player and GM.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  13. Snowtwo

    Snowtwo Member

    When it comes to creating a character here's what I do.

    Right off the bat... You're character is nobody special. Even if they are. Are you a thief? Odds are you're not starting off as some master thief who pilfered the royal jewels and is now wanted by six different kingdoms; you're a petty thief whom picks pockets and breaks into homes to steal TV's. Did you actually steal the jewels? Odds are it wasn't some masterful heist that took years of planning or whatever but some spur of the moment thing that happened either purely by accident or sheer luck. Is your character actually a master thief? Well they probably still do a lot of things like normal people. They eat, play, dance, love, hate, and aren't some phantom force bent on revenge or the like.

    So if you want to, say, create a cleric remember that they're probably an acolyte or normal cleric and not Thaldora; Madame of the Eternal Light and Holy Maiden of Twenty Six Prophecies Whom Coaxes The Sun To Rise With Her Beauty And Saint Of Orphans. Instead they're Thaldora; She who can't brew a decent cup of joe to save her life but is getting good marks in banishing the undead and triage, though she could do better in 'delivering good will to men'.

    When it comes to cliche's it's important to remember that there is a difference between a cliche and a trope. A trope is merely an application of a narrative element (EX: dead parents) while a cliche is, basically, a lack of thought or effort put into the trope. I.E. it's not having dead parents that's a cliche; it's having dead parents for the sake of having dead parents and it not really mattering in the grand scheme of things that's a cliche.
  14. Mikayla

    Mikayla New Member

    I would say to try to avoid making the character one dimensional. Have a solid past/history that plays into why they're who they are today, give them multiple traits, and really make sure that they've got some character juice.
  15. Alissa Ming

    Alissa Ming Wandering Storyteller

    Try to avoid conflicting traits. Someone cannot be both a social butterfly and a quiet shy person. Someone can be an introvert, and still be talkative when nervous or something, but being a social butterfly is different from talking when nervous. For example, I'm not the best with people and am an introvert by nature. But get me on a topic I understand and I can't seem to stop talking about it, even in front of strangers. Or if they have seemingly conflicting traits, explain why this is the case. Some characters come off as shy, but are actually quiet and thoughtful. It doesn't mean they aren't friendly or whatever, it just means they speak with care.
  16. Harrow

    Harrow New Member

    Don't try and be cool.

    And don't make a character to impress others, just make a character that's fun t play as and ca easily interact with other people,
  17. MonMon

    MonMon MouMou(THW)

    Its important that every character you created has a specific weakness.
  18. Snowtwo

    Snowtwo Member

    I actually disagree with this massively. First off a character who holds no weakness but few strengths is a legitimate pursuit, but more to the point, it's important to remember that the character themselves and how they're presented matters the most. If you have someone with a ton of weaknesses and few strengths they can become uninteresting especially if you have a lazy or incapable writer. Conversely a super-powerful character can be very engaging when written well. Take a look at superheroes for example. Some of their best stories don't have them struggling with a weakness of any sort. In the Wonder Woman movie, for example, Diana doesn't have a weakness beyond the standard 'stranger in a strange land' stuff. She's very powerful and so-forth; but the thing that makes the movie and that Diana great is how she's written and presented as opposed to her powers, strengths, and weaknesses.

    This is why I chose what I chose for the topic. Because people who tend to write characters who are the super-special-unique tend to be Mary Sues and become very irritating to play with. Meanwhile characters whom hold less 'uniqueness' are not only capable of getting along better but tend to be MORE unique since the defining traits need to come from character as opposed to power.
  19. Alissa Ming

    Alissa Ming Wandering Storyteller

    I love this. Yes, weaknesses and strengths can make a person more interesting, because it's interesting to see a person over come their weaknesses. But it's more important for the character to be interesting in the first place. Your character needs to be someone people will enjoy reading about, and who they want to see overcome their weakness to become a better person.
  20. MonMon

    MonMon MouMou(THW)

    well your correct i dont think u r wrong. lets take a look @ superman he's a strongest justice league hero by far. due to his kryptonian physiology main-qimg-2c9e26867ef043396f1f1f380b586b3b-c.jpg
    In terms of purely physical power, stamina, endurance, ability to deliver destruction at an epic scale, there is no one in the Justice League able to match Superman, period.
    • His powers make easily the most powerful member of the Justice League in terms of destructive capacity. He has 90% of all of the physical abilities of the remainder of the Justice League (depending on the incarnation, period of publication, and the like).
    • His superspeed while not the equal of the Flash ensures no fight between the two of them works out in the Flash's favor for long.
    • His heat vision gives him incredible ranged damage able to reach temperatures upwards of 6000 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot enough to melt almost anything on Earth.
    • Superman's invulnerability means even in a struggle with other super-powered foes whose physical ability is within twenty percent of his own (Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and the Martian Manhunter) if he were to fight completely heedless of the collateral damage, not one of them would last more than a few minutes. Superman does not cut loose, but if he were to, no one in the JLA could stand against him.
    • DC has inferred as much with the creation of the monstrosity Doomsday, who cut a swath through the JLA as if they were nothing more than fruit flies, including Wonder Woman AND the Martian Manhunter, both requiring nothing more than a single blow to remove them from the battle. Superman and Doomsday battle for a half an hour, trading blows which could crack the crust of the planet. The shockwaves tore down buildings around them.
    • Superman is the most powerful member of the Justice League by far in terms of destructive capacity and defensive capability. Super-strong, super-fast, invulnerable, indefatigable, unrelenting, irresistible, incorruptible unstoppable; these are the words that define what Superman brings to the Justice League.

    but even he the strongest justice league has a specific weakness to magic & kryptonite. Kryptonite was the weakness who he tends to struggle with mostly when he's near the object.

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