Tag Archive | character

A Real Character

In a quest to create something that is entertaining in written form, the characters that drive a plot need to be engaging with the audience. Perhaps it is a common trait shared or a familiar way of thinking and solving the problems. The character becomes the window into the storyteller’s mind as the tale is told. This becomes the voice of the writer as the story moves along. It may not be a first person voice all the time, but the narrative does unfold around this particular character. Instinctively, the author dips into this pool and allows the character choose the path that each takes. Strong characters will become fascinatingly independent. However, here is the question: what elements must be addressed in order to make this possible? How does an author make a character?

As with any new skill or self-taught talent, turning to information on techniques is the first step. The numerous sources of information on the Internet can provide a vast pool to choose from. One of the common techniques is to create the traits of the character with a questionnaire. Favorite color and hobbies might be included, but the focus is on the personal features and simple background. This particular aid helped with the very simple foundation of the character.

Building on this, the construction of the character moves to a stage where the simple traits are fleshed out with a few descriptions of the personality and a little history.  This is a framework to enhance with further details of the background history for the character. Perhaps the veteran cop grew up in a rough neighborhood and had some friends who ended up on the other side of the law. The torn loyalties to his old friends and his duty as a law officer can play upon his life.  The stretch of the features can create a vast range of emotions and personality reactions.

Once the structure begins to take on the weight of a fleshed-out history, it is time to test the waters with this newly minted character and his personality in a few short paragraphs with a small obstacle to test him. The thinking of the character is governed by his past and his present. Soon, he is creating a future without the author actually knowing what will happen next. A curious energy will take over the character if the story is good enough. Nothing fulfills the character’s existence more than the challenges and struggles. Finding success in lieu of these gives the character life.

This brings the character element to the story framework and readies for the plot. Now most techniques involve what is called a character sketch which can help this process from the beginning, but I believe that should be the last piece. With the traits set, the history constructed, and the personality formed, the character sketch is a technique similar to the short story test, but it is mainly a reflection of the character at the start of the larger story. It is the jump-off point for the fiction and frames all the elements in a few pages.

As an author sits to begin, the techniques are varied, but the results come from the correct elements. It is not always the course for every writer and it would be interesting to listen to the different ways that authors create. For the moment, these techniques will have to work to produce the proper cast for the story. What does matter is that characters find a story and the plot evolves into a life of its own.

crudus animus


O! Those Characters!

The exercise of writing has become a daily habit after the last few months.  It is a wonderful exercise of muscles that have been atrophied in the recent years.  I feel that I have grown and sharpened.  It is not perfect and likely will never be, but my greatest critic is pushing me to be as close as possible.

With this thought, I have made a few ventures into fiction because of my burning need to express myself in storytelling.  I have explored the different techniques, touched on a few do-it-yourself manuals, and touched base with a few local authors.  I think that it has trained me to look at my writing in a different way.  I find myself actually editing it without realizing it.

So, this has brought me to a few thoughts about how to proceed.  I have put some of it on the back burner for the moment.  I can recharge on one project and turn to another line to work on it for a while.  In this method, I have found that several stories are appearing, but none are finished.

This is a curious matter that I feel is a benefit. When the time passes, I will actually have many options to complete the stories.  I have set the tracks down and prepare the way for the rest of the words.  As I do, I stepped back to examine some of the techniques that have worked.

One of the crucial steps that I am using that I have never tried before is the character sketch.  Usually, I have the character mapped out in my head and I don’t need the sketch.  However, I found that with short stories that the sketches can be used for supporting character; while in a novel style the characters need some form of a sketch as I switch between the main characters and minor characters.

With such a technique, it has me turning my thoughts to the character quirks, traits, and personality of other people in my life.  It is not a critique of them, but a simple evaluation of them in this basic form.  In this, I discovered that some very curious stories come into view.  It is from this than I can mine some of the traits for my stories.  I understand human nature a little better.

This weekend helped me to understand and quantify this as my children helped me celebrate Father’s Day.  Each of my three children brings into my life a variety of character qualities and I see how they have developed.  It was a wonderful time.  Now, I will be back to my regular blog posting.

crudus animus

The Gang’s All Here

It has been a few posts since my last conversation about my gaming life.  I feel that I occasionally need to place some of my tales in writing.  It has two effects.  One is that I reveal a deeper perception about the author for the audience.  I have always been fascinated with the biography when I find an author that I truly enjoy.  The experiences of that person begin to appear in their subject matter in a very primal way.  The energies and thoughts permeate the syllables with emotion and philosophy.  The background of the author reflects into the stories and characters as most are writing from their own experiences.

A second effect is the release of my thoughts into my own writing.  Such catharsis clears my mind of gathered thoughts, ideas, and opinions.  As of yet, I have not reached the point when I feel that my writing is enlightened.  I mostly feel that my knowledge is a collection of thoughts and wisdom of others that came before me.  If I have had an original idea or concept, I have filtered it down into the writings of my fictional side.  I would love to share a few of those fictional stories, but I don’t feel that this is a proper forum for them or that they would be protected.  I would only do so if I was asked and for a small party.  At times, I have even felt these original moments appear in the hobby of role playing.  It is this effect that I wish to discuss for the pursuit of self-discovery.

The basics are a place to start.  Most gamers of this generation have come into contact with one form of this hobby.  It is not the mysterious art that geeks learned in the dark rooms of secrecy.  Nor is it the source of great evils.  It is a well-developed art that has had it day of reckoning and revelation to the world.  One of the most popular games that allow the player to take on a role and game in a fantastic setting is the World of Warcraft.  This peak of technology uses the online communities to create an entire culture of gamers.  Through clever marketing and social groups, this form developed into the juggernaut that has pulled in the most casual gamer.  It grew to this level through the evolution of numerous incarnations and has other companies attempting to develop their own version of this successful powerhouse.

For me, the online world of gaming creates a brief temptation, but it is not the game style that I want.  I find the intimate styles of table top gaming to be my true passion.  There is nothing more exciting for me than to sit down with something that I have created and entertain a group of friends.  The interaction is possible in the online environment, but the tactile sensations of the dice, miniatures, or character notes cannot be equaled.  I often consider this a factor in my other need for a hard copy of a book when I am reading.  The feel of the pages and smell of a new book conveys to my memories a marker that is difficult to forget.

I am a part of a slowly fading breed who finds this kind of role playing to be entertaining and intoxicating.  I have found that this activity can bring me to the moments of pure joy.  I relate it to the description that others have given to me. This description is the relaxing state brought by alcohol or marijuana.  It is my drug.  It is a drug to take on the persona of some character and reveal some of your quieter and less expressed traits.  It is a therapy to explore one’s own mind for the deep, dark secrets hiding there.  The understanding of the self expands when you can push yourself into the shell of another personality.

The conflicts of the people at the table are lost.  Everyone enters with baggage, but they never open it.  It is a time for all the players to escape from their lives and embrace the freedom of another life.  The simplest theories of sociology can be tested in these confines.  A few concepts of human nature can be viewed at the table.  As role players, I feel the group participates in a hobby that will draw them together tighter than anything the world can reveal.  Every aspect of life can be confronted.  It is the most amazing experience that I have ever had.

In my early years as a gamer, I brought together a group of friends and introduced them to the hobby.  Some had tried before, but all were learning together for the first time.  For the next five years, that group came together and spread apart with real life pulling at some of us.  Yet, through all those matters, the group of five guys that began held true to each other.  This experience was the most amazing and it has marked my life since.  We are no longer together as our lives moved us to different parts of the country.  However, when I find a group to play with, I look around the table and remember those people.

No other event or activity has ever done that for me to such an extent.  So, when I say that role playing is a journey of self discovery, this is what I refer to.

crudus animus

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