The Lady in the Loft

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Character Creation

This is by no means a flawless help. As a writer I believe that we are all constantly learning. My comments are from my own viewpoint and things I've thought on over the years and decided to share.

  • What Makes a Bad Guy a Bad Guy?
  • What makes a Hero a Hero?
  • How do you create characters for your story?
  • How do you make your characters believable?

Look in this section to find answers to these questions and more.

Artwork below (which does not belong to me) is a depiction of Yuu Watase's Fushigi Yuugi which, because of the amazing ensemble of characters) I have used to help me explain what I am talking about in this section. It's worth both readinig and watching if ever you get the chance.

Writing Games 

Role Playing Type:

I have played a few characters in this type of game since learning about it. They are found on various writing sites or in writing circles. 

Your charachter in these can be anything you want it to be. It can be your ideal you. Who you wish you really could be. 

As an example: My favourite version was a Girl named Akita Gitano from a game called Grimmoire: Tales of the Lost

Here's my preliminary data from that game:

Right role-playing. How about this. 
I'm a girl, 16 years old, Akita Gitano. Normally nice but can get feisty when provoked. No good at diplomacy but great with practical logic. Last year of school looking forward to studying Maths and computer programming. In spare time does at lot of exercise, running alone to escape from family life. Enjoys working through logic puzzle books and games that require figuring things out. My clothes become a white shirt with thin leather straps around the arms. A brown corset top over this with a green belt decorated like twirling vines. A green hooded clock that ends at the back of my knees, with my own black jeans but new knee high leather boots  with green trim over the top of them (is that too much?) My weapon is a dirk (longer then a knife, shorter then a sword) wooden handle bound with leather, blood channel down its center. My power is the ability to control plant life (still dormant at start) I can make it grow and move.

Me and my friend got sucked through a book into another world. This story was never finished as he went to university in the real world. The first one I ever did. Loads of fun.

just 2 of us in this type of game so if no-one else gets involed you 2 who have already expressed interest - we may do this type of game just for the fun other can join later if they decide its too much fun to miss.

What makes a Bad Guy a Bad Guy?

I love creating Baddies, I find them fasinating. What makes them do what they do? What makes them commit the crimes they commit? Ever seen Fushigi Yuugi and looked at the history of Nakago and you'll know what I'm talking about. Tragic pasts, terrible childhoods. 

The point? Bad Guys are amazing! 

What are most Bad Guys after. 

  • Power!
  • Money!
  • Attention!
A lot of people desire such things, so what makes this bad? It's the methods they use to gain what they want, whether that be straight up selling of Drugs, Weapons and other illegal items, or espionage to take out the man above - fastest way to get promoted is to take out the man, or woman, above you - The Bad Guy may also be mentally Insane and sure he is doing the right thing. 

What makes us hate the bad guys in books? It's generallly the way they treat the Heros or other charachters we fall in love with. For example, lets take Fushigi Yuugi again, (The Mysterious Play by Yuu Watase) Nakago seems like he could be a good guy with the help he gave Yui, but his treatment of Tamahome- a charachter you can't help but fall in love with after the first chapter- makes you hate him. And then the fact that he nearly killed ou hero put us against him. Then later you see how he treats his own, and that's something else (not all bad guys have this issue though) bad guys are known for being cruel and coldhearted to their own group, they are not known for having friends even amongst family.  

Bad guy names. Some novels give there bad guys names that say all too clearly they are bad. In a lot of cases this works - pirates, rats etc - but a loving mother would not necassarilly name her little angel Bloodweaver, so unless the bad guy changed his name over time it doesn't sound feasible. Sometimes a simple name, or a christian name from the Bible can fit just as well as not all bad guys are born bad guys.

In a book I am currently working on I am exploring the whole 'what makes a bad guy a bad guy' thing. so he has a happy family upbringing on a farm - ruined by war and tragic loss - with a smooth name of Hael (so far not written much yet - may upload to this website as I write, we'll see how it goes.

So what makes a Hero a Hero? 

My first thought here is that a Heros emotions play a large role in this. They have to care, they have to love. They don't have to be overly brave, they don't have to have a wide range of skills. Love is the important factor, and we're not talking about Romance here, we're talking- not wanting people to get hurt, would stand in the way of bulets to save a stranger. That kind of love.

They also need to stand up for what they believe in. Even if the hero doesn't always get it right, they don't need to always get it right, that's human. I created a hero in another story based in medieval times, he was a bit of a clutz and basically bullied into being the hero, but a hero he was.

The fun bit with Heros is they can be anyone, anything, they can have all sorts of pasts, all kind of personalities, they can look the part but they don't need to do that even. (Though I think they need to look cool, if they don't look cool I need a really cool supporting charachter.)

How to Create a Character

There's nothing easier, look around you. This world is full of insane people, cool people, nutty people, strict people, even if you are simply surrounded by a boring group, go to a city centre, somewhere busy then find yourself a nice seat and watch. Just watch. Now aren't people interesting? daft at times. Pick out things you like. Ask 'What If?' and change people to suit your needs your story. 

Or, and I love doing this, does someone grate on you, drive you insane. They make for goo supporting characters as either bad guys or good guys, place them in the book (under a different name of course) then do what you like to them, you feel like killing them some times, then kill them in the story (that way you can't be court-marshalled for murder) Writing a medieval book, then put 'em in the stocks.

Creating main characters, step into your heros shoes and look at the world, then dream of the things you wish you could do. Example. You are a girl who no-one even notices, but you dream of adventure, wish you were popular and have always wanted to look cool on a skateboard. Walla! your hero is a teenage girl who hangs with the boys, skateboarding in the park, seen as cool by all your many friends, and you get to write your own story- say while in the skateboard park you see a kidnap in progress try to stop it end up being dragged into a world of death and have to fight for survival. Have some wild skateboard chases, some of your cool friends get involved as suppporting characters, you have a Hero, you just need to think of bad guy and plot.

Making your Characters Believabe

There's a few points I always refer back to:

  • Only Human: your character has to make mistakes, they can't be perfect. No body is perfect.
  • Emotions: Even if they don't like showing them, your character must have a well of emotions tht may or may not fuel actions that they take.
  • Normal Living: give a few tid bits here and there that refer to life as we all know it. Maybe they were bullied in school, or mention memories they barely have of being really young with family- for instance, having a flashback of your infant sister setting you up to get in trouble. Small human things that make life interesting. I think it's steilberg who tries to include normal things in his movies for a similar reason - such as a glance at a washing line. You get the idea? 
  • Not Superhuman: It's cool for them to have a few good skills, but if they was an expert hacker who can skateboard, free run, be amazing at Karate, an expert thief, brilliant dancer, fluent in 206 languages etc you get what i'm saying? Being good at too much would make the caracter less believable. 
  • Little things: Like a character who scratches at the back of his neck when he's nervous. The way they speak - Yoda, a famous example he is. Fushigi Yuugi has a cool charachter who says 'no da' -or 'you know' in English - after nearly everthing he says. A character who constantly ends arguments by stopping, taking a deep breath and refusing to comment anymore. The little things that define them.