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  1. #1
    Senior Damian's Avatar
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    When are you trying too hard to create a character's personality?

    So I'm working on a character's backstory because I'm trying to give him a little bit more depth to him, or rather get a better feel for him. I've been bouncing ideas off of a friend and most of the responses I get are that it's "too cliche" or I'm "trying too hard". However, when I look at my character, he's pretty flat and predictable to the point of boring. In my opinion, he's borderlining a Mary-Sue.

    Now this brings up the question, how do you know if someone is trying too hard to create a character with depth and how do you know if someone isn't really trying at all?

    Personally, I see someone trying too hard as one who would give needlessly complex pasts to their character. Not every character needs to have some tragic accident, switch schools every year because their parents move often or they killed someone and bla bla blah.

    When I see someone not trying at all, I just see random attributes slapped on and calling it a day. Little to no reaction to much of things, little to no personality or just something made up for absolutely no reason at all.

    So yeah, questions for a discussion:
    How do you spot the not trying/try-hard people?
    Do/did you have issues thinking of a backstory for your character? If you do/did then how/what are/did you do to help combat the issue?
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  2. #2
    Premium User MapleTerror's Avatar
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    I'm no professional writer, but I've had some experience in helping friends with their stories & plots...

    Try-hards usually give too much details and make things ridiculously complex or redundant.
    As for slackers they tend to rely on cliches and stereotypes- which is okay but they provide little details or anything interesting.
    (No conflict, purpose, reasoning or depth)


    Here are some of the things I've tried and questioned-

    You can develop the back-story or main story first then the characters- or vice versa.
    (like painting from dark to light or light to dark, depending on the medium)

    Characters & stories don't have to be entirely static or dynamic.
    (keep/change some parts as you progress)

    How has the past/back story changed and influenced the character?

    What is their personality and their attributes- why?
    What reflects those things internally & externally?
    (ex: thoughts, actions, choices | clothes, home, pets, friends )
    Last edited by MapleTerror; 05-22-2013 at 10:40 PM. Reason: Derp

  3. #3
    Senior Tybby's Avatar
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    A problem I see coming from both camps is that they both describe their characters to us, for different reasons. Try-hards do it to pad out their work, and slackers do it to be lazy and not back up what they've said

    Both of them choose to tell us about a character, rather than show us what that character is

    Describing a character through their actions is the best way to go. It takes an effort, and it's fluid, so it doesn't take on the starchy feel of over-thought prose

  4. #4
    Senior Sparkyopteryx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybby View Post
    A problem I see coming from both camps is that they both describe their characters to us, for different reasons. Try-hards do it to pad out their work, and slackers do it to be lazy and not back up what they've said

    Both of them choose to tell us about a character, rather than show us what that character is

    Describing a character through their actions is the best way to go. It takes an effort, and it's fluid, so it doesn't take on the starchy feel of over-thought prose
    Great advice. This is pretty much my stance on the whole thing, and this is coming from someone who has many characters, settings and stories. As with all good writing, the tried and true principle of "Show, don't tell" is the best way to go.

    Another technique I use to help flesh out my characters without getting into cliches is to think of how they'd react to certain situations, such as "If this guy got held up by a robber at gun point, what would he do?" or personal quirks such as "Is she a compulsive hoarder? If so, then what of?" It may sound like "fluff" to some, but it's one of the best ways to build characters into real-feeling, 3-dimensional individuals. Think of the situations and experiences that make you a person, then try to imagine the sorts of situations or details that make them who they are as well.

  5. #5
    Senior Dark's Avatar
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    IMO the best way to make a good character is to get involved in some more story-driven RPs and let it come naturally based on that character's surroundings. I mean, all of mine used to be p. similar and definitely incredibly flat, but RPing has a way of making you improvise characters to the point that something good sticks.
    Meanwhile, in #CoE...

    [20:12:26] <+Dark> "He's dead, Jim."
    [20:14:11] <Nate|phone> My name's not Jim
    [20:14:20] <Nate|phone> And Starr's not a guy
    [20:15:18] <Nate|phone> ...
    [20:17:20] <+Cerberus> And Shadow's not a callgirl.
    [20:17:52] <+Dark> LOL

  6. #6
    Heretic! FlynnCoyote's Avatar


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    What Dark said. Even if it's not rp based, the worst thing you can do to develop a character is try and do it all in one go.

    Give it time, play with ideas for a while and see what works best. I've had prominent characters in rp's and fics grow out of one off background characters that I ended up using a second and third (and so on) time around. :3
    * * *
    We'll find a reason, or else realize that we don't need one.

  7. #7
    Senior Damian's Avatar
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    He is an RP character of mine so I do roleplay with him. He's kind of a generic character, as in, he's good for any sort of setting because he's an angel. Though BECAUSE he's an angel, people are like "well...shit I dun wanna deal with a god-moder >:C" when he's not.
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  8. #8
    Heretic! FlynnCoyote's Avatar


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    Then make it apparent. Show that he bleeds or something.
    * * *
    We'll find a reason, or else realize that we don't need one.

  9. #9
    Senior Damian's Avatar
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    The thing is, no one wants to give him a chance, hence the backstory. It'll give people a taste of how my writing style is, his backstory, and his abilities. Pretty much everything you need to know about him will be in it.
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  10. #10
    Senior Dark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleu View Post
    The thing is, no one wants to give him a chance, hence the backstory. It'll give people a taste of how my writing style is, his backstory, and his abilities. Pretty much everything you need to know about him will be in it.
    If people are denying this character based on the fact that he's an angel and that somehow links to godmodding, then they most likely don't realise that weaknesses don't necessarily always have to be so obvious that an idiot would be hard-pressed to not notice them. RPing isn't the same as a cRPG in that sense.

    To give you an example -- I have a character myself that in the minds of these guys would probably be a god character: he can move insanely fast (vampire), control and create all forms of water, and, the kicker; he has deep access to mental powers such as snooping into someone's thoughts. However, at ZEJ, he's not banned.

    Why? Because there's a major weakness with all three of them that may not be inherently obvious. For the vampire bit, he's not susceptible to sunlight (non-traditional vampire), however, he IS weak to silver. Water dominion is the most obvious; just zap him with electricity. To dodge his mental powers, think about nothing (which is very possible).

    Likewise, I also have a character with an extremely long and convoluted history (less because of the emo teen syndrome and more because of the universe he's part of). Doesn't make him a bad character, you just have to make sure the written backstory is consistent with the universe and contiguous with the character's archetype.
    Last edited by Dark; 08-09-2013 at 09:17 AM.
    Meanwhile, in #CoE...

    [20:12:26] <+Dark> "He's dead, Jim."
    [20:14:11] <Nate|phone> My name's not Jim
    [20:14:20] <Nate|phone> And Starr's not a guy
    [20:15:18] <Nate|phone> ...
    [20:17:20] <+Cerberus> And Shadow's not a callgirl.
    [20:17:52] <+Dark> LOL

 

 

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