Posts tagged characters
Posts tagged characters
- Intelligence. Less than a human, obviously, but animals aren’t necessarily stupid. I just saw a gif of a snake who learned to open a door. A snake. Pets remember their feeding time, people’s faces and past treatment of them, and if they’ve been places before. Wild animals can learn to trigger traps without hurting themselves. Your animal won’t be able to derive, but it will know how to get around.
- Expression. You can skip over describing the animal’s emotions in great detail by using their body language and vocalizations. You don’t need to state the cat is happy if it’s purring. For that, you need to do some research.
- Needs. Animals need food, shelter, and water. If they’re domesticated, this makes them dependent on humans. If they’re wild, they’re going to spend a lot of time looking for it. Animals will also feel the need to mate seasonally/a lot (unless spayed/neutered), which a lot of authors don’t address.
- Instincts. If you aim a laser pointer in front of a cat, it’s going to chase it. If you smile at a chimpanzee, it’s going to think you’re threatening it and possibly attack. These instincts are bone deep for most animals - they can’t control them. Your animal will be doing a lot more than feeling than thinking.
- Personality. While there are stereotypes for every animal, no two animals are the same. Each animal has its own quirks, temperament, and reactions to different situations. Be sure to give your animal a few unique traits.
- Writing from their POV, Average Animals
Anyone in the roleplay community who knows me knows i am one hundred percent about one specific thing: religions. It pains me to see people only use religion when they are playing “religion freaks”. That term roughly translates to someone who’s obsessed with religion and takes everything about a certain religion to heart. While these people do exist, it is more likely that you’ll see people who embrace only certain parts of a religion but religion does surround us on a day to day basis and if you want a realistic character or roleplay in general, you must take them into consideration. Stop being afraid of religions.
RELIGION AND EDUCATION:
- If your roleplay is set in the United States of America then one of the first things that must come to mind is saying the pledge in the morning. “One nation, under God.” There are several ways people take the pledge: those who don’t pay much attention but say it anyway, those who say the pledge but emit the “God” part, and those who don’t say the pledge at all. Another thing you might want to consider is Catholic schools or any type of educational institution that takes religion into great consideration. It’s becoming rather tacky to see every single Catholic school girl hate religion in general, while yes, there is many Catholic school girls who hate their school simply because of how it is formatted, it doesn’t mean every single one of them is going to start hailing Satan.
- Another point, believing in Satan or some sort of underworld in general is a part of almost every single religion. While some may think of religions in general a simply a spiritual path towards heaven, hell is about 50% of religions. Why else would people be so intent on being good and getting into heaven? Because there’s the possibility of getting into hell.
- One last thing to consider regarding religions and education is the education of religions. You learn about religions in history class, in philosophy class, and in well, religion class if you attend a school/university that offers it. When talking about religion in a history class you only learn the basics because teachers aren’t allowed or have the time to go into depth with every single piece of a religion, religions are huge and complicated especially if you’re solely talking about the major ones (Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism). In philosophy class you’re taught more in depth about religions but still not 100% and when you take a philosophy class or a history class you’re not necessarily taking either to learn about religions but to learn about every subject offered in the class. However, when you take a specific religious class it has to be because you’re interested in the religion or the religion is yours.
RELIGION AND EATING:
- Buddhism: In Theravada and Mahayana schools many people do not eat meat or fish. Some are vegans and specifically in China and Vietnam, many do not eat onions or garlic. Buddha told people not to eat certain types of meats: humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, boars, and hyenas. This was due to self-respect and protection. Though there is no specific law in Buddhism regarding food, in the time of the Buddha himself, monks were expected to eat everything put in their begging bowl without discrimination.
- Hinduism: In this religion, meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are forbidden. People who follow this religion very closely also don’t eat garlic, onions, mushrooms, alcohol, and tea or coffee. In the Vedic texts, one should offer food as a sacrifice to God. Many references indicate that fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and dairy products are fit for humans to consume. The food offered to God is thought to bestow religious merit, purify the body, mind, and spirit. For this reason food has a close relation not only to the religion as a whole but in worship. The forbidden foods are considered ignorant and beef in particular is avoided due to respect for the cow. Bhishma, central character in a Hindu epic tells about how no sacrifice should be made without butter. Therefore, cows became essential.
- Christianity: Most Christians do not have a restriction when it come to eating meat though they refrain from eating it on Fridays or during Lent. There are only two biblical references regarding food: Genesis 9.1-4 and Genesis 1.29. The first allow people to eat meat under certain circumstances and the second states that vegetarianism was God’s original will. Most Christians will eat anywhere and don’t experience as many food restrictions as other religions.
- Judaism: The ingredients forbidden in the Jewish religion are several: emulsifiers of animal origin, glycerin, gelatin, shellfish, and prawns. Kashrut is the system of Jewish dietary laws. The Torah does not specify any reason for dietary laws but they are followed in order to show obedience to God. Leviticus 11:3 states, “Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.”
- Islam: Ingredients forbidden include pork, gelatin, meat not slaughtered in the prescribed way, blood, alcohol, carnivorous animals, and lard. Eating is a matter of faith, their dietary practices are also essentially about obeying God. You must recite the name of God (Allah) before eating and thank God after you are done. It is important to eat by the right hand in company and the name of Allah must be pronounced while slaughtering. It is also important to only eat when you are hungry and not to eat in excess. Essentially it is about thanking Allah for everything and keeping in mind that he is to thank for meals.
RELIGION AND HOBBIES:
- Books that are fictional but incorporate religion or religious aspects: The Shack by Wm. Paul Young, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, The Chronicle of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, House by Frank Peretti, and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.
- Movies: Bruce Almighty, Life of Pi, Home Run, Like Dandelion Dust, Soul Surfer, The Kingdom of Solomon, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry, Unidentified, The Da Vinci Code, The Passion of Christ, Heaven is For Real, God’s Not Dead, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Son of God.
- Television: Apparitions, Around the world in eighty faiths, the big questions, the heaven and earth show, sunday life, it’s a miracle, little men, sea of faith, the world tomorrow, little mosque on the prairie, salam cafe, tomorrow’s pioneers, a touch away, the god squad, the magic door, yiddishkeit, man alive, the message, give us this day, breaking bread, the cleaner, compass, and shaheed-e-kufa.
- Church Music: Kyrie (“Lord have mercy”), Gloria (“Glory be to God on high”), Credo (“I believe in one God”), Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy”), and Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”).
- Hindu: Aa Gaye Maiya Ke Navrate, Aaja Mahiya Aaja Sohneya, Aaye Sewadaar Maa, Bhawani Do Darshan, Chola Rang De Maa, Dhun - Jai Ambey Maa, Maa Murad Kar Poori, Chatari Mangalam, Jain Navkar Mantra, Bhole Baba Ki Kanwar, Bol Bam Kanwariya, Dhun - Om Namah Shivaya, Jai Babe Di Bol, Man Bhool Gayo Bhagwan Re, and Shree Vishnu Stuti.
- Jewish: Moshe Salyo De Misraim, Am Yisrael Chai , Birkat Hakohanim , Mi Ha’ish , Eifo At Hayom , Tidrechi , Ivdu Et Hashem, Barchi Nafshi , Zman Lehitorer , Lema’an Tzion , Chozrim Habayta , Mishehu Pa’am , Shma Israel , Tov L’hodot , Pitchu Li , and Kolot Halev.
- Islamic Poetry:
- What happened to my Youth?
- An Evil Glance
- Am I Grateful?
- Read the Qur’an
- Divine Wonder
- Muslim Only by Name
- Ahad Ahad!
- Evidently, I don’t know everything about every religion and this was very generic and basic. If you’d like more information on a certain religion then please simply let me know. What I wanted to show more than anything, was that religion is such a part of everyday life. You see it in music, poems, television, movies, everywhere. It has even such a great part in dietary habits. It pains me the amount of people I see who are Buddhists and don’t take their dietary habits into consciousness or even their schools or prayers. I’m sorry that the world has decided to create this idea that religions are something to be feared, that they are evil, but they play a huge and essential part of every day life! Don’t play a religious freak, simply be conscious of what you are doing and saying. As always, if you would like to add more to this feel free, any questions contact me, any mistakes let me know. And have fun creating characters!
Character Motivation and Consistency:
So lets take a moment to talk about character consistency. This is something that I find a lot of people have a hard time with and a lot of it has to do with the actual development of the character in itself. When making a character, we pick out traits and experiences that define our character. All of these things including flaws and talents are important but something that people tend to forget with picking out a character is what their motivation is.
Author Orson Scott Card reminds us “We never fully understand other people’s motivations in real life. In fiction, however, we can help our readers understand our characters’ motivations with clarity, sometimes even certainty. This is one of the reasons why people read fiction—to come to some understanding of why other people act the way they do.”
Why is Knowing Motivation Important in Writing?:
This essentially, explains to us why characters act the way they do. Choices are determined by the motivation of the character. They are a guide in the choices they make because where they want to go or what they want determines what choices they are going to make. Very very VERY seldom does anyone make a choice at random. By knowing your characters primary motivation, the choices that they make will remain consistent (Even if they are not the ‘right’ choices.
Basic External and Internal Motivations:
Bold-face is obverse aspect (stuff in parens = goals, effects, or other association)
- Survival/safety; Fear of the world (food, water, escape from danger)
- Physical comfort; gluttony (shelter, warmth, good food, health)
- Pleasure; hedonism (sex, great food, culture, games)
- Dominance; tyranny (power, social standing, competition, respect)
- Acquisitiveness; greed (wealth, materialism, collecting, excellence)
- Curiosity; voyeurism (learning, searching, investigating)
- Mastery; perfectionism (excellence, conquest, discipline, achievement)
- Reproduction; profligacy (children, creativity, family-building)
- Autonomy; isolation (self-sufficiency, freedom, non-confinement)
- Affiliation; conformity (security, cooperation, loyalty, clan)
- Love; lust/ownership (connection, passion, sex, mirroring, approval, giving)
- Revenge; justice (righting wrongs, recognition of grievance, vengeance)
- Guilt; denial of guilt (responsibility, shame, punishment, redemption, forgiveness)
- Identity; self-centeredness (self-esteem, self-knowledge, self-protection)
- Surcease; conflict avoidance (peace, escape from anxiety, death)
- Spirituality; fetishism (religion, transcendence, transformation)
- Growth; decay, aging (learning, maturation, wisdom)
- Ambition; insecurity/anxiety (fear of failure, inferiority, stress)
- Vindication; rationalization (success, proving self, apology)
The Difference in between a Goal and Motivation:
The goal is like the flower… the motivation is the roots.
The goal is the outward manifestation of the motivation. It is concrete, measurable, and specific.
You don’t know when you’ve fulfilled the motivation: “I want success” isn’t measurable– what’s success? But you know when you’ve achieved a goal: ”I want to be on the New York Times bestseller list–” That’s measurable. You’ll know when you reach it.
Just keep in mind that while the goal is the external manifestation of the motivation, the connection is not always a straight or clear one. You can have a goal that is destructive and against your true motivation– “looking for love in all the wrong places” is an example.
Or you can have a laudatory goal for a selfish or twisted motivation– “I want to be first in my class to show my father up!”
Motivation is the past; Goal is the future; Conflict is the present.
Distinguish between MOTIVATION and ACTION:
Remember that motivation exists to inspire the character to make choices and take actions. If you’ve been told your protagonist is “too passive”, it’s likely what’s lacking is motivation that leads to action.
Every action, however small, should be motivated. If the motivation is obvious, then you might not have to show it (we assume that she’s running from that tiger for survival).
Compare the external (obvious) motivation to the goal and/or actions. If they don’t match, an internal motivation is probably in force. What hidden desire or fear is influencing actions?
An alternative reason for motivation/action mismatch: You’re trying to make an original character act in stereotypical ways.
And keep this in mind:
Heroism and villainy are in the action, not the motivation. Heroes do heroic things, they don’t just intend to do them. And villains do bad things even if they have the best of intentions.
Taking all of these things into account, here are three exercises that I found a while back and use to help figure out character motivations:
1. Real People as a template:
Make a list of 5 people you know really well. Beside each, make notes about how they:
- react to stress
- experience happiness,
- treat other people.
After that, list what motivates each of these behaviors. Try to be as factual as possible, drawing from things you know; for things you’re unsure of, use common sense to hypothesize.
A person might make it their goal to treat others with respect because of religious beliefs, or maybe because they were disrespected in the past. Someone might react poorly to stressful situations because they have a deep-seated fear of failure, stemming from a past experience.
2. Characters from Literature:
List 5 characters from literature and what motivated their actions throughout their respective stories.
For example, Shakespeare’sHamlet. His thoughts are motivated by revenge (because his uncle secretly killed his father), along with anger, sadness and confusion (because his mother married his uncle so soon after his father’s death).
Add to this a host of other factors, and you have a well-developed character you can understand.
3. Self reflection:
Write paragraphs to describe
- your most frightening experience
- your happiest experience,
- your most stressful experience, and how you reacted to each situation.
After, list all the factors that motivated your behavior. How is your personality shaped by your motivations?
During the story (Or role play) it is important to remember these character motivations when your character makes choices. That is really what this is about; identifying the motivations that make your character act the way that they do.
During the plot, motivations may change, and should actually shift for the character to develop, but never all at once and never out of the blue. Still the back story that drives your characters motivations will always be part of them.
For instance; I write a character whose past has made her a survivalist but over the course of a year she shifts to protection of the family that she has developed. However this took a full year to happen and her motivation of survival was never put on the back burner. Instead it just expanded to protection of the group and not just herself. Her fear of lose over this new family is what really drives her.
And there you have it: Keeping your character consistent through their motivation.
Quite a few people requested some form of trait/personality generator, and here’s the result! I wanted to keep it vague enough that the options could work for any universe, be it modern, fantasy, scifi, or anything else, so these are really just the basics. Remember that a character is much more than a list of traits, and this should only be used as a starting point– I tried to include a variety of things, but further development is definitely a must.
Could pair well with the gender and sexuality generator.
To Play: Click and drag each gif, or if that isn’t working/you’re on mobile, just take a screenshot of the whole thing (multiple screenshots may be required if you want more than one trait from each category).
I’m not a big fan of adjectives, but it’s food for thought.
- Character loves adopted parents. Often, the replacement guardians are just that: replacement guardians. More often than not, they’re abusive or neglectful. A guardian/guardians that the character has come to love as their own parent(s) would be a nice change from the usual “woe is me I am abused”. And avoid comparisons with how a character’s “real parents” would do something, e.g. “Go to your room!” “My real parents wouldn’t make me do that!”
- Parents aren’t super special. A lot of dead parents eventually play into the plot. The really trite version of this is when the orphan hero learns his parents were actually the good (and murdered) king and queen, so he must retake the throne in their name. Dead or missing dads are really prone to becoming important. Let your character have parents of average importance. Status is no replacement for care: the character should probably feel more loyal to their guardian (assuming they are loving) than their parent/parent’s cause.
- Recovering from loss. Many characters lose their parents in their early childhood. They probably don’t remember much about their parents - maybe a few memories. There’s no reason for them to be crying into their pillow every night as an eighteen-year-old. If anything, they might do some genealogy projects and try to find out what their parents were like, but they won’t do it out of obsession.
might look a bit weird in your search history, but it’s the most helpful and informative site i’ve found for naming characters. search by letters, meaning, nationality, and syllables, among other things. has intriguing name lists — from harry potter names to oscar winners.
helpful especially for characters in specific era’s, or in specific demographics. holds archives of the united states’ names dating back to the late nineteenth century. also charts the popularity, and other statistics, of names.
very, very helpful for last-minute surnames. wouldn’t recommend for any important, significant, or completely solidified characters, simply because there’s no telling the nationality or origin of the name that comes up.
tracks family names as well as given names through nationality, ethnicity, origin, and popularity, shedding light on the subject of why. huge insight on the origin of naming and what it really means for the individual
some more helpful links
Writing Quote – Robert Holdstock
Was there ever a time when your antagonist would have gotten along with or liked your protagonist? Is that the case now, or could it be in the future? What does that first friendly meeting look like?
Body Language Secrets Everyone Must Know
by Aldis Kalnins
This needs to be about ten times more specific. Breaking a person can mean a multitude of things, and it depends on so much more than their age. I will go ahead and assume you mean psychological breakage, although I have difficulty thinking of a situation in which the average ten-year-old would need breaking. Consider:
- Upbringing and history. Were they raised in a loving, supportive home? Did they frequently have to do things on their own? Were/Are they bullied a lot? Perhaps your child was raised in a superspy training camp: this one will be tougher to deal with than a random child plucked off a grade school playground.
- Mind. Children are smart, direct, and honest. They tend to have fantastic memories compared to their older counterparts. On the other hand, they have much less worldly wisdom and experience, and therefore less precedent for this kind of situation. Catch someone off-guard, and breaking them could well be a walk in the park.
- Strength and weakness. Children may not have as many mental barriers or breaking points as adults do. When it comes to secrets, vices, weaknesses, leverage, your average ten-year-old will probably be easier to break (however temporarily) by way of “you’re weird and no one likes you” than an adult who must be broken by leveraging their crippling self-doubt against themselves. All people have strength, but as above, catch anyone unawares and they can be broken easier and faster.
- Method of breakage. Torture? Mind control? Lecturing? The method should fit with the intended outcome as well as the character being broken. By the end of the breaking, do you want them to talk, to become a hollow shell of a person? Breaking out the big guns on a small child is probably overkill, whereas slinging schoolyard insults at an adult is ineffective at best and juvenile at worst. Some methods of breaking (such as gaslighting) take a lot of time and planning, where others (like some methods of torture) are a test of wills and/or endurance.
- Effects of breakage. What will become of them once the goal is achieved, whatever the goal is? Have they been handled in such a way that they will never return to a normal state of mind? Can they fake normality for the sake of their comrades? Will they be able to return to the task at hand, or has their breakage had such an effect on the plot/the mission/other characters that they are no longer of use to anyone?
- People talk back. Interrogation and breakage is not a one-sided affair. How will the one being scrutinized fight back? Can this backfire? Could they talk (or even fight) their way out of whatever you throw at them? Not everyone will simply sit there and take it. How will you react if your character turns the tables and starts wearing you down?
- Controlling the status quo. Do you always have the upper hand? How will you maintain it if they fight back? You cannot break someone if they turn your methods back on you. What do you have at your disposal to ensure that your character cannot do this, or to restabilize status quo if they do?
Breaking can be harder to do with young children because children frequently don’t have the same variety of (or same amount of) insecurities, fears, and weaknesses that adults do. With adults, you can play to your strengths against their weak spots.
The thing I always keep in mind when talking a character to death or breakage is how to divert their concentration and focus. What can I do or say to make them stop focusing on me, stop focusing on the danger or the circumstances and start focusing on what I am saying, on what it means to them? This can mean clever wordplay, hiding the facts, or outright lying through my teeth. What do I have to do to make them doubt themselves, to make them withdraw and reconsider? The moment I see them do this, the instant their attention goes from me to their inner demons and doubts (“what have I done, is this my fault, is this the truth, how do I fix this, can I fix this, have I failed, I have failed,” etc.), I follow them in to the center of their minds and shatter them.
Fight them. People spend their whole lives beating down and hiding things, memories, events, feelings. People wall these things off from the world and sometimes from themselves. Twist their arm, unleash these inner demons for them, and watch your target tear themselves apart.
I hope this helps somehow. Give us a shout if it doesn’t.
writer’s always have those certain characters that make an appearance in every story they write
It’s fanfiction, so it’s your world to play with. The attraction is going to be the characters, since that’s usually what the fans are reading for. That’s why AUs (Alternate Universes) are popular, because it’s about seeing a character in a completely different setting. So feel free to take it in whatever direction feels the best; different readers are there for different things and you’ll end up attracting a like-minded crowd.
Here are some resources for writing crossovers:
Writing Crossover Fanfic(This is good advice, but if you choose the more AU route, you’re welcome to. Different things for different people.)
Detailed Tips for Writing a Crossover (This one is super helpful for characterization)