How to Make Your Characters Real – Part 2: Building up your Characters in the Right Way

Hi everyone, Ed here again! I’m back to talk more about making your characters real.

The advice in these posts could apply to roleplaying games, when you create a character, or it could contribute to your storytelling or novel writing. It could even help with designing a world, or writing a movie or any number of different things! I hope you’re finding these useful, and please check in again next week when I’m going to cover some more subjects. 

But, for this week, I’m going to be talking about how you build up your character in the right way, so that they can achieve what you need them to achieve. 

The first thing you need to do is understand what your character is – are they your main character? 

Or perhaps they are a “quest-giver”, who you need people to engage with and listen to, but once they’ve completed their life cycle by giving the quest, they’re not going to be around until characters return? 

Are they someone who, in a mystery, is about to give the vital piece of information to your characters? Are they going to do this reluctantly, or sort of willingly? Are they trying to bring someone to justice?

All of these examples have to be treated very differently. They do all need to engage the readers or the players, but they both need to do so in a very different way. 

A quest-giver needs to sort of offer some kind of air of mystery and reward – “this person is worth listening to!”. It might be the person in the cloak sitting in the corner, as in the case of Strider in Lord of the Rings. Alternatively, it might be that you know the person, but they turn up again with a vital mission – think of Gandalf turning up at Frodo’s house, telling him that he needs to be ready to go out into the world and deal with this problem. 

You’ll often find this kind of character is very mysterious; you don’t know much about their backstory, and you don’t understand exactly what’s going on. But that’s actually a good thing in this case, because the expectation that you’re building is that going out and doing this quest will actually provide you some of that information. 

Moving onto the second example that I gave, a character offering a piece of evidence regarding your mystery, there are still quite a few different possibilities. This situation is a little different, in that they’re not likely to be mysterious if they’re trying to help you solve a mystery! They’re much more likely to be quite open with the information that’s trying to give you. 

What’s often done to add depth is the “slightly crazy” approach – they are so open that people can’t really relate to them in the normal way. They are frequently trying to state all of their ideas to someone who’s done a limited amount of the investigation in what they have looked into, but that is a breath of hope to them. As a result, they just throw everything that they know out at the other characters in the assumption that they will fit the pieces together in the way they did. 

Obviously, those are just two examples of many kinds of characters. Most people understand the role of a protagonist, so I haven’t gone into that in too much detail, but if you have any questions about any sort of character, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments – I will be more than happy to give you my thoughts. 

You can also reach out to us on Discord (https://discord.gg/6C4H9Cv), support us bringing creativity to the world on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/SoV) and experience our various work, which is based on the principles that I’m describing now, in our various role playing games and comics which you can find on our store (http://www.shadesofvengeance.com/store/). 

Thank you very much for reading and I’ll be back next week with another set of interesting information regarding characters which live inside your universe! 

– Ed

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