Isla Aukate
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Writing Help
(I think this goes here) I am mostly just making this so I can voice a question about writing or storycreation every now and then and maybe it will be answered. If anyone wants to throw in a question or answer one feel free and i'll try to give my two cents back as well. Just keep it constructive and be cool.

So, I am wondering about a certain device that is used to try and illicit feelings for a character in a story. The method or device that I am referencing is when the character in question suffers a type of tragedy. For example, it could be when said character loses a loved one, or they lose their home.

I see this approach criticised a lot because often times the people that were lost (or the thing) usually has little involvement in the story. It's usually something that little to no one knew about prior to the event, and really affects only the character(s) who suffered the loss.

While I see that, I feel like this is a good approach because it helps show how the character themselves are dealing with the tragedy. The tragedy isn't important. It's more how we see thw character evolve.

I wanted to know what you guys think.
"What would you do for a better world?"
Good topic!
As a storyteller and long date roleplayer, I think a lot about this too. The way I see it is that yes, the tragedy isn't important, but it's not even necessary to know there's a tragedy either.
Think about it. In the real world two people meet for the first time, and the only thing they can get from each other is their personality as it appears on the surface. They don't know about each others' past or ideas. So, from an ideal point of view, while you should always start RPing with a background as much detailed as you can, you could keep it for yourself. Act coherently, never miss a cue, act as you would really act in real life: your background will slowly emerge for everyone to see.

Another problem is abusing the trope. True, everyone suffers at a point in their lives, whether for losing a loved one or for a broken leg. But you must be REALLY careful at crafting if you want to follow the tragedy route. Too many times tragedies bring a Mary Sue: a great, exaggerated suffering that brings to a huge trauma and then to an epic evolution. That’s because many players unfortunately think background is all it takes to make good RP, and make it soo much epic. False. It’s all in how you play your character. Nobody actually cares if you brawled with a god or such.
That's bad play even when playing D&D. Most people, especially in our kind of setting, are normal people, who lived normal lives and expect to do so for long. "Tragedies" could mold a character's personality, give it some quirks or some peculiar ideas, but it should stop there. An example could be: “my wife died long ago, and I refuse to marry again”. Will it impact on the RP? Maybe. Most of the times not, but it may influence the way the character acts towards female characters, for example.

There could be, actually, no tragedy at all. Why there should be one? Why can’t your character be a bouncy, ever-happy optimist? Maybe your expectations will be crushed and THEN there will be good RP.
As someone who recently had the Year from hell, losing my mother, losing two pets (Luna and Tigger are fine I promise.) Getting informed that my favorite teacher in college died of cancer, finding out another friend has Cancer. Crap can pile up quick just in real life. The thing about Tragedy in Characters is that while it does happen, you don't want every little thing that goes wrong in their lives to define their character or they're going to become an angst bucket real quick.

Loss is a part of life, I don't carry the deaths of my pets constantly and have them define me as a person. I am working on dealing with my mother's death but that too is a part of life, and while I carry it now, I won't always. I carry it now because it's still fresh for me.

My issue with excessive tragedy in characters stems from a lot of it being seen as "necessary" to define your character. Realistically you suffer loss and usually move on. If the loss was traumatic enough that your character carries it for the rest of their lives, Don't pile on other tragedies that they also have to carry.

Elaborate back-stories actually make me cringe because they're slogging to read, usually full of over-used tropes, and need heavy re-writes. I know this seems like a lot of work for a simple RP forum but I've always been a fan of realistic characters to play with. At the end of the day, Sphinx has it right. It doesn't matter what your backstory is, no-one you meet here is going to care in IC. I personally just like to see that you've thought about what your character is like, what motivates them etc. It may have a bearing on your story here it might not.

Something to keep in mind is that if you tell your characters's "story" in their background, well, where can they go from here? What's left for them to do if they're already done? View RP as a way to tell your character's story HERE. So what you want in your profile is a bare-bones blueprint of the person they are and who they are currently. Your profile is the prologue. Your story starts in boot camp. :p
(09-08-2016, 07:51 PM)Foxenawolf Wrote: if you tell your characters's "story" in their background, well, where can they go from here? What's left for them to do if they're already done? View RP as a way to tell your character's story HERE. So what you want in your profile is a bare-bones blueprint of the person they are and who they are currently. Your profile is the prologue. Your story starts in boot camp. :p

This, one hundred times. RPing is acting as a person that's not you and live its life, not putting a character on a pedestal.

As a note, though, while I said before that tragedy is an easily abused trope, one thing someone could do is actually overcharging a character with it. Someone whose life has always been pain, fatigue and suffering, who always got a metaphorical kick in the teeth whenever things could go right, would develop in a fatalistic, submissive, diffident, bitter, spite-fueled person. Would this be exaggerate? Maybe. Or maybe not if the writer is good. It's always a matter of balancing and making the character believable. There's no absolute when working with tropes, just good or bad writing.

You could easily classify the bad use of this trope in two categories, actually:

-the Poor Puppy: "Oh, look at me, I have always been beaten ad suffered injustice, have pity of me and (metaphorically) cuddle me. *in a cardboard box under the rain* "
-the Superman: "Life has been incredibly harsh to me, but I'm so tough I have always overcame obstacles without a scratch. Look how strong I am! *sparkles* "
(09-09-2016, 03:02 PM)TheSphinx Wrote: RPing is acting as a person that's not you and live its life, not putting a character on a pedestal.

This deserves being quoted. Oh god does it ever. I apologise for the tangent but since we're talking about "writing help" I really really want to cover this.

Most of my problems with people looking to enter the RP has been with people who clearly are playing an idealistic version of themselves or a pet-character that they insist isn't them but totally is. As such criticizing said character is often seen as a personal attack when my motives are anything but. When I criticize a character I do so because that character has traits or behaviors that will either not fit, or be a detriment to them in the course of the RP.

If you are in R&D you have to be a team player. It's not a bunch of people going off on their own and doing their own thing. You have assignments, you have projects and you WORK TOGETHER to make them happen.

If you are in Military you need to learn the fun and fine art of turn-based combat without controlling the other player/opponent.

If you are Base Ops you need to show you can be creative, useful, and ultimately helpful to the cause of the RP.

There have been a few "Rare" exceptions when a personal character has not caused issues but usually they're a character that's a "Blank slate" designed to be re-adjusted and re-fitted into other worlds and willing to lose what may be considered key features from other worlds.

I rarely play Fox as the overlord herself. Because she's boring. Ironically enough she's not fun to play and only slightly more fun to write for. Gen actually writes her better than I ever could.

Darius is one of my FAVORITES. Mostly because his personality is so different from my own and it's fun to get into his headspace. He's a parental and nurturing elemental dad, but at the same time a ruthless soldier when he needs to crack down on bad behavior in the ranks. He's versatile, multi-dimensional, and a blast to explore mentally because he surprises even me sometimes. (In one of my recent brainstorming sessions for example he expressed a desire to drive a formula 1 car, only to lose interest when he found out to do so would require going around in a circle as they weren't street legal, this led to a somewhat funny sequence of him trying to convince Fox to let him have an outrageous looking car and her being fully unamused by this notion.) And that's just one example. Darius became an obsessive Tea-Drinker because of a commission I got from Akkarri. Because I thought it would be funny to make that one of his "things"

Think about the story you want to tell, not about the story you already have, and remember the limitations of the world. If your aspirations for your character is to become a dragon god or a king, you're a little out of luck here. :p
Ooo, this is all very good advice. It's given me a lot to think about for sure. I apprecikate the help ^^

Now, this brings up something I actually struggle with quite a bit when it comes to my own roleplaying and my writing in general. In my experience I have always struggled with playing a character. I may be able to adequately make or occasionally excel at making a good character. I can assign flaws and traits to them that (usually) play well with one another and help to (hopefully) make an interesting character.

I can't play the character is my issue. I struggle seeing through their eyes and working through their problems as they would. Or thinking about things they might enjoy. This I believe has to do with how I reason. Though I can honestly say I am not entirely sure what it is that might be causing it. It may even go as far back as to how I make the characters.

So, how do you guys manage to "get in the heads" of the characters you make?
"What would you do for a better world?"
Keep in mind what your character's motivations are.

Since I mentioned him above we'll go with Darius Steele who still remains a good example. Darius' motivations deal with decision making for the greater good of the Lair itself, (which will sometimes get him into trouble with individuals, because it's difficult for him to look on a grander scale.) One of the things We hear a lot in RPs is "my character wouldn't do that." (usally right after the character did, in fact. do that thing they are denying they did.) What this sometimes translates to is "*I* wouldn't' do that"

Your character is not a perfect person. Darius is sometimes forgetful to a fault, being so focused on overall safety and security he ignores somewhat important interpersonal nuances. He is a Tactician so when he looks at the people around him he can't help but see them as pieces on a chess board. Over time he learns that this is a flawed veiwpoint and he struggles to "fix" it. This is especially true when it comes to being a father for Rain.

Let your character make the mistakes they would make in-character. Yes it might upset some of the players around you. While you don't want to go out of your way to make and play a complete asshole, there are times your character is going to trip up and slip up.

Silver is actually a character that runs away with me often because he has a narcissistic streak he sometimes gets a little too self-absorbed in his own wants, needs, and desires that were he not an empath he might be insufferable to deal with. He is a Doctor and can get lost in his own little world at times. There are things Silver does that make me, as a player, want to hold him back only to be dragged behind him as he does the dumb thing I really don't want him to do, but he does it, because it's in character for him to do it. Even though as a player, I know damn well what he's about to do "is not going to end well."

I understand not everyone can do this but in character creation, at least for me, if you start off with a good enough blueprint the Characters develop on their own throughout the story and often develop a life of their own. Sometimes in ways you wanted, sometimes in ways you didn't. Silver was supposed to be closer to his "30s" in disposition and attitude. Unfortunately as his character progressed through my writing his behavior got a bit less jaded, spiteful and cynical than I had originally wanted to portray.

Darius and Silver are loosely based on Starscream and Knockout from Transformers Prime. As you can see from their current characterizations now, they've evolved well and far beyond their original inspirations to the point that unless I point it out, you'd never see the resemblance. But it did give me starting point.
I still miss the old Starscream-Darius’ look a little XD

I think it also depends on how you as a person are. After all it’s still you behind the character. Let’s make a few examples.
In the many years I have been playing D&D/pathfinder with my friends I realized that, due to a bit of shyness and not always having a quick answer ready, I’m not suited for extremely charismatic characters when playing IRL. Plus, I love designing characters basing on themes, particular concepts or mechanics. This means I have learned to lean towards character that act cool, rather than speak cool: find a niche in which to excel at and leave others do all the speaking with the king. These are characters that, in that case, I find easy to play, because IRL I'm not very good at performing in front of others.
Here, on the other hand, we have a different format, behind a screen and with all the time to write a good response: this means that I can channel my inner self (or what I think it’s my inner self) more easily. Garran, for example, shares a caricature of my personality, and I can easily play him simply because I make him think or speak the same way I would if put in that particular spot. I tweak and change the answer until it is the right one instead than the instinctual one, but for me the start is that. I’m not afraid to put him in weird situations either, or to bend things to throw someone else a hook and a spot to shine, because that is sometimes what is required for good RPing. Still, everything because you’re not looking at me in the eyes while I write XD

But again, all this to say that you do not only need to make an interesting character: it also has to click with you as a person. If you make the best-characterized fighter ever, but you find typing combat sessions back and forth boring, you may have to think twice about it. If you find it difficult to research something to make a RP more believable, better avoid the subject entirely. If you don’t have the courage to be the voice of the party in front of the Game Master, your character shouldn't be a supposed politician or tactician. Or maybe you have the courage to come out of your comfort zone and do something crazy, and maybe even enjoy it. Whether the case, you must create a character you're ready to play and commit to until the very end, so you have to think about it when building it!
Let's face it: you need to enjoy all this "live another life" thing, otherwise why are you doing it?

...I still think I could write this better, but I hope you understand what I mean...
This was all really good information. I'm glad I read this. It makes a lot of sense. I have not been RPing long, but in the time I have, I've come across many, specialized and overly drafted characters. One such example was a user that had a canine character who could use magic, but was also a demon that could take control and be utterly disgusting to play with (extremely foul language, impossible to fight or even touch at times). It was annoying. That's why, when I originally created Keir for my novel, I built him so that if I ever wanted to I could simply remove certain things from him or his personality and modify him so that he could fit where I wanted to put him.

If I was playing as a knight who rides dragons he might have trouble with it at first because he's big and kind of clumsy, but Keir would eventually get the hang of it, just like how I am IRL. If I was to play in setting where he was a part of the Italian Mafia in 1920's New York, I'd have a rough time because I myself am not a very.... "Sneaky, sly, or tricky" person. And because of that, my character wouldn't fit well into the whole, "you take out this guy, bury 'im, and scare his family" cause I wouldn't do that.

So, it really just depends as both Fox and Sphinx said, how you would react ad a person, and how they as the character (a part of you or something similar) would behave in the presented situations.

Fox's example with Darius and Silver was rather interesting because Keir is basically me, and it generally is very easy to write as him, basically copying what my mind says I would do. But with the writing of a character who is different from your normal, it's exciting! I have a female Sergal I've played as and she is an almost direct opposite of me. Very arrogant and brash, headstrong and proud. She often gets herself into trouble with others because of how she behaves and how she reacts towards others who disagree with her. Its very unique to write from her point of view as she does things I wouldn't normally do, such as argue and "backtalk" to a king, for example.
"You may or may not return home. If I decide to allow you to get back, it will be on my terms and the commander’s.” 
~ Keir speaking a lemur in custody during a scene from my novel.
This is all sooo good. I really appreciate all the info. Next time I think of a question I will make sure to ask it here. In the meantime, I will try my best to answer any questions.

I agree also with how fun it is to play characters outside ones comfort zone, and type.

Amos is actually the exact opposite of what I usually play. I built him around the opposites of what I normally make. He's old, generally personable and easy to get along with, and married and with a family, most of all he's not incredibly ambitious . Most of my earlier characters are young, single, brash (even cruel in some respect) and have something to prove. I admit i've been enjoying playing something different (if it is a little hard). I would advise a change of pace for anyone who gets bored of roleplaying.
"What would you do for a better world?"

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