Thursday, September 3, 2009

Character Creation

In case it isn't blatantly obvious, I am blogging about writing stuff. If you want to see my personal rants, mostly political, you'll have to look for my other blog. I certainly won't be putting a link to it here. I will, however, start with a link to my website. It is currently undergoing construction, so bear with me. There, now that is out of the way, I can move on to my blog topic.

Character Creation seems to be a daunting task for people. More than world creation if they write fantasy. I've browsed through post after post on other writing sites where people have begged for help with character creation. The only response or piece of advice I can give to you is to look around. Who are your friends, your family? If you aren't much of a "People Watcher" you will struggle with creating your characters. There is no real secret to coming up with a character full of personality and depth. You either know what makes people tick or you don't.

Personally, creating the characters is the best part for me. I love the challenge it offers and I love how diverse my characters become. I love to watch people where ever I go. I'll sit in a restaurant or I used to sit in the mall and just watch people walk by, listen to bits of their conversations (honestly, I don't purposely eavesdrop, sometimes people talk too loud!) watch how others react to information or surprises. It is really fun and I suggest trying it, just try not to look too much like a stalker. (By the way, you are out of milk.)

People fascinate me. I don't know why. I have never gone to school to study the human psyche, but I bet I would pass any class with flying colors in profiling.

Most of my characters are based off of people I know. And obviously, some are not. I don't know anyone like my Mandorak Li'endrin, ruling king of Relavia. If you have even read a small portion of my book(s) (crosses fingers) or short stories, you would know what I mean. Mandorak Li'endrin is only one ruling king in a long line of kings from Relavia who are just plain mean and nasty. His son, Alabassin, just breaks the mold. He's as sweet as he is honest and caring. I absolutely adore Alabassin. I've based Alabassin off of a good friend of mine I used to roleplay with in an online RPG called "Cosrin". If you know of this game, then you'll know the name Ninny. If not, then you'll just have to be in the dark.

Mandorak isn't the only mean, nasty person I write about. But I don't know anyone quite as spiteful and egotistical as these characters. I've just gone on what I know of people and how there are people out there like these figments of my imagination. Don't believe me? Watch Jerry Springer.
Alabassin is only one character I have based off of a friend. Others include Laria, her name is the same in the book as it is in Cosrin. To continue the list of Cosrin-based characters, there is Farrehn (Ariosh), Tyren (Tyrus), Nikkolani (Protean), Vendras (Korhal). There are more, but I won't bore you with details that may or may not mean anything to you. The point is, each one of these characters are pretty much spot on in my book. I know them as well as they know themselves. I can emulate them easily because I've spent weeks studying them, interacting with them and the like. Okay, maybe more than weeks. The point is, Laria is a sweet Elven Ranger, she's got a fiery temper and loves her family and friends with the same fiery passion. Farrehn is half ogre. He can talk the talk and walk the walk. Cross him and you'll be sorry, befriend him and he will defend you with every ounce of Honor he possesses. His best friend is Vendras and the two of them are constantly competing, but it is all in good fun and neither ever gets his feelings hurt. Tyren is an Elven Assassin who has more heart than he'll ever let on. Dangerous and dark, the man is just downright sexy and fun. Nikkolani, well, let's just say everything that man does is to make sure more coin is in his pocket and not yours.

When creating these characters, I tried to focus on their traits, good and bad. I've based other characters off of my friends and again I have tried to capture their nature, their quirks and sometimes, even their phobias. When my friends read my work, they all tell me how I've pretty much pegged their characters down to the last detail and that makes me happy, that was my intention. When I am writing about someone I don't know, I try to focus on those same qualities and come up with characters with depth. So I suppose my advice, if I were to give some on character creation, would be to base your characters off of those you know. My main characters are built around myself. I know what I would do in any situation, obviously. But I don't filter all of my strengths and weaknesses into one character. I take one and then build off of it. I'll give you examples.

Kayta, she's one of my oldest characters. I've had her since I was 19 and I won't tell you my age. Anyway, she's one of my most honorable characters. She's a warrior, she's compassionate, honorable, strong and stubborn. Ok, so I am almost all of those traits, I'm just not a warrior in the sense that she is. But I take that and run with it. What would someone do who is a warrior and has a strong sense of honor? Well, she certainly wouldn't fight a fight unless it was fair. She wouldn't walk away from a fight either, especially if her loved ones were involved somehow.
Nightshadow, she's the best. She's an assassin. I've taken my dark side (the one I keep hidden) and I've used it to my advantage. I simply allow her to to the things I would never, ever do as a morally, honorable human being. I also allow her to say things I wish I could say to people, but don't. She's everything I would want to be, if I wanted to be a crazy serial killer. She's strong, she isn't afraid of what people think of her and yet she loves with her whole being, not just a tiny part of it.
I've had other characters, like Nimareau. Nimareau is my spiritual healer. She's a blessing to those who know her. She's gentle, she's kind and the thought of harming any living thing is just deplorable. She'd rather die than to hurt anyone or anything. She only fights to protect herself and those she loves. She was my Elven Mage in Cosrin, she was an exceptionally good healer.

All three of those characters are as different as night and day, yet I portrayed them all. Each of them contains parts of me that I either want to express more or hide away and never let anyone know about. When I played those characters, created them in the game, people just never could figure out it was the same person. I took it as a high compliment when I shocked people and told them who I was. I was also happy when I could pinpoint a new character and guess who their others were. I just know people that well. I hope all of this gives you some insight on character creation. Perhaps it will help you, perhaps not. All I can say is look within yourself. Find those strengths and weaknesses you have and put them into your characters. You can create characters with depth if you just look around you!

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