Writing Characters

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lordcloudx
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#16 Post by lordcloudx » Tue May 08, 2007 12:56 am

hmm... there are lots of ways to achieve that effect instantaneously. You could have that character slap the protagonist on the back if he's the energetic type, or make him speak in soft whispers if he's the quiet mysterious type. How would a real person with the characteristics you want react? Like I said, adding mannerisms like combing back the hair with the right hand, wearing earphones, walking in a certain manner, repeatedly using one expression in his speech etc. These little things can tell a lot about the character.

Hermione for example (if memory serves me right) is first described with all the stereotypes of a nerdy class leader-type girl. Her dialogue such as her constant clamoring for the teachers' attention during class hours and the way she flaunts her advanced knowledge of magic serves to identify her character more.

And for your example:

happy-go-lucky guy
"I chose to go home with our nasty-looking class prez. It's not like I'm in love with her or anything. I dunno, maybe I just like the glasses."

kind curious guy
"I chose to go home with our seemingly nasty-looking class prez. There was something about her eyes that day. It felt like they were calling out to me. Beneath that cold cynical exterior, I could tell that there was something burning within her."

Idiotic guy (I'm looking at you Lyner Barsett)
"I chose to go home with our nasty-looking class prez that day. Why? Well, she asked me first, that's all."
How do you make your games? I see. Thank you for the prompt replies, but it is my considered opinion that you're doing it wrong inefficiently because I am a perfushenal professional. Do it my way this way and we can all ascend VN Nirvana together while allowing me to stroke my ego you will improve much faster. Also, please don't forget to thank me for this constructive critique or I will cry and bore you to death respond appropriately with a tl;dr rant discourse of epic adequately lengthy proportions. - Sarcasm Veiled in Euphemism: Secrets of Forum Civility by lordcloudx (Coming soon to an online ebook near you.)

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#17 Post by mikey » Tue May 08, 2007 4:30 am

PrettySammy09 wrote:I want my character to give off a certain affect and to fulfill a certain role in the plot. But right now, in his first scene, as I have dialogue that shows his character to the player, how can I give off that feeling that I want? How can I make the player say, "Oh! I get it! This guy is kind of (insert characteristics here). I can remember that for whenever I see him in the story!"

So how can I achieve that affect with my character through his dialogue?
Why not use the visual side as well? If you draw a character that has a shy pose, wears glasses and has a book in her hand, well... that's your nerd - change the pose to confident and maybe remove the glasses and you have your smart and confident girl. So you don't need to think up conversations for this - one picture will do that, especially when you need side characters that can be stereotypical.

So in essence, if you write a VN, you can already count the visuals in, sort of writing with the image in your head. Unless you want to create a VN that has no character graphics.

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#18 Post by DaFool » Tue May 08, 2007 8:59 am

Hmmm...sketching the characters beforehand might really prove more helpful than I thought initially. That way while writing you have the picture of the character in your head, so you'll be more consistent.

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#19 Post by DaFool » Wed May 09, 2007 10:39 am

Creating a fictional universe first, then populating it with your characters

Mokenju has done it with her Silent Maiden games, mikey has done it with his fictional J-Town (forgot the exact name now), perhaps a few of lordcloudx's games may theoretically be set in the same universe, I don't know.

Well, basically its a trait of writers who have already created multiple games or are thinking of sequels.

So the question is, does it really make writing easier for you? Like, is it easier to just add characters later on then tell their story rather than having to create a different universe each time for each story and for each set of characters?

I am thinking about this seriously, as I am considering making a series of stories to be published in different formats (VN, manga, prose print, etc...kind of like my original --but now defunct --Geomancer Chronicles)

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#20 Post by mikey » Wed May 09, 2007 10:56 am

DaFool wrote:Creating a fictional universe first, then populating it with your characters

Mokenju has done it with her Silent Maiden games, mikey has done it with his fictional J-Town (forgot the exact name now), perhaps a few of lordcloudx's games may theoretically be set in the same universe, I don't know.

...

So the question is, does it really make writing easier for you? Like, is it easier to just add characters later on then tell their story rather than having to create a different universe each time for each story and for each set of characters?
Not at all, actually.

Or rather, I don't do it like that. I'll quote the last paragraph of my topic:

All in all, I let the world grow only when it needs to, so don't expect detailed maps Also, for instance, knowing that Hiroka Miyafuku (TT) is from J-Country and moves in to Kai Hong, I don't know where she might have lived before and I'm not going to make that up just for the sake of having a background on the characters. It's just to explain in case you're thinking I have this somehow thought out like those "worlds" they create for games or fantasy novels. My world is only as big as the games are. Well, have fun with the minimap.
http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtopic.php?t=789

So just to stress it, I'm quite against that rule of creating a world and populating it afterwards. Somehow it doesn't work for me, makes it a bit too calculated or something. Much like the approach of designing characters first and then thinking what could happen to them. It's not my personal way.

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#21 Post by lordcloudx » Wed May 09, 2007 12:03 pm

having to create a different universe each time for each story and for each set of characters?
Restating what one of them so-called professional writers told me.

"I believe that this idea of creating your own world is a trap that young writers are falling into nowadays."

While I don't really agree with that statement. I'm not really into creating my own world and then adding story. (Although you gotta admit, it worked for Tolkien.) I prefer to do the opposite by crafting the world to suit the story. Although I do like to draw mini-maps before writing some scenes that take place in specific places so I can have a clear picture of how the characters would interact with the locations. Parcia for example was supposed to look something like Ragnarok Online's Prontera.

Just to clarify, only Dream Chasers and Princess of Fire take place in the same world/universe.
How do you make your games? I see. Thank you for the prompt replies, but it is my considered opinion that you're doing it wrong inefficiently because I am a perfushenal professional. Do it my way this way and we can all ascend VN Nirvana together while allowing me to stroke my ego you will improve much faster. Also, please don't forget to thank me for this constructive critique or I will cry and bore you to death respond appropriately with a tl;dr rant discourse of epic adequately lengthy proportions. - Sarcasm Veiled in Euphemism: Secrets of Forum Civility by lordcloudx (Coming soon to an online ebook near you.)

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#22 Post by Nafai » Wed May 09, 2007 12:04 pm

I second the motion on mikey's point of using the visual side of the VN to portray a character personality. Posture and looks count for a lot in first impressions, and a VN can take better advantage of that than normal prose.

Aside from that, you can have the first scene involving the character be one wherein the character is displaying the characteristic that you think defines him/her.

Or if you want to go a more roundabout way, have other characters talking/gossiping about the character to set up an impression in the players mind before they even meet.

Finally, though difficult and more applicable to specific character types, you can do it through the kind of dialogue the character uses. This is particularly effective when you want to show an arrogant personality, or a childish personality, a crude personality or a serious/formal personality in particular. And, of course, the Yuki Nagato/ Rei Ayanami silent/monoayllabic "..." type as well.
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#23 Post by mokenju1 » Wed May 09, 2007 12:16 pm

Hmmm... well, I really don't know what I exactly do :oops: . It's not like I pretended to create a fictional universe when I wrote the Silent Maiden games, at least it was nothing intentional. It's more like some characters grown on you in a way that you feel the need to write more about them (to learn more about them :roll: ), but they need other characters and stories to support them because you can't have a game/movie/book with only one character talking and talking, although he maybe thinks he has great things to say and people would be happy enough only with that :lol: .

But I'm very bad explaining that kind of things about creating a character, because I never plan a character in a classic way thinking in each one of his/her main elements. It's more like I "meet" someone and think "He is interesting and maybe he has potential, I want to know more about him" and I learn about him writing. Maybe it sounds crazy but for example, I never thought Augusta was a bitch till she first talked in The Silent Maiden and I realized how mean she really could be :twisted: .

Maybe the only real important decision one has to make when creating a character is if you want that your story is driven by the character or vice versa. It's not the same to create a character to fit in a role the story needs than to create a character who is going to show you his/her own story.

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#24 Post by chronoluminaire » Wed May 09, 2007 12:24 pm

Elven Relations and When I Rule The World were both very clearly character-driven stories. Elven Relations for years was just a story with one kingdom (containing a capital city and a village), and a forest kingdom with just one capital also. It was only during IntRenAiMo that I found myself wanting to describe other places... and look where that got me. Now the world has a second human kingdom plus at least two unspecified others, as well as merpeople, dwarves, trolls, and a named river, mountain range, and two or three oceans...

And I find myself really wanting to explore the rest of that world! That's why I'm having inclinations to write a sequel.

On the other hand, both my NaNoWriMo novels have been conceived starting with the world, then adding the characters later. Both those worlds had an interesting concept at their heart though. (One of the novels deals with characters getting sucked into an RPG; the other has a fantasy world and a sci-fi world, and the heart of the story is the relation between those two.)

So I guess I don't prove anything except that it can work either way :?
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#25 Post by DaFool » Wed May 09, 2007 4:25 pm

Sorry, I have more questions...

Is plotting a relationship chart among your characters a good idea?

I think so...maybe.

For example, I tried making one recently. My plot originally called for 12 characters. But then I started examining them and found I could combine roles and personalities into fewer characters. For example I found that I was able to combine the 'best friend' role with the 'colleague' role.

The idea is that fewer well-faceted characters are better than many single-purpose characters (single purpose meaning they just exist to advance the plot). No one is relegated to being an 'extra'. By being able to flesh out fewer characters, I will therefore save on character designs.

Now once I trimmed down the 'nodes' (the characters) on the relationship diagram, I try to maximize the relationship vectors that crisscross among them. I think that the more the merrier. That's what I'm trying to maximize currently.

My plan will then be to circle groups of 2 or 3 nodes. Each circled group will therefore represent a relationship / conflict or plot point, which I can then elaborate as a dialogue scene. Count the number of circles and I get the total number of scenes. Next up is to determine the relative order of scenes and group them into branches (for an interactive VN). I'm starting to like this approach. Would appreciate it if there are any holes or improvements to this approach, if anyone can comment. Thanks!

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#26 Post by Recca Phoenix » Wed May 09, 2007 6:04 pm

You're on the right track. One of the first rules of writing is "show don't tell" and you can show a lot through dialogue. The main character could be talking to a teacher or friend and his reactions could show character there.
If that's too hard to do you can always throw in an internal monologue. This is what I had to do for Liany in DtY because I didn't want to spend too long introducing her character through other means.
Whatever works to show character, go with it. Once you find a situation, figure out a way to work up to it.

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#27 Post by lordcloudx » Thu May 10, 2007 1:22 pm

DaFool wrote:Is plotting a relationship chart among your characters a good idea?
Just an opinion. I'm against this idea. It sounds too technical like some kind of research paper instead of writing a story. Characters should develop and gain more depth as the story progresses and certain events affect them.

But this is just me. Who knows? It might work for you if you feel comfortable with doing it this way.
How do you make your games? I see. Thank you for the prompt replies, but it is my considered opinion that you're doing it wrong inefficiently because I am a perfushenal professional. Do it my way this way and we can all ascend VN Nirvana together while allowing me to stroke my ego you will improve much faster. Also, please don't forget to thank me for this constructive critique or I will cry and bore you to death respond appropriately with a tl;dr rant discourse of epic adequately lengthy proportions. - Sarcasm Veiled in Euphemism: Secrets of Forum Civility by lordcloudx (Coming soon to an online ebook near you.)

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#28 Post by mikey » Thu May 10, 2007 1:55 pm

lordcloudx wrote:
DaFool wrote:Is plotting a relationship chart among your characters a good idea?
Just an opinion. I'm against this idea. It sounds too technical like some kind of research paper instead of writing a story. Characters should develop and gain more depth as the story progresses and certain events affect them.

But this is just me. ...
Well, not just you. I don't like that approach either.

As far as I go, relationship charts should be made after the story is written if you need them. They can help clarify things and maybe even help you tweak the drama. So I'd see them as help, not really as a tool.

Oh, and as far as charts like "is in love with" and "secretly hates" with lots of arrows go, for most of the time that's just show-off.

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#29 Post by monele » Thu May 10, 2007 2:22 pm

You might need it if you make a soap opera VN :3... Otherwise, it should be rather obvious and easy to remember ^^.

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#30 Post by Jake » Thu May 10, 2007 2:35 pm

mikey wrote:As far as I go, relationship charts should be made after the story is written if you need them. They can help clarify things and maybe even help you tweak the drama.
On the other hand, I'd suggest that they're probably quite useful if you're sharing writing duties between more than one person; it's a lot easier to look at a chart to get a quick summary of how character X feels about the character you're just scripting a scene for than it is to search through various design documents, read all previous scenes and so on looking for the answer. Like every tool or method, I think it has its place, it's just that it isn't necessarily useful for every project ever.

The only thing that really causes concern about the method DaFool outlines to me is the 'one scene per relationship circle'. I'd worry that if you do this uniformly, then you're at risk of the whole thing lacking cohesion and feeling formulaic. Rather, I'd pick one to focus on, write the story around that ring and only involve the other ones as and when the relevant characters happen to be in the same scene. I think it's important to have a central theme for the story, and conflict of one kind or another is a traditional choice, and just 'cause you've come up with a relationship between every character and every other character doesn't mean you have to demonstrate them all.
If you were going crazy and wanted a really complex thing to work on, perhaps one branch per relationship ring, but...
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