Considerations to take when creating main characters.

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sven86
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Considerations to take when creating main characters.

#1 Post by sven86 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:54 am

I'm trying to layout the foundations and outlines of a yuri/lesbian romantic VN, and I'm trying to create a character sheet primary for the player's potential partners, but also for any other NPC that I feel should not be generic. This sheet will be used to flesh out the characters for the game.

I got these for the character's typical traits:
  • Name
  • Hair
  • Race
  • Eye Color
  • Body Shape
  • Age
But what I want to know is what other considerations should I be thinking of when I'm creating a character. Here are a few I know so far.
  • Country of Origin
  • Occupation
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite Hangouts
  • Likes
  • Dislikes
Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Re: Considerations to take when creating main characters.

#2 Post by Draziya » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:44 am

I think you have a pretty good spread there! One thing I can't help but notice though, is the lack of a "personality" section. Personality might seem too obvious to need to write it down, but it can help you stay consistent, and figure out how to make the story more interesting. Would this character actually do this etc.
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Re: Considerations to take when creating main characters.

#3 Post by Mammon » Thu Feb 22, 2018 7:55 am

You should never say 'I'll make a list of characters to romance to make sure it's well rounded.', because that will backfire. You might as well google a list of the most common tropes and then try this system on them. The result will be the same: in the end there will be one or two better characters and a few that just feel stale and uninspired. A game with less LI's that all feel important is usually better received than a game with a lot of them. Such a game will usually get a lot of feedback that 'character E and H just feel added for the sake of being added.' or 'I found that and that route very stale.' If you haev inspiration for a lot of LI's many people will still have less favored routes, but this will be spread.

Instead of making such a list, make a list of characters who you already have a route or at least a good character or idea for. Any story you're eager to write or see potential in. You can use your opening post list, sure, but be sure to scrap any character from it that you don't get anything good or inspirational from. Or rather, only take the best characters from this list, so you're not thinking in terms of scrapping a character but picking them.

If you work systematically in a list like this, not only can you make stale routes and uninspired characters, but you also give yourself a lot more writing and sprites to work with. This will reduce the quality of the characters you do have inspiration for or strain your project's runtime, budget and enthusiasm. Just like with making too many branching routes, this can easily result in the VN project getting too big and thus abandoned halfway.
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Re: Considerations to take when creating main characters.

#4 Post by Widdershins » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:02 pm

That list seems like a solid start, though I agree with Draziya: it would potentially benefit to include more about the character's inner life (if you haven't already), as that's the true guts of what makes a character live and breathe on the page. Instead of a list, try thinking of it as a questionnaire-- it might help to address your potential characters the same way an actor prepares for a role, or as you would break down a book in a literature class or reading group. Whether you actually explore all the specific questions listed below or not (and I often don't!), being *able* to answer them can prove a good barometer for how fleshed out a character is. Not everything necessarily belongs in the story (an iceberg approach is solid: not everything should be on the surface), and you probably don't need the whole life story of Jimmy One Scene mapped out-- but I find this sort of approach can help "see" (and write!) elusive characters more clearly:
  • What does the character want during the course of the story? What do they want from their lives beyond the confines of the immediate plot?
  • What prevents them from getting what they want?
  • What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses and flaws?
  • What experiences have informed their worldview?
  • What is their default mood / state of mind? (calm? anxious? irritable?)
  • How would you characterize their intelligence? How do they speak and present themselves?
  • What other relationships do they have?
  • How do they feel about the other characters?
  • How do they feel about themselves? What internal contradictions do they have, if any?
  • What stands out about them? What does their voice sound like? How do they walk?
The primary goal, in my approach, is to bring the character enough into focus that you can have a conversation with them, as an entity separate from yourself (this is also helpful in establishing the character's individual voice). Everyone is the protagonist of their own story in life: what would that character's story be, if you were to tell it instead? This peripheral knowledge, used judiciously, can even help propel the story you are writing.

All this said, in my personal process (not intended as a measure of the 'right' way to do things, just my own), I don't usually start with a written character sheet, because then I sometimes feel 'stuck' with whatever I wrote. Instead, after deciding who belongs in the story I want to tell (sometimes there's a logical inherent population, other times I pick specific traits or types I want to experiment with), I try those yet-unformed characters on the framework I'm creating. I ask the above questions internally, just to get a feel for the characters-- flaws first for allies, positive traits for antagonists, because it makes them human. Then I start writing, because often once I put the characters and plot in motion, different, more exciting paths open up, or a character I didn't plan waltzes in and bumps out a different half-baked personality. Only after the characters prove they're going to stick around do I create an actual written sheet for character profiles and continuity (useful, so I don't forget key things... like that a character has glasses, or makes reference to a brother in one scene, or hails from a specific location, etc).

I hope this helps. Happy writing!

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Re: Considerations to take when creating main characters.

#5 Post by Horma » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:12 am

I don't tend to use character sheets that much, do they really work? I prefer to find out things about my characters as I plot out my story and write it. If a character starts seeming too inconsistent, I take note of that for the next draft. Am I working inefficiently?

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Re: Considerations to take when creating main characters.

#6 Post by Zelan » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:16 pm

Horma wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:12 am
I don't tend to use character sheets that much, do they really work? I prefer to find out things about my characters as I plot out my story and write it. If a character starts seeming too inconsistent, I take note of that for the next draft. Am I working inefficiently?
The process is different for every writer. Generally, having some information about your characters written down for easy reference tends to be helpful, but everyone's different and I can totally understand the idea of discovering your characters as you write.

The only way to know for sure that you're working efficiently is to give it a try. If you try to use a comprehensive character sheet and get stuck early on - then there you have it, your current method works fine for you. c:

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Re: Considerations to take when creating main characters.

#7 Post by sven86 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:25 pm

Honestly, I'm going to use both approaches. It seems that both has their pros and cons. I'm glad for the feedback though. Now I need to flesh out the story.

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