How to Make a Good Character

Discussion in 'Non-Maker Specific Tutorials' started by Irineu, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. Irineu

    Irineu Veteran Veteran

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    Introduction
    Some time ago, I created a thread called "How to Create a Good Character". On this thread, I gave very brief tips on how to build a charismatic character for his plot, the problem is that my knowledge about it was not so broad and some of the things I said were based on hunches. Since, in the meantime, I learned more about storyboarding and character creation, I decided to do a more complete and dynamic version of the thread.

    Motivations and Backstory
    The first thing you should establish is what this character wants and why he wants it (I recommend writing this down in topics in a notepad). For understanding get easier, I'll create a character as the thread will advance.
    Motivations:
    - Become a great musician
    - Find your lost friend

    Backstory:
    During an incident in his hometown, he and his friend eventually separate. After 4 years, his friend is still missing and he is still in search of him.

    Yes, they are very simple things, but according to the construction of the character, you can add more things. Before moving on to the next step, remember to give an age to the character.

    Personality and Characteristics
    Now let's go to the most important part, in my vision. Like I said on the old thread, his personality being cliché is not necessarily a problem if you build it well, but try to lightly avoid it. One thing I recommend you do is give 3 characteristics to this character, a good, a neutral and a bad one, to try to humanize it.
    Features:
    - He is polite
    - He's relatively shy.
    - He's a pessimist.

    After you establish the 3, enter an external characteristic (A habit, mania and ect ...).
    External Characteristic:
    He pronounces certain words wrong.

    Remembering that these characteristics may be related to the backstory of the character, which gives more depth to it.

    Obstacles
    Now we will set obstacles so that its development is not so short and easy. This obstacle must be related to your backstory and personality.
    Obstacles:
    - He has anxiety attacks when he plays one of his songs in public
    - He is pessimistic about where his friend should be

    Do you see? Both obstacles are related to his personality. If in case these obstacles are related to his backstory, it is even better, because it is another opportunity to enrich it.

    Appearance
    In establishing the above characteristics, you probably must have thought of an initial concept for him, that is exactly why I left this part for later, it is much easier to think about how the character will be aesthetically when you already know how he is inwardly. I will use Face Maker, a tool commonly used in RPG Maker games.
    Appearance:
    [​IMG]

    Function for Plot
    What good is he being a good character if he has no reason to be there? You have to give a reason for this character being in the plot. Is he there to disrupt the protagonist, to be the protagonist, to help the protagonist?
    Function for Plot:
    In a certain part of the plot, we need to calm a monster with a certain song. He's the only one who knows it.

    He has to be useful more than once in the plot, otherwise it becomes only a secondary.

    Relationship with Other Characters
    Your character needs to have an opinion formed by the other characters he met during the plot so that he looks more human and less NPC. This relationship with other characters should match your personality and perhaps your backstory.
    Relationship with Other Characters:
    - He wants to bring his best friend back because he's worried about him
    - He does not like the character x because he does not have good musical taste
    - He thinks character y it's a strange for doing certain things

    I recommend that you make a note for each character and what the other characters think about it.

    Name
    Ironically, the simplest part was left to the end, I did this, because the name is almost always the thing that least interferes in the plot in general. The name that I am going to put is reference to a philosopher that I inspire to me, since it is more interesting to give names that have meaning for the creator.
    Name:
    Hoppe

    The name can be your own invention or a word written in another language.

    That's all!
     
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  2. Finnuval

    Finnuval World (his)story builder and barrel of ideas Veteran

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    Pretty decent advice here. Personally I always switch step 1 and 2 though : first determine a characters personality then look at what they want... but that's personal preference and doesn't really matter in the long run :)

    The steps described are all good points, the order depends on personal preference and what you find easier to work with I guess. Still, good advice :D
     
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  3. Trihan

    Trihan Speedy Scripter Veteran

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    One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard for developing characters is to remember one important thing: they existed before the story began.

    People sometimes fall into a trap of deciding on a plot and then plugging in characters to fit it, but that can often make things seem disjointed or trite. The character doesn't exist to move the plot along: they existed before the plot ever happened. They had a life, they did things, they interacted with people...and all that shaped who they are when the plot *does* kick in.

    It can sometimes help to figure out a few key life events that shaped who the character is, and then work that into how they act/talk/interact in the overall story.

    (note that this is similar, but not identical, to "motivations and backstory"; not everything that happens has to affect motivations, and sometimes you want to think about smaller events that wouldn't be considered a usual part of your standard backstory)
     
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  4. Kupotepo

    Kupotepo Fantasy realist Veteran

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    @Irineu, when you said motivation, I think you can separate into a short term goal and a long term goal.

    Can you explain the backstory setting in more detail, please?
    I get very confused when some experience was personal like a family death in backstory and some is widespread like earthquake or dimensional ripple.
     
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  5. Henryetha

    Henryetha Veteran Veteran

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    When creating characters, I always think of people/characters I know already. May it be real life or fiction. Most of the time I'd make a mix out of 2 or 3 tho, to create a new character, (hopefully) unique to the game.

    However, I didn't really follow the "checkpoints" mentioned here.
    Those are a great advice, thank you for that!
    I will actually use them from now, I think.
     
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  6. Irineu

    Irineu Veteran Veteran

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    I particularly disagree, because the personality of most of the characters is connected with his past. Batman is not a cold person for no reason, he is a cold person because his tragic past.

    A good point to remember... The biggest defect of the old school JRPGs is this. They focus so much in plot development that forget to work in character development, that's why the most of JRPG characters seem "not to have a life".

    In case, I put backstory and motivations in the same step, because are things that complement each other. Depending on the relevance of the character in the plot, his arc can be longer or shorter. For example, a character who lost his family will have his personality shaped around this event, with the development of the plot he will pass by situations that will make he evolve as a person, in the end of his arc he will draw a conclusion about everything that has ocurred.
     
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  7. Finnuval

    Finnuval World (his)story builder and barrel of ideas Veteran

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    True but at the same time their personality determines how they handle a given situation... which is why I also stated it doesn't really matter all that much in the end is more tied to personal preference then anything else :)

    Using your example : Batman's parents are killed which drives him to become an avenger of justice yet his personality is what drives him to seek vengeance in the first place. Have a different core personality and you'll end up with a different outcome. But in the end it does not matter that much which order you create these as long as they come from one another
     
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  8. Kupotepo

    Kupotepo Fantasy realist Veteran

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    @Irineu, when I talk about short and long term goals, I might refer to for example in order for evil to conquer the world. Evil have this and that task which require an urgent attention.

    In order, people to change their habits or personality something traumatic had to have happen. Except someone is manipulating someone with conditioning: deterrence or reinforment. I might miss understood.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2019
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