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 Generith's guide to character development

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PostSubject: Generith's guide to character development   Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:12 pm

These aren't my words, the words of a good friend. I hope you enjoy.






Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's establish a few things. There are three types of people I can think of: those who won't read the thread (or might only read the first few sentence - hello!), those who will skim read and, finally, those who will actually read what I have to say and learn something. You guys - no matter if you are the minority - are whom I'm focusing on. Let's wait for the others to close their tab, shall we? I have no idea how to order this thread. There's so many things I could go into, but I don't know where to start. So, I was advised I should start with an introduction. Here we go.
Some of you know me, some of you don't. To those who don't: hi there! To those who do, hopefully you don't hate me (as if I'd mind either way) or vice versa. As you can see, I'm Generith. I've been called a few names: Gene, Genie, b*tch, wh*re, w*nker and more, though I prefer Gen. I've been role playing for... Wow, 7 years. However, I'd say that I properly began role playing 3 years ago. Before joining IMVU, I used to role play on random games and whatever. Then I came to IMVU. I joined a Vampire Kingdom and then I saw this girl doing T2 role play, which encouraged me to drop those stars and dashes, write longer posts and generally improve. With the help of general creative writing, and three people whom I always role played with, I've come to where I am. Until a few months ago, I'd mainly do in client role play. Whilst it has its perks, due to real life I was unable to continue doing it. So, when I was introduced to forum role play I happily took to it and grown to have a soft spot for it. Let's begin!
Character development: who cares about that?
We all should care about character development. It's a major part of role play. Yeah, there are lots of genres (for example, combat role play). But, the most classic examples of role plays have character development. You want your character to grow throughout the role play and improve (or decline) as the story line goes on. Why? It's fun. Sometimes, in a role play, you should step back and look at how your character is now and how they were at the start. The results may surprise you.
There's a huge lack of character development in this community. Why? Because no one realises the importance of it. Yes, it is important. Your characters may be fictional, but they're the equivalent of real people. Us humans develop throughout our life, both physically and emotionally. You'll be different from your teenage self to your current self (unless you're a teen right now; in that case, think about yourself as a child). You're a different person and the interesting part is the journey you've taken to get to how you are now. It's the same with role play.
Before I can say anything about character development, your character needs a starting point. It needs a point where things can be developed from, no? This is your: personality, history, likes, dislikes, etc. Let's go into this.
Personality & History
In case you guys didn't know, personality is a major thing about your character. It's one of the factors which makes your character unique. It makes your character different from the bio above or below it. So, what you should do is make your personality original (i.e. not you or exactly the same as your previous character in other groups), yet realistic and avoid clichés. What counts as clichés? You're a psychopath, serial killer, have an alter ego, criminal at large, etc. Your personality is so 2D; it's all about 3D. Also, if this is a recurring theme in all of your characters then you seriously need to re-evaluate your role playing skills. Ever heard the term originality? Thought not. It's become cliché to see a bio like that. You will never ever encounter someone with said personality in real life. Why? Because someone whose a psychopath, serial killer, has an evil alter ego, well.. Hate to break it to you, but they're in a mental asylum, in prison or dead. Plus, people with such extreme disorders, like the ones that are being portrayed, are rare.
Let's go down memory lane. The first IMVU forum RP I joined (a few months ago), every single character was abused in some way shape or form: raped, beaten, verbally, (mainly by their father...) etc. I am not exaggerating when I say every single bio, in the group, was the same. I eventually ended up leaving for personal reasons.
Firstly, if you want to RP about such a sensitive subject, then do so correctly. People who have been abused as a child usually abuse when they're older. Proof? Go search around on Google. I remember a good teacher of mine who was giving us examples. People who have been raped or sexually abused as a child usually have trust issues or are mentally scarred and do the same. No, they don't go around hitting on every single guy and hook up with them.
People shouldn't fling around such things. Because, there are many people out there who have actually been abused. I'm not sure how to explain the way I feel about it. It just feels wrong. You're going around, role playing someone whose been abused but not doing it justice at all. Then there are people in real life who are suffering and have been changed because of what has happened to them. It's both bad role play and plainly childish.
To lighten the mood, I feel the need to post some gifs to lighten the mood. This is my reaction when I see such clichés:
 

The worst part is when they ask me if their bio is okay and, out of politeness, I say yes:

Let's get back to the topic.
People in this community do this. You know who you are. I ask, as a RPer to another fellow RPer, please stop. Put some effort into your personalities and histories. What do I want you guys to take away?
Don't be cliché. Your character has likes and dislikes. Your character shouldn't be a Mary Sue (i.e. is perfect, flawless, good at everything, etc). If your character is a human, or humanoid, then you shouldn't be forgiven for committing such a crime! There should be a sense of realism in your personality and history, even if the role play isn't realistic. Every human has likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses (both physically and mentally). Strengths and weaknesses, personality wise, don't have to be anything major (e.g. personality disorders, etc). It can be that your character is just a plain b*tch. That's a weakness.
History-wise, you don't have to be an orphan. You don't have to have witnessed your parents murder. You don't have to live with an abusive aunt or have a perfect life. Life has ups and downs. No ones life is fully happy or fully sad. Once again, don't have a cliché past! Most human lives aren't that bad. If you want your character to have some drama in their history, then do so, but nothing too extreme. Divorced parents? Go for it. Hates their siblings? Go for it. Bullied for whatever reason? Go for it. These are scenarios that are possible and can affect your character, giving you the drama you want.
Keep in mind, whatever happens in your past will influence your characters personalities. A character who was bullied might be shy and distant. A character with divorced parents might not get too close with peers, as they don't want to invite them into their personal life. If something major happens in your character's history, then he/she should react accordingly. Look at the example I used before the gifs (the first forum role play I joined where every character was abused). Did they react accordingly to their past? No. That being said, I'd still be uncomfortable even if they were.
This is where some people might raise their hands and be like: Hey, this isn't related to character development at all! Get to the teaching already!
Well, to them lot I say quit your yapping. You need a good place to start for your character. You need to establish their personality and events that have led up to the present ones. To develop a character, you need a good place to start the development from.
Character development is like a bridge. If you don't learn anything from this thread, then learn this: a bridge has a destination. I know right? Surprised at my life changing knowledge? Me too. This destination can be anything. It can be the aim of the role play, a place they need to get to, something they need to achieve. You need to focus on the journey to that destination and how it'll effect them; what obstacles will they encounter, their reaction to them, any losses, challenges, friendships they gain, enemies they make. All these things count as character development. Only once you've established your character, what they like, what they don't like, what they can cope with, etc, then you know how they'll react in certain scenarios. This brings me onto the next major thing.

Knowing your character

Congratulations, you made your character! Well done, I applaud you. Now you can go off and role play. Party hard!

It's not that simple. Most people just create a bio and go off and begin role playing. No. This is what amateurs do. How can you role play as someone if you know nothing about them? Great, you've established a good personality and history; I'll give you a cookie for that. But, all that information is useless if you don't know how to actually apply their personality; there's no point creating such a fabulous character if you can't even role play as them. When you role play, you step out of your own shoes and into the shoes of another, regardless of the fact that the 'another' is a fictional character. You need to know your character in and out and know how they'd react in certain scenarios. You might be thinking that this shouldn't be hard, right? Well, it can be for some people. Personally, I find it easy (such modesty) because I'm used to incorporating someone's personality into a particular scenario.
So, how can you know your character? I can't give you a definite answer. We all have our different methods. Oh, what's mine you ask? Well, I'd be honoured to let you know! This might seem corny, but I actually think about scenarios in my head. When I go to sleep and I've just done something that relates to my character, I just think about them. Slowly, I begin to envision a plot and what my character would do. With this, I learn more things about my character. Okay, I understand this might not work for everyone. So why not try a questionnaire? That is, unless you're two lazy to think. Don't worry, I know thinking hurts for you. Even so, I'll post a link to a group which has a good questionnaire. Yes, yes, I know there's no point, but might as well leave the option open. Here's the group. It's the first thread (clue: it has questionnaires in the topic). You're welcome.
Over-powered Characters
If you're still with me, I applaud you. Unless you're cussing me right now and just want me to get to the point... If so, learn some patience. All of this is helping you, I hope. If it isn't, well, I'm sorry. What do you want from me? God. Me and you right now... The tension between us is overwhelming the kids.
Let's move onto over powered characters. So you want to develop your character? How can you do such a thing if your character is virtually good at everything. How can you progress your character - and improve them - when your character is a master at everything. The worst part is when your character is human and everything you see is:
'Peak human ______
Enhanced human _______'
Great, you officially made your character unbeatable and biologically superior to what is considered the norm when it comes to humans. ~Applauds~
These are basically the gifs I see under abilities:



Give me a minute. I'm laughing at the last gif. It's both humorous and me throwing some shade. Let me try to relate the last gif to my point. Okay. Got it. Basically, you might as well be a girl who can convert her tits into multiple guns if you are a human with all these improvements.
Okay, I'll admit, I've done this. Not because I want to create a powerful character, but because I see it as a necessity. Every other bio has created a standard which shows having all these abilities, peaks, enhancements, etc, is normal. But, I want to break from this tradition. I won't do it alone, though. If anything, I'm going to push the readers to consider what I have to say and think about it deeply when they make their character.
Being weak or not the strongest isn't a bad thing. Doesn't it give you some material to role play with? A character becoming stronger? Both emotionally and physically. This is another aspect of character development. Starting off weak and growing in strength. What's that: you can't part ways with creating such OP characters? Fine. You can then be weak emotionally (no, not being a psychopath or have a mental disorder - re-read the personality section) and have your character improve their flaws throughout the role play. The scenarios your character is forced into will lead to development. These developments can be overcoming pre-made fears, becoming stronger, learning how to fight - whatever you want! Frankly, I'd consider your bio to be a Mary Sue if they can do everything which is humanely possible. Please spare us the wrath of the Sue. I'm begging you.
Destination
If you all remember my analogy with the bridge, you'll know I mentioned something about destination. What do I mean by this? Well, anything. I feel the need to go into this a bit more. The destination can be the goal of the role play. It can be a personal goal. There doesn't have to be one bridge, there can be countless. A bridge can be attempting to get over a fear of something. A bridge can be survival (the journey would be gaining the skills to survive). Sometimes, you don't need a destination for character development, you just need the bridge! As long as you recognise there's a journey, then it doesn't matter where your character ends up. You might be surprised how your own character evolves.
You guys are probably pooping yourself and want me to answer the big question: how do you 'do' character development? Well, I don't have a definite answer. I thought I'd have one, but I don't. Is that a bad thing? No. Character development is subjective to you and your character. The development of your character is what you want it to be. I have no right to tell you how your character should develop. As I said before, it's a journey. All I can do is prepare you for that journey, which I hope I've done. If you've read all of this, I suggest you re-read it. My teachings are embedded within what I've said. If you haven't taken anything away, well sorry. Don't hold it against me.
I'm leaving this thread open so you guys can ask me any questions or ask me to include a section on something. Honestly, there's so much I could say. However, I never realised how hard it is to talk about something, especially when it's a broad topic like Character Development. I'll probably wake up tomorrow morning and be like: 'Oh sh*t, I could have gone into that'. I'll worry about that tomorrow morning.


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PostSubject: Re: Generith's guide to character development   Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:53 pm

Much wisdom to my ears thank you for sharing this Vairocana


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