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[GUIDE] Complex Character Creation

Discussion in 'Guides' started by babiehann, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. babiehann

    babiehann United States Level 12

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    Complex Character Building
    Questions + Ideas for Backstory Building
    by hannriverr & tori


    I. Goals & Desires
    II. Mask & Countermask, Character Contradictions
    III. Hobbies, Interests, & Passions
    IV. Internal World
    V. Specificity
    VI. Belief System
    VII. Self-awareness & Perception


    Goals & Desires
    Point 1. Goals

    It’s rare to ever find someone in life without a goal. By direct definition, a goal is the object of a person’s effort or ambition. It’s a desired result for them to live their life - it can be considered a meaning of life, but it can also be considered something much smaller - a future career or good grades, as an example. Developing your character’s goals is generally pretty straightforward - though I think that it can be easy once you break it down.

    Here’s some questions to help you develop your character’s goals, taken from sites such as this site: https://www.theexceptionalskills.com/goal-setting-questions/



    1. If money wasn’t a problem, what would your character want to do?​
    2. What has your character always wanted to do, but never tried?​
    3. Where does your character want to be in 5-10 years?​
      1. What job would your character have?​
      2. What would your character’s ideal life be like?​
      3. What hobbies would your character be pursuing?​
      4. What would your character like to have accomplished by then?​
    4. What are some short-term (months or a year or two) goals for your character?​
      1. If your character only had 6 months to live, what would they want to accomplish?​
    5. What does your character enjoy doing the most?​
    6. What are your character’s values and priorities?​
    7. Where is your character now?​

    Another part of goal creation and development is the ‘why’ question. Most characters, if not all, have a reason as to why they want to pursue their goals. Some of these reasons can connect to the backstory, but they don’t have to. Not all of your goals match up with your own backstory, and that’s okay.



    As you look at the goals, ask:​
    1. Why is this important?​
    2. Why does your character want to pursue this goal?​
    3. How will it benefit the character?​
    4. How will it benefit others?​
    5. What will the end result be?​
    6. What will the character’s life look like once these goals are completed?​
    7. Is this goal selfish or selfless?​
    8. Is this goal humanly attainable?​
    9. Is this goal rational?​

    Point 2. Desires

    Most desires stem from selfishness, though they can be selfless in nature. Some good examples of desires can be very large; such as ‘become rich and famous’, or something as simple as ‘I want to lose a little bit of weight’. Character desires also often stem from childhood wishes and experiences.

    Some questions to ask your character while coming up with desires:





    1. What were your character’s hopes and dreams growing up?​
    2. What things must your character give up to accomplish their dream?​
    3. Why does my character want this so badly?​
    4. What could the effect of not fulfilling this desire be on my character?​
    5. Is this desire something from the past, or a new concept?​

    Mask & Countermask, Character Contradictions

    Point 1. Mask and Countermask

    Mask and Countermask is a term that contradicts your character in itself. However, character contradictions are realistic - if you think about it, you, too, have contradictions. It might be hard to find, but it exists.

    The character term ‘mask’ basically means the face your character puts up in most situations. It is still considered them, though it is not the same as countermask - which is the side that your character shows in vulnerable or comfortable moments. Mask and countermask are generally terms that contradict each other - and can be flipped when creating the character.

    For example, if your character is selfless in the public eye, they could be completely selfish in moments where they feel vulnerable. Both of these are the exact same person - they are both part of your character’s true self, but they also are portrayed at different times.

    Some things to do when you’re coming up with your character’s mask & countermask will be listed below.



    1. Find a main trait that your character will show when with other people. This can be positive or negative, or even neutral. You can scroll through a list of traits here: http://ideonomy.mit.edu/essays/traits.html
    2. Find a trait that’s an antonym for the other trait. State how they show this trait, maybe scale it back a little bit so it’s not as prominent and obvious.​
    3. When do they show this second trait (countermask)? Why do they show it?​

    Point 2. Contradictions

    Most people have contradictions in themselves. They can be internal contradictions - or external and visible. However, most of the time, these are internal. This is very similar to mask and countermask, though it can be something other than a personality trait.

    For example, this can be a trauma-related thing, or it can simply be a feeling that your character experiences. For some characters, your character may be a part of LGBTQ+ community, but they may experience internalized homophobia.

    Most of this occurs because of past events and relationships, though it does not always happen. Please do not limit your character to one contradiction! Contradictions are everywhere, and they are a part of your character. You may even create contradictions as you play the character, as you learn more about them.

    A good way to make a complex and fun to play character is character contradictions. Contradictions can be a different person on how they portray themselves on the outside and who they are on the inside.

    Contradictions should be easy enough to find. You can use the mask & countermask method to search for character contradictions, too!

    Hobbies, Interests, and Passions

    Point 1. Hobbies & Interests

    Everyone has a hobby. A hobby is something that a character enjoys doing and spending their time - often times there are multiple different hobbies that a character has. They can be anything - from chess to sports, from dancing to video gaming. Here’s a Wikipedia list of hobbies.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hobbies

    Interests, on the other hand, are something your character enjoys or wants to get involved in. If your character wants to become an artist, that’s an interest. If your character plans to get involved with a career that they think they’d enjoy, then it’s an interest!

    You can sort through the above Wikipedia list to determine good hobbies and interests for your character - I’d usually pick 3+ hobbies and 2+ interests, just for ideas for your character to get started



    Point 2. Passions

    Passions are a huge part of playing a character. Without a passion, your character very easily becomes boring. A character without a passion is a character without a reason.

    Most people follow a passion throughout their life. In some cases, that passion is related to a goal - in others, it is not. Passions can be a hope or reach for the future, or they can simply be something they heavily enjoy. Some examples of passions could be chess, birds, anything - it could literally be anything. Some characters have a passion for something they do, some characters have a passion for something they look at and study.

    To find a passion for your own character, I’d pick out a list of things you personally enjoy. When starting out with complex characters, it’s easy to base them off of yourself. However, if you’d like to base a character off of someone else, or not even anyone - I would compile a list of things and research them. Putting them together and picking one or two interests and forming them into something your character is obsessed with is a good way to put together a character passion.

    Internal World
    A character’s internal world is their existance in their own mind, along with how they interpret situations and other people. Internal worlds can be dark and twisted - but they’re always flawed. Most internal worlds are a product of the character’s past and why they think a certain way, but again, they don’t have to be.

    Every internal world is going to be flawed. When creating an internal world, you want to create the pros and cons of how your character thinks - though it also brings up the point of what types of flaws your character’s internal world has. Some examples of a flawed internal world mindset could be things like your character thinking everyone’s going to hurt them, or even something as simple as a small fear inside of them hurting themselves. Internal worlds often contain your character’s fears and concerns.


    Specificity
    When it comes to creating a complex character, you need to be as specific as you can with all of their details. What career do they have? Their appearance? What clothes do they wear? What habits do they have? All of these are good questions to ask yourself when coming up with specific parts of your character. Below you’ll find a list of questions you can ask yourself when creating your character.



    1. What career did your character/is your character pursuing?​
    2. What does your character look like?​
    3. What kind of clothes does your character typically wear?​
    4. What habits does your character portray often, and why? When do they show up?​
    5. What hobbies did your character develop, and why did they develop them?​
    6. What type of objects does your character own? Why do they keep them? What are they for?​

    Belief System
    Every person has a moral code and a set of beliefs. Beliefs do not always refer to religion - they can also relate to how your character looks at the world, why they do so, and more. A lot of the time, this part of your character is how they develop and it helps them grow, whether it be in a bad way or a good way.

    Remember, flawed belief systems are not always about moral code. Sometimes they are as simple as believing that no one in the world is going to hurt you, or it could be something on terms of “stay away from everyone, they’ll end up hurting you”. There are many different options for flawed belief systems. A common one I see is that a character thinks murder is okay. Realistically, this doesn’t happen in everyone. Come up with something unique!



    Some things to look at when you’re creating your character’s belief system are:
    1. Moral code. Everyone has one, and it differs from person to person. What do they think is right? What is wrong in their eyes?​
    2. How do they view other people at first glance?​
    3. How do they view the world in itself? Is it a kind thing? Is it cruel?​
    4. What kind of past led up to them thinking like this?​


    Self-Awareness and Perception

    Most characters are self-aware in some areas and completely blind to their mistakes in others. They aren’t always focused on exactly what makes them who they are, and sometimes that causes less awareness in certain areas.


    Some questions to ask yourself while creating a character’s self-awareness and perception are:
    1. What makes them different from any other person? Do they realize this?​
    2. What makes their outlook on the world different from anyone else’s?​
    3. What questions do they ask themselves about the world?​
    4. How do they see other people? Why?​
    5. How do they see themselves?​

    Conclusion

    If there’s anything I can add to this, please let me know below! I hope this helped you out with finding ways to make your character interesting and fun to play. Please DM me on discord if you have any questions or would like any help!

    hann#0269

    TO BE EDITED

     
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  2. PandaDoesNothing

    PandaDoesNothing United Kingdom Level 10

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    LETS GO BABIEHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANN!
     
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  3. Heartend

    Heartend United Kingdom Level 16

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    win win win win win win win win, sorry but its a win, oke bye <3
     
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  4. Toriehi

    Toriehi United Kingdom Level 22

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    you didnt need to credit me i added like 3 sentences
     
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  5. HokuTana

    HokuTana Thailand Level 21

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    amazing guide ngl
     
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  6. babiehann

    babiehann United States Level 12

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    thank you!! i appreciate it :)
     
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  7. Missunderstood

    Missunderstood Nigeria Level 119

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    very neat, good job
     
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  8. Demurity

    Demurity Canada Level 12

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    me copypasting all of the questions into a doc because even though i have the answers i was never able to find a way to write them down

    this is so cool thank u
     
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  9. hebwig

    hebwig United States Level 80 Moderator

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    erove
    *bookmarks*
     
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  10. babiehann

    babiehann United States Level 12

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    i actually have a document of a character biography-type setup if you want it, it includes some of these questions and different ideas for you to put into your character!! just lemme know @hann#0269 on discord if you want it : )
     
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