1. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    Character Creation

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GrJs, May 26, 2018.

    I've got a rather expansive character creator sheet and, for those who do that sort of thing, I'd like to ask for some feedback on it.

    I am mainly focused on finding things I've left out.

    I've spent a lot of time editing it recently and it's currently a lot of little details I find myself putting in as they come up. However, there's only so many situations that I'm predisposed to think of so if you'd be willing to spend a tad bit of time filling it out for a character or two of your own and letting me know the results I'd appreciate it.

    Shucks.. I can only upload a copy here in pdf format but, solution, would it be an ask to request you message me for my email if you want a docx. version straight up?

    Not sure if the formatting will hold up under conversion to docx. it was made in scrivener so...

    oh, there's a key as well :)

    If you're willing to make the effort, Cheers. :blowkiss:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Personally I've never found a character sheet useful , since the reader only needs to know certain facts about a character the writer doesn't need to know a load of extraneous stuff either.

    I tend to write down notes on my series characters to make sure I don't make continuity mistakes one book to another but thats all
     
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Wait, you not only create character sheets but also edit them? Sure does seem like a lot of work for something that might not have the payoff you want it to. So, why are you making such extensive character sheets that also call for your editing? Really, I've never understood the point. I'm with Moose. You only need as much of the character as needed for the story. And, for me, that's where I rather put my efforts.
     
  4. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    Misread that as "expensive" and got worried that someone actually paid for those stuff :ohno:

    Not into that sort of things, though.
     
  5. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    I’m the type of person who needs to know just about everything relevant about my character but also have it written down somewhere. Ordered and neat and not just in a quick chunk of text summary or dot points. It helps me keep my characters in line and within the character limits I set. Plus if I leave a project for a while I have all the info there to just go through and I’ll know my characters again.

    The editing is mostly just adding stuff that I’ve missed putting in but need at the time or I feel may be useful in future. Everything involves editing, even outlines. For me I’ve just gotta know all the details before I begin.

    Writing a book is a lot of work for something that might not payoff but I’m kind of all or nothing so if I’m going in depth about everything else I may as well about the subjects that drive the story onward.
     
  6. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    I wish I was able to work like that. It unfortunately I’ve got to have most things worked out depending on how relevant they are. Writing things down is all well and good but the notes version just doesn’t cut for me. I always lose track of information or word it in a way that I misenterpret it later. This just helps me keep things in line and ordered.
     
  7. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    dude no. It’s just super long and detailed, probably overly so but whatever works for the writer right?
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh my word, the character sheet is 49 pages long!? No no no, why would you waste that amount of time?

    I mean, of course, whatever works for you is great. But personally, in the past when I've made character profiles, I've never been able to remember the details in any meaningful way. They just seem like details I've arbitrarily assigned to my character but that don't actually make him "him" at all. And then when I write, different details come and those are the ones that stick, because there's context and reason and meaning.

    Just write a scene or two with your character in it, and see what pops up. Note down details you find striking or important. And then get on with writing! If anything, your character's backstories will be more important than whether he prefers chicken or pork.
     
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  9. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    It may be 49 pages but most of it is formatting. Dot points take up a lot of space and then making it presentable.. it takes around twenty minutes at most to go through the whole thing and most of the time I don’t need everything for any one character but over all my characters it covers pretty much everything.

    Scrivener doesn’t really use page numbers when drafting so I’ve never noticed how long it got :p

    And I’m pretty sure there’s not a single question about food preferences. It’s personality, physicality, spirituality, life history stuff, a bit about their growth over the plot, relationships, then more genre specific things like weapon preference, if they use magic then what type... that sort of stuff, except for the last section, that’s just filler stuff that is sometimes useful when I haven’t found a way to put it into words.
     
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  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    That especially if it's 49 pages per character, that's nuts.
     
  11. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    OK, so two pretty massive extremes here :eek:
    A Planner's outline is like a Pantser's first draft. Should a Pantser say "If I write a first draft, then I'm just going to change a bunch of it anyway, so shouldn't I just start with the second draft instead of wasting time on something else"?
    Even so, my "character sheet" tends to be a lot shorter than that: I start with a D&D Alignment (9 combinations of "extremely authoritarian, neutral, or extremely antiauthoritarian" and "extremely moral, neutral, or extremely immoral"), a MyersBriggs type (16 combinations of "mostly asocial or mostly social" "mostly theoretical or mostly practical" "mostly insensitive to others or mostly sensitive to others" and "mostly disorganized or mostly organized"), and that's all I need. Even once I come up with more information that doesn't fit into the label, I don't need to write that information down anywhere because the label gives me a vivid enough picture of my character's basic skeleton that I can easily remind myself of the fleshier and more muscular details.

    For example, one of my favorite villain protagonists is named Amy "The Richmond Ripper" Carmine:

    My Official Character Sheet™ does not say that she's been a military history nerd since she was 10 years old, that she loves Sid Meier's video game Civilization III, that she got her "work" friends to read The Art of War and The Thirty-Six Strategems (to their great benefit as a criminal outfit waging wars against other criminal outfits), and that she does not like when the spike-ball-on-a-chain weapon is described as either a) a "mace," b) a weapon which was widely used on the battlefield, and/or c) a weapon which is even remotely effective on the battlefield. It does not explain that one of her favorite songs is the Confederate marching anthem "Richmond is a Hard Road (to Travel)" as having both a catchy tune and a ton of historical information (despite her despising the Confederacy itself, as well as its modern-day sympathizers).

    My Official Character Sheet™ does not say that she was assaulted by her boyfriend at 15, that she ran away from home after her parents blamed her, that she's struggled with PTSD ever since, and that she became a serial killer at 20 as a form of self-medication, yet would bash someone in the face for suggesting that being raped turned her into a serial killer. My Official Character Sheet™ does not say that she comes down very strongly on the side of Nature over Nurture, that she'd been a violent school bully even before her boyfriend hurt her worse than she'd ever hurt anyone else, and it does not say that she feels she has more in common with the likes of Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer (people who became serial killers, yet who hadn't been traumatized in their lives) than she does with the likes of Oprah Winfrey or Lady Gaga (who were sexually assaulted, yet who did not become violent criminals). My Official Character Sheet does not explain that she feels professional therapy and group sessions have helped her mental state more than serial murder ever has, but that she still enjoys violence in her day job as a kneebreaker and a gang soldier. My Official Character Sheet™ does not say that she takes 50 mg of Paxil with breakfast every morning at 0700, that she counts "5-9-8, 1-2-4, 7-3-6" to calm herself down from mild-moderate anxiety, and that she prefers answering grounding questions when her episodes get more serious.

    My Official Character Sheet™ does not explain that her favorite forms of Elemental Magic are Earth (which is powered by the mindset of focusing on a specific goal and of pushing through obstacles) and Fire (which is powered b the mindset of staying passionate and motivated to finish whatever she's doing). My Official Character Sheet does not explain that, when she first learned about the Elemental school, she feared she wouldn't be able to do any form of it: on her Bad Days, sometimes she can't hold a thought for more than a second (the negative Air mindset that blocks Earth magic), sometimes she can't get a single thought to stop repeating over and over (the negative Earth mindest that blocks Air magic), sometimes she can't make herself feel anything (the negative Water mindset that blocks Fire magic), and sometimes she's freaking out too badly to calm herself down (the negative Fire mindset that blocks Water magic).

    My Official Character Sheet™ doesn't explain that she and her best friend Alec both love joking about their best friend Charlie's being a lesbian as being ironic: the two heterosexuals are both insufferable goofballs who try too hard to make everything funny, and Charlie being super serious makes her the Straight Man.

    All that my Official Character Sheet™ says is that she is a Chaotic Evil ESFJ: antiauthoritarian, immoral, social, practical, sensitive, organized.

    That's all the reminder I need to keep track of everything else I've come up with :)
     
  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    My first drafts aren't outlines. They're first drafts. And I do know the difference.
     
  13. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    I’ve got all the rpg alignments in there as well as Myers Brigs stuff but I find that the Myers Briggs is limited and doesn’t cover everything I feel I need to know. Even the rpg alignment doesn’t always fit a certain character. That stuff is put down in the sometimes helpful section.

    Myers Briggs doesn’t really have anything for bad traits or even chaotic ones where your character is a mishmash of everything at one point or another because they’re that side of crazy or just unpredictable. I’ve found, for me at least, that’s it’s just not flexible enough or nuanced enough, to provide everything I need.

    Believe me, if I could have it rpg and Myers Briggs and that’s it, it would be great, really, it would, but I need more and I’ve got no issue retaining all the information for my characters when I’m working on the story. And if I leave for a while and come back well I’ve got everything written down and just need to skim the file to refresh.
     
  14. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I like to use the Enneagram because I buy into it irl and it works pretty well for characters.

    Basically, there are 9 personality types. Each has 2 subtypes. Then you order the three main drives: sexual, social, and self preservation. Each personality type gains the positive traits of another type when healthy, and the negative traits of another type when unhealthy.

    It’s not scientifically validated, but it rings true for a lot of people.

    For example: I’m type 6 (loyalty, fear, counter-phobic) with a 5 wing (investigator). If I’m healthy, I gain the positive traits of 9 (peacemaker/equanimity) but when unhealthy, I gain the negative traits of 3 (self deception, lying). I order the three drives: sexual first, then social, and lastly self-preservation (which makes sense with my counter-phobic tendencies).

    I was shocked at how well the Enneagram could model what I’m like. Now you can write a story about me and know what I’m going to do lol.
     
  15. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    ... I feel like we're saying the same thing.

    I've also recently fallen in love with the Magic: the Gathering Color Wheel :)

    The five colors of the Color Wheel are
    • White represents the desire for a clearly defined structure with clearly defined rules
    • Blue represents the desire for thinking logically about what already is and about how it could be improved
    • Black represents the desire to exploit others for the benefit of oneself and of those who happen to be on one's short-list of allies and loved ones
    • Red represents the desire to indulge in one's greatest passions in the moment
    • Green represents the desire to achieve harmony and acceptance with the world
    And the relationships between them are
    • White and Blue are generally seen as being opposed to Red, as White and Blue are about wanting to slow down and find out what they're "supposed to" do while Red is about jumping head-first into whatever they want to do.
    • Blue and Black are generally seen as being opposed to Green, as Blue and Black are about advancing one's place in the world while Green is about growing within one's rightful place.
    • Black and Red are generally seen as being opposed to White, as Black and Red are about throwing The Rules to the wind while White is about upholding The Rules.
    • Red and Green are generally seen as being opposed to Blue, as Red and Green are about acting on instinct while Blue is about thinking things through.
    • Green and White are generally seen as being opposed to Black, as Green and White are about putting the community above the self while Black is about putting the self above the community.
    One way to figure out one's own strongest preferences is to look at whether you agree or disagree with what the relationships are generally supposed to look like.
    • For example, Blue is supposed to be allied with White and Black, but White and Black both feel false to me because people establishing themselves as having the authority to control others feels inherently exploitative, and it feels like the lies of White/Black that some people are better than others contradicts Blue's quest for truth.
    • It feels to me that Green would be a better ally for Blue because accepting the world feels the same to me as learning more about the world, and Red feels like an almost-as-good ally because Red/Blue is about discovering wild and creative new ways to do wild and creative new things.
    • All of this leads to my being Blue first, Green second, and Red third.
    There are 10 "Guilds" based on the 10 two-color combinations, and there are 10 "Realms" based on the 10 three-color combinations. The five Guilds based on generally-allied colors are
    • Azorius: White (rules) and Blue (logic)
    • Dimir: Blue (logic) and Black (exploitation)
    • Rakdos: Black (exploitation) and Red (impulse)
    • Gruul: Red (impulse) and Green (harmony)
    • Selesnya: Green (harmony) and White (rules)
    and the 5 based on generally-opposing colors are
    • Orzhov: White (rules) and Black (exploitation)
    • Izzet: Blue (logic) and Red (impulse)
    • Golgari: Black (exploitation) and Green (harmony)
    • Boros: Red (impulse) and White (rules)
    • Simic: Green (harmony) and Blue (logic)
    The five Realms based on one color and its two normal allies are
    • Bant: White and Blue/Green
    • Esper: Blue and Black/White
    • Grixis: Black and Blue/Red
    • Jund: Red and Black/Green
    • Naya: Green and Red/White
    and the 5 based on one color and its two normal enemies are
    • Mardu: White and Black/Red
    • Temur: Blue and Red/Green
    • Abzan: Black and Green/White
    • Jeskai: Red and White/Blue
    • Sultai: Green and Blue/Black
    These extra bi-color and tri-color levels would make me a Simic-Temur (Blue/Green first, then Red)
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
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  16. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    @Simpson17866 that's awesome
     
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  17. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I would worry about these character sheets only if character sheets as far as you ever get. A 49-page, heavily edited character sheet. I'm afraid that does happen to excessive planners, sometimes. They get so wrapped up in meticulous planning that they never get a story written! They may make detailed maps of their 'world,' but what is the story?

    However, if these kinds of planning aids help you get started, more power to your arm. I would hope, however, that when your character starts to deviate from the list you've created (because of what else is going on in the story) that you don't cling to your blueprint. Let the character evolve.

    You created these character sheets in a vacuum. Nothing else is happening yet, so you 'build' a full-blown character. However, throw that character into a real story, with conflicts, relationships and situations to deal with, then sticking to the character sheet can hold you back rather than help you out. You might find your story works better if the character is more this and less that, and doesn't hate broccoli after all.

    You may even end up adding to the character sheet as you progress with your story. But it will be progress.
     
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  18. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    I’ve got that in there too though I’m not entirely sure how the system works there. It’s been a relatively new find for me and what I did find was only on the positive traits for each type so I kind of wrote it off..

    Do you have a good source I can go to to flesh out my understanding? One with information on the bad traits and how the whole +9 traits to -3 traits works. So out of my depth on enneagram stuff :oops:
     
  19. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

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    The reason it’s 49 pages long is because I’ve accounted as much as I can for the growth of the character through the plot...

    It starts as a basic outline of the character at the beginning of the story and sometimes I’ve got an idea of where I want that character to be by the end and so I can put that in to.

    I’d be worrying about micromanaging the finicky things too if I started at the beginning :p but I tend to start writing before I know where I’m going or I already know where it’s going but don’t know how I got there.

    It helps more than it hinders to flesh them out so much... for me at least. Then I can get into their head and find out their most likely course of action given their circumstances.
     
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  20. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks!

    I actually learned about it a little over a year ago – I only say "recently" because I've known about D&D since I was about 15 and Myers-Briggs ever since I was 17 going on 18 – and the development team have put out a lot of information about the system (information that they are able to talk about because a lot of people put in a lot of work to make it both expansive and consistent :) )

    The Magic: the Gathering Wiki has really good articles about the 5 mono-colors


    as does the lead developer Mark Rosewater


    and he also has amazing articles about the 10 bi-color Guilds


    (the Wiki has pages too, but those focus on the history of each Guild in the game’s lore, not enough on the philosophy behind the combination of colors for each).

    I don’t like Rosewater’s articles about the tri-colors — too much focus on the similarities and differences between each part, not enough about the combination as a whole — but a freelance designer for the company has a Tumblr account Sarpadian Empires Vol VIII which has amazing pages about the different tri-color philosophies.

     
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
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  21. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    No problem

    Instincts: https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/instinctual-subtypes

    Type and Psychological Health: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions
     
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  22. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I have changed my character sheets a LOT as I’ve learned more and more about my characters :)
     
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  23. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'm very happy to hear that you are already writing and integrating your character(s) into your plot. You obviously know what you're doing, so good luck! May your character come to life for you on the pages of your story. That's the best thing, isn't it? You create somebody who didn't exist before, and wouldn't exist at all if it wasn't for you. Great feeling.
     
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  24. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I guess I can see where having an extensive character sheet like this might be good if your story or genre includes world building, but as someone who writes in contemporary real world settings this would be massive overkill, not to mention several of the sections (esp. power and magic) would be completely irrelevant.
     
  25. Leanne

    Leanne Member

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    And I´ve started to think that around 5-6 pages of text for each of my main characters is too much...
    Honestly, the sheet is really very long, and personally, I would not use it since it would probably kill my enthusiasm about a character. A lot of work really. If it helps you in writing and creating characters, it´s OK.
    I would like to ask if you create a character with this sheet in isolation or you work on simultaneously with your story. I hope you understand what I mean.
    I am grateful that I can write down things concerning my characters, but I use biographies in which I can really write in whole sentences, it´s not like filling in a questionnaire, it sounds and seems really boring. And I "train" in writing and I really enjoy that; furthermore, I do not need to remember everything when I write it down.
    Personally, I create characters with close connection to my story, it helps me to keep my attention to things that are relevant to my story and not to focus too much on something basically useless or something that has only a very little impact on the story or a character. Details or things that are not relevant for a story are mainly for me, in order to imagine a character better. And when I scrolled down the whole sheet I find a lot of things that would be irrelevant to my story and I would not waste my time filling them in.
     

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