Posts belonging to Category Characters in the world

Weaponized Weaknesses

I’ve talked a lot about the kinds of things a character can turn into weapons—but then there’s one of my favorite ways, one that backfires easily, but that works spectacularly. What happens when a character uses her own weaknesses as part of her arsenal?
Things get interesting.
Part of it is just the effect. A character uses [...]

Who Are We Rooting For, Part 2: The Protagonist

Yesterday I talked about ensuring that the audience is rooting for the character you want them to, with techniques focusing on the antagonist. But as came up in one of my points, the protagonist is often—if not predominantly—a good part of the problem. So what can we do with protagonists to keep them in the [...]

Who Are We Rooting For, Part 1: The Antagonist

One of the things I notice a lot, both in the chapter-by-chapter snarks I treat as a guilty pleasure, and in general reviews, are stories where the audience has a clear character to root for in mind, but for whatever reason, that character just isn’t the protagonist. For whatever reason, the antagonists are coming across [...]

Honest Manipulators

Most of the manipulative characters in both fiction and RPGs are absurdly good liars—you know, the type who could sell shoes to snakes or convince a person that the sky was red while standing outdoors at noon on a clear day. But that hides the fact that the people who are terrible at lying can [...]

Three Pitfalls of Mutually Dependent Characterization

I talked yesterday about mutually dependent characterization, ending my riff with the idea that there are, in fact, risks as well as advantages to it. But what are they?
The first is utterly inseparable characterization. This most often happens when characters are designed as a set, rather than growing together naturally—they become so much of a [...]

Mutually Dependent Characterization

Sometimes, you get characters who are, for lack of a better term, inseparable. Not in the physical sense, mind. They don’t always need to be in the same place at the same time—yes, they can be joined at the hip, but where’s the fun in that? No, this sort of inseparability is a result of [...]

Map, Elaborate, Question: From Characters to World (and Plot!)

Yesterday, I talked about building a world around characters, rather than building enough of a world to mold characters into and moving outward from there. I’ve been toying with this recently, and I’ve found a pretty good sequence for trying to grow outward from one or two characters to a plot and a world.
I start [...]

Characters and Courtesy

Ursula Vernon noted in a recent post that we have too few polite heroes in today’s stories. The post was only partly about that, so she didn’t really go into detail on why; since I agree, I’m going to take a stab at what’s so great about polite heroes—or, for that matter, polite primary characters [...]

Your Secondary CAN Be “Not Awesome Enough”

It’s a natural thing for a creator to worry about the secondary characters stealing too much of the spotlight. It’s happened in fiction of all stripes, particularly when the main character is left fuzzy for audience insertion purposes; it’s a common risk in RPGs, and likely to end with a bunch of very annoyed players. [...]

Reprise: Four Ways to Show a Character’s Skill Without Having Her Use It

Originally posted on June 30, 2009

One complaint people often have about bad writers is that they claim their characters are good at doing a certain thing or have a certain interest, but there’s next to no evidence in the text that it’s actually true. Characters who love books [...]