Posts belonging to Category Characterization

Exercise: In Monochrome

This is somewhat similar to my old “driver’s license” exercise, only slightly less restrictive. What it boils down to is this: even if we don’t necessarily all agree on what colors there are and what categories they fit into (this coming from a person who was raised on the Crayola marker spectrum who occasionally gets [...]

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 [...]

Hey, Weren’t You Supposed To Be Sympathetic?

When I was talking last week about sympathetic antagonists, one of the disadvantages I listed was that it was easy to slip somewhere and end up with an antagonist that just doesn’t come across as sympathetic. Let’s face it, when it comes to antagonist sympathy, subjectivity is a more dangerous opponent than the protagonists. But [...]

The Hazards of Sympathetic Antagonists

I talked yesterday about all the cool features of sympathetic antagonists. It has to be admitted, though, that sympathetic antagonists come with their own set of inconveniences; you can’t have the good without the, well, bad. Mostly, these take the form of difficulties and complications for us; they may be cool dramatically, but they’re a [...]

The Joys of Sympathetic Antagonists

One of the character archetypes I find most interesting is the sympathetic antagonist—that living obstacle to the primary characters, whether villain, antihero, or just inconveniently motivated, who through her characterization elicits some level of sympathy from the audience. But what makes these sorts of characters so nifty, useful, and all in all effective for us?
Sympathetic [...]

Basic Flash-Characterization Exercise: The Dragonbreath-Style Summary

One of the things I’ve been discussing with my boyfriend for a while are tips for him in quickly generating background or semi-important characters. I was thinking about this a while back, and through some bizarre pattern of associative memory, I started thinking about the cover summaries on Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath books. (No, this post [...]

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 [...]

Characterization Exercise: Retelling and Reaction

A long time ago, I suggested an exercise in which the object of the game was to come up with a character’s retelling of an event, in voice. But no story is told in a vacuum, and few are told without someone to hear them.
For this exercise, then, choose two characters and one event. It [...]

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 [...]