Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: Paperweight

Tonight’s exercise is a bit odd. I’ve been of the opinion for a while that one of the biggest problems in writing these days is people who write things that should be creepy—or at least, that come across to me as pretty disturbing—and apparently miss how creepy they actually are. On the other hand, it’d [...]

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 [...]

Not Getting Romance in Everything

There was a book I read last week. I’m not going to say which of the books I read that set me off, as it’s a bit of a spoiler for the piece in question, but—there was this relationship. I didn’t see it as romantic, and while there was apparently subtext I completely missed that [...]

Exercise: A Portrait of a Social Dynamic

I’m not going to even consider quoting Tolstoy on this one. Happy families are not all alike, save to the kind of person who sees happiness and assumes it a default state, an absence of any effort to reach that point or of crisis to tear it away. Social dynamics, similarly, are never exactly alike—it [...]

Superior-Subordinate Relationships: View from Above

Yesterday, I talked about figuring out a superior-subordinate dynamic from the subordinate’s point of view. Let’s reverse it now, and look at things that might affect the superior’s view of the subordinate.
How did the subordinate get into the position in the first place? Was this, as with most modern jobs, by coming and looking for [...]

Superior-Subordinate Relationships: Looking Upward

It goes without saying that not all characters are created equal—and certainly not hierarchically. Where you have organizations, you will have the people in charge and the people they are in charge of, and the people those people are in charge of, and so on and so forth until you run out of ladder rungs [...]

Characterization Exercise: What Do You See In These People?

Lone heroes happen in stories, but they’re not the world’s most common creatures, and games almost invariably involve a group, either homogeneously PC or a combination of PC and NPC (or a parallel all-NPC group if the GM is feeling like a challenge). This, of course, means we have people. People working together, fighting alongside [...]

Characterization Exercise Followup: Waiting in Groups

While yesterday’s writing exercise can say interesting things about a character, why stop at just one character waiting? One interesting way to extend the exercise is to, instead of looking at a single character sitting and marking time, look at a small group instead.
What’s a group waiting do for descriptive and characterization purposes that a [...]