Choosing a Main Character

This was supposed to have gone up a week ago. I don’t know why it didn’t.
A lot of us writers have it easy. We have one strong character idea and are ready to center a story around them, or we have a strong plot idea and just need to design a character who can [...]

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 [...]

Exercise: Ten Questions

Sometimes, you have a character (or other story element or feature) who just isn’t coming through. Sometimes, you have a person—in your audience, in your game group, wherever—whose take on what you’re doing you just can’t figure out. And sometimes, you can get these two things to cancel out.
In some order, choose yourself a character [...]

Wednesday Night Writing Exercise: The Comforts of Home

Because one day, Layana’s GM is going to need to know what this place looks like, even if the original doesn’t exist anymore.
Her safest place is built in the trees. Hers is the room at the heart of the tree—whether because her family liked light more than she did, or because their rooms could [...]

Trust, GM Willingness, Player Interest, and the Backstory Character

Yesterday, I talked about four categories of backstory characters, and mentioned the particular importance of understanding them to tabletoppers, both GM and player. Today, I’m going to look at why. Note that I am using the same terminology as in the previous post: the central character is the character being provided with the backstory, while [...]

Degrees of Backstory Characters

Into every character’s backstory, a few characters who aren’t the backstory’s central character must fall. They don’t live in a vacuum, after all. (And if they do, they’re probably pretty boring characters, and lack verisimilitude. Even hermits usually had someone who raised them.) That doesn’t mean they’re all created the same, though.
Overall, backstory characters are [...]

Reprise: Secondary Character Exercise: Someone Else’s Story

Originally posted January 27, 2010.
One of the biggest problems people often see with secondary characters is when their creator doesn’t take much of an interest in them. I’m not saying they suddenly need to steal the story, but it helps to spend a little time in their heads, make them more than [...]

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 [...]