- Arcade – a row of arches supported by columns or free-standing
- Arrow slit – a vertical window, narrow on the outside and expanding on the inside so one could shoot arrows out with relative ease, but shooting in was much more difficult
- Bailey – the area of ground enclosed by the main defensive walls of a castle, especially in the earliest mott-and-bailey castles. In later stone castles, the bailey was often called the ward
- Barbican/hornwork – A defensive outerwork, consisting of walls and towers, which surround a castle gate and were designed to protect it
- Barrel vault – cylindrical roof
- Bartizan – an overhanging corner turret
- Bastion fort – A low, thick-walled fort designed to withstand cannon fire. Such structures proliferated in the late Middle Ages, following the advent of gunpowder and cannon. In place of the towers of earlier castles, these fortifications incorporated low, projecting structures known as bastions
- Bastle house – small tower house with a living room over a byre
- Batter/talus/plinth – the sharp angle at the base of all walls and towers along their exterior surface
- Battlements – narrow wall build along the outer edge of the ramparts to protect soldiers from attack
- Berm – flat ground between the curtain wall and the inner edge of the moat
- Bivalate – a hillfort defended by two concentric ditches
- Breastwork – heavy parapet between two gate towers; wall defense over the portcullis
- Cap-house – small chamber at the top of a spiral staircase in a tower or turret, leading to the open wall-walk on the roof
- Castellan – the lord of the castle. In some cases, the castellan (or his ancestor) built the castle himself; in others he (or his ancestors) was given it to hold by a count or duke.
- Cesspit – an area in the ground where waste from garderobes was collected
- Citadel – heavily fortified, independent defensive structure within city walls; the strongest part of a fort
- Corbiestepped/crowstepped – square stones forming steps on the gable
- Counterscarp – outer slope of a ditch
- Crenelation – a notched battlement made of alternating crenels (openings) and merlons (square teeth)
- Crownwork – freestanding bastioned fortification in front of the main defenses
- Curtain wall – the outer wall of a castle, which by the late 12th century usually incorporated multiple towers, and into which were built, on the inner side, stables, storehouses, and sleeping quarters
If you’re looking to create a new character but find yourself stuck with no refreshing ideas, look no further. I’ve compiled a long list of random choice generators that will not only create new and exciting characters for you but they will also provide assistance in making your role-play and/or plots much more exciting. The first half will aid you in character building, whereas the second half is entirely miscellaneous and meant to add a spice to your RP.
- YA Personality Generator.
- Manual Personality Generator.
- Seven Sanctum Personality Generator.
- Random Name Generator.
- Another Random Name Generator.
- XTRA Rant Name Generator.
- Random Choice Generator.
- Behind The Name: Random Name Generator.
- Fake Name Generator.
- Character Personality Generator.
- Personality Generator.
- Quickie Character Backstory Generator.
- The Big Skill Generator.
- The Character Background Generator.
- Basic Character Family Relationship Generator.
- Character Flaws and Weaknesses Generator.
- Character Interests Generator.
- Character Motivation Generator.
- Character Personality Generator.
- Character Superpower Generator.
- Character Secret Generator.
- Random Teen Generator.
- Terrain Features Random Generator.
- Random Business Generator.
- Random Geographic Coordinates.
- First Name Generator.
- Surname Generator.
- The Name Smasher Generator.
- Cause of Death Generator.
- New Holiday Generator.
- Random Month/Day Date Generator.
- Sport-o-Matic Random Sport Generator.
- Random Plot Generator.
- Plot Plunter Generator.
- Romance Plot Plunter.
- Random Town Generator.
- Sci-Fi Malfunction Generator.
- Lost Civilization Generator.
- Random Park Generator.
I’m in. How does one NaNoWriMo?
- Start writing on November 1. Keep writing. Don’t stop writing until you hit 50,000 words, or December 1, whichever comes first.
- Where do you write? Not on the site! In your word processor, notebook, or even typewriter, you iconoclast, you.
- Update your word count by clicking “Update Word Count” in the topmost menu. Watch your word-count graph climb your novel as if it were Everest.
How to make friends and influence people, NaNo-style:
- Find your regional forum and attend a write-in. (No region near you? Watch for our livestream write-ins on our YouTube page.)
- Read pep talks from authors like Rainbow Rowell, James Patterson, and Marie Lu.
- Embrace the forums. (The Newbies forum and All-Ages Coffee House are good starting points.)
I want the ultra-deluxe, full NaNoWriMo experience:
- Nominate your novel to receive professional cover art.
- Consult your NaNo Coach.
- Participate in our Writing Marathon.
- Get a hard copy of your winning novel to add to the bookshelf.
- Rock the 2013 NaNoWriMo shirt. Repeatedly press the start button on the front. Wonder why you are not being transported away to the noveling retreat of your dreams.
Starting My Novel Help:
- How to Schedule Time for Writing
- One Sentence on Launching Your Story
- Five Secret Steps to Story-Building
- Writing Your First Novel
- Creating External and Internal Conflict
- 25 Ways to Plot, Plan, and Prep Your Story
- The Plot Doctoring forum
- The Official NaNoWriMo Character Questionnaire
- Creating Three-Dimensional Characters by People Watching
- The Character Cafe forum
Welcome, newcomers, and welcome back, oldcomers, to what will hopefully become a new yearly tradition—one that inspires and instills you with confidence; one that transforms that idea in your head into a novel; one that’s somehow a hundred times better than a week’s worth of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Have a favorite writing resource or tip? Link and/or comment below! Happy NaNoWriMo!
In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.
Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”
Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The
mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”
Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it.
Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.” You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen had always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’s roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her butt. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.
Typically, writers use these “thought” verbs at the beginning of a paragraph (In this form, you can call them “Thesis Statements” and I’ll rail against those, later). In a way, they state the intention of the paragraph. And what follows, illustrates them.
“Brenda knew she’d never make the deadline. was backed up from the bridge, past the first eight or nine exits. Her cell phone battery was dead. At home, the dogs would need to go out, or there would be a mess to clean up. Plus, she’d promised to water the plants for her neighbor…”
Do you see how the opening “thesis statement” steals the thunder of what follows? Don’t do it.
If nothing else, cut the opening sentence and place it after all the others. Better yet, transplant it and change it to: Brenda would never make the deadline.
Thinking is abstract. Knowing and believing are intangible. Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. And loving and hating.
Don’t tell your reader: “Lisa hated Tom.”
Instead, make your case like a lawyer in court, detail by detail.
Present each piece of evidence. For example: “During roll call, in the breath after the teacher said Tom’s name, in that moment before he could answer, right then, Lisa would whisper-shout ‘Butt Wipe,’ just as Tom was saying, ‘Here’.”
One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering.
For example: Waiting for the bus, Mark started to worry about how long the trip would take…”
A better break-down might be: “The schedule said the bus would come by at noon, but Mark’s watch said it was already 11:57. You could see all the way down the road, as far as the Mall, and not see a bus. No doubt, the driver was parked at the turn-around, the far end of the line, taking a nap. The driver was kicked back, asleep, and Mark was going to be late. Or worse, the driver was drinking, and he’d pull up drunk and charge Mark seventy-five cents for death in a fiery traffic accident…”
A character alone must lapse into fantasy or memory, but even then you can’t use “thought” verbs or any of their abstract relatives.
Oh, and you can just forget about using the verbs forget and remember.
No more transitions such as: “Wanda remembered how Nelson used to brush her hair.”
Instead: “Back in their sophomore year, Nelson used to brush her hair with smooth, long strokes of his hand.”
Again, Un-pack. Don’t take short-cuts.
Better yet, get your character with another character, fast.
Get them together and get the action started. Let their actions and words show their thoughts. You—stay out of their heads.
And while you’re avoiding “thought” verbs, be very wary about using the bland verbs “is” and “have.”
“Ann’s eyes are blue.”
“Ann has blue eyes.”
“Ann coughed and waved one hand past her face, clearing the cigarette smoke from her eyes, blue eyes, before she smiled…”
Instead of bland “is” and “has” statements, try burying your details of what a character has or is, in actions or gestures. At its most basic, this is showing your story instead of telling it.
And forever after, once you’ve learned to Un-pack your characters, you’ll hate the lazy writer who settles for: “Jim sat beside the telephone, wondering why Amanda didn’t call.”
Please. For now, hate me all you want, but don’t use thought verbs. After Christmas, go crazy, but I’d bet money you won’t.
For this month’s homework, pick through your writing and circle every “thought” verb. Then, find some way to eliminate it. Kill it by Un-packing it.
Then, pick through some published fiction and do the same thing. Be ruthless.
“Marty imagined fish, jumping in the moonlight…”
“Nancy recalled the way the wine tasted…”
“Larry knew he was a dead man…”
Find them. After that, find a way to re-write them. Make them stronger.
so you've got a theme and a plot. you know that the next step is building the characters that will fuel your roleplay. characters make the setting and situations come alive. without characters there would be no roleplay, simple as. but writing them isn't as easy as slapping down a personality under a couple of nicely edited photos. you've got to captivate. here i've provided several links to resources that will help in this process.
a first name generator. (make sure to select english in the categories.)
a means of relaxation. (put it on over your favorite writing songs for best results.)
Sometimes just moving your characters around can be the hardest part of your story. So here’s a whole load of things your characters can do rather then simply ‘walking’:
I’m aware that not many roleplayers pay too much attention to their character’s appearance. This a real shame because in way, we don’t let our characters see other character’s physical appearance for themselves. We do it ourselves. We know how their character looks like thanks to their face claim. But I think it would be very interesting to let our characters react to the physical appearance of other characters. Here are some links you guys can look through if you want to give it a shot.
- List of Physical Appearance Adjectives from Fox Hugh
- Character Description Resource from The Word Pool
- How to Describe a Person’s Physical Appearance from WikiHow
- Describing People: A Person’s Physical Appearance from ILU English
- Words to describe Apariencia (Physical Appearance) from Learn Spanish
- Descriptive Words for Characters: Physical Qualities from Kilgore Independent School District
- Examples of Physical Characteristics from Your Dictionary
- List of Descriptive Words for Appearance from Your Dictionary
How to guides
- Creating Vivid Characters from Skotos
- Describing a Person: Adding Details from WriteShop
- How to Describe a Character’s Looks Well from WikiHow
- Your Character’s Physical Appearance from Tim Vandevall
- The Writer’s Bane: Describing a Character’s Physical Appearance from the Bookself Muse
- Writing Adolescent Fiction/Describing physical characteristics from WikiBooks
This is an ultimate masterlist of many, many resources that could be helpful for writers/roleplayers.
- Improve Your Writing Habits Now
- 5 Ways to Add Sparkle to Your Writing
- Getting Over Roleplaying Insecurities
- Improve Your Paras
- Why the Right Word Choices Result in Better Writing
- 4 Ways To Have Confidence in Your Writing
- Writing Better Than You Normally Do
- How’s My Driving?
- A Description Resource
- 55 Words to Describe Someones Voice
- Describing Skin Colors
- Describing a Person: Adding Details
- Emotions Vocabulary
- 90 Words For ‘Looks’
- Be More Descriptive
- Describe a Character’s Look Well
- 100 Words for Facial Expressions
- To Show and Not To Tell
- Words to Describe Facial Expressions
- Describing Clothes
- List of Actions
- Tone, Feelings and Emotions
- Writing Specific Characters
- Character Guides
- Writing Help for Writers
- Ultimate Writing Resource List
- Lots of RP Guides
- Online Writing Resources
- List of Websites to Help You Focus
- Resources for Writing Bio’s
- Helpful Links for Writing Help
- General Writing Resources
- Resources for Biography Writing
- Mental Ilnesses/Disorders Guides
- 8 Words You Should Avoid While Writing
- Body Language Cheat
- Body Language Reference Cheat
- Tips for Writers: Body Language
- Types of Crying
- Body Language: Mirroring
- Words Instead of Walk (2)
- Commonly Confused Adjectives
- A Guide on Punctuation
- Common Writing Mistakes
- 25 Synoms for ‘Expession’
- How to: Avoid Misusing Variations of Words
- Words to Keep Inside Your Pocket
- The 13 Trickiest Grammar Hang-Ups
- Other Ways to Say..
- 300+ Sophiscated and Underused Words
- List of Misused Words
- Words for Sex
- 100 Beautiful and Ugly Words
- Words to Use More Often
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’ or ‘Laugh’
- Three Self Editing Tips
- Words to Use Instead of ‘Walk’, ‘Said’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Sad’
- Synonyms for Common Words
- Alternatives for ‘Smile’
- Transitional Words
- The Many Faces and Meanings of ‘Said’
- Synonyms for ‘Wrote’
- A Case Of She Said, She Said
- How to: Cure Writer’s Block
- Some Tips on Writer’s Block
- Got Writer’s Block?
- 6 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
- Tips for Dealing With Writer’s Block
- How to: Make That Application Your Bitch
- How to: Make Your App Better
- How to: Submit a Flawless Audition
- 10 Tips for Applying
- Para Sample Ideas
- 5 Tips on Writing an IC Para Sample
- Writing an IC Sample Without Escaping From the Bio
- How to: Create a Worthy IC Para Sample
- How to: Write an Impressive Para Sample
- How to: Lengthen Short Para’s
- Drabble Stuff
- Prompts List
- Writing Prompts
- Drabble Prompts
- How to Get Into Character
- Writing Challenges/Prompts
- A Study in Writing Prompts for RPs
- Para Prompts & Ideas
- Writing Prompts for Journal Entries
- A List of Para Starters
- Bad Asses
- Bitches (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
- Emotional Detachment
- The Girl Next Door
- Introverts (2)
- Mean Persons (2)
- Party Girls
- Rich (2)
- Serial Killers (2)
- Shyness (2, 3)
- Villains (2)
- Disorders in general (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Anxiety (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
- Bipolar Disorder (2, 3)
- Cotard Delusions
- Depression (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
- Eeating Disorders (2, 3)
- Facitious Disorders
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Multiple Personality Disorder (2)
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Night Terrors
- Kleptomania (2)
- A Pyromaniac
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (2)
- Sex Addiction (2)
- Schizophrenia (2)
- Sociopaths (2)
- Aspergers Syndrome
- Someone Blind (2)
- Cancer (2, 3)
- Muteness (2, 3)
- Ballet Dancer (2)
- Alcohol Influence (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Cocaine Influence
- Ecstasy Influence (2)
- Heroin Use
- LSD Influence
- Marijuana Influence (2, 3)
- Opiate Use
- California (2, 3)
- England/Britain (2, 3, 4, 5)
- New York
- The South (2)
- A Death Scene
- Loosing Someone (2)
- Old Persons
- Physical Injuries (2, 3)
- Sexual Abuse (2)
- Fight Scenes (2, 3, 4)
→ CREATING CHARACTERS
- Components of Your Biographies
- Character sheet (2, 3)
- Need Help With Character Creation?
- How to: Draw Inspiration for Characters From Music
- How to: Write a Biography (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
- How to: Write a Fully Developed Character
- How to: Create a Cast of Characters (2)
- Writing an Original Character (2, 3)
- Creating Believable Characters (2, 3)
- Bio Formats (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Little Things You Can Add To Your Bios
- Connections (2)
- Bio Twists
- Jung’s 16 Personality Types
- Underused Character Personalities
- Birth-Order: Personality Traits
- The Difference Between Personality and Behavior
- How to: Show a Characters Personality In a Paragraph
- 16 Character Traits
- Underused PersonalitiesPersonality TraitsHabits
- 300 Possible Secrets to Give Your Characters
- I Bet You Didn’t Know..
- Character Plots And Secrets (2)
- Celebrity Secrets
- Secret Masterlist
- Song Lyrics Masterlist
- Songs for Biographies
- Favorite Quotes: TV and Movies
- Favorite Quotes: Notable Authors
- Favorite Quotes: Celebrities
- Favorite Quotes: Popular Books (2)
- Quotes From Songs
- Character Quotes
- Masterlist of Bio Lyrics
- Masterlist of Bio Quotes
- Masterlist of Song Lyrics
- Biography Lyrics
- A Masterlist of Quotes
- +130 Quotes
- The Quotation Garden
→ WHILE ROLEPLAYING
- 100 Paragraph Titles
- Para Titles - Song Title Edition (2,3)
- A Whole Ton of Para Titles
- 350+ Song Titles
- Para Titles For You (2)
- How to: Create an interesting starter
- How to: Make an Interesting Starter
- Gif Conversations: A Guide
- A Brief Guide to Starters
- Interesting Gif Convesation Starters
- Starters Masterlist
- Gif Starter Posts
- 46 Interesting Gif Chat Starters
- Ideas for Gif Chat Starters
- Masterlist: Jobs
- Possible Careers for Characters
- Artistic Occupations
- Martha’s Vineyard Job Masterlist
- Interesting Jobs
- Para Ideas
- Masterlist: Para Ideas
- Top 50 Places for Starters
- Writing Topics: Para Ideas
- 101 Date Ideas
- 68 Date Ideas
- 22 Date Ideas
- Popular Places to Eat
- Character Development Questionaire
- Character Surveys
- C.D. Questionaire
- 30 Day Character Development Meme
- Character Development Questions (2)
- 100 Pt. Questionaire
- IC and OOC Surveys
- Online Test for Character Building
- 30 Days of Character Development
- How to: Develop Characters
- Get To Know Your Characters
Romance (in general)
- The Little Ways a Ship Gets Build
- Roleplaying Relationships
- 8 Ways to Say I Love You
- How to: Make a Set Ship RP Work
- How to: Write a Romantic Scene
- Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Relationships
- Putting a Label on It
- Synonyms for Love
- Pregnancy (2, 3, 4, 5)
- Smut Guide: Casual Sex
- Smut Guide: For Beginners
- How to: Write a First Time Sex Scene Romantically
- How to: Smut - The Bare Bones
- How to: Smut (For Virgins)
- How to: Write Lesbian Smut
- How to: Write Smut (2, 3)
- How to: Write a Blowjob/Prepping for Smut
- Smut Guides of Tumblr
- Tips on Writing Sex Scenes
- A Guide to Language in Smut
- Domination and Submission
- Making Love
- A Smut Guide
- How to: Create the Best Plot for Your RP
- How to: Create A Plot Outline in 8 Steps
- How to: Write A Plot in 12 Steps
- How to: Write A Quality Plot
- How to: Spice Up Your Roleplay Plots
- Components of Your Plot Page
- Writing Up A Plot
- Basics of Writing A Plot
- Links for Plot Writing Help
- Eight Unique Plot Ideas
- Plot Twists
- Situation Ideas (2, 3)
- Guide to Plotting
Reblogging entirely for “alternatives to smile or laugh”
Limits of the Human Body by Soda Pop Avenue
Credit goes to SPA, but I wanted this here for a writer’s reference. This way we know exactly how far we can push our characters ;)
Wanted to share this helpful tool with anyone who needs it. A lot of people have a hard time putting their feelings into words and identifying what emotions they are feeling. This is called a feeling wheel. It can help you get to the core emotion you are experiencing and help you name each feeling when you’re overwhelmed with many emotions
this is so cool
THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT
“Readers tend to like characters who are struggling to achieve a goal. This simple principle can be invaluable in creating sympathetic protagonists.
- Characters working toward a goal are active characters.
- Characters who aren’t working toward a goal are reactive.Reactive characters are much weaker than active characters, and we tend not to like them. Unfortunately, many writers end up unknowingly creating reactive protagonists.” - Odyssey Writing Tips
PROACTIVE CHARACTERS »»
- A proactive character is a character who does things. They make decisions, they initiate actions, and they are driven by a goal that often makes them pick the wrong decisions and actions.
- This is important because what characters choose to do is going to create your plot. Why they choose to do it will create your stakes. Together, these factors make you invested in a plot.
- Proactive characters drive plot. They don’t just have strong goals; they actively pursue them. That’s one of the reasons people tend to love villains: they have a clear goal, are often centered around the attainment of that goal, and those goals give interesting insights into their personality and choices.
- This makes proactive characters are easier to build around and work with as the plot progresses. You can make plots around their goals and find ways for those goals to lead to new ones.
- You can get away with having reactive characters in literature sometimes because you’re able to rely on secondary characters to drive the plot and impact your character. (If you roleplay, you don’t get this luxury in RP because everything is centered around character interaction.)
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT »»
Thehappylogophile has an answer:“Almost every novel has it: down-time. That moment between the adrenalin-fuelled car chase and the point where the slasher leaps out of the tree-line and drags the protagonist’s boyfriend into the undergrowth. It’s a chance for the characters (and the reader) to take a deep breath and process everything that’s just happened. It’s often the point where characters share information, or plot their next move, or take advantage of the lull in death-dealing to “celebrate the wonder of life”. (Cue the sleazy electric guitar.)
So, how does your character behave in the lull? If she takes the opportunity to sit quietly and cry, or goes along with someone else’s suggestion, or her entire plan revolves around waiting to see what happens next, she’s probably a reactive character.
A proactive character is likely to be the one leading the conversation, making plans that include the theme (if not the words) “the best defense is a good offense”, or even taking the opportunity to return to her pre-story goals.”
What you should take away from this is: when a character isn’t driving the plot, s/he needs to have interesting goals/development outside of the main plot to work towards. This way, your character is always developing over the course of the game and still doing something during downtime instead of sitting idly by.
IS MY CHARACTER REACTIVE »»“A reactive character is more likely to do what’s “easiest” or “more immediate”. If choosing between two love interests, the reactive character will go with the one in front of him right now. Or the one who tries the hardest to woo him. Or the one that his friends tell him he should go with. Alternately, he won’t make a choice at all — at least, not until he’s either forced to do so by outside events (“Declare your undying love for me, or I’ll start drowning kittens! “) or one of the options is removed (“Now that Laura is dead, you have to love me!”).”
In short, reactive characters don’t make the interesting decisions that give us insights to a person’s personality or develop it.“A proactive character will make a choice. It may not be the right choice (and often isn’t), but it’s a choice nonetheless: “I’ve considered my options and have decided that I’m really in love with the evil, but incredibly sexy, vampire, and not the sweet girl-next-door who’s always been there for me. How could anything possibly go wrong?”
In roleplay, you can generally characters aren’t reactive when their histories/personality read more like a grocery list of characteristics or events. Proactive characters’ applications are driven by and explore their goals and decisions.
WHY DO PEOPLE MAKE REACTIVE CHARACTERS? HOW CAN I AVOID IT? »»
A big reason people make reactive characters is often because of the method they employ creating characters. Many times, writers will take a sort of Frankenstein approach — mixing and mashing character traits and then try to flesh them out. They say my character has x, y, and z trait. S/he has these traits because of a, b, and c.
Don’t do that. That approach generally does not work (unless mixed with others). It wastes your time and doesn’t get at the heart of the issues.
Sure, that can be a good approach to generate ideas. However, unless you find a conflict to base those traits around or use them to further that conflict, no one is going to be invested in your character or have a good idea of how these traits manifest and, most importantly, why.
If you need a formula to follow, try starting with:
- In order of importance, what are the five most important things to your character and why? (make note of conflicting wants and goals)
Tie in information about your character’s deeper motivations. Try to think about where your character’s sense of worth comes from, who they’re trying to impress and why, which of their own (or others’) priorities these might clash with, what characters may believe others want, their goals/values and how they were established, re-occurring problems in your character’s life (jealousy, financial issues, etc.), what sort of person other characters believe yours is, in what ways your character is uniquely selfish, your character’s opinion of him/herself, your character’s ambitions, what your character works to gain/protect, etc. If you’re having trouble, try this resource.
Ex. Being liked. It is important to my character that he is liked. Peter struggled with it as a child because of his romantic involvement with his goldfish, leading other children to think he was strange. He can be somewhat sycophant because of this and tries to secure that he is liked by making himself valuable to others even when it can be damaging to himself and those around him.
- Character Name wants to accomplish these three goals: being more character trait, obtaining status symbol, and protecting his/her ______. S/he wants to accomplish these things because s/he values ___, ___, and ___. S/he is driven to accomplish them because s/he is good/bad trait and good/bad trait and isn’t above doing _____ and ____ to get these things, which makes him/her good/bad trait, good/bad trait, and good/bad trait (or makes other people view him/her that way).
Don’t use really broad, universal traits. If you’re using characteristics like those mentioned here (reserved, trusting, critical, etc.), it might mean you’re being too broad. Saying your character is angry or selfish, for example, fails to give insight into what that says about your character. Everyone is selfish and angry — just to varying degrees and because of various factors. For example, in this episode of Awkward Black Girl (which is an amazing webseries if you haven’t seen it), the main character Jae is sent to anger management. The characters in her anger management session go around saying why they’re there, and Jay (different character) shows how this gives insight to the things they care about. Pete gets angry when time is left on a microwave and not cleared because he cares about time management, Jae has an outburst when someone doesn’t return her stapler because she wants to feel respected.
My favorite trick to generate ideas for a character application is asking myself:
- How is my character broad characteristic (ex. uniquely selfish)? It helps you focus in on a goal, gain insight to what they value, and develop specific ways their characteristics manifest.
The key to creating proactive characters is to have them become involved in solving their own problems/accomplishing their goals, rather than depend on others to solve them. If you want an example, you can go here, where you can read through an author’s personal attempt to make her character more proactive.
WHAT IF I’M ALREADY DOING IT? »»
(The first step is admitting you have a problem.)
The number one reason players get bored in roleplay or feel “stuck” with what they’re writing is because of something editors deem “episodic writing”. Cheryl Wyatt describes it as happening when “one scene happens then another and another and so on but there is really no point to the scenes”.
It happens when you lose sight of your character’s goals and how you want to develop him or her. (The reason people get so invested in relationship lines in roleplay is because it’s a quick and easy way to create goals and because there are pre-established milestones you can develop your character around. This development is often generic but satisfying as players are more invested in the stakes.)
Episodic writing happens for two reasons: 1) your character is reactive or 2) you’ve lost sight of your goals for your character and you’re letting them be reactive when they have a number of things established that would make them proactive. For example, your scenes/characters might read like this. You can see another great example of a problematic storyline here.
Additionally, you might be limiting the scope of how your character can develop and need to branch out more. Or you’re not thinking through ways you can accomplish the goals you’ve established for your character going in.
How do you fix it? Give your character a goal - or better yet, several goals. Let your character need help accomplishing those goals. This helps you develop character relationships, helps you develop your character (especially when you tie in weaknesses, values, etc.), and gives your character something to do. BAM! it really is that simple.
What kind of goal? There are some amazing resources here.
Then, you can have those goals lead to more and more negative consequences. It’s a bit like that book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, where a little problem can lead to big ones.
One of the best examples I’ve read (but can’t find the link to) is this:
- Jane has become obsessed with growing a certain type of flower to spite her smug neighbor. Despite her best efforts, the flower won’t grow. She tries buying an expensive fertilizer online. She doesn’t realize that buying it has set her back $20 and her checking account is now on a negative. If she doesn’t pay rent, she’ll be kicked out. And on and on and on. Through this, you can help develop your character’s traits. For example, if Jane is too prideful to ask someone for money, this could result in character growth.
Jane is interesting because Jane is proactive. She actively works to grow that mfing flower. Her bad decision/goal leads to other bad decisions/goals.
Tada. You’re now well on your way to making your characters more proactive.
- Amazing- incredible, unbelievable, improbable, fabulous, wonderful, fantastic, astonishing, astounding, extraordinary
- Anger- enrage, infuriate, arouse, nettle, exasperate, inflame, madden
- Angry- mad, furious, enraged, excited, wrathful, indignant, exasperated, aroused, inflamed
- Answer- reply, respond, retort, acknowledge
- Ask- question, inquire of, seek information from, put a question to, demand, request, expect, inquire, query, interrogate, examine, quiz
- Awful- dreadful, terrible, abominable, bad, poor, unpleasant
- Bad- evil, immoral, wicked, corrupt, sinful, depraved, rotten, contaminated, spoiled, tainted, harmful, injurious, unfavorable, defective, inferior, imperfect, substandard, faulty, improper, inappropriate, unsuitable, disagreeable, unpleasant, cross, nasty, unfriendly, irascible, horrible, atrocious, outrageous, scandalous, infamous, wrong, noxious, sinister, putrid, snide, deplorable, dismal, gross, heinous, nefarious, base, obnoxious, detestable, despicable, contemptible, foul, rank, ghastly, execrable
- Beautiful - pretty, lovely, handsome, attractive, gorgeous, dazzling, splendid, magnificent, comely, fair, ravishing, graceful, elegant, fine, exquisite, aesthetic, pleasing, shapely, delicate, stunning, glorious, heavenly, resplendent, radiant, glowing, blooming, sparkling
- Begin - start, open, launch, initiate, commence, inaugurate, originate
- Big - enormous, huge, immense, gigantic, vast, colossal, gargantuan, large, sizable, grand, great, tall, substantial, mammoth, astronomical, ample, broad, expansive, spacious, stout, tremendous, titanic, mountainous
- Brave - courageous, fearless, dauntless, intrepid, plucky, daring, heroic, valorous, audacious, bold, gallant, valiant, doughty, mettlesome
- Break - fracture, rupture, shatter, smash, wreck, crash, demolish, atomize
- Bright - shining, shiny, gleaming, brilliant, sparkling, shimmering, radiant, vivid, colorful, lustrous, luminous, incandescent, intelligent, knowing, quick-witted, smart, intellectual
- Calm - quiet, peaceful, still, tranquil, mild, serene, smooth, composed, collected, unruffled, level-headed, unexcited, detached, aloof
- Come - approach, advance, near, arrive, reach
- Cool - chilly, cold, frosty, wintry, icy, frigid
- Crooked - bent, twisted, curved, hooked, zigzag
- Cry - shout, yell, yowl, scream, roar, bellow, weep, wail, sob, bawl
- Cut - gash, slash, prick, nick, sever, slice, carve, cleave, slit, chop, crop, lop, reduce
- Dangerous - perilous, hazardous, risky, uncertain, unsafe
- Dark - shadowy, unlit, murky, gloomy, dim, dusky, shaded, sunless, black, dismal, sad
- Decide - determine, settle, choose, resolve
- Definite - certain, sure, positive, determined, clear, distinct, obvious
- Delicious - savory, delectable, appetizing, luscious, scrumptious, palatable, delightful, enjoyable, toothsome, exquisite
- Describe - portray, characterize, picture, narrate, relate, recount, represent, report, record
- Destroy - ruin, demolish, raze, waste, kill, slay, end, extinguish
- Difference - disagreement, inequity, contrast, dissimilarity, incompatibility
- Do - execute, enact, carry out, finish, conclude, effect, accomplish, achieve, attain
- Dull - boring, tiring„ tiresome, uninteresting, slow, dumb, stupid, unimaginative, lifeless, dead, insensible, tedious, wearisome, listless, expressionless, plain, monotonous, humdrum, dreary
- Eager - keen, fervent, enthusiastic, involved, interested, alive to
- End - stop, finish, terminate, conclude, close, halt, cessation, discontinuance
- Enjoy - appreciate, delight in, be pleased, indulge in, luxuriate in, bask in, relish, devour, savor, like
- Explain - elaborate, clarify, define, interpret, justify, account for
- Fair - just, impartial, unbiased, objective, unprejudiced, honest
- Fall - drop, descend, plunge, topple, tumble
- False - fake, fraudulent, counterfeit, spurious, untrue, unfounded, erroneous, deceptive, groundless, fallacious
- Famous - well-known, renowned, celebrated, famed, eminent, illustrious, distinguished, noted, notorious
- Fast - quick, rapid, speedy, fleet, hasty, snappy, mercurial, swiftly, rapidly, quickly, snappily, speedily, lickety-split, posthaste, hastily, expeditiously, like a flash
- Fat - stout, corpulent, fleshy, beefy, paunchy, plump, full, rotund, tubby, pudgy, chubby, chunky, burly, bulky, elephantine
- Fear - fright, dread, terror, alarm, dismay, anxiety, scare, awe, horror, panic, apprehension
- Fly - soar, hover, flit, wing, flee, waft, glide, coast, skim, sail, cruise
- Funny - humorous, amusing, droll, comic, comical, laughable, silly
- Get - acquire, obtain, secure, procure, gain, fetch, find, score, accumulate, win, earn, rep, catch, net, bag, derive, collect, gather, glean, pick up, accept, come by, regain, salvage
- Go - recede, depart, fade, disappear, move, travel, proceed
- Good - excellent, fine, superior, wonderful, marvelous, qualified, suited, suitable, apt, proper, capable, generous, kindly, friendly, gracious, obliging, pleasant, agreeable, pleasurable, satisfactory, well-behaved, obedient, honorable, reliable, trustworthy, safe, favorable, profitable, advantageous, righteous, expedient, helpful, valid, genuine, ample, salubrious, estimable, beneficial, splendid, great, noble, worthy, first-rate, top-notch, grand, sterling, superb, respectable, edifying
- Great - noteworthy, worthy, distinguished, remarkable, grand, considerable, powerful, much, mighty
- Gross - improper, rude, coarse, indecent, crude, vulgar, outrageous, extreme, grievous, shameful, uncouth, obscene, low
- Happy - pleased, contented, satisfied, delighted, elated, joyful, cheerful, ecstatic, jubilant, gay, tickled, gratified, glad, blissful, overjoyed
- Hate - despise, loathe, detest, abhor, disfavor, dislike, disapprove, abominate
- Have - hold, possess, own, contain, acquire, gain, maintain, believe, bear, beget, occupy, absorb, fill, enjoy
- Help - aid, assist, support, encourage, back, wait on, attend, serve, relieve, succor, benefit, befriend, abet
- Hide - conceal, cover, mask, cloak, camouflage, screen, shroud, veil
- Hurry - rush, run, speed, race, hasten, urge, accelerate, bustle
- Hurt - damage, harm, injure, wound, distress, afflict, pain
- Idea - thought, concept, conception, notion, understanding, opinion, plan, view, belief
- Important - necessary, vital, critical, indispensable, valuable, essential, significant, primary, principal, considerable, famous, distinguished, notable, well-known
- Interesting - fascinating, engaging, sharp, keen, bright, intelligent, animated, spirited, attractive, inviting, intriguing, provocative, though-provoking, challenging, inspiring, involving, moving, titillating, tantalizing, exciting, entertaining, piquant, lively, racy, spicy, engrossing, absorbing, consuming, gripping, arresting, enthralling, spellbinding, curious, captivating, enchanting, bewitching, appealing
- Keep - hold, retain, withhold, preserve, maintain, sustain, support
- Kill - slay, execute, assassinate, murder, destroy, cancel, abolish
- Lazy - indolent, slothful, idle, inactive, sluggish
- Little - tiny, small, diminutive, shrimp, runt, miniature, puny, exiguous, dinky, cramped, limited, itsy-bitsy, microscopic, slight, petite, minute
- Look - gaze, see, glance, watch, survey, study, seek, search for, peek, peep, glimpse, stare, contemplate, examine, gape, ogle, scrutinize, inspect, leer, behold, observe, view, witness, perceive, spy, sight, discover, notice, recognize, peer, eye, gawk, peruse, explore
- Love - like, admire, esteem, fancy, care for, cherish, adore, treasure, worship, appreciate, savor
- Make - create, originate, invent, beget, form, construct, design, fabricate, manufacture, produce, build, develop, do, effect, execute, compose, perform, accomplish, earn, gain, obtain, acquire, get
- Mark - label, tag, price, ticket, impress, effect, trace, imprint, stamp, brand, sign, note, heed, notice, designate
- Mischievous - prankish, playful, naughty, roguish, waggish, impish, sportive
- Move - plod, go, creep, crawl, inch, poke, drag, toddle, shuffle, trot, dawdle, walk, traipse, mosey, jog, plug, trudge, slump, lumber, trail, lag, run, sprint, trip, bound, hotfoot, high-tail, streak, stride, tear, breeze, whisk, rush, dash, dart, bolt, fling, scamper, scurry, skedaddle, scoot, scuttle, scramble, race, chase, hasten, hurry, hump, gallop, lope, accelerate, stir, budge, travel, wander, roam, journey, trek, ride, spin, slip, glide, slide, slither, coast, flow, sail, saunter, hobble, amble, stagger, paddle, slouch, prance, straggle, meander, perambulate, waddle, wobble, pace, swagger, promenade, lunge
- Moody - temperamental, changeable, short-tempered, glum, morose, sullen, mopish, irritable, testy, peevish, fretful, spiteful, sulky, touchy
- Neat - clean, orderly, tidy, trim, dapper, natty, smart, elegant, well-organized, super, desirable, spruce, shipshape, well-kept, shapely
- New - fresh, unique, original, unusual, novel, modern, current, recent
- Old - feeble, frail, ancient, weak, aged, used, worn, dilapidated, ragged, faded, broken-down, former, old-fashioned, outmoded, passe, veteran, mature, venerable, primitive, traditional, archaic, conventional, customary, stale, musty, obsolete, extinct
- Part - portion, share, piece, allotment, section, fraction, fragment
- Place - space, area, spot, plot, region, location, situation, position, residence, dwelling, set, site, station, status, state
- Plan - plot, scheme, design, draw, map, diagram, procedure, arrangement, intention, device, contrivance, method, way, blueprint
- Popular - well-liked, approved, accepted, favorite, celebrated, common, current
- Predicament - quandary, dilemma, pickle, problem, plight, spot, scrape, jam
- Put - place, set, attach, establish, assign, keep, save, set aside, effect, achieve, do, build
- Quiet - silent, still, soundless, mute, tranquil, peaceful, calm, restful
- Right - correct, accurate, factual, true, good, just, honest, upright, lawful, moral, proper, suitable, apt, legal, fair
- Run - race, speed, hurry, hasten, sprint, dash, rush, escape, elope, flee
- Say/Tell - inform, notify, advise, relate, recount, narrate, explain, reveal, disclose, divulge, declare, command, order, bid, enlighten, instruct, insist, teach, train, direct, issue, remark, converse, speak, affirm, suppose, utter, negate, express, verbalize, voice, articulate, pronounce, deliver, convey, impart, assert, state, allege, mutter, mumble, whisper, sigh, exclaim, yell, sing, yelp, snarl, hiss, grunt, snort, roar, bellow, thunder, boom, scream, shriek, screech, squawk, whine, philosophize, stammer, stutter, lisp, drawl, jabber, protest, announce, swear, vow, content, assure, deny, dispute
- Scared - afraid, frightened, alarmed, terrified, panicked, fearful, unnerved, insecure, timid, shy, skittish, jumpy, disquieted, worried, vexed, troubled, disturbed, horrified, terrorized, shocked, petrified, haunted, timorous, shrinking, tremulous, stupefied, paralyzed, stunned, apprehensive
- Show - display, exhibit, present, note, point to, indicate, explain, reveal, prove, demonstrate, expose
- Slow - unhurried, gradual, leisurely, late, behind, tedious, slack
- Stop - cease, halt, stay, pause, discontinue, conclude, end, finish, quit
- Story - tale, myth, legend, fable, yarn, account, narrative, chronicle, epic, sage, anecdote, record, memoir
- Strange - odd, peculiar, unusual, unfamiliar, uncommon, queer, weird, outlandish, curious, unique, exclusive, irregular
- Take - hold, catch, seize, grasp, win, capture, acquire, pick, choose, select, prefer, remove, steal, lift, rob, engage, bewitch, purchase, buy, retract, recall, assume, occupy, consume
- Tell - disclose, reveal, show, expose, uncover, relate, narrate, inform, advise, explain, divulge, declare, command, order, bid, recount, repeat
- Think - judge, deem, assume, believe, consider, contemplate, reflect, mediate
- Trouble - distress, anguish, anxiety, worry, wretchedness, pain, danger, peril, disaster, grief, misfortune, difficulty, concern, pains, inconvenience, exertion, effort
- True - accurate, right, proper, precise, exact, valid, genuine, real, actual, trusty, steady, loyal, dependable, sincere, staunch
- Ugly - hideous, frightful, frightening, shocking, horrible, unpleasant, monstrous, terrifying, gross, grisly, ghastly, horrid, unsightly, plain, homely, evil, repulsive, repugnant, gruesome
- Unhappy - miserable, uncomfortable, wretched, heart-broken, unfortunate, poor, downhearted, sorrowful, depressed, dejected, melancholy, glum, gloomy, dismal, discouraged, sad
- Use - employ, utilize, exhaust, spend, expend, consume, exercise
- Wrong - incorrect, inaccurate, mistaken, erroneous, improper, unsuitable