LESSON Character Backgrounds

Discussion in 'DEVELOPING CHARACTERS & CULTURES' started by Minibit, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Inspired by this thread http://www.iwakuroleplay.com/threads/where-i-came-from.28725/

    Which you should join.

    Character Background is something that is glossed over a lot more than most writers/roleplayers realise. If you think your character has a full background, ask these questions:

    • Did they have any non-immediate family where they grew up? (cousins, aunts, grandparents) and if so what was their relationship with them?
    • Who was their first crush?
    • From whom did they learn their daily living skills such as cooking, cleaning, and changing tires?
    • What was their favourite subject in school?
    • Give a brief description of the city/town they grew up in.

    These are areas many people gloss over; and they probably won't come up in the course of your roleplay if your character starts the story as an adult, but it's still important to know.



    The experiences and lessons we had as kids and adolescents formed us into the adults we are. How did your character handle their first crush, for example? Did they pursue their crush and get harshly rejected? A rejection can deeply injure a kid or teen's self-esteem. It may have made them shyer than they would otherwise have been and made them more cautious when approaching their favoured sex. Or maybe they went for it and had a great relationship with their crush, making them super confident and giving them a belief that they were super lucky in love!

    Even fantasy swordsmen have time in between kicking ass and taking names; nobody survives for long not knowing how to cook, clean, and generally do chores (unless they're loaded enough to be constantly paying people to do these things for them). Who taught you how to clean wood floors without ruining them? Who taught you how to make food out of whatever you can find in the forest? Even the most mundane skills were learned somewhere; who taught them and how they were learned not only shapes the skill with which we perform them, but the fondness we have for the task, and our work ethics as well. For example, the scene from How I Met Your Mother, where the gang teases Barney for not knowing how to use a screwdriver, and then are interrupted by Barney's estranged father, whereupon his friends feel bad as they realise it was their own fathers who taught them these things, whereas Barney's father wasn't there.

    Take some time to think about your character's childhood and teen years; they don't even have to be mentioned in the story to be useful in shaping your character and giving them more depth and personality.
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  2. wow man that's deep and when I make a character that I want in-depth i'll come here for a back ground check list thanks
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  3. You should consider background on every character; it can be fun to delve further into their stories , and it actually makes it EASIER to write what the character would say/ do in a situation if you know more about their history. :)
  4. These are all great questions to consider when creating a character. They also touch on the issues of nature vs nurture in a character. Did they grow up naturally making friends or learning to take care of themselves, or were these survival instincts driven in by necessity. I am lazy at heart, so fully developing a character before beginning a role play is more work that it's worth to me (though what I call a lot of work and what others might may be very different). What I do suggest is that as the story goes on these sorts of questions are asked and if it is applicable a character bio can be updated. Or, what is always great, is finding ways to bring up the character developing kinds of questions IN THE ROLE PLAY. Bring it up in a conversation, have your character reminisce a bit.