PROJECT Hometowns

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Minibit, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Even if it's just a tiny little berg no one really cares about, your character's hometown is probably going to be incredibly important to the story and your characters, so make sure you don't gloss over it!

    Heroes from sleepy farm towns are a dime a dozen, you know why?

    Mostly because the towns are a dime a dozen, let's play a game I like to call

    GUESS WHICH PROTAGONIST'S HOMETOWN!

    • It's small and out-of-the-way
    • It's main industry is agriculture
    • It's an old town, but it's always been small
    • One citizen is at least one hundred years old
    • There are no major historical elements or tourist spots
    • There is a scenic natural location nearby such as a forest or waterfall
    Now am I describing the hometown of...

    Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist?
    Rand Al'Thor of the Wheel of Time series?
    Tanthalas of Dragonlance Chronicles?
    Frodo of Lord of the Rings?
    Link from the Legend of Zelda?
    Asbel from Tales of Graces?
    Or the user-named protagonists of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, or Dragonquest IV?

    It could be any of them, right?

    These are amazing characters and stories, but barring a few details, their hometown situations are all essentially the same. Don't you think it's more memorable and interesting if their hometown is more unique?

    Try to think of some details to give your character's childhood and adolescence some more depth of character, you could try...

    • Giving the team something to be enthusiastic about; do they all rally around their sports team? Is there a hero from that town that everybody makes a big deal about?
    • Try breaking away from the farming and ranching stereotypes; why can't your characters come from a mining, forestry, port, or army town?
    • Assuming the population is educated, what kinds of cliques and unwritten laws exist for the schoolgoing population? (the "big kid territories", the sandlots, the gang hangouts)
    • Where do you not want to be caught alone?
    • Sometimes towns that nobody ever leave end up being composed of large families; is there a Hatfields & McCoys situation going on? Can you 'not swing a stick without hitting a *surname here* ? How does this effect the society?
    Once you start making your town more than just a backdrop, you'll find that your characters suddenly have new traits to them from growing up in said town; which makes sense; the places we grew up in and the people we grow up with affect us all; taking something as essential to character development as where they came from and slapping a cliche 'sleepy town' sticker on it is a plain old fashioned injustice.
     
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  2. Today has been so much fun. All these great little exercises. I love crafting a good childhood story. One of my favourite video games was Fable, and for a pretty singular reason. I loved playing the origin story. The child. I really felt like I understood the character seeing this and I've always loved that since. The elements of the skills that define your character were seen at the beginning. In a video game, it's the game mechanics. It teaches you ranged attacks, melee, and later on in the teenage years, magic. This was really cool. It was essentially showing you the foundation of the skills that would make your character unique in the plot to come. But in a novel, it can surpass simple abilities. But you could highlight traits, fears, and some conflicts. Like scaling down your novel. Here, in childhood, you can shape them so that later on in the plot, you can address those shortcomings or those moments on a more epic scale. It gives more value to the larger conflict, and it also makes you understand the motivation of the character and WHY they are doing what they do.

    Because of this, I always develop the town they grew up in. I give them miniature adventures, in the form of games played with childhood friends. I explore the old haunts that would become important memories later on, the games that were played, the little scraps and the tiny troubles. Later on, it's no longer the local bully who held you down in the dirt. It's the darklord, with his boot on your head. As a child you'd pushed that kid off you and rose back up when everyone thought you were out, bloodying his nose. And against the darklord, you'll do the same. Or maybe you do different. Maybe that was the failing of your childhood that has defined you all your life. And this is your chance to prove you've become more than that. Our childhood gives us the roots to affect our present in amazing ways.

    Btw, anyone want to do a roleplay where we play through childhood, teenage years, and then enter the main plot in adulthood? Obviously we'll set some restrictions so we don't get stuck playing in one for the whole thing, specific goals. It was just an idea that came to mind lol
     
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  3. Bonus points for referencing Rand AND Tanis in one post!

    Your Supreme Leader approves.
     
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  4. I think the reason sleepy hometowns get used so much is because there's something appealing about their calm, rural atmospheres; that, and they're relatively low maintenance in terms of the effort needed to create them. Yeah. That last one's probably the bigger reason xD

    But I also think that they can create a nice contrast as the story progresses. Take The Lord of the Rings, for example. Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry return to the Shire after several hundred pages of witnessing horrible things. The relaxed, almost blissfully ignorant atmosphere makes the wars, death, etc that they saw seem more impactful. Or at least that's how I felt.

    Used with tact or good reason, sleepy hometowns are nice~

    Just don't use 'em because you're lazy.