Researching characters

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Disgruntled Goat, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. So, how often do my fellow Iwakuians go off and do some serious research on a character (or even a full roleplay) that they're writing? It's one thing to go looking for authentic Greek surnames, to make sure your character fits the roleplay, but have you ever had to go digging and read books or articles to help you get into the mindset of your character(s)?

    For me, I find that it happens a lot. On the one hand, I'm a bit nerdy, and I like looking things up, so, when I was in a military-based roleplay before, I went and checked out the military ranks (Lieutenant, Major, etc.) to see exactly what order they were in and how common they were. Hollywood, sadly, has corrupted me in many ways, and in films, it seems that everyone is a Lieutenant, or a Captain, with maybe a grumpy old General barking orders down the phone somewhere in the back. When was the last time time anyone saw a Major-General or a Brigadier in a movie? I can't remember seeing either of them mentioned, and, whilst I know that there are some good reasons for this (typically, higher-ranked soldiers aren't on the front line, and it's the front where there's the most action), it's just one such example of a thing I had to look up. It was only a minor detail, but I felt it added a degree of authenticity to the character, as opposed to me just winging it and making him a General. It also prompted me to reassess the character a little, because reading up on the subject got me thinking about how my character would need to be well into his thirties to hold such a rank (or truly exceptional if he was younger), something that I hadn't given a lot of thought to previously.

    On the other end of the scale, there have been roles that I've signed up for because I wanted to be part of the roleplay, or because I was friends with the rest of the group and they asked me to join. As a rule, the more research I have to do, the more the role is out of my comfort zone, but isn't learning like this part of becoming a better roleplayer?

    So what about you? Do you ever do any research, or do you just sign up and wing it? Perhaps you have a favoured genre that you know inside and out, so you just stick to that? Are there any characters that you've had to do some serious research for and then had them turn out in such a way that you're really proud of them afterwards?
     
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  2. I think Roleplay reaeach is definitely something that needs to be done more but I havent - not do I think it's often necessary to - read whole books or spent days on the research. I usually search for credible articles online and research from the comfort of my home.

    Sometimes I start a Roleplay on something I've researched more thoroughly for my own amusement and then thought 'this might be fun for a Roleplay' though
     
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  3. I don't do it a LOT since I am most often playing within the realm of things I know, or in the realm of everything is make-believe and it don't matter.

    But sometimes I really get in to a character or a concept and I want to really add some extra oomph to my posting. So I'll do a little research so I at least have the basic common sense knowledge that my character should have about the subject!

    LIKE, I recently designed a character who owns her own small business selling her handmade soaps and beauty products. So I'd look up what goes in to make those kind of things, so I can describe stuff you'd see lying around her home or business.

    I play a couple artists or people in the art world, so I'll look up famous art and galleries and artists, so I have a fair idea of what's realistic.

    It ends up being a lot of fun to learn stuff and sometimes I get distracted. @____@
     
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  4. I'm like Diana, I stick with what I know but I do have a good Generator for names if I need it. I try to stick to stuff that doesn't constrain on names. But I would do research if I wanted to do a specific place or time or something.
     
  5. For me, half the fun of a roleplay, especially a historical one, is the research! You find all sorts of COOL and inspiring information!!! Before a roleplay, I always always always study the genre/history of it and then create a character that both conforms to the times and can be innovative and instrumental in the plot.

    Random facts that I learned while researching:
    • The winds have names and differ from region to region, direction to direction, and language to language.
      • There's a sirocco, a mistral, a hagibat, a foehn wind, a haboob, a levant and maaaany more.
    • In Norse Mythology, what follows Ragnarok, the great war that ends the world, is Fimbulvetr, a harsh winter that ends all life on earth.
    • January 0th is the alternative name for December 31st, or New Year's Eve.
    • February 30th has been a legitimate date even after the Gregorian Calendar. Take a look at old Swedish calendars.

    I was in a short lived roleplay (it died like two weeks later) but it was set in the 1920s.

    Now let me ask you these questions and you must reply without researching them:
    Were there toilets in the 1920s?

    The women who were called flappers bobbed their hair and curled it. What were these curls called?

    Martin Luther King Jr. was not born until 1929, so his fight for Civil Rights had not "happened" yet. How then did the White and Colored public view Louis Armstrong, trumpeter extraordinaire?

    How did people make and consume wine although Prohibition forbade the manufacturing and consumption of alcohol?

    HURR HURR HURR

    THIS KNOWLEDGE EXCITES ME.
     
  6. ... You know, if police were to confiscate my notebook and look at my search history, they'd probably arrest me. It's full of things like 'exotic torture techniques,' 'Stockholm syndrome,' 'subtle poisons,' 'treatment of severed limbs' and 'suspicious occult activity' xD
    My characters have weird hobbies, okay.
     
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  7. i totally get, understand, and advocate research for characters, especially if you're trying to go for serious writing

    me, i do plenty of research at work as part and parcel of the job, so i personally advocate NOT doing that when i RP and just having fun on the forums

    do as i say, not as i do ftw
     
  8. I've not researched much for characters, but I have extensively for world-building. I have friends of mine look up words in different languages that I can mix around to become cities or gods. When I learn about certain cultures I think about modifying them slightly for my own purposes, and when it comes to creatures I will look up the general consensus on a being (like changelings for example) in order to put my own interpretation to it.

    If you were to count science fiction and fantasy books I've read as research, then I've done even more than even I'm aware of, using these as limitless inspiration. my research method, however, is mostly observational, or getting someone else to do it for me and provide feedback. I guess I'm a lazy researcher, preferring to go with my own imagination, but often needing just that little bit of help.

    I'm not sure if I've answered the opening question.
     
  9. I personally don't that much, but then again most of the RPs I play in aren't really that specific to this reality so it's forgivable.
     
  10. I do constant, exhaustive research, to find new content to add into my role plays, to gently grow and nurture the worlds into living organisms that in one manner or another, reflect real world cultures, histories, concepts, and so on. I'll twist and inject some of my own inspirations and perspectives, some beliefs, ideologies, and voila, something unique yet intelligible is created. For instance, for the characters and civilization of Liveria in the Legend of Renalta, I studied up on gothic architecture, dark ages Christianity, and pagan symbolism. What resulted is a society of isolationists who keep a small but elite guard of black garbed inquisitors and witch hunters, ruled by an aristocratic monarchy that wants nothing more than to keep out immigrants and make the kingdom as self-dependent as possible. Yet it's stuck in a world where alliances are being forged to try and fight off a great evil.

    How does a guarded society of conservatively minded individualists keep their culture intact whilst simultaneously contributing appropriately towards the defense of the very continent they live on?

    All of these tumultuous changes are reflected within the princess of the kingdom, who is malleable to outside influence and has to learn more than her predecessor who rules the kingdom ever had to in order to function. Player's actions and their beliefs thus by extension impact this princess who is caught between her old life and the new one she will have to lead to preserve her culture and society.

    All of which wouldn't really be possible if I just made generic fantasy society #8472.12 with stereotype western princess #9982 now, would it. I mean, maybe the character could still have depth, but it wouldn't be the same as it is now, with this actually developed background and home that has impacted the world view of the princess in question, which has in turn affected who she is as a person, fundamentally, and who she will become in tandem with player actions involving her.
     
  11. As far as I can remember, there have only been two roleplays I've done more than cursory research for. More recently, for a post-apocish type RP (run by Brovo, actually), where I spend some time looking up silenced/automatic shotguns for someone else, and then the pros and cons of different rifle loading types for my own character.

    The other one being for a RP that took place in 1905~, where I did research on the govermental make up of Romania, Romanian universities, women's rights at the time, small towns that existed back then, the laws surrounding asylums, Romanian names popular in that era, etc etc. Took several hours, as I ditched and created new plans depending on the information I found.
     
  12. Being a huge history geek, and having researched extensively for 1920s RPs, I could answer most of those questions except for the specifics of the wine question. :D

    As most folk who've ever role played could tell you, I research LITERALLY EVERYTHING when making a character, including the name at times. At times I create a character just for the excuse of researching a topic.
     
  13. I do it all the time. Details and context Is EVERYTHING.
     
  14. Oh lord I don't usually, but sometimes I feel like I have to for things I don't know about and then by the end of the day I'm an expert...

    I was creating an assassin character once, and my search history became very scary very fast. =___=

    And sometimes being in school and learning new things then makes me want to create plots and/or characters based on the things I'm learning. :D
     
  15. Just ask @Diana about the level of angst I go through trying to write an accurate depiction of American public high schools.
     
  16. I've done a bit of research from time to time. It usually depends on the character I'm using or the roleplay I'm in.

    Once, I joined a RP that focused on a bunch of people who were part of a support group, they each had their problems and it ranged from depression to addiction to schizophrenia. I wanted to try my hand at playing a schizophrenic, so I read a bunch of medical articles, watched some interviews and documentaries and looked up some stories. I learned quite a bit and it was pretty fun, OTL I'm not sure if I ended up being accurate, but I tried.

    I also had a character who lost an arm in a fantasy RP. I didn't do as much research since the RP had healers and magic, but I did look up stories about people who've lost an arm or leg. I ended up researching how it affects their lives and how to care for prosthetics as well. It was quite interesting v.v I remember coming across a video of a woman who lost her leg in a bombing and gah some of the stories were really sad :c
     
  17. I once spent an entire weekend doing research on the Russian Revolution and the New Economic Plan through to Stalin's rise of power in order to create a backstory for a former bolshevik army soldier turned butcher who escapes Russia and comes to America in the late 20s. Just so I knew how much history that I could fudge.

    He is by far one of my favourite characters.

    And he's a wolverine. :D Because Russian.
     
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  18. Was he ever a member of the X-Men? *grins*
     
  19. Speaking of X-Men, I've had to do a lot of research recently about those comics because I joined a site where a want ad called my name and needed to get in the loop. I learned lots of stuff then, seriously, I knew next to nothing beforehand. I also totally neglected to do indepth research on the Netherlands before I wrote up a different character from there and later regretted it. >.>

    But I love researching for characters. It offers facts I never previously thought about, or didn't consider, perspectives and new ideas. Always with the new ideas. I've learned about famous crossdressing spies, star forts and falconry, what not to wear to a medieval reenactment and MNGIE disease and when slingshots came into being, and a lot of other stuff. Some things I may not be an expert in(actually, I'd be an expert in none of it), but it's certainly broadened my horizons.

    The things I research range from historical bits and bobs for time period accuracy like backstory and garments and proper etiquette, to anatomy and how the body works and evolution, to English dialects in different parts of the world. I love details, and often I wind up getting lost in them and sometimes even forgetting the original reason I started looking, but I'm never bored, even if it ends up that I don't use anything I just researched.

    Sometimes I don't look things up at first, especially if I feel comfortable in the genre and the setting offers a certain leeway with details, but I almost always wind up googling something, or visiting the library for every character I've ever written.
     
  20. I do a lot of research for my characters. Most of the time it's for a historical roleplay where I want my characters to be accurately depicted in that time period.