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In this alternate universe, Lord Voldemort is dead, but so is Harry Potter. Factions continue to fight, Hogwarts educates the next generation of witches and wizards, and the Ministry of Magic does its best to hold everything together.

It is 2030 in the Wizarding World

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Filling Out Your Characters

on Mon Jul 07, 2014 5:12 am
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As someone who is interested in a number of career choices in writing, I've spent the past year and a bit on PA, working on building characters. This could be from making incredibly long character applications (as I'm apparently known to do), to taking months to work out exactly why a character says a certain phrase or acts one way around some people but differently around another.

Here are some things I've started doing in order to build my characters and make them more realistic and relatable, if not more fun to post for. Each of the following are ideas I had, which came from TV shows, admittedly, but are actually super helpful.






Late Night Headcanons
This is my current favorite, and shamelessly ripped off from Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Hashtags, among his other segments. I made it up a few nights ago, and really love it so far. I personally use Polyvore for this, but it can be done any number of ways.

Each night, I pick a character that I really want to find something new for, and decide (or, as I put it, "find out") something about their past, their future, or their relationship with another character, be it my own or someone else's.

Here is a collection of the ones I have done on polyvore. You don't need an account to view them, though I fully support the idea of starting one. We use it to tag other members of PA in sets for specific threads, and also use it for plotting, though that can be done just as easily on here if it's not your thing. I do most of my plotting on PA, and of my personal planning on polyvore.

Link To My Sets

So, the idea is that I take - say, Avery Ivanov - who, even though I post with her frequently, I do not know enough about her to create many new plotting opportunities outside of my typical writing partners. So I considered the relationship I built for her and Keiran Hayes, another of my characters, and developed it even further in LNH pt. 3, which can be found in my collection.

Not only do these sets help YOU figure out what to do with your character, it helps those who want to plot with you learn more about your characters before diving into a thread with them. Sometimes characters come off as very strange if you don't know their story. While this can be helpful for plotting at times, it can actually hinder the relationship between writers as well as characters when your writing partner doesn't understand what's going on in your character's head.



Scenes From A Hat
This one, from the show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", is more simple that it might sound. You don't need a hat, and you don't need an audience to give you suggestions.

Have you seen a show with a plot that intrigued you? Or maybe you like to read a lot - be it novels, nonfiction, or even fanfiction? Not to mention plots you've seen on PA!

ASK YOURSELF: What would your character do if that happened to them? Would they use sarcasm? Get angry? Would they just ignore the problem if there is one?

If you want to roleplay it with a partner (or several!) that's totally up to you. Part of this one is me just considering it as I watch a film or as I'm trying to fall asleep (because goodness knows my brain never wants to shush when I'm tired). It's probably more fun to write out, but recently I just hadn't found the time. I'm planning to put this one into action, myself, quite soon.



Battle of the Block
If you watch the show Big Brother, you know about this weekly challenge, which sets apart the players who are in jeopardy of losing their spot in the house, and losing a chance at the cash prize for the winner. Now, this isn't me suggesting you go about evicting your characters, or anyone else's. Instead, I'm asking you to consider the types of games played, as well as others that could - and perhaps should - be played on that show.

Speed. Balance. Multitasking. Knowledge. Countless others.

What is your character good at? Are they better at it than your other characters? Or are they worse than characters they know? You never want a character that is brilliant at everything. That ruins opportunities for plotting where another character could help yours and create friendships. Or they could be teased to make a new enemy.

The important part to remember is THIS: All characters need relationships of every kind to create fulfilling plotting. They need anything any normal person would have, relationship wise, or they won't be a full, rounded person. If they don't have an enemy, they can't grow as a person by choosing to do the right thing. Or they can't fall to the "dark side" by choosing to hurt that enemy. If you have a character that is great at everything, few people will be interested in being associated with them for lack of chances and lack of changes. By having a character with flaws, you can help someone else's character with flaws of their own.



Voted Off the Island
Watch Survivor? Even if you don't, you're bound to know this saying. Again, don't go shunning any characters. Consider the following:

If all of your characters were on an island, which would be the first to be sent away? Who would tell the lies to get what they wanted? Who would ask to go home because they just couldn't handle being in nature that long (heaven forbid!)?

OR, alternatively:

If your character was on an island with the characters belonging to your closest roleplay partners, what would they do? Would they trick their way to the end? Or would they make a mistake and be taken out?

This is another example of having to know the limitations of your character. For this example, as well as the Battle of the Block, you're welcome to accept the fact that they can use magic, as the site revolves around it, but I suggest that you consider what they would do if their wands were taken. Or if they were placed on this island with people they don't trust. You have to be willing to accept failure from your character, and take them seriously. If you have a first year, he clearly would be unlikely to win over a graduate with more physical strength or endurance or whatever the issue.

For example, if I put Avery Ivanov and a few of my other characters on an island, I know that Avery would not make it to the end. She would end up feeling guilty, and putting others before herself, because that is the mentality I have created for (and found in) her. It would be a dramatic overstatement to say she could actually win the whole thing.






This page may be updated over time if I come up with other ideas/games for character building. For now, I hope these help you understand your characters more fully, and create new opportunities for you in your writing!
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Re: Filling Out Your Characters

on Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:57 pm
Just like to say that I really enjoy these. Headcanons, especially, really help add layers to a character that you don't necessarily need to post about. It's great, because it helps you show rather than tell. Instead of saying "Gary did not actually mean to be rude, but he was still pining the loss of his grandmother" you get these wonderful posts like "Gary was not sure why he was acting this way. Here was this woman, being kind to him, as countless others had, and hurt tumbled through him, forcing venom out of his mouth. He wasn't sure what was happening to him, but it wasn't good."

Having those headcanons gives you some temperaments, attitudes, and situations to play with. It also helps with plotting because it affects how your character will respond to certain people, and could even give you some ideas. Not only that, but it's great Angst Advertisement for others who may appreciate getting to know your character a little more.

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Re: Filling Out Your Characters

on Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:06 pm
Something I thought of while watching Once Upon A Time, today:

"There's no such thing as love at first sight, or first kiss."
Okay, the quote sounds negative, but let me explain. I have almost always been that person that wants my characters to know their endgame and get there, and everything like that. But here's the problem I've found:

In a couple of my recent ships, I've come to understand that, in the real world, the two would never actually work as a couple. Ever. Which brings me to the problem of whether or not to keep them together. I want to, because I love the characters that mine are paired with, and I love writing with those handlers. But it becomes tiresome to understand how they manage to keep things together.

That's why, for all of my new characters (Christian, Apollo, Darren, others I can't think of right now), I haven't set them up for anyone or anything. I personally agree with the quote above, though I know not everyone does. Which is why I refuse to force them into a relationship. The three I mentioned are so very different as characters that I can't imagine someone that they would actually work well with.

And, really, that idea is kind of thrilling. I mean, I can thread them with anyone at all, and if they work, so be it. If not, there is no pressure to make it work. I've changed my characters in the past - made their personalities change over time - to fit the character I wanted them with, and it actually made me really sad. To the point where I wasn't sure I wanted to keep them at all.

There are so many more opportunities when you just let your character meet new people. For example, the thread I mentioned before (I think it was in my other post in this section) about Darren and Erika? It's funny to me, because I've become the sort of person that looks for ships when I thread with people. I look for the possibility, because the idea of my character being interested in someone gives me the giggles. But I digress.

In that thread, I have literally no idea where it's going, and it gives so many opportunities. Even if I could eventually see Darren actually liking Erika in that way, I'm not going to tell him to, but I'm going to let him build up to it if he wants to.

I always say that my characters write the story for me, and that I can't control them. I think it's time that I took that saying more seriously.



Another idea, though not TV show related. Technically, it's movie related, if you catch the quote.

"Tell me about it, stud."
So I tried to get someone to join PA, today. I think she might, actually, but that isn't the point. She asked about my characters, and I had to seriously think about what to tell her. So that made me put up a new RP request. Here's what I learned:

If you had only 100 words, how would you describe your character? 50 words? One sentence?

Take a minute next time you write about your character, or make a roleplay request, to ask yourself what the most important parts of your character are. If you wanted someone to be interested in writing with one of them, what are the most curious parts or the best parts of them? What would cause someone to have sudden muse and want to tackle your characters?

I'm not talking age or house, though those are also important. I didn't put either of those things on most of my request and I still got people asking to thread with them through PM and on the RP Request thread, itself. Instead, I thought about where their plot is going, what changes have occurred in their life or their character arc, and how they could be interesting to someone who never had reason to post with them in the past.

You don't need to worry too much about your requests. But you could choose to take that time to really consider them. I tried to do that when I posted, and so far it's given me more of a response than any of my previous ones. Maybe it's because of summer, but I'm choosing to believe that my explanations changed the outcome just as much. I'd wager that yours will too.
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Re: Filling Out Your Characters

on Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:25 pm
I fully agree with your plotting views. Even the characters I have endgamed, I've never made a guarantee that my characters will last. I've endgame quietly to myself and had waaaay too many of those characters evolve or just not work out. And it's also like... we can't guarantee we will love who we love forever. I used to think we could, but I learned that there are circumstances tht change people. To be able to guarantee a pairing means that your character is not going to change and neither is the other character.

When I put 'final' in a plot page, I mean that the handlers are committed to letting them stay together if that's what happens because, as we foresee, that's what's going to happen. But there's never a guarantee.

That said, people should not take that as a discouragement from romantic plotting. I havsee people go the opposite because they are afraid of their characters not working out as finals, so they don't even risk romantic plotting. Get your characters out there. Let them break hearts, or get one themselves. Let them have bad breakups, or relationships that are forgettable or unhealthy.

And I love that challenge. That would be a very interesting quick write. I definitely felt more inspired in your RP request by your characters.

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