So as my *few* followers know, I adore going to cons. Of course, for the interaction with other attendees and with guests. But I also love going because ever since we had the Geeklet, con’s mean I get to go back to my room around 9pm, put her to bed, and write. This leaves my poor Husband to do the party hopping and smoozing (not Smofing!), but the division of labor works for us.
A few weekends ago, we travelled to Mysticon in Roanoke, Va. Great con, still a little crowded for the space but the con-runners are very attentive to both guests and fans and the hotel staff (especially the Restaurant) is fantastic!!
I sat on a few panels over the weekend… Nerdiquette 101, Role-playing, Anthologies, Form and Function around Costuming and a Tribute to Anne McCaffrey. All of which were very enjoyable, and informative. I really enjoyed the role-playing panel, which leads me into my main topic today.
Writers write. We know that. It is something that most of us can’t stop doing. And while I like writing short stories, and I’m desperately trying to finish one of my novels, I find it interesting that I love writing about my role-playing characters. Especially when I build new ones.
I’m often the one that has the most detailed, longest back stories. Part of that is so I have a good feel for the character when role-playing them, but also because I enjoy writing the “story up to here” part of a character.
When I build a new character, I often start from either a basic concept or an image. From there I build the stats and such that make the character but then I start to work on their story. Who are they? Where did they come from? What events happened in their lives that made them make the choices they did.
For me, writing the character’s backstory and personality help create or explain some of the choices the character may make in role-playing. I have a character now that is a latent werewolf. The other characters in the game know it, but I think most have forgotten because the character is also a druid that wildshapes. As part of her back story, she is running away from the werewolf in her, and the family that embraces the werewolf… so what happens when they catch up to her?
Because most of my stories are character driven, I often do the same thing with my story characters. What happens when an Air Force pilot gets thrown back in history to meet Grace O’Malley? Backstory for Brianna Ni Rianne: Irish –American, normal happy childhood, military family.
What happens when a new knight finds out there really isn’t shades of gray in the world? Backstory: Knight who knew she was going to be a Knight from a young age, proud of her study. Believes the world is shades of gray, everyone can be redeemed.
My most recent story in Athena’s Daughter (you can order here!) is about a woman who is suffering from PTSD and how it affects the decisions she makes.
In my novel, I realized recently that the action had been happening to my heroine. In Morgan’s backstory… she grew up fairly quickly and had responsibility thrust on her at an early age. She has always been the driver of her life. She knew what she wanted to do (teach) as early as elementary school. She pursued that dream even as she side tracks as a writer. Now, however, she had been thrust into this world of change and confusion and has been pulled along, going from event to event. I realized that it meant I was stuck waiting for the next event to happen. But then I thought about the character and realized that she would also realize this and wouldn’t sit and wait. That meant her next step had to be doing something herself, not waiting for someone else to let her know what to do. Exactly what that is… I haven’t figured out yet.
So, the point of today’s lesson… writing your characters backstory whether for a novel or for a rpg can help determine the characters personality, and reactions. When you know the history of the character sometimes, it can help drive why a character would do something.
"I run between the shadows/Some are phantoms, some are real." ~ Rush, Double Agent