What’s Your Character’s Character?

What’s Your Character’s Character?
June 5, 2017 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice Nancy E Miller

 In the days of olde, when I was a young lass, I played Dungeons and Dragons. One of the first things you did when working up your character was to pick what type of person he/she was. I’m not talking about half-elf or dwarf. I mean his/her basic make-up.  Its moral code.

The three main categories were good, neutral, and evil. But the sub-categories made a world of difference. You could be lawful evil which meant your character was a bad person but grudgingly respected the laws of the land, nature, religion…a monk with a nasty side but bound by the laws of his order. Or you could have a chaotic good.  Kind of like Robin Hood. They might do bad things but always for a good reason, at least in their mind. The key was that they had to stick to their moral code during the game.

So the question is this…what moral code does you character play by?  Your antagonist might break the law but, in its mind, feel the action was justified in light of his/her need.  It might lash out wildly but just stay shy of breaking the law. 

Your protagonist might be an anti-hero. Like Han Solo in Star Wars, he has no problem breaking the law but nobody, I say NOBODY, hurts his friends and gets away with it. I would call him a chaotic good character.

What about the love interest?  Are they lawful good and there for their man as long as it doesn’t include shooting another person?  Or do they pick up the spare gun and plow away? (Okay, so she could plead self-defense.)

The point I’m getting at is that, in creating your character, get a sense at the beginning of what type of personality and moral code they go by. In most cases, people don’t change their moral code unless something big gets in their way that forces a departure from what they believe.

Here is an example. She was, for all the world to see, a lovely woman. Very friendly and cheerful, she appeared to be the perfect wife and social creature. As long as she was getting what she wanted from you. One slip and the hounds of hell were released with her as the devastated victim. There was no mercy.  After one incident she was required to seek mental help. My guess is that she did not change. She just learned to cover her actions up better. 

Sound a little like the premise for my first book? Could be. Maybe. I shall neither confirm nor deny.

There are boundless character sheets available to authors. Maybe, though, you could take a look at a D&D character sheets for hints at ideas you haven’t thought of yet.

My character, Twinkle, was a neutral good. I loved playing her role. It seemed to open up parts of me that had never been allowed to be released. Maybe that is why I love writing so much. It does the same thing.

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Nancy E Miller Nancy E. Miller, romantic suspense author of Shark Bait and Crystal Unicorns, lives near St. Louis with her husband and three dogs, pygmy goats, chickens and a cranky rooster named Ketchup. Her degree is in Psychology and Sociology. She has worked in education and mental health as a case manager and crisis counselor.

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