Someone linked me to a blog post presenting the idea of summarizing a character into a 140 character quote. (This post – go read it, it’ll only take a minute)
I think that it’s great – although my personal approach to RP is to have a even more concise idea (e.g. Confused space-goat tourist) or to get so deep into a character’s head that I know how they should react in every situation.
The thing I actually enjoy about this approach is that it’s actually really hard. I’ve got a decent stable of characters from various projects, all of which I know pretty well. That being said, in about an hour of racking my brain for acceptable quotes, I came up with a grand total of jack shit.
Metaphor time! (Because I’m that bored, I actually kinda have a semi-related tangent to go off on!)
Building a character is much like building a world (for the “Dee an’ Dees” or any other creative project) – there are a few approaches, (and ignoring the ones that are mostly mechanical in their workings) you can basically do one of two things.
Work Top-Down, where you start with a big overview, and zoom in and in and in and in. I personally find this a nice idea from a ideological perspective (read: It’s a cute idea) – however it has a few flaws (for me, personally).
Mainly, It’s hard for me to get just a ‘big overview’ – I’m the guy who likes to go and look over every fucking corner of a zone/level in a game – I’m also the guy who complains if the game doesn’t have enough variety in the environments on offer.
For example: Final Fantasy XIII was a pass, because while being incredibly linear, it had a nice variety of super pretty places to run through. Every ‘modern’ shooter, on the other hand has very same-y looking levels, and everyone looks the same. That is booooooring.
Alternately, you can work Bottom-Up (or Inside-Out, whatever – I generally refer to it as “the other one”) – where you start with a small idea, and expand as you need it. This is closer to my preferred approach (I tend to start with a small idea and then just do whatever because I like to explore), but has it’s own unique challenges.
Mostly, it makes it much harder to foreshadow things. Although, what you lose in consistency, you make up for in freedom. And everyone loves freedom, right?
Okay, now I’ve completely forgotten what I was talking about. Guess I could actually post this though, so that’s kinda novel. :p