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When Storytelling I

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When Storytelling I

Post by Riley Oran on Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:08 pm

Welcome readers to "When Storytelling"-- a series dedicated to providing an insight to into creating an excellent story! 

I don't do grammar or spelling tips here. I'm also not the end-all-be-all story-maker. This is a column about advice that would be forum-specific, and definitely uses this forum as a reference for most of its content. As such, there may be times that I directly reference lore topics, in-character events, or even an inside joke or two that maybe one person gets. Perhaps, even two. On to business.

In this thread, I'm going to focus on our relationship to our characters. In past times on other sites, characters were seen as a commodity. Applying to the current majority of us, there was a time when you were only allowed one character. This created a type of attachment to our characters that, despite our attempts to be objective, skewed us. Having to 'start all over' was something we wanted to avoid. Beyond that, we project aspects of ourselves into a characters to make them relatable. Some things we suppress in them, others we exaggerate, others we celebrate, and others we forget about as the characters develop. 

This is all understandable, but because of this now programmed personal connection with our characters, our judgement is compromised. Often enough, people don't operate on in-character logic when writing. This is because they are attached to their characters and often, we see them consider in-character consequences out-of-character before acting in character, doing something to avoid a perceived negative consequence. This, in essence, compromises the character. While they don't possess metaknowledge, usually what they would have done is significantly altered by the writer.

This affects the greater narrative. The focus on an individual character is great, but not when the character is prized over the story we as a group are all trying to tell. As much as we love our characters, it must be accepted that ultimately they are a means to an end on Genesis Project. Some characters will die. Some characters will be crippled. Some will be made kings, some criminals. But if the players consider consequences out of character and let that knowledge bleed into their character's actions, then what logic and rationality dictate would typically occur in a situation won't. This can throw off any related plots beyond prediction or recovery.

And there are times where this is just fine. Planned plots, for instance, generally have a consensus on those involved how they will end. For spontaneous topics that don't, playing this way can suck the fun out of the feel. The person that needs to consider what to do next is not you, per say. Asking what you would do in a situation is not the same as asking what your character would do. Your character would tempt fate if they had no idea. Your character would do that stupid thing that they doesn't realize is stupid. It has to be understood that characters, despite our love for them, are plot devices in and of themselves. Love them. Treasure them. And respect them enough to let them pay for their actions.
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