This week I will review the similarities and differences between role-playing and novel writing as associated with character development.
The first bump came with continuity. As with any novel, this is the utmost important factor. If your story is not smooth, continuous and easy to follow, your reader will be lost in the muck. This is the case with role-playing: there cannot be multiple simultaneous situations for characters. A character cannot be in one location and suddenly in the next, as it is with a novel. The exception in novel writing is when a chapter perhaps has one group run into another at the end of the chapter then the following chapter reviews how the second group arrived. There is still continuity and flow, so long as the next chapter recognizes the end of the story arc in the previous chapter. This tidbit made me scrutinize the chapters I have thus far written and to evaluate any inconsistencies I may have created.
My absolute favorite has been the character development. I think the best advice I’ve found about character development in writing was to pay close attention to how different people in your life behave and interact with others. Role-playing, like real-life observations, offers great learning opportunities in understanding characters’ personalities, interactions, mannerisms, etc. It becomes exciting to wait for the next post and witness how the other character will interact which will then feed into how your character develops. I have learned much about Elliera by how she interacts, or lack thereof, with the other characters. She is a recluse, not out of shyness, but out of an inability to overcome her past. While this bolsters her strength in observation, her ability to analyze situations and her calm nature, it prevents her from ever letting anyone get close. I have learned, too, that though she is young by elf standards, her mannerisms seem excessively elegant and out of date. In other words, she does not know how to hold a compelling conversation. Elliera is compelled by her need of action, by her need to run from her past.
This realization of her character has opened many possibilities for when I revisit Blood of the Fallen. There are many options I had not considered because Elliera was not a complete character. It has furthermore been of great use in how I approach the second draft of the In-Between. A character will not be defined by their actions while alone, but rather by how they interact with other characters. This is clear during role-play. It is rather boring if your character is constantly in thought and not responding to the other characters. You must engage in either action or speech. Perhaps one of the most important rules is that action or speech must have something to do with the storyline.
I am thrilled to see how Elliera continues to grow and how her development will spark my revision of other characters. Stay tuned for next week’s discussion on point of view!