Thursday, October 21, 2004

Creating a Mythology Part 3: Personal History

This is going to be a very short blog since character creation has been covered by far better writers than I. If you want to skip my rambling, the links are at the bottom.

I just want to stress to you the importance of detail. Without detail, your characters are flat. A plain old wizard with a long grey beard and impressive spells isn't much to go on. But if you wizard also has a gambling problem and is trying to train his 14 year old flightly niece the business, that's far more entertaining and suggests possible plots.

It's not enough to just give them a background story, you have to reflect that history in how the character acts. For example, it would make sense for someone who had a relative die by snake bite to have a strong fear and hatred of snakes, so work that in. A mercenary wouldn't be from a noble family unless there was a good reason for it (like being stripped of his land and titles for some offence) so either give him a reason or give him a commoner background.

That's all I really have to say, except to enjoy your characters. You'll be working with them for a while so don't create characters that bore you to tears.

Here's some wonderful links to resources of creating characters (those better writers I mentioned).

Fiction Writer's Character Chart
Creating Memorable Characters
Ways to Ruin Your Dialogue Part 4
On Thud and Blunder
You and Your Characters

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Creating a Mythology Part 2: Recent History

This is going to be a much shorter blog than the last one because much of it was already covered in Creating a Mythology Part 1: Ancient History. If you haven't read it yet you should before continuing on with this post.

Recent history is important events in your world that have affected people in a major way but did not actively involve your characters. This is stuff that usually happened during their parents or grandparents time. Kind of like how some one in their twenties like me view the Civil Rights Movement or WWII, they are major events that to this day affect my life but I wasn't around when they happened.

The biggest event you could probably have in your recent history would probably be a war but a lot more falls into the catagory as well, there could have been a plague in the last 50 years and the population is still recovering, there's the crowning of a new monarch through the natural death of the previous ruler or assasination or coup, maybe there were major advances in science or magic in the recent past (think about the advances in medicine in the last 50 years for an example).

Whatever it is you should have a far more detailed description than you would for an ancient history event. You need to know the events (major and some minor for anectdotal uses), the people involved, the places involved, and most importantly how it affects the lives of your characters. If it doesn't affect their lives you don't need any more description than an ancient history event. Exactly how detailed you go is up to you and the needs of your world but in my experience it's usually better to write too much background than too little and come up short down the road.

Probably most importantly for recent history is the chronology. Make a time line and assign dates to when things happened, because you will need to know how long before your story an event occured and in what order. It's incredibly important to keep track of these things for continuity, because trust me a reader or player will notice if a 30 year old starts talking about an event 40 years in the past.

I hope you've found this interesting and helpful if you're building a world. Next time I'll be writing about character's personal histories.