Character attributes

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This post may prove nerdier than others, but I feel it is essential to the character creation process.

Character Attributes

As in video games, specifically RPGs or tabletops like D&D, a character in a story has a given set of attributes. These parameters define what the actor is good at, what he or she may fail at, and perhaps unique modifiers that make the protagonist unique from others. This system is an excellent method to help a character jump from the page by giving them atypical handicaps that other individuals in a setting take for granted.

Anyway, back to RPGs. First, define what kind of a character, or class, the actor is. Take your stereotypical warrior: they (usually) have high physical prowess and resilience to trauma. Warriors may not specialize in other fields of ability like magic or stealth, but they have their toolbox of skills to make up for it. Characters like this fit a niche in a company of heroes, whereas others party members address their shortcomings. Having one protagonist do all the work often comes off as lazy and boring. Give your character(s) a challenge that pushes them to their limits.

Leveling Up

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As a character progresses through a story, they level up or gain additional attributes. With games, the hero adds new parameters to their character sheet. In a novel, leveling up is more subtle. The author may demonstrate this as a character acquiring a new artifact/weapon for study, graduating military school, or finishing a spellbook. Regardless of what it is, the development of new experience alters the character’s worldview and the way they handle problems. A rookie fighter may view a few brigands with horror, while a veteran would lean towards courage and confidence. This system of progression enhances characters and leaves a player or reader with a greater sense of appreciation by the end of the story. Typically, characters begin with little to no experience and graduate to seasoned fighters by the end of the plot.

There are exceptions, but player/readers always love to see a no-body rise to greatness. The farmer hero trope is heavily used in fantasy settings, but it still works well. My main OC of Ethereal Seals starts out as a farm girl who trains into a knight by the end of the story, yet she fails at some tasks that others take for granted. There are endless variations to this trope, and putting your own spin on it will only help it stand out.

 

Thanks for reading. Much love and gratitude to my readers! 🙂

 

 

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