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Character Theory How much of you do you put into your OCs?

Kahir

"𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖆 𝖎𝖆𝖈𝖙𝖆 𝖊𝖘𝖙"
Hello there!

It's always fascinating to come up with different types of characters, as a diverse cast can create an incredibly realistic sensation to the story, but it also allows us to see the setting through different perspectives, exploring the overall complexities of such time and place through the eyes of many diverse people.
When writing various types of characters, however, some have a tendency to incorporate a bit of themselves in their characters, others prefer not to do so, and try to come up with concepts for their characters' personality that are completely different from who they are as a person. This can be translated into giving them a similar set of interests, in basing a bit of their backstory on one's own personal experiences, in giving them a (not so) preponderant character trait, etc.

The way we approach character creation through these ways implies different obstacles too. For instance, it might be more difficult to write a character that is different from ourselves. If we write a character that is a bit similar to ourselves, however, that can also result in forgetting a bit that they are someone else, and then the writer can start writing them as if they were their character.

How do you prefer to write your characters: do you base them on yourself or do you prefer to make them someone completely different? And in which extension do you incorporated (if you do) such similar characteristics in your character's essence?

Let's just share our views about this in a respectful way! Don't hate me, please 😅
 

Folly-Derrezzed

I miss the comfort of my mother.
I put in certain aspects of myself into my characters. Traits and the like. Then build those characters up from those traits. Im not sure if i turn into my characters or not, but i feel like they are distinguished enough from me that nobody can tell? If that makes sense?
 

rae2nerdy

left site
I actually mostly base my characters off people I know. The only things I might share with my characters are usually hobbies or a love of animals.

But I will basically write like my sister into a fictional world. Or my mom or my corworkers.

I actually never saw a problem with basing characters on yourself as long as you can take criticism well. If someone thinks my characters are stupid I don’t act like they insulted my actual sister.
 

PinkChiffon

Certified Iconic
All of my characters are queer and female with the exception of maybe one or two, like myself. More than half of my characters share in my love of science. All of my characters have one hobby of mine in common, as well as a hobby of one of my roommates. That's usually as far as it goes for me. I never share and backstory or personality with my characters.
 

Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
I start writing characters from a core idea, something which really appeals to me, and around which I build the rest of the character. That core appeal may be some aspect of myself I want to explore in the character, though it rarely is. Between combining individual ideas I think would go well together with my core concept, and connecting them via logical derivatives (for instance, if my core idea is a power the character has, then I look at how that power could've affected their life and how those effects might've sparked other events how they view their power and how the impact of being inherently tied to it affects their personality etc... ).

That said, even though I craft them as individuals independent from myself, all of my characters carry some aspect of me. It may be because I'm quite introspective and so I end up often taking interest in things that resonate with me on a more personal level, or maybe because I'm the frame of reference from which my characters are written, so the "default" resembles my self-image.

This is definitely an interesting topic, and one of the challenges I am currently trying to overcome as a writer. I find that when I write my posts, despite my attempts my dialogue slips a lot into how I talk and my kind of words, and my narration is very uniform in that regard too. I want to improve my flexibility in those aspects.
 

Cormorant

New Member
When I create a character, I usually start by thinking about how I want to participate within the particular RP setting. Well, I say think, but it's more of a subconscious process where I'm automatically drawn to concepts that allow my character(s) to service the plot or round out the cast in some way. Which is why I don't do well in heavily character-focused RPs, especially ones where there isn't an end goal in sight. I end up hating the characters that I write or get bored of looking at everything through their lens, all the time.

So I guess my answer to your question is, not very much? I do incorporate elements of my own experience to try to ground the character in some semblance of emotional realism, but it's done in a very disconnected manner. Once that element is integrated into the character, I don't really think of it as a part of me anymore... I honestly don't know if I'm making any sense lol
 

starshinesiren

babe, there’s something tragic about you.
See, the way I write is through being able to truly relate to characters- so I always end up giving them some core part of me that I can deeply relate to and speak on with knowledge. It's just easiest that way, writing flows better and I'm able to better understand what my characters do and why they'd do it. That being said, I'm an actor, so maybe that's why I go about it like that.

Funnily enough, I've tried making self inserts, and they never actually turn out like me in the end. There's always something fundamentally different about them. I don't get it, but maybe it's because totally writing myself feels too vulnerable? Gotta add in something different, to spice it up. Most of my characters end up having my worst qualities turned up to the max, actually. I once heard someone say that writing your D&D characters is basically free therapy- I'm pretty sure it applies here, too.
 

Onmyoji

HanGuang-Jun
Moderator
Supporter
There will always be a bit of the one who writes the character even when it's not OC.

I guess my OC have my personality traits sometimes, mostly so that it would be easier to relate to them. But I try to not go overboard and give them more than one or two similar traits.
After all, if I wanted to write about myself I would write autobiography. And roleplay is something that lets you be someone else. So my OC can have something in common with me but they're not the same.
 

Murdergurl

will turn your insides into your outsides
I think it is impossible to write a character without shadowing some aspect of yourself into them. When they are presented with a problem, how do you write their reaction but through some facet of understanding that you have within yourself. I think that every person has the potential to be the best and worst version of themselves, and writing a myriad of characters is simply an outlet to this dynamic. Now, whether any particular character was meant to mirror yourself is at the choice of the writer. But for all those that are not meant to, they will always retain some aspect of their creator within them. Afterall, they are made from the experiences we pour into them.
 

Crayons

Iconoclast
Agreeing with the above statements of Onmyoji Onmyoji and Murdergurl Murdergurl , whatever happens, however different that character is from you, there will always be a part of you in it, because you are the one writing it. If you gave twenty RPers the same character sheet you would get twenty different interpretations of that character.

I tend to make characters based on a concept or theme and then "discover" bits of myself in them. It gets to a point where I feel like a lot of them are subconscious self-inserts even though they are completely different from each other. I think what it comes down to is that every writer is infinitely more complex than any character they write, no matter how well rounded it is, so it is possible to have characters with a large aspect of yourself in them, without them being like you. Over my years of RP I think my characters have become a lot less like me on the surface, but maybe showing a bit more insight of who I really am deep down.

I find it quite interesting to write characters I feel are nothing like me and start seeing myself in them, because it can open up really good insights into yourself and your own psychology. In a way RP can be like free therapy if you are prepared to do a bit of self-analysis. Or just have fun, ya know? XD
 

Murdergurl

will turn your insides into your outsides
Over my years of RP I think my characters have become a lot less like me on the surface, but maybe showing a bit more insight of who I really am deep down.

I find it quite interesting to write characters I feel are nothing like me and start seeing myself in them, because it can open up really good insights into yourself and your own psychology. In a way RP can be like free therapy if you are prepared to do a bit of self-analysis. Or just have fun, ya know? XD
Damn... this got me thinking... I've written some pretty fucked up characters... LOL!
 

Kahir

"𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖆 𝖎𝖆𝖈𝖙𝖆 𝖊𝖘𝖙"
I find that when I write my posts, despite my attempts my dialogue slips a lot into how I talk and my kind of words, and my narration is very uniform in that regard too.
This is something that I have also been trying to improve over time, even though I am still a bit trapped into my own speech when writing dialogue. Often I give them a different accent and/or speech impediment, but as I, myself, have a problem pronouncing the letter "r", it often feels similar to write them with their peculiar speaking pattern, and it doesn't always fit the character themselves. When overly done it can even be obnoxious, so I always try to be cautious when it comes to it.

In my particular case, my personal experiences are aligned with many that were shared. Even though my characters and I are fundamentally different people, there is always a bit of myself inside of them. In my case, I believe it is inevitable to write them with a certain level of similarity between myself and them. Essentially, I like to explore in them kind of a darker version of some of my traits, even though a big part of my characters' overall traits are the result of the environment they lived in or ideologies they have adopted as they grew up.
Actually, if I wanted to describe this personality development, it would be something similar to epigenetics.
In fact, mostly when it comes to flaws, I like to take a negative aspect of myself and apply it to my characters, but in an extreme. As it was mentioned, it allows me to understand that trait in a better way, and actually how I can minimise the influence that such trait has in my overall personality and actually become a better person. Let's say that my characters are often an example of "what not to be", and, sometimes, even a satirisation of myself. It has a cathartic effect, and I definitely can identify with them in certain situations.

Still, it is very important for me to separate myself from them. Even though we might have something in common, my characters and I are different people, because, even though our personality might be similar in certain aspects, they are undoubtedly different, our life experiences are also different, and our moral compass even more contrasting (they are often very moral ambiguous).

Also, what types of dilemmas do you guys have when approaching (or not) that personal influence on character creation? For me, as mentioned before, it has to do a bit with dialogue. Is there any negative or positive way in which such presence (ou absence) of personal traits in your character influences your roleplay/character development?
 

Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
This is something that I have also been trying to improve over time, even though I am still a bit trapped into my own speech when writing dialogue. Often I give them a different accent and/or speech impediment, but as I, myself, have a problem pronouncing the letter "r", it often feels similar to write them with their peculiar speaking pattern, and it doesn't always fit the character themselves. When overly done it can even be obnoxious, so I always try to be cautious when it comes to it.
In my case, I tend to slip up on vocabulary choice such as by using richer vocabulary that doesn't really fit the character or by forgetting certain quirks I set for them to have, and I tend to elaborate a bit too much for the character. I think a lot of the time I really fail to create a theme with my choices of metaphors and overall descriptions, and I'm forgetful about speech patterns. If I'm making a conscious effort I can do it in a given post, but I want to work on making it more natural.

Also, what types of dilemmas do you guys have when approaching (or not) that personal influence on character creation?
Well, the dialogue part is already mentioned. Next big thing would probably be "standardization" of characters. While I do tend to use some archetypes quite a lot, between them being among my favorites and the fact that so many RPs die way before one can really explore those characters, I do notice that my perspective as I write clouds my ability to see certain different angles with which I could approach writing my characters, and sometimes my personal characteristics are passed down to characters in a way that is limiting for them. For instance, I generally can't make characters who have very good perceptions for nuance or who have great memories, because I myself have a bit of a shitty memory. I would undoubtebly fail to roleplay such a character due to my own inability to express their skill with the thoughts and decisions I have them take.

Other than that, my process of character building is just independent from a personal basis and more practical in nature, so the question of "is this a personal trait"? Isn't a concern that often comes. I have tried making self-inserts and self-representing characters in the past though, and so I know for a fact that it makes a mess for me, as I struggle to create a consistent character that incorporates the various aspects and various sides of myself into it.

Is there any negative or positive way in which such presence (ou absence) of personal traits in your character influences your roleplay/character development?
No more than any other trait, really. To me characters are just a much more detached and artificial thing, they are not real people they could never be. Even if the trait is personal in origin, in roleplay for me it's just another trait. I think the most that can happen is someone attacking the character for a characteristic I have, and I may have the character defend themselves maybe more than I should.
 

Ambiloquous

Graphic Fanatic
I add specific elements that reflect myself to my characters whether consciously or subconsciously, and like another poster said above, I often crank up a handful of my flaws to the max. I'm not sure if it's only because it's easier for me to write characters that have noticeable similarities to myself or if it's also simply a habit to add aspects that connect back to me. But even with all that, a problem that usually comes up is relating to my characters and figuring out what they would do, no matter how much of myself I put into them. It might be because the RPs I am in are often cut short and I rarely get to fully flesh out a character, or I simply can't write beyond tropes I've read about and mashed together, but the first few posts generally feel very all over the place and like I don't have a clear idea of their character is — thinking about it, that might also be because I haven't thought out the personalities in-depth — and later on, if the RP gets that far, I routinely have to check on former posts to find the "feel" or "way" I wrote that character and try to write a new one based on the patterns that the character has been shown before.

I'm uncertain if this is simply me, or if many other people experience the same thing, or if maybe this is emphasizing and I just haven't understood the definition?
 

M.J. Saulnier

Retired User
I tend to keep myself out of a lot of characters because they tend to vary so greatly in nature and diversity when it comes to personality types. But I put a lot of myself in Samuel Blithe. He has very different life experiences than I've had, but his core personality is based on aspects of my own personality. He's loyal, loving, kind, fiercely protective of his own, but guarded toward strangers and change at first. He's nostalgic, sentimental, and has an understanding of people and what drives their choices and trajectories. He's a worrier. Once he cares about you, he will move heaven and earth to protect and help you. But he's too trusting. He's naive, easy to conflict on a moral and ethical level and can be manipulated as a result.

But he's more outgoing than I am. More charming, forgiving, intelligent, and mature. He's really who I want to be. Who I am working toward being - his IC mistakes aside.
 
I find it more enjoyable when I diversify my characters' personalities and backgrounds (I'm pretty easily bored by consistency haha), but I cannot for the life of me write really emotionally-oriented characters. I have a hard time relating to that (I wish I could though! It's definitely an area I could improve in), so most of my characters will not have that trait.
 
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Mellowfella

This feels hollow.
What I like to do, which applies to realistic themes mostly, is that picking one person from entire course of history and doing a research on him before I create my characters. I would pick one who suits with the theme I plan for the character. After researching, I base my character on their personal traits or I even write backgrounds inspired by them. Sometimes I imagine them exist in that fictional universe as something else and then make my character someone who's around them.

That's how I escape from repeating same characters all the time.
 

Kahir

"𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖆 𝖎𝖆𝖈𝖙𝖆 𝖊𝖘𝖙"
What I like to do, which applies to realistic themes mostly, is that picking one person from entire course of history and doing a research on him before I create my characters. I would pick one who suits with the theme I plan for the character. After researching, I base my character on their personal traits or I even write backgrounds inspired by them. Sometimes I imagine them exist in that fictional universe as something else and then make my character someone who's around them.

That's how I escape from repeating same characters all the time.
This is very interesting! I often do something similar: it really helps when it comes to inspiration, especially if you are dealing with historical settings because you get to research about the setting you are working with as well whilst researching about the character themselves. Plus, I think that taking inspiration from real people creates more tridimensional characters.
Still, it is very important for me to differentiate between the character and some of the figures that they are based on.
 

Marzopup

Yes, this IS a selfie
I think naturally after creating an oc, some aspects of myself bleed in as I start to RP them just because they're things I'm able to to write with authority about and seemed to fit naturally into their character.

For example, my favorite oc to rp is incredibly repressed due to an incident with her powers in childhood making her scared of accidentally hurting others. It caused her a lot of difficulty growing up with making friends and relating to people. Growing up I'd also struggled a lot with making friends until I was an upperclassmen in high school. While at first I'd intended for her to come across as almost robotic due to how hard she tries to repress her emotions, my childhood experiences kind of started to bleed in when I started using her. She ended up being a lot more emotional with the same anxiety issues I struggled with. I feel like it makes her writing feel more authentic while also being an organic extension of her character based on her backstory that isn't just me self inserting, if that makes sense.

Of course, it's not always that deep with me--my main male oc is a memelord shitposter, mostly because I'm too self conscious to make the same jokes so I gave him the sense of humor I secretly have. xD
 

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