Saturday, October 14, 2017

Character Development: Where Do You Start?

This one is more along the lines of fiction writing, or short-short story composition. I bring this topic up because this weekend, my friends and I will be jumping into what you’d call a “one-shot DnD campaign” in the spirit of the “Dread” campaign style. In other words, it isn’t your classic Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPG that we typically play, but it holds true to the nature of adventure seeking and role-playing. It can be quite fun and amusing, but it definitely isn’t for everyone! Dread features a wooden block tower with pieces to pull instead of dice to roll, and favors the brave and the dextrous. Now onto the topic!

A lot of authors, fantasy fiction writer R.A. Salvatore included, use this type of exercise to their advantage. 

So character development— where do we start?…

A fun way to get the creative juices going is simple:
-Jot down some basic thoughts and ideas about the character you have in mind. You might not have one in mind at all, and that’s also fine! Just jot down some ideas that pop into your head. “Rogue Assassin,” “Ninja Warrior,” “Princess who would rather seek adventure…”

-What goals does your character have? 
I.e., to be the best mage in the world, to conquer all evil, to make the perfect cake... it can be anything, really.

-What quirk does your character have? Do they have a ritual they must do everyday? 
I.e., do they adore running, and hate walking slowly? 

Then delve a little bit into what makes them tick. 
-What is their personality flaw? What obstacle do they commonly have to face throughout their journey?

-Do they have any secrets, and if so, does anyone else know what those secrets are?

-What does your character really live and strive for?

-Does your character have an arch-nemesis?!

Artemis Entreri, Servant of The Shard I
Your answers to these questions don’t really need to be intricate at this point. Your goal isn’t to completely flesh out the intricacies of your character, but to give yourself an outline before you write their story. It might be hard to believe, but the best characters actually have their own stories— the ones that come to life before you write the book you had in mind!

“Artemis Entreri: Do not underestimate Jarlaxle. Many have; they all are dead.”
R.A. Salvatore, Servant of the Shard Found via Goodreads

In the included material for one of Salvatore’s novels, he mentioned how he delved deeply into the story of his two “arch villains” in order to truly understand them better. In fact, the more he wrote, the more he realized they each deserved to have their own stories told. So thus, the Sellswords series was born. It followed “antagonists” Jarlaxle the mercenary, and Artemis Entreri the rogue assassin with their tales of many dangers and humorous exploits. 

After you jot a few things down and once you feel you have enough of this and that, you might feel a bit of a spark happen in the back of your mind— just enough for the wind to pick it up. If that’s the case, then certainly get going! However, if you’re still feeling a little uncertain, here’s an example of something I wrote for my husband’s DnD character backstory. 

The context of this short-short, is we have an Eldritch Warlock (a magic wielder) who was actually born completely mundane! His parents were both magic users, and very talented at that. He was also born half human, and half elf, so he had a difficult time fitting in with the people he often chose to be around. In the magical world of Dungeons & Dragons, you’ll see that sort of thing often: orcs, elves, humans, dragon born, etc. Not all of the races in this game play nice with one another, so it helps keep the world a raucous and interesting place. To wrap up the context of the warlock, he finds a magic book that allows him to wield extraordinary powers… but all powers come with a price.

The Void Touched Master by Chris & Tara Appling

One day, the void called to me. It was in a voice bereft in the misgivings of the legacy not left to me by my parents— it was in a quiet, maddening whisper, that reached down like a fine web and cut into the palms of my hands. “I can give you what you want,” it croaked, the sound foretelling something both empty and unabashedly sinister, the sound like gravel and scraping dust.

Mother, Father… The genetic inheritance you dealt me was absolutely everything one could consider to be mundane. An ordinary half-elf child, a  a child with no ounce of magic, at that. You bore me into the role of an outcast from the start, and the status I was born with into this world has haunted me from the very day I was born. 

“I can give you what you want,” it whispered, its strange lulling voice promising me so much more than this… 

I agreed. A little chaos here, and little dissent there. 

“Do my bidding, child,” it said. 

I shuddered and rejoiced with my amazement at the new noteworthy things I could do. But what I felt too, was the cold fingers of something I could not fully understand, wrapping around the sanity in me that I had left, until the cord became terribly, uncontrollably taut. 

So I ran, the only thing a child born into this world as something utterly un-miraculous could do, so despite my newfound powers, I ran. The truly odd thing about it, is nothing has changed. I can still do things I used to find impossible, and it hasn’t caught up with me quite yet. 

Will I find that I’m truly the crazy one, or have we been running together in the same direction this whole time? Every day goes by and I find I lose more and more of myself to the horrors I’ve grown into. I grow tired too, and weak, and surely one day, I won’t have anywhere left to run; from this, or perhaps, myself. 


The end, for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and feel free to share some your own character exploits with us!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Poem

Lights twinkle in the distance
the soft hue of smoke lifts from the chimney
filling the air with swirls of gray
dancing through the colored lights

flakes of snow drift down

the lingering smell of pine
mixing  with sugar cookies cooling in kitchens
hot apple cider
sipped with cinnamon

Monday, September 16, 2013

Color Blind

Seems you didn't comb your hair today-
That's okay,
I still like you anyway.
You don't live in a castle like a king,
No diamond rings,
They're just sparkly, silly things.
And if the sun just doesn't shine,
I don't mind.
Today's another day that's your and mine,
and that's just fine;
In a strange and special way, I'm color blind

It doesn't mean that I can't see a rainbow,
Or silver beams of moonlight in the sky-
The colors I can't see are ugliness and hate,
The world is a miracle
when seen through my eyes.

Seems you're feeling very sad today-
Said goodbye,
Didn't mean to make you cry,
You were always very good to me.
Glad to be
In your loving family.
And if the world is looking sad and gray,
It's okay
'Cause in a while the hurt will go away,
You'll be fine,
If you do your best to see things  
          color blind

And I hope you'll always see the shades of sunset,
And a million flowers blooming in July-
The colors you don't need, are jealousy and greed;
The world can be so beautiful
        if you see it through my eyes.

And I know someday the time will come,
My dear friend,
When your time on earth is done.
We will be together like before,
Without end,
In a place beyond the sun.
I'll be there to meet you,
And I'll call out to greet you
Where the worries of this world
     are far behind

Everyday will be a day that's your and mine.
But 'til then, keep in mind,
In a special way, I was always color blind.

And I wish that everyone was color blind.

D. Deskin

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Under the Water

Kefalonia Island, Greece

You and a travelling party are in a deep underwater cavern, quite possibly at the bottom of the ocean. You know only this as you wake up, feet and arms covered with stray sand and maybe a little ocean debris. You feel a soggy piece of paper in your pocket, but before opening it, you stand up and walk down a passageway. It is lined with sand and stone, the walls are covered in bright corals. Halfway down the corridor, you see that the roof of the cavern over your head is gently leaking-- drops of water drip partially over your face and onto your head.
Cenote Entrance

You continue forward and as the hallway comes to an end and your heart quickens. Entering a giant cove, you see a moderate pool of water that glows brightly and what surrounds it seems to be a giant rain-forest. The forest canopy above is 30 feet high and you see it shake subtly with forest life and other creatures that dwell there. The ground is now covered in dirt, and as you take a breath, the smell of strange flowers fills the air. The plant life is giant, unusual, and brightly colored. You hear the quiet chattering of what seems to be birds, monkeys, and some unidentifiable sounds. The forest seems to continue on deep into the cove. You see foot prints on the ground, left by something possibly human or a large animal.

Do you follow these footprints? What happens? What is on the piece of paper in your pocket….or have you lost it?! Tell us about your journey. Maybe your journey will end by finding an ancient treasure, maybe you’ll rescue someone you know or don’t know. Perhaps, you run into an aboriginal tribe of cave-dwellers that live in this forest. Perhaps, this is a dream! Feel free to share your story and make it as wild as you’d like. Happy Writing!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Flower's Pardon

The world in its shallow parts could never be absolute,
Each breath a small integration to a growing apothecary,
Small and sweet a flower’s sifting sigh
Predestined footprints slipping behind,

The petal slips down
Soft remnant of winter
its belief.

My Special Words:

Boob Cat

hard drive

Boob Cat

The cat awoke from a dream of beans
a hot cup of tea in a bargain hotel
juice boxes floating on a some distant dreams
lifting weights yelling, "Slam that barbell!"

A knock at the door brings his knife to the ready
Its just a plantain by the cool name of freddy!

My hard drive is dead! said the cool dudarube.
I'll fix it as long as you don't touch my boob.

musical thoughts

A melody begins to grow
in your mind,
in your heart.

Floating up
from the depths of thought
to the surface
exposing your soul.

and quiet at first
it begins to amplify.

The rhythm
smooth and steady
plays gently on
like the flowing river.

Notes swirl and turn
they dance inside your head
a song played

only you can hear.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Scrabble Salad!

I know the name sounds strange, but bear with me. Get out a piece of paper and pen, and think of an image, feeling, place or thing. Unless you’re feeling particularly spontaneous, then just pull out the piece of paper!
Write down 5-10 words. They should be something with more function than an article, preposition or proper noun. Adjectives, adverbs and descriptive words are best to use for this exercise.

If you want to, cross out words that you feel don’t mix with the rest, or keep them to liven things up!

Take those words you wrote down, and write a poem that specifically contains those words. It could be any length, and could be about almost anything. Use those words to build a poem that reflects something unique or whimsical (or silly), and see what product forms. Don’t be afraid to work directly with those words, or to even work completely around them. It’s up to you how you use the tools you just gathered. Good luck and happy writing!