From Author to Gamer: Who Are These Other People?

One thing I always wondered about my writing is where I get my characters from. My first experiences with tabletop RPG’s may have shed some light on that question.

When writing, I usually start my characters off using a person I saw on the subway, or a favorite character from some movie, or even a close friend, really anyone who has made an impression on me. I like a good, strong starting point. However, and this never fails, a few scenes in and my characters always develop personalities of their own. They come into themselves and it starts to feel like I just have to stay calm with my fingers at my keyboard while my characters make their own decisions. Sometimes they’ll even act in surprising ways or do things that I don’t want them to. It’s a strange feeling to say the least.

But that doesn’t really answer where they come from. I mean, I’m the only one sitting at my keyboard, so don’t these strangers acting in ways I didn’t expect have to come from me? Are they just different facets of my personality amplified and mixed together in new ways?

Like I said, playing tabletop RPG’s possibly cleared up that mystery. Because no matter how surprised I get when one of my characters does something unexpected, it is nothing, I mean nothing, like the surprises I got when real people started making decisions in what my author-brain naturally assumed would be my story. My character was getting into fights in scenes that I, in my head, had already wrapped up peacefully. Some crazy witch was refusing to hang out with me when, in my head, I had already decided that our characters would be fast friends. And in one game I was greatly shocked to realize I was turning into the bad guy in the eyes of the other players. Like my character almost killed them all.

One thought constantly ran through my head during these moments: “Just who the hell are all these people and why were are they messing up my story?”

I’ve since learned to tame that thought when I sit down to roll dice. In fact, I’ve learned to embrace the exact opposite stance, to encourage others to mess up my character’s life, and to just hang on for the ride.

But the shift from writing characters that I thought were surprising to playing with other people who can, and will, make choices that would never enter into my own head was a difficult one. My characters do appear to be more related to me than I ever realized.

Although I still have no idea where Kyo came from.

 


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Joseph Devon is the author of Probability Angels and Persistent Illusions . Think X-men meets Pulp Fiction meets The Wire meets The Seven Samurai. And some other stuff as well.


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About Joseph Devon

Joseph Devon is the author of Probability Angels and Persistent Illusions . Think X-men meets Pulp Fiction meets The Wire meets The Seven Samurai. And some other stuff as well.

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