30 Day Writing Meme: Appearances

August 5, 2016 § Leave a comment

Day 27 → Do appear­ances play a big role in your sto­ries? How you go about design­ing your char­ac­ters.

My players are anything but homogeneous. I would like to think that I have an inclination to diversity, but even if I don’t, as any character is developed, that character will go through the trait checklist.

I, myself, am a mixed-race woman who grew up with media and entertainment that primarily told stories about adult men of northern European ancestry. Because of that, I can’t thoughtlessly default to either females with brown skin nor caucasian males. What I strive to improve is to realize characters with physical "disabilities," widen my depictions of gender, and challenge other defaults.

When I’m designing a new group of characters, I will look at online images of actual people, not artwork, and keep those photo references. When I’m looking through images, I’m looking for something I will recognize when I see the person. Most online photos are of models; it’s challenging to find someone like my character among so many beautiful, young people. I have to gather what I can, as a starting point. (My reference photo for Ciel is still far too good looking. When I come across it, I can’t help snorting. He’s a washed out turnip compared to the sun-kissed, surfer god that is in my reference image.)

In pre-writing, it can help to write out a long, detailed description of physical characteristics. I like to know decide on concrete numbers for height, weight, hat size, shoe size, collar and bra size. Details end up leading to stories about their lives, and that helps me get to know them better.

It’s a rare thing for me to say that I want a character with certain physical characteristics and then create a character around those. I don’t think of people that way, so I don’t think of characters that way.

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