You stare down at the sheet of paper, or up at the video game screen, or close your eyes and imagine. An image takes shape, or is selected, or comes into being. A character.
What race is it? Dragon, human, orc, charr, elf, lagarthan, khajit, vulcan, undead, mook, android, or whatever. Male or female? Skin color: hazelnut, peach, blueberry, olive, orange, gray, rainbowy, transparent, or scarlet? Some even go as far as physique, eye color, or facial dimensions.
Do you stare at the screen in awe as your avatar takes shape before you? Or scribble notes as your mind races, using the written word to describe his slightly large, pointed nose? Or do you simply grin with closed eyes as vivid mind imagery grows green feathers down your creation’s arms?
What class? Warrior, sorcerer, peasant, enchantress, mesmer, psionic, farmer with a hidden heritage, weaponsmaster, engineer, wizard, witch, businessman, alchemist, bard with an honesty harp?
How will this character fall into the story and where will his or her story begin?
Some video games branch off and allow for creation of backstory, or primary skills, or attributes. All very fun to tinker with. We move next to their measures according to how they fit amongst the rest of the world. Strength, speed, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, courage, honor, charisma and more. When writing or imagining, do you give your character these kinds of attributes? In D&D and Pathfinder you use dice(I hate this because it seems I never fail to get-in three rolls of a six sided dice mind you-an average of 10 for every attribute). *grins* Stupid random.
Time to introduce your precious fantasy creation to the world
So you finish the creation process and a scene opens before you. This is your character, and here you go entering it into a world that will force it to grow, change, perish, or all three.
You pause. Back to the character screen! I wanted my character to have purplish hair not golden. Tapping your pencil on the desk, I think she was supposed to have a stave not a pitchfork. You futz and futz, until he or she is what you want your character to be. A creation that represents some aspect of you, however exact or vague. Now how does this character behave?
Interacting with the world is one good way to formulate such behavior. In the tabletop RPGs you can define their alignment. My characters usually fall in the good spectrum somewhere, but that pigeonholes me into behaving “good” whether lawlessly, law abiding, or somewhere in between.
In a story, how will this character react when a dragon destroys its hometown or harvest is bountiful? Will he or she be ostracized or welcomed by the rest of the world? Does the character have friends, minions, slaves, or even worshippers? Who or what does he or she worship? Necromancers sure love death, but what if yours abhors it?
Creating video game characters is fun
I have a friend who notoriously creates video game characters, plays it for quite some time, then deletes it and starts a new one. Sometimes the same class, why? Because for most, not all, the creation process is a fun exercise for the mind regardless the medium. Sometimes the delivery of the content after creation doesn’t provide the thrill and potential of the creation itself. In other words, for some creating characters is fun, often more fun than what follows.
In writing, have you ever created too many characters for one story? Has anyone ever run out of character slots in a video game? We love to create! The creation aspect is one of questions of unknowns: Will this character succeed? Will he or she be strong enough? The unknowns press us with excitement. What will come next? Will he or she be accepted? Then the implementation and integration of the character into whichever world it might belong happens and some of that allure is lost.
Transition to growth of your fantasy character
At some point a transition may need to be made, from creation, to growth of the character. The joy of watching a character flourish or flounder in its environment is at times eerily similar to caring for a newborn including the diaper changes and late night feedings. The grinding and trials the environment dictates can often be daunting, but at the same time incredibly rewarding.
Hearing a child say mama or dada or seabass for the first time, is cause for a celebration almost like reaching that difficult and rare treasure at the end of a dungeon. First steps, first bike ride were joyous occasions to be memorialized. Why not rejoice in your created character entering a new world, transitioning from chicken scratch on a sheet of paper into the story pages of their life?
Relish in his or her experiences.
Is there a connection between our need and joy in creating things, and the world around us?
Is there less excitement once the creative process is finished and the post production takes over?
Imagination and creation never end, they go through a metamorphosis
The thing is, we often fail to realize that the creative process never ends, it transforms. The characters you create still need your creativity, still need your guiding hand regardless of what their medium is, much like life itself. Winning the heart of your beloved, isn’t an end, but a new beginning. Creativity and spontaneity should certainly have a part to play going forward.
Never cease creating, but do not give up on your creations either. Enjoy the journey, whether long or short and enjoy the creative processes time will impose on whatever you have created, even an immortal elf. All can learn, and all change as we use creativity to continually enhance old characters and create new ones. As we live our life here on this Earth, the Moon, Middle Earth, Azeroth, or even Mars and beyond, relish the creations around you and allow for your creative processes to continue with new and amazing beginnings as well as enhancing the existing, whether growing or already grown, or at their twilight. We all need this aspect of life, it can make the experience far more fantastic or mundane just because we imagine what it could be.
Isn’t creation beautiful?