Character Builder

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PG had never heard about Character Builder before he stumbled on this video.

In addition to any other comments, PG (and, he thinks, others) would be interested in hearing from anyone who has used this software/service or a similar tool.

3 thoughts on “Character Builder”

  1. Could be useful, but I don’t like the part about subscribing. I prefer to buy my software the one time and upgrade as needed.

    One element I thought was missing from Character Builder was an element I saw in the pitch bible for the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot. In the pitch bible, the series creators gave the backstory and psychological elements of their characters of course, but they also noted how the characters relate to each other.

    For example, they explained Adama’s backstory of having a mother who was a civil rights attorney, and they explained Laura Roslin’s backstory of how she became a politician but truly preferred art. Events in the series oblige Roslin to become more despotic, and given Adama’s upbringing they would naturally be at odds with each other, but circumstances also require them to get closer. Here is what the creators wrote of their arcs:

    Adama & Laura

    They will form a personal bond forged in conflict. Their positions will inevitably put them at odds, but will also bring them together. Laura will be facing the solitary burdens of command for the first time and Adama is literally the only man who can empathize with her experience. For his part, Adama will find himself drawn to Laura’s world in no small measure because politics, and particularly the presidency, was a deep interest of his father’s and in many ways Laura is filling the role that his father wanted for him.

    A sexual chemistry between them will make itself felt, and the loneliness of their situation will tempt each of them to reach out, but neither will act on the temptation.

    The writers go through and relate how Lee Adama and Roslin’s relationship will arc, how Kara and Lee will relate to each other, how Kara and Baltar will relate, etc. Reading through it, I spotted several plot seeds they planted for their series. I sporadically watched the show, but from what I did see they clearly did flesh out their characters. None of them struck false notes in their interactions with each other.

    Motivation and backstory are important, too, but taking character interactions / relationships into consideration may not be a bad idea for anyone planning a series.

  2. Well, I do see the point, esp. if you’re producing several books/year.

    But I live with my long series for quite a while and, while somewhere to keep notes (which all products provide) can be useful for my aging memory, most of my characters become living beings to me after a while, and thus relatively easy to work with.

    I have more trouble with physical settings (e.g., complex buildings) or cultural settings (e.g., guild behaviors) where the subsequent uses required in later books were not necessarily anticipated in earlier books. I find it easier to create a sudden backstory to explain a character’s newly-visible quirk (as a reveal) than to put physical structures through a similar “rescue” backstory. (It’s taken me writing the 3rd book of a thankfully not-yet-released series to properly sort out the building at the center of it all…)

    I guess we all approach these things differently — part of the fun of the fiction writing process.

    • Different strokes for different folks.
      Some folks let events mold their characters, especially when the story is built around that character’s narrative arc.

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