Visualising your characters: Part One – Generating a character

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K’lee L. commented on my post yesterday to ask me for a bit more of an explanation of how I use The Sims to get a bit of a visual handle on – and sometimes even create – new characters, so I thought I’d do a bit of a walkthrough. And, because I’m a dork, there are opportunities for you to join in, too. So, notepads or word processors at the ready!

NB: I’m not just endorsing The Sims here, though it is one I use often – anything with a character creator can be used for nefarious writing-like activities. In this tutorial of sorts, I’ll be using both The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 (I have more expansions for one, and the other one loads faster).

Step 1: Generate a character (or several).

When I first created my characters for The Perfect Garden, I had no intention of writing anything about them. I just wanted a family with a lot of potential conflicts and therefore an interesting gameplay experience. In this case, I’m deliberately hoping a character I can write a short story about will leap out at me, but I’m still going to start off just messing about and making a character that visually interests me. Then, for the purposes of this demonstration, I’ll randomise that Sim’s traits a few times until I see something I can work with.

Meet Jamie.

Meet Jamie, screengrabbed from The Sims 3. Those are his traits on the right.

OK, so Jamie here is not entirely gender-binary conforming, but let’s carry on with ‘he’ pronouns for now. He dresses to impress – this is his everyday wear, but you should see the makeup on his formalwear. It is fierce – when I have time to let the game load again I’ll have to share it with you. We can also see Jamie’s traits on the right-hand side (because I copied them in). He’s very proper in his behaviour, he’s good with computers and with people, he’s brave and he’s a vegetarian. Incidentally, though it’s not written down here, his lifetime ambition is to become an ‘International Super Spy’. I imagine that along with his traits, his ability to change his appearance with skillful use of makeup and clothing would serve him well in such a career, but whether he’s actually in that line of work is a whole other kettle of fish.

I tend to try to get a couple of characters and play them off against each other to start the action going, so here’s another one:

Miles

Miles was created in the Sims 4, and I’ve written on him because the symbols for his traits aren’t very clear.

Miles, being from the Sims 4, has slightly fewer traits and a slightly different set of ambitions to choose from. He wants a big, fancy house to go with his extremely snazzy bowler hat. He obviously likes to look smart – this is his everyday wear (incidentally, his swimwear also both includes and matches his hat) – and his traits tell us that he’s got the potential to achieve that goal. He’s clever with business strategies and he can think outside the box, which combined with the self-confidence to act on it means he could be in for a great future in business. Alternatively, that self-confidence might get Miles into trouble if he makes a mistake, and creative business practices can sometimes lead a person into conflict with the law.

These two characters could be friends or enemies – Jamie could be investigating a shady deal Miles is involved in, Miles could be checking Jamie out in a club, the pair might be childhood friends or business partners or in-laws. Miles might have hired Jamie to build his website, or Jamie might be trying to get Miles to invest in a new line of vegetarian-friendly ready meals (don’t forget that he’s good with people, which gives him a good chance of being successful). There are potential storylines here…

Of course, the more characters you add in, the more potential you have for drama.

Alright, your turn:

Here’s a character I made a moment ago. Again, I didn’t have any particular purpose in mind, and I don’t know what relationships she might have with either of the other two characters above.

Angela

All I know about Angela is what’s in this picture – and that she was made using The Sims 4.

So, over to you. If you’re interested, why not grab a pen or a word processor, have a look at Angela and her traits, and see what leaps out at you? You can leave your thoughts (about any of the characters) in the comments if you like, and I’d be fascinated to read them. I’ll come up with my own ideas for tomorrow, when I’ll be back to carry on with the next step of the process.

Oh, and while you’re thinking, here are my word counts for today.

Total written today: 1618 words.

2015 total so far: 16104 words.

Right, enough about me. Over to you, if you want to join in my strange little character exercise, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!

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