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Real Life based Characters


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Hey guys. Curious as to your experiences writing characters based on your real life. I've often thought about writing a character based on myself, and am currently taking it a bit more seriously. I think it would be awkward, with several internal monologues of self doubt. I have a lot of insecurities. Finding a face claim that fits is also super weird. I've been googling overweight actresses and the options are limited. I do have a career that I think people may find an interesting read, and hopefully not too boring. It's not like I'd be writing about a girl who RPs, binges netflix too much, and has one too many cats -- which admittedly, also me. Haha. I also think it has the potential to be rather therapeutic. I have a lot of family history, sexual orientation, and other issues I could potentially work through by examining myself as a character concept I suppose. But enough about me! What have your experiences been with playing characters based on yourself? Was it hard? Easy? Explain. If you haven't done it, why not? If you've never thought about it, what immediately jumps to mind? Would you? What concerns would you have. Discuss! :)

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1 hour ago, krepta said:

So I suppose the hardest part of playing such a character would be convincing other people that that isn't going to be a problem, as well as watching yourself carefully to make sure you maintain a healthy degree of separation from said character.

 

No one is going to know that this character is essentially a carbon copy of you unless you choose to tell people that, so don't worry about this aspect. 

Anyway, back when I first started role playing it was on this odd little vampire grid-board game called The Dark Alleyway. It had this insta-chat forum deal to supplement the boring game play. I created a character based version of myself for it because I didn't have any concept of what RP really was back then and didn't know what else to do.  Retrospectively, I would probably have judged this "character" harshly as hell but in play it actually went over really well. I can't really offer much more than that om the specific subject, though, as I was really young back then. Not even into double digit age young. 
 

Generally speaking though, most of the characters I create are based, at least partially if not wholly, off of people that I know in real life. 

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36 minutes ago, Uaithne said:

In my experience, I'll give a character a trait I have, be it a characteristic or something that I want to explore. The character as a whole is definitely not me. This works well for me because I realize that even though we have stuff in common, I don't get too wrapped up in the character BEING me. 

 

This is what I generally do too. I make characters which do have something from me, something from other people I know, something from characters of movies and books and something from my own imagination. All in all, it is finally an original character.

 

Like Marina, I am ambitious, stubborn and willing to learn anything new. I'm friendly and peaceful, too! 

Like Andrea, I am loyal and reliable, keeping my promises, knowing how to party in moderation and with talent at foreign languages. I think I am psychologically stronger than him. 

I think I share with Maribel the love for songs and dances, a practical business spirit and perhaps a bit of her need for attention (but only a bit). Also the fact that both of us can't have children and we'd "adopt" anybody around us... However, she is seductive and manipulative when she needs to be, as she is a survivor, and this is not from me. It is from "Carmen, la de Ronda" and a bit maybe from Esmeralda in the "Hunchback of Notre Dame".

Like Sol and Chago, there is no challenge I won’t take (actually a RPG in English was also such a challenge for me), I am “thinking in songs” like them and I like Spanish, Mexican and South-American music (and not only – unfortunately, without being able to sing it/ play it). I have the same desire to win against any obstacles life may get in my way and succeed through my own forces, to leave something behind me, my name on something (even if this is likely to be only some published papers and some successfully implemented projects). But Sol has something from Surcouf le Corsaire and from Juan del Diablo of "Corazon Salvaje", and Chago has details from the song "La cruz de Santiago" by Mago de Oz, from an assassin in a novella which happened in Brazil, and so on. They have also a few details of other persons I have met in real life.

With Raoul I share only the friendliness part - I also give sound advice, I like teaching the youngsters and I might save my friends in certain situations.

Like Thierry I am ready to convert into dance all the bad energy of my life... (But I can see Chago or Sol doing the same thing... or even Andrea). He has also traits from characters of Greek novels and ballads. 

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I think it's quite therapeutic, actually. When I was younger, I was really struggling with quite a bit of baggage. I believe a councilor (sp) suggested I make a character that had similar experiences to myself (without being me) to just... write their story, develop them, develop their story - see them progress in a better light (with those ups and downs, of course). I even gave my therapeutic character one of my childhood memories. I think it really did help with those issues and I somehow grew with my character. To this day, I still play him and he's my absolute favourite character to play. We really don't have crap in common so it's not like... inserting  myself. Even how I addressed my real life happenings in with him were different in some way and while some beliefs lineup, we pretty much have foiled beliefs and foiled behaviours.

 

I would encourage everyone to have at least one therapeutic char in their life. :D Just make him/her different enough so you don't feel like you yourself are getting attacked ICly. xD I don't have that issue of blurring IC and OOC, but I've met people who did.  So do what you gotta do to prevent that from happening. /thumbs up (to clarify: I think one can do this without making a "you character." Real life based doesn't necessarily = oneself.)

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I agree with someone, but goodness knows who. XD 

 

I think that writing a self-insert character in a story or reading a first person narrative that allows self insert is pleasant, but rping one is a little dangerous.  I know there are moments when I'm writing when I offer a character I love for someone to roleplay with and their response is literally "No. I don't particularly want a thread with them. But thanks." and I can only imagine how painful that statement can be if someone is talking about a you character. So I'd recommend making some distinction. Because there are going to be people and characters who dislike or hate your you character... and I can't imagine that would be cathartic so much as stressful af.

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Nope, nope, nope! I'm me 24/7. I don't wanna be me in an RPG. I RP to not be me.

 

Besides, ran into the blurred lines between reality and RP with someone that did play a version of themselves. It got ugly because everything was taken personally.

 

So, nope, nope, nope! 

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And I'm pretty sure that none of us are here.
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I played a table top campaign once where everyone’s characters were supposed to be themselves, but supernaturally enhanced. I just found the entire endeavor frustrating, honestly.

 

The hardest thing for me was that I couldn’t stay in character and do the things required to further the plot. It was an adventure/horror plot and I’m definitely the kind of person who is not going to just walk down a dark alley because why would I do that. It’s dark and creepy and there could be an attacker hiding in there (spoiler: there was an attacker hiding in there). But there wasn’t an option to not go in there without splitting from the group and getting removed from the campaign.

 

The other thing I found difficult was trying to make an accurate portrayal of myself, because obviously I’m biased about who I think I am and not a reliable judge of my most obvious traits and characteristics. I don’t think any of the characters in the campaign were accurate representations. It didn’t seem to bother anyone else, but it always bothered me. I feel like I could have had a much better character if it I could have had full creative control, and wasn’t trying to force the character into a pre-made box.

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I did this when I was young, and while I never had any bad experiences, I didn't really have any exceptionally good ones, either? RPing as myself, I found it harder to step back and analyze the situation my character was in. I didn't grow as a writer. Because I was writing myself, I missed a lot of IC opportunities a character other than myself wouldn't take. I wasn't that interesting of a person I guess? A real person doesn't usually make the narrative choices you need a character to make to actually have a story.

 

It wasn't until I started making new characters different from me that I really grew as a writer. Certainly there are still parts of me that I put into every character just as @Elena said! But that separation really helped me think about how someone other than me would react to a situation and how I could enhance the story into something much more thought out and interesting. RPing yourself can be therapeutic, but it's not as fun.

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The way I figure it, all may characters possess some aspect of me, whether it be an interest or hobby or personality traits and so on, but none of them are carbon copies. As I play them they kind of forge their own selves. If I rp them enough than rather than becoming a self-insert, they become a mask that I wear when I'm writing them which can be equally as sensitive as a self-insert in some cases.  Folks worry about out of character opinions becoming ic, but ic opinions can end up shifting into out of character ones as well.

 

I also have cases where characters are based on traits of people I know, places I've seen, and things I've done. They are never true copies but some of them have similar looks and personalities, or are mash ups of traits from different people. I write based on things I know so real life always has an influence, even when a character is not consciously inspired by anything specific.

Even when not self-inserting, if you make a character with a key trait of yours or to address an issue you are dealing with, I think it might have an effect similar to making a character who is fully you. Its still a way to explore critical aspects of who you are, while exploring a story as if it is someone else.

Self-inserts also tend to gather the effect of becoming not your true self, but your ideal-self. It can be used as a way to play that person you wish to be. This can be where self inserts get both especially interesting and dangerous as the ideal-self can easily become a mary-sue like character who cannot really 'fail' in the player's mind. That's another case where horror stories appear, but I think an experienced player could pull it off with minimal complications.

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On 4/1/2018 at 11:03 PM, SithLordOfSnark said:

I used to run a game where your first character had to be yourself as if you had mutant powers. It was oddly popular.

 I think that that would be a great way to really get people involved into role play and adds a new twist to things too. As for myself I would like to think that I don't have baggage but I'm sure like others that I do but mine are the matching set of Blue Samsonite bag in the corner. 

 

I write little bits and pieces about things that I know so that I can hopefully write them in detail and add alot of color to my posts but then again... this is just me

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I don't think it's a good idea to make a character too based on yourself. Why? Well, if people don't like your character, it can be very hard not to take the criticism personally. We all know that romantic ships are often a cause for problems, so if the character is based too much on yourself, how do you separate the real emotions that you feel from the fictional ones that your character does? It can be too personal. In the Tolkien fandom, sometimes people create a modern version of the character they play and when I did this with one of my OCs, I started putting too much of myself into the character - likes, dislikes, ideal career choice, interests, ideal fashion, even some real-life events and wishes. When I realised that, I stopped writing in it. In a fantasy setting I can write characters that have some traits of mine, but the world means that they don't get too personal.

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If you can do it objectively, more power to you. I couldn't, though. I think it would be too hard not to take things seriously. Even if the other characters are just characters and the people writing with you aren't aware that your character is basically YOU, everything that is said toward them might feel like a personal jab. 

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