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Dragon

How Much Do You Draw on Your RL Experience?

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How much do you draw on personal experiences and relations that you've had in life when you make characters and write? Things you have done, stories relayed by people you know. 

 

EX: 

 

For those who play characters that ride horses: Have you ever actually ridden a horse? Have you ever owned a horse?  Do you own a horse? 

 

When you write a junkie character:  do you know any (insert choice of drug)? Now just knowing of an (xdrug) addict doesn't count - were you actually close to this person? Ever done (xdrug) yourself? With them? Ever been conned into lending them money to get clean? 

 

For those who play character with psych disorders: Do you intimately know someone with that disorder? Sat next to them in class? Part of your immediate family? Member of a close friend's family? 

 

Prison characters: Do you really know someone who has done time? Hard time? Got involved in a gang life they never wanted and now can't get out of? Went in and got out free in the end? 

  • how did they get there. Where they framed? Set up on a drug bust? 

 

Soldiers: Know anyone who has been in the middle east? Have a Grandpa that fought in WWII or 'Nam? 

 

 

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Oh, personal experience definitely plays a huge role on my character creation. I make a watered-down version here and there, but I do draw a lot from experience. A few examples:

 

My character who has a history of sexual abuse: I draw directly from my own experience, though the details are different - her reactions and traumas are very close to my own;

 

My alcoholic character: it runs in the family, so I have a lot of close-contact experience;

 

Drug addicts: I dated/was engaged to a recovering addict before we ended up drifting apart;

 

Medical professionals/teachers: Got a lot to choose from in the family;

 

My police officer: Same, got some family members who were in the force. 

 

I absolutely enjoy having those experiences to draw from and just see the issues/problems/jobs at a closer light, when I can. For other characters, I'll do research, but I like being able to tap into real life experience, mine or someone else's.

 

Super looking forward to reading everyone else's replies!

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Experience wise, very little. I have very little romantically to form off of. However, all of my characters represent either a facet of my personality, hobbies, behaviors, or interests or they reflect something about me that I wish I could change, or that I could better represent, behaviorally or emotionally.

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I use it all the time.

 

From pregnancy, to siblings, to abuse, to kids. I use all sorts of my experience to roleplay with.

 

Pregnancy is gross and difficult and while I leave all the gross details out I love using some of the more fun things (and the fun things I learn from my other pregnant people, Twins are a pain in the ass btw).

 

Siblings. I tend to make most of my characters siblings males because I know male siblings very well (I have 5 younger brothers after all) and boys are gross.

 

Kids, I have two of them and god are they a handful. I actually use tactics that I used on my own kids in roleplay stories but different ways. Like the fact that I would start singing Bohemian Rhapsody to my children when they would repeat "mom, mom, mama, mama" in the store. Both to distract them and to get them to stop doing it because I just didn't like it. Or "ducks in a line" (which I found out recently is a tactic another friend uses too) to get your kids to follow you instead of being rampant little monsters that get in everyone's way in a store. Ask @Faezilla she had to do it and experienced all of it. Hell I'm even going to start using my Teenagering tactics, which includes encouraging my children to talk to me when they are embarrassed because of everyone in the world, I'm not going to judge them for growing up (even though we made an unbreakable pact when they were 5 that they could never get any older... I got screwed in this pact somehow).

 

Military, I was never personally in the military but I was a military wife. My Step dad was also a Marine and was dishonorably discharged.

 

Snow, I hate it both lived in it in Utah and New York and having to shovel it and what it's like to see snow plows and having to bundle up etc. We did once make an igloo in our front yard.

 

I have done some drugs and I'll use that on occasion.

 

I've been to plenty of raves and around drugged up people. Special K is an interesting thing to watch.

 

Divorce, I know that pretty well and use some of the stuff I've experienced, even my ex-husband hitting on me like our relationship was reparable... that was interesting.

 

I even have some fun sexual things but not really for a thread like this.

 

So yes. I use whatever experience I can.


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I write mostly historical, but the characters can have pieces of me and pieces of other people I know, mixed with other entirely original traits. There might be story fragments which are parallelled to something I have experienced or heard from someone who had experienced it, but they are punctual.


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My earlier characters were more inspired by me. My first character was enough to be almost an insert. I played her for years, and we grew differently from different experiences. My new characters likewise became less and less like me.

 

I still draw on myself and my experiences, but not so much anymore. 


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I never go into the character choosing or making process with the idea of drawing on my personal life and experiences to write them. But it's also pretty common for my characters to have something in common with me. When that happens, then yeah, I take my own experience into consideration. For some things that are widely varied, like some mental health diagnoses, I might play it in the way that I've seen, or I might do it entirely different as long as it's within realism. And there's some things where I make a point not to draw from my personal experiences (or sometimes write it at all) because writing a character reacting similarly to me/someone I know would eventually make me uncomfortable. 



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Every character I've made usually has at least 1 trait that's gifted from me. But, that aside, I have a very niche specialty. 

 

I work in Deathcare. Grief is its own little special issue to work with. In dancing with Death to the Music of the Suffering Heart, my characters for the most part end up (by accident to be honest) playing the role of Supporting Rock and Mentor Guidance during traumatic IC events and storylines (or manipulate those strings in the case of a few villainous Chars). It's also lent me little tidbits of insight into a large lake filled of different experiences, but none of those would be relevant to the thread.

Other notable experiences: 

Depression/Suicide 
Cops/Firemen/EMTs/Nurses all in the family
emotional abuse - in many forms
the struggles of close LGBT-identifying friends in finding peace with themselves and others
Adultery/cheating 
Small Childcare


 

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Just depends on the character and the context.  For playing a younger character, I might consider how my daughter acted, or when thinking of a female response, consider a girlfriend or ex-wife.  For other things, where I can draw on personal experience, I absolutely do so.

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I've found that sometimes I accidentally end up portraying something that resembles a personal experience. A notable example was a character that I designed as an excitable motormouth, but the more I played her the more I started tapping into my own ADHD -- she became generally inattentive but laser-focused on specific things she really cared about, she had trouble properly articulating her thoughts (speaking a lot instead of well), and she became mind-numbingly bored whenever she was asked to sit around without doing something. I certainly didn't create her with ADHD in mind, but the more I played her, the more her personality shaped into that.

 

I also have a habit of making my female characters queer. It's not a case of PC politics, but more that I don't know what it's like to be attracted to men, and that if any type of romance plot is a possibility, it's a heck of a lot easier to portray having a crush on or loving a woman.

 

My biggest thing when dealing with human RPs is accurate alcohol and tobacco use. As (unfortunately) a smoker, I know how long it sticks in your mouth and to your clothes and hair, how long each one takes to burn, and how nicotine withdrawal feels. (On a completely unrelated note, it's time for the "sneaking a cigarette out of your parent's pack when you're 12" trope needs to die.) When it comes to alcohol, well, tending bar for a while gives me a pretty good idea of tolerance and the increasing stages of drunkenness. I also know how most traditional drinks taste and can tell when another player doesn't -- if a Jack and Coke burns, your bartender sucks.

 

I try to make a point of not playing anything serious that I haven't experienced or witnessed firsthand, because no amount of research will really replace experience. I don't play addicts or people with psychotic illnesses for that reason.

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I draw from life a lot! Not for everything, of course, but if I have had personal experience with something, then it certainly helps me write it! Even similar experiences may help me write something totally different. It's not to say that my characters are inspired by these experiences/knowledge--they're not. Just that if I'm writing about a character, say, riding a horse, I can look back and remember what that was like and draw on my experience and memories to paint a picture. Little details, like how freakin' SORE your thighs are the first time you ride a horse! xD Stuff like that. If I've been to the snow, and my character is in a snowy place, I can really draw on that to paint the picture.

 

-Romance! I totally draw on my experiences there. The good, the bad, the sexy. ;D

 

-LGBTQIA* stuff. I'm genderfluid and pansexual. I've been through it all. Being in the closet, the drama and awfulness when I was outed to my family, the journey of knowing who I am but always being in denial/afraid of it, accepting myself, experiencing homophobia and transphobia from cishets, and erasure even from people even within the LGBTQIA* community. Plus all my friends (and shit, most of my coworkers) are some flavor of LGBTQIA* so I have a lot of different experiences and perspectives to draw from, and pretty much all of my characters are LGBTQIA*.

 

-Broken bones! Man. So many people downplay broken bones when they write about them. |: I've broken and fractured several bones, and shit suuuucks. (It also feels really weird!) And shoulder injuries! People just shrug off shoulder injuries! (Pun not intended.) A lot of folks don't seem to realize how debilitating a lot of injuries actually are. Uh. I guess injuries in general? I've landed myself in the hospital in a lot of different ways so. >_> And I know a lot of people who have been wounded in different ways, like taking a bullet, and their experiences are really interesting.

 

-Sexual abuse/assault/rape--I draw from experience there. My characters all have different reactions and paths to healing, and their circumstances are different from mine, but I do use my experiences and emotions and trauma and whatnot as a point of reference.

 

-Got a lot of drug addicts, former and current, in my family. And someone I'm super close to used to be a user and a dealer, so if I ever need to know anything, I can just ask them. So I know lots of different details about that! And also about rehab, the recovery process, and how this sort of thing can spiral and destroy people and families. I haven't done any myself, except weed, but I've rarely done it. It just makes me fall asleep, so if I played solely from experience my characters would be really boring while high. |: On the flip side, one of my besties has a dramatically different reaction to weed than I do, so I take inspiration from that since it's way more entertaining. xD

 

-Mental disorders! I have anxiety and get panic attacks, and I have a form of OCD, and I know lots of people with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.


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I love to travel, and sometimes I make characters who are based after the places to which I've traveled.  I went to New England once and I ended up making a character from upstate New York.  Actually visiting the area inspired me and solidified a few details.  In a way, it's like having a souvenir of places I've traveled.

 

There have been a few times I've given characters similar traits or problems that I have and kind of explored other ways to work things out that I was dealing with IRL.  That's been pretty neat since I don't tend to blend IC and OoC.

 

I've made characters have occupations based upon classes I've taken in school.

 

RL experiences give me a very good starting point, and they make me appreciate the character more. 

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I feel like I mimic a lot of people here, but I use real life stuff a lot. I just make sure to limit how much I use for each character, and I make major parts of them very much not like me so people around me don’t realize it or worry that the way they RP will affect me. I don’t put myself in a position where it will negatively affect me, but sometimes it can help me work through some heavy stuff. 

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I didn't mention it before, because I didn't know how to word it, but I use RL experience a lot when it comes to other people I know. My experience in interacting with people often becomes the bases for how some of my characters get their mannerisms. Certain characters I'll base their psyche entirely around how a person (or combination of people) make me feel in RL dealing with them. 

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I love to play for cathartic experience when it comes to things I'm intimately familiar with. For example, I have a seizure disorder and while I try not to make my character too much like myself, I recently gave one of my new characters with a backstory that made it to where she had non epileptic seizures. So it's nice to play it out in a safe atmosphere, express how I feel in those situations where a seizure hits, or the discrimination I face when trying to enter the workforce. It can be very therapeutic. 

 

On the flip side, I've play tons of things I have zero experience with. Like being blind. But I do EXTENSIVE research on things I've not personally experienced and feel like I'm experiencing a tiny bit through the character. Which can be very fascinating. But I'm very careful to show due respect to those who have experiences by portraying it as well as I can with the research available. 

 

RP, writing in general is a great way to explore things you wouldn't normally and to reach new depths on the stuff you have experienced. 🙂

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