Tag Archives: Characters

Characters and Tropes – Part 1

Wow… I finally missed a post just after 3 months without missing a beat. I feel proud, and ashamed at the same time. Maybe it’s a sign I should post a bit less frequently, with more meaningful content… or something. I dunno. Personally? I blame the proletariat. It’s always the proletariat. I’m kidding, though if I wasn’t would you know?

Well, enough with that. No excuses for it. So what’s today’s topic on the wheel of things I can ramble about in front of a small audience?

Characters! Characters are in every story after all – unless you’re writing about the tragic misadventures of a flowerpot or something – and with NaNo closing in fast, just behind Hurricane Sandy, it’s something to talk about. Characters, not the flowerpot.

What about characters though? Excellent question voice in my head. Excellent question. There’s a lot of places to go with this.

Physical descriptions? Recently my friend Musings of a Steampunk had a post on this topic. I did have an example in my comment on telling it through actions rather than a lump description.

||She stared at the man with dark, gray eyes, looking up at him. A quick glance at his muscles, and she knew she was out matched in a direct confrontation, so she did the next best thing. She ran. As she crossed the city, the thief made full advantage of her body, slipping into the smallest passages with ease. When she found her way to the rooftops she was able to make her escape. Like an acrobat, she made even the most death-defying jumps with a swan’s grace, and landed with cat-like reflexes.||

Though in this matter, to each their own, I suppose.

I’d like to talk about is tropes for a moment. The woodland Elves, the mining Dwarves, etc… The problems most people face with these tropes is in how they use them. They either follow them to the T or make blatantly obvious changes that say they wanted to be different, but couldn’t put in the effort.

Of course both methods can be done really well. For example, keep Elves the same, but make them ugly instead of fair. Why not? Maybe the Dwarves mine for metals because they are expert dentists? Do Hobbits actually exist, or are they just little people? Bad? Yes. Definitely. However, it puts a new spin on the classic without trying drastically to be different.

A lot of this is trial and error though, so more often than not, it’s almost better to think up something new, borrowing elements from the tropes that exist in your racial creations. One of my favorite trope reversals comes in L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s Recluce Saga. Black Magic stands for Order while White stands for Chaos. Darkness is a term associated with Order and Light is with Chaos. It’s just a simple reversal, but it does wonders for the world and bringing new life into the characters in it. Meanwhile, there are “good guys” on both sides of magic, and it’s the lust for power that corrupts one further.

I kind of charged into this without much of a plan, but let’s start a second part here. Story lines and ideas are always being repeated, so why haven’t all of the books been written? The answer? The characters. No matter how many times a story is told, the characters will almost always be different to some extent. If the heroes are the same, maybe their companions are different? They grow in a different way? Maybe they learn a new lesson?


And that was the power dimming. Hopefully there’s a few ideas in your heads now. I’ll have to pick this up tomorrow or Wednesday.

Keep Writing, and if I don’t see you soon, good luck starting NaNoWriMo!

~ Underdog


Character Sketch #3

I’m on a roll! By that I mean, here’s my third character!



Gender: Male
Age: 34

Locke is the idealistic head of the Blackcourt Clan. He has long, dark, curly hair and gray eyes.

Originally the youngest son of the Blackcourt family, he quickly rose to power as one by one his parents, brothers, and sister vanished. Though many people suspected him, no one could prove anything. Despite the splintering of the Blackwood clan from the Blackcourt clan, it still remained a powerful force. While Locke declared neutrality initially, his loyal servant, Alexander Graves picked up Will Shiremont, a forced servant of the Eslei clan, and thus he enters the storm of the civil war.

Hopes & Dreams: Peace and more power to the people.

Fears: having to give up on his ideals.

Hobbies/Habits: Spending time with the locals. Tends to be more forgiving than he should be. Worrying Alexander.

Loves: The Harvest season’s weather

Hates: His family, People who would take advantage of him

Other Features: There’s almost always dark circles under his eyes from a lack of sleep. A sword with a red blade.


That leaves many more still.

  • Alexander Graves (m) – servant to Locke
  • Roric (m) – Knight of the Grand Edict
  • Will Shiremont (m) – Forced recruit of the Eslei clan
  • Mira Vale (f) – Married to Van Eslei in exchange for her family’s safety
  • Aya (f) – Strategist for Demon Eyes Arryn
  • Salibus (m) – Foreigner strategist who works for the Balorryn clan

As always, I’m open to suggestions for who to put up next.

Character Sketch #2

So, I figured that since my current project has so many characters, I’ll continue with my character sketches while I get a better sense of them


SHIN (No Last Name)

Gender: Male
Age: 23

Shin is an ambitious genius serving the Blackwood Family as a strategist. He has shaggy black hair and brown eyes.

Originally he was the student of the master tactician Tristan Ivo, who took him under his wing from a young age. Reporting no family name, he is often considered clan-less, despite serving one. When his master vanished, Shin was to take over as the head strategist, but was denied the position due to age and experience. He would go on to win several battles with minimal losses and still not receive recognition. Presently being in charge of strategy in a smaller camp has left him taking on, and winning, riskier battles in order to get the recognition he feels he deserves.

Hopes & Dreams: Recognition for his talents

Fears: Being used and discarded

Hobbies/Habits: Rodan (Kind of like a chess game), losing Rodan pieces (he uses them in his strategy planning), Worrying Rin

Loves: Sweets, Showing up superiors

Hates: Disrespect, Incompetent leaders, People who don’t listen

Other Features: None in particular


Shin was actually the first character to get a role in my story. While he isn’t as solidified as Rin in my mind, I feel he’s a lot of fun to write about. This story has 9 characters. I can’t promise that they will all survive either. Since that means I have 7 left, I’m probably going to keep running this series.

Commentators can pick from one of these ones for my next sketch if they’d like:

  • Locke Blackcourt (Head of the Blackcourt Clan)
  • Alexander Graves (Devoted servant to Locke Blackcourt/Earth Enactor)
  • Roric (Knight of the Grand Edict/Metal Enactor)

Keep Writing!

~ Underdog

Homeless Characters

It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last. Recently I came up with this amazing character – the start of one anyway – and found them homeless. Not homeless as in the place to live sense, but homeless in that I don’t have a story for them. It almost feels like a waste to give this character so much life, only to tell them to sit in a corner to be forgotten, but what can I do? They don’t belong to a world I know, and I can’t force a story out of them. I’m certainly not giving them to someone else to do with as they please. Unfortunately, it happens sometimes. I still feel bad though.

Maybe, in time, they’ll tell me their story.

Here’s hoping.

~ Underdog