Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Characterization: Character Playlists

Playlists are a huge part of my personal process. I know a lot of people are like 'if you're not butt in seat hands on keys it doesn't really count as work'; and they're right, to an extent, you can't really share your playlists. I mean, you can, but it doesn't "count".

Still, in terms of play and brainstorming and pre-writing, it matters a lot to me and today I'm going to ramble a bit about that.

Note: This was scheduled for Thursday but I think I'm gonna go ahead and let it go up early as a bit of a pallet cleanser from my last entry since that one was not so positive and I generally like to keep things light-hearted around here.

Before I get a character fully in my head to write about, usually I'll find songs that spark them. This isn't always the case, they can come from anywhere (I found one at a convention once, I might tell that story if I feel indulgent enough one of these days), but for the most part the best way for me to get into the head space of a character is to listen to songs that remind me of them.

A lot of the time those will have a specific vibe (like this character sounds like jazz and this one like black metal) although sometimes it will be a specific lyrical pattern. You've probably heard songs that you felt like the words just fit a character before, even if they weren't one of yours, right?

The human brain is wired in a lot of fun ways. Scent evokes memory better than anything else, but the music you're playing can take you back to a certain time in your life or to a certain head space almost as infallibly.

This is why I highly endorse making character playlists. Listen to the same songs while you're making a character, and you can turn them on at any point and put yourself back into the mindset you were in when you wrote them in the first place in order to call that feeling back to yourself.

It's an entirely different form of art, of course, but that's what makes it so effective. You can achieve something similar with certain other stimulus; I have a character that is easier to write, for instance, when I have a Dr. Pepper because the flavor is just very much a part of who she is, and one that feels like the scent of Nag Champa.

So here's your homework assignment for the night friends:

Take a character of yours and consider some kind of external stimulus that helps you think of them. It can be whatever you want, auditory, gustatory, olifactory, whatever. Just something that isn't words alone. And then go around to the rest of the cast of that particular story and assign them a similar stimulus.

Fortune Favors,
Megan R. Miller

PS. I am still going to ramble about the end of our Strahd game, I'm still feeling my emotions and getting my thoughts together about that.

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