Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Happy Halloween everyone!

It is that fun time of year when spooks and goblins and whatever other costume a soul devises comes out to play. It is a time when you can practice your role-playing skills openly without getting weird looks from people on the street and that is an important skill for anyone creating SF&F to have since you as the creator have to envision may different rolls.

In my first pen and paper role-playing the GM allowed woman in the group to role-play male characters, but he didn’t allow men to role-play women. He had a reason for this allowance. He knew all of us were avid readers. Though our reading, the girls in the group had devoured books with strong, male leads. He felt what the guys read did not have as strong of female protagonists and he did not want stereo type character in the campaign. He wanted well rounded characters.

Back then I chose to stick with female characters. After all, I am girl. I understood them better. However, now with my writing I have to portray strong male characters as well female characters. Role-playing male characters then would have allowed me to experiment and given me an advantage now.

Sooner or later, whether you are an artist, poet, or author, everyone runs into something they personally just do not know. We all have our own limited perspectives but try to create worlds filled with a vast array of features. So how do you overcome your limitations with regard to what you know?

Read. Read non-fiction. Read fiction. Just read. Expose yourself to more ideas to understand who your characters are better. Go out there and find books with a gender, ethnicity, or whatever you feel your week on. Reading a variety of stories with differing type of main characters gives you insight into that type of character.

Attend conferences that can help teach you, such as Life, the Universe, and Everything symposium. LTUE offers a variety of panels each year. You are sure to find something that will help you be able to describe or draw that character or scene you’ve had an awesome idea for. You might even learn how a horse would really behave.

And of course role-play. Experiment with different characters in pen-paper, online games, or whatever game gives you a strong story line. Get out of your comfort zone when creating your characters. Experiment with things you have not done before. You just might have some fun and learn things along the way.

This list is by no mean comprehensive. What are your ways to learn how to do a character outside your experience?