Character Creation and Development
Neopets serves as a great creative outlet for neopians far and wide. Here you can dress up, draw, code and write for your pets. The possibilities are endless. One major aspect of this creative outflow is character creation. We all love our pets to bits, but sometimes we get stumped on fleshing out a super rad character for them. Allow me to preface this by saying I do not expect everyone to do all of these things for character development, as I recognize and appreciation the diversity of talent and it would be unfair to expect all of the following to be met by one person.
Surprisingly (or perhaps not, I’m just not an imaginative individual), customizing your pets can be a great way to inspire a character. You might see your pet amongst a field of flowers and think “yes, of course, how could I not see it before! you are undoubtedly a gardener!” More often than not when I’m trying to decide on a character, the customization will come first. Likewise, if you have a character for your pet that you’re bored with, finding a new customization for them is a fantastic way to revitalize them and look at them from a new perspective. New look, new me, as the vernacular has it.
2. Fill out character questionnaires
Filling out questionnaires for your potential character is a great way to bring them to fruition. They go from being a wispy intangible concept to a “here I am! I am Greg and I love soup apparently!” A simple questionnaire helps lay a lot of important groundwork for a character. How is the character? What color are their eyes? How tall are they? Do they have family members? These might all seem like very simple questions, but it’s important to be able to answer them in order to have something more concrete.
For characters who already have most of the groundwork laid, do not fear! I promise you, you are never done developing a character. You may want to expound on their personality, dig up their idiosyncrasies. Here are a few fun questions for consideration:
• What does your character do when no one is watching?
• What time does your character go to bed? Wake up?
• What are some of your character’s nervous habits?
• What was your character’s favorite thing to do growing up?
• How does your character feel about their middle name?
These are just a few of quite literally limitless questions you can ask yourself, and you should never stop asking questions so long as you wish to continue developing your character.
3. Write stories
Writing stories around your characters is crucial to fleshing them out. There’s so much we can see through stories- a character’s reactions to events, how they interact with others. We can even read their thoughts depending on the perspective being written from. Questionnaires are mostly meant to help us understand our characters better, but stories are there for the world to see. They put our characters on display for everyone else.
Even if writing novels is out of the question, write a limerick. A memoir. A poem. Any form of writing that embodies your character makes them all the more real as well as deepens your own connection to them. And the best part is, you don’t even have to be good at it! If you want to write about your bruce falling down a snowy hill because he had ten scoops of ice cream and it was just too heavy, then do it! Now we know your bruce a.) is gluttonous and b.) is so weak that ice cream causes him to topple over. That right there is character development.
That’s right, kiddies, pick up your color pencils or other drawing utensils. Drawing characters is, unsurprisingly, a really cool way of developing your character. Now the world can see what they look like! Or just you if you’d rather not share your art but that is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Believe it or not, a drawing can tell us a lot about a character. They’re wearing a beach shirt and carrying around a surfboard? Great! I’m assuming they’re a surfer. They’re wearing a wicked cool space suit/jet pack combo? I don’t know what they are exactly but I do know they’re too cool for me!
And then there’s the obvious- a drawing communicates their height, color palette, build, hair style or lack of one, clothing preferences, and so forth. Poses and scenery also play an important role. If they’re reading a book, I assume they’re probably a smarty pants. If they’re running amongst fields with a bow and arrow, I assume they’re adventurous and again, too cool for me. So fear not, for exposition isn’t the only way to communicate your characters with the world!
Similar to story writing, roleplaying is perfect for figuring out how your character reacts and interacts, only this time the situation isn’t entirely controlled by you. By not writing from all character’s perspectives in an overarching story and instead honing in on a particular character, it’s now your job to become that character. You’re metaphorically stepping into their shoes. And now scenarios are controlled by two or more people instead of you alone, meaning situations might pop up that you never would have thought to analyze your character’s response to before.
This also serves as a very good alternative to story writing for those who tire of the labor intensive exposition is guarantees. Roleplay tends to focus more on dialogue making it great for those who want to better understand the mood and tone of their character. You’re being careful to choose the diction that best conveys them, meaning that you’re subconsciously analyzing their behavior. And then of course your roleplay partner(s) get to see how neato your character is as well. Win-win.
So those are a handful of ways those struggling with developing their characters can get into the groove of things! I’ve tried to cover a range of possible talents so that no one feels like “well, I guess character development just isn’t for me.” It’s for anyone and everyone who’s interested in it, so go forth and create amazing characters.