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Writing an Origin- Advice


Maccabe
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:confused: I was wondering if anyone here had any advice for how to write an interesting origin for a character. What to include, how long etc..?

 

I usually start with the "event" itself ;what triggers the change into a superhero type. Then a paragraph or so on major events both before the "event", and after, making sure to note how/why the character decided on a name, major disadvantages etc.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

I normally start with the background of the character before the event that makes him or her a super -- what kind of person he is, what shaped his perspectives and drives. I find that not only gives the character interesting depth, but helps clarify (for me, for my players, and for my GM if it's not me) how the events of his origin will affect him, and what decisions he'll make in the course of his new life.

 

Frankly, I've never been a fan of the "origin completely changes the character's personality" approach. Feels like a cop-out to me.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

I have seen some stories that start with the character before he got his powers. Maybe tell or hint at "what his live would have been".

Then comes the event and why he can't go back (it feels to good to help, public identity, fleeing from a powerfull group). If possible, why he took his name/how he got it. Not everyone cooses one, but gets a nickname that just sticks.

 

In the easiest form this can be two sentences; Example:

"A curator at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, while examing a strange artifact donated by an anonymous person was imbued with a magical flame power. Inspired after a visting to an eternal flame memortial of fallen armed forces took up the personal of The Eternal Flame." - HD3-File

 

Some stories are told as like a real story.

 

Some (especially those with mystical/alien origin) must first lay out the world in wich the character/the characters power source was created and then goes toward how he got to wield that power. Some may be a little bit short on the character part (usually explaining that in the Personality section), but that is not absolute.

 

Example:

Thats the Green Latern Corps and their Rings.

 

Thats Alan Scott/Hal Jordan/Guy Gardner/John Stewart and their current live.

 

Thats how [character] archieved [power source] and why he didn't gave it up.

 

The rest of his story, we see in the game / comics.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

I've seen various origin stories written various ways, and many can be interesting and fun reads. The kind I prefer to read is the "show, don't tell" version (what Christopher refers to above as "told like a real story"), though it seems I'm more likely to create a "tell" version out of laziness or lack of creativity. (By a "tell" version, I mean one that basically describes what happened as if dispassionately reported by an outside observer. It gets all the info across, but IMO in a manner that can be a bit bland.)

 

Personally, I think if you can find a new, or at least little-used, way of telling the origin, it makes it more memorable and draws the reader in more.

 

In one character he wrote for Digital Hero (Stalker), Hermit broke the origin into distinct scenes ("Four years ago", "Three years ago", "Two years ago","One year ago", and "Six months ago") to tell the character's story. I really enjoyed it, and have gleefully copied it in origins I've written for several characters.

 

Attached are two Background/History pieces I wrote for two characters. One (Pigeon) uses a single straight story, while the other (Willard) uses a forgotten personal journal to hint at the character's origin, powers, and personality.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

Start at the beginning!

Not nessesarly. Trying that to hard, may just hinder you ever starting to write. Currently writing on a origin and I could not even clearly define the beginning

I just wrote some things I had in my head down, roughly ordered in the three areas. Than I started filling, linking, reordering... Nearly got 3 kb of unicode text by now. (started right after my first post).

 

About techniques:

I this origin story, I combine "show" and "tell".

 

The Origin of the power is a tell, since it is easier that way.

 

The character part on the other hand, will use the "show" for selected events.

 

But, since I will play this hero, if ever, on herocentral I consider leaving just a condensed view of the character (in tell format) and use "show" in Flashbacks.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

Theres a hundred ways to begin a character/concept/origin.

I like to start with an interesting array of powers. That suggests to me the kind of person most suited to them, a little thought and the origin writes itself.

 

as for the event that created the hero...It comes after the powers. The powers being the result of the "event" tell me just what the event is. No need for a radio-active spider when the powers are those of an air elemental.

 

I've had several origins for Black Falcon depending on the game I'm playing. The DC origin is posted in my DA page. Champions gave me an opportunity to combine the magic of an ancient curse, with the mutation survivor gene. So the power is magic, but the ability to channel it is mutant.

 

Psidestep is similar. His mutant gene absorbed the cybernetics in his body. again, science + mutation.

 

an interesting array of powers suggests all sorts of things to me.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

I've taken on the dubious golden age habit of picking amusing secret ID names. They usually are either

 

1) start with the same letter like Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Billy Batson, etc.

2) or their name relates to what they are called. Such as Dr. Anton Pokalypse, Dr Akula, Barbie Dahl, Ann Royd, etc.

 

From their names and character design, I can usually flesh out how they got their powers and what they did with them.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

Some people like to write short novels as an origin, I tend to keep mine short. I usually only delve one aspect of it. The aspects being:

How they got their powers

What they've done with (or before) their powers

The personality

 

Which one I delve into usually depends on my inspiration for the character, or what most makes me want to play that character (my reasons for wanting to play characters vary, some I play because I like the power set, some because I like the origin, some because I like the personality).

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

Some people like to write short novels as an origin . . .

That would be me . . . I have tried to explain my method of writing to others but I am never sure if they understand. I start by determining what kind of character I am going to build. This usually means loosely defining basic powers. From there . . . the story unravels in my head like a movie I've never seen. All I can do is write as fast as I can before the reel ends. Some are short, some are very, very long. Some end abruptly while others never end. All seem to weave together in a tapestry that confuses even me. As more characters appear, I build them and their story begins . . . I can only hope it never stops because I've met some fascinating people in the process.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

Any Origin of any type of character should be able to be sumed up as a one sentance outline, that can be expanded to occupy, effectively a comic book. Pretty much holds true for Any Super Hero you can name.

 

~Rex.....the key is in the expansion, but, if you can't boil it down to a sentance, it's blown out of proportion, not simply expanded.

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Re: Writing an Origin- Advice

 

Any Origin of any type of character should be able to be sumed up as a one sentance outline, that can be expanded to occupy, effectively a comic book. Pretty much holds true for Any Super Hero you can name.

 

~Rex.....the key is in the expansion, but, if you can't boil it down to a sentance, it's blown out of proportion, not simply expanded.

 

Short descriptions can also be more "epic" than longer winded ones.

 

You don't need more than a couple of sentences to describe Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America or Wonder Woman.

 

A picture of their costume (and secret ID) helps too.

 

Of course, the best origin story would be one drawn as a comic - but that requires skills most of us don't have.

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