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Hello all, Winter here.

So. A kinda big rp project I am working on currently, well off and on like so much stuff, is an rp family that will be portrayed by me.

This means I am going to be running more than one OC, and I am trying to create different personalities to make them unique in their own way so to stand out.

What I'd like to know is: What do you think is important to a backstory and or history, of a family?

I am aware that with it being my project, I can put what i think is necessary. However. I would like to get some ideas what would be good to focus on. Because I have found that even if I'm putting what I consider to be most important, hitting point for point, I can sometimes go on, and on, and on. And even if I use the collapse tab, I just don't want people to not be interested in what I put for information.

Then again most of the time, in my opinion, so few people actually take the time to read what is posted on a character page these days, I could probably post stuff that isn't important or relevant and no one would notice.
Wow wow, this is gonna be an undertaking! But if it works out for you I feel as though it will be really rewarding, too, so definitely wishing you good luck!

You know what I think is important in family dynamics is acknowledging how each person interacts with every other, and zeroing in on why it happens the way it does.

Haha, it sounds pretty basic spelled out that way, but I mean it! I feel like this often gets taken for granted. When people write out families, I feel like the most common thing that happens is that characters that aren’t the “main” character are basically flattened into their respective tropes - “Mom” trope, “Dad” trope, “Younger Sibling” trope - and in the process not only do the individual characters lose their depth, but the entire family becomes inherently less complex and less realistic. To combat this, I think every family member needs to be given due consideration as a distinct character/entity, and then you have to consider how those distinctions play off each other and where deviations happened in the course of their lifelong relationships.

Like, okay. We’re obviously (generally) shaped by our parents because they’re our first social connection. They dictate what information is important, what character traits are important... they’re our blueprint for what a person is, and our only point of reference in the broader world we occasionally catch glimpses of but otherwise don’t participate in until later. And siblings - they go through all the same stuff, and the only thing that’s Obviously different is 1) their perspective and 2) their parents’ level of experience having kids.

Consider this:
There’s a family with three members: Mother, Older Son, Younger Daughter. Older Son is our “main”/focus character. He’s distant from and disgruntled toward his mom, and resentful of and annoyed by his younger sister.

Which of the following is more interesting?

scenario 1 - flat characterization
Mother is a “typical mom.” She cares, but she meddles and nags a little too often. She’s always asking her son about his day and reminding him to eat because that’s what moms do.

Younger Daughter is a typical brat of a “younger sibling.” She’s spoiled and always gets away with things because she looks cute. She’s always up to mischief.

Older Son is annoyed by his mom because she’s too nosy, and annoyed by his sister because she’s a brat.


scenario 2 - dynamic characterization
Mother has always tried to cultivate an open environment where her kids can talk to her. She cares especially about honesty because she feels that past relationships have been negatively affected by lies and secrets, so as a parent to her kids she puts an emphasis on telling the truth. She cares about both her children but knows that as her Older Son becomes more independent he will be at greater risk of getting into trouble he has to face on his own, so she focuses on him in particular, hoping that if he needs help he’ll know he can turn to her.

Younger Daughter looks to Mother as a role model. Because telling the truth is important to Mother, it’s the right behavior to show and it’s important to her, too. She tattles on her brother when he sneaks around because that’s dishonest, but she does it because she looks up to him and wants him to recognize that she is behaving well and being a good person. She feels hurt and gets angry when he gets annoyed with her for acting this way, but when they’re getting along she wants to spend time around him and share her interests.

Older Son feels like when Mother focuses on him and asks pointed questions, she’s implying that she doesn’t trust him or that she believes he is irresponsible. He resents being made to feel as though he’s done wrong before he’s even opened his mouth, so he avoids her when he can, and acts petulantly toward her when he can’t avoid her. He’s annoyed that his tattletale sister also seems to have decided he’s up to no good, but recognizes on some level that his resentment is more about the circumstances than about her in particular. He snaps at her when he’s irritated, but he feels bad about it when he cools down and seeks her out to listen to her talk about her day or share something he thinks she might find neat.


admittedly, I think there are merits to both. In the former case, sometimes you really do only have one focus character and using shorthand to fill out the other roles with characters a reader doesn’t have to spend time thinking about is useful to help the story stay focused. But I do believe that the latter scenario offers more depth, more points of contact, and more interactability, and sometimes that’s what you need.


Anyway! That’s certainly enough rambling from me! XD But I hope it was at least in line with the kind of discussion you hoped to see.
What you want to focus on is the idea of the first impression. Each member of the family has their own personality, and all of that will become clear upon any small interaction with them. These are usually motivated by what each member of the family thinks of as important or consider to be good or praiseworthy. One may value wit or honesty over kindness, while another considers gentleness and getting along over total transparency. Ideas like these will create habits and thought patterns, both good and bad, that will affect how they behave immediately to others.

These ideas are always very nuanced, of course, but what you should focus on, as far as personalities go, are the previously mentioned habits and behaviors. The only problem is that, time and again, they don't always come out the way we expect them to as writers, so I would argue that it's important to RP with them a little first before committing their personalities to writing (but that's just me).

To piggie-back off of what's been written already, I'd like to share a quick example of how to play with family expectations: A father has two sons, and one son, the younger, is a creative, expressive type, while the older is a critical type, valuing high technical skill over all other factors of art. Their father loves his children equally and supports his younger son's artistic endeavors as best he can, but he is not an artist himself. This leaves the artist son with a great challenge: not pleasing his father, but getting his overly critical older brother to acknowledge his skill, and to do so without backhanded reservations.

The normal story is about a son trying to please his distant father and earn his love, but this is about a different struggle: earning the respect of a sibling, whose respect may or may not even be worth the effort in the long run. These types of relationships, some good, some bad, some still something else, should define every one-on-one relationship in the family. This means not everyone will have great chemistry with everyone else, but even that is a story worth telling.

As for backstories, again, keep it to broad strokes. "Batman's parents were killed in a backalley mugging in Crime alley, and now he fights a never-ending war against crime." "Superman's parents sent him to a world where he would have superhuman abilities to survive the destruction of his homeowrld, and there was taught to use his powers for the good of all." Whole TV series can and have been made about the details of these one-sentence things, but, at their core, they're easy to digest because they get to the ultimate heart of why these events are important.
Sorry it has taken me so long to say something. I hadn't realized I'd unsubscribed to this topic. I usually have a huge list and try to shorten it down.

I thank you both for those opinions, and will add them to another friend's suggestion as to what they felt is important.

This may take longer than I thought it would.

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