I’m looking at the local community college’s Character Workshop for Fiction Writers for this fall, as I think it would help me with what I consider to be my biggest weakness – I can’t design a character to save my life.
Full disclosure: in a past RPG I did have a couple of original characters, but I don’t think they were very good – introductory descriptions felt like I was ticking off check boxes just to get it out of the way, and then I wrote whatever fit the plot/my whims. I just couldn’t get in their heads (“what would x do in y situation based on z personality characteristics?”), and I don’t think I developed them well.
I confess this is why I’ve tended to lean on fan fiction as my writing outlet: characters are already established, and I’ve read/seen them in action so I can better imagine what they might say or do. Additionally, fan fiction audiences are already familiar with them/the property to which they belong, so I can be lazy and forego introductions/”establishing shots”.
I don’t mean that as a criticism of other fanfic writers (it’s fun to play with characters in worlds you already know and love), just noticing that I happen to use it as a crutch to avoid improving the things I’m bad at.
Truth: I’m more comfortable inventing worlds, but then I don’t know how to populate them. Which bugs me because I tend to find that characters and dialog are what make or break a story for me, and if I’m going to bother with this at all I want to write stuff I’d actually want to read, dammit!