Version: 1.0 Status: Incomplete
Taking the Backseat Edit
Chapter 9 of "A Guide to Good Roleplaying" discusses how to take a backseat to other characters. In a roleplay such as Survival of the Fittest, where there are dozens upon dozens of characters and they all have their own unique stories, it can be difficult to make your character fall into a supporting role. However, not everyone can be the main hero or villain all the time. Here, we will discuss the when, where, and how of putting your characters into a backseat-type roll.
I. When should my character be a "support" character?
This is a tricky question, and the answer all depends on circumstance. The world generally won't stop and stare if your character enters a new location, so when entering a new area with new characters, try not to automatically make your character the main focal point. Oftentimes, the storyline is already unwrapping, and things won't change just because your character shows up.
However, in the same instance, say you're playing a villain character who suddenly appears on the scene to attack a group of characters. Suddenly, your character BECOMES the focal point, as (s)he is doing something to directly emerse him/herself in the storyline. That being said, it brings me to my next topic.
II. What exactly IS a support character? How do I tell the difference?
Basically, a "support" character is one who is not directly pushing the storyline forward with their presence. To better illustrate my point, there are several examples in the pre-game RP of both support and leading characters. In Franklyn Senior High's A Lone Soul at the Bar and Grill characters such as Andie Colvin, Marimar Perez, Danielle Tysl and Vesa Turunen are examples of support, or backseat, characters. They have made their presence known without directly affecting the storyline. In this thread, characters such as Matthias Kovalenko and Eric Silvstedt take on the leading roles.
III. My character is just as important as the other characters, why should I have to take a backseat?
In short, because if everyone in a thread tries to be the leading character, mass chaos and confusion ensues. When you get several different characters trying to drive the storyline in multiple directions, things get confusing and the story goes nowhere because none of the characters are on the same page. Every character has a time and place in the spotlight, but when they all try to force themselves into the limelight at once, things get hectic.
IV. Should I have to take a backseat to other people's characters just because they're "more skilled" than I am?
Sometimes, people feel like their character isn't as important to a storyline as other characters because perhaps the other people they're roleplaying with write bigger, longer, more impressive posts than they do. This isn't true. Just because someone is a "more skilled" (and I use that term very loosely) writer does not entitle them to being in the spotlight in every topic they enter. Regardless of your writing style, your ability, or how long you have been in the roleplay, you are just as entitled to having your time in the spotlight as everyone else. Don't think that just because someone with a "more important" character enters the thread, that you have to automatically take a lesser role.
V. When is it bad to take a backseat to another character?
Lots of times, people find themselves roleplaying with a character who takes a leadership type roll within the group. This is most often when other characters back down and fall into sort of supporting roles, and that's bad. You shouldn't sacrifice your character's presence just so another character can step up to the plate and make all the decisions. This doesn't mean that you have to have a leadership squabble or something, but make sure your characters are involved. It wouldn't be a group with only one person.
Another time characters tend to take a backseat is during romantic relationships. All too often, we see a character lose all sense of self and confine themselves to thoughts and actions revolving around their significant other. It's rare that we see this in real life, but it often happens in RPs, and then the love-sick character automatically takes a backseat, making the other character seem more important. There's no point in this, and there's no warrant doing it. It just takes away from your character and your writing ability. In love or not, they're still human beings. Remember that.
More to come...
((Feel free to PM any suggestions/questions/comments to Megami!))