Finalize your character notes today. Address any character background details you might have overlooked. Remember: where a person comes from can be a strong motivator for what they do next.

Frequently, people put a dark or traumatic event into their heroes' pasts. You see this in the comics-- even Superman, whose adopted father dies when Clark is back from college-- as well as in many books and movies. If you've ever played a role-playing game and asked people to describe their character's home life, you'll be amazed at how many orphans there are sitting at that table in the inn near Waterdeep. In part, this is because we want tragic experiences to have meaning-- we want them to shape us for the better, and so we work with heroic archetypes who are also shaped for the better by these events. But also, I think, sometimes we use a Tragic Past as a way to easily give a reason why an ordinary person would choose a dangerous and thankless path.

Pain and tragedy are strong motivators, but they're not the only shaping forces in our lives. Strong role models, lessons learned from failing at tasks that aren't life-destroying, and the simple act of being in a stable relationship or lifestyle can help strengthen a person's character. Although strong steel is forged through heat and a grinding stone, the same is not always true of human character. You might think of a character's background as a clay sculpture. Moldable, and changeable, and responsive to pressure, but truly best when guided by a strong and stable hand.


Look in your social and cultural world for not just the places where your character doesn't fit in, but also the places where he or she does, and note them in your character notes. Make sure that, by the end of today, you can name your character's parents and siblings, the town where they grew up, their age and any training they've had, and the most influential three people in their lives.

Oh, and for those of you who already have characters fully fleshed out: Spend your fifteen minutes writing a scene in which your character is given a gift they have to refuse. You decide on the gift, the giver, and why they have to refuse it.