How to portray a realistic character

Description: A brief guide to character development based on my 5 years of experience with hardcore roleplay.

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[url=https://desolationlabs.com:0/app.php/kb/viewarticle?a=3&sid=e17106d5b85cd3a0e9b0f68892b52862]Knowledge Base - How to portray a realistic character[/url]

Hello there, I've come to present a brief guide as to what I know about character development. Feel free to private message me if I've missed anything. I'm always open to constructive criticism and new ideas. I don't publish this post with the intent to look like the Jesus Christ of hardcore roleplay & character development but more to hint at the basics of how a character should be portrayed. Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy the read.
PHASE I: Abstract

First and foremost, a proper character should be able to expertly become what it is, a human being. A character that's portrayed as an actual human being with guilt, flaws and fears is beyond any doubt way better than a character purely based off what's shown in movies. Having the upper hand or being in favor during an RP scene, or winning in one should never be the focal point of character development. Players need to learn how to separate their OOC selves from their IC characters otherwise proper roleplay immersion would just be impossible to achieve. Engaging in character development is a form of art, it takes a lot more than just simple emotes, mods or SkyGFX. The point of character development is to portray a character's struggles and how they adapt to them, as well as events that gradually mold them to the character that they are to become.
PHASE II: Setting Your Character Up

It takes a lot of creativity to build a realistic character. Though, a technique that I've been doing for 5 years of hardcore roleplay is usually basing my characters off people that I've come to know in real life, from documentaries or even TV shows that showcase a slow paced character development, such as Walter White from Breaking Bad or Jax Teller from SOA. It's also important to provide your character a focal reason to live, a main goal so to speak, a dream.

Does your character value money above everything? Then portray her as somebody who chooses money over relationships, family or even her own health. Does your character value looks above everything? Then portray her as an insecure bimbo who constantly puts on lipstick and makeup, essentially doing everything just to look good even though there's bigger things to worry about. Is your character a kleptomaniac who just seeks to steal for the sake of it? Then portray a character that impulsively steals. Is she a thrillseeker that lives for the adrenaline? Perhaps, a scenester that wants to thrash everything or everyone with authority? Then make her that one butthurt punk that complains about everything and is more inclined to rebel.

If you've came up with a creative objective as to what your character's objectively chasing in life, build her an identity that surrounds it. May it be through the way she speaks, the way she processes stressful situations, or the way she views the world. Is she an idealist? Perhaps, a nihilist who thinks there's no point in everything? Is she a narcissist who glorifies herself all the time and constantly sees other people as subordinates? Or is she an escapist who's more inclined to take flight from bigger struggles and is generally a chicken? Once you've figured out what your character's identity is based off your character's main objective, then bind her actions based on the identity you've created for her. Give her traits, quirks and flaws. Once again, make your character human. Don't be the overrated based-off-a-movie character that's able to single out four people at once. Make her portray proper fear, and make her react to situations like how a human being realistically would. Usually, I stay in line with my character's identity and personality by jotting down her traits in bullet points. It's easier that way for me.
PHASE III: Shaping Your Character/Struggles

It's important to provide your character a backstory so that the person that she is as well as what drives her to do certain decisions makes sense. If you're trying to go for a character who's become desensitized with the world around her, perhaps at the brink of becoming a sociopath or a full-on psychopath in that case, then provide a backstory that shaped her into one. Perhaps, she's suffered mental trauma or physical abuse, or her environment and the way she was raised molded her to become what she is. It's little things like these that make a character much more interesting than just outright saying "Oh, she was born with it."

It's also important to establish that letting unexpected IC events shape your character into somebody slightly new is important. Was your character robbed on the way to Scarville? Then portray her as having developed a phobia in taking the same route and have her figure out a new route instead. Was your character forced to take another human life out of necessity or greed? Show how she copes with guilt and her conscience. Did you see a senior officer outright and mercilessly kill a civilian right in front of you for merely disobedience? Portray your character as fearful of that certain senior officer or even have your character turn submissive to him. Though, it's important to note that this should ALWAYS not be the case. Of course, it always depends on what your character have previously went through. The point here is that you show how your character copes with stressful situations. Do they turn to a bottle of liquor or booze when dealing with stress, or do they instead talk to another human being and vent their problems out?

With that being said, show how these certain coping mechanisms affect your character in the long run. If they abused alcohol to deal with stress, and the majority of what they went through is stressful, make them much more prone to catching liver disease or becoming oblivious and lacking self-care or hygiene. Of course, these are merely just examples that I could jot straight off my head. It's totally up to YOU, the player, on how you would exercise your creativity. After all, that's what makes character development fun.
PHASE IV: Establishment

By now, it's all up to your creativity on whether you should decide to change your character's path or identity. To me, it's always better to let IC events dictate as to what your character becomes into. It's also important to note that passive roleplay is just as valuable to character portrayal and development as roleplays that are done with other characters. At this stage, creativity is pretty much a high necessity which could likely get boring for awhile, but if you think that your creativity is limitless and you're somewhat of a novelist with a strong imagination (which I ain't), then I'm without a doubt sure that the fun would be endless for you. Don't be afraid to lose a roleplay scene and always try to pick an opportunity to develop your character based off of them.