So, I'm not much of a writer, in fact the last time I wrote a story was when I was 10 (Been nearly 10 years since).

Where I usually write is in roleplay situations. Where my characters are constantly interacting with others, as we all make our way through some ridiculous problem together, or kill something disgustingly difficult.

What I wanted to know, are there any specific exercises I can take as a person to accomplish the following.

Keep My characters personalities separate. It may seem like a silly question, however I struggle with this. What i mean is, when running multiple characters I tend to sort of merge their personalities into one abomination, it takes time, but eventually they all become the same old character with different weapons, or something.

For example, I had two characters, one named Adrian, another named Ashley. In the beginning Ashley was a light hearted smooth talking kinda guy, whereas Adrian was more on the Edgy side of things. He had a classical 'I'm rich, so i'm better than you' demeanor... In the end, their personalities merged slightly and it was just messy.

I want to prevent this in the future, though don't want to stop my Roleplay activities. Is there anything I can do?

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    first off, silly as it sounds, don't have two character names start with the same letter. Just seeing the letter at the beginning of the name gives you that tiny subconscious clue of who you're dealing with. Aug 5, 2016 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


The first thing that determines how a character acts in a story is not their personality, but their motivation. In short, what do they want. If your characters all want the same thing, they will tend to seem the same.

People with different personalities will definitely pursue their goals in different ways. But what people want is also a result of their personality. People with different personalities, in other words, are likely to want different things. That puts you back in the realm of what they want.

Then the issues becomes, is their behavior in this scene consistent with what they want. What they want and how they act to get it will reveal who they are. If they want the same things, to the same degree, chances are they have similar personalities that will be hard to tell apart. If they have different personalities, that will manifest itself in different actions in pursuit of different goals.

The trick in any scene is to keep each character pursuing their own goals. If you forget what one of your characters wants in a scene, they are not going to ring true and will probably start to blend in with others. They are blending because you have forgotten what their individual motivation is.

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    With this in mind, it's important to remember that characters are "pursuing their own goals," plural. Characters have more than one thing motivating them, and sometimes those motivations can be in conflict with one another, which is where really interesting aspects of a character tend to show up... Aug 5, 2016 at 20:00
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    That's true. At the same time, though, we should bear in mind that conventional story structure is build around one central desire. A character generally has a primary goal. Secondary goals may conflict with that goal, but we should generally have a good idea of which goal is primary. Fiction needs to be neater than life.
    – user16226
    Aug 5, 2016 at 20:08

To begin with, follow the advice of mbkeranalecta regarding motivations.

It sounds like a dialogue problem? As though they all start to sound the same eventually because you favor a particular "voice" in a dialogue? That happens a lot, so I am just going to answer it from this tack as the major point has, I think, been covered. Different motivations make for different reactions, and thus, different people, but dialogue, that's about developing a particular voice that comes from a particular background. If you can write dialogue that the reader can immediately identify as a specific person, without the name, then you've done something beautiful.

So--have their voice in your head. How do they talk? Do they have any verbal tics? This isn't about putting the words "he said gloomily" at the end of whatever they say...it's more than that.

Here's an example. Character #1 has a verbal tic. One word sarcasm.

"Fantastic. Perfect. Can nothing at all go right?" he said, sopping wet.

"Nothing ever has before, but it's never stopped me. Don't look now, but there's a stunning barmaid coming over here to clean it up," he answered, wringing out his hat.

"I heard that," she said, towel in hand.

"I meant you to," he said with a brilliant smile.

"I am going to smell like a damned brewery for the rest of the day. Wonderful."

They also react differently. Even though they aren't named, you know exactly who is speaking.

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    Thanks for this comment. This opened up my mind a bit... Whenever I am using my characters I hear them in my own monotoned voice, that may be where I am lacking. This has been helpful. I'll put your advice to good use, I swear it ;) Aug 12, 2016 at 1:40
  • Since you already come at things from an RPG standpoint, dialogue is probably your way through, for sure. They each need a voice in your head, a distinctive one. This link from TV tropes can give you some examples: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VerbalTic However, verbal tics might not be phrases, they can be tendencies to put things a certain way, using more words than needed or only one. Aug 12, 2016 at 2:02
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    I was wondering. Would 'copying' the characters work? What i mean by this is, say for example we have 'genericguyno.1' here, who taps his fingers on his side when he's talking to others, because he struggles to keep his hands still & is conscious of it, thinking it'd be weird otherwise. Would tapping my finger as I go along playing that character help at all? I was just thinking if I 'become' the character I can better act them out. Aug 12, 2016 at 2:05
  • Definitely. That does help. What you want to be careful of is that they don't sound too much like you. Your rich guy, he'll have picked up some upper crust ways of speaking--look at the real life section of that link I gave you. Aug 12, 2016 at 2:15

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