Talecraft Character Building Workshop: A Report

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 9 - 2009

For those of you, like myself, who were unable to attend the recent Character Building Workshop sponsored by Talecraft, author Erica Gonzales (who you might know from her Jumper Cable stories from the Digest of Philippine Genre Stories and Philippine Speculative Fiction IV) has graciously agreed to give us the low down on last Saturday’s event:

The Talecraft Character Workshop was held last November 7, 2009, at Powerbooks Greenbelt from 1-5 pm. Sponsored by Talecraft creator Ria Lu, it was graced by guest speakers Budjette Tan (best known for the “Trese” comic series), and Taga-Ilog (creator of the “Pasig” series in Culture Crash).

Budjette Tan spoke first and gave an example of a great character he admired as a child: Wolverine. The mysterious background and the antihero personality appealed to him, as well as to friends and classmates he met over the years. He discussed character development through various methods: making characters real; making characters do what you dream of doing yourself; and taking cues from conversations and personalities in real life.  Mr. Tan then used personal examples of his own adventures in character development: how Alexandra Trese is an amalgamation of heroes, how the Kambal were unconsciously derived from himself and his brother. [Ed. Note: Which makes me wonder which one Budjette takes after...]

Taga-Ilog also took this route in his own talk. He openly admitted that his routes to character development have not been conservative, but they worked for him nonetheless. He described his method in this way:  Environment, situation, and millieu came to him first, followed by the need for characters in the setting. He then talked about the common, time-tested character archetypes, giving examples from his childhood (which fortunately were also part of the childhood of many in the audience, who knew his references to Sailor Moon, Avatar, He-Man, and YuYu Hakusho / Ghost Fighter). He also gave examples of how element types can be used as a start for characterizations, and how twists in the archetypes can be utilized.
For this writer, at least, the examples were a great treat. Characterization comes from various inspirations and influences, and rarely in an organized manner. It was a wonderful thing being assured by those examples, that it’s perfectly alright to go about the process in your own way. It is a matter of knowing what to look for in a character, and using it when the right character comes.


Riu Lu gave the more nuts-and-bolts character development factors (physical features, base archetype, motives, etc.) and cited common mistakes in character-making, through a workshop. The participants were grouped together and given a set of Talecraft archetype cards and character
profile sheets. Using other methods or the provided card, participants are told to create characters that will form a team. Each group throws ideas and concepts, helping each member with their characters, making for interesting conversation and even more interesting characters.

It was a simple and informal workshop, yet meaningful and well-organized. It was a great way to spend an afternoon, meeting new creators and learning from more seasoned ones. I have hope that at least some of those wacky characters will find homes in stories and comics.

Many thanks to Erica for the guest post, and to Talecraft for what was apparently a very useful (and timely, what with NaNoWriMo) workshop.

One Response to “Talecraft Character Building Workshop: A Report”

  1. EK says:

    Thanks for the corrections.

    As for your question: Mr. Tan said that according to his younger brother, the sad Kambal is him, and the happy Kambal is the younger brother.

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