Tips for Telling Stories: Selfish Sally and Other Characters

traitsOne of the features of Sims 4 — and Sims 3, as well — is a system of traits. There’s a wide range. We can create introverted loners, or out-going party animals. Our sims can be good or evil, clumsy, squeamish, neat, and the list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, the trait system doesn’t work too well in the game. Good sims will come up with “whims” to donate money to charities, and mean sims will sometimes go around picking fights, but for the most part the traits don’t have a huge effect on the game.

But they should have an effect on your story-telling.

Every character in your story should have a dominant trait, especially those secondary or minor characters who step onto the stage. Your main character, of course, will have many different traits, some positive, and some negative. Even with the lead character in your story, you should be able to choose one single trait that stands out from the rest. This is the key trait you’ll want to focus on in your story.

With less-important characters in a story, we don’t need to do quite so much character development. Instead, we can “zero-in” on a specific trait, highlighting it each time the character appears in a scene. It’s a bit like adding a musical theme, a motif that defines the character and tells the reader at once what to expect.

A perfect example is “Selfish Sally”. This was an example I picked up at a writer’s conference many years ago, and it makes such perfect sense, I’ve never forgotten it. The idea is this:

Whenever you show a character, always show the dominant trait in action.

Let’s look at Selfish Sally. She may be beautiful. She may be very intelligent. She may love horses and dogs. We don’t really care so much about those things, though, because her dominant trait is her selfishness. She thinks only of herself, wants more of everything, and certainly doesn’t like to share.

So, if we put Sally into a dinner scene, what’s she doing? She’s not engaging in chit-chat; she’s grabbing the biggest slice of pie or asking “Is there more ice cream?” or “Can I have seconds?” Or maybe she’s not even asking. Most likely she’s just pushing somebody aside to fill her own plate again. That’s how “Selfish Sally” always is.

Or we include her in a scene where our main character is asking for help. Is Sally listening? Not really. All she’s doing is talking about herself, turning the conversation around to her problems and what she wants.

Wherever we find Sally, she’s always acting true to character, always being her usual selfish self.

It’s a simple principle, really, and it’s one that can add interest to your stories. Give your characters a single strong trait by which you — and your readers — can quickly identify them. Keep them “in character” and let their traits help you build stronger stories.

 

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Born Yesterday

As an author, I’m often invited to participate in roundtables or critique groups where writers discuss a particular story and offer constructive, helpful comments. Over the years, I’ve seen — and made — about every writing mistake that can happen when we sit down and attempt to translate the ideas in our heads into words on paper — or onto a computer screen.

Your sims might have been "born yesterday", but make sure your story characters weren't.
Your sims might have been “born yesterday”, but make sure your story characters aren’t.

One of the worst mishaps in fiction-writing is what I call the “born yesterday” syndrome. This is where a character comes into a story with virtually no connections to any past events, Things are suddenly happening to him or her, but why? Without any past history to inform a reader, the story events fall flat.

Here’s a quick example from a story an aspiring writer submitted to one critique group. The main character — let’s call her Naomi — is engaged at the start of the story. She runs a little business with a good friend, and her parents are getting older.

In the opening chapter, Naomi’s world is thrown into a tailspin when her fiancé breaks off their two-year relationship because of her commitment to her aging parents. That sounds plausible, I know, but big decisions like this rarely happen out of the blue, and they should never happen that way in good fiction. Naomi, you see, was totally oblivious to her fiancé’s feelings, had no idea whatsoever that he was unhappy with any aspect of their relationship.

Later, still reeling from this break-up, Naomi goes to her shop, only to have her partner/best friend announce that she’s leaving to start a business of her own, again out of the blue. It seems this partner possessed a great deal of talent in jewelry-making — or some such avocation — and had been offered financial help to get started on her own. Naomi is floored. How could this be happening?

Next, her parents take her completely by surprise when they tell her that because of dementia they’re no longer able to care for themselves and they need her to move in with them. Again, this hits Naomi like one of those bolts out of the blue. She never saw it coming.

Really? Naomi, how could you be so dumb? Were you born yesterday?

The problem, of course, wasn’t Naomi’s problem alone. Actually, the real problem was the way in which the writer handled these situations. In truth — and fiction must reflect truth to be successful — none of these situations should have come as a huge surprise to Naomi.

  • In the course of a two-year romantic relationship in which both parties plan to spend the rest of their lives together, conversations would naturally occur about important issues such as the care of aging parents. If a problem occurred, it would be discussed, there would likely be arguments, there would be many emotions involved.
  • Best friends know each other well. They know one another’s interests and they share news about their lives. When one gets a big opportunity, they can’t wait to tell the other about it. That’s what being “best friends” is all about. And when best friends go into business together, they become jointly responsible for the business. There are legal considerations involved. It’s unrealistic that despite the author’s claim that Naomi and her best friend had been all but inseparable for the last twenty years, Naomi not only was shocked by her friend’s decision to quit the business but also had no knowledge of her interest in jewelry-making (or whatever it was) or her recent success. Best friends? Doesn’t sound like it to me.
  • Parents or other relatives don’t “suddenly” require care unless something of consequence has happened. In a situation with a loving, devoted child who cares for aging parents, there are obvious signs and obvious worries about what the future will bring. Dementia doesn’t happen in a day — barring any traumatic head injury or viral cause. It’s a long, slow, agonizing process. Watching someone’s mental state deteriorate is a painful thing.

Taken together, these situations create an unrealistic storyline that makes the main character — poor Naomi — appear not to have a brain in her head. The problems, however, were not all Naomi’s.

How could she not know of her fiancé’s unhappiness? How could she not know that her relationship was only one problem away from disintegrating? (The break-up was precipitated by Naomi’s announcement that she would have to break their date that night to spend time with her parents.) In the break-up, the long-suffering fiancé ranted and raved about how unfair it was that she spent all her time with her parents or her best-friend and gave him so little, but apparently he’d never bothered to share any of these feelings before. He could rattle off a long list of previous incidents, but it seems not once had he raised the issue with his wife-to-be.

How could Naomi not know that her friend was looking for other opportunities? It turns out that this best friend had been unhappy for a long time, that she felt Naomi was taking advantage of her — again because of the time Naomi spent with her parents. The friend was even resentful of having to work while Naomi went out with her fiancé. Did no one ever discuss any of these issues?

How could Naomi not see that her parents would soon need additional help? The writer went on at great length to tell the reader how close they were, how much time Naomi spent with her parents, how she felt obliged to be involved with every aspect of their medical care. Yet she was caught off-guard when her parents asked her to move in with them? We’re left to wonder why no one mentioned that possibility until the moment when this poorly-planned story began.

The problem, you see, was that not only Naomi, but all of the characters suffered the malady known as “Born Yesterday syndrome.” These characters did not exist prior to the day the story began. We’re told that they did. We’re told that they had friends, families, romantic and business relationships, but telling a reader about the past means nothing unless the characters’ actions are based upon them.

In the proverbial nutshell, none of the events taking place in the story could have happened without some prior knowledge. The aspiring author created a lot of drama, but it was both meaningless and senseless because she created characters who appeared to have been born yesterday. Their actions made no sense in the context of the relationships and events described.

All of this is a lengthy way of saying that good characters in stories need to be real.  That means they were born long before they walked into the story. They had a childhood. They grew up in a specific place, went to school, had all the normal human experiences — assuming you’re writing about human beings — and learned a lot about the world around them.

Mind-shattering and life-altering events can happen out of the blue, but only when they’re external events. Internal events — those momentous decisions and natural progressions in life — don’t occur suddenly or spontaneously. There are signs along the way, pointing to what’s going to happen.

Don’t let your characters be clueless. Build your stories with a sense of realism and fill them with people whose lives and relationships can be traced back in time. In truth, our characters may have only come to life in our minds yesterday, but when we place them into a story, we owe it to the reader to give them more than a name. We need to give them a life, as well.

 

 

 

The Townie Project – Part 6: Who Killed Titania McTeague?

Part 1: First Thoughts
Part 2: Who is Sergio Romero?
Part 3: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker
Part 4: What’s Your Style?
Part 5: Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

At this point in my Townie Project, I had to face a dreadful reality. Even as I worked to assign occupational roles, personalities, and other background information to the townies in my unplayed bin, I knew I would lose some of them. Because of the game mechanics known as culling, townie sims would still appear and disappear at random. I could protect a few townies by placing them in what I call safe houses — that is, putting them onto a lot in the game — but that wasn’t a practical solution for all of the sims in my game.

Like it or not, I had to accept the fact that I would lose some townie sims. This soon lead to a little mystery in my game.

Who Killed Titania McTeague?

After playing several households in the game, I took a deep breath and checked my unplayed bin. I knew a few of the townies on my list would now be gone. I braced myself and prepared to see who the game had taken away.

A lot of my townies were elders. It was fairly easy to say good-bye to them knowing they’d most likely passed away from natural causes. I could imagine the townspeople recalling the deceased with fond memories. Old Arthur Jimenez, the lawyer, had gone to the great judgment in the sky. Dear old Miss Messer, the long-time art teacher at the elementary school would now be painting lovely pictures of heaven. Just as in real life, I quietly acknowledged each passing, paid my respects, and moved on.

But as I started reviewing the list of “missing townies”, I came across not only elders, but adults, and young adults, as well. Surely they hadn’t all been stricken by some fatal disease. They’d been in perfect health, so it obviously made no sense to mark them as deceased. Their disposition, I quickly realized, could be determined by their personal characteristics and role — at least in the case of Titania McTeague.

Supermodel Titania McTeague poses for the camera near Oasis Lake.
Supermodel Titania McTeague poses for the camera near Oasis Lake.

Titiania was actually a sim I’d created in CAS. I had made her and moved her in with another young adult female, Evangeline Adams. The two of them were supermodels, glamorous young women who’d achieved monetary success but had never found true love. They were both looking.

Together they would hit the bars and clubs of Willow Creek and Oasis Springs, and eventually Evangeline did fall in love and marry. It was time for Titania to move out. Because I no longer needed her in the game and had no place for her in my regular rotation schedule, she went to the “Unplayed” townie bin.

And so it was, when I realized she was suddenly gone from the game, I felt a twinge of sadness. “Poor Titania,” I thought to myself. “You never really had a chance.” But what had happened to her? Why had she suddenly moved away?

Just then I noticed her assigned personality role. Victim.

I knew at once what had happened to poor Titania. She’d been murdered, and I knew exactly who had done it.

Previously, in Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?” I wrote about the criminals and sexual offenders in my game. I briefly mentioned the killers, but did not go into detail about them. If you’ve read that earlier post, you know that my decision was to mark every 44th townie on my list as a killer.

But not all killers are the same.

Referring again to Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, I reviewed the various types of murderers:

MURDERERS
1 Argumentative
2 Domestic
3 Erotomaniacal
4 Extremist
5 Female
6 Incidental
7 Inheritance
8 Passionate
9 Professional
10 Product-Tampering
11 School Shooter
12 Serial Killer
13 Sexual Killer
14 Simmering Killer
15 Terrorist
16 Visionary Killer

Each time I mark a townie as a killer, I jump over to Random.org and quickly determine the particular type. So it was, as I looked over my spreadsheet, not far from Titania McTeague’s name, I saw the following information:

Luke Tristan Bars and Clubs Pool Hustler 20 Resilient Sexual Killer

I knew at once that I’d found the murderer. I knew who had killed Titania McTeague. And it wasn’t much of a stretch for my imagination to understand how and why it had happened. Remember her search for love? Remember all those bars and clubs where she and her friend hung out? Obviously she’d met her killer at one of those clubs and lost her life as a result. Looking for Mr. Goodbar, anyone?

Although I knew the identity of the killer, my game sims didn’t, and thus began the mystery. As each new month rolled around in my rotation, I used a die to follow the progress of my detectives on the case. It was so much more interesting than the meaningless crimes the game gives them to solve. It was also rather poignant because the lead detective on the case, Justin Simone, was the man Titania’s friend and former roommate had married.

Yes, in time, Tristan Luke was caught. He went to trial, was convicted, and is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole. The streets of New Simeria are safe once again.

Or are they?

Coming Soon: It was Nice Knowing You!

 

Thanks so much for visiting the blog today. Happy Simming!

 

 

 

The Townie Project – Part 5: Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

Part 1:First Thoughts
Part 2: Who is Sergio Romero?
Part 3: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker
Part 4: What’s Your Style?

By now, my project was in full swing. My sim neighborhoods had people from all walks of life. I had a few eccentric characters, a few very conventional, conservative folks, and a broad range of positions across the economic ladder. Some were very rich; some were very poor. Most were just “the middling sort.”

But my fictional world of the sims still didn’t accurately reflect the real world. Basically, all my sims were good. Oh, I had sims with that “evil trait” EA provides for us, but we all know that true evil is more than simply insulting folks or starting fights. It was time for me — and my sims — to look at the darker side of life.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

Maybe you’ve heard those words before. They come directly from a radio program that first appeared in the 1930s and went on to become an American icon. If you want to know more, check out The Shadow for an interesting bit of history, or click here to hear the chilling words of The Shadow as portrayed by Frank Readick, Jr.

I kept hearing that voice in my head as I contemplated the townies in my sim bin. Surely there would be a few real stinkers in there, a few bad apples that could threaten the whole bunch. Oh, yes. I just had to find them.

I toyed with the idea of doing a bit of demographic research to determine what percent of the American population become criminals, but “illegal activity” covers a lot of ground, and I reasoned that it might be difficult to find exactly what I was looking for. So, I made my own sim demographics, arbitrarily choosing my own percentage. No, that’s not quite true. What I did was to choose an arbitrary number — 13 — which resulted in a percentage. To save you from doing the math, it works out to 8% of my population.

But that’s just for the more-or-less average, ordinary, run-of-the-mill criminal. The world has not only common criminals, but sexual predators, too. And then there are the truly dangerous men and women of the world — the killers. Yep. Oasis Springs, Willow Creek, and my other neighborhoods were about to be plunged into a crime wave as I found these despicable guys and gals and unleashed them upon my unsuspecting sims.

  • First, I marked every 13th townie as “Criminal”
  • Second, I marked every 31st townie as “Sexual Offender”
  • Third, I marked every 44th townie as “Killer”

All those number are arbitrary ones. Thirteen sounded like a good, chilling number for criminals. I turned it around to arrive at my sexual offender factor, and as you can easily see, I added those two numbers together to come up with a designation for true evil.

But wait! There’s more.

There are many different types of criminals, many different sexual crimes, and many different ways in which murders are committed. Once again, I drew inspiration from Writer’s Guide to Character Traits. Looking to create a criminal? Take a look at this list:

CRIMINAL BEHAVIORS
1 Arsonist
2 Confidence Specialist
3 Counterfeiter or Forger
4 Delinquent Youth
5 Domestic Abuser
6 Habitual Petty Criminal
7 Impostor/Pretender
8 Kleptomaniac
9 Late-Blooming Criminal
10 Looter
11 Occasional Offender
12 Ordinary Career Criminal
13 Professional Career Criminal
14 Pyschopath
15 Skyjacker
16 Stalker
17 Violent Criminal
18 White-Collar Criminal

I decided to skip over the “skyjackers” since that didn’t seem too useful for my game. Using the number generator at Random.org I assigned a “criminal type” to my sim criminals.

It proved interesting. As I looked at the information I’d compiled on my spreadsheet, my imagination kicked into gear. Consider the possible stories for Corinne Edwards based on her profile:

CorinneCorrine Edwards

Single

Adventurer

Age 27

Bank Teller

Springdale Bank

Criminal — Occasional Offender

 

An “occasional offender” working as a bank teller? Hmmm.  A single young woman who yearns to live a life of adventure? She’s probably “dipping into the till” now and then, stashing a bit of cash for all those worldly adventures she can’t afford.

Things got even more interesting as I looked at the different types of sexual offenders.

SEX OFFENDERS
1 Exhibitionist
2 Sexual Abuser
3 Sexual Addict
4 Pedophile
5 Pornographer
6 Rapist

As I randomly assigned sexual offense “types” for my Townie Project, I came across this fellow:

Allen JensenAllen Jensen

Married

Eccentric

Age 48

Contractor

Jensen Painting Company

Sexual Abuser

Oh, my! I looked at his family in the bin. His lovely wife and his two beautiful, blonde-haired teen daughters. I truly saw the evil. I thought especially of his oldest daughter, Sofia, and how skittish she’s been around boys, and I knew I’d uncovered a deep, dark secret in her life.

And what about the killers?

More to come!

The Townie Project – Part 6: Who Killed Titania McTeague?

By the way, let me quickly fill you in on a few interesting things about Corrine Edwards and Allen Jensen. As my Townie Project has continued, a lot has happened.

  • Corrine has now married Dr. Bennett London, her psychologist, and they’re expecting their first child.
  • Allen Jensen’s wife finally left him after he got caught fooling around with a young student at Dunbar State University. She moved out, the student moved in, and little Jacqueline Jensen recently came into the world.
  • Sofia Jensen married a wonderful, loving young man but was devastated to learn that she’ll never be able to have babies as a result of the sexual abuse she suffered throughout her childhood. She’s now attending regular sessions with one of Dr. Bennett’s therapy groups.

 

Happy Simming!

 

 

 

The Townie Project – Part 4: What’s Your Style?

Part 1:First Thoughts
Part 2: Who is Sergio Romero?
Part 3: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

Putting my townies to work was a big step forward, but I knew I still had a long way to go. People — and sims, too — are not defined solely by their occupations. A teacher, for example, might be the prim and proper sort like Miss White, my English teacher years ago, or a brash and outspoken man like Mr. Graves, my old history teacher. Teachers come in different shapes and sizes and each has his or her own style. We’ll see this same variation in personality styles in most other occupations, as well.

What’s Your Style?

This was my next question as I approached each of the townies in my household management bin. Of course, they weren’t the ones providing the answer. Instead of them telling me about their personality, I was telling them. Hey, you know what EA says, right? My game, my rules.

Just as I did with my original career list, I drew inspiration from Writer’s Guide to Character Traits and compiled a list of personality styles. These ranged from “adventurer” to “victim” with a lot of interesting types along the way.

At this point, of course, I had entered my previous information on a spreadsheet showing the first name, last name, occupation, and place of employment for each townie sim. Now I inserted a new column and headed it Personality. Beginning with the first townie on the spreadsheet, I added in all the styles, assigning one style to each of those unsuspecting townies.

Oh, how fun it was!

I learned that some of these townies were problem solvers; others had an eccentric streak. Some were conventional folk who believed in playing by all the rules; others were show-offs who wanted attention. I had leaders and followers, and as I looked at each one I could imagine their lives more clearly now. I could sense more of who they really were and what made them tick.

Lila
Little Lila might be young, but she’s already showing definite leadership skills.

Even the children in my townie bin, I should point out, received both an occupation and a personality style. Although they were still listed as “in school” on my spreadsheet, I knew now the direction they would take as they grew up…which brings us to the next point.

Like the active sims in my regular rotation, the townies in my game also age. Once each rotation cycle, I age them “one day”, which is equivalent to one year of game time.

I do keep track of the ages of all my active sims and manually age them at appropriate times.

  • Babies age up to school age children when they turn 6
  • Children become teens at age 13
  • Teens turn into young adults at age 19
  • Young adults mature to adults at age 40
  • Adults become elders at age 65

It was only logical that I should also keep track of the ages — and birth months — of each of my townies. I added two more columns to the spreadsheet. Here’s a look at one entry. Wade Hendrickson was born in September and turned 44 during the rotation I’ve just completed.

Hendrickson Wade 9 44 Hendrickson’s Mortuary Funeral Director Conventional
Send your loved ones to eternal rest with the loving care provided by Henrickson Mortuary. Wade Henrickson, Director.
Send your loved ones to eternal rest with the loving care provided by Hendrickson Mortuary. Wade Hendrickson, Director.

Yes, I now have a funeral director in my game. It’s a family-owned, family-operated business, and whenever one of my beloved simmies passes away, I can rest assured that all arrangements will be handled swiftly and efficiently by Hendrickson Mortuary.

It’s pretense, of course. The Hendrickson family is just another “townie family” in the bin. In my mind, though, they’re very real. I can imagine their lives, shudder at the thought of dealing with dead bodies every day, and feel a bit of sympathy for the two children growing up in what must be a rather gloomy atmosphere.

You’ll notice, of course, that I’ve dressed Wade Hendrickson all in black. It seemed quite fitting. Clothes do make the man, as Shakespeare said, and they make the women and children, too. Part of my Townie Project also involves making-over my characters, dressing them for the roles they’ll be playing.

More to come!

The Townie Project – Part 5: Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Townie Project – Part 3: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

Part 1:First Thoughts
Part 2: Who is Sergio Romero?

Once I realized how useful townies could be, it was time to put them to work — literally. I wanted my townies to have job. Real jobs. I wanted more than the limited in-game choices. It was time to find gainful employment for my townies.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker

I’ve never been satisfied with the career choices available in The Sims. Even from the original game, I was looking for something more than what was offered. There have always been too few careers to suit me, especially considering that I play with multiple households. To remedy the problem, I’ve always turned to a bit of imagination, custom content, or both.

With the original game, I found a “career creation” program that allowed me to “edit” existing careers, deciding on what text would be included at each stage, and setting a few requirements for friends or skills. I couldn’t add more careers. I could only replace ones already in the game. It was a start, and I happily created a librarian career, and dabbled with a few others. Ultimately, it became easier to simply imagine my sims in a particular career than to go through the tedious process of editing every level of a career. Besides, replacing one career with another still didn’t solve the real problem. There just weren’t enough different types of jobs available.

With Sims 2, I resolved the issue by “expanding” various career paths that were open to my sims. Not every sim who entered the Sports career, for example, went through the standard career levels. In fact, I doubt that any of them did. The various levels weren’t realistic, in my opinion, and hey, it was my game, so I felt free to mentally change whatever didn’t work for me. So, among my athletes, I had baseball players, professional bowlers, tennis professionals, and even a gal who did roller-derby.

I approached the medical profession with the same expansive attitude. Some of my Medical career sims became doctors; others became dentists. I had nurses, surgeons, and optometrists. For each of these “home-made careers”, I simply made a list of ten achievement levels, so as my sims gained promotions, I knew where they were in the career I’d chosen for them.

Skipping over Sims 3 — which was incompatible with my playing style — I found myself again “making up” careers for my sims in Sims 4. I’ve used the athletic career as the basis for a “modeling” career, and for a young woman who’s playing the circuit of the SLGA — Simerian Ladies’ Golf Association.

So, from the start, I knew I wanted my townies to have a variety of jobs from numerous fields. Doing this, of course, requires a great deal of pretense. I can’t go into the game and make any sim an actual lawyer or accountant, for example. What I can do, if I choose to, is to use an existing career as a substitute, and allow myself to go on pretending. It’s fairly simple. The business career can include a lot of ground — accounting, banking, the legal profession, and many more. As pointed out above, the athletic career can substitute for a lot of imaginary jobs, as can the medical career.

But, I wasn’t going to put each townie into the game to give him or her an actual career. I wish we could assign careers while in CAS, but that’s not a feature of the game. So, giving a townie a career really means simply assigning a job to that sim. Later, if that sim should become important to a story and join one of my active families, then I can finish the process by putting that sim to work in an appropriate field.

This idea of expanding career choices through imagination and pretense opens the job world up and allows unlimited possibilities. I had only to make a reference list of careers I wanted to include, and I was on my way. To help create my initial list, I turned to Writer’s Guide to Character Traits, by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph. D. The book includes an entire chapter of “Career Traits” and lists forty-two specific careers. That was my starting point.

Truck driver Kevin Pease discusses his job with Edmund.
Truck driver Kevin Pease discusses his job with Edmund.

I listed the forty-two careers, put them in alphabetical order, then made a list of all the townies from my “household management” screen. Yes, it required a little time, but I consider it time well spent. Now, when townie Kevin Pease comes around, a quick glance at my Townie Project list fills me in on who he is. He’s a truck driver with a local delivery route. I can even tell you the name of the company he’s working for. It’s Warren & Sons Delivery.

Sure, I just made it up. That’s the fun of it. I made up accounting firms, business corporations, hospitals, and martial arts academies. I made up banks and technology firms and restaurants.

In doing so, I could feel my towns — and the townies — coming to life. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to get back to my game to see these townies strolling down the streets.

I wanted to point to them and say, “Oh, there goes Arthur Jimenez, you know, the retired lawyer. And over there, it’s Dr. London, the psychiatrist.” And the next time I caught one of my “goofballs” wandering around town in her hot-dog costume, I knew just what to do. I called Dr. London, arranged for Olanda to join his “Therapy Group”, and saw my game taking on whole new dimensions.

But that was only the beginning.

Oh, remember Sergio Romero, that awful townie that Stefanie Caldwell’s parents threw such a fit about? They were sure he was only after the Caldwell money. They’d marked him as a loser without even getting to know a thing about him. Well, I know about him now. Looks like Stefanie might have missed out on a very good thing. Sergio Romero, it turns out, just signed a major league contract with the Oasis Blues baseball team. He’ll be playing first base.

More to come!

The Townie Project – Part 4: What’s Your Style?

The Townie Project – Part 2: Who is Sergio Romero?

Part 1:First Thoughts

Realizing that something was missing from my game and wanting to introduce a little more dramatic conflict into the lives of my sims, I sat down to play one day and soon found myself asking a very significant question.

Who is Sergio Romero?

I was playing the Caldwell family. Specifically, I was playing through the eyes of Stefanie Caldwell, who at that point in the game stood on the brink of young womanhood. Stefanie is a very pretty girl who was “born in game”. Both her mother and father are sims that I created in CAS. They were, in fact, among the first sims I made when Sims 4 was released.

Many of my early sims met and married “townies”, and if you’ve read my forum posts or have been following this simming blog, you already know my feelings about townies. I’ve accepted that many of my sim children have a townie parent, but because Stefanie Caldwell’s parents were both my own creations, that makes her a bit different in my mind. Stefanie Caldwell is special.

As I stepped into the game and slipped into her life, it was a quiet Saturday morning. A high school senior, Stefanie had already completed her homework, and she had the day to herself. Her family is exceptionally wealthy — her mother is the daughter of Arthur Susskind, founder of the TechnoSoft Corporation — and Stefanie enjoys going to the Country Club, AKA as the “Bathe de Ril” in Windenburg.

Who is Sergio Romero?
Who is Sergio Romero?

Upon arriving, she chatted with a friend for a moment and then she was approached by a handsome young man. Sergio Romero.

They struck up a conversation, and it was quite pleasant. Despite the age difference — he was a young adult and she still a teen — they seemed to genuinely like each other.

Being eighteen, Stefanie is always thinking about her future, and always wondering about the man she’ll someday marry. As she chatted with this good-looking fellow, her heart began to flutter a bit. Could this young man, Sergio Romero, be the one for her?

At once, I heard her parents jumping into my head and shouting “No, no, no! He’s not good enough for you, Stefanie!” The reason for this, of course, is that Sergio Romero was a townie. My imagination kicked into gear, and I understood exactly the argument against him that her parents would use. “He’s only after your money,” they would say. “He’s a loser. He’s a nobody.”

Now, some of this thinking might be attributed to the fact I’d just read a mystery titled Deadly Gamble, in which a low-life man ingratiated himself with members of the local country club for fun and profit.

But this was simming. This was my story.  And here I was with a character that I didn’t know, a character who had simply walked into the story from nowhere.  Who was Sergio Romero? I had no idea.

Of course, he could be anything I wanted him to be. Well, almost anything. He would always be a townie, so I nixed any thought of a relationship between him and Stefanie Caldwell, quickly convincing her that Sergio Romero wasn’t worth her time. After I exited the Caldwell household, however, I began to wonder.

Who is Sergio Romero?

At that point, I realized how useful the townies in my bin could be — if only I knew more about them. I realized, too, how much fun it could be to give each of those townies a real personality. I needed them to be more than a name and a few traits. I needed to flesh them out, to give them back stories, to make them as real as the sims I create in CAS.

That’s how it began. Once the idea took hold, I was off and running on The Townie Project.

READ MORE

The Townie Project – Part 3: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Characters: Fiona Patterson

01-28-16_5-28-05 AM (2)Fiona Patterson is another student at the Academy of the Performing Arts. She has many classes with Jonathan Evans, including a string theory class.

Fiona plays both cello and piano, and she’s hoping to someday play for the National Simerian Orchestra. Her favorite cello pieces include the cello concertos by Antonin Dvorak and Edward Elgar.

She and Jonathan have had quite a little flirtation going. Even though he’s gone out with Kat Phillips a few times, he’s still quick to flirt back whenever Fiona flashes those crazy eyes at him. Just don’t let Kat find out about it.

Like Jonathan, she’ll be graduating from the Academy in 1033.

 

Fiona is originally from Willow Creek. Her father, Ray Patterson, is also in the performing arts doing repertory theatre in the city. He performs mostly comic roles. Fiona’s interest in the stage no doubt comes from her father.

In addition to her love for music, she’s very active physically. She enjoys jogging and working out at the gym. She spends her time between classes at the Academy, ensemble rehearsals, and attending recitals. She especially enjoys the recitals and master classes given by Bennett Rizzo.

Fiona Patterson is available for download at the Gallery.

Aspiration: Leader of the Pack

Traits: Active, Music Lover, Ambitious