NB - this is something I put together for our authors at Freeform Games. When I say "other people" it's what we term the "who you know" section of a character sheet.
Writing Tips - Other People
We haven't clearly explained what we intend the purpose of the "Other People" section of our character booklets, so I'm going to try and provide a bit more detail here.
The Other People section is used to introduce new plot information (facts and observations about other characters) that isn't mentioned in the general character's background. Generally, the Other People section should be no more than 250 words long. You should aim to have at least for or five characters listed. Seven or eight is the maximum number.
You might wonder why this new plot information has to go into Other People, rather than into the general background. Well, we don't do this for several reasons:
- It helps break up the character booklet and makes them easier on the eye.
- It means we can create an ability around them (After speaking briefly to another player, point to another person. They must then tell you everything that their Other People section says about that person. If that person isn't mentioned in their Other People section (and not everyone they have information about is), then they must tell you about another person of their choice.).
- Including them in the character background sometimes feels clunky and rather artificial.
Space is at a premium in our in our booklets (we have about 850 words to cover background, goals and other people) and so we prefer not to double up information if we can help it. There should be enough plots in your game that the Other People section should be filled with new information.
Some dos and don'ts when writing Other People
- Do make sure that there's something interesting when you write an entry for "Other People". The information ought to be something that the player of the character can start a conversation with (possibly with someone else).
- Do use the Other People section to include links and hooks to plots that the character might not otherwise be involved in. (They can overhear a conversation, or see something odd, etc.)
- Do be brief - 250 words isn't much!
- Do repeat key information across different characters. If you're using the Other People bit of a character to convey a key piece of a plot, you can easily copy it into another character. It's worth doing this to make sure that the information comes out in play. (Don't give the same information to too many characters though!)
- Don't repeat the public information, ie the information in the cast list. That's just wasting space.
- Don't include information or an action that you need to turn into a goal. Information leading up to goals needs to be in the background because the layout of the character booklet is that the goals come before Other People (this is relatively new - our original character sheets were laid out differently).
I hope that explains Other People a bit better.
Here's a more detailed article on plots in general: Writing Plots for Freeforms