1. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4

    A silent character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ThePhysicist13, Nov 26, 2013.

    Hello!

    My character is in 8th grade at public school, even though he is 16 years old (he was held back twice for mainly social reasons). He refuses to communicate verbally with people, other than a modicum with his parents, and rarely even acknowledges people when he is addressed. He is a genius of a very high magnitude. His parents and teachers know that he is remarkably intelligent by virtue of his writing ability and his understanding of advanced mathematics, science, philosophy, and a number of other subjects. He possesses an eidetic memory, and can recite books, dictionaries, and irrational numbers to very high decimal places. He feels the compulsive need to mentally chronicle everything in his daily experience and write it down before he goes to sleep at night.

    A thought I have for narrating is to simply allow these chronicles to be the book itself.

    Please let me know if you have a better idea for narration. If you would like, I could tell you more about the character I have in mind, and the plot of the story being developed.

    Thank you!
     
  2. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Sounds like it will work. It does depends on the story you're trying to tell, though. What's the story? Is he in it? has he already lived it? Is it a series of journals? I know a series of journals is sort of old fashioned but if you could make it engaging then it may very well work. You gotta give us more than the character if you want to know if the narration will work.
     
    jannert likes this.
  3. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,786
    Likes Received:
    7,299
    Location:
    Scotland
    This will be the most boring story in the universe if all we get to read is his chronicles of—how did you put it? advanced mathematics, science, philosophy, and a number of other subjects. He possesses an eidetic memory, and can recite books, dictionaries, and irrational numbers to very high decimal places. He feels the compulsive need to mentally chronicle everything in his daily experience and write it down before he goes to sleep at night.

    Yikes.

    No, I'd say that using his journals as the text for your story is NOT a good plan, unless there is something else about his writing that makes it good to read. The idea that he is chronicling every tiny detail of his day ...erm, no. That would make boring reading even if he wasn't the kind of person he is.

    Often stories composed of 'journals' are in the form of letters to other people, which are meant to be communications, not lists or records. They are distinguised by the lively and entertaining writing style of the person who supposedly wrote the journals/letters. I'm not sure your character will fall into this 'lively and entertaining' category.

    However, if he does, fair enough. Go for it.
     
    Mckk and Andrae Smith like this.
  4. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    Well, I suppose a chronicle would be a bit of a misnomer for what I have in mind. He interprets what he experiences, and assumes that his interpretation is correct.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I'm puzzled about a genius being held back for social reasons? People are promoted for social reasons; I've never heard of anyone being held back for them.
     
  6. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    Anyway, I envision that he attends a school pregnant with drug users. Their primary dealer is a pariah, like Lawrence is. He is a "middle man" who lacks intelligence and knowledge of the illegal drug business. In order to gain protection from students who beat him up after classes, Lawrence teaches him how he is being duped by his supplier by giving him lessons on economics and black market trading. After several of such lessons, Lawrence begins to show him how to cook drugs of his own with higher quality, and take all of the money from the trade.
     
  7. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Well wait a minute. Who's who, now?
     
  8. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    Lawrence is the protagonist, and I have yet to name the drug dealer.
     
  9. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Well if that is the story, I don't see why you would use his journals to write anything more than his thoughts here and there--that is, if they pertain to the story. Honestly I can see it in close third or maybe first so we can still get the interiority. Since it seems you intend to use Lawrence as your POV character.
     
  10. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    The thing is, I want his naivete (social and otherwise) to be salient throughout the story, and I would have trouble capturing this in the third person or in the past tense in the first person. I'm open to any suggestion you may have on how to do this, but I don't have a clue otherwise.
     
  11. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    Well unless you were willing to give us a lot more info, the best advice I can give is to just try writing it your way. Then post some sections here, and we'll give you our thoughts on how it works. I feel like I still know next to nothing about the story, so I can't really suggest how to write it.
     
    jannert likes this.
  12. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,786
    Likes Received:
    7,299
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yeah, what @Andrae Smith just said. We don't know if this will work until YOU do. And you won't know until you write it. Don't be afraid to take that step on your own. You might be surprised, either that it does work beautifully, or it doesn't work at all but you've worked out why. Then you can do it right.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  13. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    Okay, thanks for your help! :)
     
  14. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    You have a contradiction. Your character doesn't interact with people, but at the same can write the day's activity meaningfully, in a way he's incapable of doing in person. That may be a hard sell.

    Then there's the problem of: Who's the protagonist? The one writing the story can only be an observer, making them a fly on the wall, so to speaks, who reports and then provides commentary. That seems a dispassionate approach since the one keeping the log isn't a participant. It can be mae to work, but the problem is to avoid it being written as a report—informing but not entertaining.

    My personal suggestion is to write a few thousand words and post it for reaction. First, though, look through the result and highlight the spots where the reader is looking at the words of someone looking back in time as against placing the reader on the scene in real-time, where they feel as if they're experiencing the action as a participant.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  15. b3av3r
    Offline

    b3av3r Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2013
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    10
    I want to comment on the character being held back for social reasons. I must say this would probably never happen in a public school system. If your character is as smart as you describe and completes his assignments and tests then he would be prompted to the next grade no matter how awkward or immature or whatever. Even if he were tested and determined to have some sort of emotional/social issue they would not hold him back for it if the scores were all passing.

    I'm not sure how important his age and the fact he was held back in school are to your story but I just wanted to give you a real world opinion of it. I see kids who are immature, socially awkward, and emotionally unstable promoted to the next grade because they have passed the required tests.
     
    AlannaHart and Andrae Smith like this.
  16. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thank you for your comment. I agree with you fully, and I do realize that teachers do pass on students who struggle socially. But, I have had a friend who was asked to be held back by his mother due to his social immaturity in first grade. I do not intend to allow my character to be held back by his teachers.
     
  17. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thank you. I do concur with the first thing you said, and I've thought about this in depth. It ties in directly with the next thing you said, which I would like to clear up a bit.

    I do not aim for the story to be about what goes on in his life. It is what he feels. His antagonist will not be those who beat him up, or his poverty, etc.; rather, his moral nihilism, his rejection of what people believe it mean to be human, and whatever else makes him think the way he does about what happens to him. He is intended to be the protagonist, just in a quasi-unorthodox manner.

    I plan to begin writing tomorrow.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts!
     
  18. Andrae Smith
    Offline

    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2012
    Messages:
    2,506
    Likes Received:
    1,404
    Location:
    Wandering
    @ThePhysicist13 thank you for your positive attitude. Remember, attitude is everything in a social environment. We're all glad to help.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    5,491
    I'm confused--I thought you already said he was held back? ("(he was held back twice for mainly social reasons)")
     
  20. SuperVenom
    Offline

    SuperVenom Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    South Wales
    Character sounds high functioning Autistic or even reaching theasperger scale. And some times they are non talkers. And if not diagnosed then they can be held back for social reasons. Ie Bad behavior or lack of concentration.
     
  21. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Yes, I was thinking along those lines, but even then, it's doubtful they would be held back. That's just one of those drastic steps that are usually seen as a last resort. Someone with Asperger's would be provided with additional supports. For one thing, he would need to be intellectually challenged, or else inappropriate behaviors would only get worse.


    @ThePhysicist13 - holding a child back in kindergarten or first grade for social reasons is done only when the child doesn't have the skills to participate in class - sitting quietly, attending to task, etc. It has little if anything to do with socializing with peers. In the case of someone like Lawrence, holding him back would only exacerbate his social issues. You may want to consider that someone that bright would not need to be left back in order to have serious social problems. The herd always wants to dumb down the leaders, and so he would likely be a social outcast in his appropriate grade. And, in fact, in many schools, he would be skipped ahead in grade or placed in a "gifted" program, and could suffer serious social stigma from that as well.

    I also see the idea of using his journals as the basis for your narrative as contrived. Better to write it in 3rd person limited, from his POV (or 1st, but then you would have to include his internal language, and that could be a challenge). The idea of a story based on characters who are opposites but both outcasts can work, but there has to be a basis for cooperation, a meeting of the minds. You may want to give that some thought as well.

    Good luck.
     
  22. SuperVenom
    Offline

    SuperVenom Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    South Wales
    you could use the excuse of poor school system, allowing for such a reason. I know it wont happen in real life but it could be made believable.
     
  23. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,683
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I don't agree. The most incompetent school systems would simply do nothing. And even if you could contrive a scenario in which it could be believable, it would require lots of backstory.
     
  24. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I don't understand why you can't just write in first person? I mean... first person narration is *not* a journal, but it would keep the social awkwardness silent like you wanted.

    But I'm not sure how you'd like to keep it "silent" - your character still needs to interact with other people, and if you're gonna stay true to his character then it's gonna come out, unless he never interacts with anyone and basically, *nothing* happens, ever.

    A genius wouldn't stay in such a school, unless he's got ridiculous parents. Such a character would've already been put into a special school with more focused attention, nurturing his gifts in an environment that forgives his social awkwardness and would preferably try to teach him some of these social skills. To keep him in a school "pregnant with drug dealers" isn't in the least bit believable, especially when everyone knows he's a genius. If he were American, then the most natural choice for the parents would actually be to home-school him, or have him skip years and already be at university taking a PhD. You don't get held back in school if you're an academic genius - you get to skip grades. It seems you have it the other way around.

    Btw, how is he teaching anyone economics if he can barely stand to talk to his own parents? It wouldn't happen.

    Basically, is his being a genius really so paramount? Anyone who's particularly gifted in economics could fulfil the role you've given him. If he's just a quiet character who happens to be good at maths, then he can be in any school, and it'll be way easier to write. Essentially, your current premise makes no sense, sorry.
     
  25. ThePhysicist13
    Offline

    ThePhysicist13 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    4
    He does have behavioral issues, and refuses to participate in class.
     

Share This Page