1. Akarevaar
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    Akarevaar Member

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    Allegorical characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Akarevaar, Sep 1, 2015.

    My novel is a (sort of?) re-telling of a Greek myth in the modern era, taking many liberties and with a lot of poetic license. There are three main characters, each of which is based off of a character from Greek mythology. This can be difficult to handle, as I'm trying to write flawed, human characters based off of infallible god-like beings. The three major character are:

    Kaeneus - The major protagonist. He is based off of the Lapith of the same name (sometimes spelled Caeneus). In my re-telling, Kaeneus is a teenage transgender boy who deals with all the normal troubles of high school, as well as his transitioning, and a series of gruesome murders on top of it all.

    Enos - Inspired by Poseidon. As the original Greek myth would suggest, he is a love interest for Kaeneus. In actually looking into the mythology, it becomes apparent that the gods are actually very violent, egotistical and borderline psychopathic. I've tried to embody this in Enos by making him similar to the 'rich, over privileged, private school education brat' trope. also, and this might be too on the nose, but to strengthen the metaphor between him and the god of the sea, I have him as the swim team captain and an avid horse rider. (Poseidon is also credited as being the god of horses, fyi). He is arrogant, entitled and has a nasty violent streak. He is also *spoiler alert* responsible for the aforementioned murders.

    A - vaguely inspired by Athena. A is probably the most 'original' character, in that I haven't really pulled specific traits or plot lines from mythology for her. She is Kaeneus' other love interest, as well as the sheriff's daughter who gets a little too involved and obsessed with solving the murders.

    The problem I'm having is still writing these characters as what they are, teenagers, while still maintaining a level of depth/intelligence/something that makes them more than just that.
     
  2. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    First thought: I'm not sure if Greek gods were all that infallible. :D

    So what's your question? Or do you just want general thoughts on your approach? It seems like a fun idea, and spotting parallels can also be interesting for your readers. I'm wondering if Enos is too much of a cliché, though? I understand that certainl privileges can steer a person towards certain behavior patterns like a sense of entitlement, but to make the rich kid the villain might be a bit obvious.

    When you say you want to maintain a level of something, do you mean because of the allegory K, E, and A have some godly traits or something that make them more intelligent or deep than your regular teenager? Do they have special powers? Or is this like, you're just inspired by Greek gods, but your characters are unaware of this and for all intents and purposes are just regular kids?

    Oh, and is Kaenus transman or transwoman? In the myth, he seems to have originally been a woman, so... transman? Is Enos bisexual/gay? I don't know about Poseidon's sexual exploits, but he probably sired a few demi-gods in his time... Is it legal in the US for teenagers to transition or do you generally have to wait until you're 18? 'Cause still being biologically, say, a woman might put an extra spin on his relationships...

    Anyway, just some food for thought. Good luck with your story. :)
     
  3. Akarevaar
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    Akarevaar Member

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    Thanks very much for your input :) I also think that it'll be fun to write, and it's a lot different from anything I've done in the past so it should be interesting. My questions is how can I write these characters, based on inhuman things, in such a way that still maintains a level of humanity. It'd hard to phrase, exactly...don't know if that explains it.
    The thing is that Enos isn't the 'villain' per say. He's obnoxious, and murderous, and crazy, granted. But he's not exactly evil, despite this. Or, even if he 'evil', he still isn't the 'villain', at least not in this story. To the people he killed, he is, sure. But to the main character, to the person telling the story, Enos does a lot to help Kaeneus and never really, intentionally, does anything to hurt him. Still, I am conscious of the whole 'psychopathic rich kid' thing, which is partially why I want to make Enos more than just completely evil.
    As mentioned, this is a lot different from my previous writing. It's....almost literary? But not completely. There is a plot, but it's definitely mostly character driven. They don't literally have special powers, no. At least not explicitly. If I had to explain the backstory (which I don't do in the actual story, since it doesn't actually seem to matter that much) it's that certain 'conflicts', certain 'stories' have been fated to occur again and again, repeating themselves through history. So, I guess, that the three main characters have some kind of 'fated connection' to their ancient counterparts, though it sounds really lame when I phrase it like that :p

    Kaeneus is a pansexual transman. Enos, at the start of the story, becomes infatuated with Kaeneus when he still presents as female and isn't out. However, even after Kaeneus comes out, Enos's feelings don't go away, which gives him a lot of "Wait....So am I gay now? *nervous sweat*" type angst. I'm planning for the story to actually span over a few years, from when they're all about sixteen to around twenty, and Kaeneus doesn't transition until he's at least eighteen.

    Thanks again for all your thoughts! Just writing this out has sort of cleared it up a bit in my mind.
     
  4. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It looks like you've drawn traits from the mythical characters, so basically what I'd do in your shoes would be to write these characters as real people whose personalities have similar traits as the gods. Kaeneus could have a particularly fightey spirit, Enos displays some characteristics commonly associated with Poseidon (like his love for water and horses as you mentioned), and A is wise beyond her years, for example. I don't mean you'd make them into caricatures, but these traits can help you maintain the characters' psychological plausibility and make it easier for you to develop them as well since you kind of know who they're supposed to be.

    Ok, I thought he'd be the antagonist of your story.

    It's okay if it's not your most run-of-the-mill whodunnit thriller murder mystery thing. Think about the themes you want to discuss, outline the plot so you know your goals and which conflicts, hooks, and resolutions you're planning to scatter on the way to keep your reader interested, and, of course, you can leave it to the reader to interpret who the trio really are; are they just reenacting a myth or are they actually the gods, trapped in human bodies, forever cursed to re-live their stories, or what have you. Perhaps some of them even rebel against their fates.
     
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  5. Akarevaar
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    Akarevaar Member

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    You're right, I suppose just having those traits in is enough to link them and trying to force it too much might just come off as cheesy. The idea of them rebelling and trying to 'break the cycle' is an interesting one...and one I'll definitely have to consider further.
     
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  6. Mani Argand
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    Mani Argand New Member

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    Hey Akarevaar. It sounds like the three prototypes from Greek mythology will provide a lot of interesting material for your project.

    A couple of things that struck me:

    Seems to me that teenage characters can, and really should, have depth and intelligence! Obviously you want your characters to have these things, yes, but my suggestion would be this: any well-told story about teenagers will have depth and intelligence. You don't need mythological character types in order for teenagers to have this kind of depth and intelligence.

    Or consider it this way: if these characters only have depth and intelligence because of their correspondence to mythological figures, then they don't have depth or intelligence at all.

    I think this is really interesting because, as you've elaborated on the characters and some of the issues they will face, they sound more and more interesting, their mythological connection aside. So I start to wonder: if you have characters who, mythology aside, are interesting in-and-of themselves, maybe the mythology isn't so important? There are other ways to couch their lives and experiences in fate, cyclical determinism, etc.

    My previous considerations notwithstanding, I do think the mythological connection is really interesting. And in that mode, it occurs to me that the Greek deities were cast with human foibles as a story-telling device. So Homer explains that Zeus is tricked away from the plains of Ilium by a seductive Hera--this as a way to explain, in human terms, the vicissitudes of the gods. It's not that Zeus was in fact seduced at the crucial moment by Hera, but that the seduction subplot of the Iliad characterized in relatable terms the sudden vulnerability of the Achaeans (or whoever it was Zeus was supporting at that moment, I forget lol!).

    So, the gods get their humanity from the humans to begin with. These very relatable stories (man being called away from duty by seduction) are not inherently god-like at all; they're essentially human elements.
     
  7. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My advice, which is not worth much, is to finish your plot and write the story. Feel free to throw in one whatever tidbits that naturally come to you. Horseback riding scenes, pool scenes (note I am giving examples that significantly affect your plot). Once the first draft is done you can come back and do better character analysis, and figure out how to flesh out your symbolism within the confines of your written story. This way, it's real people first, allegory second. I think it will feel less "on the nose" this way.
     
  8. hilal
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    hilal Active Member

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    A novel idea can be made into a movie, myth has always associated with the human psyche. Why not give them super powers as well. Not in the traditional sense. Give some superior memory, great intuition etc
     

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