1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Am i really this shallow? (creating a character based off of appearances)

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Link the Writer, Oct 7, 2015.

    OK, this is going to be a strange question, probably even a dumb one, so bear with me as I get my thoughts straight. :confuzled: For the record, I hope I don't sound like an offensive prick by asking this; I just wanted to get feedback. And yeah, I'm probably gonna sound like an offensive prick... Fair warning.

    This vaguely has to do with writing, but it's more about me wondering if I'm really as shallow of a human as I think I am. Y'know how real life sometimes sparks an idea, a plot, or a character in your head? Sometimes it's something you've seen on the news, or maybe even from a person you've met? Well, this is the latter.

    *deep breath*

    I really hope I don't sound like an ass...

    OK, two years ago, back when I was in college, there was a student in one of my classes. He was a pretty awesome guy: funny personality, a wisecracker, yet decent. I barely knew him outside the class, but his personality and one other thing stuck with me to this day. He had albinism. At the time I didn't know, just thought he looked totally badass with his pale skin, white hair, and black shades that reflected the ceiling lights. Even had a crooked Han Solo-like smirk. I used to think he resembled Han Solo if he wore denim jeans, a long-sleeved jacket and had pale skin and white hair.

    Fast forward to a few months ago, idle daydreaming took me back to that class where he once again appeared being his snarky self. I laughed, thought, 'Damn, I ought to make a character just like him.' Just like that, a character was born.

    The part that I'm worried about? The part where his having albinism helped inspire that character. I didn't see him as Mr. Albinism, I didn't know the guy all that well, let alone have any problem with his having albinism. I just knew him from the scant few times I've taken a course with him, and one of things I noticed was that he was white as a ghost (again, didn't know why at the time, and it would've been rude of me to ask.) Research done two years later for the aforesaid character told me why, but at the time, this was just one of the few things that I noticed about him. And apparently one of the few things that stuck with me the most.

    It's just...really? I know I saw more to him than that, but really? That's what helped me create this character? Of course, I ensured she was well-rounded and interesting, had her own backstory and desires, so she wasn't a clone of the guy but...really?

    I dunno, maybe I'm being way too hard on myself (as per usual), but I just found it a mite disturbing that I may have partially created this character because he had albinism and wanted to write a character who had albinism.

    What do you all think? Am I being way too hard on myself because I created a character partially based off of a guy's personality and appearance? Or am I being shallow? Is it normal for authors to create characters based off of just appearances and personalities alone?

    Hope I made myself clear. Again, sorry if I sounded like an offensive prick, wasn't my intention.
     
  2. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    I think you're thinking about it too much.

    One of my buddies in college also had albinism; he was socially awkward and nerdy and we loved him (he swore he didn't mind our teasing...).

    He was legally blind, so we'd say things like "Hey, do you see what I'm saying tho? ... Fuck me, ask the blind kid if he sees what I'm saying." and everyone would smile darkly. Not sure if more politically correct circles might have gone there, but eh. *shrug*

    Also, since the sun hurt his eyes (he had thick black shades too), he avoided going out when he could. We're pretty sure he's a vampire. :bigwink:

    I think as long as you're not using the albinism as a cheap gimmick (which, judging by your explanation, you're not) there's nothing wrong with basing a character around it.

    Write the thing, Link. :agreed:
     
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  3. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are a terrible, terrible human being.
     
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  4. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I can sincerely say there's nothing judge-worthy about your post. Personality is obviously a huge inspiration, but if appearance makes it more memorable, so be it. Appearance shapes our perceptions regardless of what we might objectively believe about appraising others. And without the disposition you could have seen his appearance entirely differently -- consider body language.
     
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  5. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    My MC is basically my physical wetdream (because I am shallow and selfish and gross?) but personality wise she is a psychopathic nightmare. Says a lot about me I'm sure, but whatever it's my story and I can do what I want.
     
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  6. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    I um.....

    I don't see the issue.....

    You made a character based off someone's appearance and personality who was albino. That seems perfectly normal and in fact plenty of others would probably do the same (including myself). What you are doing is n no way offensive.

    Just do it.

    I mean can't be any more clear then that.

    Nothing wrong one bit.
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You both are absolutely correct. So long as I don't use the albinism as a cheap 'Woo! I got me an albino character!' gimmick, I should be fine and from what you two told me, I seem to be doing OK in that department. That's how I treat all my characters: I look at who they are in all their aspects and determine what their life experience would be like given the setting and the plot.

    @Imaginarily , now you've got me imagining my albino MC running around in a cape with fake fangs going, "RAWWR! I AM LADY DRACULA REVIVED!!" That would definitely be something she'd do on Halloween.

    This is an example of me being too overly-sensitive, perhaps. So worried that it trumps all logic. Good Lord, if I ever met a fictional character like that, I'd bond with him/her instantly. :rofl:

    D: *throws away his Saints Row videogames* :p

    Never really thought of that. Always been taught that if you go by appearance alone, you're a bad person. I blame Disney on that one. :p The irony is that, as a hearing impaired person, I would have absolutely no problem if someone looked at me and said, "Damn, now I want to write about a hearing impaired person."

    Funny you say that, 'cause one of my characters is basically me if I were physically bigger, more muscular, and had a finely-trimmed goatee. :D :p He's almost scarily close to being an 'Author Avatar'/'Author Avatar Wet Dream' that I had to add some things to make him not 100% like me as I sometimes think I am and work on making him his own unique character.:whistle:

    Thanks everyone, I feel a lot better about it. :) Now I just need to get this stupid anxiety under control and things will run smoothly for my character. Well, all of them, really. :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
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  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Answer: Yep you are being to hard on yourself. ;)

    Long Answer; Because as a character white skin is a trait of him and not the other way around right? By this definition. I saying that white character is bad. If the characterist overshadows that he is a character. But if he is a character with said characteristic then he is fine. Does that make sense?

    This reminds me of two of my characters. Maybe the contrast will help you feel better. Actually 3.

    1. Kerrin. She is a over sexual active demon! So she is flirty, dresses like a stripper and makes sexy jokes! But these are all part of her character. She is not a walking flirt that is a character. She is a character that well flirts. I fear telling people about her. Like I have to say "Now. I am not a perv but..." Which is true. I am not a perv. I don't over sexify characters. The thing is. If some aren't sexy then I have no diversity. But her sexy apperance is a mislead. Sort of. See she was a victim that turned abuser. Sex appeal is one way she abuses people. Sound like a character? Even though she is easy to look at like a walking wet dream?

    2. Gem. Same reason, just more so. She is naked. Yep, she is this ultra bad ass demon general! Yet she is naked. I got multiple reasons why she is naked too. None are sexy.
    A. She was bored and apathetic towards clothing considering it an unneeded chore.
    B. She considered the visible change a good contrast to the change in her heart.
    C. She has a death wish and considers not wearing armor or weapons to be a small advantage she gives to her opponents.

    None of my reasons are sexy. As a character I dont even think her as sexy. She is just naked. Character diversity! Oh for character. She is a former Queen that gave herself to the devil in exchange for saving her people. She hates herself for it but fights on because if she stops now then she did it for nothing. She took on the persona of evil as a way of trying to take all the sin herself and not let any of the soldiers that followed her to hell be taken. So she acts really evil and in many ways she is really evil but she has a reason. Does she sound like a naked character or a character who is naked.

    3. Victoria. She is a bad ass! But she is a girl too. lol Thing is. Girl makes a difference. People treated her differently based on being a girl. So she acted differently. Part of who she became is a result of being a girl. Yet it doesn't define her completely.. She isn't a girl character but a character who is a girl. Huh. Thought I would have more to say on her. Oh well. This post is long enough already. lol. Sorry for being long winded.
     
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  9. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a lot of female characters who hang around naked, because it's, erm, hot and, erm, evil magic made clothes fall off. But in no way am I perving over them.
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think so. Basically a character being white/gay/disabled/Jewish/what-have-you is fine so long as its just one of his/her many different characteristics. But if being white/gay/disabled/Jewish/what-have-you was all that the character ever was, then there's a problem.

    Basically, as per the old adage: "Don't include it for the sake of it being in the story; include it if it helps to enhance the character and/or setting and plot."

    :superlaugh:

    Reminds me of various times I've created scantly clad characters just for the excuse to watch them do action scenes scantly clad.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would argue that being multilayered in creation is worthless if you never feel those other layers.

    Take Victoria. She is a badass and that practically dominates her character but there are many moments where it is sort of revealed if not explained that there is more to her than that. At heart Victoria is just a little girl that wants her family back. It is a side of her not many people in the story seen in great lengths. Because she hides it but the audience will see it. While this may not be seen often it is important.

    If she didn't have that then she might seem more one dimensional. Because if all they have is one character trait they are one dimensional but if all we ever see in one side than one is the point of them being multi-dimensional?

    It is kind of neat when you think about it. We don't always make the same choice when presented with the same conditions. Because we have multiple sides. We are dynamic. So a character should feel this way. If I leave a movie or finish a book and can only think of one side to a character. They fail. So yes it is bad to create a character with only one side but it is equally important to show the other sides. If that makes sense?
     
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  12. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Link the Writer

    re: anxiety

     
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  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know, Link, part of being a writer is being confident in yourself and your ideas. If I thought a snarky albino wearing shades in a classroom was funny, I would put it in my story no questions asked. As aspiring writers, we want to be confident in our own artistic visions and our ideas. Self belief is important if you want to project a sense of authority as a narrator, and you will especially need that sense of authority when you ask your reader to suspend disbelieve.. I would not be surprised if your constant fear of coming off insensitive will lead to a) weak voice and b) dishonest/tame writing.
     
  14. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think it's a problem. Write whatever the hell you want. I'm sure there will be more to him than just the looks to make your reader care about him, so I don't see a problem there. :)

    That being said, prepare for this...
    Reporter: Mr. Link, where did you get the inspiration to write one your most beloved characters?

    Link: I knew a guy who was albino and then one day I was like, hey, I want to write an albino character who has his personality.

    Woman #1 in the audience: So in your writing, you're reducing people to what they are instead of who they are?

    Link: Er, no. Like I said, I just thought he was a cool guy; he looked cool, he acted cool, everyone loved him... I just thought someone like that would be an interesting read.

    Woman #2 at Woman #1: Albinos are underrepresented in fiction, you know. I think it's great my albino nephew who's, like, four finally has someone to relate to!

    Woman #1: But, Link, you're still saying his looks caught your eye, so isn't it dishonest to claim you didn't pick him because of him being albino?

    Link: Uh, er...

    Woman #3: The guy was friggin albino! It's not like they're everywhere; of course he caught Link's eye! Or what do you say when someone refers to the albino and goes "hey, who was that guy?"? Do you say, "You mean the blond guy?" or "You mean the albino? Oh, he's Tom from Human Resources."

    Woman #1: But still, that's so shallow. Besides, aren't you culturally appropriating? It's not like you're albino yourself, Link.

    Woman #2: I love the albino culture! The sunglasses, their aversion to sunlight... It's so unique!

    Woman #1: Jesus, stop othering them!

    Link: Uh, guys...

    Woman 3: You mean girls? Ugh, just another guy using men as the default...

    Link: I was told this wouldn't be a problem and I should just write whatever the hell I want!
     
  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Agreed. I think George Lucas once said that he stuck true to his vision of the Star Wars prequels despite what everyone else wanted. He said in an interview that if he had catered to the latter, Episode I would be about the birth of Darth Vader and the next two episodes would've been Vader killing everyone. Whether he told the story in an interesting, engaging way is another ballgame, but he had a good point. He had a vision of how he wanted the story to go down and he was gonna stick to it.

    :superlaugh:

    If that happened, I'd look at the reporter and say, “Excuse me, I...uh...need to use the restroom. Yeah, the restroom. Don't worry, I'm sure I can find it...” <gets up nervously and bolts out of the room>

    But yeah, there is more to her than just her looks. A lot more. :D
     
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  16. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oops, sorry, I missed that it's a her, not a him. But yeah, when you have the finished product, no one's gonna know how your character was initially born unless you tell 'em -- and even then it shouldn't matter; what matters is whether or not s/he's a good, engaging character.
     
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  17. ADreamer
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    ADreamer Banned Sock-Puppet

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    The albino in The Da Vinci's code - the "character" wasn't built around being an albino, he was built around being a fanatic. Being an albino was in a way secondary... it made him being a fanatic even odder but it wasn't the main trait.

    I mean as long as you're not "albino-bashing" in your book, what's the harm. If the albinism is secondary - you mentioned his personality before his appearance - than work it that way.

    As the others have said, you're overthinking it.


    I mean if you're shallow, I must be terrible shallow. Seeing as I used a long time very close friend - who is the lead singer of a European band - when looking for a model for Tobias in my signature. He is physically identical to my friend - right down to a scar on his left shoulder. Like my friend Tobias is cheeky & rather goofy yet underneath this immature [even childish] personality is a smart if rather pessimistic mind. He is also, like my friend, as bi-sexual as the sky is blue and has absolutely no qualms of acting more feminine to play on the stereotype or simply make people uncomfortable / get a rise out of them. I literally shrunk my friend into miniature and stuck him on paper.

    I've also never had more fun writing a character than Tobias.


    Personally some of the best characters are fashioned after people in real life.
     
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  18. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree. I've started writing that albino character and I love that character. One of the best characters I've created. She's awesome! :D I love writing about her and all the crazy stuff she gets herself involved in. She's pretty cool in my eyes.
     
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  19. Masked Mole
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    Masked Mole Contributing Member

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    All I can say is that I wouldn't feel guilty at all if I were in your position. I don't think inspiration has to come with a lot of second guessing.
     
  20. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    She needs a parasol with a blade in the tip.
     
  21. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Ah, nice idea. :D <jots it down>
     
  22. Starfire Fly
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    Starfire Fly Member

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    Actually, OP, I think your former classmate sounds like he'd make an interesting character, too. Lol. I certainly hope nobody would take offense at that. Even if you sort of copied and pasted the general outline of the man, I doubt it would really be an issue (provided you abide by legal restrictions, of course). I don't think I've ever met anyone interesting enough to copy and paste in such fashion, but I've heard of writers taking impressions for characters from people they know IRL. I've used rough composites, amalgamations, or rough sketches. Mostly for villains.

    Sad to say there's too much ready inspiration for those.
     

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