1. Bazmann
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    Bazmann New Member

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    Average Joe with skillz or ex-special forces

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Bazmann, Jul 9, 2012.

    I'm writing a mystery-thriller about a guy looking for an old friend that has gone missing, and he gets involved with an Interpol investigation and some illegal arms dealers. I want some action, so my lead character is going to need to get his hands dirty. My problem is, he is just a normal guy. So do I make him a normal guy and set him up as being a bit handy, former athlete or something. Or do I go the well-tread former marine route? Both are going to be a little bit of a stretch, so I guess I'm asking which is the less silly of the two options?
     
  2. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    Well it's your story so I can't tell you how or what to write....but I personally like the 'average joe' kind of guy that draws from his inner strength to get the job done. Doesn't really matter what his past is since he'd have next to no experience to draw on, maybe he used to play football in high school, I don't know, you could really come up with anything.
     
  3. Langadune
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    Langadune Member

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    I enjoy the average Joe route just because I can relate to it better and it actually requires you (the writer) to be more creative in finding ways for the MC to solve his problems/conflicts/fights/etc.

    The special forces guy is in some ways an easy out. They took his weapons and the nuke is about to go off and its guarded by a bunchof lackeys but hey... he is a master of hand to hand and he received special training in dismantling nuclear warheads.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your story will take on a different tone depending on which characterization you use. Not to say this is universally true, but readers see former SF/soldier/Marine type characters, and they tend to expect more action/car chases/kick butt type things. They see an Average Joe who's not totally inept but somewhat out of his league and they're going to be looking for the next OMG how is he going to get out of THAT! moment. Different kinds of expectations, different kinds of tension. So I would look at the type of book you want to write, and choose the character's history based on that.
     
  5. Fan7asticMrFox
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    Fan7asticMrFox Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone loves an underdog! Just think Indiana Jones vs the huge nazi in their desert/plane fight scene! (Sorry it was on BBC recently) It obviously depends on the content and style of the writing, but try not to only think about the character's abilities, but also the environment - Its about what the character can use to his advantage. Sometimes the brain can win a fight rather than the brawn. Pull a lever or cut a rope and something happens to his opponent, an object falls on him, water sweeps away his feet, etc. You can do some much with an averagejoe, it should be great fun writing the fights :)
     
  6. MassThinker
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    MassThinker Active Member

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    Make him hesitate to pull the trigger once, but make him realize that the bad guys must die!
     
  7. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    just becuse you are an adverage joe does not mean you do not have firearms skills or hand to hand skills. maybe he wanted to do MMA for a while be did not, maybe he boxed, maybe he is just handy, maybe he hunts or carries conceled, maybe all of them
     
  8. noodlepower
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    noodlepower Member

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    Either or is cool. Just whichever strikes your fancy. Personally, I would find the average joe more interesting.... like in die hard with a vengeance when Samuel L. Jackson's character gets caught in the conflict.
     
  9. nephlm
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    nephlm Member

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    You could make him a regular marine. I guy who put in his time for the GI bill or whatever. His MOS was food preparation, logistics or mechanic. He did boot camp however long ago and qualified with a firearm and got his required tan belt, but he has no real combat experience. Though he probably has a keen awareness of what happens when people mess with supply lines and exactly how easy it is to do.

    That's what popped into my head with this question, but as others have said, your book, ultimately your choice.
     
  10. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I agree with Nephlm. You character can be an Average Joe who has still picked up a skill or two along the way.

    I was a firefighter in the Air Force. You might be able to kick my butt in a hand-to-hand fight, but I'd be willing to bet I would have better odds at improvising an explosive.
     
  11. Eliot Bauers
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    Eliot Bauers Member

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    _____Bazmann, here's what I'd HIGHLY recommend doing. Have it as so your Average Joe used to BE a Joe. That is, make your character a former special forces member. A lot of former service members end up doing some especially boring jobs when they're done with their time in the service. That's right. Your high-school principal (or local headmaster, if you're English) could have been a kick-butt butt-kicker back in the bad old days of The War. They might resemble ordinary folks, but the training never fully goes away. Learning what to do in a firefight, the importance of rank and structure, it stays with a person even if they become "ordinary" people after their contract is done. Yeah, that's the ticket.
    _____One of the reasons why I'm saying this is because the whole average-Joe-beats-trained-professionals idea irks me to no end. It takes MONTHS of rigorous, vicious, and even dangerous training in the United States to just qualify being a soldier in the Army. (Don't ask me what the Marines do. Marines are crazy.) This means being the lowest-ranking, base-line, combat-capable member warfighter. Some components of the military actually require members to go through several years' worth of training and education. Yes, soldiers do go to school. Every man and woman who wears the uniform has gone through the quick-and-vicious equivalent of a college education in whatever military order of service they're going to fill. When it comes to warfighting, members of the Armed Forces are the best trained, the most learned, and the most capable. No way can some ordinary shmuck beat THAT.
    _____And that, dudes and dude-ettes, is why yours-truly hates those ridiculous sci-fi movies where members of the military can't quite trump the enemy, but some goofball pip-squeak civilian with styled hair comes in with nothing but a pistol and a laptop and beats all the aliens or whatever. For some no-name potbellied kid with a gut full of booze and a head full of JARHEAD to come along and out-do a soldier, a marine, a sailor or even an airman is sheerest lunacy. Next thing you know, the weather reports in Hell will include chilly temperatures with a chance of snowballs. That's why writers like Clive Cussler and Dean Koontz use FORMER military service members for their thriller protagonists. It makes sense, and it doesn't piss people off.
     

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