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  1. jeanne
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    jeanne Member

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    Balance or extreme?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jeanne, Jun 6, 2010.

    Well, I know balance is more realistic but I also found that extreme has benefit of making things obvious.

    My story has 4 main characters. Though, fundamentally, they are the same one; neglected children trying desperately to cope with life. I did it on purpose; to make the theme very clear.

    There’re 2 protagonists who are essentially same character and 2 anti-protagonists – what’ll happen if the protagonists didn’t achieve story’s goal.

    So, my story is very focus on only one type of people; neglected children.

    I found that extreme focus is pleasurable. However, I’ve tried many possibilities and found that balancing things down are quite interesting as well. I tried making one of the protagonists less unfortunate – you know, more nurture family – and the contrast between 2 protagonists is worth exploring.

    So, the question is. Do you think the extreme focus on only one thing is too much? Do you think intense focus on neglected children too disturbing? Do you think balancing things down is more realistic? (But it’s less focus on the theme as well)
     
  2. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    If neglected children is the theme of the story, then obviously it makes the best sense to have all 4 main characters be neglected children. However that doesn't mean that they all have to be exactly the same, as you've pointed out they could different backgrounds, and some could have been more neglected than others.

    My vote is that you should try and balance it out in such a way that each character seems individual and not just four copies of the same character type. At the same time though, each protagonist ought to be paired with a similar anti-protagonist who mirrors their life and experience same for some difference that causes them to turn out completely different. This is important because without the paralells the anti-protagonists lose all value as foils or there-but-for-the-grace-of-god examples before the protagonists' eyes.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There should be balance in all things, including balance. Why not have characters that are neither totally balanced or in the extreme fringes?

    Just like real people.
     
  4. jeanne
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    jeanne Member

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    Well, my balance means he's neglected as well. Just in less degree.
     
  5. Show
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    Balance and extremes are both useful, you just have to know how much to use I guess.

    It's your story but there are many different types of characters that could come from being a "neglected child." I can think of quite a few off the top of my head so I am sure you could easily make 4 very interesting characters with the thought you'd put into developing the story. Extremes and balance are both interesting. Whatever path you decide to take, see if it feels right to you. Your own writer's gut on how much of each to use is a pretty good guide I'd say.
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I did something similar to this. How I went about it was that all the main characters had one thing that was common to all of them. Yet this circumstance had affected each of them differently.

    You have to take into account the particular circumstances and the character. Neglect may make one person very cold and withdrawn while another puts up a front like all is well yet seeks out comfort in the wrong ways. The best example I can come up with is with the characters I'm currently working with. Both nearly died from cancer. One became very depressed and self destructive. The other became careless about risk taking and lived life on the edge.

    The same set of circumstances can affect people differently because all people are individuals. I've seen it so many times in my life with people I am friends with or know casually.
     
  7. Smelnick
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    Smelnick Member

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    I'd say balance it out by making each character as having turned out different despite similiar childhoods. I know tons of people that were neglected in their childhoods, and each one turned out different. Neglect is always different from family to family. Generally there's a specific aspect of the neglect that stands out to the neglected. Usually that one aspect or a couple aspects are what shapes how the person reacts to different situations, and how they react to people. I know in my case, I'm intimidated in the presence of large guys, even if I am now a large guy myself, on the subconcious level, the memories surface, and I can't help but withdraw a little around them and feel threatened. Each character can have different things like that to help them stand out from each other, while keeping the theme.
     
  8. valdein lawnstin
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    valdein lawnstin Member

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    what you have to remember is who is your audience.
    they would mainly be people who like to read stories about things that are similar. not everybody is going to have the same opinion based on some preconceived ideas, is the book a tragedy? if yes then i would go the extreme way tell the story from the protagonists point of view, make the antagonist into a villain, if it is a comedy the protagonist and antagonist need some familiarity with each other and it will make the story more balanced,

    i imagine being the subject matter it is a tragic story, think about Edepis Rex it was about him from his slant
     
  9. valdein lawnstin
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    valdein lawnstin Member

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    balance may be the way to go but the story told from a perspective can certainly be interesting, the idea i am saying is narrow down what way the story goes and wright accordingly
     
  10. jeanne
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    jeanne Member

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    They are not antagonists; they are anti-protagonists. The mirror of what will happen if the protagonist don't turn out like they actually do.

    My question is; 4 characters who are all neglected is too much? They are main characters, though, so, my story is all about unfortunated children whithout any rest. I'm trying to make my mind about making one of my protagonists less unfortunated. I'm choosing between 2 routes; original one, make him neglected; or the other way, make him has kind of normal family, like enough cloths and food, but distant and unconnected to mirror him with another protagonist who neglected and abused to the extreme.

    Anyway, welcome to the board though.
     
  11. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I don't believe four is too many. People will seek out others they have things in common with. This is a huge thing. Going through a bad life experience gives people an odd ability to have an almost instant camaraderie. I've experienced it myself on quite a few occasions. As for your second question. Do whatever you think is best for the story. You're the writer of it. :)
     
  12. valdein lawnstin
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    valdein lawnstin Member

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    no four is not too many. if one i a less unfortunate person the story may have some more contrast and more depth, it would also give you more conflict in your character relations, and better relateability to the reader.

    (metaphor)
    music that changes key sometimes has more depth than others.
     

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