1. SerenaYasha
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    SerenaYasha Member

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    Being to Cruel to Characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by SerenaYasha, Jun 4, 2011.

    When is it to much?

    I know in my current writing I make my characters go throw a lot. I never kill them but hurt badly from fighting villains, maybe near death but I have never killed a character off.

    none of my character are supper angst but they have moments.

    my main character I tend to give more pain to, while other i do make suffer not as bad as MC

    I do it to show my readers that look how bad the characters got it and they still keep going. so you can to ( i try and range the problem to cover every level)

    1. when do you think its over the top for a author to make a character suffer?

    2. when is it to little?

    3. what are the different reason/ways a character can suffer? whats the worst?
     
  2. FlashNinja
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    FlashNinja Member

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    My rule of thumb is; when you feel that you may be doing too much of something it's probably a good idea to re-evaluate it. If you begin to think it's too much, try changing the severity and see if you prefer it.
     
  3. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    Well, how cruel are the villains/bad guys/antagonists ?
    Mine tend to be pretty awful, so my characters usually get a pretty rough ride.
     
  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have to say, I can't really agree with that sentiment. I mean, if you're going to just dish out therapy (not literally therapy) to your characters constantly and make them keep going for the sake that they have to continue for the storyline, then you're doing it wrong, so far as I'm concerned.

    If they keep going on because it's in their personality to persevere, good. But from the sound of that, I think you need to re-evaluate what would make your character actually turn around and stop doing whatever they're doing.
     
  5. SerenaYasha
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    SerenaYasha Member

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    You got a point, but my main character is stubborn ( she blind herself to a truth if its in her mind to benifit something) , she says its to prove she is not weak to a male character but i belive it to prove it to herself. she perfer if she suffer then someone else

    as for the villains they sstart out as mild but the last one is the worse but at the same time it roles in to MC fighting herself ( hardest villain for anyone)
     
  6. Contacaton
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    Contacaton New Member

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    Have a good think about how tolerant your characters are, and then just keep dumping them in situations right on the line of their tolerance. Also, perhaps you could have one of the more minor characters who's important to your main character die. Not just for shock value, but to add to the determination of your main character that s/he must defeat the villain. Which will, of course, increase their tolerance.

    It may seem mean, but if you handle it right then I think it will really strengthen your story. People have such a passion for cruelty, no matter how much they try to deny it.
     
  7. NexAnomaly
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    NexAnomaly New Member

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    I don't really believe there is a "too much." Sometimes a good book ends with the main character that can die/move on. But death isn't always the end in some cases. There was a book I read recently where it seemed like the main character was going to make it, or that somehow she was going to be saved. However; when she finally dies she ascends into something else completely. Which many people did not see coming.

    Now when the character takes on abuse that is too unrealistic and keeps going, then that may be considered too much. If it's impossible that a character keeps going, it can detract from the overall story and the reader might feel a little bored.


    It is too little when the character isn't challenged. This aspect really depends on the character, the setting and the challenge.

    The worst way someone can suffer is through continuous mental abuse that fractures their mental state. That and when they lose multiple limbs from which they can not recover. Again it really depends on the situation and the character.
     
  8. Ice Queen
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    Ice Queen Senior Member

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    It's all well and good to throw bad situations at your characters to see how they react; but you've got to remember every character will react differently- especially if you push more and more stuff onto them. Some will cope with pressure, some won't.

    However, there comes a point where the reader will just find it completely unbelievable. If you throw too much pain and suffering onto one character, it can begin to look like a bit of a sob-story: 'Oh, poor MC, look at all the suffering she goes through and she still perseveres- isn't she wonderful?' (not saying yours is like this but you have to be careful you don't go that way). When that happens in a book I just think 'Meh, well why should I worry about this character? She's been through so much the author obviously isn't going to kill her...'

    As for the worst thing you can do to an MC, it is all relative to them. My MC starts off mortally wounded, but survives by a hair because the information she has is the only way to keep the country safe: i.e. Her duty kept her going. She will struggle with overcoming the wound and its effects; but the worst thing I'll do is kill the man she loves (another MC who is important and I'm very fond of him. :c Sad...). How will she deal with this? I'm not sure.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I put my characters through hell, many times. xD If I backed away everytime I thought it was too much, I'd never have a story. I just gotta go with my gut sometimes.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    too much.

    through a lot.

    super angst. Also, angst is what someone feels, not what they are.

    When it isn't necessary for the purpose of the story.

    When it doesn't convey enough suffering to serve the purpose of the story.

    Substitute "a person in life" for "a character" and you have your answer.
     
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  11. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I don't really think there's a 'too much', unless your entire book turns into this mope-fest over these poor characters.
     
  12. wallomrslug
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    wallomrslug Member

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    I don't think you should be cruel to characters just for the sake of it...there should always be a reason for any ordeal they go through either as a way of developing the plot or the character.

    I don't think you can be 'too' cruel however. The reader will take satisfaction in a character overcoming some pretty dire situations or they will be affected greatly if the character fails to overcome it. Either scenario will make the book more dramatically charged and memorable, which can't be a good thing.

    If anything, it's more of a risk not to put your characters through enough. It's a good bonding ritual between reader and character to journey through something pretty awful with them!
     
  13. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    There should be a balance. I refuse to read a book where all the characters do is suffer constantly and never get a happy moment. There should be suffering, but there should also be joy.

    Too little is when all the characters have are good moments. A real story must have a conflict of some sort. Even the bad writers know this.

    When it's too little, it means that the character is succeeding too far often for my tastes. Even when things appear to not be in their favour, they magically succeed. That bothers me. Again, there ought to be balance of good and bad.

    There's no such thing as a worst and there are many, many ways to make ANYONE suffer, not just a fictional character. Think of all the times humans have faced hardships. It's part of our daily lives. There is not one human being who hasn't gone through a hard or rough time. I don't even think there's one day where someone hasn't gone through pain, whether it be physical or emotional. Suffering can range from a recent breakup or a failed exam to the death of a loved one. Actually, try watching the news once in a while to get the extreme cases. It's one of the reasons why I only watch CNN when I feel like I have nohing else to watch.
     
  14. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    People love cool and unusual punishment, there can never be enough. Ever wonder why the gladiators were so popular in their time? The same thing goes in literature or any other form of media. Of course, there has to be some comic relief - look at shakespeare's tragedies, there are always a few innuendoes for the groundlings to laugh at

    However if the world is simply sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows for anything any character does - unless it is a satire - it'll end up quite boring. I think I'll try that sometime.

    When I write, I usually like to punish characters for legitimate reasons, not by punishing characters arbitrarily for the sake of being arbitrary. If there's punishment, the character or the reader must be able to learn something. The worst kind of punishment is a personal he'll fir the character, a sort of ironic punishment. Say the Cookie Monster steals all the cookies in the world to enjoy their chocolately goodness - as punishment, his taste buds are removed. Enjoy your cookies now, fiend!
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Tension in plot is raised by increasing the opposition and the motivation. Setting obstacles and challenges before your characters Is how you accomplish that, and threatening or causing severe bodily harm is a very effective means of doing so.

    Hurt them. Maim them. It will bring out the best in them and it will intensify your story.
     
  16. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    Sometimes, they need it, you know?

    Because if you get too attached to your character(s), then you wouldn't want anything to happen to him/her in the story.

    I hope that makes sense.

    But, then again, I am into the whole....pain/pleasure thing.

    Oh boy, was that too personal?

    :)
     
  17. tiggertaebo
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    tiggertaebo Member

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    For me it's not about being "cruel" to the characters - its about what is necessary to further the development of the character and the plot. I have a character who has a condition that results in schizophrenia-like symptoms and this causes him frequent physical and neurological pain and in addition leaves him almost incapable of having a normal emotional relationship.

    Now I didn't do that to him because I take any pleasure in it but because how he copes with it (or in some cases doesn't) is what makes him interesting as a character.

    On the subject of "too much" in terms of bad stuff happening to a character I think there is definately a balancing act involved - if their life is just unrelenting horror and misery then IMO it needs alot of work to justify why that is necessary otherwise they can be just as boring as someone who's life is perfect and everything goes their way.
     
  18. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    YES!

    I, too, believe it is not about what you can 'do to' your characters so much as what is necessary for the story and the situation. Iwork from a perspective of telling the characters' stories rather than laying out plans and devices for them and plotting out ways to be cruel to them or not just to further the story. I have, in fact, killed off some very likeable folks along the way. At one point, my daughter, who thought she was reading my ms without my knowledge, read one of my stories where a secondary protag was killed off. The next time she saw me - and for several months thereafter - whenever she looked at me she would glare and growl, "murderer". And she was in high school so we lived in the same house and saw each other several times a day! But it was necessary both for the character and the story.

    You do what you have to do and, if that makes people angry, well ... Good for you! I guess that means you created some pretty sympathetic characters!
     
  19. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    Writer John Brown says that your readers must have fear and hope. Fear that your main character will fail and hope that he doesn't.

    It is too much when your readers lose their hope.
     
  20. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -firstly,remember that everyone has a breaking point.are you trying to break your characters, or no? also,there's physical,metal and emotional torment.people react in different ways.what makes one person suicidal can make make someone else homicidal.don't throw it in there just to have it.make sure it ties into the plot and that there's a good reason for all of this.the weakest person in the camp can become the strongest if pushed too far.
    -also,they have to have a reason to keep going; just 'saving the day to be a hero' is kinda whakc uless there's a real reason for it.some people might think of giving up,someone else might be fanatical over the whole situation.don't let everyone seem too simular.also,sometimes death is not the worse that can happen...and realistically,i am a believer in killing main characters,when necessary.
     
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^^ this!
     
  22. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    In my opinion, whatever a character goes through, bad or good, is totally a product of the story. I can't imagine thinking, "What can I do to this guy now?" The story-line drives the action, and the action dictates what will happen to a character. Anything can happen to a character if it makes sense for the story, but if you are more interested in making your characters suffer than you are in developing your tale, then I think you have it backward.
     

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