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  1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Character age(kind of)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GuardianWynn, Aug 12, 2015.

    Okay. Really feeling the muse on an old idea but one aspect has me stumped.

    Context: Story is about a world war. So some political stuff. Basically there are two powers. One magical. One Technological. The techs are about money in the sense money builds better tech. The mages are about birth as magic comes from birth. The story is about a man in this war with neither. No magic, no money.Now the idea is he has a wife and kids or the wife is pregant and he is struggling to survive. He learns that the techs pretty much plan to use him as a human shield if he joins them. And without magic the mages don't accept him.

    So the issue is this. Was he born inside this war or before it?

    The idea is in the story he defects to China. Because China has become a mercensary state. They won't use him as a shield and they don't care that he doesn't have money or magic. They do say this though. "You earn your keep. I don't care how." So he becomes a stealth assassin and fights to earn a living for his family.

    Born before the war: This seems better in the sense that he could have gained his skills before the war. As the enviroment before war being peaceful means his skills were more fun activity and now he needs to learn how to use that in a way that can earn him a living. Such an assassin.

    During the war: A friend thinks this makes his character stronger. As it would be clear he has had a harsher life. But I am not sure how he gained skill this way. Also figured the life going to shit if the war started after he was born was better too. But I try to listen to sound advice. So I thought I would get a second opinion.

    So?

    Taging epic people
    @ChickenFreak
    @jannert
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  2. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    I would probably go with born during the war too. I agree with your friend that it makes for a stronger character in that he had to grow up in a brutal environment. IMO he would be more likely to learn fighting skills living in a country/time of war rather than peace. It could make him physically and mentally stronger, especially if he has neither money or magic. He may have fought with kids who did have those things, that's where he gets his fighting skills, honing them over time. Perhaps because he didn't have magic or money he had to steal as a child and in doing so learns his stealthy maneuvers.
     
  3. Hamish246
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    Hamish246 New Member

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    That's a tough one. If he was born during the war and grew up with the world as it is, then it is a very long war. It depends on how long you want the war to go for. If he didn't have a wife and child you could put him in his late teens early twenties and have the war be, while still long, not quite as long.

    Character wise, unless you plant some backstory that he was an assassin or something similar before the war then born during the war does make the character more believable. Nothing worse than a character that suddenly develops amazing skills for no apparent reason.
     
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  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    The trick here is two fold.
    1. Isn't him being born in it less of a struggle? As it is normal. His life going from "what college am I gonna attend to how am I going to eat today". On that note too, the world beats him down for not having these advantages. Wouldn't that also be more impactful younger?

    2. His skill. The world as it is at the beginning doesn't value his skill. Developing stealth in a world that has no called use for it seems stupid. But him training like a ninja before a war as a past time and now suddenly his hobby is saving his life. I think makes a bit more sense to than stealing from kids. Though that does make sense.

    It is a very long war. The book is not going to show the war end. This doesn't change if it begins before him or happens on him. The war might even still be going on for his children. It is tricky to because of the wife. If the wife is pregnant or has a kid I dunno but one or the other. Again it makes me wonder. How did he get this if he was born in the war? It seems like him protecting it from the war makes more sense.

    To the fighting skill thing. I said that in the reply to Virdian.
     
  5. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    Maybe you can have it be both-ish. He is born in the early days of the war, before people know how bad it is really going to get. Life is starting to come apart at the seams, but people are trying to cling to life as they know it. His parents tried to provide as normal childhood as possible, but bad things were happening on the fringes and he was aware of it. It spurred him, as a child, to have these crazy fantasies of becoming a legendary fighter for one side or the other and ending the war. You know, kid stuff. It got him interested in weird hobbies like ninja skills, where all his friends were busy trying to pretend to be normal. As he grew, the world got worse and worse and even though he matured in his fantasies, the fighting was his coping skill in times of stress and he felt somehow protected by it. He's been honing these skills all these years, in exact parallel with how bad life has gotten.

    Something like that? And as for the wife, it could be that they met after things were already bad, and he wasn't looking to start a family in this unstable environment, but things just sort of happened like they do in relationships. Now he's extra motivated to use his skills to protect his family.
     
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  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    This might work.

    Because war does esclate. I think I was bad for thinking of it in this day blink way. One critical point I was thinking that I didn't properly explain I think. He was born in a tech area. He was willing to join the war and fight but he learned that the techs are strict at there strategy. So someone like him, who has real fighting skills but in different ways won't be accepted. They will commend him to fight there way. Even though he would die that way. So he leaves. Your reasoning can support that. War opens softely. becomes worse and worse. So it didn't completely overwhelm the lives of everyone but then he is drafted as many are as the war gets worse. When he leaves they don't plan to help him in a way where he can survive he abandons them. Leaving his home country and goes to China.

    Sound about right?

    Anyone think he is bad for abandoning his country during a war?
     
  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wonder if you guys are going to reply before I say this. Just incase I am tagging you all. EVIL LAUGH!

    @Lyrical
    @Hamish246
    @Viridian

    Someone pointed out to me. That they don't think this is strong enough too be a book.

    The arc being. Something like,
    -Before he enters the war
    -Entering the war. Learning he is going to die in it.
    -Abandoning his home.
    -In China. Struggling. By struggling meaning like doing farm work for food and waiting for a chance to prove himself.
    -Lots of struggling. Like him starving as even working on farms for 12 hours a day is not getting him enough to survive and eat.
    -Okay I don't have all the key points yet so some stuff here before we reach the climax. Probable town drama. Which I don't know since I haven't got that far.
    - The chance. He takes a mission. To kill an elite Mage. He is hungry, injured and his wife is sick and dying. If he doesn't win. If he doesn''t earn the movie. She will die, he will starve. He has nothing but a cracked sword and the will to survive and I suppose some ninja skills. lol.
    -He wins. Just barely though and he makes it back to town. With the ID card of the target as proof of his victory. He collapses and the town celebrates his feats. The man without anything had proved his worth.

    This isn't it to his life. The idea is he went on to become one of the legends of the war. Because now the town supported him. So they would arm him and feed him. Since he was successful with nothing. Success came much easier to him with things. So I figured the drama of his fight comes down to that first mission. So I figured I would end the book there. A friend thinks this isn't enough for a book. What do you guys think? Again. I know plot aspects are missing but the idea of a man that sinks to the bottom and through sheer determination rises upon that which is expected of him. That the core idea here. Is that not enough for a book?

    Tagging epic people.
    @ChickenFreak
    @jannert
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  8. Hamish246
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    Hamish246 New Member

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    I like the premise of the story, it is something I read a lot of, however I don't think you should end it after one successful mission. Sure it is his success and such, but if that is going to be the climax then there seems like there will be too much focus on the struggle of farming. Plus as a reader, I wouldn't find a whole lot of interest in his struggle for food. Sure it's terrible and such, but it's a pretty common scenario, even without wars.

    If he is going to be something like a ninja, maybe while he is struggling in china, have him start acting like a Robin Hood, or a vigilante, and that be how he develops his skills, also adds some depth to the struggle. Obviously he has to bear the guilt and keep his family safe and such.

    Theres enough to make a story, you just have to make the interesting parts the focus. In my opinion anyways.
     
  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is war. So he wouldn't be a robin hood. Because the people nearby would be on his side of the war. It probably wouldn't all be struggle. There would be some high and low moments.

    The thing is after his first success he is adknowledged. Meaning well it all goes up from there. He gets better equipment and better tools. I mean what story is there in him being successful? Once he has it easy what story is there? Does that make sense?
     
  10. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I got a bit lost in the details that came up since your first post so maybe this won't be helpful, but my first feeling is that you'd get more drama from him being born before the war and the learning curve he'd have to go through once it starts. If he's born during the war he's already been surviving somehow (and comfortably enough to have married and had kids), so there's less pressure: war would already be the status quo for him.

    Whereas if he's started a family before the war, then he'd suddenly have to cope in a completely new world, and not just survive himself, but also protect and support his family. I think there are far more opportunities to portray his desperation and struggle this way. 'Necessity is the mother of invention' can be your guide in portraying how he carves a niche for himself by learning and marketing new skills.

    To use a popular example, think the start of Breaking Bad, where Walt learns he has terminal cancer and starts illegally making/selling drugs as a means of supporting his family once he's gone. Only you'd have war as the impetus rather than cancer, and becoming an assassin rather than a drug dealer as the struggle. What lengths is he willing to go to? And how does he decide when enough is enough? What if his skills become invaluable and he's forced into service? Is he happy to quit once he and his family are safe and have a nest egg? Walt's pride got the better of him... You'll have to consider what sort of person your character is to figure out where the plot will go.

    So my vote is for 'born before the war starts, but has to learn new skills during the war'. But you could find a way to make it work other ways too. Maybe write out a brief plan of how the plot would have to go for each option, then decide which you like best.
     
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  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like the before war too. For many of the reasons you just stated. So do you think his first win is enough for a book?

    Funny enough I wrote a book about his decendants. Well most of my work takes place long after this. 200 years after this war. So I know what happens. He doesn't stop the path of an assassin. What he becomes is considered the strongest assassin ever. Building an empire. He trained his family the same way. His family became known for being assassins, some of the greatest of all time. He crafted a motto that was hung above his grave. "With this blade. I will cut destiny." I am guessing if you read the posts you would get his meaning. :)
     
  12. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I see no reason why not, but the only way you'll find out is to write it :p

    If it's to be a book in its own right (i.e. a self-contained story), I think there needs to be some feeling of resolution by the end, which means that the main question posed by your setup should probably be "Can he prove himself?". However, ending with his first win leaves plenty of unanswered questions (so he proved himself: was that enough? Did he then get hired? By which side? How were he and his family affected by the war? Who won the war? Etc).

    These are the questions that might form the basis of subsequent books in a series (which I'm guessing you're up for :) but maybe I'm wrong). Or maybe the stories you've already written about his descendents cover enough history that those questions already have answers.
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well he was in mercenary state. Meaning that he was in a place with like a bounty board. So he was just the only one to get the win. Well that is the next biggest question. Is what happens next worth being in the book? Because what happen next is him getting respect and proper gear. Meaning life gets good. He gets proper equipment, food and medicine and medical care. His next mission is much easier. From then on his missions are much easier. He becomes a star of the war.

    As for the end. It doesn't end during the story. I know that. The war probably ends during his life. Though it ends on a draw. Both sides give up in fear of colladeral damage being too high.

    So what do you think? Think any of that is worth being in the book?

    And you are right. The other books mention the result of the war.
     
  14. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    I think it could still work. I don't know why but The Last Samurai keeps springing to mind. I don't think it should end after he wins/gets respect etc. There should be another conflict/obstacle that he has to overcome. He's got to where he is, and that's great, but then one final (unexpected) hurdle presents itself before life gets good. It could be something or someone from his past, perhaps jealous of his victory. Maybe he is now in their way of victory? I dunno really, just an idea. I still think it has a lot of promise though. :)
     
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  15. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    It's really up to you, but it sounds like once he's proven himself there's no real conflict left - good things happen and life gets easier. Compelling stories are usually about conflict, so...

    With the approach I take to writing (/reading), the main plot involves the conflict surrounding one specific story goal. The reader is affected because they can't tell whether that goal will be achieved or not. The climax of the story is when you find out (resolution). Typically there's not a lot left to tell after the climax - you might show how a few subplots resolve, and maybe have an overview of how the characters, setting, etc ended up afterwards (denouement), but if you add too much extraneous detail, you dilute the impact of all that's come before.

    By this approach, the crucial thing to identify is the story goal. What is the one question that the plot revolves around? If details don't link to this in some way, cut them out. So if your story goal is "proving himself", end it once he's done that. But if it's "supporting his family through the war", then maybe you need to go on. In-universe those goals are obviously tied to each other, but in terms of writing an entertaining book, I'd suggest finding the story goal with the most concentrated conflict. From what you're telling me, that's "proving himself".

    But everyone's got their own ideas and opinions; this is just what makes sense to me!
     
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  16. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    That makes sense.

    Do you think proving himself is a good goal? Or do you think the supporting his family through war is the better goal?
     
  17. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    That depends entirely on your imagination :) From what you're telling me though, his main struggle is in proving himself the first time. On your timescale, it seems like this involves a lot of dramatic conflict in a relatively short time. After that, if he's happily dispatching his targets and being a war hero for years, that's good for him and a happy ending, but as there's little dramatic conflict (he's no longer struggling), it might not be as interesting to read.

    So based on what you've told me, I'd go with "proving himself". But if you can dream up enough extra dramatic conflict to flesh out "supporting his family", then that could work too. It's all up to your creativity!
     
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  18. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's true. I suppose the question is then do you think the main plot I mentioned is enough for a full book or do you think I need add more?
     
  19. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Sorry for the repetition, but I don't think it's a question I can answer. I think the plot you mentioned could be enough, but whether it will be enough depends entirely on you :)

    At this point, my advice is to mull over what everyone's said in this thread, see what you've got stored away in your imagination, and make a decision based on that. Either way, if you have faith in yourself and persistence, you'll make it work! (And you can always change tack later if you change your mind.)
     
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  20. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is true. I actually do have a clear idea already but I try not to let a clear mind keep me away from good advice. If that makes sense. Lol
     
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