1. Mars
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    Mars New Member

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    Character Critique, Please?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mars, Mar 7, 2016.

    I suffer from a frightful case self-indulgence, and thus my characters all come out ridiculously cliché. I try to lessen this as I work with them, but I still have doubts, so here's a quick summary of my mains.

    The first one (Florence) is an average woman in her early twenties. She is generally compassionate and nice, and prides herself in her high morals. These high morals give her a sense of elitism that makes it difficult for her to change her views. Having a different point of view from her's can cause her to become cruel and condescending. Florence's story goes along the lines of "she becomes a vampire and the morals she based her entire identity around get a big kick in the teeth."

    The second one (Johanna) is the above character's girlfriend! She is charismatic and playful character. She has very few morals, and is definitely not above lying and manipulating to get the things she wants. In the beginning of the story, she is in an established relationship with Florence that she is constantly lying through. Jo's role is to end up causing the destruction of another vital part of Florence's identity, which is their relationship together.

    You certainly don't have to critique both of them, I'd be happy with whatever input.
     
  2. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    PBNJDraftNumbA Member

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    First thought, charisma and elitism may go together, but they don't "go together" :)
    A stern woman of wealth would not allow for the ditsy presentation of someone lower-than. Rather, she would slap the vampire into the other. Is it possible that the younger more spirited one becomes the vampire? It could mean for a come back, in the form of bites.

    Someone who is elitist and has apparent high morals tends to be keen on lying trolls. While you certainly are capable of making your characters work as described (as you see them), their personalities clash more than mesh. Good for drama, bad for stability. Again, you can make it work, but it is not a natural relationship-- and I am not talking about fangs ;)

    Finally, I am interested in the story's progression. Please share more with us, as you see fit.
    I should add that I do not mean to derail your plan. It is interesting. My feedback is purely opinion, not product of worth.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
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  3. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    How interesting. The character Florence, you say, has high morals, but she lacks the most important moral quality of all: humility. Which makes her so-called morality all about justifying herself in her own eyes, and not about how she treats others or how she relates to God or to spirituality or to however she conceives of that end of things. If she becomes cruel and condescending when she's confronted with a different point of view, that kind of wipes out all her compassion and niceness, doesn't it? Makes me think it's all a put-on so others will like her and say how marvelous she is. Well, no wonder it all falls apart. Her high moral character is nothing but a shell.

    Or it is, if I'm understanding this sketch of her rightly.

    Whereas Johanna is a lying, manipulative jerk who skids by on her charm? Oh, boy. Get out the popcorn. :pop:
     
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  4. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    PBNJDraftNumbA Member

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    I was hinting at the pride, when I said "high morals."
    Thank you for reiterating. My mistake.
    On another note, I am curious as to the age variation.
     
  5. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't pick up on any age variation, since I don't know how old Johanna is.

    But, actually, "high morals" should exclude pride. They should be other-focused qualities like courage, loyalty, perseverance, honesty, integrity, true compassion, and so on. And they should characterize a person down to the core, which is why it seems that Florence's "morality" is only a put-on shell.
     
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  6. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    I lost sight of Florence's age, when you said she was prideful about having so-called high morals. I apologize. Even after reading the fullness of your initial request, I failed to recall essential details when I looked to help give ideas. My mistake. Hopefully, something can fuel you to continue as you improve a good start.
     
  7. Mars
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    Mars New Member

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    @PBNJDraftNumbA Believe me, I am very aware that these characters do not mesh at all. By the end of the story, I want them both frustrated and hating each other. :p It's a very toxic relationship.

    @Catrin Lewis Yes! You've gotten her perfect, and even helped me understand her a bit more! I'm partly basing her off the kind of people I've met during political and social conversations. I'm very liberal (it even says so on my profile :rolleyes:) and the kind of people I meet can be so generally horrible in the name of their ideals, it's a little amazing.

    As for age variation -- there is none. The two of them met and started dating in high school, and have never pursued another relationship. Of course, people change a lot in those crucial years, and now they've both found themselves in a relationship that isn't all that healthy. The two definitely love each other, but that's not always a good reason to stay with somebody.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  8. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whoops, sorry. I mistook you for the OP. My only excuse is that I was working on a dinky screen and didn't scroll up sufficiently. I apologize. :bigoops:
     
  9. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm curious about the vampire angle. (You are the one who first mentioned that, right? *scrolls up* Yes.) Are you talking physical vampire, like the kind we get all the time in contemporary fiction, or psychological vampire? IMO the psychological kind is so much more interesting. And the question here is, which woman is sucking the other figuratively dry?
     
  10. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    Your development is speedy and makes sense.
    Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood. These are key times for major development.
    Since your characters met in Adolescence, there is a time of learning independence, yes? Yet they are with each other-- through a portion of school to, say, post-college years? How have they grown closer; where have they grown partially estranged?
     
  11. Mars
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    Mars New Member

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    I am talking physical vampire, though my version of vampirism is a genetic line (another knock down the peg for Florence -- her bloodsucking habits are part of her DNA) and doesn't come with any cool powers. I wanted to write something more horror/fantasy flavored, but it seems I always fall back on character relationships no matter what genre I go into. As for which woman is sucking the other dry, I'm actually unsure. I haven't considered their relationship in this way before, so you've given me something to think about.

    Yes, this is definitely a time of learning independence. Jo runs her parents' convenience store, and Florence lives with Jo while she completes her degree. In this way, Florence is more dependent on Jo superficially. However, Jo has difficulties forming significant emotional attachments, and depends on Florence entirely for this. They'd both be in a bad spot if either of them lost the other. They have drastically different perspectives on the world, though Johanna is more prone to just nodding along with whatever Florence says at the time. Like I said before, Jo is constantly lying to Florence, and has been lying to her since the moment they met.

    I suppose it's significant that Johanna is a quiet but recognized serial killer. Ugh, it feels too dramatic and cliche to even type. I'm seriously thinking of letting that line of thought go.
     
  12. PBNJDraftNumbA
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    What is the motive for all of the lying? They have known each other since, at least, high school. When did Jo become so slick with Flo? I think it would interest the reader in how vampire tendencies enter Jo's behavior. Flo has it in her own blood, but what about Jo? She is not a relative to Flo. Yet they are learning to be independent, while depending on each other for various wants/needs. You are doing a great job in keeping my interest, especially as you flesh out more details on the growing story.
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Have you written any of your story yet?

    As these characters interact with each other and with other elements of your story, they will change from what your original ideas about them were. Maybe even a lot. And the depth of their characters will reveal itself as they actually do things.

    I'd say don't get too immersed in pre-planning exactly what kind of character you will write about. Get a general idea, get writing ....and see what happens. See what they become.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
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  14. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly this. At the moment, @Mars, it sounds like your story has several possible threads. You may end up dealing with them all and tying them together at the end. But leave yourself free to pursue just one or two of them and leave the others behind.

    But you said,

    [Italics mine]
    Your mentioning this gives a different interpretation to your original statement about Florence, her "high morals," and her intolerance towards those who disagreed. I was thinking that was contradictory . . . but now it hits me that perhaps her "morality" doesn't have to do with her personal traits, but with some cause or conviction she's sold out to. Because that's the issue with the kind of people you describe in the quotation above. They can be liberal, conservative, radical, whatever, but some folks become zealots in defense of their cause, and everything must go down before it. The cause can be something that's very good and not debatable--- animal welfare, for instance. And the person holding the conviction can be the sweetest, kindest, most lovely individual you'd ever want to meet . . . until you challenge any point or degree of the thing she's dedicated to. Then get out of her way or she'll chop you to pieces! A person like that will be at odds not only with her opponents, but with allies she sees as not as dedicated as she is.

    Is Florence a devoted True Believer in some cause? Is that where her conflicted morality lies? Does she see this cause as more important in all cases than human relationships?

    If that's where you were going in your original post, you might consider not making her cause something you yourself oppose. Because if you make her a voodoo doll for all the people who jumped on you with their not-liberal ideals, she's liable to come out fake, and your readers (the discerning ones, I mean) will detect it and cry "Cheat!" On the other hand, if the cause she's moralistic about is one you believe in yourself, you'll be able to get into her head and heart and understand how she might come to take an extreme position on it. This will make the reader more sympathetic to her as she spirals down.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016
  15. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    An evolving vampire and a serial killer, sounds interesting. You could do a lot with developing that. Look forward to seeing some of it. Good Luck.
     
  16. Mckk
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    I can't really see the two characters getting together in the first place. If having a different view to Florence causes her to become cruel and intolerant, then how on earth could she be with Johanna, who has no morals?

    Just to give myself as an example (no girlfriends involved - just housemates!). I had 2 housemates. One of them would sleep with her boyfriend, no problem, but otherwise committed and dedicated to that one guy she's with. The other one was your typical student out to play - clubbing every night and getting horrifically drunk, then glorifying herself and her antics and priding herself in how bad a hangover she has. At one point she had almost slept through the entire alphabet (eg. a guy whose name began with one of the letters of the alphabet, and she'd slept with so many there was a guy for almost every letter). She'd talk about commitment and then go play mind games and try to make various people jealous, etc.

    I'm a Christian and back then still rather conservative - very much a black and white kind. Like, if you disagreed with me, especially about God and morality as stated in the Bible, then you're pretty much just plain wrong and you should really understand that you are, because it's just obvious! So obviously I was into the whole no sex before marriage, definitely not getting drunk, etc.

    You could say me and the second, party housemate were at opposite ends of the spectrum. It's a little like your elitist high morals Florence versus the few/no morals Johana. I can tell you now, we did not get on. We bickered and made snide remarks at each other, and towards the end completely fell out altogether. I was passively and sometimes vocally judgemental and not a little self-righteous, while she did the same to me, looking down her nose at me for being frigid and weird.

    I had no problem with the first housemate who slept with her boyfriend, despite it obviously clashing with my beliefs nonetheless, because at least I can buy into the "committed relationship" thing, and I can respect that. We were pretty close.

    What I'm saying is, for two people to get together, they can't be at opposite extremes to each other when it comes to something as important as this - something that shapes their character. My example is just an example of becoming friends. I can't see how two people can sustain a romantic relationship like that. You say Johana lies through the relationship - but it wouldn't take all that long for Florence to see that they are lies. It just wouldn't last long.
     
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