1. feathersinflight
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    feathersinflight Member

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    Character Personality Does a 180

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by feathersinflight, Jul 30, 2014.

    Uh...so I have a lot that I'm concerned about and I'm not quite sure how to express all of this, so I kind of word salad-ed here. I am very sorry, but I hope that you will read all of it. If you need any clarifications, I'll be glad to give them to the best of my ability -__-

    So I have this character who is introduced in a rather unorthodox manner: she is found by the MC and crew collapsed in a well. Her age is unknown, but she has been mentioned by other characters to look around 10 years old. As it turns out, this is misleading. Prior to events before the story, she was actually friends with the MC, but an disaster caused 'her time to stop'. It is the equivalent to being frozen under the ice- after being MIA for 4 years, she comes back looking like she's ten, and only in the events that follow does she start aging at a rather accelerated rate, so by the end of 1 years' time she could be viewed as a 14 year old (if you squint).

    The premise of the story is that when the character is found, the MC keeps on having brief flashes in his dreams about her as a child, because they were childhood friends. He doesn't remember her, she doesn't remember him or anything of her past life- in fact many other characters don't remember her either- because of that disaster. But when he starts having dreams about her, he keeps on remembering a childish, innocent, and carefree little girl (if any of you guys ever read The Little Prince, she's like the little prince). In the beginning, when the MC and the character meet, she still acts childish, because she doesn't remember anything. However, in the course of one year she sobers up a lot as she begins to experience the tumultuous times of being a teenager and regains pieces of her memory (not such great memories, either). Her personality does a 180 turn, and the MC has some problems processing this.

    The problem is that I'm also having problems with this. I don't know how to make this change progress naturally. Do you guys have any suggestions with this?
     
  2. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    This is sort of off topic but I find it hard to swallow a 14 year old not recognizing a close friend from when he was 10 especially if she hadn't aged. It's just something that may be worth considering.

    Personally I wouldn't buy a sudden personality change with absolutely no reason. So if she acted childish after she got over the initial shock of everything I'd expect her to continue to act that way until something happened to change her, like the flashbacks starting. Would it work to have her changed from the start because of the disaster and not being able to remember anything which would only become apparent when she recovered from the shock.

    If you want to keep it gradual here's how I would approach the issue. Firstly I'd consider any time skips or major events in the novel and try to place the biggest shifts in personality around these so it's more believable. (A major event could be quite traumatic and cause her to grow up quickly while three months worth of gradual change could completely change her personality) I'd also consider how her personality shifts over time and work out some milestones she has to pass through. I'll use a character from my WIP who isn't comfortable giving orders but gradually adapts.

    At the start I'm careful to barely ever have her issue a order directly. She's more likely to mention something needs doing and hope someone takes the hint or just do it is herself. In stressful situations she slowly begins to give direct orders and gradually she begins to say things like "Would you mind....?" Eventually when she says "Would you mind doing this?" she actually means "Do this please," and soon after she begins giving proper orders. So far I'm only a small way through this process but I've positioned many of the major shifts in her personality over time skips or extended periods of conflict.

    Personally I think it would be more believable for the MC to have issues processing her personality change if it was sudden rather than gradual.
     
  3. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    My current WIP has exactly the same issue. I have a main character who has been transplanted from Earth into a fantasy world. Now this 16 year old girl goes from safe Indiana to a world filled with war, famine, disease, etc. . She is a very passive girl who is resistant to conflict. Eventually, ever so slowly, she changes into a stronger, more defensive, more powerful version of herself who isn't afraid of conflict any longer. This largely arises from her need for safety...there is no mommy and daddy to protect her anymore so she learned to do it herself. The process is slow. It took loads of violence done to others during a war, betrayal, and a failed rape attempt for her to finally clue into the fact that "don't rock the boat" doesn't work in this world and her personality changed.

    In all honesty, changing the personality of a 10 year old or 16 year old character isn't that hard. Changing the personality of a 40 year old, when their personality is already set, is truly difficult.

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. kburns421
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    kburns421 Member

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    Someone losing childishness and innocence over a year's time is easily believable and natural if the character deals with anything rough or traumatic. I would say it doesn't even have to be going-to-war traumatic since the character is young, a time when lots of things could seem traumatic. Being bullied and picked on at school, verbal abuse, being ignored by friends/family, health problems, continually failing at things she tries--things like this don't change a person after one incident but can change someone if they're continual for a year, especially if dealing with more than one. Like you said, make her experience the tumultuous times of being a teenager, but worse.

    The gradual change will show in her reactions to these things, in the things she says, in her choices. Maybe she'll be more hesitant and careful, or she'll start accepting or resigning to it when bad things happen rather than getting indignant and saying how unfair it is, or she'll become more closed and shut people out, or she'll become mean. And how the MC reacts depends on his personality. He might start by brushing it off but get more disenchanted, he might only try harder and harder to help her, it all depends.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If they were friends when they were 10 and now they are 40, I'd buy that the MC doesn't immediately recognise her. Four years isn't long enough unless the character changed her appearance drastically, such as burns, scars, plastic surgery, tattoos, beard etc. In terms of how to show character change, you need character altering events. If you haven't, read ' The Count of Monte Cristo' for an excellent and expansive example of character doing a 180, both physically and psychologically.
     

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