1. water in my boots
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    water in my boots New Member

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    Character Presentation

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by water in my boots, Apr 5, 2013.

    I am currently in the process of planning a series of novels, and have hit a wall, so to speak. The series will include three novels. One will follow the story of a young orphaned boy named Walter, living with a few other orphan children on a farm, under the rule of a heartless farmer, and eventually finding himself in another world. Another will tell of this boy's adventures in said world. Another still will tell of this boy as a man, returned to our world and living on the same farm he lived on as a child.
    The problem I have encountered centers around a shift from antagonist to protagonist, or protagonist to antagonist. In the first and second stories mentioned, the reader will side with Walter, in the first sory as he finally kills his "caretaker" in order to avoid his own murder, and in the second story as he struggles to survive in the other world.
    Upon Walter's return, in the third story mentioned, Walter has changed, and becomes the antagonist.
    I have several questions. First, is it possible to have a reader love a character for two books and totally hate his or her guts for a third? If so, does it seem easier to shift from love to hate, or from hate to love? And finally, would this process work best if presented in a single novel riddled with changes in time and place, or a separate three-part series?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Write it in one novel.

    And is there really no other way of presenting the story other than making your reader "love then hate" your main character? Couldn't you present this as more of a tragic situation all round?

    Because, alienate your readers at your peril.
     
  3. water in my boots
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    water in my boots New Member

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    I wish I could think of a way to make it just seem tragic overall, but it isn't coming to me. I feel like Walter just has to shift character type. Do you think this could be done if the novel taking place in the other world were used as a transition?
     
  4. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    I think love-->hate with the main character will upset your readership, and you'll lose them. However, love-->hate-->love can be very effective. (Harry Potter was a moody teenager struggling to deal with a lot of stuff in Book 5, but came through it by the end of the series. That works).

    If you're currently unpublished, and aiming to be published, the only way to do convince a publisher to take Book 1 of the series is if it completely and totally stands on its own as a distinct story, without relying on the future books.
     
  5. water in my boots
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    water in my boots New Member

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    I have been trying to look at this story from a reader's point of view, but I can't really pick up on it. When the protagoniost-protagonist-antagonist, Walter is killed in the end, would a "last words" type of transition work? Maybe just showing the killer and the reader that Walter was misunderstood as the antagonist in the third book?
     
  6. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Then I would allow little hints to come out here and there in the narration to suggest that he is somehow mentally unwell, or disturbed in some way, and find a way make his death somehow relevant to the story as a whole.

    Never sucker punch the reader.
     
  7. water in my boots
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    water in my boots New Member

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    Excellent. Thanks.
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    And that book was the worst one in the series. But for me it might not have been because I cared that Harry changed, it was because it went on too long with a whiney protag. I don't like whiney characters in any story, but make them the main character, yuck. ;)
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights comes to mind when I read this synopsis. The story is different, of course, but the complexity of Heathcliff might be a useful character to study.
     
  10. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    I always hated Heathcliff.
    One thing you should remember is that you can't tell readers who to root for.
    In the Harry Potter example (after book 1 at least), i never once did root for Harry. I liked Hermione (even more after the movies came out) and i liked Snape (originally because he tormented Harry potter aka whiny girly fellow, after book 6 because he was awesome) and i liked Sirius. But never Harry. In the final battle i rooted for Voldemort.

    There will be readers that will follow your intentions and dislike him when he turns evil, but unless another character who has been present from early on becomes the protagonist most of them wont.

    And as Nee said, the material you mentioned so far seems enough for only 1 novel. Otherwise it seems like it will be stretched too thin just to fill pages.
     
  11. water in my boots
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    water in my boots New Member

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    ....
     
  12. water in my boots
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    water in my boots New Member

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    I appreciate the replies everyone. I think maybe the character Walter doesn't necessarily need to be hated or loved in the third novel. If written properly, I think the reader will find Walter's death in the end to bring up many emotions. If they root for him and he dies, well, it will just be one of "those" books for said people. If they come to dislike him, then all the better. I plan to make the reader's feelings for Walter a "toss-up", giving the reader the option (a method I have always liked but haven't often seen since the old Choose Your Own Adventure books). I plan to do this by showing Walter doing wrong, but providing internal monologue that shows just how helpless he is. How does that sound?
     
  13. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Then he wouldn't be the villain, just the temporarily misguided hero (or hero with a reason to behave as a villain).
     
  14. Bee Kay
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    Bee Kay Member

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    The antihero!

    And that's much more desirable than an out-of-nowhere 180. Elsewise it's just sloppy.
     
  15. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Agreed. And as long as it is well written and interesting enough to keep the readers reading then, great.
     
  16. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    A purple flying pig that dances Zulu ceremonial dances with Hugh Hefner is great, if it is well written and interesting enough to keep the readers reading. Is this a catchphrase advice that sticks to any question, relevant or not?
     
  17. water in my boots
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    water in my boots New Member

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    Okay, these questions seem only to raise more questions. If Walter will become an antihero in the third book (or the third part of the book), then how could the main character in this part of the book be rooted for also? It would be virtually impossible to bring an unsuspecting young teenager that has done nothing wrong, put him through terrible things ending in a fight for his life, and present him as an antagonist.
     
  18. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Yes it is. But then again, it also happens to be true.
     
  19. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Not will become but is.

    What? You never heard someone say, "Oh...now I see what you're really like."

    He was the same guy all along, just some of his personality traits lie dormant or just under the surface; or he's been hiding then: which is why I was saying that you need to leave a few hints here and there for the reader to ( at least subconsciously if nothing else) be tuned-in to the possibility that he may be a slightly duplicitous personality. I would read up on personality disorders in general and psychopathy in particular for a better grasp of potential personality types for this character.

    Here is a brief article on psychopathy:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/handy-psychology-answers/201103/what-do-we-know-about-psychopathy
     
  20. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    If you use the same advice on everything it is 1) no longer convincing at all and 2)not advice anymore.
     
  21. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    And if you fail to keep the reader's attention then they will stop reading your book: so the advice remains good advice whether you personally have grown tired of it or not. To take this thinking to extremes, if one were to continuously alter the advice as to keep it from boring himself then eventually it would become so abstract that only those who already understand said advice will know what you were talking about, thereby rendering the advice null to those who need it the most: the beginner.
     
  22. stormr
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    stormr Member

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    as many others have mentioned if hes going to be the antagonist in the third one, then as your writing whats going on at times, type in little hints of maybe something that has happened to him to make hime change his feelings about something that happened at an earlier time. I'm new to this whole thing and am going through a similar issue myself, although not a character twist. I read your original post a few times and I think I imagine what your story is doing, you could switch up your story abit and start it with walter as the antagonist, then cut back to his childhood, at times, to keep the readers guessing, and then they wind up liking him by the end. I had to change around so many different scenes for my story much like that, just to keep from people possibly seeing whats coming, or disliking someone I meant them to eventually like. I'm all for the 3 book idea, as thats what I am doing with my story as well, and oddly enough even a generational chance from part 1-3. Although I think it may be easier to do in one book, but you may be thinking the same as me that it might be too cluttered when you take a 3 part novel and cram it all into one book.
     

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