1. taariya
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    taariya Member

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    Character Review/Interview

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by taariya, Jul 4, 2016.

    I've always had some trouble with character development in fiction which is unfortunate since I like character-driven works. I'm at that stage where I have some sense of who the characters are and what they feel, want, think, etc but it's tenuous and doesn't truly make sense in my head. So if some people could "review"/"interview" these characters and provide a different perspective/point out issues other than my own that would be great.

    Character 1 (Protagonist) - Elias Rijks, 26 y/o American journalist. Adventurous and always attempts to live life to the fullest, fueled by the discovery that the men in his family for generations have died young from disease or mysterious accidents. Moves to Holland following the death of his boyfriend, which leads to guilt over his lack of commitment/investment throughout his life and questioning of his lifestyle; he learns that a lot of what he thought he knew about his distant paternal relatives and his parents' history was actually untrue and becomes generally disillusioned. Confident, easy-going, intuitive, but capricious and self-indulgent.

    Character 2 (Antagonist) - Frans van Gans (less rhyme-y stupid name in the works). ~40 year old cult leader who has attempted to create a family through his cult in lieu of an actual one, but has come to despise them all after 15 years, is rather lonely, and wants a fresh start with someone young and new. Has a superiority complex and truly believes that those worthy of enlightenment (read: him and his upcoming boyfriend, not his cult members) will become godlike. Charismatic, passionate, deliberative, but self-serving and vindictive/cruel.

    (These characters are meant to be similar/complements to each other, both flawed in similar ways but one essentially good and the other essentially evil.)

    Maybe this is a weird question, I don't know, I just always find it helpful to get outside opinions/questions/thoughts from other people as it usually helps me solve the issues that I didn't notice but my brain did.
     
  2. taariya
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    taariya Member

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    accidentally double posted :(
     
  3. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I really think it'll be difficult for people to effectively review characters when they're just boiled down to their basic plots/traits. It's more about how they actually read than how you can explain them (especially since you're the one who knows them best, so your explanations may include things that wouldn't end up coming across in writing). I'll give it a go, though.

    Why did Elias become a journalist? What caused him to suddenly discover this thing about the men in his family (it seems like it might've come up when say, his dad died)? Why/how did he choose Holland?

    What happened to make Franz start despising his followers? Why doesn't he have any family and apart from becoming a cult leader, how has it affected him? How did he learn how to make people follow him?
     
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  4. taariya
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    taariya Member

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    I think as more is revealed maybe people can pitch in? IDK yeah I guess it's not a good idea for a thread...

    Elias' desire to become a journalist stemmed mostly from his idealization of the job as one that would provide travel opportunities, constant adventure, discovery of hidden realities, etc. as one might imagine or see in movies. Of course by the time he grew up and entered college he understood that the job could be much more mundane than all that, but stuck with it because he had no idea what else to do with his life at that point and nowhere else in particular he wanted to be. He opened a bookstore after college and would have abandoned journalism altogether if not for a string of strange ritualistic murders that he published weekly updates on and gained minor fame for. By the time he moves to Holland he has no objections to become a freelance journalist, encouraged by his work on the murders and his lack of another marketable skillset.

    Elias moves to Holland after the death of his boyfriend and his last remaining paternal relative (separate events). Holland isn't chosen randomly; his great-aunt Vera finds and contacts him about a year or so beforehand and it is from her that he gets conflicting information about his father's family history. From his grandmother and other maternal family members he had learned that his father's family were stuffy classists who disapproved of his father's decision to marry a lower-class woman, become an artist, and move to America and consequently disowned him and ignored Elias. From Vera, he learns that what remains of the paternal family had been trying to contact Elias for years and that it had been his father who had originally cut off contact with them, not the other way around. As she explains, the family had a history of mental illness and early male death that Elias's father was ashamed of/desperate to escape from, and he and Vera were the only members left. (He ultimately didn't escape, as he was tormented by nightmares and hallucinations until his death at age 33, when Elias was still young.) Later, after Vera's death and his boyfriend's murder, Elias goes to Holland to settle/claim his inheritance and try to uncover how much of what Vera's told him is true. He ends up staying, partly to avoid returning to America and dealing with the absence of his dead boyfriend in his old life and to determine whether he'll go insane and die within the next few years.

    So yeah, as for Frans:

    Frans' followers are absolutely pathetic, as far as he's concerned. In the past 15 years, they've not managed to do much more than deteriorate from the useful, powerful men he acquainted himself with into base hedonists too absorbed in their vices to properly embrace his philosophy and pay him the proper respect and attention. Worst of anything--this man's whores, that man's alcoholism, another's gambling, what ever these withered, ugly old men have got into--his former lover, his favorite of them all, has gotten increasingly abrasive, arrogant, and shifty--daring to challenge his authority on multiple occasions before the men, to act outside of Frans' wishes and direct orders of action, and in general to become a complete ass. Of course the whole lot is worthless, since after 15 years they haven't managed to become enlightened despite his fervent attempts to bring them over completely and get them to abandon their inferior ways. But Gregor--he's the worst of them, a selfish, greedy, pitiful, foolish child that needs to be exterminated before Frans can have any peace.

    Frans' father was executed after committing a series of heinous murders and his mother died shortly after he came of age. His father's crimes had naturally made Frans and his mother the "black sheep" of the family and she moved away and took care to change their names to avoid any association. By the time he grew up and his mother died, he knew no one else in his family that he could look to. He also had no desire for a wife or children, partly because he didn't want that kind of burden or commitment and partly because he's not straight.

    Frans didn't try build-a-family for the first time until a few years after his mother's death. At that point it was only one person at a time or small groups of people, not anything like the club of men he would begin assembling at 35. He got close to people, learned to spot their weaknesses and fears, and established himself and his hedonistic, primativist philosophy as the solution to them. The problem of course was that not every fear could be assuaged with those ideals and concocting a new one to suit each person was beyond his imagination's capacity and his personal desire, and after a while both parties became dissatisfied, him because they "distorted" his ideals and became simple self-indulgent fools without refinement or restraint and they because they saw no noticeable benefit to adopting philosophy or eventually got bored of it. Over the years he learned that he needed to assemble a group of people who could be easily led to embrace his ideas--so, people who craved more power and could be satiated with vague promises of it coming (i.e. people who already had some power) and that they should all be united by the same version of the philosophy made vague enough that they could perceive whatever message they wanted without him having to specify different ideas for different people and manufacture contradictions.

    Wow that response was rather long. In the future maybe I'll do a POV thing
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2016
  5. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    Going of your comment that this might not be a good idea for a thread, which is neither here nor there, there was a thread on another forum which consisted of a list of interview questions to be answered by posters as the character. Those interviews would then be commented on by others, in s similar vein to the first three sentences thread.

    Perhaps you could try starting something like that? If you do, I'd suggest instating a rule about commenting on a few before posting your own. That's become rather the bane of the first three thread for me.
    I'd do it, but I'm in China and only gave my phone to post on.
     

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