1. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Character vs Plot

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Elgaisma, Jul 18, 2010.

    I was wondering when you have a development that involves you removing a character you are fond of, or turning them bad, rather than who they are, or killing them off. What do you do?

    I have experienced it a couple of times in my writings, one I decided in the end to have the character run away rather than die, but the other I decided the character needed to go bad.

    The plot would have survive if the character had not gone bad but its better because she did lol
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The story is everything. A character who is not well utilized tp further the story is a very unhappy character with no sense of purpose.

    Harass, maim and mortally wound your characters. They will love you for it.
     
  3. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One way to deal with this is practice. If you ever just really made less then ten, or even less then five or even just one character you love like a baby its hard to do. You could start roleplaying games, larping of something like that and go trough a lot of really dear and detailed character each year. Or just keep on writing but this method is waaaay slower. You will learn that have the character suffer is one of the awesome parts.

    Another way is a simple mental exercise "I do this horrible things to the character in this story. I can make a 1000 other stories and alternative endings if I like where this character get a different fate. " Recycling character is seldom awesome for a real product, but you can for just your own sake make up another ending mentally if it helps you come to peace with doing horrible things.

    A third way is learn to love the horrible things. We a got a sadist and masochist inside. Let them loose.

    The last way I can come up with is to tell a so awesome story that all the bad things become so awesome and meaningful that you know its worth hurting your babies.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the end, the characters in a story are nothing more than a tool or vehicle--one of the things used to convey the story to the reader.

    Terry
     
  5. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't agree with the view that character just exist as a tool. This might be true for some people but loads of people work with characters in a immersionstic mindset that dort of reasoning don't fit.
    You got to work with the characters as lab rats rather then chess pieces. You can trap them in labyrinths, bribe them with cheese and scare them with electrics shocks to get them where you want but they aren't chess pieces as long as you work from the immersion angle. And like all methods it got upsides and downsides.

    But I think its not helpful to assume that everyone works with character the way where they are just a simple tool.
     
  6. Langadune
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    Langadune Member

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    I think this is right on. In a really good story, a character goes from bad to worse to hopeless to I don't wanna die to I wanna die to... well whatever. In the end, it's the story that keeps the reader interested. A really great character, who isn't challenged is just a cardboard cutout.

    Do what must be done. Mourn the losses if you must. In the end, you decide if it's all worth it... or you let the reader decide.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    w176,

    I didn't say they were a simple tool. I said characters are a tool or a vehicle used to convey the story to the reader. They can be a complex tool or vehicle that has been explored or tested in different ways, but their purpose--at least with respect to the story--is to be incorporated or a part of the story, so that the story's contents and meaning can be conveyed to the reader.

    In a fictional piece, the character doesn't truly exist except in the imagination of the writer and in the pages of the work. And if it's read, then possibly in the mind of the reader. But the character, without the context of the story would lack significance or meaning, especially to the reader. A character is part of the workings or the vehicle that makes the story work.

    Writers can look at what goes into their work or creation in different ways. This is how I see it.

    Terry
     
  8. Diablo Robotico
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    Diablo Robotico Member

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    Since the original poster started talking about turning a character evil instead of killing him or her off, I would say that you have to be careful to make the character consistent. You can't just turn a character good or evil or something else just because the story needs it (or you're afraid to get rid of that person). They need to change because the circumstances and their own personality push them in that direction.
     
  9. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do to whatever you want to your characters as long as it works with the story. If the story calls for your character to turn on everyone... then thats what they will have to do! If it calls for someone to die then you send them 6 feet under.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    People don't behave in random ways. Each person has, well, a personality, a reasonably consistent pattern of behavior. If a person deviates from their pattern, there is just about always a reason for it. So characters in stories have to behave consistently unless they are strongly motivated not to. A character doesn't go from being good to being bad just because it's convenient for the story. That character has to be motivated to behave badly. If the badness was part of the character's personality all along and hadn't manifested itself until a critical point in the story, then the writer should have included something earlier on that indicates that the character is capable of evil. If a good character just turns evil for no particular reason, then the writer hasn't done his job well.
     
  11. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Bumping characters off a cliff the instant they outgrow a use is somewhat of a cop out (unless you're writing a horror film!) but it's definitely a popular one. If you feel your character how outstayed it's welcome, by all means get rid of him/her(/it!) in any way you see fit.

    As to this discussion of characters as tools to tell a story, this is only true for stories where an idea or a moral is the focus. If the character is the focus, the character is the story! Sometimes my characters do things I never intended them to and take my story somewhere completely unexpected, like they were almost alive, so I'd never describe characters as tools. Not that I'd consider burning a book homicide!
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is true sometimes the characters do take a turn I didn't expect. One of them came out of the closet on me, I was more surprised than the person he was telling lol but it made sense of the earlier story. Also allowed me to keep him alive, I needed him out of the way somehow. He is now still a character in my stories.

    My other character isn't evil as such, her family situation forces her to take evil actions, but that remains unknown for my first story, it is just hinted at. The stories can progress without her doing the evil deed, but I think it would be a bit better if she was responsible./
     
  13. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    A character does what a character does, because that is who they are at the core.

    Characters dictate the story, and the story dictates who the characters are.
     
  14. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Haha! "Author, I'm gay!"
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL thats precisely how it happened I had got to the end of the page and needed to read it back :) After it happened I realised actually the character had been subconsciously based on my best friend who is gay so of course he was:) even his whole attitude to telling everyone and what he wants from a relationship.

    I am hoping the fact that he is based on a real gay man and his lover on his fantasises it will survive the stereotype.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But if you are disposing of a character to get him out of the way, you may want to rethink that.

    In modern warfare, it is better to maim an enemy combatant than to kill him, because it reduces the effectiveness of more of the enemy squad.

    As an author, you do not want to make life easier for your characters. Keep the tension up, and make pain in the ass characters stick around like a bad case of boils. If a character is too helpful to the characters, handicap him. Give him a head injury that prevents him from casting fry-the-enemy spells, but put him on a stretcher that keeps two more characters' hands full lugging him along with them.

    Complications and hardships are good for a story.
     
  17. Herl
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    Herl Member

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    I say let them loose too. If you have depicted an enoughly ral character, they gain life themselves and they tell you what they wish to do in the end of the story or how they would manage the challenges you put them through. Of course this is not the case with all characters, but I've always thought that this should be case with at least the main character.
     
  18. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    To sum up what the others have said.... if you want your good character to turn evil or vice versa, you got to give the readers a good WHY. As long as you do that you are fine.
     
  19. josh23
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    josh23 Banned

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    I guess it kind of depends on what kind of person you are, do you think of the character as a tool or do you love them?
    You give your character a personality, and i find you should try to have him stick to his personal morals, unless of course you need him to change to reach the final ending.
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If the story calls/asks for the person to die or disappear or somehow no longer be in evidence, then so be it.

    These aren't real people.
     
  21. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    But my characters say they're real! :p

    Seriously, you can do anything to your characters, but you can't make them do anything themselves. "Figure out this plan to overcome the antagonist? Sorry, author, I'm just not that smart."
     
  22. constant scribbler
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    constant scribbler Member

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    I have found myself too attached to a character I was planning to kill off. I have also done the opposite and not developed a character enough because I don't want to get too attached to them. But in a war story casualties are inevitable.

    There is a balance between bad and good charactertics in your characters. I have to make sure bad guys have good characteristics and the angelic people have faults. I have one character that is a double agent that has good morals but it would ruin the plot if I revealed those morals. I feel like I am doing that character a diservice but it is nessisary.
     
  23. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    If you are attached to this character, one can hope the reader would be, too - so killing them off would be a shocker for them. Which is a good thing :)
     
  24. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    lol mine are real too, they have a life of their own. I have worked it out now, my character is in a position where she has no choice but to do something evil but she herself is not;)
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Please, keep your perspective with regards to characters. They are not real. They are an instrument of your story, and as much as you want them to seem realistic to the reader, it is important for you, the writer, to remember that do not truly exist. They are created for the sole purpose of driving your stories.

    I do hope that all those who have posted that their characters are real are doing so with tongue in cheek; Still, I do know there have been some among the membership who literally believed their characters possesed a life of their own.

    Don't lose your grip on reality.
     

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