1. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Characters switching roles

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Edward, Jun 28, 2008.

    Alright, so I'm writing a fantasy story, and I have two characters, Aiden and Riza.

    Both are trained by Arngrim, the wise old master, though he mostly deals with Aiden, because Riza is a girl, and Arngrim is reminded of his daughter by her. Effectively, the two of them serve as the party's fighter and magic user. The way magic works though, the Aiden can use it, if only in a roundabout way that requires things I don't really need to into at the moment, do I?

    Well, what I want to happen-- what I want to do is have Aiden break his leg, or otherwise be rendered incapable of properly using a sword in battle, and to have Riza take over and force Arngrim to properly train her so that she can protect Aiden, instead of the other way around. And I plan on having her turn out to be a natural at it.

    What are some suggestions for something like this, and I guess I'd kind of like to know if a switch of roles has been done, or --since I don't doubt it's been done, what hasn't?--what some other examples of it have been.
     
  2. Samswriting
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    Samswriting Senior Member

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    even in my short time here, I can say the response is going to overwhelmingly be YES its been done, no there is nothing that hasnt been done.

    The story as a whole has been done you have some heavy cliche's to work around.. (girls not getting trained when boys are, old men doing the training, girl using magic boy using sword etc.)...

    Make a twist, only girls are allowed to use swords, wise old men know nothing of swords, she IS NOT a natural. She breaks her arm cant use a sword, now her b/f has to protect her but he is scared to use a sword because it is forbidden for men to use swords... :)

    I would not break his leg, that will make it hard for them to move about :) good luck, write it up then post it and we will give it a good hard review.
     
  3. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Actually, this sounds quite good.
    I think the exact definition of what you are looking for is Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. It's a fantasy novel that starts out as good, and becomes excellent as, partway through the novel, its true moral is revealed: You can never trust prophecies, or cliches, or anything like that. Check it out, and be inspired: If someone can pull this idea off this great, you can too- and hopefully get more credit than he did (he is painfully unknown in my area).
     
  4. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Yes, it has been done, but I have to disagree with Samswriting on the seond part of her answer: not everything has been done.
    I like the sound of your idea, but there ARE a few clich├ęs in there that you'll have to work around. I agree with what Samswriting said as far as they're concerned. Just add a few twists - this definitely has potential.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no point to asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.
     
  6. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Well, the injury and the switch aren't such a big part of the story, it's just something that I think might be a good way to explore their characters. It's not like his injury will last forever, it's just that while he is injured Riza finds a talent for the blade when she strong arms Arngrim into teaching her seriously. Before he hadn't taught her not only because she was a girl, but because she reminds him of his daughter. Most people don't want their daughters fighting.

    Well, I'm not really asking whether it's a good idea, just if anyone has suggestions that make it seem less tacked on. I mean, in a way it is. I thought it would be a good idea for a character to be injured significantly, and I thought it would be a good place to have the McGuffin show her stuff. But, as I said before, I also thought it would be a good way to examine their characters more.
     
  7. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    I think Edward's doing a good thing in scouting for potential pitfalls before he finishes the story and realizes that the basic premise is no good.

    My only advice: how is Riza a natural? What makes someone 'a natural'? Study this and find out--or at least make a good theory. Don't look like you're half-arseing characterization by making her perfect at something she probably hasn't tried before.
    I think whatever ability makes her skilled in sword fighting will reflect in other areas of her life as well.
     
  8. Samswriting
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    Samswriting Senior Member

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    @ Lucy Samswriting is a he not a her <laughs> :-D

    @ Edward. Truly I have personally seen a number of variants on this, I would say start writing. You can make it work and yes you can certainly use a pitfall to grow your characters. If character x has an issue that makes them unable to defend character y, and character x and y both learn something about themselves, you can certainly use that to grow and tell about your characters.

    As Mumbling said, don't just make the gal suddenly kick butt with the sword. I.e. if she no matter how "natural" comes face to face with a true master who has spent his life studying sword play. While she has taken 2 days of study with her master. She is going to be in deep do do. For her to win that, she would have to have been very lucky or used something other than sword skill.

    I say write it up, heck write up that part of the story, and see what you can do with it.
     
  9. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Sorry, sorry. Lol. I was typing on like 3 forums at the time, and when the other two are full of NW-loving girls, it gets confusing. ;)
     
  10. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Don't worry, I'm not Christopher Poalini.

    Basically, I plan to have it where once she actually starts training for real instead of just dicking about and hitting trees, she--and Arngrim-- learns that she "has a head for it". No worries about an instant master.

    It wouldn't be until after a week or two of intense training, as well as the little experience she had before, and still almost dies. That's what the rest of the group is for.
     
  11. SunnyRabbiera
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    SunnyRabbiera Member

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    Character role reversal is a theme I use often, when one character is down and out its up to the other to take up the slack and vice versa.
    I always have a balance/counterbalance role in my stories, to bring in character dynamics and such.
     
  12. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    It's been done, definitely. But that doesn't mean you can't do it! Make sure it's very believable and well-crafted, though, otherwise it will come off as sloppy and confusing.

    I do have to say, it's kind of annoying that it's always the girl that was never 'taught' and when she does attempt, she's this super natural warrior. That has definitely been done.
     
  13. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    The word "party" and the assigned roles scares me; but there's nothing particularly wrong with the concept. I'd have to know more of the story before giving specific advice, but it doesn't strike me as too "tacked on" from what info you've given.
     

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