1. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    Deep characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by FictionAddict, Feb 6, 2011.

    What do you think a character has to have, or show to be considered deep?
    What is a flat character? I mean, everyone describes its characters, show a little of his background, what he's feeling, etc. How can I recognize if my character is deep enough, captivating enough?

    My main character is a bad guy. He is evil. Later on, he'll find someone that'll help him change, will make him want to change.

    Should I worry that nobody will indentify or be captivated by him because he's evil?

    I appreciate your help.:p
     
  2. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a character needs to be either sympathetic or interesting, or you risk losing some readers early on. If the character is evil, you'll have to work harder to make them sympathetic or interesting.
     
  3. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Similar to what Islander said above, you have to make the reader care about the main character. If he's evil, what's the reasoning behind this? Is it revenge because of some injustice in the past? If he's just evil for the sake of it the reader isn't really going to be engaged and want to keep reading.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perfume is probably the most famous example of a horrible MC, I hate it.

    With evil characters I create depth the same way I do my good ones, giving them mannerisms, speech patterns, a story and a personality.
     
  5. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Deep is probably a bad word to strive for, at least in the beginning.

    You should strive to make interesting characters. Or characters that feels alive. Or characters that makes you smile. Or characters you can really relate to. Or characters you love. Or characters you love to hate. Or character that feels like your best friend. or characters that feels like the bad boy/girl we all dream of being somehow. Or a character you admire. Or a character that rich and complex.

    Don't strive for a "deep" character. Strive for a character that make readers feel. You will find the depths and the complexities of the characters you create with time and practice.
     
  6. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree - trying to go for deep characters right away means long passages where they just think stuff at the reader and probably bring the mood right down because gloomy/depressed is the fastest way to convey depth. :p Build up a personality first, and let the events of the story begin to show how deep the character runs. Think how often you look at someone for the first time and think "Oh,they look deep!" compared with how you could say which of your well-known friends are deep/shallow. Works the same way with characters. :D
     
  7. Heather Munn
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    Heather Munn Member

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    Often the word used is a "round" character as opposed to a flat character. The point being they're three-dimensional, real.

    You want your evil character to have a motivation that feels real, feels human. That's the main thing. And to have parts of him that are good. Every evil person does; there's someone they make an exception for, someone they love and treat well, maybe it's their family, maybe it's even just a pet or something. Human beings are full of contradictions. It's good to have contradictions in your character, that's a lot of what three-dimensional is. To seem like a real person, an invented character needs a few of the quirks and complications of a real person--and the desires, too. In any good character there's always something he/she wants very badly (whether it's a thing, a relationship, some type of recognition, etc), and his/her attempts to get it make up a lot of the plot. His/her choices and decisions often have to do with figuring out what type of action to take to get the desired thing. You're writing a character who thinks his best way of getting it is through evil means. He may think that consciously and cynically or he may build a narrative in his head about how he's the good guy and they'll all see it someday. Whatever he does he should have a believable reason for it, and a human side that we can like. Then when he changes his mind we'll cheer for him.
     
  8. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    The first thing that comes to mind when I read this is the char's yearning. The deepest desires of your char should be reflected clearly to make him captivating and identifiable. Your MC may appear evil, but deep down he may harbor a desire to change which eventually will help him change. The 'someone' he met may be just the trigger he needed. Take any memorable char from a book you love, you'll find that their desires and motivations are clear.
     
  9. Paper
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    Paper Member

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    The words deep and flat are too simple of words to describe what a character should potray in a story. But, if you wish to define them then flat is not just a character lacking descriptive details, but a character who lacks emotion. To create a "deep" character, you have to make this character three dimensional, you must potray them as if they are living, breathing characters.

    I person base certain character traits after people that I know, or have met in real life. This helps make the character deep, and yet not over the top.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If he's not black and white - eg. he's not completely good and not completely evil, he has reasons for everything he does.

    If he cares about morality. For example, Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame by Walt Disney is probably one of the deepest villains they created. In one song, Frollo says, "It's not my fault. I'm not to blame. He [God] made the devil so much stronger than a man!" I mean, maybe it's just me but I adore that line. It's clever, it's logical, and it's even true! And yet his flaw is evident - he's still clearly the villain, still blind to his own faults. I mean, that's pretty deep, and really very deep for a Disney movie meant for kids!

    I love Henning Mankell's novels on the Wallander detective series. Wallander is probably one of the most believable, realistic, pathetic but at the same time impressive character ever. And all that in a bestseller! (aka easy-to-read language)

    When your character actually acts like a real human being - I'd see that as deep. Pretty damn hard to do too, because most of us writes cliches and stereotypes - they might be great stereotypes and used brilliantly and written brilliant, but nonetheless it's only an image of the real thing, our idealised fabrication of someone. Creating a character that actually resembles a true, real human being, is an art I can only hope I'd master at some point!

    Any character that actually develops can be considered deep.

    But really, in the end I think you should worry more about how deep your story is. I think of LOTR as deep, not so much because Frodo or Aragorn were particularly complex people, but because the story explores the theme of human sinfulness. I think of the anime classic Laputa and Naussica, not because there's necessarily anything too complex about the characters (though they were good characters), but because the message it tells resonates with the audience in a very pure way. None of the MC in either anime classic were all that original - in fact, they were pretty damn near perfect - but somehow they managed to pull it off so that you admire the MCs, and you feel their sincerity. (they're not the pure but self-pitying sort though - they're pure and confident - not a typical model in western media as far as I'm aware). Both anime films talk about human corruption, harmony/disharmony between civilisation and nature, human selfishness and ultimately, in Naussica, human sacrifice.

    And in the end, because of that, because the story resonates with me and the MCs were simply there to tell a beautiful story, I remember it. And they come to mind when I think to myself, "Can I think of examples of deep stories I know?"
     
  11. Broken Essence
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    I would say to just strive to to give them personality and make them their own individual. If he's evil give him a reason for why he is that way, an explain how he feels about the things he does. If something really horrible happened to him that hardened him the reader could sympathize with him better.

    If he's going to change from evil to good, perhaps show him doing brief things that are good, and him showing kindness to demonstrate that he wasn't completely evil so that it's more realistic. Because I agree that evil evil people have some good, however small in them.

    Though this can be true for good people as well, we also have a part of us that can make us "evil".
     
  12. impure
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    impure Member

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    A character has to be relatable.
    Someone that you could speak up for.
    Someone that can be hurt, either emotionally or physically.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Or make him interesting, as Islander said. I've read books where the main character isn't someone you can care about at all - no real redeemable characteristics. But such an amoral bastard that the author nevertheless made him interesting.
     
  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    No. They don't.

    But if you're going to take on a story where the character isn't relatable, redeemable, or someone the reader will care about, then you've got a tougher battle on your hands in terms of getting people to stick with the book. It can be done.
     
  15. geeksheikhomie
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    geeksheikhomie Member

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    Imply things. If he has a certain characteristic, explain to yourself why they are that way. Was it something in their childhood? Did someone close to them die? etc...

    Then subtly hint towards those instances on top of flat-out saying they are a certain way. Peel layers back in their personality. If you can explain every single little thing, then they automatically become more real, and we can better relate to them.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think the key is to explore multiple facets of the character. Your reader doesn't have to identify with him, but being captivated by him would be good. Real people are self-contradictory, often irrational, driven alternately by thought and emotion. I think the more of that you show, the deeper the character is. Just stay away from a caricature, where the character really only had on facet to his personality and that facet serves as an overt tool for the story.
     
  17. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Judas had a Friend, Perfume and Catcher in the Rye come to mind - personally couldn't stand either book.
     
  18. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    Deep characters are ones that are well-written, simple as. Even characters with extremely shallow values, or characters who experience emotions flatly, can be given depth.
     

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