1. That Guy From That Place
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    That Guy From That Place New Member

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    Destruction of (a) character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by That Guy From That Place, Aug 9, 2008.

    In one of story I'm writing, I had the main character starts off as a fairly average, I try to make him a lot like you...
    He sprinkles his charm on all of the characters he meets and they all learn to love him...
    By the middle of the story, my main character is 'the man' everyone likes him and some even look up to him...
    However, by the end of the story, he becomes cold and murderous and even disappears in the final chapter...

    Is it ok to take a character that reader's once loved and turn that character against them? How do I keep the reader into a story if their favorite character made such a change? There are many stories where characters make drastic changes, but is there a way to change a character effectively? Without hurting readers?
     
  2. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    The short answer is yes.

    The long answer is that there is no rules on what you write, except for the need to write something that people are willing to read, and that really only applies if you want someone else to read what you have. There are plenty of books where people do what you describe. The Wheel of Time is a good example of that. Rand al Thor starts out nice and basically your everyday likeable country bumpkin, and by the end of the series he ends up being cold and hard, and I don't really like him, but the story is still cool. (Yes, I know he doesn't turn into the villian, but he's still a jerk and a freaking idiot.)

    All you have to do is make it realistic. The world, story, and even the characters themselves don't have to be true to life, but their motivations should be realistic. They need to be based in what people actually are. If you do that it will be believable and real. Exaggerate certian aspects of what they are and what they do, but make sure it all stems from something real.

    As for hurting the reader, who cares? If you break their heart they will come back for more. A good book will always hurt the reader because it has conflict, and that conflict is hurting people they care about ie. the characters. What you need to worry about is alienating the reader, and you prevent that by making the characters real for them.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    People change, so why not characters?
     
  4. Tatomi
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    Tatomi New Member

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    I hope you don't find this offensive in anyway- because you're probably proud of your character and have wonderful things planned for him and all.

    Gradual changes through a story are great. Because the grow and change like a regular human being and makes the reader feel like they can relate.

    Umm... A character that is generally loved by everyone and seems to be perfect can sometimes be obnoxious- I'm not trying to insult him or anything! T_T I'm sure there's more to him than what you've told us. He must have flaws and stuff. I'm just warning you, I guess, that if a character seems too perfect then a reader might lose interest and feel like they can't relate. >>

    But the idea sounds very promising. The good guy becoming twisted in the end sounds great to me.
     
  5. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    The MC changes by their actions and conflicts. Like you or me, they can be influenced.

    But the big thing to remember is to keep the changes realistic.

    Keeping the events and changes believable is the biggest stumbling block that most people face.

    However it is important to remember that people do not change their nature without catastrophic influence or events.

    IE: A person that does not like to witness suffering is not going to watch someone get ground up by a thresher and smile unless something VERY Major happened.

    People will however change their outlooks, moral beliefs, language, and develop all kinds of quirks and issues with nothing but minor slow or repetitive influence.

    IE: The use of curse words, both direction. At 6 they are "bad words" at 16 they are common language, at 60 you have one or two you might use frequently or you stopped using them at all, or every other word out of your moth is a curse word.

    Anything beyond that is going to be the style and voice of the writer and how well you can weave a story.

    I hope some of this helped.
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I think it's perfectly fine, as long as there's a reason in the plot for it to happen. I. e., don't just change the character so drastically for the sake of changing him drastically. I assume he has good reasons for changing, but they'd better be GREAT reasons, dictated by the plot, otherwise readers might feel cheated. I don't think they'd so much be angry that a character they loved has become detestable as that it happened for no good reason and the change just rings false somehow.

    Some readers might hate you. If you wrote the change effectively and for good reason and there are still people who hate you for it, that's their problem, not yours. But if somebody offers a specific complaint you might want to see what they said just to make sure you wrote the character convincingly. Drastic personality change is sometimes hard to write well.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    However, people will let drop a facade and show their true colors under conditions of high stress or wxhaustion. So a change that reflects what the character was concealing for a long time can appear like a character changing, without a catastrophic event.
     
  8. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I'm going to have to say that's not true. I've known plenty of people who slowly change over time without any catastrophic influence, myself included. It can make you either better or worse.

    In the case of this guy it can start out with something as simple as deciding not to do that small thing just that once. Once the first event happens it makes the second so much easier, and before you know it you have a habit. Once you have a habit going, other habits can group around it, because it is easier to start them.

    Someone who has never done drugs in his life is probably not going to start out on Heroin, but if he decides to take that one drag off a cigarette when his friend offers it, it suddenly becomes easy to become a smoker. Once you're a smoker, it's much easier to convince you to take marijuanna. That becomes a habit, and before you know it all the barriers against drugs that you had are now trivial. Obviously that doesn't happen all the time. There are definitly more people who stop at certian steps than people who take them, but all the same it is easier to change once the first tiny step is taken. There are enough people who do take the steps that it is a real problem.
     
  9. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Drugs are a good example however because they override the person's basic nature. They may hate what they are doing, it may revolt them in every way, but they will still do it for the drugs. However, remove the drugs and most of the time they revert back to the way they were before the drugs, in some cases they become better, in others not so complete, but that is mainly a result of a great deal of emotional scarring and damage.

    Which having your own personal nature overwritten like that can count as a catastrophic event.
     
  10. That Guy From That Place
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    That Guy From That Place New Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts and advice guys.

    I want to throw the whole situation at you but I hate feeding people with serious plot info...

    But what the heck, his favorite college professor kills his lover.

    I'm putting that out because I want to know what kind of effects will this have on a person other than the usual depression and angst. No I'm not begging for ideas, I just want to know what can come from such a tragedy.
     
  11. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends, does he know or just suspect?
     
  12. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    If the MC doesn't change, then there's a problem. Otherwise, write what want. It can work if you use the right formula. As a reader, if I'm reading a book and the MC devastates me, my interest is captured, most likely I'm going to keep reading; I think many others would too.
     
  13. Fluxhavok
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    Fluxhavok Active Member

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    one word. Annakin Skywalker.
     
  14. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    This depends on the basic nature. Is he by Nature: passive, confident, angry, shy, what is this person's basic personality make up. That is the first thing you deal with.

    Then you face his belief structure: What values does this person possess. Religious convictions, social beliefs, how much faith doe she have in the justice system... etc, etc, etc.

    Now the next question becomes how MUCH did he care about: his lover, the professor.

    Then you slap the conflicts together... and see what unfolds.
     
  15. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    That's two words (One name however) :p :D
     
  16. Shizai Ko
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    Shizai Ko New Member

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    If my college professor killed my lover, my belief system, personality, etc probably would not change. I may want revenge and hate the jerk, break some rules of my belief system, and act out of character(persona-the way others perceive me). If my brother killed my lover, I would probably change dramatically and my belief system may be altered then.
     
  17. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    it does not have to be that tragic. I believe that would change someone. I have much respect for teachers and if mine killed my lover i would only want to harm him and anyone involved.

    Have you seen Man on Fire. In that movie Denzel love's that little girl and prepares to kill the mother if she had anything to do with it. So death can change someone drastically when oppurtunity shines. I am violents by nature any way though.
     

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