1. Vofzolne
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    Vofzolne Member

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    Developing a Character Offstage

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Vofzolne, Jan 15, 2015.

    At times I find that some characters, be they on the "good side" or the other, step onto the stage late. If they are important to the plot, say, the culprit in a mystery novel, how would you advise developing them without the protagonist interacting with them.
    (The easy answer is giving them their own chapters, but I'm interested in keeping one point of view.)
     
  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reputation? Maybe the protagonist interacts with people who've interacted with people who've interacted with this person.
     
  3. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    Some kind of bread crumb trail. If you're hunting a suspect, maybe finding where they live or work or tracing their daily routine.
     
  4. Vofzolne
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    Vofzolne Member

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    Good replies so far. I'll push the conversation into a particular direction.

    What about a character who will be important, but the Protagonist does not know will be important? So the Protagonist is not seeking information about the character (Nor is she necessarily avoiding the information).

    Edit:
    I suppose I'm talking about foreshadowing the arrival of a character, but having them arrive in the story well-developed.
     
  5. koalasium
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    koalasium Member

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    Just a whole lot of foreshadowing elements, I guess. Perhaps the protagonist keeps hearing about this upcoming character, and it isn't until that the protagonist actually interacts with the important character that she puts two and two together.

    So the protagonist wouldn't actively be seeking info, but she'll still hear about the character...

    Could you describe the important character? I guess it depends on the character and the situation.
     
  6. Vofzolne
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    Vofzolne Member

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    I've been trying to keep this less personal, but here it goes:

    A character seemingly dies at the start of the story. Throughout the story he works behind the scenes, and at the start of the third act reveals himself, and becomes the antagonist. This is where the pace of the story kicks into high-gear, so I don't want to sit down and explain the character's motivations.
    I'm using proxies, but the protagonist cannot know the proxies are acting as surrogate for the antagonist, because if he knew the antagonist character was alive the entire story would fall apart. Plus, the antagonist really doesn't want to be revealed.
    Additionally, I don't want to have one of those moments where the villain explains his entire plans to the hero, allowing the hero to foil them.
     
  7. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    What you reveal to your reader is up to you, but one thing that will really help is to write out very simply all the actions these unseen characters are taking behind the protagonists back and keep them in notes to the side for reference. Think of it as writing another story, but from the point of view of the antagonist. That way you can plan out at which points the antagonist reveals his plans and actions to the protagonist.
     
  8. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    If you're using proxies, you could potentially have the characters glean the antagonist's motives that way. Maybe they speak to a few of them and they all use specific phrases/a familiar descriptor which comes from all being trained/prepped by the same guy? Ultimately, if you have several people (the proxies) all trying to do the same thing, it points to a master-mind and that's your gateway to introducing the return of the villain (well, in theory)
    x
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds pretty cool.

    Anyway, if the character's supposedly dead, is the protag investigating his death? Because if the protag is investigating, or even just investigating something else that somehow links in with the character's death, then you could be revealing things that way. You know, little details that makes the protag question: "So how did he die?" and then gradually he starts asking the question: "Can we really be sure he's dead?" It would also make excellent foreshadowing that the character isn't actually dead - this would make the WHOA moment that much more satisfying than if you just plonked it in without any hint beforehand.
     
  10. Vofzolne
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    Vofzolne Member

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    That's brilliant! This far, the proxies have been working together, but it was obvious from the start. If I have them work separately and allow the protag, and the reader, to figure out there's a connection between them, there will be a sense of progression and a reward.
    It is.
    Ooh! And I can have the separate proxies divulge different information about the antagonist that develops his character.
    As an additional note, the protagonist is not investigating the death: he wants to, but delving into that task would hurt certain relationships he'd rather keep afloat.
    But I do have a different character intent on finding the entire truth... I wonder what would happen if he discovers the antagonist isn't dead, but no one believes him... (EDIT: I think this is the concept of the mad prophet aka Noa. Proven storytelling method, then.)
    Well, thanks this far. @zoupskim , I have been using this method, but I'm glad you mentioned it for generations to come.
     
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