1. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Developing a character through subtlety

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DeathandGrim, Oct 27, 2013.

    Would it be possible to develop a character who's involvement in the story is zero through the story itself?

    To explain what I mean is by dropping subtle hints about his personality through my character's narration without having him involved or speaking. My character who's narrating says things like speak about what he thinks. For instance she's the reason 27 people died on a raid and her boss isn't very happy about this. She explains how he's not too thrilled she's a certain race and in the gov't and how he's mad he is that she's the reason '27 of his perfect Americans died' can you sense what type of her boss is without him being there?
     
  2. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The reader will only get an idea of the boss from the protagonist's perspective, which is probably close enough for what you need. So if she doesn't have any direct evidence of something, like that jerk's racism, her thoughts can only be speculative.

    Another avenue for developing the character is with the dialogue of those present:

    "I was talking to his secretary, she said that (the boss) was pacing up and down his office all morning, and that she decided to hold all of his calls when she heard him breaking things and shouting stuff like (insert racist word hear). I wonder what's got his knickers in a twist."

    "I think I know. Word-on-legs has it that (protagonist girl) set a C4 charge three minutes too early during a raid. Something like thirty American agents died."

    If you are meeting the boss later, though, that's when you'd want to develop his character. I really don't think that his specific feelings or attributes even need to be revealed until you meet him, because the reader won't care about who isn't there/who they don't know. All that really needs to be said is that she is in trouble, or the boss isn't happy about the incident. Then she goes to his office and sees an issue of Racism Monthly on his desk, and an angry twitch in his eye.

    Edit: I missed the part about the boss having zero involvement in the story. I'd do flashbacks for more show than tell, but it really comes down to preference.
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    plenty of war films have their charaters speculate or talk about their higher-up's views on war etc without ever showing them.
     
  4. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm probably wrong, but in always thought it was more vague in those cases? More terms like 'they' and 'General such and such,' without much detail on personality or direct feelings towards the main characters, because they usually don't have relationships with the generals and high-up commanders.
     

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