1. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Disasterous Backrouds

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Scarecrow28, Aug 20, 2008.

    Is it to common and naive to have a main character with a troubled backroud? I feel like this contributes to who the MC becomes in the future, but may be used to frequently by other writers. What is your opinion?
     
  2. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    Everybody has a troubled background in one way or another. Nobody's home life is perfect. My MC in my story has a troubled background and it is also very important to the story. If you feel the MC needs it then go for it. It's your story.
     
  3. Last_Cyt
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    Last_Cyt New Member

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    I agree with AnonymousWriter. Everyone has a troubled past. There are just different degrees to. Just decide how much of a troubled past you mc will have.

    Like AnonymousWriter said, It's your story.
     
  4. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had about as perfect of a home life as you can get, and yet I still managed to screw up enough to say that I have a troubled background. So go for it. The past experiences go a long way to explaining how we act in any given situation.
     
  5. Alex_Hartman
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    Alex_Hartman Contributing Member

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    Try to make it so the troubled backround is important, like your story isn't complete without it. Sort of like what people will do with antagonists: maybe they get their motives from something that happened when they were younger.
     
  6. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    This "dark past" won't necessarily be addressed in this first novel (I plan to do a series if I finish this one), but it will be referenced in this one and any future additions to the series until I deal with his backround in a future project.
     
  7. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    It's common for characters to have troubled pasts, but not naive. Conflict often helps shape who we are. You just have to write it convincingly, which means, avoiding trite and simplistic explanations ("My beloved was killed when I was young, so now my heart is as cold as ice!") and instead giving these troubled pasts depth and realistic feeling, no matter how fantastic the situation. In short, you have to have a good understanding of how human emotions work. Looking into psychology, why people act the way they do, is a good thing to consider. This can help you avoid oversimplifying people's otherwise complex emotional reactions to things. When a troubled past is oversimplified, THEN it becomes naive and overdone.

    Also, having a troubled background doesn't necessarily mean one had a DISASTROUS background. Many people have troubled pasts in one way or another. Very few have truly disastrous pasts. If you find yourself giving every main character of yours some sort of tragic death or abuse or traumatic event or something in their past, for example, then you might have a problem. Remember that the events in a troubled past can be small and mundane as well--it's all in how the character reacts to them.
     
  8. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Like I said, I intend to do a series around this character and will just make subtle hints towards past occurences throughout the first several stories and eventually write a novel with two intertwined storylines in 2003 and modern times that will follow the events that lead up to this conflict that shaped him.
     
  9. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Have to say, the one thing I love about writing is seeing how my characters' baggage develops during the story, and especially how such baggage determines their actions and reactions. It took me a while to realise it, but I now feel that baggage, and its manifestations, is the essentiaI ingredient to multi-dimentional characterisation. It's the same with developing a character in rehearsals - delving into the background to figure out how and why it ticks the way it does. That's why I like rewriting so much, because I have a fuller picture of my characters to work with, good, bad or indifferent.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    As the others have said, there has to be a reason for the troubled past, and a reason for it to be in the story.

    The example I will give you is Sophie’s Choice. There are some very trouble and damaged people in this story, and their damage is intrinsic to the reason for telling the story. If you’ve never seen or read it, here’s a very brief synopsis.

    The three MCs are:

    Stingo - Young innocent from the south wishing with all his heart to be a writer

    Nathan - A disturbed young Jewish man in Brooklyn

    Sophie - A beautiful young Polish woman who has survived the horrors of the holocaust.

    Stingo travels from the south to New York to become a writer and to hopefully experience life so that he will have something to write about. He meets Nathan and Sophie in Brooklyn when he takes a room in a predominantly Jewish and Eastern European neighborhood.

    Nathan is a very disturbed, yet amazingly charming man who has rescued Sophie from near death after she managed to get to the U.S. after the war. Sophie is also a painfully, beautifully, brittle person, simply looking for a way to be human after a life that has treated her as anything but human.

    The characters of Nathan and Sophie have been through so much in their lives, that in one summer, they impart to Stingo, who has yet to experience anything, an entire lifetime’s worth of experience.

    As painful, and often beautiful, as Stingo’s relationship with the other two is, it is the main focus of change for him. They bring to Stingo, through their unbearable pain, the stuff of what writers are made. Therein lays the reason for these two character’s damage. It’s not just important to who they are as characters, but to the structure of the story as a whole.
     

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