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  1. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Do you ever find that character types repeat themselves?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Little Miss Edi, Sep 5, 2008.

    I had a quick scan through to find if anyone else had had this problem, but I couldn't seem to unearth anything. So...

    I was wondering if anyone found that certain 'characters' repeat themselves? I'm a 'beginnings writer' and thus really have problems finishing things (i.e. never have), the problem is that characters from unfinished stories keep reappearing in new ones, albeit with new names and looks; but I always seem to realise someway into writing them that they're essentially the same person. Classic being my main female protagonist. There are loads of different 'characters' and personalities in the other characters I write but the main ones... well. :redface:

    I was wondering if anyone else had ever found this? Is it common, am I haunted by characters unfinished or is it just that I lack the skill to rewrite an MC? :confused:
     
  2. Jade
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    Jade Active Member

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    Some of my old main characters appear in new works, and if the story they were in before hasn't been finished, and I am unlikely to finish it, I try to incorporate them. However, if they just won't fit the story, don't try to force them in. Perhaps create their own story and lay them to rest. That's what I do, or they haunt me.
     
  3. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    My characters, whether secondary or main characters, are always individuals; while there might be certain repeating types and such, all of them are unique to me and nobody strikes me as being a copy of anybody else. So I guess I haven't been in your situation, at least, not knowingly. :/

    BUT, knowing that you're doing this is the first step to fixing it. Why not look at WHY your secondary characters seem varied but your main characters don't? Do you create or develop them in a different way? Do they feel more authentic, more realistic, to you, than the repeating MC? Can you use the techniques you use to create/develop your secondary characters, to help develop your MC?

    My characters don't repeat because they're all like individual people to me--I know them, I know how they think and feel and react, and even if a few of them are a lot similar I would never think one is a copy of another because I know they're unique in certain ways. Just like people in real life. Perhaps you need to spend a lot more time with your main characters and truly get to know them not only as characters in a story, but as individuals.

    Seeing as you've never finished a story, I think this might be what the repeating MC is trying to tell you. She/he WANTS you to develop them into an actual individual and use them in a story that you will hopefully complete someday. But if you keep leaving stories unfinished and moving on to different ones, of course this unfinished character is going to keep hounding you to finish her/him.

    Why not spend some time with this character and get to know them? You don't even have to write a story about it. Just spend time learning who this person is, who is following you around so much. They're following you for a reason; so, listen to them.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The biggest risk of repetition is that all your characters are clones of your perception of yourself, or of your idealized self.

    If you can avoid that particular trap, your characters will probably manage to be distinctive.
     
  5. deceptively_cute
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    deceptively_cute New Member

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    This happens to me with one particular character that I created for a massive (and massively ridiculous) fanfiction that I wrote with a friend of mine in middle school. He's really stuck with me since then, and he keeps showing up in various ideas. He always looks the same, has the same history, even the same name sometimes...there are only small differences. I've only just now found a world of mine that he really fits best. I know I'm not finished with him, but he hasn't shown up anywhere else, so I think he's going to settle down there.

    I agree with tehuti88...these characters clearly have more to tell you. Stop thinking of them as characters and listen to them as people. It sounds a bit crazy, but if you ask the right questions, they usually answer, and things will unfold from there.
     
  6. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    My MC that I've been working with for five years or so has repeared in various forms whenever I try to do a story with a different character.
     
  7. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    I have one MC the first real one i ever created, Tom, he keeps popping up everytime i try to write a MC he is more of a fictional manifestation of myself like Cogito mentioned. recently i had a little problem with a new MC, John, i felt as though i couldn't connect with john but then later realized that john was trying not to be like tom:p donnt know if that makes sense for anyone. lol
     
  8. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I always thought that a character existing in two pieces could be a cool little easter egg for a reader XD. I wouldn't put the same character in a major role but on occasion I'll reference a past MC or supporting character I really liked. Sometimes I recycle MC's or Supporting characters from scrapped projects if they are compatible with a new one.

    I would try and make all my MC's distinct and try to avoid exact copies of supporting characters but i do notice patterns in my character designs that though not identical are similar from one piece to another.
     
  9. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    I would say it is a haunting. Mainly if you have a very 'touching' (to you at least) MC, you want to 'finish them'

    Don't fret about this and just focus on finishing your story. Maybe after you finish their story they will leave you alone. :)
     
  10. Ashley868
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    Ashley868 New Member

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    I've done that several times. It's not just the main character that repeats either, the best friends do as well and so do the enemies. The enemy always seems to be the same ditzy girl that has no friends, or the rich boy who does have friends. The best friends are always popular and beautiful while the main character is lucky to be her friend. When I write these type of stories, I blame it on too many teen movies I've seen.

    I've been learning not to do that though. A main character I am writing right now is a very different character then I normally write.
     
  11. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I did find something similar happening in my writing, so I chose to embrace it, in point of fact. :)

    By that, I mean that I now have 5 - and counting - recurring characters that exist in a world of my own creation. I write about them in brief snippets on a regular basis - it keeps them where they're meant to be and I find it not only a cathartic release, but a great exercise in characterisation (as most of them have been around for a couple of years now, having them go through changes yet remain true to their characters has been an interesting process).

    Essentially, this means that they're set aside, and apart from other things that I write. If, however, I find that they're creeping in to a current project, I relegate it to them, as I consider their mythologies of greater importance than anything else I work on at the moment and assume it was meant to be one of their 'stories'. (Does that even make sense or do I just sound like a crazy person? :confused:)

    Alternatively, you could write a story where they get killed off and see if that works...
     
  12. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Hey everybody! Thanks for all your comments! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has this little problem! :p There were loads of really useful bits of advice and (perhaps worryingly) things that had never crossed my mind!

    I never thought that the characters might be an idealised version of myself (or, maybe, not so much idealised as weirdly skewed - is that possible?) I always recognised my beliefs flitering into them, this is something a little different though.

    I really liked the idea of having an 'easter egg' character :)p - that'd be awesome - although you're right, not really an MC thing). And as for why the second characters are more varied... I don't know, perhaps I care about them less. They're fleeting often, so they're a little more random - i don't have to stick with them so long.

    And thanks so much Gone Wishing - that sounds like a great exercise for trying to get to grips with/sorting them out!! (Plus, if I'm honest, my dialogue could use a little work so...) (ooh, and you don't sound crazy - honest ;) ) Don't think I could kill them though - although... (evil grin)

    Thanks so much guys!! :D
     

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