1. Normal'sOverrated
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    Normal'sOverrated New Member

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    Does my main character seem like a real person?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Normal'sOverrated, Dec 10, 2009.

    Name: Robert Garretty, Jr.
    Age: 32: Looks mid-twenties
    Eye Color: Forrest green
    Hair: Dark brown, perfectly messy, thick hair
    Weight: 170 lbs.
    Body Build: Scrawny
    Skin Tone: Fair
    Occupation: Surgeon

    Robert's greatest fear is disappointing someone, which is why he is constantly looking to make someone happy and give them everything that they want from him. He cannot stand the feeling of letting someone down and goes beyond the call of duty when anyone asks him for anything. He loves the feeling of making other people happy, even if that comes at the cost of him (i.e. losing his family because of his job). He strives to make his patient's family happy, even though he knows he cannot do that with every family. He hardly ever does anything for himself, simply because he is too busy helping someone else.

    The worst things that could ever happen to Robert have already happened. The first one is losing his family, which he had done without even knowing what he had done wrong. The second thing is losing patients and disappointing the patient's family with his performance (on whether or not the patient makes it through the procedure).

    Even though Robert is a surgeon, he still meets with his patient's family before he takes them into the OR, which means he gets to meet his patient. Since Robert is very good at reading people and telling their emotions just from simple things, such as gestures and posture, he sometimes gets a feeling like he knows the patient and their family personally and not like they just met. Since he gets that feeling every so often, when he loses a patient that he already felt sort-of close to, he, even though he has accepted it for the most part, gets upset and tends to bottle it up inside.

    Robert is hardly ever at ease because of his job and over stresses himself to the that he has to let his feelings, which involves crying, screaming, and occasionally punching. He hates losing his cool around people because that is not who his family, friends, or patients see him as, and is often called "Mr. Cool". They see him as a laid back man, but they do not realize how stressed out and nervous he really is. He is a master at hiding his emotions.

    Robert is a shy person and has a hard time relating to anyone that he does not know. He can get comfortable, to an extent, around his good friends, but even that makes him tense up. He is not a big talker, but a big thinker, and tends to over-think situations. He hates conflict and does his best to get out of it.

    In your eyes does he seem like he could be a real person, or he he still two-dimensional? I am trying to make my main character as believable, relatable, and real as I can make him.

    If he does not seem real yet to you, please tell me why. What could I do to make Robert seem more real?

    Thanks! Much appreciated!
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    This is an exercise in futility. Even if that description does sound realistic, it doesn't mean that the character will seem realistic in your writing. It's great that you have him so thought out, but really, unless you can animate this in writing, its utterly meaningless.
     
  3. hszmv
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    hszmv Member

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    Doctors do tend to meet with patients families, but they don't get to attached. If the patient dies, then they lost a friend. If they understand why the patient dies, but are removed from the end result, then he hasn't gained or lost anything.

    This guy seems to involved in the patient's lives, and much of his stress comes from that. It might make a good story because real doctors take a more "As long as I did my best, I shouldn't morn this guy's death". They work in an occupation where death happens all the time. He can't get to invested in the fate of a patient, or he is going to act like a blithering idiot every time something out of his control causes the death of a patient.

    Again, that may be why he stands out to you agaisnt all the other doctors he works with. It boils down to the story, but from the initial character sheet, this man is not a "typical" doctor to say the least.
     
  4. Never Master
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    Never Master Member

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    Aaron pretty much struck the proverbial nail on the head.

    The believability of your character or his 'realness' as it were is defined in your reader's mind. Remember that stories take place inside the mind of the individual reader, not your pages. Words are just a conduit to transition the lifelessness of a book into a living human mind.

    That said, it comes down to how well you write the character. Just saying, "Well, doctors behave this way normally so because he's different he's not real is not going to get you anywhere. The best way to make your chara feel unreal is to have conflicted imagery within the mind of your audience. For example, this doctor takes the death of a patient extremely hard but then deals with the next one perfectly well. Avoid inconsistency and you are taking the first steps towards writing a believable character.

    I hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  5. Peerie Pict
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    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to put your character in a series of scenes which demonstrate this character, otherwise it is pointless to have his traits so well planned in advance.

    I could be wrong but in my experience most surgeons are very very experienced and invariably over 45. You might want to increase his age a bit for the sake of credibility. Alternatively, give him a more junior position in the profession.
     
  6. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    While nothing really can be concluded from a summary about how well a character works, he does strike me a bit as a Danielle Steele character. Young, yet mature and experienced. Aggressive, yet shy. A people-reader, yet estranged. Etc. Etc. Like he's made to be everything at once.

    There's no really plausible way he's gonna be a surgeon at 32. Some might be, but they'd be exceptions. You're looking at some 15+ years of education for that. If you don't have an intensive insight into his field, any reader who does would pick your story apart.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I fail to understand this newest rash of character bio emphasis.

    You character bio consists of exactly 519 words. No, it was my word processor which did the counting.

    In a piece of flash fiction, the author is expected to create "real" people, more than one, in half the words you have used to spell out this person, through the story.

    Through the story.

    These exercises in creating people are well and good and perhaps even a needed point through which to pass if only to realize they come to nothing in the end if the story is found wanting.

    The story is your concern. It is the vehicle to carry what you wish to create, be it "real people," or drama, or action, or love, or depth of thought.
     
  8. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    If Robert is to be a fictional character, the truth is he must not seem "real" so much as to seem "plausible." That won't happen till he's written into a story. Until he comes to (fictional) life by placing him into various storyline quandaries and conflicts, we might have a (maybe believable) description of someone who could easily be real, but "dimension" arises out of the story. Or doesn't. (Even in real life, for that matter, where a person's "story" is more interesting than his or her features and quirks and qualities).

    Plausibility requires the writer to plunge this character into a story. He need only make the character believable within the confines of the story he tells. That alone will determine whether he comes to (fictional) life. And that can be done with any constellation of good and bad qualities, even many that may serve to make him less "real" than someone we'd expect to meet on the street.

    I see some objections to your surgeon's age. But maybe we should remember the fictional, teenage doctor (what was his name? Doogie Howser?) who became an endearing and plausible fictional character in a television series many years ago. Anything's possible in well-written fiction, and most readers of fiction expect their imaginations to be stretched in some way.

    As others have said, it's all in the writing and the presentation. Whether a particular constellation of human qualities are perceived by someone as representing a "real" person is completely irrelevant. Plus, the more unified we are on what we "think" of as "real," the closer we get to a stereotype (and nothing's less three-dimensional than that).

    P.S.: What Wreybies said.;)
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Although the author's skill is also a factor, my general feeling about something being realistic/believable is that if you believe it, we'll believe it.
     
  10. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    I agree with Rei. A character should live in the authors mind.
     
  11. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    Pretty real. However, I think that he needs to be a bit more snarky. If someone like that - who kept everything so closed up inside - met with me, I'd wonder why they weren't spitting insults. You can't see death and not be affected.
     
  12. Feievel23
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    Feievel23 New Member

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    He needs some likes, it seems like their are a lot of circumstantial things happening to him, and we need to see inside of him, what he really wants to do, not just what is happening to him. Plus, he needs some good things about him, he seems like a bomb about to explode. Give him some good qualities, then he will seem like a real, living person.
     
  13. taylor.kuykendall
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    taylor.kuykendall Member

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    Realistic, but that's not the problem

    The character seems realistic enough, but I don't many doctors. I do, however, know a lot that play one on TV, and that seems to be exactly where you lifted this character. House, Dr. Cox (Scrubs), one of those guys from the Twilight Zone episodes... the list goes on. Over-dedication to the medical profession seems to be EVERY medical professional that finds themselves in front of a camera.

    If this character is ancillary to the rest of the story, I would believe him. If I had to face him as a main character, I'd probably write him off as a rip off of other television doctors.

    I do want to reiterate what other members have said.... If the story is written well, everything I wrote above is to be disregarded, but at the moment, I feel it would have to be really good, really fast to hold my attention.
     
  14. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    The longest description doesn't mean anything

    If you can't bring their personality to life in the story. While you have this information at your fingertips, how will you convey it to the reader? Are you planning an info-dump? I hope not...

    The best thing to do is to keep these characteristics in mind and start to sprinkle them through the story. How? Use words he says, events he experiences and his own thoughts to bring them to life.

    However, make sure you do the least amount possible and let the reader put 2+2 together. Now I'm off my soapbox...
     

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