1. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Drinking MC, fine line between complicated personality and alcoholic...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by JJ_Maxx, Oct 17, 2012.

    So one of my main characters loves to drink. He uses his drinking to hide from his own feelings, and has no shame about finding himself at a seedy pub at two in the morning. He's jovial, sarcastic, sometimes crass but does have a good heart. In the end he always chooses to do the right thing, even if it means sacrifice.

    ...but sometimes it is a fine line to write for him because I don't want him to come off as a heartless drunk, because the reader may not like him. I just want him to be charmingly cute, but stubborn and sarcastic. The drinking adds to his persona, but what do you guys think of a character that drinks a lot?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    That's pretty much a definition of an alcoholic, whatever else may be involved.

    Alcoholic characters can be lots of things - funny, wise (in their own way), tragic, take your pick - but it is important to remember that alcoholism is at bottom a destructive disease. It is hell on families, corrosive of relationships and pure misery to live with. Alcoholics are often manic-depressive and sometimes suicidal (I, personally, stopped my father in the act of killing himself twice, both times before I was 15, so you'll understand if I'm not one who would find alcoholism amusing). That's not to say that there haven't been alcholic characters in films, books or TV shows that I've liked as characters. Alcoholics struggling in recovery (there is no such thing as a cured alcoholic, only one in the process - it's a process that never ends) are often great characters because they can have great strengths and yet struggle against the one great flaw.
     
  3. Thromnambular
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    Thromnambular Member

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    Do we know each other? I think you just described me in detail.

    I think what'll keep him from looking like a heartless drunk is making him say seemingly heartless things, but have him act in a noble manner.

    I mean, if he wants to hide his feelings but has a good heart, he'll want to act like a good person while making everyone think he doesn't care.

    Putting a good amount of humor (even if it's relatively mean humor) into the things he says will probably help with the charmingly cute part.
     
  4. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Well my stories involving this character are humorous.

    He also invented a cup that 'borrows' the molecules from the bar it's sitting on, and converts it into alcohol. There's a funny bit about him getting in trouble for making obvious holes in tables and bars.

    Perhaps it is my use of wording. Maybe I should stay away from the word 'drunk' and use more broader terms like, 'had a few pints', etc...

    I agree that alcoholism isn't a humorous thing, but this is part of his character. Think of the television show House. We love Doctor House, but he abuses prescription drugs and breaks the law numerous times. But it always turns out for the good in the end and we are happy.
     
  5. Thromnambular
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    Thromnambular Member

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    That's exactly what I wanted to point out as soon as I was done reading the excerpt. Besides finding more humorous or indirect ways to say that he's drunk, I would try not to mention it very often. Personally, talking about alcoholism doesn't bother me, but being clever rather than blunt will probably make the story more humorous/enjoyable.

    "...in fact, he had begun to wonder if heroics even liked him or if maybe he offended heroics at some point in the past. Of course, this was probably just the alcohol thinking."
     
  6. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    The end of my first chapter he thinks to himself that he really needs a drink. I think I might just make it an enjoyment for him, and not overuse it.
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, he can be a charming, happy drunk if you want him to be. I guess as long as you have him have doubts every so often on whether he really should be drinking.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It seems to me that your character is an alcoholic, and I'm not sure why you're veering away from that. Deeply flawed characters can still be interesting, as long as you don't try to pretend that they're not deeply flawed. Someone who uses drinking to hide from his feelings has a drinking problem, and I think that should be explored, not avoided.

    The conversation is reminding me of Lawrence Block's series character Matthew Scudder. Scudder was an active alcoholic in several of the books of the series, and a recovering alcoholic for several others. I liked the character, though he was - again - deeply flawed.
     
  9. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Not sure, I think because I want to have it be a character trait, without it being an issue that needs to be dealt with.

    EDIT: I see one of my posts were removed, I apologize if I broke a rule.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    So basically, you want him to be a Life of the Party character, a Charlie Harper type (from Two and a Half Men).
     
  11. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Yes! But not as confident as Charlie. My character takes care of himself and hardly anyone else. He won't hurt or kill anyone but he will swindle people to get paid. He loves the women and loves a pint of just about anything.

    As far as his flaws, he does drink because of his past, which makes him calloused. This also explains the 'me-first' attitude and the fact that he acts like he is uncaring.

    But in the book he meets a girl who forces him to come out of his shell and care about someone other than himself. (Even though he won't readily admit it.)
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    So somewhere between the Ian Fleming version of James Bond and Charlie Harper.

    Fleming's Bond drank too much, smoked too much and was a "womanizer." He recognized these traits as shortcomings, but not enough to change them. But on occasion, he would let a woman get to him. And regret it.
     
  13. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Yeah I've seen alcoholism used with humour, look at homer Simpson. Drinks all the time even going to moes instead of being with family etc. And so on yet he is extremly popular and given to moments where he shows he has a heart of gold.
     

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