1. W. E. Burrough
    Offline

    W. E. Burrough New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    2

    For the Love of Everything Sacred, Help

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by W. E. Burrough, Apr 5, 2012.

    Well lads, I've exhausted all other efforts to figure out this problem. And, you'll adore this, I have decided tapping this unmolested reserve of resources for helpful pointers wouldn't hurt my creative process.

    I haven't had character development problems since I started this novel, but I am now. Damn you, gods of literature! Damn you to the deepest pits of Hades!

    Ahem, moving on....*In a nutshell, I'm having character development doubts. Firstly, I'll summarize my favorite problem child. Billie, my author, is the CEO of Mammoth & Thompson Publishing House and its subsidiary imprints: Matted Coat and Elephant Tusk's.

    Billie-Ray Ruth Craven is a bestselling paranormal noir author who, under a pseudonym, had her first novel, Cemetery Blues, sell millions of copies. She then used the money amassed from royalty checks, her novel's auction check and a movie deal to become her publisher's majority shareholder. She proceeded to, by way of extortion, blackmail, and bribery, coax the other board members to vote out the then current CEO and have her replace him.*

    She is, at her core, a corporate raider suffering from ASPD and ADHD. She has a number of weird habits and behaviors, and is completely dependent on her personal assistant, Wendy Sommers.*

    No, she's not a genius. She's a master manipulator, an impulsive soul driven by her own enigmatic will. In some aspects she is a child, in others she's more knowledgable than the wisest of men. Billie is prone to melodrama and cruelty, becoming little more than a sobbing heap at the drop of a hat.*

    A compulsive and charismatic liar, Billie is put in charge of the newly formed US Department of National Protection and Marine Biology by her childhood friend, the newly elected President.*

    Keep in mind, the point-of-view hovers mainly around her assistant, and occasionally, her.

    I pride myself in creating abstract stories and wild characters, but I'm not sure if she's relatable in the least. She's not a Mary-Sue, I don't think. Yet, she feels, I don't know, larger than life. A feeling that seems to persist, in utter spite of her being nothing more than a scared, overcompensating little girl whose mother ran out on her and her father.

    Advice? Tips? Thoughts? A cat? Anything, really, would be of the utmost help.*

    Register to remove this ad

     
  2. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Some people may not relate to her but anyone who has dealt with ADHD or other forms of behavior problems could readily. Seeming normal to must people unless they were around them 24/7 to see the change. You need to provide more details as to the type of help you need. The range of symptoms she exhibits would also be of helpful.
     
  3. Lou Plot Point Olson
    Offline

    Lou Plot Point Olson New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Why would you care if she's relatable? i never understood it.
     
  4. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    562
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    I like the idea of a bestselling author being also a master manipulator :) because this is very true. I can see many of her weaknesses, so I don't think you got any problem there. If you have a rounded character readers will understand her even if she is not relatable.
     
  5. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,703
    Likes Received:
    766
    She sounds like an awesome character to read and to hate - now "to hate" is not necessarily a negative. Because you can be fascinated by what you hate. Have you read Perfume by Patrick Suskind? His MC is described as abnormal, sub-human, demonic, all the characters in the book hate him, fear him, are repulsed by him, and in fact, this MC's mother dies at childbirth (so he killed his mother, is the way the book told it) and he then spends his life going around murdering other virgin girls in the hope of producing the best perfume in the world. And the process he goes through with mummifying these women etc while being hailed as a master perfumer is rather scary.

    Did I relate? No. Was I repulsed? Yes. Was I fascinated? Oh yeh. I couldn't put the book down. Still one of the best books I've ever read. And in fact, you even feel sympathy for this MC at the end of the book, believe it or not! And he certainly was a "larger than life" kinda character.

    So don't worry. You sound like you have an absolutely fascinating character - and sometimes that's more important than being "relatable" or likeable.
     
  6. bethklewis
    Offline

    bethklewis New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2011
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    London, UK
    Grenouille in Perfume doesn't kill his mother in child birth. She is working on a fish stall, gives birth under the table, basically pushes the baby aside, stands back up and gets back to work. She leaves him to die but a passerby hears the baby crying and the mother is arrested and hanged. So there is automatically a sense of sympathy for him which is what makes him so likeable and believeable as a character.

    Anyway, hated characters are great as long as their are not chariacatures. Her being a ruthless, slightly unhinged, person is great but if she's an author and CEO of a publishing company, why would the President appoint her to oversee Marine Biology? that smacks of random strangeness for the sake of it. Is there enough in her backstory to explain why she is so horrible? I think the broken family may be too weak unless the family was broken specifically because she was a bordering-on-sociopathic/ADHD child?
     
  7. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    I tthink the biggest problem is that you don't feel she's fully formed, in other words, you don't like her.

    Many readers would find her fascinating. I think at this moment you have to honestly assess why you're having a hang-up and fix it.

    Personally, I knew quite of few of these people in my "adult job." In fact, it's why I had a job. Working to save distressed companies, most of the execs like her were Titanics burning from a nuclear blast in the engine room. When they succeeded, they brought wealth and fame to themselves and all around them.

    When they tanked--and most did--they destroyed everything. One idiot lost his dad's company in only five years, that being not only the company, but all five buildings, the wealth, and over 300 employees. He drank and smoked himself to death and died shortly after everything blew up.

    The underlying problem is that they're not really good at what they do, they never live up to their fluff and reputation. In the case cited, the son did not have his father to guide him anymore.

    Maybe that's your hook. The lead enjoys success that is really failure.
     
  8. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,321
    Likes Received:
    1,646
    Here's a cat :hands over a kitty: :D Otherwise, it sounds good, I like her and I want to know what happens next. I'd like it to be something really big and sordid, and I'd like her to prevail.
     
  9. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Yes, seen it happen many times. Common problem once they succeed, they forget why and how they succeeded, getting lost to what they've achieved. Either by partying themselves into oblivion or letting the power go to their head. Often trying to micro manage every detail.

    She sounds like the control freak who likes getting back at people she thinks hate her. Maybe a touch of aspergers.
     
  10. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Very true. The reason I suggested it is that the writer defined the successes very carefully and in great detail. In other words, it was very important to build that house of cards. A story usually has some conflict, this one was a common issue for me.

    My parents were control freaks, no one came to their funerals. People hate nags, Tiger moms, nanny-state politicians, and my current villains, the elders of an oligarchy. Just something about a clown with a modicum of power. We often say that people love to tear down what they built up.

    As for Aspergers, that could be a possibility. Actually, it's closer to my team, the BP II guys. Long cycles of productivilty, and short bursts of the negative--things like anger, pity parties, restlessness, paranoia and senseless rituals.

    Never play cards with a BP II, at least not for money. Their synaptic responses are several times that of a muggle. And when one of them says he's edgy, or didn't sleep well, find a bunker and some dried food. Frankly, I think that's what made me a good bill collector and credit manager. Good work ethic, not afraid of brass-hats.
     
  11. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    My grandson is like that. Has several behavioral problems, including aspergers and is on heavy meds. Nearing 18 now. His mother, my daughter, is a bit of a control freak. He has a lot of characteristics of the ops character. Adult at times but often no more then 5 or 6 in his thinking.
     
  12. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Another thing that the OP can use to tied up the story. I've often wondered if that I misunderstand my own issues. That is, I'm not pushing, but pushing back.

    If the OP wants a 'fatal flaw,' this is fertile ground. After all, I wasn't diagnosed until I was 51 years old. Perhaps the prop that's needed isn't a thing, like a cat or a button collection, but the bizarre swings of the rise to success.

    And you can say more with less. Do you remember Humphrey Bogart rolling ball bearings in his hand? Sometimes I catch myself.
     
  13. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Ya. for me it's bit of paper or foam I roll between my fingers. LOL.
     
  14. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    I hate to say this, but you sound very normal. A friend of mine is a radio DJ. She says she cannot go on the air unless she fiddles with a Bic pen.

    Creepy as it sounds, I open and close a ZT0550. Drives my wife up the wall.
     
  15. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16
    It sounds a little far fetched, if I'm honest, but perhaps your style is like the ironic tone and dry humour of certain fantasy writers, so if you get the tone right it could be good. If you're trying to play it straight, then no I don't think I'd 'buy' this storyline, or your character. But from the tone of your post you have a healthy sense of melodrama, irony and hyper-realism yourself, so you could pull it off.

    Anyway, that just proves that it's all in the writing. In summary form a plot can look ridiculous, but in the novel itself it just works.

    So stop stressing and just write it.
     
  16. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,703
    Likes Received:
    766
    Ahh right, sorry, my mistake - it's been a few years since I last read it! Well, it's believable though that he could've killed her :D
     
  17. Z. C. Bolger
    Offline

    Z. C. Bolger New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Miami, FL
    cat.jpg






    (P.S. I liked the character description. Seems like a bad ass chick.)
     
  18. W. E. Burrough
    Offline

    W. E. Burrough New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    2
    I am having a hang-up, without a bloody doubt, but I do like her. I'm proud of her. And no, she doesn't enjoy success. Success is a menial thing, wealth, fame, to her they matter not. Billie does what she does for the elation she feels challenging herself. Personally, I thinkk she gets off on it, the chance of failure, tangoing with disaster. She's a risk-taker who denies possessing boundaries. She gets kind of a sexual thrill from succeeding, from performing the dangerous tight-rope routine she subconsciously puts herself through. So, what she really enjoys is the feeling she gives herself from success.
     
  19. W. E. Burrough
    Offline

    W. E. Burrough New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    2
    All my writing is far-fetched, if we're being honest. I mix realism with surrealism. I've never attempted "playing it straight". Melodramatic, me? No, no, I don't think so. You must have me mistaken with another lad, my apologies.
     
  20. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    The risk and winning. Being better then her competition.
     
  21. W. E. Burrough
    Offline

    W. E. Burrough New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    2
    During their highschool life President Ward knew that Billie's scientific knowledge, Biology in particular, was only trumped by their other mate, who is now considered the "Father of Post-Modern Robotics", Jules Nelson.

    The Department of National Protection and Marine Biology is the product of an international conspiracy dealing with the UN instructing all its associated leaders to have their countries hide reports of strange undersea phenomena. Ward, knowing Billie's status, personality and mind, appointed her to that position. She is a face the US citizens recognize and adore, America's favourite celebrity author and literary magnate. Who better to have as the face of his campaign?

    Billie was born a sociopath, hard-pressed to focus on anything besides power and the sensation of pain. She lied often and efficiently becoming a master, never feeling guilt. She can even lie to the point where she believes it wholly, which I think is impressive. When people she saw as inferior, everyone but her two friends and high school English teacher, would chastise her she viewed them as the ones in the wrong. She never cared to socialize, empathize or sympathize, learning so only out of necessity.

    She hates her ADHD. Diagnosed with it as a child she takes medicine to combat its effects. And, for your information, when I say "takes medicine" I really mean she triples her prescribed dose. Billie gets talky and ill-focused without her pills, much to her chagrin.

    "Why, dear girl, sweet princess, do you do this?"

    Billie's mother never loved her, encouraged her, or praised her. She got nothing except a dismissal when she defied the woman's negative preconceived notions of her failure. Billie praised herself, unknowingly, out of spite for her mother which made her happy, which caused her to strive for success. Her father wanted a son to teach his skills, but instead got her. He never fully got over his disappointment. Despite her successes she'd still never carry on the legacy of him and his father, and his father before him.

    I apologize for not explaining these things fully.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    4,744
    Likes Received:
    2,083
    She sounds funny. Surreal. Skating on the boundary of suspension of disbelief. Zaphod Beeblebrox's cousin. But in that context, not unrelatable.
     
  23. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Sorry I was gone for most of the day, and I lost the tone of your post. Frankly, I'm having problems with my own story...

    When you wrote the part I quoted, your story suddenly clicked for me. I am your character. It is my singular purpose for doing anything.

    I don't need over-fast bikes, dangerous refined handguns, super sharp knives, a cocky attitude or any other Type-T flaw I have. I get a kick out of it, period.

    They used to call it a "death wish." Not true. I'm just afraid something is going to happen when I'm not looking. Some experience, or someone else is going to beat me to it.

    I just spent the better part of an hour detailing a detailed bike, a bike so mechanically perfect it's a frightening piece of metal. And there's the flaw.

    Do you think I really need the 200 bucks I get for polishing a Japanese chef's knife? Heck, I made more in profit just selling it. But I'm one of the few who can polish the edge--and I get a rush out it.

    Good engines have rev-limiters. I do not. Consider that when you write your character. I saw a really nice pair of boots at the shop today. I don't need them, but I promised myself that if I bought them I would never shine them. To me, that's a simple bliss.

    Your character is out of control. She's failing.
     
  24. W. E. Burrough
    Offline

    W. E. Burrough New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    2
    That confused me. I feel as if I'm missing something here; I'm out of it, sort of. So, she's bad?
     
  25. SeverinR
    Offline

    SeverinR New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Madison Ohio
    I don't see any problem with the character.
    Do your research on the diagnosed problems for ticks and neurocises to write about, keep them straight, and you should have an interesting char.

    The tourist comments: "Your character is out of control, she failing."
    The way I read it: He's saying the character is on the edge in her life, not that the character is bad(failing) ie you are portraying a person with a fault properly.(As long as you intended this to be the case, otherwise your description might mislead the reader.) I am not familiar with mental issues, so I cant say.
     

Share This Page