1. clchildress
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    clchildress New Member

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    Help for a newbie (please)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by clchildress, Nov 15, 2010.

    I'm fairly new to creative writing, having not done any in a number of years. I'm not the world's worst at writing; neither am I what you might call "inspired." However, I have been volunteered to do quite a bit of creative writing, and I'd like to at least give my best attempt.

    You see, some friends and I have been working on a story-centric video game. Obviously, there will be a great deal of script writing, and I will likely be in charge of writing most of the script. I'm honored, but also a bit overwhelmed. I have what I hope are generally good ideas but of course being inexperienced I might simply be blithely happy in my own naiveté.

    One idea that is particularly near and dear to my heart is a complete anti-hero for the protagonist. Lazy, narcissistic and apathetic, he (or she) is but a lowly courier in the military, ignored by his peers and despised by his superiors....and that's about it for now. Obviously, my courier needs help! So how do I go about forming this character? What would make him engaging to the reader? And does anyone have good examples or novels for reference? I'd like all of the example characters I can get.

    I have considered delving into his past to explain why he/she simply cannot be bothered to care, or why he might be so jaded (if that is indeed the case). I have also considered finding a way to explain how he cares deeply about his friends and future but masks everything under a veneer of shallow indifference because of his own self-loathing. Or, perhaps he simply takes life as a leaf takes the stream, floating along because it's always worked for him. There are so many avenues to explore, I'm at a loss for where to go from here.

    Thanks a million in advance!!

    PS: I'm afraid I'm rather new to these forums (obviously), so if this doesn't belong in "character development" please let me know.
     
  2. cjs0216
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    cjs0216 Member

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    As a person who has served in the military, I can tell you it ain't all roses and fairy tales. It would not be a stretch to say that it was the military that caused him to change into the kind of person you describe. Between the long hours, inadequete pay for what the job entails, deployments, etc. you can see where that might take a toll on someone. Really, it doesn't matter what kind of person he was before the military as the sights and sounds one might see could totally change a person's outlook in a very short time. Maybe do some research into PTSD or something a long those lines. I'll be following this thread if you have any military-related questions and I'll try my best to give you honest answers.
     
  3. clchildress
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    clchildress New Member

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    That's a good suggestion. Originally I'd thought of him as being the anti-hero well before joining the military. He/she had simply joined because he had absolutely nothing else going for him and to have structure imposed on his otherwise structureless lifestyle. I'll have to give some thought to the whole PTSD/scarred vet idea though.
     
  4. cjs0216
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    cjs0216 Member

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    The PTSD situation could lend itself to some hairy situations, that's for sure. And in that context, things over the top could happen that would still be believable.

    The nothing going for him is not a bad idea. I know a lot of people that joined for that reason. They didn't want to/couldn't go to college and realized a lifetime working at Taco Bell probably wasn't going to cut it...not to say that I think people who don't do the college and or military thing are doomed to work minimum wage jobs or anything.
     
  5. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    If you want do something, maybe try avoiding the backstory - man with a jaded past scenario. Doesn't feel very original, unless you explore it in a new way. Bill from Left 4 dead is an old war veteran archetype - same with Solid Snake. Similar stories emerge with a lot of military games such as Gears of War (the protagonist is portrayed antisocially to start with - being in prison).

    Writing for games is usually quite shallow on the basis that it is merely a set of cutscenes amongst interactive action - an excuse for action. Though games are increasingly becoming like film, and with it the demand for narrative sophistication. (Eg: Metal Gear Solid/Mass Effect/Halo.)

    If you have a big backstory, you run risk of exposition. Some character who asks: "Why are you so sad?" and he replies: "You'd be sad too if every you've ever known died in your arms" in a big cheesy dark voice. Just to take the example from Dark Place. :p

    Also, beware the anti-hero. He's often really just a hero, but moody to be cool. The true, literary definition is someone ignominious and actually "anti." Not heroic.

    He's passive, and cowardly. If you want to make an original story - you'd embrace that and allow the player to be truly pathetic - to allow players to leave their team mates for dead...contrary to common convention. But, then you'd have some kind character arc, maybe :/

    An idea, perhaps.
     
  6. clchildress
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    clchildress New Member

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    I agree that far too many video games tack on a "story" as an excuse to frame up various action scenes. I'm not looking to create a terribly deep story; just one the player will find humorous and engaging. That's why I like the anti-hero. He's not a hero with flaws; he really can't be bothered to be the hero. He isn't dark, so much as he isn't anything. He's weak, vacillating...just shy of being a total milksop. The problem, then, is making this highly ineffectual character *interesting* to the player. I think humor and a touch of wit may save him. Perhaps, to save his own skin, he repeatedly displays a knack for getting out of hairy situations with the least effort necessary?
     
  7. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    Well, if you want to be like a parody, then I'd say go for it! I'd probably explore what it is to be antihero in its fullest form. Games are still shy and not very experimental as an industry. Were I directing and writing the game - I'd probably go all the way and allow the play to hide under his dead mates, and surrender to the enemy. To do lots of shameful things with the aim of the game being survival. :p
     
  8. clchildress
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    clchildress New Member

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    I love it! I'll have to look into this; far too few games allow the player to be outright shameful. Evil, yes. Psychotic, yes. Heinously destructive, often. But a complete loser? A worthless, apathetic coward? Now *that* is a new one.
     
  9. Top Cat
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    Top Cat Senior Member

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    Glad to be of inspirational help. :cool:
     

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