1. DLL333
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    DLL333 Member

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    Hey Everyone - Some 2 Cents/Advice?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DLL333, Jul 18, 2013.

    Hey everyone, only been on the forum for a little while now, it's really cool to see writers coming together and getting help/critique from like-minded people. Hopefully you guys can help nudge me in the right direction.

    I've just started work on something I hope will be not just a novel, but a series of books. I have the basic "big-picture" ideas written out, and it's basically a "people against a tyrannical government" story - A sort of dystopia, but most dystopian novels begin with the world ALREADY in the grasp of tyranny, the story I want to tell begins right as it's happening, and the people's struggle to fight against it. I was hoping you guys could give me some ideas for characters that I could develop into emotional, deep story arcs to span over a series of books. Here is the premise verbatim as I've written it:


    2024. The United States and other superpowers around the world have begun to lose a considerable amount of power and influence over their respective citizens.

    The continued emergence of tyrannical governance, extreme political corruption, resource consolidation, and the systematic removal of civil liberties have resulted in unprecedented levels of anger in citizens, and desire for the unification of all people against their domestic oppressors.

    The status quo continues to lie using mass media, ensuring the public their outcries are unfounded and for them not to support “wild conspiracy theories”. Political and religious differences continue to be exploited by the powers that be in an attempt to keep citizens separated and fighting amongst each other.

    The use of subliminal messages and propaganda are at all-time highs in an attempt to keep domestic citizens from breaking through the illusory roof of nationalism, and to hate and fear other nations. Whistleblowers are deemed heroes by popular opinion, but are quickly silenced and popular opinion quickly overshadowed by Governmental institutions branding them as traitors.

    Meanwhile, marketing and advertising have completely saturated consumer markets in an attempt to keep citizens distracted and in the dark.

    For an increasingly large amount of people, it is no longer working.

    Protests and disjointed human rights movements are attempted at every major political and sporting event, but have so far failed to gain any real momentum due to media minimization and Agent provocateurs.

    The vast majority of people are still told what to think, what to do, and what to buy, and are more or less unaware of it. They see people who are rejecting the system as crazy, unpatriotic, and disloyal to their country.

    Most major cities across the world have begun initiating an underground movement, quietly recruiting handfuls of capable, intelligent, angry people across all walks of life, from ex-military and ex-law enforcement to computer hackers and physicians. Calling themselves “The Awake”, they have begun networking and coordinating with other cells worldwide for a large-scale operation to expose and cripple the system that seeks to keep citizens obedient, oppressed and unaware. An operation code-named “The Uprising”. They have since been successful in obtaining libraries of classified documents, freeing whistleblowers, and instigating the world’s first “million-citizen riot” in New York City.


    Whispers of The Awake have reached high-ranking officials, and presented by the media as an “extremist terrorist group” and “the enemy of freedom”. Mainstream communication such as cell phones, computer IP addresses, postal services, online forums, e-mail, and all other means of communication have started to be monitored, tagged and categorized. People suspected of having any association with The Awake are arrested, detained and if necessary, tortured.

    The Governments of the world are growing desperate.



    For a list of main characters, I was thinking:

    A disgruntled office worker working a dead-end job realizing his life is wasting away doing nothing significant, working for "the man"

    An ex-veteran who can't seem to find his place in life after the military, and can't help but be lured into trying to put the world's problems on his shoulders because he can't be happy in his own life, a sort of "Messiah" complex

    A computer programmer (Don't know the background yet)

    A husband and wife, sort of "hippie activists" who have a son that they realize will inherit a destroyed, corrupted world unless they do something.

    And I want to include a police officer who switches sides to The Uprising in the middle of the first book when his conscience gets to him after he shoots an innocent protestor and his dog, and is rewarded for it


    and of course I'll have the President, various media personalities who cook up stories to feed to the "sheep public"


    Can anyone give some feedback or advice enriching the characters and include them into the makings of a story arc? I have a few basic story progression blueprints but I'm completely open to suggestions. Thank you so much!
     
  2. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    It sounds like you have the situation and characters well in mind. Just start daydreaming about how those characters might run into each other and interact under the circumstances.

    Plotting seems to be my weakness, and like you I can think up characters and scenes more easily than I can figure out how they should interact. My first attempt always turns out to be rather simple-minded and I have to work hard at raising the stakes and inserting twists.

    About all I can do is let my mind wander freely and take notes uncritically, and come back with logic later to weave them together.
     
  3. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    What do your characters want more than anything else? What do they fear more than anything else? What are their top 3 formative experiences? Answering these questions always helps me understand characters and how they will react to situations. What events occur to prompt the formation of "The Awake?" What events occur in their organization and acquisition of power, personnel, and information? Where do the main characters fit in to "The Awake?" Who is the leader of "The Awake?" What are the specific goals of "The Awake?"

    I hope these questions help resolve your vision.
     
  4. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    USA 2024 is your setting, you have some ideas for differing characters but you don't have a story.

    It seems like most of your stuff is already happening so there is nothing original, having said that I doubt any of us here are writing anything truly original.

    Nobody can write your story or even give you blatant ideas but you do need to ask yourself what do you want to happen. Do you want the people to overthrow the govt? Do you want aliens from another planet to come and take over? Do you want your rebels to steal a rocket and fly off to Jupiter to start a new free colony? Do you want this new dictatorial govt to win and control the world via the banking system.

    It really is up to you.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    DLL, you're kind of asking us an impossible question. A lot of people believe that characters ARE the story, so you are the one who has to make them come alive. It doesn't matter if someone is a disgruntled office worker or ex-soldier or computer programmer. What matters are their personalities, their inner thoughts, their motivations. Those are what you need to develop. Look through the threads here for advice about character development and getting to know your characters. Try some of the character development exercises. Put a little bit of you into each character. Give them quirks and pet peeves and fears.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're kinda asking us to give life to your story - you have the body, eg. the premise, and perhaps you have the story - but you have nothing to drive it and bring it to life. Unfortunately, you alone can come up with the characters that will drive your story - no two people are the same, the disgruntled officer that I come up with will not be the same as the one you would, and thus will not do the same things, and the WHOLE story would be altogether different because of it. Essentially, we cannot give you characters without also writing it for you.

    Ask yourself who you're going to focus on and why? Who's this character? What's his past? What are his hopes and dreams? Why is he unhappy with the current state of things? What does a normal day in his life look like? What's he going to do to change things? Take it from there - what would he do, and what happens? Now how's he going to react? Like dominoes until you reach the end.
     
  7. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    This sounds more polemic than fiction. It could just as easily be set in 2013. "Awake" is "Arab Spring", or "Occupy Wall Street".
    There are plenty of 'dystopian' novels out there, 1984 being one of the better attempts.

    You need to decide upon both the genre and the style. Above all, it is the characters, not the plot that makes for a good read.

    You have set yourself a decades long journey, with this multiple volume story line. To be blunt: Do you know how to write?
     
  8. DLL333
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    DLL333 Member

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    Thanks for the heads up guys. I guess my request is sort of vague and convoluted. I do know how to write, but I've hit a bit of a wall and was kind of looking for a little brainstorming session, but perhaps this is the wrong area of the forum and wrong aspect of the story to do so. I appreciate the responses and critique anyway. Thanks!
     
  9. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    Seems more of a thinly veiled political statement than a plot driven story. If this is what you want to be the theme then go for it. But I think right now you're risking coming off as overly preachy. You're turning a theme into the entire story...or so it seems to me.
     
  10. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Have you considered a main character who's working inside of the government? The characters you were thinking about are mostly from the public POV. I think if you really wanted to get into the details of the government, you could have your MC as someone who's aware of internal affairs and can shed more light onto the propaganda that's being fed to the "sheep". Whether he's for or against it is up to you. Maybe he has a character reversal. Just an idea :)
     

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