1. xrosiekatex
    Offline

    xrosiekatex New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1

    How do I create a mysterious, enigma, harbinger, spectral-type character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by xrosiekatex, Apr 29, 2012.

    Hi! I'm new to Writing Forums and I have a fairly difficult question to begin...
    My friends and I are writing a screenplay, it's a zombie apocalypse series-- but not in the excuse for blood and gore kind of way.
    So, we have an idea for a character who is mysterious... In the first two episodes he is not seen, but puts arrows through two zombies' heads, and in the second, rescues a girl from being killed. After that he disappears. In the third episode we want him to make a permanent appearance, and he's going to be a harbinger. He'll make hints at something bad which is going to happen, then we'll see him whisper what will happen to another character who will keep it secret. On the last episode what he told this character will come true, but something- and I don't know what, will lead us to wonder if this mysterious man was actually ever real... You know, like Inspector Goole in "Inspector Calls"?

    So, I need help...
    a) finding a way to imply he was actually just an enigma.
    b) finding a way to explain how we all had a conversation with this man and saw him kill zombies when he was nothing more than a spectral being.

    Any ideas?
    I need it to be clever, symbolical, exciting... Steer clear of cliches and "oh, it was all a dream!" type storylines!

    Thank you, if any additional information is required, just ask!
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    As you would write any character. With experience that comes with practice, and with lots of reading to see how other writers have approached it.

    Your question is far too general to be answered in a few posts. It goes to skill with dialogue, an understanding of character definition and evolution, and mastery of storytelling.

    You might as well ask, "How should I paint a mountain to convey that it is cold and unscalable?" Except the mountain would be easier.
     
  3. xrosiekatex
    Offline

    xrosiekatex New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    Note to others, please don't comment if you're going to insult my intelligence and ability to write, I just need ideas! Thanks.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Cassiopeia Phoenix
    Offline

    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2012
    Messages:
    201
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Brazil
    It's like Cog said. It's a very broad question to be answered. It's more about your writing and there's no answer for that, me thinks.
     
  5. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Oh, c'mon guys! Today's my birthday. Can't we have one day without zombies, elves, werewolves and liberal tax increases? I mean, just one day!
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Easy. Don't log on today. Happy birthday! Don't spend it all in one place. :)
     
  7. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Ahhh, you're probably right. But I'm back from the gym, it's too cold to ride and I was going to work on my story. I keep a few forums on minimize to take breaks, and sooner or later I was going to find this.

    Maybe you fight fire with fire.

    I'm thinking of writing the ultimate walking undead tale--zombies fight the pantheon of Greek gods. I'll call it "The Zombie Acropolis."

    I'll include every bad joke, every politically incorrect reference, every horrid limerick, and all of the female parts will be filled by Sofia Vergara and The Pussy-Cat Dolls.

    It will be so bad it will fly off the shelves. I'll do for zombie tales what Mel Brooks' movie "Blazing Saddles" did for westerns. That being, it will destroy the genre.
     
  8. Cassiopeia Phoenix
    Offline

    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2012
    Messages:
    201
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Brazil
    Do it.
     
  9. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    LOL. Oh, I'd also enlist the best twisted minds we have here. I'll bet I get a PM from Superpsycho today, he'll have the entire arc finished, with graphs, research, beheading information, and an idea for T-shirt sales.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Okay, time to get back on topic.
     
  11. CrimsonReaper
    Offline

    CrimsonReaper Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2009
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    8
    "Spectral being" is kind of vague. Do you mean he is all stealthy, or that this enigma is an actual ghost that is phasing through walls like the Twins from the Matrix and doing other things impossible for a human to do. The best I can offer with the limited information is that he speaks to the surivivor(s) via radio or leaves them a scrambled vid message on a camcorder sitting amidst a pile of killed zombies (well, "rekilled" or "redeaded" zombies). I have other suggestions, but all would be too close to the "all just a dream" angle you seem to find cliche.
     
  12. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    436
    Likes Received:
    18
    If he's an actual ghost-like thingy, one thought is to hint at it with Stealth Hi Bye. Maybe he finds it takes effort to be visible to others, so rather than waste the effort visibly walking towards/away from people, he just materializes when they're not looking.

    Regarding making it questionable whether he was real, that's a different question. I think you could only really pull that off if only one single character ever saw him, and there's something to raise questions about that character's sanity. (Or maybe if another character is established as being able to make illusions, and would have good motivation to fake this guy, and it's hinted that this may have occurred.)
     
  13. AmyHolt
    Offline

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Warsaw, IN
    What I think of is an angel. There are all sorts of stories about people talking to or interacting with an angel or having an angel pull them out of a swimming pool or something else that saved their life. I would deal with this man the same way. It seems perfectly logical that someone could see him kill zombies and have a conversation with him but he doesn't really belong in their world.
    That said if he doesn't really belong in their world it's very natural to think of him as an enigma.

    Interesting story concept. Hope my thoughts help. :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I feel like the OP probably already knows that reading and writing will help her. She is probably already doing this, is still coming up short, and is on here looking for extra guidance. Therefore, I don't think this answer is very helpful. Instead, giving advice where to look and what to read would be more helpful.

    Additionally, I noticed it was her first post. While many people will be able to handle this type of advice (what I would call "tough love"), I don't think it is wise to employ such a tactic on a new user. We want to build a community, and I will be surprised if Xrosiekatex ever logs back in again.
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    I would agree. While I also believe in tough love, if 27 people all jump on you at once you might walk away feeling beat down. They all could be right, but the volume of negative voices sends a differinng message.

    I have sent out parts of my story to a few members here. I feel this is prudent. If there's a flaw, and there will be many things I didn't see because I'm probably too involved right now, I need to fix things, not get defensive.

    But let me re-state one thing, the criticism is going to fly at some point. I came here to learn the craft. I believe most members are in that same boat. My peers get first shot at my ego! ;)
     
  16. xrosiekatex
    Offline

    xrosiekatex New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2012
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    By that I meant more than he is all stealthy-- He's also intended to be incredibly mysterious, but not ghost-like in the sense that he has paranormal abilities such as those, phasing through walls and what-not ;)

    I like your ideas, thank you for being the first person to properly offer some sound advice! Although I originally dismissed it, I would be interested to hear these other suggestions? Thanks a lot!

    That's an idea to think about, I'll definitely see how I can make that work, could be difficult though... Thanks a lot, great idea!

    And that was to Ettina! :S

    Exactly what my first thought was! We'd already discussed having him as a kind of guardian angel-type character! Perhaps I needn't even try and make it so realistic, it is a zombie story after all! Thank you, I'm very sure they will help :)

    Thank you! I am very new to this, as you can see I hardly even know which replies are going to who! I read constantly and I practice writing often. I thought to imply otherwise was fairly rude and ignorant of Cogito.

    It's alright, I can handle it, but you're right, initially I wondered if this was the right place to ask, but the majority of you have restored my faith and presented great ideas, so thanks!
     
  17. funkybassmannick
    Offline

    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    836
    Likes Received:
    30
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Here's a tip: If you want to post multiple things in a row like this, click the "edit" button and add it all to one post. It keeps the discussion a bit more clean.

    And I'm glad we didn't scare you off. Welcome to the community!
     
  18. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    It was all a dream. Simple as that.

    Oh wait....

    ;)

    Actually, the simplest way to make any character an enigma is to just not answer questions about them. Don't say where they come from, who their family is, what their intentions are, etc. And definitely don't say what's motivating them. Have them do seemingly contradictory actions which only make sense when you finally reveal all at the end -- or perhaps you never reveal them at all, leaving your readers with no recourse but to make up theories of their own.

    Also, while you as a writer are trying not to answer questions about them, don't put your enigma dude in a place where other characters can ask these questions. Oh, and by questions I mean the things that your readers will most want to know about your character, like-

    - Why does he save that girl?
    - Why does he leave mysterious hints instead of just telling people right out? (be careful with this question, because if he's deliberately withholding information to make other people squirm, he's going to look like a jerk. I don't know, maybe you're going for that.)
    - If your character can see him, is he real or fake?
    - What's his vendetta against the zombies?

    And other questions. You're more familiar with your plot, so you know which questions are going to be asked, more than likely. If feel you may have missed some, find a good reviewer and pm them to see if they have any more questions.
     
    1 person likes this.

Share This Page