1. GraceCousins
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    GraceCousins Member

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    How to avoid sounding silly.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by GraceCousins, Jun 5, 2011.

    This isn't a "look what I'm writing, is it good?" post, I promise. I’m new here, but I read the sticky post first. Still, let me know if I've done something wrong.

    Some background: 3 years ago I wrote a short story. When I went back to revise that short story, a new character introduced itself and took over. That short story is now an almost-finished novella of 30,000 words. My characters are angels, namely, The Angel of Death and Cupid (they have completely different origins, I know). I didn't know at the time that you actually could write stories about angels, or that it had ever been done before apart from Milton, so it really is my own take on it.

    My question: regardless of how well it’s written (I’m working on that), I know that because I am not writing a story about everyday people, I run the risk of making it sound silly and unbelievable. If I can’t make readers believe these characters could actually exist, they simply won’t believe the story itself. This is a serious story (drama/horror); I don’t want people to laugh at it because the characters are not human. I’ve read it over and over and even I have trouble taking it seriously at times. It just sounds fake and childishly make-believe, no matter how well I word it. Would having it in 1st person from the POV of the Angel of Death be adding to this “false” feeling about it?
    What about having the MC talk to the reader as a collective "humanity"?
     
  2. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    If people can relate to and care about your characters -- if they have fears, desires, and motivations that are comprehensible, even if they are different from those held by humans-- this will take you most of the way there.

    If the reality you are embedding them in is self-consistent (however much it may differ from our own reality), this will take you most of the rest of the way there.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The problem is, these are already creatures of myth and notoriety. You'll have to first break the reader's preconceptions of these creatures, all the cliches and caricatures.

    You'll need to make the reader see these angels as fully dimensioned characters rather than the myths they grew up with. Characters with strengths and doubts, humor and bad moods, and unique individual qualities.
     
  4. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    Really? I've seen angels portrayed so many different ways -- in poetry, prose, graphic novels, television, movies, that I'm not even sure what the preconceptions would be. Course, I may not be typical ;)

    Still, this is true of any kind of character. You have a character who's a lawyer, you need to overcome preconceptions about lawyers. Ditto a character who's a plumber, or a factory worker, or a politician, a computer programmer, a "soccer mom", or a hairdresser.
     
  5. GraceCousins
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    GraceCousins Member

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    Yes, I agree completely with you, and this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I’ve re-worked the idea of angels, not too drastically (don’t want to re-write religion), but I’ve given them their own motivations and reasons for being. I think the biggest challenge has been portraying them in a way that hasn't been done before. I’ve kept some things like Cupid’s innocence, but I’ve also made him a bit self-centered and he’s not physically the common “baby with wings”. The Angel of Death isn’t the Grim Reaper, either.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    But you aren't jujst portraying angels. You are portraying the Angel of Death and Cupid (who was a god, not an angel). People have very definite ideas about how these particular entities behave. That is what you will need to overcome.

    It isn't an insurmountable problem, but it is a tough challenge.
     
  7. GraceCousins
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    GraceCousins Member

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    I've taken the idea of Cupid being one of the cherubs, rather than his Roman god origin as Eros.
     
  8. FlashNinja
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    If you could represent these characters in a 'human' fashion; flaws, strengths, goals etc, then it would be easier for the reader to relate to the characters and thereby find them more believable.
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Somewhere in between these two quotes is the answer. Milton wrote of angels and has been called many things, but not silly. His Satan, although a lumbering beast in a lake of fire, is to this day one of the coolest and most relatable characters of poetry.
     
  10. GraceCousins
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    You're absolutely right. Though I do think Milton was a much better writer than I am. ;)
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    But it's not Milton's meter, his eloquence, or his references to mythology that makes Satan such a great character. It's that he's introduced by a monolgue that explains exactly how he feels, and why, and we as readers -- if we had parents and rebelled against them -- know exactly what he means.
     
  12. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    I loved the first couple of book in Paradise Lost about Satan and the Angels. It was after that I feel in love with Christian Mythology (despite being at the time, a quite intolerant militant athiest). (Yeah, but being a teenager makes you angsty).

    I think the proof may be in the pudding, perhaps you should post some of it in the writing review section and get people to have a read of it.

    Have you ever watched Supernatural? They have tonnes of characters that are angels etc, and their enjoyable because of their overwhelming amount of flaws.
     

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