1. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    How to evolve characters and make the reader love the protagonists?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by raisin, Aug 30, 2010.

    I know its a confusing Q. I am writing a novel. A family setting and there is a triangle love story!

    Alright. I want my male protagonist to be a complete man. The female has her own flaws. One is falling in love with him. But I want to portray their love as universally beautiful.

    I am still not sure how to make the reader love him despite the descriptions. How to describe his character? :confused:

    I am a female and I know how to evolve the female character slowly. But I don't how to do it with men. Like Jane Austen I dont know what men talked when alone. Especially if they are doctors.

    If you still don't get it pls ask. I need help. Thanks.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well my dad sounds a bit like your protagonist he is not capable of being faithful to one woman, once he got to his sixties he finally admitted it to himself and everyone around him, but he is not a bad or evil man, he is the first to care for an old person who struggles, he is fun with my children, he helps out as best as he can with his personality.
     
  3. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    No, No. My hero is one a woman person. He has fallen in love with only one woman. And he is tantallisingly young.:) I want to descibe him through events and incidents. But I dont know how men talk in each others company.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok how young? Try and get men involved as readers do you have any male friends? I could never have written my stories from a male point of view without the young men involved in helping me.

    I now have a first person story from POV of a seventeen year old male that seems to get passed by teenagers:)
     
  5. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depends on whether you want it to be a realistic man or the kind women swoon over in romance novels?

    It's hard to give pointers when you haven't described him.
     
  6. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, in real life, I think men tend to be more reserved in the company of other men, than women are with other women. Men don't talk to eachother in bathrooms, as I've heard that women do.

    Men are usually careful not to show weakness to other men. They usually bond by doing things together (fishing, watching football, playing computer games...), not by talking about feelings.

    Some men are very crude in all-male companies (like making sexual jokes and talking about female body parts), but it varies a lot depending on their upbringing and social context. For example, you usually don't hear crude jokes in a company of male computer nerds.

    The doctors I've known in real life have been more crude than average. They've seemed very uncertain of how to handle their feelings, and had to make a lot of jokes without having a very firm grasp of humour.

    Is that the kind of info you are looking for?

    As to how to make the reader love the character... I guess that's a question that women can answer better than men.
     
  7. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know, even if men respond differently, emotionally, generally from women, they aren't completely alien creatures who think on some sort of different plane to ladies. I'm the girl half of twins, and therefore totally entitled to pretend I have a psychic connection to my brother, and therefore can assume what men think. :p And we're... pretty much the same in sense of humour and ways of talking, reactions to situations, etc. Just that I'm also a bit airheaded and silly, and he's more quiet and level-headed. We're still essentially the same for huge chunks of our personality.

    Also, you know. Read books by men, talk to men, hang out with guys, even just stare at them from across a friggin' train compartment - it will all tell you stuff about them.

    Just write a guy as you'd write a lady, though aware that he's probably not going to cry, worry about his appearence, or happily blurt out emotional truths unless he feels emotionally blackmailed into it by his lady friend. :p It must be in your means to write a woman with similarly reserved characteristics, so why not a guy?

    If you're *really* having trouble with it, write a lady with similar personality traits as you want him to have, and get into her head. Change gender once you've figured out how it goes. :p

    Don't be scared though. The worst thing you can do is be scared and think you'll never manage it. You'll create a block, assume there's a language you don't speak, and give up trying to speak it. And if you're not confident about your characters you'll use stereotypes and people won't love them as easily.
     
  8. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    Thanks for all your answers, friends. I am impressed.

    elgaisma, thanks for coming back to answer. I have a man of early thirties in mind. A doctor- a cardiac surgeon for eg. I don't have any male friends as I am a convent educated person. I know a doctor of that age but I couldn't possibly ask his help to write a novel. He will be embarassed. :(

    Horuseye, I don't want to create a "kind women swoon over in romance novels" becasue I am not wiriting a romance novel. But its definitely a romance that creates some conflicts in this one. True, I could've given more about my character. But I just wanted some general opinions. It's afterall I who have to write it.

    Islander, you have given me some helpful hints. Yes, that sort of info would really help me as I need to write some chapters where my character talks to his best friend revealing both their personal traits.

    Melzaar the Almighty, No! I can't make him her or I will be writing a Lesbian novel. :)
     
  9. T.N. Tobias
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    T.N. Tobias Member

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    When struggling with voice, I like to compose letters as if written by one of my characters to another. This allows you to crystallize the thoughts and feelings of people toward one another in a non-self-conscious way because no one else will ever read them. You can allow them to write their most intimate thoughts and feelings you don't think they'd ever say out loud to one another or in company. It allows you to really sit in the mind of this person you want to write about and decide who they are at the most basic level.

    From there you can pull back and say "Would Fred say this out loud? What would he say if he were feeling this way but couldn't say it? Is he an insufferable ass, spouting off like a braggart? Or is he more reserved, humble and selecting his moments of triumph?

    You can really go crazy and let these people say their piece. Once you've done a few, you'll feel much more confident about who these people are and what they would do if confronted by a situation.

    Also, don't look too much to typical behavior traits to fashion characters. Readers will react to characters who fit the arc of the story. They are turning to fiction to read about atypical people, exceptional and almost caricatures of people. Write your protagonist your way.
     
  10. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    Great Idea, T. N. Tobias! Thanks.

    I should try to absorb a lil of the epistolary form in to the novel as well. I just need to make my protagonist's friend to travel in order to mail him and provided my doctor-hero needs time to write out mails.:p

    Anybody else who can tell me nuances of what young men talk in men's company would be appreciated. And pls, my doc-hero is not a freak or a sex hungry one. he is an ordinary person with feelings.




     
  11. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    This is exactly my thought as I read your post. Women will know better what makes a man lovable.

    No offence but, 'a complete man', 'love as universally beautiful', these is already boring me, and mind you I am a great romance fan.
     
  12. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    And what's wrong with that? :D Tee hee hee

    Seriously though, if you can get over that, it'd be a good way to get into the character for you. :p I don't mean a permanent change, after all :p
     
  13. raisin
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    raisin Member

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    Extremely offended. ;) Come on, its my first attempt and v. basic ideas. I am not planning to eulogize anybody here and its not a romance. It's real life situations placed in an urban society and, why can't he be a complete man to my female protgnst? That's how women fall in love. :D I did!
     
  14. L. Ai
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    All strong advice. First and foremost always remember that people are people. How men interact with women vs how they interact with men varies greatly depending on the person. I have known men who totally clam up around the female of the species. I had a close friend who was a totally different person around women- he was every bit the bad joking tough as nails macho whatever, but he believed women were supposed to treated politely and with respect and he'd snap to when he was around girls.

    My husband, on the other hand, disses everyonne equally- and I adore him for it. While he can be very affectionate, he has never spared my feelings when I'm wrong or being stupid or irrational. To him women are just guys who make babies and are generally more pleasant to look at.

    People don't behave how we concieve of gender roles, and I prefer characters I can love for their goals and beliefs who aren't constantly reminding me 'i am definately the guy/girl of your dreams!'

    So where I think younneed to start with your male character (just a suggestion) is your female characters. What sort of things would they fall in love with? Looks? Charming interaction? Values?

    Flesh out your characters as sexless, and don't worry about filling a stereotype, just write them as people. I have made some rough comments in my life, told some dirty jokes, and my husband constantly says things his guy friends do double takes at, they're so... 'girly'.

    I don't know if this is making much sense so I'll stop with the rambling.
     
  15. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tend to write mine as I would speak myself and then pare them back - thirties is practically middle aged lol should be able to settle down by now.

    I have a variety of male characters, in fact my books are very male heavy I find men easier to write somehow. Think about what you like in a man and write him, I have high expectations of the men around me:)

    When I am writing teen boys I just pare the language back a bit, they do still show emotion and they do still talk to close friends. I managed a conversation in the bathroom, just started it with a peeing contest I remembered my brothers having. At the end the lads manage to exchange words:)
     
  16. T.N. Tobias
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    T.N. Tobias Member

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    I agree with L. Ai. The character needs to fill the role the story gives him. The way he talks is relevant but only just. Remember, dialog is stylized conversation. He need not speak realistically. Realistic speech is full of repetition and irrelevance. He only needs to say the things that suit your story. If he needs to say something loving to meet the needs of the scene, then have him say that. If he needs to say something brutish or callus or insightful or narrow-minded, have him say those things as well. Voice is inflection, not the content.
     
  17. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    What do you really mean by "complete man"?

    Do you mean a man who has ALL of the characteristics that ladies look for?

    Do you mean a man who has ALL of the characteristics that men respect in other males? (Which aren't the same as what ladies are looking for).

    Do you mean "complete" in the context that the character is already developed as far as he can and will not change or evolve at all?

    Do you "complete man" in the context of a male character who has all the manly flaws and vices that are stereotypical for a man living in a "manly" world?

    Can you explain how falling in love is a flaw in this case? It might help give us a better understanding of where you're going with this.

    I'm not sure I understand your question here. Readers come to love all characters in pretty much the same way, by reading about the character's actions, opinions and feelings.

    Is he loyal? Is he brave? Does he really care? Does he sacrifice for others? Does he sacrifice more for the ones he loves? Is he repenting for his misspent youth as a rotten bastard? Does he have skeletons in the closet and sins that he tries to atone for? Does he adhere to virtue? Is he actually the sort of person you'd like in real life, or does he come across as a flake?

    As a male, I'm exactly the same way when it comes to writing female characters...I'll never understand what you ladies think or why :)

    How men talk when in the company of other males?

    There is a certain level of vulgarity in exclusively masculine speech, as males rarely censor themselves without the presence of a lady to inspire such action. Such vulgarity usually manifests as profanity towards topics of dislike, such as broken television sets on super bowl Sunday, traffic tickets on the way to work, political views that different from your own and anyone who challenges your own masculine self image.

    There is also the machismo factor in masculine relationships. Most males tend to be conscious of their masculinity...particularly the perception of others regarding said masculinity. To be thought of as "Unmanly" or a "sissy" is extremely undesirable in social circles. To this end many men try to make sure that everyone knows how "manly" they are. This is done through displays of sports knowledge, macho talk about guns and showing off collections of same, displaying an affinity for all things related to alcohol, interest in motorcycles, hotrod cars etc. or asserting how much you'd like to "Hammer that hawt filly at the bar" (Just to ensure that no one ever questions your sexual orientation).

    It is worth noting that the more secure a man is in his masculinity, the less he feels the need to reassert it to the rest of the world. There is the old saying that "He who talks the most about it, does it the least". This is usually applied to sex, but by the same token, actual combat veteran Marines talk less about war than armchair warriors who have never served in the military. The difference is the "Been there, done that" mindset verses the "Gee I really wish I could do that" mindset.

    These are all generalizations, of course. If you could give some specific details about your doctor character, perhaps we could offer some specific advice.
     
  18. raisin
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    raisin Member

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  19. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    You are most welcome and it was all my pleasure :)

    *Chuckles to himself*

    I was born in the 1960s and as you might expect from someone from that era, I don't have a clue what the youth of the 21st century are thinking.

    As far as writing for younger, inexperienced/less mature characters, there are the age old tried and true axioms.

    1. Gullible. Despite knowing right from wrong, the inexperienced youth may be vulnerable to being talked into doing the wrong thing (Could be anything from an adult luring the young character into lewd sex, a con man swindling a youth out their money, or fast talk about glory and patriotism that suddenly ends up with the youth signing up for the Navy).

    2. Peer pressure. Young people (especially those who aren't old enough, cynical enough and experienced enough to know that "friends" who try to pressure you into doing stupid stuff aren't real "friends") can be pressured into all manner of unwise actions, including drug/alcohol abuse, unsafe sex, petty crimes (such as shoplifting because its cool), street drag racing that has the potential to result in flaming twisted metal and the loss of life and worst of all, listening to really crappy music because it is the latest "cool" thing. :)

    3. Poor choices because of lack of experience. Yeah, I know I should study for tomorrow's exams, so I can get into a good college and earn a degree that will secure my financial future for the rest of my life...but it would be more fun to go skateboarding with my pals.

    Just a few suggestions :)
     
  20. Three
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    Three Member

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    Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but it may help to make your guy character less "cheesy romance guy", and help with the relationship dynamics. :) Anyway, this is what I've learned from my brother, dad, boyfriend, and various guy friends. (NB: I am [obviously] not a dude. This is just the way that I * think * guys work.)

    1 - Women overanalyze, and men underanalyze.
    If you're having a really bad day and he asks you if you're ok, if you say yes he'll believe you. Even if you're definitely not ok. He'll take your word for it and go on merrily about his day. If you get emotional later he'll be totally surprised. After all, you said you were fine. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, women don't always work this way.

    By the same token as taking your actions for face value, he thinks of his own the same way. This isn't by any means to say that men are "simple creatures" (lol), incapable of irony, sarcasm, hyperbole, understatement and all those other wonderful literary devices. What it does mean, however, is that if he suddenly starts going to the gym every day determined to get in shape, you start worrying and ask him if he's doing it for your benefit and he says "No, I just want to get in shape," it doesn't mean he's embarrassed about his self esteem issues and thinks you'll think less of him for having them. It means he just wants to get in shape.

    2 - Women are overemotional, men are underemotional.
    Being a woman, you know how sometimes you get upset over something very minor, or even over nothing at all? It pretty much goes without saying, but men never ever do that. Ever. If he's mad, it's because he has a really good reason.

    And they don't need a straight out apology to resolve an issue. Proving you were right, or him proving himself right is often enough. Sometimes (and this might be a personality thing) they can even let go of an unresolved issue. One thing doesn't change though. Once the issue is resolved in his eyes, he lets it go permanently. None of this female "the straw that broke the camel's back" tally system. Issue resolved, slate clean. Never spoken of again.

    On the topic of emotion, the idea that a man never cries is preposterous. Men are human. But they don't cry even close to as much as women do over the things that women often cry about. Again, personality enters in to this, but as a general picture, a man may (or may not) cry at the death of his father, or best friend. A man will not cry if his girlfriend of six months breaks up with him. It doesn't, however, mean that he's not upset.

    3 - Men hardly ever "share feelings"...
    or experiences that invoked sadness, fear, embarrassment, etc. (Funny, or rage-inducing experiences are frequently quoted though.) It takes a lot of trust for a guy to recount personal experiences, and would typically only be recounted to a long time best friend or serious (relationship wise) girlfriend. Unlike women, they generally don't feel the need to share their life-changing experiences.

    4 - The subconscious quest for Alpha status.
    In the same way that I like to be reassured now and again that my boyfriend still thinks I'm the top pick of females he's seen, he likes to make sure I know he can kick my brother's butt. And the butt of any other guy I know.


    But apart from that they think more or less the same, to my knowledge. The rest is just personality and experience. Basically, men are just like women, except that they make much more sense. :D
    Hope it helped. :)
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Leave biased gender stereotypes off this site, please.
     
  22. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Stereotyping?

    I thought we were just comparing notes on how relationships between opposite genders are actually interpreted (as in the "Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars" context)...with a bit of light humor on the side. :)

    And, of course, as a gentleman, I do apologize to anyone I inadvertently may have offended, because that was never my intention.
     
  23. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not offended:)

    I like being a woman and all the complexities involved with that:) Sure there are generalisations but fact is there is usually a divide, I have a lot of masculine qualities my husband has feminine ones but there is still that bit in the middle that cannot comprehend why he has to leave his clothes in the living room lol

    My dad and brother have a different mix, my dad was meterosexual using hairspray and moituriser in the 60s, would never strip off in the living room but then he would go around the house wearing his knickers on his head something my husband wouldn't lol and he sleeps with anything in a skirt,
     
  24. Three
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    I'm really sorry Cog, I didn't mean to offend anybody! :( Those are just things I've learned about guys I know, not meant to be blanket statements by any means.
     
  25. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Actually, I think the post deemed offensive was my reply to yours, since it was removed.

    Apparently my sense of humor wasn't age appropriate for all viewers. I shall have to keep that in mind in my future posts.

    *Starts to say something, but then decides not to bring up his Scottish heritage and his kilt* :)
     

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