1. MaryMO
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    MaryMO Member

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    How to have my characters connect emotionally?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MaryMO, Nov 8, 2014.

    In the beginning of my story my characters mother dies. Her death sets off the start of their training and journey to become rulers.

    I started it out slow for a few pages in the first chapter. As soon as I separated the four siblings, I threw one of them into a training room with their counterpart. Cara1 has no idea who this Caro2 is and why he is there with her. I immediately start by having him test her reflexes and instincts. Distracted for a few moments, Cara1 soon realizes her siblings are gone. Remembering what was said and what happened during the time they were all given pendants, she becomes fearful of Caro2. Since she is the first born to quadruplets, her protective instincts also kicks in instantly and she starts demanding the whereabouts of her siblings. Caro2 tries to explain what is going on, but she has no real reason to believe him. So instead he points out the changes in herself to show that some of what he's saying is true. While this is going on they get attacked. When they escape she has a panic attack and passes out in his arms.
    When she wakes up she finds herself in his cabin. They leave and she's trying to find a way to escape from him. She has no where to go and no way of finding her siblings so she decides to stay with him. They get attacked again, but this time Cara1 defeats the monsters herself. After expending all her energy on this, Caro2 takes her to his parents village.

    In Chapter 2 Cara1 meets Caro2's parents, where his mother assures her safety. She's naturally drawn to Caro2 and she can't figure out why. Cara1 see's Caro2 interact with his father while Caro2's mother leads her away to talk. There I have Caro2's mother explain and show a bit of what and who Cara1 really is. The village is about to get attacked, so Caro2's mother helps them flee from danger.
    After that Caro2 explains furthers. She freaks out and he's there. She starts to realize that he's not such a bad person and she starts to reciprocate his feelings.
    He starts training her again, figuring that they might as well since they keep getting attacked.
    This doesn't go on for very long, because by Chapter 3 they're attacked again.

    Notice the pattern? This is what I'm having problems with, I can throw any monsters, threat, or obstacles their way. But where is the real connection with my characters? They have very little down time and I don't know where I went wrong. Where do I start, so I can fix it.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not really seeing the pattern... I guess you mean the downtime-attack-downtime-attack pattern?

    The general idea is to have each attack more fearsome than the last. You can do this by strengthening the attackers or weakening the defenders, whichever works for your story.

    If you picture that plot graph, with action rising to the climax... the smooth-lined graph is usually for a short story. If you're writing a novel, you want a jagged line, but with the overall direction rising to the peak.

    Or maybe you're concerned that there isn't enough downtime?

    What genre are you writing? What's the 'main idea' of your story? Is it a romance, or a fantasy adventure? What's the point of your downtime? Is it just to allow the characters to bond?

    I'm not sure what you're asking, obviously... clarification?
     
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  3. James Random
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    Hiya!

    In society, the way that people connect (I did my Ph.D in human behavioural science and euthenics) with each other on an emotional level is by discovering that they have relevant shared experiences. These can be ordeals that they've both endured (they don't have to be identical, just have a kernel of similarity), passions, opinions, or having come from similar walks of life. People tend to build emotional connections by identifying with certain aspects of the other person in one area or another.

    I hope this helps you!
     
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  4. MaryMO
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    MaryMO Member

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    Both, romance and fantasy. I'm walking the fine line of YA and adult genre, more like PG.

    Cara1 is eighteen, her mother dies one day after her birthday. The trouble is that I don't really have a lot of downtime. I was told by a friend who has been reading every completed chapter so far, that she doesn't feel connected to them. More overwhelmed than anything. What I explained above was just the first three chapters, that continues all the way to chapter 6. In chapter 5 I added a third character Caro3, who will bring conflict between Cara1 and Caro2. I had Caro2 leave for a while and now it is just Cara1 and Caro3. They also get attacked shortly after. Then again in Chapter 6.
     
  5. MaryMO
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    MaryMO Member

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    Thank you! I already figured that with my third character. My real problem is the first Caro2. I'm having problems building him up, I made him out to be this perfect person, but realized that he's kind of boring. They just keep getting attacked, pretty soon they'll burn out and I'll have nothing left. I want romance and action too.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So it's not about them connecting with each other, it's about them connecting with the readers?

    I think you don't want to use 'downtime' to make that happen. I think you want to show us his vulnerabilities as well as his strengths.

    I just finished reading (listening to, actually) a fantasy trilogy with a band of fierce, dirty, cruel savages prowling around and fighting people (just one of the plots). At first the characters were unlikeable, but the author gave them little quirks that let me like them. One of them gets scared before every battle and has to pee, always at the worst times when he absolutely can't. Okay, a bit of humour, but also a chink in his super-warrior image. Another seemingly unlikeable character stands by a comrade in battle, even though she has no use for him as a person. A horrible, horrible character (a professional torturer) isn't redeemed but is made interesting because he has a sense of humour and is full of self-loathing. (This is all from Joe Abercrombie's First Law series).

    You don't need 'downtime' to show any of these things. Show Caro2 having a weakness, show him fighting to overcome it, or whatever. This can all come at any stage of the book.

    I think you're right to worry about 'burn out', but that's more reader exhaustion than your characters. I think you might also want to worry about your characters always being attacked, never attacking. Always passive, never taking control of their own destinies. But this can be a really solid structure for a novel... they get chased around and attacked all through the first part, then you have a turning point and they decide to do X to make it all go away, and they now have a goal to work toward. It can work.
     
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  7. MaryMO
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    There is a reason why they are the ones being attacked. Cara1's father is a god who is very powerful. With the shift of balance more to his side, he's become evil.
    There are two hidden players behind the scenes watching the events unfold. Right now they are too weak to intervene, the four siblings are destined to help bring that all back. The first novel is only the beginning as they train and learn more about their hidden world. What I'm writing will be a four series novel. One for each sibling where they will discover more about themselves and what they're meant to do. Their guides are also their mates. Cara1's story will be how I will get them all together, a war to bring back what was taken.
     
  8. James Random
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    James Random Member

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    I think a good character to look at is the Penguin in the new Gotham TV series. He's a villain, but despite this you can't help secretly hoping he'll succeed and such. It's interesting to see what dynamics make that work. Maybe you'll be able to draw some inspiration from it. Quirky characters are often the best case studies.
     
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  9. MaryMO
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    LOL.....That's kind of like my husband, Caro3 is based on his personality. While I love the man, he drives me completely nuts! We're living proof of opposites attract. People are drawn to him, he's sarcastic and narcissistic. He's also funny, witty and always has something to say, even if you're not asking for his opinion. I've never known anyone who can insult and praise you all in the same sentence. That's what I want with Caro3's character. Since I'm nothing like that, I have no choice but to ask him.
    It's hard though because it won't come out unless he's with his friends. I've asked him questions on how he does it, but he can't explain it to where I can understand. That's another problem I'm having.
     

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