1. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I prefer one character over another...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Gallowglass, Apr 15, 2013.

    There are two main characters of my book, Cael and Jack. They're brothers and joint leaders of a nationalistic resistance movement, and so both of immense and equal importance to the overall plot. The character arc of them both is in fact a central focus of the plot. Trouble is, I greatly enjoy writing Cael where Jack gets more of a 'meh.' It's not that I don't like him or find him boring - in fact, I think he's inspiring and his character interesting. But Cael's a lot more entertaining (think of him for the purposes of this thread as a combination of Vaas Montenegro and Zus Bielski from Defiance) and I just click with him to a much greater extent.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to rectify this, preferably without omitting character traits from either, if possible?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does it necessarily need to be rectified?
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was wondering that too. Why do you need to change one? Do you want mirror images of the same character?

    A great film is "The Wind That Shakes The Barley" - It's about two brothers in Ireland in 1920/21, both on the same side fighting against the British but end up divided by the Civil War. While both were on the same side to start they were two very different people. One was a doctor who took the hypocratic oath, I forget what the other was, but he wasn't as naturally caring. Obviously the doctor had been to med school while the other drank and chased girls but they loved each other deeply as they were also comrades in a battlezone as well as mere siblings. I won't spoil the film and tell you how it ends but well worth a look and may help you out of your hole.
     
  4. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't want to change either of them. I just thought it would be easier to write dialogue if I liked them both as-near-to-equally as possible.

    Thank you for telling me about that book, erebh, I'll be sure to give it a read.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One thing you might want to try is to forget for a while about Cael, put your arm around Jack's shoulders, and take him aside for a bit. Write a scene or two just about Jack, scenes that won't appear in your novel. This is like taking a vacation with your character in order to get to know him and appreciate him better. When the vacation's over, go back to your novel and put both characters to work. You'll probably see these characters more equally then.

    Good luck!
     
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  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Get the movie - the book of the same title is about Robbie Burns, being a Scot you probably know this. The synopsis I gave you is not out in book form
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've been there as well. That's when I stop and think how could I make this character more interesting to me. Sometimes I change the sex (not possible in your case, I guess) or just think of themes that I'm interested in. In one story I had planned and even written out a somewhat promiscuous, carefree, straight white woman. So I got bored, because there was another character similar to her in the story already. I ended up turning her into an ex-Israeli Defence Forces op, drug addict and bisexual 'cause I just had more to say and explore about being ex-military, addicted to drugs, and being bisexual.
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I agree with the above replies. I have had this happen before too. I've found when I try to make my characters too similar I get bored. When characters have personalities that are different it creates opportunities for conflict which always makes a story more interesting. I like minstrel's idea too. I've found writing some side stuff I may not even use for the story helps me get under a character's skin.

    More recently I had this happen with two of my female characters. One is much more impulsive and dramatic and the other is more soft spoken and gentle acting. Naturally I found the more expressive of the two to be more fun to write. I did some on the side writing with the other character and realized there was way more to her than I'd initially thought.
     
  9. bluejt2000
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    bluejt2000 Member

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    It doesn't need rectifying. Novels shouldn't have two main characters. Even if both character arcs are central to the plot, one of them should be the dominant one.
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love and often advocate minstrel's idea myself -- you can never get to know your characters too well. But, just because you happen to like one character more than the other doesn't mean everyone will. As long as you're creating a well-rounded, well-developed character, there will be people who like the other character more than the one you like. So it's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think it might be a good thing, since you've created different characters.
     
  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think one of them should be the dominant one, but it's probably pretty darn hard to write it 50/50. At least I wouldn't limit myself to picking just one to be my main-main hero. I enjoy novels with multiple main characters way more than those with just one.
     
  12. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think characters need to have equal presence in a book (but they could and that'd be perfectly fine too), but if one inspires and interests you noticeably more than the other, I'd take a step back and ask myself why? In my case, it's usually because I have something to say through one character (making them interesting) and not so much through the other. So I figure out what could I say through the less interesting character, something that's important to me, what intriguing topics could I discuss through the character, and when I figure that out, the character becomes interesting and inspiring. That's one way to go about it, I suppose.
     

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