1. jrdarkness2
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    jrdarkness2 Member

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    Immortal Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jrdarkness2, Jun 22, 2011.

    ...but with a crippling weakness.

    For example, in Greek Mythology - Achille's Heel.

    Or on Adult Swim, American Dad.

    Rothaga.


    Would this idea be frowned upon?
     
  2. Suadade
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    Suadade Senior Member

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    I'm not sure I know what you mean by "frowned upon." I mean, obviously, as you readily can give multiple examples of the type of character you mean, it's been used before, right?

    If you mean people would frown upon your using such a character, then no, as it's been done before and it's a tried and true concept.

    If you mean people would frown upon your using such a character because it's been used before, then you just have to put your own personal twist on the character to make it fresh and interesting.
     
  3. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    I have no problem with an immortal character. I mean technically, despite their being the ability to kill them with stakes Vampires are immortal. I myself am working with an immortal character in my series. I think its all based on the way the writer writes it. And makes the character something unique and personal.
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    An immortal character pretty much has to have a weakness, even if it's their emotional attachments to non-immortals (Jack Harkness) because otherwise there's nothing to write about.
     
  5. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Neil Gaiman has Sandman, Death and several of their siblings as regular characters. ;)
     
  6. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I don't see the problem with it. Your God could be a mute or your Vampire could have had an appendage chopped off that did not grow back. They may have been crippled before they were turned.

    It is your story and tell it how you want. If we tell you how to tell the story then it would not be yours.
     
  7. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    Known fictional Immortals with Weaknesses:

    Cain of the Bible. No one dares touch him as he has the mark of the covenent and if anyone harms or kills him they will be avenged upon sevenfold. Read into it further as you will.

    The Immortals of the Highlander universe can be permanently killed by beheading. In the movie canon, they literally cannot be killed except by beheading. In the TV series they can be temporarily killed by all of the usual offenderrs, but beheading is the only way they can be permanently killed. Also any wounds to their necks are permanent.

    A vampire's weakness depends on whose writing them. Mine aren't even immortal.
    And the demons

    Tolkein's Elves seem to only die if they give up their special necklaces or rings, but I haven't read Return of the King yet, so I don't know if that's purely a movie concept.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course, they are Endless, not immortal -- as we discover, they can die.
     
  9. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depending on their role in the story, it's probably best not to harp on their weakness and define them completely by it. I mean, obviously such a thing will be plot important and should be used as such, but if you personally are worrying about it you will start to overemphasise things, and maybe make it too much of a big deal. After watching 3 seasons of Doctor Who over the last couple of weeks, I've seen the several different writers handle it in different ways - some completely forget he's immortal (or at least, won't *die* when he dies) others work quite hard to make it so the peril for him is as great as any other character, or just put him in positions where it's the squishy human companion who's always in trouble, and he's relatively safe for the most part. Emotionally, he may harp on it, or seem quite cheerful or what... Between his mood swings and the changing writers, there's no emotional consistency in the character, so watching a series will give you examples of such a character handled well and badly. I'm still wincing about how in Martha's introductory episode the Doctor was apparently killed, hearts stopped and all, and despite that in the important episodes he usually regenerates instantly, he lay there five minutes before she manually restarted his hearts, without a single glowy gold speck around him, because it would be inconvenient to explain it and they had to keep Tennant Doctor alive for another 2 seasons. :p

    In any case, all immortal characters are extremely annoying when every word out of their mouth is "OH I'm SO IMMORTAL" - you're just waiting for the weakness to come bite them in the bum and prove them wrong. You don't want your readers thinking, "Gods, this guy is such a jerk for rubbing it in my face he's not going to die and I am..." When I write mine they're aware they will die like any other person, just an extremely long time from now, if they're lucky. My latest big epic fantasy thing involved a species who were immortal (long-lived, not invulnerable), but had had their chance of an afterlife stripped away, so they had human fear of death, despite the fact the main character first person narrator was a thousand years old and lived his whole life with that curse. So they were easy to write as normal characters because they were taking even less risks than the squishy humans, because their lives felt more fragile - if my squishy humans died chances are they'd have gone to heaven. :p I never made a big deal of it - I just laid out the facts early enough on for it to be in the reader's mind, then got on with the treasure huntin', romancin' and monster slayin', and aside from a few short hopeful mentions, only came back to it at the very end, when their curse was broken and it was relevant to talk about it again.
     
  10. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have not seen Highlander: The Source, for the love of your sanity, DO NOT WATCH IT! It will hurt your brain with its terrihorribadibleness. :( That movie completely rapes everything the others set up. I mean, even the second Highlander movie is better than it.

    Your immortals don't necessarily need to have a physical weakness. Being immortal can be its own weakness. Just think, while you live on forever everyone you know and love will grow old and eventually die. That's gotta mess with a person's head.

    Then there are hazards like being buried underneath a collapsed building. The immortal is screwed unless someone digs him out. Or imagine being lost in the Sahara desert without food or water. Your thirst and hunger would be the stuff of legend but no matter how weak you got you still wouldn't die.
     
  11. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    Too late.

    I just think of the Source as a Sanctuary induced hallucination. Much like people have written of The Quickening in much the same way. Thank god for Endgame.

    Well, the Doctor is over nine hundred years old,(or seven hundred if you go by Hartnell) but he's hardly immortal. He has one more regeneration to go.

    And a couple of times during Tenth's run it's the companion that saves the Doctor.
     
  12. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I agree.
    Totally immortal people would fear nothing.
    Walk through fire, walk off a cliff, and when angry immortals would fight very long boring fights(neither could get hurt)

    Immortals could conquer the world if they alone were immortal. Walk into a massive army and kill them one by one, rest while the army hacked at him or shot her.

    When you have a limited time to live life, you focus on some point. If you have unlimited time, then nothing is urgent, you will get around to it eventually.
     
  13. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are degrees of immortality... I usually take it to mean you don't age, but can still die through sickness or violence like everyone else.
     
  14. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd still call that near enough immortal to normal humans - you write him in the same way. The rest is all nit picking.
     
  15. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    You need to remember the difference between immortal and invincible. To me immortal just means you live forever so long as you stay out of trouble. If say an immortal elf had their head chopped off they would still die. It's only if a character is invincible that they can't be harmed by this. Generally I dislike invincible characters because there's no threat to them. Rumoured to be invulnerable? sure. Very very hard to kill? Go for it. But not invincible.
     
  16. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is not dead which can eternal lie.
    And with strange aeons even death may die.
     
  17. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    But they come back in another form, since they're just embodiments of timeless concepts. But, true, they can be defeated and killed.
     
  18. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's actually one of those ideas that works in theory. If five people were to wrestle you down to the ground, immortal or not, you are not going to be able to fight them off. They can then chain you up, tie you to a very big rock, and then drop you off in the middle of the ocean or bury you alive in a cave. You'll eventually be back because you are immortal but not for a very long time.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Frowned upon by whom? Why do you care?

    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?

    Decide how you want readers to react, and write the story to nudge their reactions in the right direction.

    As for how immortals would live, or what role they would take in society: You're the writer. Decide what YOU think an immortal's daily existence would be like, and paint the picture for your readers.
     
  20. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Love Jack. One of my favorite characters ever. :D

    I think immortals with one or two weaknesses are better than ones with none. Makes them a lot more interesting.
     
  21. animefans12
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    animefans12 Member

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    I'm thinking that immortal characters live forever and obviously don't die, but they are still vulnerable to pain, fear, etc.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Being immortal doesn't mean you can never die. It only means you have yet to find that which can kill you.

    Even Jack Harkness didn't go on forever.

    It's up to the writer to decide what the consequences - emotional, moral, societal, etc. - of immortality are, and show them to the reader.
     
  23. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, that's exactly what it means. If you merely haven't found out what can kill you then you are apparently immortal.
     
  24. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, you can also use immortal to describe someone that is incredibly long-lived.

    Baldr was immortal until Loki found his weakness.
     
  25. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's essentially true. I mean, after awhile, your live forever character would get pretty darned boring. He didn't die yesterday. Yay. He didn't die again today. Yawn. Yeh. We already know that.

    It is the weaknesses in our characters that make them interesting. I recently finished a work with a man who was made immortal by the most vicious act of evil concievable. He will die, presumably, but only when the world itself does. (THAT was a tough ending to figure out because there is no happily ever after for this guy.) But he does bleed. He has weaknesses. Most especially, he has a weakness of the heart for the people around him - no, not sexually, though that certainly cannot be avoided from time to time, but, even though he knows he is, essentially, limitless, that doesn't stop him from becoming absorbed in the society and the people with whom he is, at any given moment or 'lifetime', surrounded. He even had amnesia for a while and didn't even know he was immortal, though dreams of his past kept cropping up to drive him nearly insane! So, yeh. I definitely believe your character, regardless of immortality, must have his weaknesses. They are what give him humanity ... not to make him mortal, just human. Sometimes, the greatest weakness can be that very immortality that elevates him above mortals. No?

    If you break down the word immortal, you will find 'mort' from the Old French "morte" meaning ... death. Ergo, immortal means not 'mort' ... not dead. So, immortal means, loosely translated, the condition of "not subject to dying" or, more specifically, 'never dying'.
     

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