1. Deleth
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    Deleth Member

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    Immortality

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Deleth, Feb 24, 2011.

    This is not for the story I'm currently writing, but an up and coming one I'm planning.

    Basically without revealing too much, I have a character who has been alive since the Tudor period in England (around the early 1500's is when she was cursed with immortality), and the story in which she is the star of takes place in modern times.

    Now I already know how much of her back story I'm going to HAVE to include in the story to make things make sense, but a question keeps gnawing at the back of my mind.

    This woman is a little over 500 years old and is going to have a TON of back story that I could tell either in this story or in other ones about her, so the question is how much background is too much? Or is there such a thing?

    (personally I don't think there can ever be too much background for a singular character)
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Only include things in the story as they come up and you need them is my advice.
     
  3. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Give the back story info whenever you feel the readers need to know as the plot and story progress. Don't devote a chapter or two on back stories without any plot movement.
     
  4. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    if you read other stories with ancient characters...their mystery is often preserved by a very minimal telling of back story....
     
  5. Deleth
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    Deleth Member

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    You know, I hadn't thought of that point, and keeping most of it just in the imagination of readers DOES add a lot, thanks for the advice guys!
     
  6. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    Just imagine for a second what immortality would mean. I don't really think she would have that detailed of a backstory as you think. At a certain point, anybody she ever knew would have died, and thus leaving her with no personal relations to build conflict. I'd see a person with immortality to continue to exist for reasons such as the curiosity of the fate of man, or possible out of vengeance or desire to kill or discover what caused the immortality. If you lived that long, days and years would simply start to go by very fast, and things would begin to hold little to no importance without that sense of an impending death.
    So the backstory to the plot could just really consist of her describing a life of immortality: how it effected her personality, how it effected her view of humanity. I'm not sure she would have much of a past of complicated relationships when eventually she would outlive every person she would ever meet. You could then move on from there to the rest of your plot, minimal backstory necessary.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Might be worth looking up Dr Who and Torchwood.
     
  8. Writing in the Mist
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    Writing in the Mist Member

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    Give it as needed, but try to balance it with mystery. Leave what you can to the imagination of the reader, or try to imply it through her actions. If you interrupt an action scene with background, keep it to a minimum. Panorama scenes are usually best for historical commentary.

    ~ Mist
     
  9. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    In my first novel there's a character who has been alive about 300 million years. I told pivotal points in history that formed his motivation for his actions in the modern setting of the story.
     
  10. Dandroid
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    Dandroid Senior Member

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    i couldn't imagine writing that character...
     
  11. Deleth
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    Deleth Member

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    Me neither, sheesh!

    Thanks for all of the input, really helped solidify how I want personality to appear to be at the beginning of the story!
     
  12. Ellipse
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    If you have ever seen the Highlander movies or tv series (even as bad as some of them are), the immortals in that series survive for hundreds of years (thousands in a few cases). They only tend to remember thinks from their past when an event in the present triggers a memory.
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have one that has lived since the dawn of the universe - she is a school secretary :) Think i approached it differently to Allegro.
     
  14. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Weave the backstory into the writing, so that it won't be long passages of info dumps.

    But really, try to include mostly that which is relevant to either character building or the here and now.
     
  15. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Should I bother mentioning the logic flaws of a 300,000,000 year old humanoid character?
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    main one being even they have forgotten their backstory lol :)
     
  17. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    300,000,000 years ago, humans didn't exist. Our nearest known ancestor at the time were the tetrapods, small salamander-like creatures.
     
  18. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Why not, you could have endless fun going on about the trauma he got when the dinosaurs died... :)
     
  19. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    That assumes the story takes place on earth - or for matter this universe :) Beauty of fantasy all you need to do is give it context.

    Mine is at the site of all universal creation no idea how old she is. Just she was second created.
     
  20. Deleth
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    Deleth Member

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    I'm not going to bash that character because everyone's imagination is different,but that quote made me lulz...
     
  21. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    I based him on an exaggeration of loneliness and longing. If you've ever been lonely then you know that you want it to end at some point, you can take it, but you'd rather not. If you've know a lot of people who have died, then you might want to prevent others from dying. That's the way this guy feels.

    He's not human, but looks it. He woke up and found himself along hundreds of millions of years ago. During that time he saw several non-human but intelligent creatures evolve, build civilizations, and befriend him, only to see them destroyed based on the same factors over and over.

    When humans finally develop he's very happy because they basically look like him and so he's willing to do anything to keep them alive.

    That's just an expanded version of my own life seeing people die due to the same causes and wanting do something about it. That can lead to all kinds of positive and negative things.

    Anyway, I believe that all of us have the seeds of any character in us if you can access the associated emotions and expand them to a dominant trait.
     
  22. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Overall a good series.

    But the point is right on. The 'backstory' would only become relevant if it is relevant to the current storyline. Sure, the experiences over the ages and such would form the foundation of the immortal's personality and motivations and view on 'life' and death.

    A month to an immortal is really nothing, nor is a year.

    Think how long a year seems to a 5 year old, compared to a 75 year old. A year is what % of a 5 year old's life compared to a 75 year old's.

    How would attitude and planning differ with an immortal vs. someone who an expected 70 year life span? And even at that, one could get snuffed out without warning...but not the immortally cursed.

    In my novel, Flank Hawk, there are immortal beings that were once human and, although they are not main characters, they do influence the plot and storyline, because they have--and continue--to influence history and politics and such. For what it's worth, they consider the mortals pawns in their 'bigger' backdrop struggle. I had to ponder these issues, to a certain extent, but not as if they were main characters.
     
  23. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Well that certainly is creative.

    Congratz.
     
  24. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Amusingly enough, there's a whole section about just that!
     
  25. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure what you're trying to say with this comment.
     

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