1. Michael the Angel
    Offline

    Michael the Angel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2014
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    11

    Introducing an Outsider

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Michael the Angel, Jul 8, 2014.

    Alright, so my current project features a young adult from a socialist commune coming into American society and having to interact very closely with peers from an entirely different lifestyle.

    At what points have you had to introduce a character who was entirely different than their newfound accomplices or associates? For discussion purposes, I suppose you could include racial/ethnical changes in high fantasy, but I was hoping to remain grounded in our very real world.
     
  2. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,828
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I try to tap into feelings of having been to places where I've ever felt awkward, intimidated where people were talking about things that all seemed natural to them and foreign to me. I try not to over think it too much. I notice that when I feel like the outsider my focus seems to be on the differences, but in actuality I'm looking for the similarities.
    However in the case of a socialist you have to consider the characters - some would love and embrace the freedom - others maybe more critical and defense of their own cultural beliefs.
     
  3. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,241
    Likes Received:
    1,000
    I'm not sure whether my outsider is "different" enough by these standards but the very beginning of the book had my protagonist - a 26-year-old local TV reporter who has lived in small cities in Wisconsin all her life, suddenly getting hired on to the biggest cable news channel in the country and trying to adjust to Washington's high-power society. She's having to deal with people who don't see the world in as simple, black and white terms as she does - the fact that some people are motivated more by power than right and wrong - and confronting more poverty and racial tension than she's seen before.

    Later in the story (haven't written this yet) I'm actually throwing a total curveball by forcing an Australian Aboriginal reporter on staff who has to move to Washington from a small city in North Australia almost against her will - she's going to help my reporters with a big story regarding organized crime, get offered a big job in Washington as a result, turn it down to maintain her lifestyle and friends - but then one of her closest friends is getting killed by a bomb that was meant for her. So after that she decides she can't stay. She's going to have even more difficulty mainstreaming.
     
  4. Michael the Angel
    Offline

    Michael the Angel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2014
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    11
    That actually sounds really interesting Lemming. Do you have a link?
     
  5. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,241
    Likes Received:
    1,000
    Unfortunately the story is not written yet. Working on pulling together a first four chapters including the Wisconsin character arriving in DC but the Aboriginal character isn't until much later. Wish I had something to share but I'm at the beginning not the end of the process , asking a lot of questions myself
     
  6. maskedhero
    Offline

    maskedhero Active Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2013
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    America
    One common trope is for a small town person to meet people who seem genuine, but are clearly not. Office drama or something of that sort can usually apply.
     
  7. BFGuru
    Offline

    BFGuru Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Somewhere in insomiaville
    Hmmm. I just wrote a scene during WW2. There was a program taking children from war torn nations to the US so they could live without bomb raids. In any case, I just introduced two kids, when there should have been one, a girl when it should have been a boy, and a non verbal 3 year old. To say there is a culture gap between the families is an understatement, even if they were from similar nations.

    There is fear of the unknown. No one knows each other in this situation. Concern over embarrassment. Fear of rejection. And no sense of dialogue comfort. There is remembrance of what cast you in that situation to begin with. Longing for the familiar. And missing those you do know.

    Things look different here. The sounds are not the sounds you are used to. The smells leave a taste in your mouth you haven't quite decided is pleasurable or not, but it is not the smell of home.

    There could be jet lag, or some other time discrepancy causing a mental fog.

    Maybe those vague focuses on the senses will help?
     
  8. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,788
    Likes Received:
    7,301
    Location:
    Scotland
    Throwing an outsider into the works is a great plot device, and it can work from both sides of the divide.

    If your POV is the outsider, then they need to understand and maybe adapt to their new environment. Either that or decide to change it.

    If your POV character is on the stable side of the equation, living in an environment that is familiar and maybe unchanged for a long time ...and then a stranger turns up...

    I know I LOVE stories where a 'stable' situation is shaken to the core by the arrival of an outsider. To some extent, my own novel deals with this. I personally enjoy watching the ripples start to fan out, once the pebble gets tossed in.
     
  9. Charisma
    Offline

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Messages:
    2,704
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    Lahore, Pakistan
    I suppose I'm in a very fun situation with regards to the outsider's debacle. My narrator is of a different ethnicity from my own (to be fair, almost all of my characters are), while a major character is pretty much from my own background. The setting puts the narrator in the prevalent culture, and puts the major character in the outsider category. However, in the course of the story, the narrator has to acclimatize to my cultural background, so the roles are shifted; the outsider becomes suddenly the one person who's at home. :D It's pretty exciting for me because I am well-acquainted (though of course, by no means an expert) with both cultures, having raised in one and watched the other, and there are so many ways I can think it would be both humorous and thought-provoking when the narrator sees the nuances.
     

Share This Page