1. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    DonnyCraft(JS) Member

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    Is my character Cliche?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DonnyCraft(JS), Dec 7, 2014.

    My character's name is Leo, and here is everything about him.

    Leo is six foot three, and very built. He has a short, brown crew-cut and curly, yet smooth, hair. He has light brown eyes from his mother and an angular face from his father. He works out (not all the time, but enough to have him built) and does some parkour if the streets are clear. He has kleptomania, and it’s really annoying to him.

    SPEECH AND LANGUAGE/COMMUNICATION:
    Pace of speech (fast, average, slow?): Average
    Voice tone (shrill, high, average, deep, squeaky, hoarse, harsh, authoritative, cultured, etc.): Deep
    Accent/dialect, if any: A little slangish, and some professionalism
    Any favorite/habitual words/phrases? Curse words?:
    Hell and damn- doesn’t go much farther than that.
    Describe general vocabulary or speech pattern (e.g. educated, precise, pretentious, average, uneducated, vulgar…): Educated but sloppy.
    Mannerisms/demeanor?:
    Cool/confident; Nervous/shy Remote


    Typical posture:
    Average, varies with mood
    Gestures: Rarely

    Common/habitual gestures (e.g. nail-biting, hair patting, drumming fingers, clenched fists, hands in pockets, etc.): Bites nails(when nervous);Clenches fists(when angry);Hands in pockets(when at ease)
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on how you write him. Make him real and he won't be cliche.

    The stuff you've told us here doesn't tell us much. I highly doubt that's "everything about him."

    You've got a good jumping off point, in exploring his kleptomania, and why he finds it "annoying."
     
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  3. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    DonnyCraft(JS) Member

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    Thanks! Here's a quick line that Im going to use to show you how "human" he is...or not :O

    24-32-15.
    I turned the dial of my school locker's lock clockwise to twenty-four, counterclockwise twice to thirty-two, and once again clockwise to fifteen. I grabbed the shiny little metal handle below the dial and pulled. My locker opened wide and I backed away a little to give the door room, only to bump into another student, who had blonde hair and was wearing a pink T-Shirt.
    "Hey! Watch it, freak!" He shouted as he passed me.
    I surely did watch. I watched him walk down the hall, past the other hundreds of teens probably in here. After I saw him turn a corner, I went back to what I was doing.
    Inside my locker, two of my spiral notebooks sat on top of each other over three huge textbooks. Each notebook was black in color, and had the words "Leo Barren- My Notebook" written on it in white ink. I grabbed both of them and stuffed them into my grey backpack, where a tornado of organization lived. I don't think I've ever seen the bottom.
    I grabbed my English three textbook and threw it in the educational vomit of my backpack, and, surprisingly, it fit.
    I slammed my locker shut and spun the dial so no one knew the last number of my combination. Then I joined the wave of normal people who were heading to last period. Like I'm normal.

    I don't think I introduced myself to you. My name is Leo Barren. Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I know my last name sounds like "Bare End." I get it.
    So, if you laughed, your one of the people I would punch in the face if I saw you in public. I suggest you close this book. Now.
    If you didn't laugh, then welcome aboard my life. Your officially neutral to me. Keep reading.
     
  4. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Difficult to tell if this character would be a cliché. However, there are a few things I'd like to point out:

    His hair is a short crew-cut, while being curly and smooth. Not sure about that; can't really have a curly crew-cut.

    His demeanour is cool/confident and nervous/shy at the same time. Is that possible?

    The most cliché parts here are those listed under common/habitual gestures. The things listed there aren't the sort of things that real people do all too often. A character that did those things a lot might fall into some kind of cliché.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Humm... Well, I still don't know much about him. We don't need the details of his locker combo.
    One problem I have with your last part -- it's clever, but I think it needs to be handled differently. Because when I saw/heard in my head, "Barren," I didn't think "Bare End." So, you didn't have me there. That kind of drove space between me and the character instead of connecting me to him. If I had thought that, and had laughed, I'm not sure your character telling me he hates me would make me feel closer to him, either. And if I thought it and didn't laugh, and got that I was merely "neutral" to him, that doesn't do much for me, either.
    If you want to use this bit, a better way might be to have another kid call him that and then we see him reacting, either externally by saying something back, or just by being in his head, learning what he thinks about having just been called that and maybe him wanting to go punch the kid, but not doing so, and going back to his backpack, or whatever he does.

    Don't use character sheets. Just go write scenes with your character to get to know him.
     
  6. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    DonnyCraft(JS) Member

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    Remember, he's got kleptomania. His demeanour changes ALL the time :)
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is the combination of his locker important? The contents of his backpack? I feel like I was drowning in details, but none of them were all that interesting.

    And the connection between "Barren" and "Bare end" is pretty sketchy - he seems REALLY defensive about that, for no reason I could see.

    So... cliche? Not necessarily. But not all that interesting yet, either.
     
  8. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    DonnyCraft(JS) Member

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    Whoa! That's not how he really is! Here's the next lines; sorry!
    Woops. That's not the way to start a life story, is it?
    Sorry. It's not my fault I don't care about things much. I have kleptomania, which is this rare mental disorder that makes the poor, poor victim want to steal. And sometimes, the victim's emotions sway to virtually nothing. But at other times, they can spike. And that's when I get ugly.
    Well, not literally. It's not like I'm hot, maybe cute. I really don't know, as I don't like mirrors. Last time I saw myself, however, I can remember that I have short, brown crew-cut and curly, yet smooth, hair. I've got an angular face from my dad and light brown eyes from my mom. But it's not like I see my mom everyday to know I got my eyes from her. My dad told me she had brown eyes; Last time I saw her was when I was four, and she died in a car accident that year. Dark days at the Barren house, let me tell you that.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Kleptomania is a compulsion to steal things, right? What's the connection to his demeanour?
     
  10. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    DonnyCraft(JS) Member

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    Read the above :)
     
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's usually best if you start your story with something happening, and then you can work in all the other details as you go. Where does your story start? When do things change? What's the first event that sets the character off on whatever he goes through in the book? THAT's where you want to start. We can figure out what the guy looks like and what's in his backpack later, if we need it.
     
  12. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    DonnyCraft(JS) Member

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    That's going to be clarified through the story. I did my research- Kleptomania is connected to the Serotonin levels in the brain, which controls emotion. The urge to steal comes when the Serotonin decreases, causing a more of a cool, calm, and collective or angry impulse to random motives of other people. It's like explosive intermittent, but less extreme.
     
  13. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    DonnyCraft(JS) Member

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    JESUS CHRIST, you want the beginning? Okay...
    Here's the prologue. :/
    David Barren, a scientist at NuTek, wipes his sweaty forehead as he reads over the analysis of his newborn son, Leonard. Leonard, small and chubby, is in a small cushioned pillow next to him on a counter in his lab. He had been born there; David's wife, Abigail, refused to have their child born at a facility for manufactoring the future, but David insisted. At the end, it was David who had won.

    Leo, who had been in his mother's hands just moments before, was very quiet, and watched David with curiousity. David glanced over at Leo and smiled. They had the same sharp features, and even the same smile. Leo had tan skin, however, and David had a deep brown. David tickled Leo on his feet and cooed, and Leo giggle a little and then his face went back to staring at David. David sighed. Now was the time.

    He put down the anaylsis on his desk next to the counter and grabbed a tube out of the tube stand, which was adjecent to Leo. He looked at the injection tube, and saw no label. He looked around his desk, worried he had grabbed the wrong vial.

    "Looking for this?" A voice sounded from behind David. David turned around and stared into the face of a man who was about two inches shorter than him, with short-cropped black hair leveling to his ears and a genuine smile on his asian face. His english wasn't perfect: It sounded as if there was a period at the end of every word he spoke. He wore a lab coat, similar to David's, and was holding another vial.
    "Jyon Kishimoto," David said, grinning, "Where were you? I though I was going to have to start without you."
    "Ah, that's just it." Jyon looked at David with mild humor, and handed him the other vial. "I'd never be late for an injection. You started way too early, dear David. And who might this be?" Jyon turned to the analysis sheet for Leo and glanced at the child.
    "My son," David said, looking down at the vial Jyon had given. It read, "+TSS".
    "Your son? And you didn't tell me you and your wife were expecting? At all?"
    David laughed. "Never bring home to work, as you always said."
    "Well, you did today. And why did you want to inject your son instead of the other child I recommended?"

    David looked up from the vial and grinned. "I want my son to be one of the first on this project."
    Jyon sighed, putting down Leo's analysis. "He may be the last, dear Barren."
    "What!?" David was shocked.
    "The health board doesn't approve of us testing on children every since poor Kayle Noir died in 2007."
    "But Adrian was a success! No side-effects at all! Same goes to Patient Zero!"
    "True. But you know it's up to the board, not us."

    David looked down at Leo, who could be one of the last to try this scientific endeavor.
    Jyon noticed David's sadness. "Do you want to try it with him?" He asked.
    David looked at Jyon in the eyes. "I can't. I'm immune to the effects of it, remember?"
    Jyon looked down at Leo. The child was beginning to fall asleep.
    "Perhaps I can try it with him," Jyon said, "We can continue to test on me until the boy is old enough to know."
    David's face lit up. "Brillant! Also, I don't think Abigail would be happy if I did tests on Leonard, anyway."
    Jyon nodded, his face serious. "Okay, let's begin the procedure."
    David decided that it was better if Jyon had gone first, just to make sure his vitals didn't go haywire. He grabbed a shot from his desk and put it into the TSS tube, and extracted the chemical from the vial to the shot container. He tapped the needle on the shot.
    "Are you ready, Jyon?" David said, grabbing Jyon's right arm sleeve and pulling it up over his biceps. Jyon looked into David's pupils.
    "Yes." Jyon put his arm on the counter, next to Leo as he fell asleep.
    David sighed. "Let's hope for the best."
    David punctured Jyon's arm with the needle and shoved it in into his skin. He pushed down on the back of the shot as the contents entered Jyon's blood stream. David quickly pulled the needle out after he finished.
    David threw the needle away. "How do you feel?" He asked Jyon.
    Jyon looked at David and smiled. "Nothing. Good sign, right?"
    David nodded. "Should I check your vitals?"
    Jyon shook his head. "I don't think so. I feel fine."
    David nodded. He knew that Jyon was better experienced than him- Jyon was older, anyway.

    Jyon looked over at the sleeping Leo. "Ready to inject Leo?"
    David nodded. "Let's attach a Constrictor to him so we know what's going on in his body."
    Jyon nodded and rose out of his black chair. He walked to the back room to grab the Constrictor device as David grabbed the vial of TSS again.
    He loaded the chemical into another shot and waited for Jyon to return. A few minutes later, Jyon came in holding a small laptop-like device with four wires extending from the back.
    David and Jyon attached the wires to Leo and turned on the Constrictor. It gave a few beeps, and its LED screen lit up, showing all of Leo's current vitals and brain activity.
    "Okay, let's inject Leo." David glanced at the monitor one last time before looking at Leo.
    "Alright, buddy. Let's do this." David grabbed Leo's arm and quickly inserted it, pushed, and pulled it out. Leo stirred a little in his sleep. David looked concerned.
    "Strange. He was supposed to wake up."
    Jyon was glaring at the monitor of the Constrictor. "David, look at this!"
    David threw away the used shot and stared at the device. "Oh, no..."
    The screen showed Leo's brain activity decreasing on a line graph. It started to dip below normal levels.
    "No, no!" David yelled. He pressed a button on the Constrictor. It changed to a screen that simulated Leo's brain chemical levels. The levels of a chemical called Serotonin was decreasing rapidly. Leo stirred again and whined.
    "Davd, do you think...he cannot have gained..." Jyon's eyebrows connected to his forehead with concern.
    David looked down glumly. "I think he is. He's gaining kleptomania."
    Jyon looked at the place his arm was shot. "That's impossible! You can't gain kleptomania, it's genetic not biological!"
    David watched as Leo's serotonin levels remained at a low. "I'm afriad it's too late."
    Leo opened his eyes, and looked around at Jyon and David. David knew he couldn't tell for sure if Leo really did gain kleptomania, but he was sure of it. Kleptomania was linked to serotonin levels in the brain, which dealt with emotion.
    Well, David thought, grabbing Leo and holding him sadly in his arms. Only time will tell.
     
  14. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    Also, keep in mind that Im in Chapter One, the prolouge and everything already complete. I just found some moments that I wanted to see if they were cliche
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Then cut everything from earlier. Start with him stealing something and feeling that rush. Put us in the store with him as he's putting the candy bar in his pocket, or whatever. And we're with him as he leaves, acting smooth, avoiding the clerk, seeing a cop, etc. And give us that rush he feels when he's outside. And then maybe he even throws away the candy bar.

    I don't need his physical description now, either.
     
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  16. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just checked DSM V (just an online version), and it doesn't really make kleptomania sound like that. http://www.theravive.com/therapedia/Kleptomania-DSM--5-302.32-%28F63.3%29

    "While kleptomania does cause strong impulses to steal, these thieving events are not triggered or accompanied by hallucinations or feelings of anger or vengeance."
     
  17. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's great that you did the research. You need to in order to write the story that way. But you don't have to TELL us he has kleptomania or what causes it (unless that somehow becomes relevant to the plot.) Write all his symptoms and how he behaves, and people will say something like, "this guy must have kleptomania." (Or they won't say that because they won't know, and that doesn't matter. They get to know your character through his actions and experience his highs and lows, etc. It doesn't matter if he officially has kleptomania or not.)
     
  18. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    I never really meant anger, and (I'm spoiling the story) this kleptomania is an altered version that strains directly to Explose Intermittent.
     
  19. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    That was my first draft, and it sucked really bad. I had to redo the entire story. In the first draft, Leo was in jail and waiting for his parents (yes, both parents were ALIVE in draft 1) to pay bail.
     
  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I skimmed the rest of what you posted... the prologue, I guess? I'd still recommend starting chapter 1 with something happening, not general description.

    In terms of the prologue - I feel like you're hand-waving a lot of the science. I mean, his serotonin levels fluctuating doesn't seem like a direct link to "gaining kleptomania"... does it? It could mean any number of things. And saying kleptomania is "genetic, not biological" doesn't really make sense, either. Genetics are part of biology.

    Anyway, this is obviously a lot more critiquing than you asked for. Sorry.

    I hope you enjoy your writing!
     
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  21. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    "Genetic" as in "gaining from heredity" and "Biological" as in "test tube." And my novel is set in the future- the scientist know more than most diseases than nowadays. I skipped over some sections because I'm not going to upload ALL of my work, yet- It's still a draft of my second draft.

    And I actually love the critiquing! Im still learning! Please give me more!
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe you could use a different word instead of "biological" in that context, since it already has a meaning other than the one you're using it for? "in vitro" means in a test tube - maybe that would work?
     
  23. DonnyCraft(JS)
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    Okay! Cool! Thanks!
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    I still don't feel that we know this character. He works out, he's pretty angry, and he steals things. But who is he?

    (I'm pretty dubious about the kleptomania science--if they can predict disorders that easily, why can't they cure them just a as easily?)

    I meant to add: It appears that you're assuming that kleptomania can result from a serotonin disorder, a serotonin disorder can be assumed to cause kleptomania. I don't think that's accurate.

    As a metaphor, imagine that you're hungry. Does knowing that you're hungry tell a researcher what food you'll eat, or just let them predict that you will seek to eat something? A problem with low dopamine/serotonin will, I believe, motivate any number of behaviors that may increase the levels of those brain chemicals. I can't see a scenario where anyone could predict WHICH behavior the particular person would choose. Kleptomania, gambling, compulsive shoplifting, compulsive hoarding, compulsive eating...I believe that there are dozens of possible behaviors that can increase dopamine/serotonin.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  25. Okon
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    From what I can tell, he's really, really vain, which is far from a cliched protagonist trait. I think you should expand on that.

    Also, don't worry about being 'cliche.' (it's a stupid word, by the way). Don't worry about the disease's plausibility, either. You can make up your own or change the circumstances. Just worry more about actually completing and editing the story. That's the hard part. If you can get experience in that, then you can decide what is original and what isn't.

    Go from there; it's like training wheels, steady riding, and finally wheelies. Focus on having fun.
     

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