1. Yoish
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    Yoish Member

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    Is the opposite of a cliche also a cliche?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Yoish, Dec 27, 2009.

    Here is my question. I know that a typical character, with no quirks, is a bit cliche. (Think, the hard nosed, un-emotional business man, the sweet, loving teacher...) So you are supposed to give a twist to your character, right?

    But in the story I am currently working on, I made the un-emotional lawyer have a private studio where he goes to pain, and his emotions are channeled through his art, and so nobody sees them.

    Is that also too much of a cliche? It may sound unrealistic, but I am actually like that also. You will never see me cry, get angry, scream, or display any other emotions. My emotions go straight into my writing, where I make my reader laugh, cry, or show other emotions.

    I guess to sum it up, my question is, how much can you twist the character before it gets twisted too far?


    Thanks!
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is difficult to say. Each character is different.

    It depends on what works for the story. It's okay to have some characters as 'stock characters' but generally not the main character of the story. Stock characters have their uses.

    Think of each character as a type of tool being used to tell a story. Only you as the writer know how far to 'twist' a character. But for the reader, it has to be logical and make sense. Don't add to a character just to avoid being too cliche if it's called for.

    I wrote an article a short time back that explains the basics of the different types of characters, with brief examples. All are legitimate, used as necessary by authors, and modified to fit the need.

    If you're interested, here is the link to the article: Seven Common Character Types

    Good Luck,

    Terry
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Treat your characters as individuals and it's something you never have to worry about it.
     
  4. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your lawyer doesn't sound like a cliché, or the opposite of a cliché, so I'm not sure what you mean. And with the broad description you've given us this isn't unrealistic at all.

    Twisted characters are always good. Twist them as much as you can. But be sure to substantiate their many foibles with experiences and circumstances. It's a juggling act. For your reader to accept the character as a living breathing person in their mind they must understand them. And for that, you need to twist the character's environment along with him/her.

    You can make any character work. It boils down to your skill. Have the confidence, you'll learn along the way.
     
  5. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    I think that you will know by writing your story how much it gives into. I also think it sounds like your writing is great, and you are well on the way to maintaining a great character. :)
     
  6. Yoish
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    Yoish Member

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    Thanks for your replies. Just to clarify, my story is based around the lawyer's outward lack of emotions vs. his inward emotional self. I appreciate your feedback though, and I will work on it, and see how it develops.
    :)
     
  7. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    Stop worrying?

    Sorry, that is terrible advice. Cliches, while I love to make a big deal about avoiding them, are only offensive when you use them because you are too lazy or [insert insult here] to create something of your own. Think of Star Wars: the whole movie franchise is based off of cliches, but it works well for what it is doing.

    Basically, what I am trying to say is that you should write your damn story and if it comes out like crap then take a deep breath and begin rewriting or start a new story.
     
  8. Yoish
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    Yoish Member

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    Thanks Irish. I like that advice. I guess 'cause it's easy to follow. :-D
     
  9. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    BTW, the opposite of a cliche would be a nuanced, deftly drawn character. I'm still trying to succeed at writing one of those myself! :D
     
  10. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    It's a fine line. In general, I'd prefer to portray a character who is larger than life.
     
  11. Yoish
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    Yoish Member

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    Bruce, you mean rather than risk a flat, two-dimensional character?
     
  12. bruce
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    bruce Active Member

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    Yes. This depends on the genre. I prefer to create a well-rounded, three-dimensional character plus one particular trait which makes the character stand out.
     
  13. Yoish
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    Yoish Member

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    Thanks.

    Working on him now. I do feel like I know him already, which is good. Now I need to write his story cause I am curious what will happen. ;)
     
  14. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    IMO, having one-dimensional characters isn't a bad thing--depending on their purpose for the story. It's generally bad form to have a main character one-dimensional, but characters that support the main character can't be too complex themselves, otherwise the main character becomes a lot less interesting. When I decided that all my character deserved multiple layers I found my readers starting giving too much interest to minor characters. So, depending on the purpose and the exposure the character gets in the story is how much you should develop them. There's a few characters I have that if I gave them another layer I know I would ruin them entirely and so they stay rather flat, giving much more emphasis to the main characters around them.
     

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