1. AJ Winters
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    AJ Winters Member

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    Is this personality appealing?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AJ Winters, Nov 26, 2011.

    So, the main antagonist of my novel is a forty-six year-old man who, due to a reaction to a particular medicine, now has incredible strength.

    His voice and appearance are based off Samuel L. Jackson and Djimon Honsou, you know, someone who is respectable and refined, but also someone who could kill you in a heartbeat sort of thing.

    Where I'm getting stuck is with his personality, or demeanor. At the moment, he is as above; he's very smooth, calm and has that sort of gravitas like a Prime Minister/President, but he is short tempered. In a climactic scene in the story, he tries to extract information from Ben (main protagonist) and he has a cool composure for a while (even when he shoots someone - not telling who hehe). When his patience runs out, however, it is an extremely quick change to his rage and an even quicker change back to coolness when he gets what he wants.

    So... does this sound like a good personalty for him to have? He'd be cocky, arrogant, but then could lose control. Sort of like Ralph Fienne's performance of Voldemort?

    Any other suggestions as to what his demeanor should be? Would the one above appeal to you as a reader?
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yay, I've been wanting for someone to bring "The incredible Hulk" back again in a new outfit! ;)) Actually I thought about this about a week ago, like "How come no one invents that kind of stories anymore instead of all the vampire stuff? Now that was one even I liked". your description instantly made me think of him.
    "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

    Please keep writing. That's all from me.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that it would work for me, no. Cocky and arrogant distances one from a person; to me, they come off as defenses that conceal the real person inside. Then when the rage comes out, that either (1) suggests that _that_ is what's inside, that there essentially is no soul in there, or (2) that that's another version of the defense and that we're never going to see the person inside.

    I want to see the person inside. I'd prefer for his non-rage personality to be courteous and gentlemanly, with some sense of humor, and some sense that the courtesy is natural and not just a mask. (Yes, I know he's the antagonist, but remember when Hannibal Lector, the psychopathic cannibal, was upset at the discourtesy of one of his fellow inmates? I found that fascinating.) He can be confident or self-deprecating; either has its advantages. But cocky and arrogant would, for me, just be a mask, and masks bore me.

    ChickenFreak
     
  4. je33ie
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    je33ie Member

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    This personality would work if you create a bit of mystery around the character - hints as to why he acts like this. He might carry a photograph in his pocket that makes his stern expression melt every time he looks at it; he might get angry only at one particular type of person who reminds him of someone from his past etc.

    This will help the audience connect with the character and also give you something to 'answer' in the second half of the book.

    Good luck!
     
  5. MVP
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    MVP Member

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    Sounds like sociopathic personality disorder. They thrive on drama. Research it, you will probably find all kinds of interesting tid bits to add to this character's actions.
     
  6. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    He sounds like a well trained but inexperienced sort of character, not really a villain but not quite a good guy either. I imagine he'll come off as a bit of a dick a lot of the time but I think that'd be part of the appeal - a villain like character who see-saws between anger and composure. The latter serves as a veil for the former which will lead to a lot of very tense moments.

    I think this would be an interesting character to have around and perhaps his anger should have its limits. He shouldn't completely go off the rails and there should be certain people within the story who are able to calm him down or otherwise "control" him, not so much through force or coercion but merely knowing what makes him tick and what makes him wag his tail like a semi-obedient hound.
     
  7. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    I'm thinking of Jack Reacher from the Lee Childs books. This character sort of bothers me. He's very random, in my opinion, and there is very little described about his feelings or justifications for his actions. I've read two books with him and he's the same. Cool, distant, capable of violence, but just a wanderer. Both books put him in some small town where things happen beyond his control, and he can deal with everything in a superhuman way. He has incredible strength but also that disturbing detachment. I found both books rather boring because the emphasis of this character who I didn't like. I want to like a character, or at least understand his motivations. I don 't think Reacher's actions or thoughts are explained, maybe on purpose to make him seem mysterious and elusive. I didn't find the character realistic. In the book I most recently read, but I honestly put down after half of it because it was so slow, he is arrested for a crime he didn't commit. He had very little reaction. He knew it was wrong and convinced the detective it was wrong, that they had the wrong person, but instead of being outraged about it, he just went along with it like it was no big deal. And when they put him into the general population of the prison for the weekend and he was almost killed a few times, he handled it (beat up a whole gang), but then he didn't react. His lack of reaction I find unrealistic and disturbing for some reason. i don't want to read any more about him.

    I think if you justified the character's abilities and also clued in the reader to his reactions to his newfound strength, that would help us to connect to him. Why does he lose control and what is the impetus for that? How does he calm himself afterward? Just make sure it is based in reality. To me, no reaction is not realistic, and that's why I find Lee Child's main character so undesirable.

    Good luck!
     
  8. AJ Winters
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    AJ Winters Member

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    Double Post. :)
     
  9. AJ Winters
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    AJ Winters Member

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    Thanks for all the replies! :)

    Tesoro, I like the green text! :p Unfortunately my character is a little bit more subtle than The Hulk, you know, no color change or freaky roar... it's a nice idea though. And thanks for the encouragement. :)

    ChickenFreak, you have a very valid point about 'seeing the person inside'. The back story for my character, Gospol Salone, is that he was a senator who's goal was to become president, but due to his condition (osteoporosis) he was ridiculed by the media, by the members of congress etc. So now that he is strong and powerful (physically and socially) he wants to regain his political power and blah blah blah... and obviously he holds a grudge against those who ridiculed him or did not support him - the reader would find this out (does that get rid of the mask?) So, do you think maybe his rage could be short lived because he is such a refined and courteous man? Sort of like, he could get angry, but it is humorous and smooth anger - does that make sense?

    je33ie, I see what you're saying and wonder; would it seem right to you if the reader ends up finding out that all of his actions were the result of many years of constant jibes he received? But not in the way like, "Oh the bad guy is really a good guy because he was bullied and we should forgive him," but more of a, "Whoa, look what constant needling has done to this bad guy who was once good!" Know what I mean?

    MVP, thanks for the advice, but I planned the character as a really good guy (intelligent, courteous and generous) who was pushed over the edge by the media, public etc. and that this new power has gone to his head sort of thing. What d'you reckon?

    ScreamsfromtheCrematory; first of all, your name freaks me out. :p Thanks for the input; I think I will tone his rage down a bit (a lot). Perhaps just enough anger (or nostril flaring) to show that he really can be dangerous, sort of like an, "Alright, enough with the 'Mr. Nice Guy' stuff. I'm going to kill you now." Because I think he'd be the one to keep things calm when the other antagonists get out of hand. What do you think?

    picklzzz, I've never read the Lee Childs books, but I think I will do so, so that I can make sure my character doesn't go the same way. Some of the chapters are from the main antagonists POV, and he talks to the younger antagonist (he has become his father figure) about how people screw you over and betray you etc (referring to his senator days). Here he would sort of slip almost back into his usual self where he explains (not too vividly) about why he is doing such things, but then you see how his reasons are fueled by his emotion etc. Would these serve as good times for justification?

    Thanks all,
    AJ
     
  10. Devrokon
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    Devrokon Senior Member

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    It depends how it's written. The whole package counts, not just the a singular element of content.
     
  11. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    ScreamsfromtheCrematory Member

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    Yeah, sounds like a plan. I imagine his anger should be less of the raging-volcano sort and more of the brooding burning embers type. He won't sort of explode but he'll let elements of it creep in through his tone of voice, how he pronounces certain words, tension in his body language and other such things. He could even be aware of the effect his anger could have on other people so he's able, presumably at a certain emotional threshold, to rein it in and let it emanate from him like some morbid aura of ill omens. This could be handy both for intimidating people he could be interrogating or other cowing into submission and keeping subordinates and possibly even incompetent higher ups in line.
     
  12. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I think it depends on what plot you give this "character". Cause I could see him not looking that appealing if you have a plot that kind of emphasizes his impulsiveness/agressiveness in a bad way. But there have been plenty of stories where the "hero" is short tempered but he's very much liked because he's constantly trying to defend people. I could imagine a plot where a close friend or family member is in danger and he quickly goes into "rage mode" as a means of saving lives.

    In fact, you mentioned Samuel L. Jackson. His character in The Negotiator was a lot like what you are talking about. He's framed for murder, and instead of just taking it calmly he takes some police office building over to try to clear his name. Very impulsive, very impatient, doesn't really care what you think of him but at the same time he knows right from wrong and always does the right thing (in the grand scheme of things).
     

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