1. S Raven
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    S Raven Member

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    Lame character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by S Raven, Jul 28, 2015.

    Is it OK to have the main character quite lame?
    He's going to interesting and likeable, just not that smart.

    Does the main character need to be strong, all singing and dancing?


    Sam
     
  2. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Nope. Given that more than half the population is not above average for intelligence, the character would at least seem realistic.
     
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  3. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    Intelligence alone does not make a character interesting. A good character has both strengths and weaknesses. He or she is not perfect, not all-good or all-bad. A reader can identify with an imperfect character because it helps them accept their own personal flaws.
     
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  4. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you main character has no outstanding characteristics at all (not even wealth or influence), then you risk that person being overshadowed by everybody else. For instance a prince or princess can be pretty ordinary as a person, but he/she becomes uniting force for all the other characters simply by their rank and political significance.
     
  5. AgentBen
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    AgentBen Member

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    A lot of main characters are not smart, and a lot of people like that. Who wants the MC to just know what to do?
     
  6. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Ah, lame as in sandwich short of a picnic, bit of a wally, naive, walk-over, nerd - not an infirmity.

    Give your character an edge. He can be the biggest nonentity going, but give him some skill/purpose/resolve - anything. A bit like the evolution of life and finding a niche in which to survive. Find him one.

    Don't forget, statistically, 50% of the population are below average...
     
  7. S Raven
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    S Raven Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Would an ongoing ambition to date a girl who's way out of league be enough? Would I need something else, like being a master at McGyvering things?

    Sam
     
  8. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    The girl thing would probably need to be a thread going through the tale. I'm thinking more like - he's lame, but by hell he can cook.

    Or, he's a bit of a wally, but he's a wizz at electronics (and bring examples into your tale.)

    Look at Walt and Jesse in Breaking Bad (if you've seen it). Always into deeper and deeper trouble - Jesse attracts trouble like wasps to a jam pot, but somehow they get out. Until...

    Imagination here can work wonders.
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I really think this is the sort of thing you should work out for yourself. Of course a lame character can be a 'main' character, a POV character, the protagonist, the villain ...but it's down to what you do with this character that will make your story. Joe Abercrombie just wrote a lame character as his protagonist in the first book of his latest trilogy. And Glockta in Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy? A masterpiece in character creation. Long John Silver had a wooden leg. Etc.

    Don't get in the habit of asking people whether or not you 'should' write a particular character a certain way. You need to decide what kind of character YOU want to write about. Then decide what makes this kind of character tick, and then work on creating the effect you want in your readers.

    Of course you will want reader input AFTER the story has been written. Then is when you discover if your character works or not. Then you can get pointers on what to do to improve, if need be. But the initial story decisions need to be taken by yourself, the writer—and nobody else. You want to create a likeable, romantic, powerful, memorable character who is lame? Figure out a way to make him all of these things. That's the trick.

    Should I write a main character who is lame? And you take an opinion poll beforehand? If folks say Yes, you're still have to figure out how to write this character he appeals or makes his mark. If they say 'No,' does this mean you're just going to give up and write something else?

    Have confidence in yourself. You thought up the idea, so there's something in it. Make it work. Don't ask IF it will work. Of course it will work, if you make it happen.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @jannert I think the OP meant he's figuratively lame. Like, "that dude is so lame."

    I think a character can be interesting even if they're lame -- or not very smart. Such characters can be humorous and surprisingly relatable. However, if you yourself feel bored with him, then you probably need to come up with quirks that possibly make him less lame.
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, dear. I'm showing my age....:)
     
  12. S Raven
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    S Raven Member

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    Thanks jannert, that advice hit home to me. Yes, it should really be down to me. I guess I'm convinced that I alone can't create an interesting character. I'll sleep on it a few days and see what traits he gets.

    Sam
     
  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No harm, no foul. See, you helped :D
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Aye, right....
     
  15. WriterodLife1994
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    WriterodLife1994 Member

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    The main character that starts out "lame" should grow less so over time, learn through experience. Some of my favorite characters ever were ones that you start out face-palming at every other paragraph and by the end of the book or at least the series it's obvious they weren't as inept, immature, or dumb as they started out being.
     

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