1. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Let the protagonist grow?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Stammis, Nov 11, 2015.

    I have been working on the powers of the main character for a while, to balance it properly with the progression of the book. But I feel that I have hit a dead end. I need a different opinion! There is so much back story that needs to be explained to get the full picture so I am just going to tell the basics and what is relevant to the main character.


    The basics are that there is this item, the book of legacy, that revives a power that all the three races used to have, before their world was destroyed. The red race has the power to enhance physical ability, the yellow race has the power to manipulate gravity of sorts. Meaning that the people are able to punch a person without touching them, but they instead have a recoil effect, like a gun, if used too violently. To counter this they have a developed a martial art that minimises the recoil effect. The blue race can see ultraviolet light and is thus able to see in the dark and see through certain objects.


    So with that in mind, there is one person that carries this item called the carrier. The idea is that his power is immense, but without proper training, the power is only activated through strong emotion, such as fear and hatred. When he is in this state, he can move so fast that everything around him seem to move in slow motion. He also becomes incredibly strong. But, this is limited by his stamina and goes unconscious shortly after use if he is not able to control his emotion.


    At one point in the book, he will be so out of stamina that he is not able to utilise his power even when feeling intense anger. Thus he is forced to learn a new way to use that power. When his mind is perfectly empty and without any emotion, he is able to control the output of the energy much better. He becomes stronger but not as powerful as before, but in turn it will also last longer.


    My dilemma is that I want my character to grow, but I don’t want to make him too powerful. He was, weak, young with not much experience of the world, except through books. But being weak gave him a charm. People are willing to follow him, they trust his judgement and acknowledges his significance as the carrier. Even though much of the fighting is left to his friends.


    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this.
     
  2. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    My opinion is that you have a good, strong foundation for the basics of your story. It's promising, but needs more meat on its bones, which I'm sure is part of the reason you posted this in the first place. I'll get right to my specific thoughts and suggestions:

    - the start of the story needs to be interesting and understandable considering how little the reader will know at that point, and the information needs to be spread throughout the story and not annoyingly and implausibly dumped in a couple of conversations right at the start

    - the MC needs to be a fully rounded character with strengths and flaws both physical and intellectual and to hava a character arc

    - there needs to be a story and plot beyond merely "There's this guy who's really powerful beating up some bunch of really dangerous bad guys."

    - a few subplots and brick jokes/references would be nice; a thread of one or a few specific topics or themes could also work well as a way to make the story feel less like an unshapely blob of text and more like a beautifully crafted masterpiece where not a single word is out of place

    - having the MC not know everything he needs or wants to know at the beginning and finding it out gradually through searching for documents, witnesses, crime scenes or whatever would add a level of suspense and anticipation in your readership

    - you need to establish the world your races/characters inhabit, at the very least in your own head, if not to your readers

    - you need to evaluate the logic of the story to avoid irritating head-scratching moments like "Why didn't they just leave?", "Why didn't they just ask X people living in Y place?" or "Why didn't he use his powers of Z to destroy the MacGuffin remotely before the villains arrived instead of waiting and turning off the machine manually when they started monologing?"

    - you should seriously (re)consider the blue race's powers; they seem very difficult to write, balance, make believable and describe in a written medium

    - calling the races in color terms, if that's something you plan on actually doing at all, is not necessarily such a great idea: it can easily objectify the races (giving them proper names will make them more relatable and not as easily dismissable as "oh, it's those guys who all look like that and nothing else about them is special or interesting whatsoever"), not particularly logically sound (Who would give them those names in the first place? Why are the names in English? How come they happened to all be primary colors? Wouldn't a more random-sounding group of colors sound more beliavable?), boring, not clever and even as racist (people easily jump to comparisons to the real world and its terminology, and if that's not intended on your part, that can be very distracting and seen as a bit insensitive as 2/3 of your race names have negative connotations in real life)

    - you should make sure to not make the MC overpowered

    - you should make sure to not make the resolution at the end of the story be obvious: the reader should be tryign to figure things out while the MC is and you should throw in more cul-de-sac plot-based curveballs to knock your readers off the scent and/or make them think

    - the MC shouldn't have to entirely rely of his powers or luck to win in the end, he should also depend on his courage, wit, goodness and love (or some other combination of (favorable) traits)

    - you should develop a well-rounded antagonistic character with an evil plan that's actually plausible, interesting and intelligent, making the story and plot appear firmer through having a set adversarial character who the MC has a goal of defeating, ensuring that your story ends in a thrilling battle rather than petering out and none of your earlier scenes getting pay-offs

    - you may want to write in quite a few confrontations between the MC and his enemies to prove the importance of what he's doing and establishing his enemies as a force to be reckoned with


    My apologies if these points are too generic or obvious. Hopefully some of them made you think about possible additions and improvements. Again, I think it's a great starting point; I wouldn't have bothered to write this post if that wasn't the case. Feel free to ask me further questions. Otherwise/regardless, let's hope someone else chimes in with their ideas from a third angle. Good luck.
     
  3. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Thank you for the long replay! I am glad you liked it. These are the very basics of the nature of the power, and I can fill several pages if I am to make sense of it to unfamiliar readers. I just wanted to make sure that the basics didn't sound convoluted. I guess I just wanted some confirmation that the idea didn't sound stupid... It is funny that most of these points you make are true already. So that made me feel good, thanks for that!

    I actually got an idea after this post. In my story there will be an impending invasion. It is hinted towards through the story, but the MC will not know the nature of it or who the main villain is until very late. And rather than having a grand battle that will determine the future of the world, I will make the MC strength useful and act as a guerrilla type warfare. The advance of the enemy is slow, and sense the MC search for the truth has come to an end (for the moment) he devotes himself to protect people that are affected by the invasion. He spends several years like this. (He will get another clue that will put him on track again, eventually)
     
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