1. Noctivagus
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    Noctivagus New Member

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    Love a character too much?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Noctivagus, Dec 12, 2008.

    Have you had a character that you just love writing for so much you find yourself afraid to let anything bad happen to him? Well, that's the position I'm in. The character is beautifully flawed - he's insecure, kind of an asshole to people not in his circle, and he's got a history that's put him through the ringer...the guy has issues.

    He's just been through a rough trial that could've ended with his death, and I had to really pull all the stops to get him through it. There were times I found myself writing with time passing - hours that seemed like minutes, I was so involved in the story. LOL! It was some fun stuff to write. It made the character very real in my mind with the choices he had to make to pull through that part of his story. As a result, I really fell in love with the character, so much so that I find myself pulling back now in the rest of the story, and, well, it's killing it.

    What do I do? How do you develop a more clinical approach to a character's story to give them the conflict they need to push a story forward?

    This has probably been covered before, and I'm still browsing through the pages, but I'd really like to get some perspective on what I view as a rather unique problem.
     
  2. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    You could end the story now, with the characters death. Saves you endless emotional struggles between you and your character when continuing the sotry.
    However you yourself might die of grief.
    Maybe the rest of the story could be about you and your greiving...

    Seriously though, you could actually try introducing a new character to the story, endless conflict opputunities there. Then you could give some of that concentration to this now new character.
     
  3. Show
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    Yes, this happens to me a lot. Sometimes I figure that the death is just not good for the story, and get out of it that way. Others, I suck it up and feel that if I am this emotional over it, that maybe the audience will be too, and the story will benefit from it. This has been the case a lot of times so far, and I still miss the characters I've decided to kill. :(
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a pretty well-known phenomenon, and it can be deadly to your writing.

    Your characters exist only to contribute to the story. Abuse them, maim them. bring them to the brink of death. Let some of them succumb. Their struggles will bring life to the stories.

    Would you want to read about someone who goes to school or work day after day, who is always contented and has no real problems? How utterly boring!

    Do horrible things to your characters. They will love you for giving them purpose.
     
  5. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I love my characters too much, but that's all the more reason for me to make bad things happen to them. They'd be dull, cardboard, unlovable, if nothing happened to them and they were just static and unchanging.

    I notice that in other people's works, I'm most drawn to the characters who go through a lot of nasty stuff and make it out the other side.

    I don't agree that characters exist only to contribute to the story--sometimes, it's the other way around--but that's merely my opinion, and as I said, who cares about a character if they never change and nothing bad happens to them, ever?

    Perhaps you need to write your character for a while with nothing bad happening to him, to exorcise that bit, before letting the bad stuff happen. Because if the story warrants it, it'll have to happen sooner or later. You said your character has already had bad stuff happen to him--so you can make it happen again.
     
  6. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Put him down before he pops up in your next novel and then the one after that.
     
  7. mobious109
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    mobious109 Member

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    Characters will always be loved, even the crumy side kick has at least one fan, but in that turn people will love them even more if they go through trials and tribulations and they come out the other side.

    Don't be afraid to do bad things to good characters. They wouldn't be good if bad stuff never happend to them. They would just be a warm body in the room and that doesn't do anybody much good.
     
  8. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Sometimes a character dying, or just having really crappy stuff happening to them, gives birth to a great big golden goose just spewing great golden plot eggs all over the place. Especially if it is a character the reader really cares about.
     
  9. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Exactly!

    Never love your characters so much that one can't die! I've already planned the death of one (or more) of Kate's support group...why? Because it's something she has to go through. You want to see a character go through hell losing someone they love (SPOILER ALERT COMING....DON'T READ FARTHER IF YOU KNOW THE BOOK I'M REFERRING TO!!!!!!) Is the death of Libby Gant in "Scarecrow" by Matthew Reilly. That was a blow NO ONE including myself expected Scarecrow to have to take...

    But sometimes it happens to make a stronger, more resilient character.
     
  10. Thagryn-Sylrand
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    Thagryn-Sylrand Senior Member

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    I haven't yet had a character that I am addicted to writing about but I have a name that I'm addicted to adding to a male mc for my story. Thagryn. Yeah it's my user name though the sylrand i don't always use in my stories as a last name.
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Next time keep your self distant. They are not real. They are simply made up characters that might be parts of yourself, fragments of your subconscious self, and that could be why we get attached. Just keep reminding your self they are not real and beat them up.

    As far as what to do with this character that you already fell in love with, hmm. Maybe take a break; keep telling yourself he/she is not real. Make him do something bad so you feel he deserves to be punished.
     
  12. Show
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    I don't think that it's necessarily to tell yourself that they are not real. In fact, on the contrary, I think you should convince yourself that they ARE real. And as such, bad things must happen to them. Afterall, bad things happen to real people in the real world. I also think that considering the characters as real yourself, helps you to write them in a way in which the reader will see them the same way. That way, when something bad happens to them, you and the reader will have a better chance of caring about it.

    Cause let's face it, in the real world, bad things happen to people all the time. There's no reason why a character needs to be "not real" in order to have bad things happen to them.

    If you have a character you love, I say all the more reason that if you should decide to have something bad happen to them, make it meaningful. Remember that this isn't just another character that you don't care about, but one which means a lot to you. Therefore, make extra sure that you give them the sendoff that they deserve.

    I myself have killed many characters I've been attached to. And I always find that those I am attached to leave more of an impact on me than ones I kill whom I am not attached to. I feel it's seeing them as real which has allowed me to write them better and although it was hard to put them through all of that, I feel the fact that I cared about them made their demises all the more powerful. Had I not cared one way or another about them, and saw them as simply "not real" or "there just to further the story," I feel that the death would've come off as bland and unmeaningful.
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for a timely reminder. I can't bear to give one of my characters anything other than a happy ending after all her struggles, but it would be dreadfully trite...
     
  14. Show
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    There is nothing wrong with happy endings if that is for the good of the story. Sometimes a grim ending can hurt a story, depending on what kind of story it is. But happy endings can still be done after giving a character some pretty intense struggles. Heck, even if you want a happy ending, you can still make your character go through trials, and you may actually come out of it loving them more for surviving their trials.
     
  15. Mousie
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    Mousie Contributing Member

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    I dunno, Madhoca, I like it when good characters have less-than-happy endings. Somehow, it makes me love 'em even more.
     
  16. Zcreative
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    Zcreative Contributing Member

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    I loled at this. I never have had this happen to me, but it seems hard. I like all my characters, and I seem to actually never have anything bad happen to them....
    I may do this unconsciously......... *reads all of his stories*
    OMG I have this problem toooo.....nooooooo...
    I guess I'll take Cogito's advice....
    *Maims notebook*

    Z ;)
     
  17. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    A last-minute reprieve, then? I'd just better make sure it doesn't fall too neatly into place.
     
  18. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I respect my characters. And sometimes the most respectful thing to do, is to let them die when their time comes.

    If a character is tragic and destined to die young, then the character MUST die young, or it would destroy the character of the character.
     
  19. Show
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    A last minute reprieve, or a slow reprieve won only after an intense struggle. You are the author, so you'll know what to do. But just reminding you that putting characters through hell doesn't mean that they have to have anything less than a happy ending, if a happy ending is what you are after.

    That is true, but usually characters destined to die from the time of their creation are more easy to let go of because you created them with the intention of their early demise. What is hard is when a character whose fate wasn't set in stone at their creation, has to die. Killing them can be tough because you may have had so many plans for them, and they didn't include premature death. And now, you're brain has written them into their fatal corner, and you really have no choice but to kill off a character you've become attached to. I find that those characters are harder to kill than characters you've intended to kill from the time of their creation.
     
  20. Blossom
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    Blossom New Member

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    I have had this problem, where I've grown very attached to my characters as they've developed and as a result I feel protective and don't want to do anything horrible to them. However, in my experience once I've got an idea of where they're going and what will happen to them in my head, no matter how much I want to protect my characters I can't dislodge it. If something has to happen to them, it just has to happen.

    It doesn't necessarily go that you have to give your characters constant tragedy and heartbreak, but if something feels right for that character's development then you as a writer will eventually be able to come to terms with it because it long run it might actually help your character.

    A lot of the time with my characters I find they press to do their own thing, regardless of what I had planned, and I just have to go with it.

    You'll know what's right for your character and your story, even if it means putting your character through the ringer. You've shown that already, as you know glossing over the trials is killing your story. You just have to find your own way of coping with abusing your character.

    Me? I embraced sadism. How you do it is entirely up to you.
     
  21. Show
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    That's basically how it is for me. Regardless of what I want to happen, things just happen that I have no control of. That includes killing characters and often ones I like and don't want anything bad to happen to. Still grieving over my latest victims. :( But what has to be done, has to be done.
     
  22. Mr Vampyre
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    Mr Vampyre Member

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    I think killing a character can be the ultimate sign of affection towards them. It's the characters we kill, after all, that are the ones we tend to remember more fondly and that the reader remembers more fondly.

    Though obviously only kill a character if it will actually help the story progress. In my novel that I am writing I could let one of my main characters live but it'd be a waste. She'd effectively just be sat around while the rest of the story progresses without her.
     

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