1. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Main Character too unrealistic?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Fullmetal Xeno, Aug 31, 2011.

    I have been thinking about this for days, that my main charcter is too unrealistic i suppose. I could be wrong though. My main charcter Phoenix is at first a normal fellow, where he makes pranks in the bathrooms, hitting up the arcade, going to the movies, and throws water baloons at cheerleaders in the school he goes to in North Carolina. (Fictional school and city in a real state.) You know, the normal kid who gets into trouble sometimes, hangs out with friends and sometimes flirts with girls (not as likely though). The simple stuff. While having fun, he also has to hide his powers and his secret double life. Besides his double life and hiding it, he expect to return home to his home where Olympus is at, and he realizes everybody in olympus as far as he knows was murdered and killed, so he goes through a massive change. He begins to worry about his childhood friend Rayleigh, the last surviving member he ever considered family- left alive. He soon becomes a drastically quiet person, barely speaking a word, where before he used to talk alot. He then takes responsibility for everything (more then he used too) and becomes very mature. He ends up becoming an adult before he has too. He soon acts like he is on his own- a lone wolf. After being traumatized by his experiences he is also a shallow fellow. Becoming extremely strong in courage- and thinks less of himself. He also plans to give his life to anyone he cares about and would end his own life to save others. He doesn't like it when people die, so he sometimes get too stressed out because he wants to save everyone.

    He then has the problem of dealing with insults- he feels threatened all the time when somebody insults him. He takes this so seriously because of what happened to other kids in his school. He begins to feel paranoid. Everybody he knows in the normal life, grow concern for him while he fights off his shaky life along with fighting off demons and the ones who ruined his life.

    Do you guys like this Protagonist so far? I just wanted to see the reception of the fellow writers on this site. :)
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Don't seek validation - it's all in the way you write it (I know the template post will appear soon...)

    Seems like a developed enough character to me, though. Not unrealistic.
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    You want my honest answer? I disliked him from the moment you said his name was Phoenix. He also seems like a bit of an idiot, throwing water balloons at cheerleaders. Then again, that might just be normal for American kids.
     
  4. Hawwyboo
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    Hawwyboo Member

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    Does realism really matter that much? You're (presumably) not writing a non-fiction biography of a real person's real life in the real world, and even if your story is set in the real world it is still your own version of the real world. Some people might dislike your character and as a result might dislike the story, but then if you cater for those people you'll probably just neglect another group of people.

    With regard to realism, think about it this way. There are currently over six billion (actually nearly seven billion now) people on planet Earth. Would it be a great coincidence if at least one out of over six billion people was somewhat similar to your character? For that matter, would it be a huge coincidence if at least one out of a thousand people could relate to some degree with your character?
     
  5. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    He's not stupid, just a little arrogant at times. And my dad used to throw water balloons at the cheerleaders when he was in high school. It's very common for us Americans. I know the name "Phoenix" means dark red, instead of blue but i will explain that later. He goes through personality change throughout the deaths of his loved ones.
     
  6. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    The best part about fiction is that a character doesn't necessarily have to be realistic. As long as they fit in the setting you made for them, it's all gravy.
     
  7. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    Phoenix is such a cliche fantasy name. I don't like him because of it. Like Terry Goodkind who has all these silly names for things like Scarlet the red dragon, I had to stop reading his books because his lack of creativity in names.
     
  8. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    How? Theres only a few major characters ever made with the same name. I have others names for other characters you probably never heard of. I don't like how you just judged my character by his name. I understand and respect your opinion, but atleast my main character's name isn't Bob. I like the name Phoenix, so im not going to change it cause it might be "cliche" if theres one thing i don't ask about cliche's, it's character names.
     
  9. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    It really doesn't matter. You don't need to validate your decisions where your character is involved. It is your story.

    You can't please everyone. Write what touches you. As for his behavior sounds pretty standard for a teenage boy. ;)
     
  10. Xyphon
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    Xyphon Member

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    Nowadays people just throw around the word "cliche" like it's nothing. Phoenix is not an overused name, but it is true that it is a bit off-putting as an actual name. Probably because of the Phoenix Wright series, hahah.
     
  11. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Yeah, except my character isn't a lawyer haha. I think the name Phoenix hasn't been used that much, so i don't know why i already have harsh criticism of cliche.
     
  12. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    It has nothing to do with Phoenix in particular being overused. It has to do with the names of fantasy creatures being overused. You have no idea of how many fantasy stories I've read for people where they've used the name "Griffin", "Pix", yes, and "Phoenix" all in the same setting. It's not as bad as Raven, which is definitely overused, but it's still annoying to see an unusual name like that.

    I don't suggest you change it. It's just that in a synopsis, it's hard for me to take that kind of character seriously. The only people named Phoenix I've known of in real life have been hillbillies or bogans as well.
    First, not everyone throws it around like it's everything. The definition of cliché is "overused; tired; boring" in one of my older dictionaries. "Phoenix" is the kind of name people think is going to be uncommon, and for that reason, giving it to a main character makes it boring. We've come into a modern age where, for the most part, people don't want to believe that characters are any more special than them.

    That's one of the greatest things about Harry Potter. He has one of the most normal names in the world, and then there are people named Hermione, or Minerva, or Xenophilius, but they don't seem like unusual names.
    See my above reasoning. You give your main character an uncommon name, they're going to seem all that much more uncommon. It makes them seem like they're Just That Special, which, by your plot, Phoenix seems to be. He has powers that he has to hide from his peers at high school. How many times have I heard that one? And yet, this Just That Special kid tries to lead a normal life.

    That doesn't seem quite right to me. I think it more likely that a kid in his situation would keep his head down, yet he goes around throwing water balloons at cheerleaders. This doesn't seem like inconspicuous behaviour. It seems like the kind of thing that a very frivolous character, who doesn't care that he should be hiding his power, does.

    To answer that original question again: no, I don't like the protagonist. You've put him in a "Last of your Kind" story, you're making him hide his "powers" (and extra points for him being a) in a school setting and b) for not keeping his head down), and you've named him Phoenix, which just really really makes him seem Just That Special.
    Sure, his parents might know about his powers at his birth, and they might want to name him something special, but the fact remains that parents aren't stupid. They're not going to want to draw attention to it when they know he'll have to hide.
     
  13. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    I don't think you read all of what i just said. Phoenix throws water balloons at cheerleaders BEFORE he realizes the gods are killed. So he goes through a massive personality change. He's a normal kid until that happens. Oh, and he has no parents. His parents are from nebula but they died for an unknown parasite that he tries to discover later on. And i named him Phoenix, because, Phoenix means being reborn and so since he goes through a personality change technically he's reborn.

    My question would be, since you heard a kid trying to hide his powers in school so much, what would be your suggestion to make it better? It's know what you do with it, it's how you do it.

    And i didn't name him Phoenix just to stand it, i named him that because i liked the name. And why would you use simple names for characters all the time? That would be boring.
     
  14. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I think what crucifiction is saying is that a name like that makes them unapproachable to your average person. You go in with expectations of the character being absolutely spectacular and not in the least normal. So it's easier for a character to fall flat when you go in with these wild expectations about them.

    I use fairly normal names for all characters I've ever written about- Kathrine, Elizabeth, Derek, Jason, Lily, Tristan, Victor, Rachel. That's just a handful I've written a lot of other stuff too. :p Those are just some of my favorite characters I've written. A "boring" name does not mean your character will be one dimensional.

    Again it is your story. You can do whatever you like. It's just an opinion and not everyone will feel that way. Don't be offended by it. I'm sure it isn't meant that way. The point of this forum is to bounce ideas off each other to learn more about writing. :)
     
  15. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Well i feel like if the character is relateable enough, and not cliche, people won't have a problem with his name. Just because his name Phoenix, doesn't mean he should be treated like crap, cause people don't understand why he's named that. i explained the reason why i named him that and people still hate on it. I can't win.
     
  16. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    That's not the point. It's your story. These are opinions. Everyone will have different thoughts on it. Go with what you think is best!
     
  17. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    Question: What is this dude's full name?

    On one hand I don't think it's fair to judge a character solely on his name. On the other, names are important.

    People focus a lot of first names these days but remember that your first name is just one half of your full name and adding the surname can radically change the impression. Examples:

    Adam = Biblical name, not too exciting.
    Adam Savage = Sounds like a pulp-fiction badass.

    Wolf = Tries to hard to be cool. Sounds pretentious.
    Wolf Larsen = Has a serious yet larger then life sort of sound.
    Wolf Blitzer = Sounds like a video game character.

    See what I mean?

    He did ask for opinions, though, so it's only fair that opinions are given and taken into consideration. If input from other people isn't important, then what are we even doing here?
     
  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ahh Terry Goodkind. He thought the Midlands was his original creation... :rolleyes: (for the non-Brits, the Midlands is an official part of England)

    As to the OP - I liked your character but please don't call him Phoenix. I just kept thinking of a fiery bird...
     
  19. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    His name is moderately bothersome, but nothing I'd throw the book down for. Not even because it's not a common name, but because it's a predictable one for a fantasy book.

    As for his character, are these changes happening within the span of a month, a year? Several years? His development is perfectly realistic, but his character is undergoing a drastic change. If it happens within a month, it may seem too quick. It's understandable for him to suddenly become serious and overprotective, but it may take a while for someone who, initially, didn't have that many responsibilities and is suddenly in charge of everything to suddenly adapt. Everyone is made differently, though.

    My two cents. You should ask yourself if you think the character is unrealistic and in what sense.
     
  20. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading through this thread gave me the urge to say this: don't ask for opinions if you're just going to get defensive, 'kay? You wanted honesty and you got it.

    Personally, I don't like the sound of this character and it's purely because even after reading a wall of text about him he still doesn't feel unique. It sounds like you've moulded him to fit a plot rather than creating him as an individual and because of this he feels like a typical, forgettable, fantasy protagonist.

    What's wrong with the name Bob?
     
  21. MissPomegranate
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    MissPomegranate Member

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    While I wouldn't put the book down because of the MC's name, calling him Phoenix made me think this was a book set in some fantasy world. Then you told me he was throwing water balloons at cheerleaders, so I assumed it was set maybe a few decades ago (I've never heard of anyone getting pelted by water balloons at my school or any surrounding schools, but maybe things are different in other parts of the country). I assume you want your reader to identify with him, yes? Then I would suggest a more "traditional" name, especially for the setting you've described. If you're really set on his name being Phoenix, I suggest giving it to him as a nickname during the story.

    For example; let's pretend his real name is, say, Richard Jones, which sounds perfectly average. Since the Phoenix is known for rising from the ashes, maybe someone he meets along the way gives him that as a nickname. Suddenly, he's Richard "Phoenix" Jones, which sounds a whole lot cooler.

    Also...how long is his transformation? Because I'm a little put off by the super drastic change you described. Over a few years, perhaps, but if we're talking mere months for this to happen it's a bit too unrealistic for me.
     
  22. Falkneon
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    Falkneon New Member

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    I think it depends on how traumatic the experience is for your character. If he actually visits the scene and experiences the attack, the change is somewhat belie-vable, but personally I think that the change of personality should take place over a decent amount of time, like one of the 'one year later' scenarios. But like many others, I hat to say it, the name 'Phoenix' does sound cheesy to me. I know you have your reasons, but there are many other names meaning reborn:
    Renato
    Rene
    Anthony
    Chris
    Sam
    Renske
    (But don't quote me on these, I got them from the internet)
     
  23. Exclusive
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    I actually agree with cruciFICTION. Please don't be put off by what he said, and what I'm about to say.

    "Phoenix" as a first name annoys me as well because, as an educated reader, I feel like you named him such just to "impress me". It's really the same principle as "purple prose". I get it though, I went through that phase myself as a teenager. I had a character named "Amethyst" and she was also very special. But it is, often times, distracting.

    If you want realistic characters ...make them relatable. Is it more likely that you'd name your son "Phoenix", or "Andrew"?

    You'll get it once you mature more as a writer. As for write now, I advise that you actually keep the name. This way, you'll notice the differences as you progress. Good luck with your story!
     
  24. sparta
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    sparta New Member

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    The name isn't what throws me off. What you have to watch for is a "Mary Sue" look it up on google. Mary sue's are characters that are too cliché and perfect. For example, they always win, are always right, have friends that support them, have knowlege about everything, and solve every problem with ease. In order to have a realistic character, HE HAS TO HE VULNERABLE. Every person in real life has an achilles heel, and good characters are no exception.

    EDIT: Then again, your character seems alright. The insult thing definitely helps avoid that, so good job!
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Don't worry about the name, Xeno. From what you've said, the kid isn't a "normal" every day kid, so asking whether you or I would be more likely to use Andrew or Phoenix is beside the point. In addition, you can use names with subtle or even not-so-subtle meaning (look at Neal Stephenson's book Snowcrash. If he had come here posting a bio of his MC while writing the book, I'm sure half the board members would have been madly clicking the mouse to be the first to tell him he was an idiot, and didn't he know he can't do that, &c).

    How you develop the character and overall story is what is going to be important. Some people will like the name from the start, others will be put off by it, but a strong, well-written story will win them over. There may be the rare person who wouldn't even read the story because of the name, but you can't make decisions about your book based on what the most hypersensitive want.
     

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