1. lhjfoster
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    lhjfoster New Member

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    Major changes to a characters personality.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by lhjfoster, Aug 8, 2014.

    Hey guys,

    The character in question is charming, cocky and not exactly overly confident, but not far off. The thing is, he knows he is up there with the best at what he does, or rather he has never lost or come up against many that can challenge him. So obviously we all know that type of personality, David Haye, Muhammad Ali and so on. They were the two easiest examples to think of; its not a novel about boxing. The novel would be in the same category as Lord of The Rings etc. Getting back to my question, this guy has to eventually do something that he doesn't want to do, but has to for the sake of his friends, kingdom and basically his own life. After he does it, he will not be the same as he was. In a way he will become more mature, but he will no longer be that cocky, charming young man he once was. I feel like it will be easier if I just tell you what he does. He has to kill the woman he is in love with because she is his, his companions and his kingdoms enemy. She is a commander for the enemies in this novel, and the character who will change meets her when he is on a mission for our 'good guys' so to speak. Now obviously having to kill the woman he is in love with is something that will change him a lot. My question is how much is too much (or too little) for him to change for the sake of firstly, himself and my readers connection with him, and for the sake of my novel.

    I really need to stop babbling on like that, but it all sounds different in my head than it does when it's being written down…I need a drink! :)

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, gosh. Seems to me that it would change a person radically to have to do something like that. How is up to you.

    How much novel is left after he has to kill her (I assume he goes through with it)? That will make a difference to which way you go.

    In some cultures, his moral obligation after he makes the hit would be to kill himself. But that would leave you sans a character.
     
  3. AndyC
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    AndyC Member

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    There are people in "real life" whose personality changed drastically after traumatic events. So, having in count this is a fictional work, I believe everything is possible if done right. It's up to you to make his change believable.

    Maybe if he kills her he doesn't even realize what he has done after some time, which is when his mind finally breaks. It depends on how you had "built" him.

    Said so, I think that after doing something like that he would have to become a completely different person. Well, maybe not completely different, but certainly some aspects of his own mind and his understanding of his own world would change drastically.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As Catrin and Andy pointed out, it happens all the time in real life. The trick is making the transition believable. It's best to have seen or experienced it firsthand.

    It's never like flicking a switch. There's always a period of turmoil. In fact, with every major life change, even if it's internally rather than externally driven, the person goes through the stages of grieving. Some of that will be exposed in the person's observable behavior.

    Also the change is rarely "on target" right away. It's all new to the person, so after he or she makes the original change, there will be periodic adjustments.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A main character should never be exactly the same at the end of a novel as he was at the beginning. Your challenge is to show him at a believable beginning, facing a believable challenge and arriving at a believable end. The whole purpose is to show how and why facing the challenge - whether he triumphs or fails - changes him. You have presented only two points in your story - a) he loves the woman; b) he has to kill the woman. Obviously, having to do that will change him most deeply, and the range of possible change runs the gamut from hardly affecting him at all (cold, heartless bastard!) to carrying on a changed and humbled man (poor guy!) to self-destruction (those bastards made him do it!!). Which one you choose will depend on the direction your story takes (and vice versa).

    If anything, the biggest problem I see is the basic concept - the woman he loves is the commander of the forces of his kingdom's mortal enemy. That's a toughie. As a rule, kingdoms don't become mortal enemies (your words, not mine) overnight. It takes time, multiple injuries (both real and perceived) on both sides and deeply conflicting basic interests. How does a true loving relationship develop across those kinds of divides? We're not talking Mary Matalan and Jim Carville, here. This is more like two people, each sworn to defend to the death their kingdom and destroy the other kingdom, no matter the cost, but yet finding the commander of the forces of said other kingdom to be...well, you see where I'm going with this. The reader isn't going to accept the relationship just because you say so. They'll want to know how and why.

    I wish you the best of luck in your project.


    ETA: BTW, shouldn't this be in the Character Development section?
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    How he kills her will be significant as well as the fact that he had to. If they face each other in battle, as equals, that's one thing. But if he murders her in her sleep, in HIS bed ...at a time when she fully trusts him? That's a different issue. Or does he trick her, then turn her in, so his side can torture her to death, or kill her in public, or something like this?

    Is she trying to kill him at the same time he's trying to kill her? In other words, does he kill her in self-defense?

    These things will obviously affect the issue, affect how we see him approach the issue, and maybe have an impact on how we feel about him after he's done the deed.
     
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  7. lhjfoster
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    lhjfoster New Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys. Yes, it probably should be in character development, apologies.

    To give a bit more insight, the main character is given a mission to infiltrate the enemy kingdom and pass himself off as one of their own. He has to become a soldier in their military forces (which he does) and see if he can gather information on their strategies and when and where they are likely to attack. This is where the woman he falls for comes in to it. The first time he sees her, she has a hold over him. She is manipulative, powerful and obviously gorgeous. Her looks are the first thing to draw him in, then obviously she is his commander so they get to know one another. He falls for her and believes he can bring her back to his kingdom so that they can be together, whereas she gains feelings for him, but is loyal to her king above all else. Her death comes during a small battle towards the end of the novel (there will be more novels to follow). He is trying to convince her to come with him, but she attacks him without knowing how truly skilled a warrior he is (he can't show how good he is in their forces for the risk of being singled for attention out by a higher commander/captain). Due to her loyalty to her king, she won't stop her attack, so eventually the inevitable has to happen, he kills her.

    This guy is the protagonist as well, so he will be the main character for however many novels I deem necessary for the story which means he won't be killed off by suicide or any other forms of death.
     
  8. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    It kind of reminds of me of Phoenix and Wolverine. It can change your character in so many ways...make him angry at the entire world for the choice he had to make, there'd probably be some underlying guilt about whether or not it was the right choice of all options/if there were options he hadn't considered, even if he knows it was the only thing to do, there could be depression, maybe denial...moving on too quickly and not coming to terms with everything and it coming back to haunt him later, etc. I'd say a lot of change is expected, whether over the top where he recovers to a more balanced tone over time or not a whole lot of change right away, pretending he and life is the same as before and it boiling to the top gradually...both realistic, human ways of reacting, and of course paths in between. It sounds very interesting however you go about it.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know if you are planning on trying to be traditionally published, but if so, I'd focus on producing one compelling story, well-constructed and flawlessly executed. No one is going to be interested in publishing a series of novels from an unknown writer.

    Sounds like you have a good handle on what you want to do. Good luck with it.
     

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