1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    making a character wise

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Rumwriter, Jun 16, 2011.

    There are certain characters that when you read about or see they insntantly give you a feeling of security by being around. they almost have an omniscient feeling. How do you create this in a character? I've tried doing it by making my characters seem to be completely flawless and all knowing, but creating a character without flaws leaves them uninteresting and makes my story suffer. So what is it that must be done?

    example characters:

    Gandalf
    Dumbledore
    Mickey (from KH)
    Aragorn
    Dallben and Gwydion
    Ender

    Sephiroth is another good one, from FF7. Before he goes crazy, he's a character that seems to just be "perfect". without any noticeable flaws. And yet he's an interesting character.

    these are just a few. and several of these characters do have character flaws, yet they come off as being strong mentors and whenever they show up you can't help but think "alright bad guys. it's about. to go. DOWN."
     
  2. M. J. Demsworth
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    M. J. Demsworth New Member

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    I think something like that would be okay. But at the same time if you can name as many superior characters from books as you did, wouldn't that make creating another one just a but cliche. Maybe I'm wrong, it's just a thought. I also personally think that a character who you can watch grow to be wise is very interesting.
     
  3. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    There are, as I see it (correct me if you see otherwise), two main things you need to keep in mind. 1. They are NEVER perfect, no matter what the circumstances. All characters will have a flaw in them; 2. Each one has his or her method of knowing what they do. For example, Gandalf has lived hundreds of years and experienced almost all there is to know. With Dumbledore, same story. The other names look familiar (I'm not a gamer, so I can't connect with any of those references), but for the most part they all have their sources. Just think of a magician. There's always a method behind the trick.

    Now, whatever you write is going to make your book, story, etc., unique. Try posting your idea to the Character Development Clinic, in the Word Games forum. It'll help you get your thoughts straight on who your character is, and how they work.
     
  4. NikkiNoodle
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    NikkiNoodle Active Member

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    First, wisdom has to do with experience. Many of those characters have a good understanding of human nature and don't make rushed decisions but think things through. Most of the wise people I know aren't in an "all fired rush" but pay attention to what is important and don't stress the small things. They pay attention to details but keep their eye on the big picture.
     
  5. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I find Wise characters to be quite. They do not say much because it has already been said in their minds. When they do speak, it is very calculated much like moving a piece in chess. Every word has a strategy behind it. Writing this can be very difficult. Good luck.
     
  6. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    For one, they have to have a great deal of experience in whatever they do. While doing whatever they do, they simply need to radiate with calmness and confidence, even when unsure how to proceed.

    A great example would be Dr. House - althogh he's addicted to Vicodin - he approaches medical mysteries in a calm and calculated way, casually bouncing ideas off his ducklings and routinely mocking them, and he rarely ever panics. More often than not, he is ultimately right in his diagnosis. Of course, with most people, he is not wise, he's just another smartass.

    In order to write a wise character, observe powerful speakers or watch House. Write their lines so that they come across with an authoritative, confident, and powerful voice. Perhaps not so gentle as Dumbledore nor as arrogant as House, but a mix of both personalties would create a fleshed out 'wise' character.
     
  7. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    You should read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. It's a book about a man who grows older and wiser, having to fall from grace and riches, rising, then falling again. As Siddhartha grows, he learns of many things and eventually reaches a state of bliss and oneness with the earth. It's really deep and it could help you.

    From what I learned, wisdom is hardly received. It's a matter of one going through trial and error and Erikson's stages of development. The wise character must be willing to learn and to adapt. He/she is one to learn and speak from observations and experiences. Wisdom takes time and many steps, which is why the typical wise one is usually on the older side, both in media and real life. After all, when you're young, you still have much to see and learn from. When you're old, you've typically seen and heard many things. By the end of it all, it only matters whether that older individual has been willing to learn what he/she has seen.

    However, keep in mind that the one who is wise is in no way omniscient. Omniscience is the trait of a god and it shouldn't be mistaken for wisdom. You may be able to see and know everything, but are you willing to make a wise choice with this infinite knowledge?

    Wisdom is complicated. It'd be best to take notes from the outside world rather than basing a character on the "wise one" archetype. Wisdom is more than just "Dumbledore" or "Mickey"... but, really, Mickey?

    Wisdom comes in many shapes and forms. It's more than giving others a sense of security or being the one to give the obligatory reality check. Some wise people keep most of their knowledge to themselves while others spread the word. Wisdom is also relative. It may be wise to go with your heart in North American culture while it is wise to go with duty in most Asian culture. It may be wise to love others and make connections in Christinaty while, in Buddhism, severing all attachments is highly recommended, as odd as that may seem to most Western societies. It really depends on the culture.
     
  8. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I agree with the confidence thing but House is not wise he is just smart. House makes some of the stupidest life choices ever.
     
  9. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Echoing what everyone else has said above, I'll add that there always seems to be an air of mystery surrounding them.

    Like you don't know how they know what they know, but there is still something quizzical about them that clues us into knowing that they KNOW something we don't know. Sometimes, just that hint is powerful.

    Very little is also really revealed about most of these "wise" characters on a personal level. In almost all situations they appear in, they are always in a professional manner which further adds to the air of being wise. It's not that they don't have flaws, it's just that, when they appear, they're acting professionally to where you don't see those flaws.

    Just like when we go to work, we have to act professionally. But at home, we don't need to. In most books, we don't see the "at home" part of these wise characters.

    The readers aren't also privy to most of their thoughts and reasons of why they think what they do. We only know through dialog, We have a limited perspective.

    All of the above mostly relates to secondary characters who are wise and not the MC being wise.
     
  10. Domino
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    Domino Active Member

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    Be careful not to write a character into your story just to be the wise, dependable one. Give them more depth than that. Wise characters have a background story. They have reasons for being the way they are. They've lived and learned. They have experience. They are not perfect.

    Often it's the way other characters perceive them that makes a difference to the way the reader feels about them. If the other characters naturally respect them for their power, their knowledge, their skill etc., without them having to prove how wonderful and wise and perfect they are all the time, the reader likely will too.

    (Oh, and don't write them all-knowing like Brom from Eragon. Is it just me or is that guy really annoying? lol. I haven't even read the whole book yet. Brom's constant information-giving is putting me off.)

    Good luck.
     
  11. ImaginaryRobot
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    ImaginaryRobot Member

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    Also don't forget that wise characters often seem to know more than other characters because the author decides how much information each character has.

    Gandalf knows much, much more than Frodo (or Bilbo). Not only from his hundreds of years of experience, but also because he simply knows more about the current situation than the provincial hobbits. In this case, contrast plays a big role in making Gandalf wise.
     
  12. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    So now that you've gotten everyone's take on what it takes to create a wise character ... most of those observations, because they are the 'standard' of sorts, makes them almost stereotypical. So, write against the type. Maybe your wise one is more like Santa Claus than Gandalf.

    What makes one wise is not merely experience and living but learning from that experience. Not everyone is able to do that. But, just because a person has lived long and learned from that life, doesn't mean he or she should change the character they had as a youngster of 300. I'd love to see a wise old sage with a wicked sense of humor and given to pranks and even a bit of mockery. The wisdom he has to offer being couched in almost incomprehensible sleight of mouth. Offering comparisons without actually drawing the line between the example and the truth.

    And ... as the Robot already pointed out, a lot of the wisdom of the wise comes from what the author allows each character to know.
     
  13. LOLscream
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    LOLscream Member

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    I think the most effective way to make the reader understand all characters, and not only "the wise one", is to let other characters in the story react to this person and help you explain to the reader how this person is.

    Because you all know, in reality you almost never fully judge a person by only what you see yourself, but what other people say about this person and how they act around him/her.
     
  14. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Domino. I think the most important part is making it clear the wise person has tried and failed over and over. Learning how to do something is important, but it's possibly even more important to learn the consequenses of failing. Preferably the hard way. If you do something once and succeed right away, you move on and forget all about it. But if you try and fail, you will far more often remember what you did wrong the next time.
     

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