1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Making strong characters break down without making them seem weak...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Aug 19, 2011.

    Here's a question: Suppose you have a strong character who's usually firm, resilient, and commands authority from others. (Kinda like Worf from Star Trek: TNG)

    Yet you want one scene that will shake them to the core, make them...not as strong as they usually are. To use Worf, let's suppose he walked into his quarters, found it in shambles and his own son lying on the ground, dead, in a pool of his own blood. Worf falls to his knees and clearly looks upset.

    I suppose it just depends on how that strong character reacts given what we know of them from previous experience.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Everybody breaks down, even the more resilient, it all depends by the pressure the circumstances apply, I would suggest to create a VERY stressfull situation and would make verosimile a nervous collapse.
     
  3. Leah
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    Leah Member

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    I think it's important to show the vulnerable side of someone normally so "tough" and "together".

    IMO, try to focus on his feelings - the nervous energy that happens in times of crisis, the confusion, the unbelieveable grief -feeling like you will never awake from this nightmare.

    The MC can still be "tough" while showing a side very few see.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Steve89
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    Steve89 Member

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    I think making the MC break down is a really effective way to show that they are human, which will make the reader side with them and stand by them.

    It can also help to create emotional conflict in a story. An example would be, like you say, if Wharf finds his son in a pool of his own blood, what will Wharf do? Will he go into a vengeance fuelled rage, or will he compose himself and focus on burying his son before getting revenge? (Either way, he would get revenge I'm guessing :)).

    I think having a strong MC break down can help to get the audience to like them, and open up more options to the writer.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Exactly.

    Worf finding his son dead could create a lot of new drama and tension. Considering his race is all "honor" and stuff, he'd likely have to deal with that, along with his desire to completely rip apart the person(s) responsible for his son's death. Oh, and not to mention his duties as a security officer onboard the Enterprise. That and maybe tension within himself. Does he loathe himself for not saving Alexander? For not spending time with Alexander? Maybe right before Alexander's murder, they had a fight and Worf said something that deeply hurt the boy. Knowing that those words were the last words Alexander heard from his father before his death would be absolutely devastating for Worf.

    So I guess, under the right circumstances, you can really break the character, regardless of how strong and resilient he/she is.
     
  6. Steve89
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    Steve89 Member

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    Yes, that last point is especially prominent and can open up o lot of conflict within himself, blaming himself, not being there for him etc.

    It is definately true that within a race where honour is embedded into every man, Wharf would feel as though it was his duty to save his son.

    Keeping with your last point aswell, you could also delve into the idea of taking things for granted. He may feel as though he took his son being there for granted and now he is gone, he realises how important he was. It's that kind of "don't know what you've got until it's gone" idea.
     
  7. PastPresentNFuture
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    PastPresentNFuture Senior Member

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    Read the Wheel of Time Books, Rand al Thor fits the aformentioned description fairly well.
     
  8. Steve89
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    Steve89 Member

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    Yes, a character can be broken, no matter how strong they are.

    It is true that any race with feelings, whether human or klingon or any other race from Star Trek, (I'm not too clued up on the races in Star Trek) can and will be emotionally affected by such trauma.
     
  9. Liza
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    Liza Active Member

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    It's okay for a character to break down. My Lucy was hysterical in the first chapter, while showing her strong side all throughout the rest of the book.
     

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