1. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Memento and Backstory

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Flying Geese, Aug 12, 2013.

    In the psOne game, The Legend of Dragoon, the main character, Dart has a memento from his father (who is missing) which turns out to be a powerful stone that gives him the power to become a dragoon (a winged knight with the power of fire). Ever since playing that game, I have always liked the idea of mementos that serve as a symbol in the story.

    In my own novel, I want my main character to have a memento/keepsake from his mother, who is also missing. The item may or may not link to the main character's backstory. I am wondering what kinds of items make good keepsakes and serve as good reminders? Does anyone have any recommendations?
     
  2. NeonFraction
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    I have mixed feelings about keepsakes. They tend to invite cliche moments, or even worse, excuses for boring flashbacks about dead people who have never really been fleshed out. That said, there's no element of fiction that can't be done right. I'd say that asking generally about keepsakes isn't going to do you much good. Each keepsake must be specific to the character. Is he the type to wear jewelry? Why would he carry it around? Will it serve a useful purpose at any point in the story?

    I'd say, when choosing a memento, you have to decide what kind of character both the hero and the dead person is. Ideally, the memento would be something that would have great meaning for both of them, not just one. For example, in FFVII Crisis Core, Cloud gets Zack' sword. It makes sense because they're both soldiers and in addition to being useful, the sword got him out of a lot of tight positions. In Secret Garden, a girl grabs an ivory elephant that fall to the floor during the earthquake that kills her parents. The ivory is a reminder of the opulent wealthy life she spent with her parents and had to leave behind after their deaths.

    I'd avoid things that have been done too many times before. Necklaces, especially, are overdone. It's hard to suggest anything without much information about the story.

    Note: I keep trying to put into words a warning about keepsakes that doesn't come off as 'never do it!', because I feel like most of the time keepsakes hurt more than help a story. The biggest problem with them I can find is that the author tends to constantly call attention to them. There's only so many moments where a character stares wistfully at a keepsake and then finds determination within himself that a reader can take.
     
  3. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Thats great advice man! I was actually considering eliminating the entire concept!
     

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