1. Micah Nguyen
    Offline

    Micah Nguyen New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Austin, TX

    Molding the Realistic Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Micah Nguyen, Jan 13, 2014.

    As strange as it sounds, I want to make my fantasy book as realistic as possible. I have made the setting modern day and made the story in a natural urban American City.

    My character is a fourteen year-old boy who finds out he's a Magician after witnessing his father murdered in front of him and his uncle heavily injured.

    His Sanity stays the same.....

    I wouldn't know, but I would think that a modern day teenage boy would stay sane after witnessing all of this, which makes him unrealistic, making him INSANE would throw the story into a strange loop.

    Should I make him insane or just keep it unrealistic and keep him sane? Should I somehow show his change? How do I show his change?

    -Micah
     
  2. JayG
    Offline

    JayG Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2013
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    358
    Location:
    Philadelphia PA
    Here's where point of view can be so important.

    A reader isn't looking to read a narrative where you tell them about the story. That would be informative, but not very entertaining. What that reader wants is to be made to feel they're experiencing that story in real-time, and as the protagonist. And that works in your favor.

    In order to have the reader feel that the story is real they must make the same observations and decisions as would someone living the scene who has the same background, resources, needs, and desires. In other words, your protagonist. So if you make the reader know what has the protagonist's attention in the moment, as they know it; if you take that reader through the protagonist's analysis of that, so they place the same level of importance on it; if you make the reader know all the options the protagonist has, as that character ponders what to do; if you do that in real time, using all the protagonist's senses sweeping them forward in time, that reader will respond, emotionally, in exactly the way the protagonist does. The protagonist's plans will be their plans, so they will care about what's going to happen. The story will be both real and happening around them.

    Now, as for the kid being driven insane? Why would anyone in their right mind, want to be made to feel they're insane? (now you know why I went onto such detail in the previous paragraph). Point of view is critical because our goal is to make the reader become the POV character, emotionally. How that character perceives a given situation depends on their situation. And every character is the star of their own story, and should be presented as such. For a bit more on what POV can do for you, try this.
     
  3. live2write
    Offline

    live2write Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    53
    As a suggestion, I would try to read books that are labeled as Urban Fantasy. Those are the type of books that have our world and the fantasy world run parallel or cross over.
     
  4. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    By what do you mean, "Drive him insane"? Do you mean give him PTSD? Because that seems natural.

    Or do you mean "INSANE" with no diagnosis, explanation, or treatment such as you find in ultra realistic comic books.
     
  5. Fitzroy Zeph
    Offline

    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2013
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    269
    Location:
    Canada
    Insane is a pretty heavy word and people don't just go insane because of a death, even a father. As for discovering you're a magician -- everyone does that. Driven to do things for sure. But insane? I don't think so.
     
  6. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,804
    Likes Received:
    7,322
    Location:
    Scotland
    The more I read that statement, the better I like it. It's a good rundown of what it actually means to 'get inside a character's head.' This clarifies the matter, if you slow down and take on board what JayG is saying.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  7. Revilo87
    Offline

    Revilo87 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2014
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    14
    readers don't care about being realistic per se, also if the boy is witnessing a murder and an injured uncle he won't have time to go insane just then, and later once his father is still gone he will end up believing what he saw was real. You can have him freak out about it, go through grief, and have some nightmares though
     
    SusieD.Nym likes this.
  8. Micah Nguyen
    Offline

    Micah Nguyen New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2014
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    PTSD is what I most likely meant to say
     
  9. Jack Asher
    Offline

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    3,571
    Likes Received:
    2,053
    Location:
    Denver
    You should do some research on PTSD and figure out what would and wouldn't happen to someone with it, if you want to make it realistic.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  10. Glacial
    Offline

    Glacial Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Canada
    I second Jack's opinion. If you are concerned about realism (which isn't strange at all btw) then you must do your research. The way you used 'insane' makes me think you don't know too much about mental health issues, so #1 priority: research.
     
    Jack Asher likes this.
  11. DeathandGrim
    Offline

    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    540
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    I wouldn't call him insane. Just emotionally dead and possibly disturbing. I know oh too many of people who regress their emotions and act like emotionless robots
     
  12. TheApprentice
    Offline

    TheApprentice Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,198
    Likes Received:
    154
    Make him insane, it keeps things interesting.
     
  13. Bridget from NowNovel.com
    Offline

    Bridget from NowNovel.com Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Cape Town, South Africa
    This sounds like a fascinating start to a story, can't wait to read more... I always think fantasy creates such interesting challenges for character, because so many things will be the same, and so many will be different - and where is that line?

    [link removed]
     
  14. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    It seems to me your boy's mental state would depend partially on who or what murdered his father, and how. Was it just some gang member shooting him? Was it a sadistic serial killer killing him and then, I don't know, raping his corpse or something like that? Does the boy have any reason to believe that he's next in line to be killed? Maybe, given that the boy is a magician and hadn't known it, his father was murdered in some kind of magical way. That might be much more traumatizing.

    Also, does the boy feel in any way responsible for his father's murder? An example of this would be if, say, the boy had run away from home because he was angry at his father, and hid in a really bad part of town. His father and uncle come looking for him there to bring him home. It's a place they would never have gone if he hadn't led them there. Then his father is killed in front of him, and he would be justified in feeling a lot of guilt - his father would still be alive if the boy hadn't been such an angry, short-sighted, impulsive, and immature kid.

    The answers to questions like these could help you determine whether the boy suffers any serious psychological problems.
     
    Andrae Smith likes this.
  15. ddavidv
    Offline

    ddavidv Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    353
    Likes Received:
    240
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I concur; you need to research PTSD. I had a scene I just wrote where a character is strangled, but survives. I wanted to know what it felt like to be choked, and what the aftermath was like. It only took reading a domestic violence web site to gain all the answers (and I was able to incorporate a piece of realism--losing your voice for at least a day--as terrific story twist). You may find yourself learning oddities that will both make your writing more realistic and add to the plot!

    Additionally, I don't know that there is one right answer for this character. Children are both resilient and/or easily damaged in ways that will haunt them for life. Everyone reacts differently. Example: my early 20s female who gets strangled and nearly dies could be terrified of men, become reclusive, and develop other mental health issues. In my case, what didn't kill her makes her stronger, and she goes on to become a 140 lb badass that shoots guns, learns archery and teaches herself survival skills so that she is never afraid again.
     

Share This Page