1. Jamez
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    Jamez Member

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    Multiple characters in one body. Thoughts? Examples?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Jamez, Feb 10, 2012.

    My novel brings with it the somewhat unusual (?) problem of having two characters occupy the same physical body. How would you handle that situation if you were writing the story? Do you happen to know any examples of stories that feature the same conundrum?
     
  2. Jammy
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    Jammy Member

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    ...
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This reminds me of a Star Trek Voyager episode when the Doctor (hologram) got to inhabit the body of Seven of Nine. Have a look at that episode if you get a chance. Also, movie Face Off with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta, very interesting. Oh, and a Nutty Professor with Eddie Murphy, for a comedy version.
    Otherwise, I would most likely simply swap points of view, and the "presence" of the other person in the body would hardly be felt. Otherwise, if both people are conscious and aware at the same time, you'd get a bit of a "schizophrenic-like" character that might be difficult to write or relate to.
     
  4. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    So I know I'll get shot for saying this but Shephenie Meyer has two characters in one body in The Host. I really enjoyed the book but that was mostly because Jeb reminded me of my dad and some of the other character of my brothers so it was like watching a family drama in my head. Anyway it's an example of the two people, one body thing.
     
  5. Jamez
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    Jamez Member

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    Yes, Fight Club! Awesome movie. Though it mostly relies on visual tricks to reveal the surprise and those don't translate well to the written word (I think).

    Duh! Of course. I'd never think of Jekyll and Hyde being two characters in one body. In a way, I guess they aren't, since they don't occupy 'him' at the same time? Or do they? It's been a while...

    Thanks for this list!

    Saw all those. Great references, but again... movies/TV... I'm more interested in references in literature.

    Well, that's the thing: both people being conscious at the same is kind of central to my story. For example, one situation may involve the host, let's call her "Sally", talking to another character, "Thomas", while the second presence in Sally's body, "Harry", is also there. I.e.:

    "Sally, you are acting so weird. What the heck is going on?", Thomas asked Sally
    "What ever you do, don't reveal I am here!" Harry snapped at her.
    "Shut up!" Sally retorted. She took a moment to pull herself together and then answered Tom
    "Nothing. Really"

    So it's basically a three way conversation, except that Thomas is utterly unaware of Harry's presence. May get somewhat confusing for the reader?

    Thanks! I may have to check that one out.
     
  6. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a lot easier to pull off in a movie/TV show, I imagine. I am not totally sure how I'd handle this. It would depend on the explanation for why this is happening.
     
  7. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    Blade Edge and Magnafire in my fantasy is like this, you could could have it as battle of thoughts, or a middle force influencing the other, like Blade Edge does in my story. It could be through italics, or single thought. The personalities could be in conflict. I would write it like this -

    Magnafires thoughts
    Blade Edge responds
    Magnafire answers

    it could also be a humourous exchange depending on the other sentience.


    '
     
  8. crystal23tipps
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    crystal23tipps Member

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    I would also suggest Stephenie Meyer's The Host as the only example I can think of for this. The only other thing I thought of is that it could be handled in a similar way to having a character that no one else can see or hear, but can only think of TV programmes where that happens like Quantum Leap or Randall and Hopkirk Deceased and I'm not sure how exactly to translate that to a book.
     
  9. thrawnking
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    thrawnking New Member

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    Harry Dresden in the dresden files has a fallen angel share his body in books 6-8. he pulls it off very well. it helped me with one of my characters for my novels.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Bruce Banner and the Hulk are like this. The Hulk is usually aware of the Banner personality, and hates having him around, but he's there.
     
  11. Blue Night
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    Blue Night Active Member

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    For your question, the perfect example would be David Gemmell's Dark Moon.
    Two souls dictating one man.
    There’s a couple of free chapters on Google Books.
     
  12. Jammy
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    Jammy Member

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    ....
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  13. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Maybe do not nessesarily Identify the character with tags. Have the character speak in thoughts to show the presence of one in the physical bodie's mind. If your trying to portray your characters reality slipping in an out of lucidity, thats definitely the route to go.

    Unless the change in personality is physical, and he would have moments of talking to himself similar to how Golem is portrayed in the LoTR movies.
     
  14. Jamez
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    Jamez Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Plenty of reference material to go by :)

    No, I don't want Golem. I'm thinking more down the lines of having two different voices in your head - one is you and the other is not.
     
  15. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I am working on a novel where the main character is posessed by a being that had a close connection to her in her past life. To portray this he appears at random moments either through a voice in her head or appears alone in situations that guide her to the reason why he possesses her and why he is here now.

    How does the character transition from one personality/body to another. Is it a transition from day or night or from a personality change as stated from member Jammy Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

    Also how you write the transition will help guide the reader. Make sure you can clarify the dialogue or transition from one character to another. Does the two characters have a difference in interest or personality. Make sure you introduce those traits and use them to guide your story.

    Example: Character A: name "Marcus" strong and intelligent personality. Loves to intervene at situations that involve logic
    Character B: name "Daniel" strong yet he has a weakness toward confrontation. He hides within situations and loves to snoop around

    Body: name "Cameron" has two characters/personalities. He is only himself when he lives without confrontation or when he plays music.

    Situations: Cameron plays his guitar in his bedroom. It is a friday evening and the last day of the week before school comes along on the following monday. He stares into the depths of his bedroom playing his guitar freely. The phone rings on his desk. He picks up the phone and hears the sound of his school crush Michelle.
    "Hello Cameron is this you?" He asks suspiciously and scared.
    "Michelle, how are you? Is everything alright?" He asks. He puts down his guitar and lays down on his bed staring at his posters on the ceiling.
    "I am sorry what happened in school today. Trent can be a jerk sometimes and I wished he did not put meatloaf in your locker. I have never seen him act this way or do something. I really want him to apologize but I cannot get anything out of him."
    Cameron stares into space and a Marcus's voice began to speak without Cameron's consent of invitation of suggestions. "Maybe you need to figure out if he is the right one for you. I cannot imagine a girl like you being with a jerk like him. You do not need to apologize, you need to find somebody else."
    "I know Cameron but I am afraid to." Michelle begins to cry. "He has been getting violent lately and I am scared. What should I do?"
    Marcus spoke again and Cameron no matter how hard to tried could not stop him from saying the words be began to say. "Do not worry about what he is going to do. Worry about yourself. What comes around will go around and in the end Trent will get what he deserves."
    "I have to go Cameron. Thank you for listening." Michelle hung up the phone without saying goodbye.
    Cameron stood up and yelled at the room for Marcus to listen. "What the hell are you doing! She was talking to me not you!"
    Marcus spoke calmly, "Cameron now is your chance to win the girl."
    Cameron's head began to hurt and could feel Daniel coming out to talk to both Marcus and himself. "Cameron you know what Trent did to you. Now is your chance for him to pay the price."
    Cameron argued in the room praying his mother downstairs would not listen. "What can I do! If I take revenge in school he is going to know it is me. If I go to his house forget it!"
    Marcus spoke calmly easing Cameron's rage, "Leave that up to me. Relax and play your music. Daniel and I will come up with a plan."

    That is a quick example I came up with in five minutes. I hope it helps!
     
  16. ))BAPHOMET((
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    ))BAPHOMET(( New Member

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    Zaphod Beeblebrox
     
  17. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Um, Zaphod Beeblebrox not only had two minds but two heads!

    You could try Robert Heinlein's I will Fear No Evil. In this a billionaire wanting to live forever, has his brain transplanted into his secretary's body. The op works and he is reborn, but she, even without her brain, continues to live as well.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  18. Jamez
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    Jamez Member

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    Sounds cool! Thanks for your elaborate example. It's actually pretty close to how I am handling things currently. Here's an example, starting with the spirit Ray, my main character, in possession of Theresa, the medium who has awoken him:

    A phone rang on the other side of the room. He instinctively walked over to the clamshell lying on the floor. The outer display showed a picture of a man’s genitals and a name: Frederic Dempsey. Fuck. Boyfriend. Let’s hope we can bluff our way through this one, Ray thought as he flipped the phone open. Panicked words came out of his mouth. Not his words, but hers.

    "Freddy! Oh Freddy, help me!"

    Theresa’s cries were answered by a long pause at the other end of the line. Frederic was clearly unprepared for her picking up the phone in the panicked state she was in. Finally, he spoke.

    "What’s happening, darling? I just got a call from some unhappy customers"

    What’s happening indeed, thought Ray. Why am I no longer in control? Fear was building in Theresa’s voice

    "It worked. It fucking worked this time!"

    "What? Really? That’s great!"

    "No! It’s fucking horrible!"​


    The conversation between Theresa and Fred goes on for a while, until Ray has had enough and takes over again:

    Ray imagined putting his hands firmly back on the wheel and spoke:

    "No, Fred. Stay away. Terry is going to help me get back."

    He hung up the phone and threw it across the room. To Theresa he thought:

    "Alright, explain it to me. How did you pull me down?"

    But Theresa could not explain.​


    This is actually the only place in the novel where I intend to explicitly state that the dialog between Ray and the person he is possessing happens in thought. In the rest of the book, I will treat it like regular dialog.

    I guess I'll just have to take care to always make the reader aware of who is saying what and whether or not the other characters are aware of Ray's presence.

    What a fascinating premise! Definitely putting that on my reading list. Thanks!
     
  19. UberNoodle
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    UberNoodle Senior Member

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    Are the two characters aware of one another and do they exist simultaneously? If they don't, then why not simply treat them as two separate characters, at least with the writing style? At some stage later, awareness can come. This is what Fight Club, the film at least, did.

    If the two characters ARE aware of each other and DO exist simultaneously and CAN interact, treat them as two seperate beings anyway. How much fun would that be, if they argue and threaten each other.

    For background, look into people who are literally 'in two minds' about everythinh after having split-brain surgery. Also look into sufferers of a condition in which they cannot perceive things on either the left or right side of their vision, NOT because they have sight deficiency but because their brain just refused to acknowledge it. They will be shown a cat. They can see the whole of the cat. They will draw a picture of that cat, and yet only ever complete HALF of it, because to their mind, the drawing is complete.

    so it depend on how you're characters co-exist. Food for thought(s).
     
  20. Dave W.
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    Dave W. New Member

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    although I am new to the forum I would suggest Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintanance by Robert Persig.

    I would suggest it for many reasons, you can really study that book, but to simply answer your question about two characters in one body it does so brilliantly.
     
  21. UberNoodle
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    UberNoodle Senior Member

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    I also suggest Valis, by Philip K. Dick. That plays all kinds of wonderful havok with characters and narration. Loved it!
     
  22. Jamez
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    Jamez Member

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    Thanks everyone! I have more than enough input to go buy. Plus lots of excellent suggestions for books to read (if only I could find the time to read them all...). Thanks! :)
     

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