1. TJByrum
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    TJByrum New Member

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    Need Some Help on Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TJByrum, Jul 3, 2014.

    I am planning on writing a western that takes place across the American Frontier sometime in the late 1800's. While the story's main theme seems to be revenge, it is really about the relationship that grows between the two main characters.

    The characters in question are John and Lillie (all names are placeholder names). John is an experienced bounty hunter, outlaw, and drifter; he once had a daughter, but she died (or was murdered), and so he became a 'broken' man; he has worked both for and against the law. Lillie is a young, naive, twelve year old girl whose parents were murdered by a notorious outlaw named Butcher Bill. These two characters team up to track down and exact vengeance on Bill. However, there are a millions way to do this. The biggest thing though is that John and Lillie need each other; John's daughter has been killed, and Lillie reminds John of her; Lillie's parents have been killed, and John is willing to look after her; in this sense, a father-daughter relationship forms between the two characters and it is explored throughout the course of the story.

    Now, onto the problems:
    1. I had though that maybe Butcher Bill killed John's wife and daughter about 3 years ago. This 'broke' him, and he became a ruthless bounty hunter, outlaw, and drifter, doing whatever he could to make cash. He tried to track down Butcher Bill but he failed to. However, when the young Lillie comes into town and panics about her family being murdered by Butcher Bill, it sparks John's interest and he immediately takes it upon himself to help her and renew his search for Bill.
    2. I was exploring with the idea that John kidnaps Lillie for some reason. Perhaps she knows where Bill's hideout is and so he needs her to show him so he can exact vengeance on Bill. Although a captive, Lillie doesn't mind coming along because she too wants to see justice be brought to Bill, and because she looks up to John as a sort of Hero.
    3. I was also exploring with the fact that maybe John was an outlaw alongside Bill. But then after a turn of events, John vows to help Lillie exact her vengeance on Bill.
    4. Then I got the idea that maybe John killed Lillie's parents, but Lillie doesn't know this. John feels bad and so 'adopts' her. John is seeking vengeance on Bill and Lillie tags along.
    5. Then there's the idea that John's family just died (housefire?), he's now a bounty hunter, and he feels sorry for Lillie, so he takes her on a journey to help exact vengeance on Butcher Bill.
    6. Whatever the case, I like the idea that John and Bill have had encounters before. Whether they were friends, brothers, or John has tried to detain him before - I like that personal grudge between the two.

    What do you think of these ideas, and what would you change to make them better?
     
  2. Emily Logan
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    Emily Logan Member

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    First, I'm just a newb, but it seems to me this belongs in the plot forum. I'm sure a mod will move it if/where appropriate.

    It's your story, but in my mind, I see John angry at the law for not stopping BB from killing his daughter. That's why he drifts between the two sides of the law. In addition, he could be willing to do any thing to stop BB and some villains have had information that he had to work for (doing bad things) to get. It torments him that BB killed his family and that he was unable to stop him. Maybe he was away on business and came home to find his wife and daughter had been murdered? He could easily have a case of PTSD because of the incident and have night terrors and violent fits. After his last lead falls through, he's forced to quit, but it forever taunts him. He continues to do work for law/villains for cash and any leads, but gets no further leads. Discouraged, he picks up the bottle more and more. Until this girl comes into town.

    Why kidnap the girl? Why not have him, for whatever reason, be the only one able to take her on? (The movie Apple Dumpling Gang comes to mind.) Or perhaps he's just heard about the story and is looking into her case; she gets wind of it and insists on tagging along despite his protests. Maybe she's actually related to him- niece, or something; and he's all she's got left. To strengthen their relationship, maybe she's placed in a controversial position- BB gets ahold of her, but as a hostage against John. The law, sooner or later (perhaps later? after he's finally finished with BB), questions John's fitness as a parent and tries to take the girl away from John, forcing him to change to keep her. Something like one or both of those could really strengthen their relationship.

    Probably a little more then you were looking for, but the idea started to develop in my mind. What can I say? I'm a fellow writer. Take what you want, ignore the rest. ;)
     
  3. TJByrum
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    TJByrum New Member

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    I failed to mention that yes, at one point I had John blame law enforcement on the death of his family.

    And I didn't think of it, but I really like the idea of Lillie being related to John. Thank you for bringing that up. How does this here summary sound:

    John is a rancher who joins a posse to track down notorious outlaw Butcher Bill, who has been spotted in the territory. Bill escapes but his brothers are killed, prompting him to take revenge, so he kills John's family. John blames the sheriff, kill shim, and becomes an outlaw.

    He roams the West, acting as both bounty hunter and outlaw, working with Bill's rivals, trying to find him, but Bill covers his tracks well. This goes on for about a year (is that a good time period) until he is contacted by the government. A distant relative, Lillie, is on her own and now custody falls to the next potential relative: John.

    John doesn't want to to keep her, he's not fit to keep her, but there's not much else he can do. John isn't about to let this new change stop him from finding Bill, so Lillie tags along with him.

    ------

    A second idea is that John is finally caught by the law after living his life as an outlaw and bounty hunter. But when he's brought in, the law decides to employ him to track down Butcher Bill, a notorious outlaw. Just not sure how to fit Lillie into all of this, unless he runs across her in his journey.
     

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