1. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    Not sure about a character flaw...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by starsystemcorvus, Mar 8, 2015.

    Is having a character be hypocritical in some aspect an okay character flaw? I know that there are a lot of people who don't like hypocritical characters but it's not a major part of her personality. It's just a tendency she has given her mindset. Does this even count as a flaw?
     
  2. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is hard to say on the limited information. We are all hypocritical to some degree, but how it is viewed depends upon the subject matter, the consequences, the motivation and so on.
     
  3. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    Yeah, I guess that's true. I'll be sure that there are consequences to these actions and I was always planning on having other characters call her out for it because there's nothing more annoying in fiction than characters getting away with bad behavior and everyone else being like "oh, you :)"
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Write your character however you see her. Then get some feedback on what you've written. There is no rule about what a character should or shouldn't be. Even flat characters belong in some stories.
     
  5. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    Yeah, I'm thinking of doing that now. I'll write up a few scenarios involving her when my workload for school lets up and I'll get people to look at them. I'll only know what people think of her if I actually show her to people instead of speculating
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm getting an uncomfortable "game balance" feel. Fiction doesn't need to be fair or logical. You don't necessarily need to make sure that there are consequences for her actions. And whether a character is a hypocrite is, IMO, a huge part of that character concept. I don't see that a character could be changed in just that one way--that is, just hypocrisy 'on' or hypocrisy 'off'--without other changes.
     
  7. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    I should have probably re-phrased my original question but I don't mean that sometimes she's hypocritical and sometimes not. It comes out in her given certain scenarios. I also probably should have given said circumstance instead of my vague wording which I'll do now. In short, Mel's mother died giving birth to her knowing full well early on in the pregnancy that she would not survive. Mel feels that she has to make her life mean something, to make it worth her mother's sacrifice but nothing she does seems to do so. The way that she is hypocritical is that she's willing to give up her "meaningless" life to save others but chastises her friends and family for trying to do the same because she is terrified that someone will die for her again just like her mother did. This is what I meant by hypocrisy not being a huge part of her character because she's only hypocritical in one aspect. I guess I shouldn't have used the concept of hypocrisy as a character flaw so broadly in the first place as it is really more of a tendency for her rather than a trait...
     
  8. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    In what way are her friends and family willing to give up their lives to save others? I mean are they literally in a war situation or something where this eventuality is likely to occur? In everyday life there really aren't all that many circumstances where you might have to put your life on the line for others.

    If your MC is castigating them for undertaking a perceived risk, like getting drunk or going sky-diving or back-packing, then the word for that is probably "irritating" rather than "hypocritical".
     
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  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My problem with that isn't the contradiction that you're calling hypocrisy, but her being so willing to die in the first place. People want to live. I would need more than that explanation to believe that a person is willing to die.
     
  10. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    The story is set in this sci-fi/fantasy setting. Battles are frequent so life or death situations are just as frequent.
     
  11. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    Oh, sorry. It's late and my brain isn't working right. She's not suicidal. She doesn't WANT to die. It's one of those situations where if it came down to her own life or the life of a loved one she would chose to throw herself into the line of fire with barely a moments thought. I guess the true word for this flaw would be rashness then instead of hypocrisy? People seem to be hung up on that and now I'm re-considering if that's what I mean behind this.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like the complexity but you really need to write it for more than a cursory evaluation.

    Serious question: Why are you asking instead of writing the story?
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    More than rashness. The drive to survive is one of the strongest human drives. Someone who lacks that to the point that they'd give up their life "with barely a moment's thought" is, IMO, broken in a very fundamental way. You've offered a line of logic for it, but I feel the need for more. People's actions are not born entirely from sequences of logic.

    Also, the line of logic isn't working for me. Mel's mother gave up her life for Mel. Mel regards her life as worthless. So Mel regards her mother's life as worthless? She will throw away the thing that her mother died for, with, again, barely a moment's thought?

    Now, maybe these two issues tie together. Maybe Mel hates her mother for leaving her. Maybe she wants to treat her mother's gift with contempt, by rushing to her own death. But I don't think that's what you meant.
     
  14. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    Just asking people's opinion a vague character development concept. Nothing more. She and the story she's part of are in the early stages of development right now and I'm just getting my thoughts together. Sometimes it helps me to bounce even the vaguest of ideas off of people before writing so I thought I'd try that here. So, sorry if I don't make much sense right now. Think I'll just scrap this whole hypocrisy idea anyway because I don't think it'll go anywhere. I'll go with the good old recklessness flaw because I think that better describes what I'm trying to convey with her character.
     
  15. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with this. I would like to think that there are certain people I would give up my life for without a moments hesitation, but if the situation actually arose, who knows? I could not second guess my own reaction in those circumstances.

    Having a character say or behave like they would sounds like a meaningless platitude, and the sort of meaningless platitude that would irk me.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again, I feel game-balancy here. Are you writing a character sheet, with a list of attributes and flaws and such? I would recommend against that.

    I would recommend just writing her, or at the worst, writing paragraphs of specifics rather than lists of words. I think that character sheets lead down this sort of path, because they encourage you to separate elements of the character from the whole character concept, just by encouraging you to write them down. But you can't separate an element from the whole character. It's not sufficiently meaningful to say that a character is "reckless" or "honest" or "cruel" or "kind". All of those behaviors have a context, and the word is meaningless without the context.
     
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  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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  18. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed.

    I've really grown to dislike the notion of character contradictions providing depth. I think depth comes from seeing a character's combined qualities in play in different situations. By the inherent difference in the situations, you will see different qualities being shown. That's the goal rather than contradictions for contradiction's sake.
     
  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hypocritical characters are awesome.
     
  20. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    No not really. But I see how that can be interpreted that way and it is indeed problematic as that is a possible interpretation. I'm trying to convey the idea that Mel is having a hard time dealing with the heaviness of the sacrifice of her mother's life for hers and that's where her feelings of worthlessness come from. She feels she's living on borrowed time in the first place. Like she shouldn't exist. And yeah maybe in a way she hates her mother for dying solely to bring her into the world but I think that hate ends up being more directed at herself thus causing her self-destructive behavior. I could go for this and make that part of her character development. She slowly figures out that her mother loved her enough before she even existed to die for her and so the way she can make her life mean something is to simply live untied to the guilt of "killing" her mother. That might be kind of cliche though...

    On the other hand, I do kind of like the idea of her hating the gift of life and rushing to end it because she figures that her mother's sacrifice was pointless. She's self-destructive because she just has a blatant disregard for her life which would help in maybe making her willingness to die more believable? Maybe I'll consider exploring that when I start drafting this up. Might make for a more interesting character arch.
     
  21. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    Okay, I think I have a better grasp on what I'm going for with this character. I'll draft up some scenes with her when I get the chance and explore different ways at approaching this. They may end up here or not depending on my comfort level with them. It's just a matter of getting time to write now. University is a killer with work, I swear but summer break is closing in and you'll see a lot more of me actually writing like I should be. Thanks, guys.
     

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