1. inkdweller
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    inkdweller Member

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    One character, too many faces?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by inkdweller, Jul 26, 2012.

    Sometimes I feel like I try to accomplish too much with one character, and the concept gets buried in it all. I'm sure all writers may face a problem like this now and then, and any thoughts and/or tips on the matter would be much appreciated. When does a character become too dense or complicated. What do you do when that happens and how do you avoid it! o . o
    _____________________________________

    On to a more personal application:

    Usually when I get a character that becomes just to much to be one character, I scrap it, or I go back to the bare bones and save all the scraps for something else. Right now I have a character though that I like very much, and I like who she is and the range that she covers, but I'm afraid in my efforts to keep her from being cliche I'm making her too complicated. I tried to line up her complexities through time, sorting them out and simplifying them. This is what I've got, and I'd like your feedback on this too. Does this character sound reasonable. Any bothersome bits or cliches? Or even if it's good, tips on making sure I don't get away from the bare bones of herself.

    Abridged Bio: Milo is an independent, free spirited, proud, and free flowing fox by nature. She was born with an instinct to accomplish and experience the world around her. However, when growing up with her own kind (kitsune) Milo soon discovered she was often looked on with suspicion, distaste, and even a slight bit of fear.(this is an irrelevant background story thing) As a defense mechanism to avoid troubles that arise with these prejudices, Milo transformed herself into a more demure and ditsy creature, the sort of weak and cutesy thing no one could possibly feel threatened by. You see she really wants to belong to someone, since she never met her true parents, and she wants desperately to be apart of her own kind. This constant oppression of her true nature makes her somewhat bitter, and on edge, and so when she is "herself" around her friends, things go like so;

    independence turns to seclusion
    her free spirit turns to a rebellious streak
    and her pride becomes false arrogance
    And finally, again this hiding behind a facade, this confinement in the mask goes highly against her free flowing nature, and can make her volatile, cracking the mask with an edgy snippiness. The snippy behavior, is just a warning though, push her too far and you'll see what happens when you lock the wind in a bag.
    Milo is initially a strong willed creature, and still is, but with all the pretending she's become a bit doubtful of who she really is.

    Don't let the "lack of parents" and "stranger to her own kind" thing give you the wrong impression though. The story she is meant for is a lighthearted romantic comedy, some goofball comes along and teaches her to be her happy self again. ;)

    _________________________________________________
    Ehehehe.... I rambled. Your thoughts?
     
  2. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    Milo is a boy's name. It's unnecessarily pretentious to give a girl this name. Also, if the background causes her to be looked on with fear, it's not irrelevant.

    Huh. This story is a bit more emo than I like (that's just my taste, is all). Now, at any point does Milo do something that's not emotional? Some sort of outside action against an outside antagonist?
     
  3. inkdweller
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    inkdweller Member

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    I kind of wondered if there would be issues with that. ^^" It's set in stone already though. Eh, disregarding name preferences, onward to her background! The reason she is looked on with fear and suspicion is because her father betrayed their god (Inari) to be with a free roaming nogitsune (fox spirits who do not serve Inari, this is just traditional folklore stuff). Milo/Mila, whatnot, is the product of this betrayer and this nogitsune. She is looked on with suspicion by some kitsune for her father's famous betrayal, and early signs of her having a talent for fox magic. This is all behind her though, she never met her parents, and for the trouble they've caused she doesn't care to. She has her own small sort of "family" now and quickly learned to act differently to spare them trouble. Being a kitsune, she has a long life, and though her maturity may be relevant, these dramas are long behind her.

    Understandably so, i admit she was born of a sob story type of thing. I brought her back on a whim in collaboration with a friend. We're writing a comic now where Milo is stuck with our goofball male antagonist. He's a savvy and silly trickster whose very curious about her strange ways, and wants to help her out with whatever mysterious trouble she's gotten herself into. The story becomes a lesson in learning to laugh at yourself, and as she falls in love with this wise and patient fellow, her true free flowing nature slowly begins to reemerge. With someone who finally both accepts and believes in her, she begins to walk her own path. Traces of a false front and snippy emotions will always remain, but given time her bright true nature shines through. Hrm, does this help? I guess I didn't really get the whole "outside action against an outside antagonist", she's sort of her own worst enemy in this story. Later on things get more action, but for now I'm just focusing on the story of how she met the love of her life. Thanks for your feedback btw!
     
  4. Corgz
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    Corgz Senior Member

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    Milo is a unisex name, or at least I thought it was.
     
  5. inkdweller
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    inkdweller Member

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    I've never seen it listed as so, but I thought so when I made it too. I just loved the sound of it. :3
     
  6. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    There is not a limit (upper or lower) as to how complex a character could be, but presenting a complex bio doesn't make a character complex, the complexity should be revealed through how a character reacts to situations. . In tge movie 'lLife is Beautiful' the plot and the characters are not overly complex, but in the backdrop of tge hardships of the time they were in the simplicity represents human spirit, which by no means is any less complex. On the other hand 'Schindler's List' uses complex characters to achieve somewhat similar effect.

    I think the aim should be to create a rounded character and you ending up with a complex character while doing so should be incidental and should not be the prime focus of the writer from the beginning.
     
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  7. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Personally, I hate complex characters. I prefer rounded characters. They're more relatable, and more susceptible to change, good or bad. They contain a wider range of characterization, and can affect the reader much more dramatically. I feel that when you create all these limits, or complexities, and throw them onto a character, it prevents them from being able to go outside those realms, and really sets a boundary on what your story can become. Why not simplify the character, and then let the story itself dictate the complexity?
     
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  8. inkdweller
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    inkdweller Member

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    Mmm, thank you for your input, I think I'm getting some good stuff here. Especially on the rounded characters bit, I'd never really compared and contrasted the two much before, this is good information for me. o u o

    This is quite a memorable piece of advice. Thank you.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Every aspect of a character need not be revealed, in fact , to have a character do something that makes the reader wonder why
    she made that choice gives her a touch of mystery, gets the reader thinking. I'd back off a bit and let her do something ( create
    a moment ) that surprises even you - if it surprises you - it will surprise the reader.

    Oh, I like the name Milo for a girl - but have you thought of changing the spelling to avoid confusion? - Mylo
    I always worry about confusing my reader when I give my character a gender/bender name.
     
  10. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    A complex character can be difficult for the reader to emote with. A well written complex character can work, but you need to convey the complexity in a way that won't confuse the reader.

    If the author of the complex character cannot understand their motivations then the reader will have no chance.

    On the other hand, characters which are too simple may offend the reader's intelligence. What is needed is balance - an easy to understand character who is dropped into an unfamiliar situation. The character doesn't know what to do at first and the readers can be kept guessing for a suitable length of the story as to what will happen towards the end.

    There are also some readers who like complex characters, reading their tales to unpick the strands of their motivation. An antagonist, for example, shouldn't be evil for the sake of it - give him a reason to be evil, such as greed, fear, or an unhealthy obsession of some sort. What was he like before he was evil? Or is he acting evil to achieve a benign end the whole time, only to foil the true villain at the climax of the story.

    Once you understand the innermost complexities of the character, you should then be able to convey their behaviour and choices in a gripping and exciting manner. Think of the writing simpler characters as practise. You'll get there. I hope to become that good too.
     

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