1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Orphaned Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Feb 28, 2010.

    JK Rowling once said that the reason she made Harry an orphan was because he could pretty much get away with doing whatever he did without worrying about his parents' disappointments/wrath. Also, it was to make Harry a more sympathetic character.

    Looking back at my colonial detective story notes, I thought, "Y'know? Why don't I let Colin have his family? I'll even make his dad a lawyer so at least there could some justification as to why Colin's putting his life on the line to nab the criminal."

    But then I ran into a problem. Sure his brother and sister won't mind helping him, but how would Colin keep it a secret from his parents, especially his mother? They probably don't want to let their youngest, disabled child to go wandering around risking his life. They may even try to bar him from doing the mystery all together by keeping him in the house.

    Now, I'm probably just injecting realism in fictional story. I mean, why couldn't his father applaude him for helping with the mystery and offer tips or small tasks for him that helps the mystery? However, I still have the mother. In my mind, there has to be SOMEONE that says, "Hey, y'know sweetie, I don't think I like you sending our son/daughter out into peril like that."

    So maybe that's why many authors make their MC an orphan, so they don't have to worry about the ramafications. It gives the MC (and any of his siblings) more freedom.

    So, what are your veiws?
     
  2. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    I decided against making my MC an actual orphan. Instead, Robin's mother has been missing for almost a decade an no one knows where she is, and her father is consistently absent and emotionally remote, which has led to a very strained relationship between him and his daughter.

    Basically, I think there are indeed benifits to getting the parents out of the way when writing about young protagonists, but in this case I thought it was better to have them available. More drama, higher stakes, etc.

    In fact, Robin's conflicted feelings for her dad and her desire to find out what happened to her mother turned out to be vital parts of the plot.

    Plus, there's more then enough orphans in the world of literature already.
     
  3. EileenG
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    EileenG Member

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    It's pretty amazing what young characters can do without their parents knowing about. As an example, I was vegetarian for two years before my mother noticed. Just set it up so the MC has a bit of freedom or wiggle room, and you can do it.

    Having a family means you don't have to deal with the whole carry-on of foster parents, or orphanages or officials keeping an eye out.
     

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