1. Epscillion
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    Epscillion New Member

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    Peacemakers and Flaws

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Epscillion, Mar 4, 2013.

    Hello! I just joined and wanted to say I hope to learn a lot here and meet awesome people!

    So I've been mildly agonizing over what direction to take my main character's faults in. He's a natural peacemaker/diplomatic type and typically is very up-beat if a bit quirky. In the story he's going to have to bring different kinds of characters together, and each one has a personality as different as the next. You know there's going to be fighting and all kinds of disagreement. The thing is, he doesn't do well when he's entrenched in discord. He adopts a 'peace at any price' attitude when things get bad. But I've been wondering- how could he blow up?

    There's the doormat who lets everyone just walk over them, but that doesn't fit him really. So I was thinking of the opposite- the aggressive peacemaker. I could see him snap in the heat of a critical argument and kind of grab some shirt collars and tell them how things are. He's not one to get violent usually, only if things have become that dire. Or- possibly a manipulative peacemaker, using words to cleverly control others to get the results he wants.

    Anyone have any thoughts?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't get too hung up on flaws. The individual attributes you use to distinguish your characters and make them interesting need not be flaws at all. It could be a fascination with antique cars, or an unusual manner of speech, anything.
     
  3. Mot
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    Mot Member

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    Peacemakers are frequently quite highly skilled manipulators (look at the world's most prominent diplomats!). Their motives for manipulating people into peaceful solutions vary, and I suppose power is a big part of that. Being labelled a 'peacemaker' automatically puts you into a position of authority and power. Your parents made the peace between you and your siblings, your teachers made the peace at school, the police keep the peace elsewhere, the common denominator being a character of authority (and respect).

    Then there are the ones who make peace because anything else is not worth their effort. I suppose those would fall into two categories: a- those who can't stand external breaches to the zen of their private universes, and b- those who are genuinely peaceful, and are so for the general good of everyone.

    Now, I personally view flaws as an integral part of human nature. I agree with Cogito in that you don't have to use them as a way to make a character interesting- and your peacemaker guy sounds pretty intriguing as it is- but I think they can help to make characters seem more real. It adds another dimension to them.

    Violence = loss of power/control, though that could well be his 'issue'. Manipulation is scarier and much more dignified, but is definitely a lot harder to write (especially if you haven't consciously tried to manipulate someone. We do it naturally all the time, but you're generally not aware of it and so miss the nuances of it).

    Think about how he was brought up. Perhaps he had some experience growing up (or as an adult) that created a pressure point. The details don't have to be included in the story itself, but it's sometimes useful to think about them.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd have him explode in narcissistic rage. More often than not, politicians and diplomats are narcissists who feed their narcissism with all the praise for all their achievement. Have this guy reveal his true character - petty, vain, egomaniacal, but not in an obvious way. Perhaps have his microphone still on when he goes to the restroom or on a lunch break and have the people he is trying to "reconcile"hear him slagging them off, or even go on a rant about them, or any other way of showing what he really thinks about the people he is supposed to be helping.
     
  5. Phoenix Hikari
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    Phoenix Hikari Contributing Member

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    As I see him, he's terribly flawed already without you adding anymore. True, peacemakers are good people but that doesn't mean they are liked. I think since he'll be trying to bring peace between many different characters with different personalities, then he'd be at some point disliked for being an excessive optimist or peaceful person.
    For me, there's one thing that rang true from him to me and that is he thinks he's always right in his methods and beliefs. He can't be always right, he can't make a peacefully perfect world and that is what will hit him in the end, he should see that not everything can be solved with only one solution. I don't promote violence by any means, but yes sometimes peace just doesn't work the way we want it. We can't forgive someone who has wronged us, we can't love someone we hate, we can't be friends with people we disagree with... etc.
    Whether you add flaws to him or not, if you write this story right then he should face a time when he understands that being a peacemaker doesn't mean you always forgive and forget, not even God is like that. As I see him, he's flawed alright and adding more flaws might disturb his balance unless this flaw is essential to the story's plot.
     
  6. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    I would say, in general, that a mediator (which is what you seem to be describing your character as being) is someone who is something of a control freak of their own emotions and outward appearance. What they personally feel will be hidden behind masks that can be used to get other people who need mediating to come to the table and compromise, and that can involve bluffs, double bluffs, poker face, and other such manipulative techniques.

    Those masks are also most likely deliberately about showing emotions that the mediator doesn't feel. So as far as flaws are concerned, bear in mind that the mediator will probably be somewhat controlled and manipulative in their responses with everyone, even close relations, and that may be where conflicts can be explored in the context of such a character in your story.
     
  7. Epscillion
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    Epscillion New Member

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    Thanks for the replies, my eyes have been opened to some really nice possibilities. Looking back on my character now I can better see his initial characteristics in how they can be flaws. I was hung up on the idea that flaws are only negative traits but like you said Cogito, they could be anything.

    I think what I was looking for was the darker side of his character, something that makes him more 'real' in my mind. For me personally, it makes it easier to write a character when I know their high and low points. Especially when they're as complicated as this character, as easy-going as he may be. I've always wrote him as having a laid-back presence, which becomes a front in dangerous situations. So I think I could incorporate the idea of a manipulator with a poker face, once things get heated in the story. Actually- the moral conflict of doing just that should tie in very well with the plot.
     
  8. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    I just want to say that this thread has allowed me to get a handle on a subtle problem I had in my first novel regarding the nature of its main character. The reason it's taken three weeks to get to it is that my subconscious sometimes likes to beaver away in the background and come up with solutions! Anyway, now I have the subtle variation I need in the shape of my main character's life, I can rest easy with the pending narrative reworking of the first novel (when I actually get around to it).
     

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