1. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London

    Please give me your advice on this character.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheWingedFox, Apr 19, 2015.

    So, this is the one character in my story who I'm having serious issues formulating, and perhaps you can give me your initial impressions of my current idea to resolve it.

    The novel is an action-orientated modern day story of a research program into possible extra special human abilities, and a group of such 'superheroes' with a detailed look at their slowly burgeoning but hardly amazing skills.

    (Think the TV show 'Heroes' but highly character driven, with more scientifically-based abilities, ie, humans can not fly according to the laws of physics, but can evolve greater muscle strength)

    One main character is the leader of the program, and although not the MC, the story pivots around them as the guiding force.

    First of all ,the character is wheelchair bound, with a debilitating disease.
    Second, the character is a genius.
    Three, they have an obsession with extra special human abilities.
    Four, the character grew up, lives and works on an air force base, and their father is a senior military officer.

    Now, based on the first three points (and I've run this past my friends);
    -if he's white, he's Professor Xavier.
    -if he's black, he's Samuel L Jackson from Unbreakable.

    Now, owing to the character background I prefer (which also relates to the plot), I really want the character to be African American. But I don't want to run into character parallels with the Unbreakable film.

    So, I was thinking, how about if the character is female?

    Could you buy the idea of a character of a black woman, from a line of distinguished military officers, wheelchair bound but having a superior technical and scientific abilities, leading a program researching 'superheroes'?

    The military is notoriously chauvinist, so it may be an idea that few readers will swallow.

    However, the potential for added valuable conflict increases (father/daughter issues, women and the military oligarchy issues, in addition to race and disabled issues) If the character is a woman, it could also allow for a possible blooming romantic liaison with her right hand man (I wouldn't do this if the characters were of the same sex as introducing homosexuality and the military would make people think I was pushing it!)

    So, is it an inspired idea or a lame duck?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,984
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    I don't have a problem with the military accepting a woman running a research program.

    I do think that the "wheelchair-bound genius associated with superheroes" idea has been done a lot. Is there a specific reason why the wheelchair is mandatory?

    And, I don't feel that I actually know much about this character. What are they really like, in a personal way? If I were, say, fixing her up on a blind date, or suggesting her for membership in an exclusive club, what would I say about her?
     
  3. odolmen
    Offline

    odolmen Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2012
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    9
    Good thing she's not a white woman, you would have had to add Batman's Oracle to the list of possible parallels :)
    Indeed, the wheelchair thing has been done. Maybe not THAT many times, but in the few times that it has, it's become so iconic that those examples are bound to spring to mind. Good job Xavier, you've ruined disabilities for everyone.
    There's got to be other ways of conveying physical disabilities without tapping into wheelchairing (For a minute there, I thought: "Give them a crutch! No, wait, two crutches! Two crutches and a segway!)
    But do feel free to stick to your guns, whether or not you want to put a new spin on the trope or stay classic.
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  4. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,351
    In addition to black and disabled, why don't you make her a lesbian single mother with learning difficulties...sorry, I think that's been done!
     
    TheWingedFox and Mckk like this.
  5. Jak of Hearts
    Offline

    Jak of Hearts Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    Black female in charge of a superhero research program just makes me think of Amanda Waller. The wheelchair, unless there is a crucial reason for it, I would stray away from it because as a reader I would tend to think "really, a wheelchair bound support crew again?" If you wanted to do a disability just for disabilities sake, I might do something different (perhaps deaf or blind, or even the crutches idea would be better I think). If there is a legitimate storytelling reason for it though it would probably be OK in the end. I don't think there is anything wrong with a woman though because being from the military myself, I have seen many high ranking women. The military is not the cigar smoking tough-man military it was back in the WWII days. Being African American though I think could be interesting if there is a long military lineage because that is an intriguing concept (black men up until even WWII predominantly struggled to become a part of military and especially gain ranks, usually being segregated to their squads, some of which became quite famous. If the lineage is long enough it could evens stretch back to the revolution when black men fought just to earn freedom).
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  6. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,351
    I think that you probably mean Civil War.
     
  7. mg357
    Offline

    mg357 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    368
    Likes Received:
    33
    As a wheelchair bound person I think this is a really good character.

    consider adding a romance element to the story.

    maybe the lead character develops a romantic relationship with another character.
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  8. Melissa1215
    Offline

    Melissa1215 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2015
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    I like the sound of the character, making them female gives it an interesting twist.
     
    TheWingedFox and mg357 like this.
  9. Melissa1215
    Offline

    Melissa1215 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2015
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    I like the idea of the character being blind!
     
    TheWingedFox, ZYX and mg357 like this.
  10. GuardianWynn
    Offline

    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    672
    First one show had a nice take on explaining slight in a science kind of style. It was spiritual energy being used to create thrust. Just to say. I mean I know spritualism isn't science but just putting that out there.


    Okay big big big problem here. with this part.
    First those characters are not like each other at all. Like not even close.
    The man from unbreakable was so determined to fit into the world to find that he belongs that he was willing to become evil if it was his part to play.. It shows such extreme interest in how the character needed to belong. To fit in the world

    Charles on the other hand is usually shown as knowing exactly where he belongs. His fight has always been that of an underdog struggling to gain equality for his kind.

    These are completely different. Down to one is confident in who he is, the other was not.

    I mean, I get comparing your characters to others but remember it is not what they share that defines them but what they don't. I personally think you shouldn't worry. Make him or her who they are. If they seem a lot like one of these two characters? So what. The thing is. When you look close enough, the differences always start to emerge. Just as such if you look from far enough away even and use general statements they all seem to look the same.
    I mean how many characters are "Males ages 20-40 who struggle against a world that doesn't understand them while hoping to bring some meaning or understanding to the world."
    Both Charles and the unbreakable character fit this bill(I think I forget there age.) They both struggle against a world that doesn't understand them. Charles with his fight on equality and the other guy with his desire to fit in. Both wish to teach the world. Charles wanting to teach equality and the other guy wanting to prove he belongs. I bet that line could describe about 10,000 other characters too.

    Does that make sense?
     
    TheWingedFox and Ozzy like this.
  11. Jak of Hearts
    Offline

    Jak of Hearts Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    Actually it would apply to either. African Americans were given land and citizenship during the revolutionary war if they fought.
     
  12. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,351
    Less likely, according to Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Americans_in_the_Revolutionary_War...

    The African-American Patriots who gave loyal service to the Continental Army found that the postwar military held no rewards for them. It was much reduced in size and state legislatures, such as Connecticut and Massachusetts in 1784 and 1785, respectively, banned all blacks, free or slave, from military service. Southern states banned all slaves from the militias, but some states, such as North Caroina, allowed free people of color to serve in their militias. In 1792, the United States Congress formally excluded African Americans from military service, allowing only "free able-bodied white male citizens" to serve

    While African-Americans who fought may have received freedom (and some prominent A-As are able to trace a revolutionary war ancestor), I'm sceptical that it led to a military tradition in the family.
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  13. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Sounds fine to me. I wouldn't probably connect her/him with an existing character anyway.

    As for coming from a line of distinguished military officers. All I know of blacks serving in the US armed forces if what I've learned from JAG, so suppose it's not worth much. The show gave a rather bleak image of racism and low ranks among the black servicemen, and it was only their offspring who had served in the Korean war, WW2, and the Vietnam war who were able to make it further.
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  14. wellthatsnice
    Offline

    wellthatsnice Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    101
    Write whatever characters you want. Just make sure that you write them well and that they are unique. Those percy jackson books had a mentor in a wheel chair. It turned out that he was in it to hide that he was a centaur. It made sense, and i never thought of prof x.
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  15. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,241
    Likes Received:
    1,000
    Okay - there are a couple different wrinkles here.

    1. Yes I can buy a black female as a mentor figure for a team of military heroes. One - I'd be fine seeing that in a normal military drama because it's aspirational and posits a world that is fairer than the real one - which is nice. Second - since you're in a comic book/sci-fi premise there really are no set rules about realism and gender roles.

    2. If there's a problem, it's not the black female part, it's the wheelchair. Not because it's bad in itself but because it's such a strong parallel to X-Men regardless of the race or gender of the character. It's a trope - disability combined with superior intellect to create a leader character who essentially functions as a disembodied brain for the team. If you're going to give her a disability, fine. There are all sorts of fun ways that could work - maybe work on what disease she has and how it manifests other than the wheelchair (I'm thinking ALS as an option, which gives you a Stephen hawking parallel - there are others). But be careful about playing too deeply into the Professor X trope regardless.
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  16. ZYX
    Offline

    ZYX Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2015
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    23
    I'd say set her apart from Samuel L. Jackson and Professor Xavier, then introduce her as a physically disabled black women. That way the readers first thoughts are less likely to be " oh, she's their Prof X " .

    If you're envisioning the character as a disabled black women, I wouldn't make her abled or white or a man just because this is suddenly Too Much Representation. So long as she isn't a disabled black women just so you can have a disabled black women, I think you're good. Good luck !
     
  17. Jak of Hearts
    Offline

    Jak of Hearts Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    I kind of like the idea of a disease over a disability. Maybe something that fatigues her that prevents her from being part of the active team (perhaps AIDS, leukemia, or even something they created that isn't even real). Possibly a different take on the situation.
     
    TheWingedFox likes this.
  18. ladybird
    Offline

    ladybird Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2013
    Messages:
    269
    Likes Received:
    81
    I'll commence by saying I am not really acquainted with american military history and their attitude towards black officers.

    So: 'Could you buy the idea of a character of a black woman, from a line of distinguished military officers, wheelchair bound but having a superior technical and scientific abilities, leading a program researching 'superheroes'?'

    How long is the line?
     
  19. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London
    Thanks for the reply.

    The wheelchair wasn't exactly mandatory, no. But I want her removed from the action, but still somewhat mobile, and someone clearly considered by sight to physically have a bodily disablement. I mean, if she had spinal bifida, she would probably have a wheelchair anyway rather than use crutches. Otherwise the readers might be thinking, 'why doesn't she just use a goddamn wheelchair ffs!!'

    Saying that, Dr. Kerry Weaver in E.R. always used a walking stick, and even though I never watched so many episodes, I felt that it made her seem stronger as a character that she could appear like that at work where the whole general understanding is that you go to hospital to get better, which would go against the image portrayed (and we know how much hospital managers put such emphasis on this type of crap now than before).

    As for her character, she is eminently sparky and good humoured, caring but not afraid to let rip on someone if she feels injustice. Very good at 'man' management. I imagine her being like an HR interviewer, you know, how they can be friendly and warm but it's almost shallow because that's their job; however, with her it's more genuine. She lives on the base, single, late thirties, attractive and feminine but still retains that tomboyish-ness that comes from the military environment. I like the idea of her swearing like a proverbial trooper, but never around her father. And this makes her well-like by the 'grunts'
     
    mg357 likes this.
  20. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London
    A segway (segueway?), now there's an idea! :)
    Thanks for the Batman heads up...not too knowledgeable about it, so good to know.
    But yeah, you're right, I need to think about other forms of disabilities.
    Thanks for replying.
     
  21. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London
    Thanks, again, it's great to hear about other 'superhero'/comic book characters.
     
  22. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London
    Thanks, I like the romance element being introduced, as her right hand man is the perfect physical specimen; a tall, strong, athletic truly heroic figure. But unfortunately, without sexual organs.
     
    mg357 likes this.
  23. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London
    Thanks for replying. It's a good idea, but I need the character to be very visual...she scours the web for new recruits, she designs equipment, and operates advanced weaponry, so needs her sight.
     
  24. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London
    No, no, I absolutely love the spiritual part. But I have a similar story planned, which will feature spiritual abilities, although I want this one to be a graphic novel. Just a damn shame I can't sketch!

    And yeah, you broke that down well, makes total sense. I suppose, casual readers will see them as too similar, but the real readers who stay the course will realise that there are differences and nuances to make the character an individual in their own right.

    Thanks for your input, valuable. :)
     
  25. TheWingedFox
    Offline

    TheWingedFox Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    London
    You guys do bring up an important point. The destruction of prejudice hasn't quite succeeded after the 60s, anywhere in the world really, and even with Obama in the hot seat, we can see more than ever that there are still racial tensions.

    But I think Obama's presidency has made people more inclined to believe that there could be a lineage. I mean, this lineage only goes back to WW2 (she's the 3rd generation) and it's referred to, as opposed to being highly detailed or defined.

    Nonetheless, racism - along with many other conflicts - is bound to raise its ugly head, and so it can be assumed that her family will be a target.

    Thanks for your input, guys.
     

Share This Page