1. Birmingham
    Offline

    Birmingham Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    1

    Problem with father-son characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Birmingham, Apr 11, 2012.

    I've recently started a fantasy novel loosely based on JFK and Richard Nixon, and I have trouble with a certain scene.

    One of the earlier plotlines, that should be sort of introduced and resolved within about 5 seconds, is the problem of a character convincing his son to become an emperor. One of my characters is a duke who believes his 12 year old son should be the next emperor. He wants him to dedicate himself to studying the relevant subjects for the next 2 years and then try to get to the top of the empire. The son refuses because he'd rather learn and document the history of the empire, than to make history himself.

    In the story, the son is eventually convinced, goes for it, becomes the emperor, and that's when the "meat" of the book truly begins. I have trouble with the dialogue between the father and son. Even though I can draw from my own life and interactions with one of my parents, I don't really know how to stir the conversation. How can the duke convince his history-loving son, a radical opposer to becoming an emperor, that he should start making the proper arrangements and become an emperor?

    I have a couple of ideas, but I'd love to hear yours. The fate of the planet depends on it.
     
  2. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    That instead of documenting history, he could make sure his people don't make the same mistake as in history, and that if no one made history, there would be no history for him to document. eg. convince the son that making history is actually greater than documenting history.

    Another thing - if you wanna be a good emperor, you'd better know the history of your country!

    Perhaps becoming emperor will allow him access to all kinds of forbidden and ancient texts that he's been dying to read :p That's how Dangerous Beauty, a film based on the Italian Renaissance courtesan Veronica Franco did it - the mother convinced her daughter to become a courtesan by appealing to her desire for books and knowledge, and only a courtesan gets such access and she could become the most educated woman in her society. She takes it. It's convincing enough :D
     
  3. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    The history of the Empire is a good thing for an Emperor to know and an Emperor makes history. Both coincide with the sons ambitions so his dad is not asking him not to follow is desires just broaden them. Plus the old "it's your duty for the good of the people cause the other guy is worse" gambit often works.
     
  4. Birmingham
    Offline

    Birmingham Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks, guys. I'll watch Dangerous Beauty, as you recommended. Though now I'm worried that someone might think I lifted it from there! Though it's sort of a repeating theme in real life. There are leaders who never even imagined going that route and things just happened.

    I tried some dialogue in that scene. Threw in some of that culture's theology (which is very shallow, I just throw "the gods" here and there) and about the loss of a family member in the great race war (Joe Kennedy Jr. died in WWII). But your ideas are better than mine! I seem to have more than I need just with your ideas, Mckk and superpsycho, but I'd love to hear more. Keepem coming! You really came through for me. :)
     
  5. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    NYC
    Perhaps an appeal to the son’s vanity, and mention how he would be better than anyone else.
     
  6. Birmingham
    Offline

    Birmingham Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    1
    Funny you should mention that, James. I recently read an interview with Jonathan Franzen, and he spoke about a conversation with his editor in which he (the editor) appealed to Franzen's vanity, and there was a line there that I just thought to rip and put in the duke's mouth (with the appropriate word change).

    The editor told Franzen that many people can be great parents, but only few can be great authors. So in my story that turns into "many people can be great historians, but few can be great leaders." It's great because it in no way bashes the son's dreams. It's not saying "you'll be a great emperor but as a historian you're gonna suck and be a loser!" On the contrary, it says he'll be fabulous in whatever he chooses, but that he should choose what's more necessary and urgent.
     
  7. superpsycho
    Offline

    superpsycho Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    The dad could tell him how fabulous he’d look in the crown and royal robes.

    How about a love interest that he could only achieve if he was king.
     
  8. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    A son who isn't interested in ruling now reluctantly agrees to be the emperor. Why? To save the planet!

    I don't see any problem in this. Don't over-think, just write.
     
  9. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16
    He could tell him that as emperor, he can commission historians to study their past, employ chroniclers to record the present, and build universities and libraries to ensure the continuation of the discipline in the future. What history geek wouldn't be tempted by that?
     

Share This Page