1. eemmajoan
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    eemmajoan New Member

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    Reconstructing an Old Character - Help? -

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by eemmajoan, Feb 8, 2016.

    I have been adapting a story for a number of years now the concept has been with me long enough that i am realizing as continue to build connections to points and characters that certain aspects don't suit the character anymore, these aspects in some cases are traits that i had previously been married to so now i am finding myself unsure of how to continue with who i think the character is versus who the character needs to be for the successful continuation of the story.

    Particularly I am looking for help fixing Ike.

    Ike is very important to the movement of the plot events. Things about him that determine this are his suspicion of the government, some may call it paranoia, he's a conspiracy oriented person and it happens to come in handy in the unorthodox situation he finds himself in. my problem i'm having is coming up with a person's environment or happenstances of how these traits would have oriented him in the first place.

    In addition to this i need to map a way for this character to cause a near death experience unto himself. Another aspect of ike that is important is his aversion of social behaviors against the relentless pursuits of a younger chick desperate for any sort of his attention.

    Previously i had settled this by attributing contradictive traits, now i find myself unable to continue writing this vital character because i can not ignore these contradictions but then, i don't really know who he is either.

    Do you have advice or ideas to aid my problem?
    If more background is needed, ask away.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Most of the conspiracy theorists I know are, to put it bluntly, thick. They just don't have critical thinking skills so they believe anything they read on the internet that sounds convincing. I assume you don't want your main character to simply be stupid, though. The easiest alternative is to make his parents big conspiracy theorists (no reason they can't be thick but have produced an intelligent son) so he grew up knowing no different. Perhaps he was home schooled - quite common among the extreme CTs I believe.

    Edit: Realised there is another common trait in CTs - a sense of superiority, an arrogance, that they aren't one of the "sheep" following common thought. Ironic, of course, since they're the ones who believe what they're told without evidence. If arrogance is a weakness of Ike's, he might be attracted to conspiracy theories because it makes him feel he's a step ahead of ordinary mortals. They then like to believe that the government and other organisations are out to get them (the paranoia) because this knowledge is so special and they are such dangerous people for being so clever.

    I don't understand what you mean by "his aversion of social behaviors against the relentless pursuits of a younger chick desperate for any sort of his attention." Do you mean Ike is anti-social, but he wants this woman? Or Ike is anti-social but this woman pursues him? The latter, I don't see a problem. She seeks him out - perhaps at work, or the grocery store, or wherever he's forced to go. If the former, his motivation to bag the woman has to be stronger than his motivation to avoid people. Easy.

    I don't REALLY get this either: "In addition to this i need to map a way for this character to cause a near death experience unto himself." But there are a million ways someone can almost die through their own carelessness. He could get distracted while driving and plough into a tree. He could unblock a sink with caustic soda and spill it all over himself because he's throwing it around like bleach. Literally anything.
     
  3. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Different researchers associate the tendency to believe in conspiracy theories with cynicism, low self-esteem, and/or a feeling that they lack control over their own lives. (A typical example: http://time.com/3997033/conspiracy-theories/) They tend to believe in more than one conspiracy, sometimes to the point of contradiction. (One famous study concluded that "the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered.")

    To give a personal example, my conspiracy theorist uncle is a deeply closeted gay man from a time when being gay wasn't at all accepted. He has a tendency towards partners just barely above the age of consent, who tend to exploit him for money and disappear on him when the funding stops. His mother was something of an emotional black hole, always demanding more love and more attention from those around her, and he never really escaped her influence. He's always had a hard time taking care of himself without outside help to remind him of what to do and force him to actually do it, and after her death, it's become increasingly difficult for my parents to get him to attend doctors' appointments and otherwise manage his own care. (He's so prematurely aged from ill health that I used to be incapable of telling him apart from my grandfather.)

    One of the two things he takes pride in is his massive collection of old science fiction novels from the '50s and '60s, and the other is all the "inside information" he gets from conspiracy theorist websites. I've rarely seen him light up so much as when he discusses one or the other, and he often seems like a precocious child as he shows off his knowledge.

    Mind you, I'm pretty sure he's right. He never got into aliens or Bigfoot--he's all about cronyism between businessmen and government officials, which would explain an awful lot.
     
  4. MelFyre
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    MelFyre Member

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    Of the conspiracy theorist that I know I notice these traits -

    It does not just tend to be overarching conspiracies but even at his place of work ( through three different jobs of varying desirability - one of which is highly coveted ) they 'plot against him' to 'prevent him from moving ahead' when in reality it is his inability to accept cetain societal norms / personal issues / fringe personality idiosyncrasies that hold him back.

    This person is a participant of certain illicit activities that 'the government doesn't legalize because it's trying to control the people' -anything that is against the law that this person does is unlawful because the government is 'in someone's pocket'. All of his cohorts that do the same activities believe the same way.

    Highly impulse driven

    Highly imaginative

    Possessive of his 'pet theories' whereas others can be 'plants to throw him off'

    Often working on some get rich quick scheme

    Very engaging and gregarious personality if he takes to you

    Prone to snap judgements

    If I think of more I'll share it
     
  5. MelFyre
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    MelFyre Member

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    As regard to your near death issue - can Ike be engaged in herbal treatments / homeopathic medicine - which can lead to an error or issue?

    Or can he put himself at risk through some convolution of one of his paranoia moments ( say does he have a break down type spiral where he physically endangers himself trying to 'keep safe' - thinking like that Will Smith movie where he ends up on the rooftop after the other character strips him if all the tracking devices )?

    Or maybe a jealousy / revenge style issue from the younger woman?

    An 'I'm so much smarter than my enemy/the elusive they /the sheeple out there' mentality and he makes a mistake that endangers himself ( points if it is a very simple mistake that has catastrophic consequences )?

    Oh and the CT I know has a military history - don't know if that helps
     
  6. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    What exactly was the relevance of the gay bit? To highlight his overall feel of depressed except for his obsessions. And as to the cronyism thing, that's hardly a secret. Humans always have the tendency to be at least slightly impartial at least at moments. And power is important in games of power. Even the common people tend to hold up the already powerful for promotion, especially in the big businessman= good leader culture of America (from my impression/others impressions of it. I'm Australian so...)
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Herbal and homeopathic are NOT synonymous.

    However, if he's into herbal, he could misidentify a plant, and collect a poisonous variety that looks like a beneficial herb.

    Homeopathic, though, seems to work on the basis of building up immunity to poison by taking a small dose to encourage the body to fight it off, when its increased immune response then overwhelms the original illness. Even if it works, there is a significant risk of overdosing.


    But, near-death? Being poisoned doesn't float my boat as the way to go. It needs to be a more dramatic incident, where he's very conscious of having nearly died. Being poisoned fails because it could be just bad restaurant food. Car crash/knocked over by car when fleeing this predatory chick, or some FBI agents (who just happed to be tourists in sunglasses), but it doesn't have to be as a result of his paranoia; it could just be an accident; it could even be as simple as failing to get on a plane that crashes (because he wouldn't comply with security procedures in case the microwaves in the metal detector might fry his brain cells?). Or if you want him to really do the whole "don't go towards the light" thing, then a drowning incident? Or some other Cardiac incident?

    I'd also like to point out that believing in a conspiracy theory MAY be because there's a conspiracy. You're only a CT nut when you're pretty indiscriminate in your belief.

    Finally,
    As @Tenderiser says, it's not clear whether he's running after her or away!

    If it's away, I see no contradiction. CT nuts are frequently socially inept, and it would not be uncommon for him to just fear/distrust/whatever all women. Even if he's not socially inept, and normally likes girls, he could view the fact that she's "desperate for his attention" as a mask for her being an FBI agent tasked with entrapping him in some way.

    If he's running after her despite social ineptness, he could be the kind of guy who "just saw your mother walk across the playground and decided I was going to marry that girl" and thinks that's kind of romantic (because that's what Patrick Swayzee did in Ghost), rather than it being a case of deciding on a life-partner based purely upon looks (and the fact that you've got nothing else in common can be sorted out by making her agree with you) and giving the girl no say in the relationship.
     
  8. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Homeopathy is more than just heavily diluted substances. It's substances diluted heavily over and over again. It's utter bullshit because it relies on "water memory" which is a baseless concept.
     
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, there isn't a single molecule of the "active" ingredient left in homeopathic water, so there's no chance at all of being poisoned. Unless it was prepared incorrectly, I guess, but I'm pretty sure most homeopaths just put straight up tap water in a bottle and laugh all the way to the bank.
     
  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Or they're weirdo mystics and actually believe water has memory.
     
  11. MelFyre
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    MelFyre Member

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    I know that herbal treatments and homeopathic medicine are two different things hence why I differentiated the two instead of using different language that lumped them all together.

    Some people believe they can make their own herbal / homeopathic concoctions - and do. I then see them in the ER - because we don't all truly have the skills we think we do. Fequently they make their own because they 'don't trust doctors or hospitals' for various reasons including conspiracy theories.

    I suggested most of my reasons because those reasons would not be confirming Ike's CT ideas - which can take this work into a whole different realm of writing and genre. Instead of CT being an interesting quirk of the characters it now becomes the focus of the story because the author is confirming Ike's paranoia as having grounds for existence - and if it becomes a reason for his near death experience then that angle will have to be pursued more thoroughly to tie up ends.
     
  12. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    If he's a conspiracy theorist maybe he's chasing after someone he's suspicious of, and get hit by a car.
     
  13. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I find when re-constructing a character imagine them mostly as if they were designed for this thing, and don't be afraid to do something that feels like your changing their fundamental nature a little or even a lot. You have no obligation to keep the character the same way, although that can be nice.
     
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  14. eemmajoan
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    eemmajoan New Member

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    Thanks guys I really appreciate the responses, reading through still but to respond to clarification issues. Ike is highly anti social, and to aid this he’s in a new environment but in this new environment exists Opal, she is her own bag of crazy, the important aspect is that despite Ike’s obvious aversion to paying her any mind she is stubbornly desperate to gain his affection. Their dynamic is important to his character which is why I mentioned at all. Originally his near death experience was going to be a product of having been doing dangerous things in exchange for money, however this seems uncharacteristic that an anti social guy that is constantly droning on about the dwindling faith of humanity… to be one of the whole he’s identified doesn’t sit well with me, it just seems too contradictive so I want to alter the structure of Ike and I figure the incident and his social patterns are directly correlated. * Also, the incident must bring him to a hospital as that is where the birth of the plot arises. The first few ideas I had were he eats live bait until it implodes his organs which then evolved to he fell off a moving car while surfing it’s hood and now I’m surveying for ideas. It may be important to note Ike is somewhere between 16 - 19 Just thought I’d clear those details up.
     
  15. BoddaGetta
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    BoddaGetta Active Member

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    You can do dangerous things for money and still be antisocial. A lot of crime and black market trade happens on the Internet these days, and often people involved with it don't interact face-to-face to keep themselves safe. Although, there are many ways one's whereabouts can be eventually traced online if you're determined enough.
     
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  16. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't yet read the other replies and this is a really, really broad statement - but if this is a character who has been with you a number of years, you might consider how YOUR perspective has changed since you created this character, how that effects your view of him vs. what he meant when you created him.

    The reason I say that is that my own protagonist was this way for me. She's an idealistic small town girl in her mid-20s - 26 in current form - and a big part of her plot is the transition from a small city to a big city. When I came up with her, I was 18 and living in a small city in Colorado. She was what I was looking forward to. Then I put her away for a few years. I came back to her when I was 27 (I'm now 29) after a number of years living in downtown Washington, DC. I've actually had a lot of the experiences I planned for her, and now she's a letter to my past self, not my future. She didn't move, but I passed her, and now she's taken on a darker quality because I've learned that ambition and moral corruption are very hard to separate. So, think about how your perspective on the character has shifted and whether that impacts the story you want to tell about them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
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