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  1. Fluxhavok
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    Fluxhavok Active Member

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    Recurring Character.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Fluxhavok, Jul 8, 2008.

    So in the first short story i ever remember finishing (middle school i think.) i had this MC named Paige Campbell and it seems that she's somehow crept her way into almost everything else i've written since. The storylines, themes and genres change, (i bounce between fantasy and scifi.) but her general character (physical features, moral outlook, personality, name) is always the same. Seldom does she have big roles, she usually plays an interesting side char, some recent examples are a cop, woods guide, and herbal healer. If my books were marvel movies, she'd be stan lee. I don't really know why i do this, or if it's a positive or negative. I'll just be writing a story and think to my self, "i wonder what Paige would make of this." or "Dude, paige would definitely know what to do." I was talking to one of my friends who writes shorts and he told me that "alot of writers are guilty of this, but usually they have the common sense to change the name and appearance of the char."

    i was just wondering if anyone else did this or know of any popular writers that do. if you think it'd be something that would be alright to do if i ever "made it big" or if you think it's too gimmicky.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    so, you're talking about a sort of 'cameo' appearance in all of your works?... i don't see any harm in it, but it does smack of 'gimmick'...

    aside from the major characters and their sidekicks/neighbors/whatevers who 'star' in mysteries and such, like poirot and kinsey milhone, et al., i don't know of any author who's used the same character over and over again... it certainly does seem to be an ego thing, like hitch doing a walk-in in all of his movies, so readers will most likely assume paige is you, whether she is, or not...

    the bottom line, however, has nada to do with whether you stick her in everything, or not... it's only whether you write well enough to get any of it published!...
     
  3. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure. Maybe this character is fighting to have her own story told?
    As for whether it would be gimmicky or not, it may well be, or it might make the stories unrealistic. On the other hand, it might be effective. It depends on how well she's written.
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Stephen King does a similar thing. Characters from one novel will often have a cameo role in another. Examples include Dick Hallorann from The Shining appearing in It, and various characters (Randall Flagg, Donald Callahan and Ted Brautigan in particular) in The Dark Tower. It works quite well for him, particularly as he has managed to tie most of his novels into The Dark Tower series. But that has taken over thirty years, and he is a bestselling novellist. Whether it would work for you, is something you have to work out. If it's well written, I don't see it would be a bad thing.
     
  5. Adelaide
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    Adelaide Member

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    Flannery O'Connor had recurring characters in her short stories with plots that weren't necessarily related. I don't think anyone considers her gimmicky. I certainly don't.
     
  6. Mythurien
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    Mythurien New Member

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    I would say there is nothing wrong with it, as long as this character remains in the background. As long as Paige doesn't appear in each work as the character who resolves major plot points, her presence won't become an issue. She may even become a particularly liked feature of your work, if and when you acquire a following. As an example, in the Final Fantasy series of videogames (I couldn't think of a literary example, but the same principles apply), there is a character by the name of Cid who appears in each game, and though he rarely has large parts, he is known and liked by all players, and never does it detract from the story.

    On the other hand, Lucy E. may have a point: it sounds like Paige lingers in your thoughts more than a background character ought to, and maybe you should work on developing her own story rather than working her in to others.
     
  7. TheFedoraPirate
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    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

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    If they exist in the same universe I sort of like when the author crosses over character from different works. (Like what Marvel is finally doing with its films ... (zomg Avengers movie, hellz yes)
     
  8. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Lovecraft did this too, he had a number of stories sharing the same antagonist, and a few recurring main characters, such as Randolf Carter, and one taken from another writers work and whose name is an allusion to the writer who created him Robert Blake.

    It's somthing many writers do.
     
  9. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    How odd. I have recurring characters, sure--most of them are--but none of this nature. Most of my characters stay within their own set storylines, and I certainly don't "reuse" the same character but with a different name or some such. (That would just strike me as beyond weird to do; maybe I'm just strange that way. All my characters are "individuals" so to do that would be like erasing their personalities.)

    Judging by your post I couldn't be sure if you were concerned that perhaps you're reusing the same character all the time, meaning you're having trouble coming up with something more original (that would be my concern--why would she show up so much in different roles, but as the same basic person, unless there's difficulty creating a new character for the place?), or if you're just concerned about whether this should be done or not. Well, it's weird, to me, but I suppose it could be done, if it doesn't throw your stories' universes out of whack. My storylines are so individualized that for the same character to appear in them would smack of some sort of authorial intrusion (here she is in ancient Egypt, here she is in modern-day Michigan, here she is in the Late Woodland Indian era...) so I can't pull it off well, but I don't know how sequestered your universes are; maybe you could do it better. It's only gimmicky if you don't handle it well or if there's no genuine reason to do it. (You might want to think hard about that--WHY should the same person keep showing up in different stories? There should be some sort of reason for it, which contributes to the stories themselves.)

    Someone else made a good point, maybe this character is just begging for a story (or series) of her own, and intruding into your other stories is her way of saying it. You seem to spend a lot of time thinking about what this character would think of your plots and such--that seems to indicate that you care about her a lot. Why not give her a starring role? (If you haven't already!)

    Just my rambling opinion. :)
     
  10. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I actually like what you are saying and it sounds very cool. I have recuring characters and even have an idea for an imortal that spans through the ages. What you are suggesting is somewhat like Stephen King tying in many of his novels into The Dark Tower series. What i like is that you said she is always the exact same person and i say use that. You could create a story for her and let her do her own thing or what i would like to see more is continue to have her pop up here and there. In a way I think this would be a more organic way of creating a believeable personality because you have a lot of pregenerated character info. Plus you know what skills she has before hand. Later on you can write her as some sort of drifter or maybe even someone like nbc's pretender running from someone hunting her but able to do anything to blend in. She could maybe also be some sort of god character working to help others and you could have another character try to figure out who she is. I have written many stories with characters that have kind of become there origin. I have one about a guy who is becoming a Hitman, well one of my stories i wrote when i was younger was about a boy who killed his best friends killer, and another i wrote was about a slightly younger man being beaten by his mother and having to defend his handicapped from her. When i started the character of the hitman my past short stories that had no real merit alone together they gave me a good personality skeleton for the main character in the hitman story. so all i can say is use it she wants to be important so let her and get creative with how you let her
     
  11. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Two other well-known authors who have recurring "stock" character types:

    Anne McCaffery. Although the details vary, most of her books feature somewhat innocent or naive but "secretly special" main characters, of the sort where if you read six of her books in quick succession they will start to blend into the same character save for minor details.

    Anne Bishop. I love her books, but that doesn't stop me from noticing that the characters in her Black Jewels universe fall into about six different "stock character" categories.

    Admittedly, many of my character concepts and plot lines stem from the idea of someone who is a) wrongfully imprisoned, b) discovering something new (a country, a race, a scientific discovery, magic), or c) helpless in some way. Since you can do all kinds of stuff from just these three ideas, I have thus far managed to avoid having recurring characters. For example, one character of mine is "helpless" in the sense that he cannot rid himself of a curse that will kill him in his late thirties or early forties at the latest. His reaction: "Fine, then, I'll make myself into the most famous wizard ever! I only have limited time - might as well have an impact on the world before I go."
     
  12. Fluxhavok
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    Fluxhavok Active Member

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    oh, no i'm not saying i have difficulty creating new characters with their own respective personalities or anything, i was in the army so i had tons and tons of experience with experience with different personality types i can draw on. Paige is just, i dunno, it's fun to fit her into the story somewhere as some minor char. Also to clear things up, she's never exactly the same character, as in, none of my stories are in the same universe. imagine she's angelina jolie, and i wrote 2 books called "Tomb Raider" and "Gone in 60 seconds" Paige is just the actor that plays the 2 roles. Same basic features, same bad attitude. she's like Denzel Washington or Orlando Bloom, not bad actors but they always play the same type of char. A good example someone gave was the Cid char from the Final Fantasy games. A better example would be the example i already gave, Stan Lee in the marvel movies. just little unimportant cameos. it's a fun little game to fit her into storylines somewhere.

    It'd be hard giving her her own book. I'd feel kinda bad tying her down to one life when she's used to being whoever, doing whatever she wants. It's something to think about though.

    Thanks for all the responses!!
     
  13. draciaveil
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    draciaveil Member

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    I know what you mean. I have a recurring character in some of my stories. I have always liked the idea of shapeshifters who change from human to dragon, and I guess I like this character because she is a shy, timid girl, and that contrasts with the fact that she is actually a dragon. In my case, though, she isn't a cameo character. I've taken her out of stories where she didn't seem to belong and put her in others without realizing it. She's gone by different names. It's kind of weird, because I can't really say she's even my favorite character.
     
  14. Kirby Tails
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    Kirby Tails Member

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    I think it just means thhat you're not quite ready to let her go, yet. Just kind of...let her hang around for awhile, see where it goes, I suppose.
     

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