1. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    Remaining Calm and Carrying On?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by carsun1000, May 14, 2015.

    Hello,


    Just looking for your input on the emotional composition of my MC. He is a seasoned law enforcement officer whose wife was kidnapped. So far, I have him remaining calm as his department investigates his wife's disappearance. He seems to understand that it's a process but also understands that anything could happen to his wife while she's held captive.

    My question is do I need him to show his frustration and impatience at the inability of the department to track down his wife's kidnapper(s) or just have him be patient and follow the department's SOP. We all handle situations differently (even in this case).

    The kidnapping so far is passive from the antagonist's POV because he wants to prove a point. The MC doesn't know this fact though. Thank you for your suggestions.
     
  2. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If your MC is outwardly calm and methodical, then you need to express his suppressed emotions in some other way - there will be cracks to his calmness, tendencies to overthink and perhaps make bad judgement calls where he chases down an obvious dead end. If his emotional state simply isn't there at all and he's just following protocol, with your reasoning being "everyone handles this differently", it's gonna come off as a bad excuse and unrealistic.

    Think of it this way: How would you react if the person you loved the most in this world just got kidnapped? Now translate this to your character according to his personality.
     
  3. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    I concur. The only reason I think your MC would be detached emotionally through the entire process is if they are the one behind it (and even then, surely faking a little anguish would help maintain the facade?)
    Bad Ass Bryan from the Taken films might be a good starting point. He's stoic but still has emotionally vulnerable moments and vents through excessive aggression etc. Not hugely relatable but believable if you don't mind the 'super macho CIA' trope.
     
  4. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Humans read fiction in order to see how the plot emotionally changes the characters.

    What is the inner conflict of your MC? What conflicting interests does he hold? How would he act on one interest or another, and how would that affect the plot?

    Either way, he has an interest in finding his wife, and there is not really anything to conflict with that. (Is there?) But part of him wants to follow protocol and respect the system while doing it, because that is what he is used to or because it is consistent with his ethics or something. And part of him -- the hero factor -- wants to buck the system and do whatever it takes to find his wife.

    Whatever the inner conflict, the reader needs to observe it somehow.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I would think you'd have to set the character up beforehand or keep establishing that he's calm in any situation or the readers like RachHP said they might be suspicious or think he's a cold bastard. But I've seen this in the movie Ransom - the old version with Glenn Ford was really good. Don't know how you'd translate that to fiction though. And I recall in The Accidental Tourist the mc being rather blasé about his son's death and his marriage falling apart, not because he was a jerk, but because he was just that kind of person - very subtle and emotionless.
    The trouble is like Daemon says what would be the conflict if he could treat this like any other case? I also agree with Mcck - you could show him at least trying to stay calm.
     
  6. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    You all have good points and I need to look into this. In book one, he woke up from a coma to continue the investigation that put him in the coma in the first place. He was deemed unfit for duty by Internal Affairs but did the investigation anyway and caught his suspect. Ever since, he's bucked against the system a few times except this time. He's not sure if his actions could jeopardize his wife's life. He's been watched by the antagonist.

    Maybe I should have regain his mindset like in the first book.
     
  7. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I always prefer a slow burn approach to this type of thing. Like at first he kinda wants to remain a professional and understands the process but as time ticks on he gets more and more frustrated and worried as his imaginations spins out of control about what could happen to his dear wife. Sort of letting both the reader's and the MC's imaginations both do the work.

    Or he can be outright blundering about it from the get go, it really depends on the character's tendencies.
     
  8. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or you might have him remain calm and professional all the way through, and then go completely berserk (not just Dirty Harry rogue) when the villain is in sight.
     

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