1. Yuli Ban
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    Yuli Ban Member

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    Riches to Rags: Hardcore Version

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Yuli Ban, Jun 23, 2014.

    I'm in need of some references for how to more accurately construct the psychological profile of a one of my... okay, many of my characters (though only one is a semi-major character).

    I've mentioned this story before, it's called Mother Meki, and the basic gist of the first book is that there has been a Marxist revolution circa 2099, and it was successful thanks in part to the main character, a member of the royal family.
    But that's not the character I'm focusing on; she's a whole different story altogether, oh boy.



    I'm focusing on her sister, whose basic traits before the revolution can be described as a run down of stereotypical princessistas: vain, materialistic, egotistic, shallow, obsessed with petty things, obsessed with fashion, etc. She had every whim catered to, and could count on her family's massive wealth (asteroid mining empire; father and sister wields nearly a quadrillion USD) to get anything she wanted. Being that this is also a speculative fiction tale, I should mention that she's a transhuman, but it's up to you if that's important or not, especially since the story doesn't really play transhumans as Borgs (as they always seem to be portrayed)

    While she does have deeper shades to her character before then, the only one that's relevant is that she always did long for a quieter life, particularly as a musician.



    While all this was originally going to be in narrative, I scrapped the first book in the series, relegating it to backstory and plot-exposition, so when you first meet this princess, the revolution's already occurred and she has to get used to the fact that all her privileges, all her nice things were expropriated virtually overnight (and she has no reason that her baby sister is to blame). More than that, however, you have to remember that this was a Marxist revolution, so wealthy bourgeois such as herself are to be oppressed. Besides just having all her stuff taken away, she is also forced to work and serve others and is consistently on the bad side of the law due to her social class.

    If her age matters to you, she's 27 at the start of the story.

    PS— Especially since this is transhumanist fiction, I don't intend for this story to be some sort of conservative libertarian guide to why Marxism is inherently evil and why poor people need to learn their place, even though it doesn't work out in the end, so no "bourgeois band together to fight back" plot twists. That already occurs, and its failure is a major plot point.


    So all I ask is for help in portraying such a character.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In the spirit of helping you brainstorm this person's inner her, I ask the following:

    Her world's been flipping upside down by this Marxist (or Marxist-like) revolution. She's former royalty, thus on the most opposite end of the spectrum as regards what's happening now and where the social zeitgeist is focused. When you think of her inner psyche, or where you want it to go, is she:

    Oppressed and:
    • Frightened? "Lord gawd, any moment they're going to tire of having fun with/dealing with/catering to my presence and I'll be shot."
    • Angry? "F*** these f****ing f***ers right in the f***ing gob. First chance I get I'm shanking the lot of'um!"
    • Self-Loathing? "They're right. My people sucked the life blood from the very land. I bet the grass was a deeper shade of green before my sort started pulling the color from the earth itself."
    • Mousie-Clever? "If I just lay low and survive, I might get through this and at least get away where I can live with no one bothering me. I don't have to be a princess, but I'm not about to be a slave either."
    • Something else??
     
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  3. Yuli Ban
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    Yuli Ban Member

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    Marxist full and full. Dictatorship of the Proletariat and all. I say that because the politics behind it are somewhat important to the story at hand, and the systematic repression of a class has very different consequences than "heiress's father dies and hated uncle inherits wealth, leaving the heiress on the streets of New York."

    Oppressed, yes... as for other emotions, the secondary would have to be confusion and disbelief. She doesn't want to believe her high life has been wrested away from her, and wants to believe that she's still royalty and that someone's coming to save her, sort of in a semi-psychotic detachment from reality, per se.

    That said, you can say she is all of the above because she doesn't know what to think. When the police and proles harass her, you can bet that she becomes frightened, alongside some remnants of disgust ("How dare they treat me like this! Don't they know who I am?"). When she has to do dirty work, you see anger and despair ("This is work for vagrants! I shouldn't be doing this!").
    The least of all is Self-Loathing; she rarely feels that way. It's her sister (the main character) who has to slap her into believing that this way of thought may be right.

    So oppressed and semi-psychotic would be my best answer. Not full fledged schizophrenia like her sister/main character, but she doesn't want to believe what has happened.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, so she's still rather in shock and that to me would mean that she's going to have erratic reactions to her environment. There will be times when her royal nurture are going to make her naturally respond in the ways she was accustomed to and there will be times when the gobsmack that is her present life will hit her hard enough to cow her.

    How can you make this apply to your plot progression? is my next question.
     
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  5. Yuli Ban
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    Yuli Ban Member

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    Let's drop some names so this doesn't turn into a "this person" "that person" scenario. This character's name is Annelise.
    Because the narrative focuses on her sister, Meki, this princess's behavior and irrationality is a point of trying to make sense of things and keeping what's left of the family together and sane. Meki wants Annelise to survive, but accept that things have changed for the better.
    Other characters want Annelise to keep royal pride and not listen to Meki (not only is Meki schizophrenic, she is technically a traitor), while still more get tired of Annelise's attitude.

    For Meki, Annelise's wellbeing acts as sort of proof that her actions have personal consequences, but it's best to take control of these consequences.
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This reminds me - the riches to rags angle - of an 80's movie I liked with Ally Sheedy. It's a reverse Cinderella movie with a spoiled rich bitch whose turned into a maid. One of the best parts in the movie is how clueless she is. She doesn't alter her behavior despite her new station. When she sits down with the other two maids in the den, she digs into a nut tray, spilling nuts and starts tossing them into her mouth, scattering nuts all over the floor. The other two maids hurry to clean up after her - making her mildly resented and the figure of their bemused tolerance. It's a small thing but it's interesting.

    What's the character's personality? - a fiesty, bitchy type would react to things quite differently than a cold impersonal type. Is she strong or weak? Just because she relies on people & servants doesn't necessarily make a person weak ( just used to getting her own way. )
     
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  7. Yuli Ban
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    Yuli Ban Member

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    Annelise is definitely a strong character who isn't quick to submit, and is quite bitchy and snobbish. I already thought of the concept of not hiding behind other people and servants. But she's no murderer and has some morals hiding beneath her harsh exterior. It's just that, when things really aren't going her way, she'll be blinded and that can be a problem when everything you do is now suspect.

    I suppose her biggest problem with the situation in the novel is that she refuses to accept that she's equal to those she once lorded over. In fact, less than equal— she's now below them in stature, and any attempt to mouth off could mean a rifle butt smashing her mouth in. That situation where she still believes she's in power and can influence events and has to learn the hard way that she's utterly powerless, that's one big reason why she has such a breakdown.

    I'd also mention that I'm mixing jealousy, even resentment, towards her younger sister. At the start of the series, Meki is 18 years old, but was the empress and was her father, the emperor's favorite (for very twisted reasons, obviously, since they're married but are father and daughter, but that's another thread), meaning that Annelise was always under her, despite being nearly 10 years older than her, and very much not mentally ill or socially awkward. So this idea that life has wronged her also plays into it.


    I've been trying to get my fair share of riches to rags stories in for added reference, but my problem is that I can only find maybe a scant few that feature exactly what I'm looking for. Most are as you said, a reverse Cinderella or rags-to-riches-to-rags (which were still very helpful), whereas this story is more Bolshevik Revolution in the 22nd Century. So it's not just a spoiled little rich girl no longer being able to afford the things she wants or having servants or being able to be a fabulous fashionista. It's organized repression, which I can imagine has a greater psychological impact.


    Loving all these fantastic replies, by the way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  8. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    I think people went over what Amelise would feel in her new world. The next step will be deciding how she will react to the changes around her, and that's mainly a question of her character. She can fall down to depression, and find an addiction to cling on to; drinking, drugs ect. She may decide, in spite of every nerve in her body to keep her head down, and survive in the new world order. She may try to resist, first openly, and, when she gets beaten down, in secret. She can take a group of former high rich people and try to build a resistence. She may try to work her way into the system, in hope of getting a stature back again. Or she can try to escape the new Marxist country she now lives in.
     
  9. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    I know this is a little nit-pick, completely off the subject, but you noted "... father and sister wields nearly a quadrillion USD...", shortly after a revolution 85 years in the future.

    Over the past 85 years, inflation has caused goods & services to jump in price (in US$) by 18X. In other words, $1 billion in the mid-30s would be equal $18 billion today. And that includes major events in the world - Great Depression, WWII, post-war depression, Cold War.

    If we use that rate, $1Q ~2100 would be worth $55.5T today. The ten richest men, combined, total about $0.5T amassed over their lifetimes. $55.5T is, in fact, a hair over the current global annual GDP.

    Of course, you could say that the US experienced hyper-inflation during the revolution, but if you toy with that too much, the numeric size of their fortune loses its meaning.

    Again, sorry for the nitpick. It just stood out to me.

    -Frank
     
  10. Yuli Ban
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    Yuli Ban Member

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    You forgot to take technology's effect of economies, particularly IT.
     
  11. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    I beg to differ with that. That 18X ratio for inflation since the 1930s encompasses the entirety of the electronic and digital revolution. Business machines at the time consisted of mechanical cash registers and time clocks. Encryption devices at the time were mechanical too and, with a bit of time, could have their algorithms cracked with pencil & paper.

    Rocketry could not yet send payloads between European countries, but can now reach the edge of the solar system. Travel across continents has been reduced from days/weeks to a few hours.

    In mining, we now have machines that can bore giant tunnels through mountains - tech that was just becoming widespread then. In the 30s, history was made when a rig 1 mile off shore drilled into rock that was 5 meters underwater. Today, the deepest working platform drills 2600 meters underwater.

    Regardless, the $1 quadrillion fortune would have to come from *somewhere*. Someone has to print it up (or the digital equivalent thereof) and they would do so for a specific reason.

    One possibility is hyper-inflation - ie, $1/dozen eggs today would naturally cost $85 in 2100, but because of economic disruptions really ends up costing $1700/dozen. If that's the case, $1Q would sound to the people of that time like $1B or $1T today.

    Another possibility is that there has been a population explosion that caused more money to be printed in order to avoid DEflation. But people would have to reproduce like field mice to balloon that much - and social disruptions like global revolution are hardly conducive to having lots of babies. But again, people would think "Ack! They have 1% of the global wealth - giant, but not a huge deal."

    Thinking about it, I guess my point is that the better question to ask is "what % of global and wealth does $1Q represent in your world?"

    -Frank
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This suggests to me that her previous power had to be based on something other than money. Money is inherently...OK, I was going to say democratic, but that's not quite what I'm after. I guess I mean that its power is clearly external to the person. People who have money, get what they want by spending the money. So if she suddenly has no money, it seems to me that it wouldn't be so hard for her to comprehend that she has also lost all the power that the money gave her.

    So her sense of superiority, IMO, needs to come from something else. She needs to think that she's inherently superior--smarter, noble, a divinely appointed ruler, something of that sort.
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why is this called hardcore version? Am I getting to see some penetration here?
     
  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I guess because it isn't the children's book version where the character learns humility along the way and at the end, everyone's happy. It's gritty, no-holds-barred 'this is what happens to a rich person if she's dragged to the station of a peasant under a Marxist regime, and now she must learn to survive.' Sounds interesting, OP. :D
     

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