1. blueroses
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    blueroses Member

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    Sympathic Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by blueroses, Jun 7, 2008.

    I am writing a story about a man who is a man who becomes a psychiatrist for dead people. I am using a first person point of view and have encountered a problem. He is completely unsympathetic. He is rude, sarcastic, has no respect for himself or others...No redeemable qualities what so ever!

    I tried to rewrite it making him less of a stubborn a** but that took away the humor of the story. I have had a people that were kind enough to read it and they HATED him. They said that the story overall was entertaining but that the doc. was horrid.


    Any advice.

    :(
     
  2. Brode
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    Brode Member

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    I recommend gradually showing, through his actions and dialog, small "cracks" in the armor that is his sarcasm. That's how most sarcastic jerks that I know turn out to be; they're really just softies underneath.
     
  3. Nezriel
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    Nezriel Member

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    I would make him unsympathetic to the generic type of people, like "I committed suicide because I couldnt take it, blahblahblah" or "I didnt get to make my peace with God before I died yada yada", but have the occasional few like little kids or crippled people, like people who really need it he cracks to show sympathy for and help cope with their death.
     
  4. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I agree with the above - gradually reveal small cracks in his rudeness and sarcasm. The young kids and crippled people approach seems to be a very good one.
    You might also want to consider why he acts like this. Is he defensive? Has he been hurt in the past? What has made him this way? If, for example, he is bitter and rude, could that be a sort of 'defence' against being hurt, as he has been in the past?
    Just a few things you might want to consider.
     
  5. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Have you watched House before? It's my all-time favorite show, and the main character is a total a** to everyone. But's he my favorite character as well. Just watch an episode, any episode of House and you'll see why.
     
  6. blueroses
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    blueroses Member

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    Thanks everybody! You were lots of help. One of his patients ends up being a little girl. This makes him angry because he sees that he can't truly help. So maybe that will soften him. When I write him I see the truth and I understand him, but I need to work on showing it.

    Lots of thanks!
     
  7. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Could he be really nasty to living people, but sympathetic to dead people? Or are the people he is being evil to the dead people?
     
  8. illuminati
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    illuminati Member

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    Hate is an emotion and if your characters can generate emotion (including hate) I think that you have a good character. Although I don't think that hate is the correct emotion that a protagonist should generate. Perhaps you can refine him with the suggestions above. Also give him a noble cause. If his motive in the overall story is good, your readers will like him despite the fact that he's a twat on occasion.

    That's why--like Kratos mentioned--House is such a good character. He's a pompous "a**" but because his motives are good (trying to help people) you find that you like him none-the-less.
     
  9. B-Gas
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    Here's the trick, and it's an old one- Stab the guy right at the start. Have him miss his bus, then get hit by a truck, then have a patient go insane. Be really, really mean to him right at the start, and the audience will fall over themselves to love him. Even if he is an utter bastard for the rest of the book, make sure that the audience's first day with him is also his worst day, and they will love him to pieces for the rest of it.

    House, as mentioned, is cold, clammy, unsympathetic, nasty, vile, a liar and thief- but the audience will die for him. The episodes are a series of his worst days. He fails, fails, fails, fails, fails- and then, at the last moment, he figures it all out and the guy lives. Most of the time. He takes on challenges that are way above his level and continuously makes errors and misjudges things until, finally, he gets it right.

    I don't think it's intentions that make a character likeable- a guy who sacrifices puppies to the devil to keep the world at peace is never going to be a likeable guy, despite his nice intentions (unless he's got a hell of a writer)- it's pain. It's sympathy. It's watching him get hurt and feeling yourself reaching out for him, wanting to help him, feeling sorry for his failure. Stab the guy, stab him good and hard and don't stop stabbing until the book is almost finished, and the audience will adore him forever.
     

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