1. NomNomKing123
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    NomNomKing123 New Member

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    The Grim Reaper being your best friend

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by NomNomKing123, May 9, 2016.

    So, i have been working on a medieval fantasy set of novels, and i recently thought of a new plot element. (sort of)

    The books are told from three characters points of view.

    Early in the story, the first character is thrown into leading his own kingdom, and while he has no prior experience he turns out to be a great, charismatic, leader. He is loved by a lot of people even though he isn't actually the best person morally.

    The second character is a hardened war veteran who is very honorable and noble, and very loyal to his king (character #1) This character is a great military leader and is very respected.

    The third character is a somewhat shady dude. It is made clear in the first novel that he is something special. Throughout the story, this character is the "royal guard" for the king. He is never far from the king or the king's wife and children. The character is respected and somewhat feared. He is an exceptional warrior, and has never been defeated in a fight, which (aside from being the king's best friend) is the reason he is the king's guard. Another thing is should add (and something many characters in the story notice) is that this character has no empathy, no fear, and he cannot love or hate.

    Here's the twist though: The third character is actually Death Incarnate. This character is the manifestation of Death, tricking people into thinking he is a human being. This character has been alive for (literally) forever, and will continue to exist long after any other characters in my story are dead. When this fact is revealed, I don't want to make the reader think that he is evil. His relationships with the king and others is genuine; but he knows that he will be there to see every one of them die, because of old age or other means.

    I have encountered a possible problem. Since the Grim Reaper is a POV Character for the entire story, i have issues with keeping his reality a secret. The story is in third person limited-subjective, meaning the character's thoughts and feelings are expressed. The character knows he cannot die, and although it is never outright said, this is expressed through his thoughts.

    "Three men was not a problem. Isaiah wanted a good fight, but he doubted they would send the entire army to give him a challenge." -The character being attacked by three very skilled soldiers who intend to kill him.

    If a reader were to read this quote without knowing the secret, they could easily attribute his seemingly cocky behavior to thinking he's a better fighter than everyone else, When in reality, he thinks that because he knows he literally cannot be killed.

    What do you guys think? Would this be easy to hide through misleading thoughts, or would a normal reader not aware of the secret be able to find out that there is something more to his good fighting ability?

    Sorry if this was too long to read, but thanks for any responses.

    *Also, if you cared, this character is a fallen angel, who was punished by becoming Death Incarnate. He is immortal, and that is what his curse is. Since he will live forever, he will have the opportunity to make genuine friends, only to outlive them, and see those he loved and cared about die, similar to "The Mortal Immortal" by Mary Shelley. Aside from being immortal, his job is also to guide people into the afterlife, since he is the Grim Reaper.
     
  2. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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  3. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    I don't think it'd be very hard to hide it until the time comes to pull back the curtain.
     
  4. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    It's not that difficult to do, but when writing the story you just have to make sure you're not put into a position where Death does or says anything that directly relates to whom he actually is (unless it's the point of the story where you want them to know who he is).
     
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  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Sounds a little bit like Dead Like Me, having death hiding in plain sight. I hope he is a funny character with morbid sense of humor. Bonus points for making him invincible and cocky, but wield that one carefully as he may come off as not very likable. Good luck and sounds fun. :p
     
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  6. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I think the issues you've brought up can work if you do them well (including ironing out the inconsistency Jack Asher noted). I have some reservations about the Grim Reaper and Death Incarnate titles though. My understanding of folklore is that the Grim Reaper is an impartial figure who turns up to usher people to the afterlife when 'their time is up', regardless of who they are (a psychopomp). S/he doesn't push any agenda other than performing her/his spiritual duty (although occasionally fails at that duty when some sly person manages to trick her/him). Despite the foreboding image and nomenclature, s/he doesn't take an active role in the death, but just turns up when it's imminent for other reasons.

    It's an entirely different character if you have him clearly allied to a kingdom, fighting in wars and whatnot - he'd be a cause of death rather than just a reaction to it. Physical violence aside, even just by supporting a king he'd be having some butterfly-hurricane effect on the common people.

    Certainly such a character could be an immortal fallen angel with a violent streak, but if he's willing to meddle in the affairs of men, I can't buy him as Death Incarnate - so I'm confused about what you intend. And if he's the only 'Death Incarnate' around... he'd have to be involved in literally every death that happens in your fictional world... which would probably be kinda conspicuous.

    You may have an explanation for all of this of course - more power to you - and I've just found your post's waters a bit muddy because of its brevity. Good luck, either way!
     
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  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    This is an odd question. Can a death figure or death god be protagonistic or at least strongly sympathetic? Absolutely. But does this particular version work? I don't really know. It depends on how you do him exactly. It seems fine from what you've shown/said.
     
  8. Seraph751
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    Seraph751 If I fell down the rabbit hole...

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    You can take this character's acceptance from a "He is who he is through his actions vs. He is who he is based on what he is" approach. Basically, while yes there would be some startlement in the beginning if Death Incarnate was careful to make sure that aside of not disclosing what he is, that he has been genuine through their comradery.
     
  9. WriterMMS
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    WriterMMS Member

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    i think there was a movie called meet joe black where brad pitt was death and fell in live with a woman?
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm kind of in @Sifunkle 's camp on this one. Unless I'm missing something big, this scenario doesn't really make a lot of sense. The Grim Reaper isn't somebody who hangs around everybody all the time. He's the guy who turns up AT a death and ushers the soul away to wherever. He doesn't cause death—or at least he doesn't cause the reason for dying. He might decide the moment of death, but that's it. Death Incarnate is something I'm not familiar with, but I don't think it's the same thing as the Grim Reaper. I get the impression that Death Incarnate just means something on earth that exists only to cause death (like the atom bomb), but I'll need to look it up.

    However, I'd say you will have a huge problem if you make this Death Whatever a POV character. It would be much easier to work if you do one of two things. Either let the reader know who this POV character is right away—but keep his identity a secret from the other characters. OR don't make this character a POV character. Let us see him through the eyes of the other characters, and draw our own conclusions.

    If it's important to you that the reader be left in the dark, I'd choose option two. But do make sure you have the character totally sussed out before you write him. What exactly IS his role in your world? And why is he hanging around a king? And does he hang around all kings? All people? If not ...well, I don't see him as the Grim Reaper, for sure. He'll need to be all places at once.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2016
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  11. Charlemagne Swift
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    Charlemagne Swift Member

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    I'm new at writing, but I believe it the line you had shown us:

    "Three men was not a problem. Isaiah wanted a good fight, but he doubted they would send the entire army to give him a challenge."

    It does sound like he was showing off (to himself at least). Try something that sounds certain, maybe even partially factual, and separate from emotion. For example:

    'Three men. Isaiah knew he could easily beat them, and he wanted a good fight. But doubted they would send the entire army, even if he was a skilled fighter."

    Again, I'm new, but tell me what you think of it.
     
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  12. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I think it's a solid suggestion.:superagree:
     
  13. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Terry Pratchett might be a good place to start on how to write Death. However, he's probably not the type of character you're going for.
     
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