1. D.C. Perry
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    D.C. Perry Member

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    These Characters, are they Good ones?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by D.C. Perry, Feb 21, 2014.

    These characters of mine, are they good? Are they perhaps too cliche? Or do they bore you? Maybe you adore them. All you have to do, is tell me. I feel like it's worth noting that these characters are a bit intentionally cliched, but not cliched at the same time. Like, cliched to the point of "Good, no so-and-so story would be complete without such-and-such character," and so on and so forth. Read on!


    Tiberius M. Blight:
    Tiberius is the Lion of a small nation raising from the wastelands of a cataclysm long past. The initial reaction to him is intimidation, but also a bit of empowerment. He's bigger than the average man, but only slightly. He does not speak much, not because he's unsociable, but because he is often lost within his own thoughts. He prides himself on remaining stoic and keeping the image of a leader, but from time to time, in the most inconvenient of times, a bit of child comes out. This usually ends up badly, as "what is seen in the action movies usually doesn't work in real life." If you give him the time, he is really quite cultured as well, and is quite knowledgeable of the Romantic and Victorian ages. He keeps a journal and it is even rumored to be writing a book of his own.

    Arminius Krause:
    Tiberius's polar opposite, Arminius, though older, is going senile and his memory often fails him. He is Tiberius's oldest and most loyal friend, comrade and advisor. Arminius can actually be labeled a "psychopath" and the person doing the labeling would not be wrong. He's lighthearted and passionate, far too much a lot of the time, but he is fiercely loyal to his friends and the nation he belongs too. Despite this childishness, Arminius can get scarily serious and sage, when it is needed. He and Tiberius go well together, and God definitely had a hand in their meeting. Aside from the fact that they tried to kill each other at first . . . .

    I have more, but those are the main two. Remember, be honest, be helpful, and be awesome. Cheers!
     
  2. Who
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    Who Member

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    I don't want to short-change you by giving you a simple answer, but here it goes... there are no "bad characters". There are underdeveloped characters, misplaced characters and cliched characters. The underdeveloped character doesn't seem to be your problem as you have plenty of detail. Cliches are harder to spot, but think to yourself "do I know other characters that are almost the same as this one?" If you can name more than three in recent fiction, you may want to change some aspects. Misplaced characters are the most common kind. Make sure that the character you have is appropriate to the story or role they are portraying. Can they convincingly win? (as the protagonist) Without it being too easy? Can they impose a serious threat? (as the antagonist) Without being the stereotypical madman?

    I will not make a judgement of whether your characters are any of those things because I don't know the full context of your story or what the plot will entail. It all wraps together. Remember, a character is like a painting -- not a shopping list. With a shopping list you list what you need from that character and cross it off as you go along. This often makes the character seem too created, less real. Each decision you make for the character, each word that they speak, is like a brush stroke. When your work is done, would you rather have a list of crossed-out characteristics you managed to represent, or a complex painting that cannot be limited to so many words?

    Don't be afraid to know less than what you do right now about a character. It depends on your style, of course, but some of the best writers improvise and figure things out as it goes along. When you're thinking of individual pieces, it is easy to get things thrown in which don't need to be there. But, in a story you find out what you need or want from a character and you figure out the most unique way that they can manage it. This is basically a long way of saying that you must judge it based on the finished project. Isolating characters without a story is like asking if the batteries are good without trying them out.

    Hope this helped.
     
  3. D.C. Perry
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    D.C. Perry Member

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    Brilliant, sir, you helped quite a bit. I may want to take some power away from 'ole Tiberius here . . . .
     
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  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's impossible to say whether a character is "good" or "bad" based on a one-paragraph description. They are developed over the course of the story. Cliche or boring or adorable - that's determined by how they act/react to the events within the story, not by a quick bio.
     
  5. Herbert H Hebert
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    Herbert H Hebert Member

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    I'd say a bad character -- in a dramatic sense -- is a character so dull that he can never do anything interesting or react in an interesting way to anything.

    Give these characters a try in a scene or two and see what happens. That's the only test.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Depends on the genre and tone of your writing. Such characters would not work in say, Harry Potter, nor would it work in Lee Child's action thriller novels. But I can envision your characters quite well in say, period drama or romance. Certain genres and your own approach to the story and tone of voice lend themselves to slightly more cliche characters, and still make a good story, while it would be jarring in others.

    Depending on their interaction and dialogue, I can envision these being likeable characters. They are cliche, but cliche isn't always bad. Like I've already emphasised, it really depends on what you're trying to do. I do not think one can, or should, assess their characters outside of the story they are meant to inhabit.
     
  7. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Characters are defined by what they do. A warm generous kindly old woman who reads Tolstoy and feeds stray cats can become a monster if the first time you see her she shoots a six year old in the face with a shotgun. Or in direct contrast, a big strong man who drinks, swears, shoplifts and has pedophilic fantasies, can still be seen as the hero if he saves a woman and her baby from being shot in a robbery at the cost of being seriously wounded himself.

    The characteristics you describe can lend interest and colour, but not make the character, unless the entire story involves the two of them sitting in a room and talking.
     
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  8. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    What you posted is your guideline for a given character as you write—something you may find useful to keep your character consistent. But none of what's posted will be told to the reader. That reader, if you write the character true to your guideline, will, if asked to describe that person, say exactly what you've written. And if they don't, you've not done your job as well as you should.
     
  9. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally dont like polar opposites, i rarely see that work in real life (even though people keep saying opposites attract blah blah). Having opposites just seems like its covering all bases, people have defects and lack certain attributes. One serious and adult (with a soft side) and one passionate, light-hearted and crazy just seems like its forcing the conversations even before you've written them.
     
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  10. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tiberius Blight is an epic name. The sort of name you give a cat to annoy your girlfriend. I shall be using it liberally, when the opportunity arises ;)
     
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  11. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just wanted to point out that a typical psychopath is not lighthearted and passionate... They are dangerous, manipulative, self-centered, deceptive, lie continuously, and often do not feel. But I'm assuming you knew that.. Just an observation.
     
  12. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most of the 'disorder' aspect of psycopathy is that they can't be passionate, but are very good at faking it.
     
  13. D.C. Perry
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    D.C. Perry Member

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    *smiles like he knows something.*
     
  14. D.C. Perry
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    D.C. Perry Member

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    That's what I'm naming my child.
     
  15. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    And they'll be all the better for it, it is an epic name :D

    I'm not actually joking about that, that's the kind of name that gets you places.
     
  16. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Just write them and think how you feel about them. Who cares what other people say. If you think they are cliche', then change them yourself. It's called being original.
     
  17. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    If he wants to get published, he does need to care what publishers say. We can think they're wrong as much as we like, but they still hold the cards.
     
  18. D.C. Perry
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    D.C. Perry Member

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    I am aware of this. I plan on giving my other future spawn names just as epic such as Deckard or Atlas. Perhaps Author . . .
     
  19. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Then he can self publish it unless he can't afford it.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's really impossible to say whether they're good characters until you write them. But I'll comment anyway.

    On the positive side, I don't see any of my big pet peeves in them--they don't sound perfect, and they don't seem to have pointless "flaws" thumbtacked to them to achieve that non-perfection. They don't sound excessively accomplished, though I am seeing a little potential danger of that in the "quite cultured"--I wouldn't like to see Tiberius having a deep knowledge in a large number of "cultured" topics.

    I am concerned about the "psychopath" part. I don't see how psychopathy goes along with loyalty to either friends or nation, so I don't know what you mean by the word.

    And in general, I always feel that it's dangerous to provide a character description from an omnipotent point of view. Once you say something from that point of view, I think that there's pressure to follow that statement and to force all of the statements to somehow be consistent. Yes, it's your creation and you have the power to change it, but I still think that putting complex concepts into words tends to simplify those concepts.

    If you do feel that you really need to write a character summary, my preferred compromise is to write the summary from the point of view of another character in the world, as if that character were being interviewed about the character. This has the bonus of increasing understanding of two characters. (Or, for that matter, three, if you write a full scene with Interviewer taking to Interviewee about Character.)
     
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  21. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Yes and no.

    Yes, to an extent everything needs to be done with a thought to the publishers. No, in that characters aren't the sum of a description on a piece of paper. If they live and breathe, then they will change and become different as time goes on. In fact, my honorable warrior in my novel starts to show a very sinister side as she progresses through the story. It, and a touch of sadism, starts to show little by little during each battle she faces. Why? Character growth. She was faced with a situation that both disgusted her and and forced her to act differently.

    Now, that's not something I have written down because I haven't written down anything about my characters. In fact, if you asked me to describe them, it'd be in basic terms because I feel they're alive and can speak for themselves-through the book.

    So, as others have said, there are no real "bad" characters, just badly written ones.
     

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