1. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Too much MC abuse?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Scarecrow28, Nov 9, 2008.

    Is it bad to severely abuse an MC. My character isn't the most optimistic of characters: he isn't suicidal but he definately isn't one to look at the bright side of things. When I created him, his "dark personality" was one of those things that just kind of happened and I worked out the source of this later on. My question is, is it unrealistic to put my MC through a series of "scarring" events in order to shape him into the character he is later on. Each of these "events" is like a stepping stone. The first event leads to the second and the second leads to the third. Part of me knows that these occurences are necessary to shape him, but I'm I beating him up to much. Is it unrealistic to put a character through two intensely traumatic events in his lifetime? Should I try to tone them down or leave them as gritty and brutal as they are? Thanks in advance for any responses!
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    No, realistically, it is possible to go through life with constant trauma.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's far worse to coddle an MC. Plot is strengthened by conflict and adversity. Go soft on your MC, and your story will suffer.
     
  4. luckystars
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    luckystars New Member

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    I will preface this by saying my opinion is just that - I worry some that I may not know enough about writing :eek:

    I recently read a book that started out well with the MC going through a very traumatic situation as a child. Throughout the story, the problems kept building up, but it didn't seem to shape the character - if anything it made him just a sad waste of space and the end of the book felt empty for me.

    I don't think there should be any problem with "abusing" your MC - conflict and adversity is character building and making it layered shouldn't be a problem. Maybe I would caution you to make sure your readers aren't depressed after reading it - unless of course that's how you mean for them to feel. Maybe I'm too optimistic :) I like to see characters go through real tragedy and see how they overcame it.
     
  5. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Leave them the way they are. A pessimistic attitude has to come from somewhere.
     
  6. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Alright, thanks everybody.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Beat the hell out of your MC. Put her through hell and back. Have each event make it harder and harder for her to reach her goal, but keep it believable of course.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can always reduce the pessimism by having your character succeed in overcoming barriers, even if you choose to let her fail to achieve the big one. Also, well placed humor and optimism on her part will make her seem less of a victim.
     
  9. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Almost everyone goes through terrible traumas. Just because they aren't being exposed to genocide or almost being murdered doesn't mean people aren't being traumatized. For me, just trying to speak to somebody I don't know can (almost) be traumatic. I've seriously been scarred by a lifetime of...friends rejecting me. No big traumas there, but the impact is the same. And it's happened so many times you'd think I'm lying if I tried to summarize it all.

    The "lesser" types of trauma are severely downplayed in our society, but people go through them regularly. It's not a stretch to really beat up your character, whether it be with big traumas or little ones. Just two big traumas, you say? That's nothing, for some people.

    Be careful to avoid making the MC look too pathetic with all sorts of horrible horrible nasty bad things happening to him, because after a while it'll just look like some kind of melodrama, "Penelope in Peril" or something like that. I. e., don't put them through crap just to put them through crap. But don't be afraid to put them through the wringer if it suits the story. You say you believe it's necessary; well, give it a shot.

    Two traumas, even constant traumas, are not unbelievable. It's in how you write them.
     
  10. Ave
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    Ave New Member

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    It's one thing to let your character endure long periods of suffering, whether physical or psychological/mental suffering. But you should think about what the reader gets to know.
    If you happen to write chapters and chapters of your character suffering, one event after another, the reader will surely get either bored or won't take you seriously anymore..

    e.g. if you describe your characters youth for about 100 pages you shouldn't "waste" 90 of these on traumatic events... that will make the storyline quite predictable and I don't know if it's necessary to simply point out the series down-endings in the life of the character.
    sure, you could make him believe that his life IS a series of down-endings, but making your character tell this to himself is different to just "objectively" tell the reader out of a narrator's point of view.

    you have to find a certain balance of things;

    first: the suffering events in their numbers
    second: the insight into the character's feelings about those events
    third: the point of view the narrator (you) descrives the events
    and fourth: the "non-suffering time" which should also be described, because it's quite unlikely that there are no moments in the character's life that are enjoyable or something like that

    I guess if you take those four elements and find a reasonable balance between them, then you are progressing.
     
  11. peregrine
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    peregrine New Member

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    Don't look over your shoulder...
    Just a note on Cogito's remark about Humour helping - this is very true. From the reading and writing I've done, if the main character has been on a long hard path, Sarcasm is by far the best and most believable ;)

    Also, my opinion - beating up the MC a lot can make the story GREAT, but be careful how you play it - overdo it, and it just becomes comical ("yeah, ALL this is gonna happen to ONE guy? HAH!"). Thankfully, that line is hard to cross - you need a LOT of unfortunate events to bring it to that point.
     
  12. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Don't worry, most of the dialogue for my MC is sarcasm.
     

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