1. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    Trapped between duty and honour and losing his beliefs... what would he do next?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Sieglinde, Jun 16, 2010.

    This work is only in plan phase. The setting is a complicated steampunk fantasy with a lot of characters. This guy is one of the leads.

    He's Lawful Neutral to the extreme. Some think he might be the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Law, but he's just as mortal as others.

    Member of an elite order (a cross between knights, inquisitors and police), he spends most of his time chasing bad guys. This goes on quite well till the time he realizes the Order he was serving has sunk into corruption, the leaders killing off each other and teaming up with the Big Bad. He's shocked, as he had a very black & white view of the world. He never really had a life, only his profession.

    Not knowing what the hell to do now, he wanders in the city deep in thought, not quite noticing there is a civil war going on, till he meets his personal nemesis, a lovable rogue who turned into a healer. In other times, he would arrest the dude, but now there is no opportunity, plus the Order is fighting against the rightful ruler and his people. Big mess. He's also shot by someone random (not deadly, and nobody notices), and pretty confused. He wonders why the healer dude doesn't want to kill him while his own colleagues want. To add to the confusion, the healer saves his life during the fight - and he goes on and hunts down some of the traitors of the order. Then he meets the healer again, who's trying to bring a group of children into safety. Our (anti)hero knows a secret path that ends near the sanctuary the healer lives in, and leads them there. Now with the children safe, the healer expects him to finally go on and have a final duel, or arrest him, or something, but he tells him to bugger off and go into the sanctuary (where he's protected, the reason why he could never get him).

    He then goes on his way, but the injury torments him more and more, finally he collapses. The healer, who followed him out of instinct, carries him to the sanctuary (calling him a stubborn idiot and all that) and gives him treatment. But there are many possibilities here. He survives the wound, but he's still confused about the whole chaos he was suddenly thrown into, plus feels guilty as he realizes the healer was not so bad after all, the order not so good, and he also has feelings he would not admit. He's extremely proud and when it comes to admitting emotions or any weakness, worse than your average Vulcan. Plus the conflicts. Law vs justice - and what exactly is right and wrong now.


    So, what to do with him here?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I firmly believe it is your task, as the author, to answer that.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see "Lawful Neutral" as a problem, because it's a description that, to me, doesn't really tell us anything. _Why_ is he lawful?

    Is it for his own safety and reputation, for ensuring his personal comfort? Is it because he thinks the law, even when it's wrong in specific cases, overall provides the most good for the most people? Is it because The Law is some sort of secular god to him, independent of what it does for him _or_ for the population?

    He has to have some motivation behind his beliefs, even if he hasn't consciously considered that motivation in the decades since he formed those beliefs.

    I could see any of these being bypassed, but they'd be bypassed different ways. His reputation and comfort could be destroyed. He could be presented with clear evidence that the side if the Law is consistently and long-term harming the people. He could develop doubts as to which side of the conflict represents His God The Law. In either of these cases, his beliefs could remain intact, while his actions change.

    On the other hand, he might develop new beliefs that don't bypass his old beliefs, but break them into splinters.

    He's your character. :) But I think that "Lawful Neutral" is a summary that doesn't truly tell you anything about him.
     
  4. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    Law is his faith. He never really thought about gods before. (It's a dualistic religion in the story.)

    He devoted his life to the law, and his main goal was to be impeccable. Yeah, he was naive, sort of. The world is full of intrigue and corruption, but he never saw it, because questioning a superior would be right out. Imagine a samurai crossed with a detective/bounty hunter type to make a noble antagonist. (He's quite a sympathetic character - blind maybe, misguided, but extremely honourable.)
     
  5. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first response to this is, "Why ask us?"
    It's your character and only you know him well enough to know what he might or might not do and how he would react in various situations. If you don't know what he would do, perhaps you need to get to know him better.
     
  6. Mila
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    Mila Member

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    These are quite interesting issues for a character to come up against, and this is your conflict for the story. There are two things you need to know - how have his upbringing and experiences shaped him into this person he is now, and how will his current experiences and the people he meets change him ?
    And he doesn't have to change per se. In Rosemary Sutcliff's Frontier Wolf, the MC, Alexios, makes the exact same decision at the end of the story as he does at the start - one that got him into a lot of trouble ther first time he made it. But the second time he makes it, he does so having grown in his convictions and his loyalty to his country and ideals, despite ( or perhaps, because of ) his friendship with a tribesman and his involvement in the tribal life. The reader half expects him to change sides. He starts out a rather weak and immature man and grows into someone who's pretty hard, and finds conviction in who he is and what he's part of - and kills his best friend along the way.
    So think about your character. As I said, this is your conflict, and will drive the plot. He could either change his beliefs, or this could strengthen them, give him added confidence and conviction. But the others are right - we can't possibly tell you what to do with him....
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How he would react is what your story will be all about. That's why it really must come from you.

    We cannot write yoru story for you. If we did, they would br our stories, not yours.
     
  8. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    No, this is about at the 3/4 of the story. Or even closer to the finale.

    I'm asking mainly because the most obvious solution was already done for this character type.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You mean that a different work of fiction followed the same general outline as your most obvious solution? Or that your own work, the same one that you're struggling with, used the more obvious solution for another character?

    If it's the first, I'd say that in general, that shouldn't matter much. The risk of twisting your character to fit a more original solution seems higher than the risk that someone might see the bones of a less original solution in what you write.

    And, really, if you do twist him to another solution, odds are you'll find that _that_ solution was used in another work. I agree with the statement that there are no new plots.

    If _you_ used the solution for another character in this same work, that's another issue. It makes me wonder if it makes sense for two characters in the same work to have such similar paths, and if perhaps it would make sense to combine the two characters, or lose one of them.
     
  10. Sieglinde
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    Sieglinde Member

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    Another work. And this character is so iconic it created an archetype, and was used in tons of "fugitive & pursuer" plot stories. But why am I even bothering... if nobody recognizes the type, it might be veiled enough already. Then he might as well end like his literary ancestor.
     
  11. Cardboard Tube Knight
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    Cardboard Tube Knight Member

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    My suggestion is this, it might seem vague but basically what you need to do is take stock of what you've written so far, make sure you've not overlooked something that could be important to his or reaction. Sometimes there are things that we put in our writing almost subconsciously that we use later, as if they're bread crumbs that lead us to where we need to be for the ending.

    I think sometimes stories writing themselves for us. We just have to know where to look to figure them out.
     
  12. comma127
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    comma127 Member

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    Ever played assassins creed? This idea of a entirely devoted follower who does everything an organisation says and then finds out its all false has been done. So many times.

    What you could do is create additional emotionlal attachments. What i didnt get from your summary is any sort of attachment that makes the character worth caring about. It has to be more than "save the cheerleader, save the world" (heroes). The characters survival has to be because of a need not a desire. To protect a son, to save a friend, all these things are what make policemen special, otherwise they're just boring.

    Right now your story is basically a drawn out fight scene. Its a good idea but needs more depth.

    Ash
     

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