1. 33percent
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    33percent Member

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    Trying to avoid straw characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by 33percent, Aug 16, 2015.

    While I'm trying to focus on the MC, it is the other characters he associates with is what I'm kinda having trouble with. I want the characters, MC mainly adventures with not be straw characters as if they're real people like who we deal with everyday. Even though the story is centered on the MC, I just don't want to give him the whole spotlight.

    The MC ends up with group involving a street smart teenager, two twin sisters with two opposite personalities, and this older man who ends up being his mentor. Sorta like Harry Potter fighting along with the ginger and smart girl in a sense I guess. The nature of events brought them together that end up revolving around the main goal of the story.

    There is some parts of the story, I question when they need to split so they can do their own thing or forced to stick with each other for their own safety against who is after them. How do you avoid straw characters in your story I guess, give them more wants and needs of their own, sub-plots?
     
  2. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    Knowing them is the most important thing, I think. How did they grow up, what is it that motivates them to act the way they do? Whenever your MC is off doing something... what are the others up to? Just be sure to know where they are. Sometimes their paths will coincide with the MC's, even though you did not plan it.

    Personally, I also like my characters to be interconnected in some way. The MC is at the center of attention, but maybe he finds out about some of the things happening around him. Or other characters go all out to prevent just that.

    Well. That's what I do, anyway...
    I also think it is great when an author manages to pull off a chapter from another POV without disrupting the flow of the story. That is very difficult. But it CAN work beautifully.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Here's some don'ts I try to avoid.
    1. Don't let them just stand around listening to the mc's problems and offering helpful advice. Nobody does this in real life - all relationships are give and take.

    2. Don't make the co-characters too gimmicky - if they're punk, or ditzy blondes, or athletic don't use these types as tropes - flesh them out. A punk has a different way of talking, moving, thinking, relating to people, they might even ride a skateboard or pick and eat scabs from a recent wipeout. Don't just dress them up and make the characters echos for the mc.

    3. Don't forget they have their own life - the co-characters in a book have relatives, siblings, love interests, goals of their own. Just mention things occasionally and the reader will get it.

    4. Don't forget to add conflict - no matter how good a relationship is there will always be conflict even something as simple as - where do you want to go to eat? Five year olds might all chime in McDonalds but a group of teenagers will have different tastes, opinions and factors like money come into play. Allow the characters to disagree it will reveal more about them then when they do agree.
     
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  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is something I think really dials back to writing quality. Yes you can think, make notes, ask questions and develop them long into the night. But at the end of the day this is just a foundaition. Yes a good foundation is important but you don't get to slack off once you have done that. You still have to build the house correct or it all is still going to fall apart.

    Reminds me of what someone said about the new "My Little Pony" generation. Which goes something like this;

    "The culture is in a storm about pastel colored talking horses. Either A. Armageddon has begun. B. Those writers really did a good job."

    I am of the opinion of B.

    I believe a writer can in fact shine a turd. So yes, it is true you should put in effort and not start with a turd but the point being. If you can shine a turd and a perfect idea can be ruined with bad writing. The writing seems to be the more important element to focus on. If that makes sense?
     
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  5. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I would actually say your main character is most likely to be a straw character. But if you truly want to flesh out your characters, you can! For example, take your twins. You say they're opposites. How? Is one cold, one sociable? Or is one more street-smart, while the other is more sheltered? Are they best friends? Does one protect the other? Or are they distant? Does one follow the rules and is bossy, while the other believes rules are meant to be broken? If so, is the second one a ditzy free spirit or a tough delinquent? If they protect each other, is it one-sided or in different ways? Is one the cover while one pulls off the crime or do they fight side by side? Is one boy crazy while one has no interest?
    Seriously, you could pull all that out from one sentence.
     
  6. Adhulari
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    Adhulari Member

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    Bit of a dumb question perhaps, but what exactly do you mean by a "straw character?"
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    An aspect to consider is that even secondary characters have their own goals and motivations. Even when their main interest coincides with the MC's that doesn't mean they're not playing an angle that will put them a little ahead in the end, even to the detriment of the MC and/or other characters.

    Think of it like a basketball team. Sure they're a team out there to win the championship, and the team has a star player (the MC). That doesn't mean the other characters won't work to better their chance to score or improve their stats or moment in the limelight. They may be more interested in taking the shot themselves even if they're closely guarded rather than pass to the star who is open, allowing him to score while only they themselves earn an assist. And just like in a novel, such actions may backfire. The shot may be blocked, causing a breakaway layup for the opposition, and a setback along with some strife among the star and his team.
     
  8. 33percent
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    33percent Member

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    All the characters are wanted by the state as fugitives because all various reasons of their past decisions. As for the MC, he is experiencing a culture shock, adopting to their way of life. It is completely new to him because he wakes up in the future. I have done alot of thought on the characters he is surrounded by such as their goals/motivations. I can understand, and like the basketball team concept, there was times I was greedy playing soccer, wanting to take a shot my own, knowing my teammate was more open for a shot than I was. I don't know what you mean the MC is a straw character or you mean pretend the support characters as if they're the MC?​

    The main antagonist is the government, as several main bad guys that work for this government. The teenager is a mischief, criminal, knows the streets, tech geek, always wanting to make a buck, having connections. Makes the MC uneasy the unpredictable criminal things he does, because he thinks things through, and teenager is immature, he doesn't. Both the MC and Teenager eventually become BF, both are crazy in different ways. Teenager is similar to the kid; John Connor in terminator 2. His whole family was killed, so he sticks with the MC to survival.

    The twins sisters once belonged to a wealthy establishment, also their family was killed: one is more of a tomboy, she is aggressive,violent, protector, break the rules and other she is quiet, introvert, thinker, analytical, follow the rules, bookworm type. They're uneasy transitioning of living a life of being wealthy to poverty level. So all the characters including the MC are wanted, being chased after, their families are killed off. As for the old guy, he is more like the coach of the team. He's pretty much a alcoholic, hardheaded, asshole type. All putting them in their places, mainly there to groom the MC for his purpose in the story. ​
     

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