1. Piestein
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    Piestein Senior Member

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    Typical - for or against?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Piestein, Apr 7, 2009.

    I apologize if this is in an incorrect section, but I think it should be here. It's not about creating characters, it's about preference and taste.

    Do you like typical characters? Personally, I don't. I'm trying to run as far as possible from them. There are good ones, but they are rare to me. I've read some posts, however, that almost expect such and wonder when it's not the expected typical character. "I imagine this character to be 3 and 4, because he is 1 and 2; he's not 3 and 4, how come?"(the numbers are imaginated qualities, left at your choice). I usually wonder a lot at these replies, but slowly, I'm starting to ask -- is it my mistake?

    I mean, do you like it when the main character is always simple, or do you prefer it when he's complicated?

    I've even named those types "and" or "but" and here are some examples in my head:

    "Smart and unexpectedly cool" -- a classic stereotype for that boy in the class that nobody looks at, but that also happens to be a hidden diamond of a soul, morally unflawed and perfectly talkative, as if he had friends to know how to talk to (sorry, but I've had it with those personally, but again, this might be just me). He's also the usual MC in many movies, whose subtext is "Don't worry if you don't have any friends because the blonde will realize one day that you're amazing, you'll start dating and everyone will hate that prick who constantly makes you look like a no-lifer". Simple really. He's smart, therefore he will overcome his social problems some day in the near future (or in other words, after 70 minutes of the 90 min film).

    "Smart but unsocial" -- The guy is smart, no doubt about it. However, he's messed up. He simply doesn't fit in the society, plain as that. It could be because of many reasons, but he simply doesn't fit. And he never will. There will be no blonde chick to rescue him back into social life, because he doesn't want that. To him, society is boring. And to society, he's weird. He's not perfect, not by far. He's complex, not just-another-guy. He's proof that things come at a cost.

    Those might not be the best examples, but I hope you get the picture. Which do you prefer? Oh, and this also goes for plots (I know it's all been done before, but some things have been done more times than others) etc.

    P.S. And I'm really sorry if I've sounded harsh, but it's tough for me to be objective on this. That is why I started this topic in the first place, because I think I might be too biased. I apologize if I am.

    P.P.S. Upon rereading I've seen that I actually am biased, a lot. I apologize if this offends you, the reader (please, don't feel offended), but at some point I need to state and back up an opinion, after all, this is a place for discussions.
     
  2. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    i like multi-level characters when i write, i appreciate them more when i read. the age thing is hard to say, i've known people who intelluctually spoke well beyond their age, maybe its the readers fault that they can't see.

    i try not to create the 'norm' i can see that every day, but if you twist something too much, well you are writing too much for yourself. I've written things that were deep in my mind but only partially on the paper, some twists don't have words i guess.

    i say, stick to what you believe is right for you. just get better saying it. make them see it too.

    good writing to you
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i've no idea what you mean by 'typical' but when i'm reading fiction, i don't find the characters wearing labels... i either like them, or don't... if the work is well-written, the characters will work for me... and i don't waste time trying to figure out why they do or don't...
     
  4. theheresy
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    theheresy Member

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    my favorite type of characters are those that exhibit major character flaws but are aware of those flaws and don't try to dance around them, they sort of accept them as part of the human condition or at least the author does. They are humans but they may have some sort of inherently salacious flaw but they still try to do the right thing. This is what makes them realistic and human to me.
     
  5. Mat Growcott
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    Mat Growcott Member

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    When I was studying film a few years ago, we got given a 'Basic Archetypal Character Sheet' which I tried desperately to find and couldn't even remember the proper name of. The theory was that throughout time, in fiction, there has been a limited number of character 'types' that everyone will fit into.

    The Professional Screenwriter: Using Character Archetypes

    This was the long and short of it.

    The article is quite interesting, given the nature of this thread.
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like you are talking about how kids are labeled in high school. Personally, I don't care if the character can easily fit into a category as long as s/he is still an individual and is the right character for the story.
     
  7. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I don't normally agree with a lot that maia has to say (no offense), but I'm going to have to agree here. It doesn't really matter how typical/atypical a character is as long as the writer *wrote* the characters well. As long as you're drawn into the world of the mc and can empathize with them, who really cares if they're typical or not?
     
  8. Piestein
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    Piestein Senior Member

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    Well, that was the example but wasn't meant to be high-school based. But I am talking about labeling characters. This really originates from the thread where people expected vampires to be evil, just because they are vampires (and not humans).

    To me, it goes as far as I can see the character is well-made, but it's simply uninteresting to me, because it's just another evil vampire trying to 'eat' a village for no other reason than the fact that he is a vampire. And yes, I dislike twilight vampires as well, although a bit less. I made a new thread because it shouldn't be only about vampires. Anyway, I got my answer.
     
  9. Mathcure
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    Mathcure New Member

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    I prefer characters that have deep personalities and aren't a stereotype, unless personalities aren't important in the story.
     
  10. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    ...Don't write a character you find boring :)

    Easy enough. :-D

    ~Lynn
     
  11. Zayleus
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    Zayleus New Member

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    I like typical supporting characters, I guess. I often write about very average people, but it's the way in which I present them that makes all the difference in the world.
     
  12. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I think the OP meant 'stereotypical' rather than typical. that's the feel I'm getting anyways.

    ~Lynn
     
  13. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Well, Piestein, I think you are referring more to story plots than to actual characters.

    Let us take this same <dork/loser/weirdo/antisocial person> and put him in. . . say, a fantasy novel with dragons and magic; also, let us remove the school.

    Peradventure this character was in the situation I have just described. Will he be just as stereotypical?
    I think not.

    I am, personally, sick of seeing the, "Teen or preteen goes from being an average loser to the savior of the world overnight because of a mystic tunnel or an ancient prophecy".
    BOOOORIIING!
    But to be honest, it's not REALLY the character himself that I am against, but the context wherein he has been placed.

    Think about it.
    Still, if we are referring specifically to particularly characters in particular settings, then you are, in general, right.
    After all, if I like highschool books, then I don't want to read about the same type of character in every highschool book I read.

    That's a given, though. Even then, however; the story is practically pigeonholed into a particular plot type.

    Loser sucks. Loser sees the light. Loser gets the girl.

    It's all very complicated. There are too many variables! *Explodes*

    Y'know what? Let's all just agree with Maia in this case.
     
  14. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    I agree with her but not just in this case, but practically every case. I've never seen an inaccurate post by her.
     
  15. vanhunks
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    vanhunks Member

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    I like to give my characters a well-roundedness, which may not be possible in a short story where I focus perhaps on one aspect of a character's being. When I write a dramatic story where there is some major conflict, I like to draw them [MCs] as complex beings, flawed and endearingly human.

    vanhunks
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    thanks for the plugs, guys!... as for one who doesn't usually agree with me, that's just a natural chasm between the 'quite young' and the 'pretty old, isn't it?... happily, in most cases, the hubris of youth is eventually tempered by time, learning, and exposure to the realities of life... which then results in their knowledge and know-how being discounted by the next crop of young'uns... so, i just let those who disagree with me have their say and go their own way... i don't have to be right all the time, anyway...

    besides, i'm not always right... there was that time i thought i was wrong............ ;-)

    hugs to all, m
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, but darn it, Maia, you were right then too! ;)
     
  18. giselle_zella
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    giselle_zella Member

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    I think the level of complexity of the character depends on the story itself and the targeted audience. I don't think there's anything like a "typical" character though. Sure, there are stereotypes, but they can definitely work if the story is well written and has a good plot.

    Writing is all about making the familiar things seem new and the new things seem familiar. I can't remember who said that, but it's one of the truest quotes I've seen about writing. The stereotypes can work very well if they are brough across well. In the same way, a "non-typical" character, if indeed there is such a thing, can only work if the story is well written.

    p.s. It doesn't matter if you're biased or not. You're entitled to be biased - you're entitled to have your own opinions and preferences. Everyone is.
    =)
     
  19. medioxcore
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    medioxcore Member

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    you just described The Comedian to perfection.

    have you read or seen Watchmen?

    The Comedian is one of my all time favorite characters. in any medium. a masked crimefighter who, instead of choosing to be the typical, self-righteous "hero", basks in the flaws and self-serving nature of his -- our -- humanity. he is a complete caricature of the darker instincts that we all do our best to conceal in favor of morality. the charade was comical to him, thus his name- The Comedian.

    effing brilliant character.
     

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