1. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    What do I do with 'the queen'?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Tourist, May 6, 2012.

    As most of you know, my story dates back some 30 odd years. It was a turbulent time in my life, and a great source for grist.

    I'd just been fired, lost my girl friend and gotten arrested. Strangely, so does my lead!

    However, one of the characters now seems out of place and a bit childish. In making up the mythical continent where the story unfolds, a neighboring country abuts the lead's country. A monarchy.

    That's deliberate. My ex-girlfriend was spoiled, redheaded, beautiful and hell on wheels. As were the times, she went out disco dancing, a fact that ultimately divided us. Bikers don't boogie, and she referred to me as 'scruffy.' Feeling my unshaven face at this moment, she's still right...

    Because of her demeanor, our co-workers nicknamed her 'the queen,' for a number of reasons. Yes, for her acerbic attitude, but partly because she was a disco queen. Because of her hair color, she became the template for 'The Red Queen.'

    Thirty years have passed. I still need a foreign country for the story. And as much as doing an homage to all of the red queens in literative history, the original impetus now seems dated. I've blocked out the simplistic start of her introductory chapter, and a member here is helping me polish a few scenes.

    Nothing is so tightly woven into the story so far that I cannot delete all references to a red queen and/or make a newer version. She does have a very important role, so I cannot eliminate her altogether.

    What do you guys do when time, circumstances and modern trends make your initial character(s) obsolete?
     
  2. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Not spend over thirty years writing a book? :p

    But honestly I don't think it matters. If anything see this as an opportunity to add a new twist to the trope and bring it back to life.
     
  3. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    If she's truly obsolete, delete her. If it's just that certain characteristics no longer fit or need the story, update and revise her.
     
  4. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    That is a possibility. It also serves a dual role.

    The queen's country also has to be run-down, a real fixer-upper. The roads could be described as 'crumbling.' An old fashioned monarchy might be just the place for an old fashioned queen.

    I have nothing against templates, as long as writers keep the idea clean and fresh and tied to the story, not some current craze. There are numerous lone sheriffs who quell cow towns. And an acerbic red queen has some great comedic lines.

    I'd just like a fresh sheet of paper, a new spin, a way to make the reader say, "Wow, I didn't see that coming!" And trust me, that already happens at the end.

    How much of a hassle (even in the age of computers) to just block out the story with a 'puppet queen,' and see how the story unwinds as the finer details of the arc progress. Once the broader brush strokes are in place, it might just be easier to cut-and-paste a better/stronger/fresher character with more appeal.

    Then again, I'm not sure monarchies have changed a whole bunch, even over the centuries.
     
  5. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I think if you are making up an entirely new continent a monarchy might be the way to go. I do not know the background of how the world has come into existence, but perhaps they have resorted to a monarchy because democracy didn't work and was ultimately the demise of the "old world." (This reminds me of the Romans, they alternated between monarchies and republic depending who was in power). The only thing I would change would be her title as "The Red Queen," if this is her actual name. This brings to mind too much of Alice and Wonderland with the Queen of Hearts. Unless that was intentional. In which case, keep it.

    She seems to have too much of an integral role in the story to deviate at this point. It's one thing to change a minor character, but one of the major ones seems a bit too dramatic. There may be other ways to update her character - i.e. no one goes disco dancing anymore. She could, however, be frivolous and vapid like the twenty-something's that plague our TVs in reality programming (think the Kardashians). They're tied up in excess and are famous for doing absolutely nothing of importance, but people still worship at their altars built out of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Louboutins. Now your Queen is suddenly culturally relevant. A modern day Marie Antoinette if you will. The masses are struggling to find work and pay bills while these people spend millions on a wedding that last 72 days or diamonds for a dog.

    Sorry the last bit turned into a bit of a rant on my generation.................
     
  6. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    No, I want your input!

    You did hit part of the issue. The undercarriage of the story is how things like religious hierarchies form 'unholy' alliances when coupled with traditional governments. This is the leadership forming in the lead's country, and I wanted a separate and distinct government 'over the border.'

    If you have a monarchy, you have a monarch.

    If it is any comfort, my queen--both in reality and in fiction--was just a redheaded Kardashian. My favorite mistake.
     
  7. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    Well this is, in my opinion, the main problem with politics in the U.S. right now (I'm Canadian and I'm slightly appalled at your recent Republican candidates). There is more focus on whether Romney's religious background as a Mormon makes him "un-Christian" (and these were comments from fellow Republicans) than his stand on certain policy issues. There seems to be no separation between religion and government in the U.S., especially since Obamacare and the horrible idea of free birth-control for women.

    That was a tangent, but I think for your lead's country this seems to be following standard format in the U.S.

    However, for your 'over the border' government you could pull a David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest specifically), and those allegiances of the 'over the border' government could be found within corporations. Wallace essentially created a world where the U.S., Canada, and Mexico formed a supercountry called the Organization of North American Nations (O.N.A.N.) And in this country, all years corresponded with some ridiculous product (i.e. Year of the Whopper, Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment). He didn't talk much about the government, but I wonder if that is a route you could take. If as you say, your queen was essentially a Kardashian. Perhaps she is the McDonald Monarchy -- colonialism through capitalism and all that.
     
  8. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Oh, there's another angle. She also has to have some despot qualities, if for no other reason it cuts out a lot of paperwork.

    I'm toying with the idea of having her swear out a death warrant for my character when she tires of him. In developing a system of government(s) as you mention, your thought process is good, but some of our death row inmates linger for over ten years.

    It helps if a despot can just pull a handle. And let's face it. I believe your leaders would be diplomatic even if provoked. A Kardashian just swings for the rafters.

    Edit: Maybe that's the hook. The queen is simply a modern personality with the perceived power of a person famous for being famous! Could we develop that?
     
  9. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure if you're joking or not, but I think it could work. They seem to have more power than a despot sometimes. And yes, just pulling a handle is always a good device. It creates outrage from your reader (sometimes). Death without explanation. "I tire of you, be gone," that sort of thing.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    No, I'm not kidding. Hey, George Clooney has enough clout to throw a gala for BHO and his heavy duty financial supporters. Maybe the Queen might not be a reality star, but she could be a black-widow with enough juice to leverage any whim she has.

    Consider this, it was a disco queen in the 1970s, why not a reality star in our time?
     

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