1. terrwyn
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    terrwyn Member

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    What do you think about "Chosen" characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by terrwyn, Nov 14, 2011.

    How do you react when you're reading a book and the main character is "chosen" to be something or accomplish a great task to save the world? Do you find it annoying and overused? I ask because I'm stuck. My main character has green eyes she took after her father. This color is extremely rare in the fantasy world of my novel. I wanted to connect it to the climax of my story.

    Her father abused her and left her on her own as a teen. She trained to become a Rebel, being a fighter against the dark creatures called the Nyro. No one is sure where these Nyro came from, but they are suspected to be created by someone. My mc, Rystal, then goes with a few others to find where the Nyro are coming from. She had found a book describing the creation process and how to destroy the Nyro along with the boss. In order to stop them from being created, Rystal has to make a decision. This decision involves her running toward the large Nyro boss, who possesses the power to destroy anything in its way. The book described that someone has to come in contact with the Nyro boss and give their lives up in order to save everyone else. After Rystal "sacrifices" herself, she is presumed to be dead. Her lover, Lew, is struck with grief and brokenness. (I won't get into any further information, since this will only be the first book. The second book will pick up three years later, in the perspective of Lew.)

    I don't exactly want to make Rystal the ONLY person able to defeat this "boss," but I want to make her eye color have some connection to her strength and ability to do so. I feel by making my mc the "chosen one" and the only one able to do this, I will lose potential readers.

    I also want her father to have some connection. Since she hasn't seen him for years, I was planning on my mc finding him on her adventure to find the creator of the Nyro. He will assist her in her search in some way, a mystery that he knows something of what is going on.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not a fan of characters who are, in some way, the "Chosen One". I think it's way overdone. And it seems like it was never that good idea in the first place - a "Chosen One", by definition, has a destiny, and that destiny is usually to defeat whatever great evil threatens his/her world. Well, if it's destiny, then there isn't much drama involved in actually doing it, is there?

    I think a better story would involve a totally normal, non-"Chosen" character, who has no destiny, come forward and defeat whatever evil it is. That's more like freedom - more like someone creating their own destiny as they carry on with their life.
     
  3. terrwyn
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    terrwyn Member

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    I agree with you. I definitely did not want to make my character confined to some "destiny," but allow more freewill as you said.
     
  4. Holo
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    Holo Senior Member

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    Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of "the chosen one" plot device. Personally, I'd rather see a hero who uses their own abilities, skills, and resourcefulness to defeat the villain and accomplish their goals. Sure, having a special ability to aid them is great, but I wouldn't make them the only one with that ability. For my main character, she is special, but is definitely not the only special one (she's a werewolf). She has a special ability that sometimes helps her, but she is not the only one with that power. But what ultimately pulls her through is her own traits and abilities that have nothing to do with being a werewolf.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Doesn't bother me if done well. Being 'chosen' doesn't preclude having freewill or having to use ingenuity, ability, and the like for the character to accomplish her goals. It's in the execution, that's all.
     
  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chosen ones can be cool.
    Goblins is a comic that has really cool subversions of destinies. It's not really a "chosen one" situation, but the destiny side of things is really well done. A character who is named "Dies Horribly" just recently (SPOILER SPOILER) died horribly but came back to life through a really awesome breach of contract. A character named "Saves a Fox" killed the fox she was supposed to save, only to later find out that she actually put it out of its misery because it had a really horrible kind of rabies or something. (END SPOILERS)

    Mostly, though, I don't like chosen one things and destinies. I do have a plot line in mind for a game I want to build that involves a chosen one sort of thing. But it turns out that some of the "prophecies" actually refer to multiple people, even though they thought it was just the one guy, and so on so forth, and some of the people who speak the "prophecies" just say it to whoever comes by pretty much, so it's not actually clear on whether anyone's the chosen one.
     
  7. FoxPaw
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    FoxPaw Senior Member

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    I agree that the concept is overdone, but that doesn't mean I'm against them. Being the "Chosen One" usually means you know they're going to win in the end no matter what. However, if you can make the trip to end enjoyable, then it's a good read and something like having a chosen for a hero takes the back seat.
     
  8. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I think you need to distinguish between chosen ones and people with special powers. A character can have the abilities that make them best suited to dealing with the Big Bad but to be a chosen one it needs to be their destiny to defeat them. Big difference. Chosen ones are overdone but they can still be done well. As prophecies are usually involved a good prophecy twist can shake things up although at this point most dedicated fantasy readers (and a lot of other people.) will be able to see it coming a mile off. Subversions are probably the best route to take nowadays like the self fullfilling prophecy twist in Harry Potter or maybe the prophecy turns out to be completely wrong.

    Incidentally my WIP also has a character who's green eyes are important.
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have a similar dilemma myself - does making my MC the only one with some special powers make him a "chosen" one? 'Cause my MC's like that, but I don't really wanna do any "prophecy" because frankly, I'm terrible at it. I was thinking of just making some people discover that this guy has some special powers, word spreads somehow and BAM everyone wants him to be on their side of the war.

    As to the OP - please don't connect the solution with her eye colour. Unless of course you have an awesome back story about why exactly green eyes are special.

    And btw, I'd rethink the name Rystal - it doesn't sound great, and if you read it out loud, doesn't really roll on the tongue but my biggest objection against it is this: I immediately thought Crystal - and isn't it? It's just Crystal minus the C. And I've never been a fan of the name Crystal.
     
  10. terrwyn
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    terrwyn Member

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    Having a special ability doesn't necessarily mean your character has to be the "chosen one" in your novel.

    If I can't find a way to tie her eye color in with some sort of history or special ability she will gain later on, I will throw that idea out the door completely. Because my main character has to "sacrifice" herself and everyone begins to think she is dead, I was going to make a consequence for her good deed. I would make her half Nyro. Most animals or people die when being attacked by Nyro, and it's very rare for something or someone to turn into a Nyro themselves. Though she becomes the very thing she hates, and her homeland, as well as the rest of the world begins to hate her, she tries to gain her reputation back and uses her abilities for good. Although she uses those abilities to accomplish good deeds, she will struggle because now it is in her half Nyro nature to shed blood.

    Thanks for your input for the main character's name. I do like the name Rystal, though I do see how it doesn't flow, as well as how it's close to the name Crystal, but without the C. How does the name Sayal sound to you? Thanks for your opinions by the way :)
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oooh I like the storyline with her turning half-Nyro - sounds awesome. What does a Nyro look like anyway? Would your MC take on some physical attributes? And you better have a very good explanation for what she didn't die instead. So how's Lew gonna react to that?

    Sayal sounds a little too much like "Sail" or "See ya" to me :( (and if it's between Sayal and Rystal, I'd rather stuck with Rystal) On another thread I remember someone suggested some fantasy girl names and one of them was Ramela, which sounds quite nice. Or how about Aaliyah, even though it's a real name?
     
  12. Ixloriana
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    Ixloriana Member

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    I know this isn't exactly the point of the thread, but I would like put in my two cents on the name thing.

    When I read the name "Rystal," first I thought it was misspelled, then when I saw it again, my brain read the rest of the paragraph in a Scooby-Doo voice. I don't think it's a bad name, but I found that really distracting. Personally, I'd just find a different way to spell it.

    Rystal... Ristahl? Ristel? Restul? Wrystell? Rhistall? Rystle? Is it a "-tuhl" sound or a "-tahl" sound? I dunno. Anyway, it was the spelling I found distracting more than the actual name.


    ...Back on topic, I don't have a problem with "Chosen" characters, as long as it's written well. A prophecy that says, "the Chosen One will defeat the big bad evil," is different than one that says, "only the Chosen One can defeat the big bad evil." The former implies that the Chosen One can't lose; the latter just says that only the Chosen One even has a shot. And of course, as Protar said, there's always the self-fulfilling prophesy -- the destiny that happens because someone knew about it and tried to stop it.
     
  13. terrwyn
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    terrwyn Member

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    I see what you mean. Both with the name and the "chosen" explanation you gave. I'm going to look into more names before I settle on that one. The Scooby-Doo part actually made me laugh. :)

    Nryo are four-legged beasts with sharp teeth and red eyes. They can have thick coats of fur or have no kind of fur or hair at all. They can resemble a wolf in a way, yet they are a lot more agile like a feline. Some Nyro are bigger or stronger than others, not all are the same. Some tower as high as the trees, some look like dogs. The mc, after becoming half-Nyro, grows black wings. Being obvious, she has to hide them as to not further disturb her people. The reason why she didn't die was what I would tie her eye color into. I wanted to make some sort of line of heritage, where these people have green eyes. The green eyes are an indication that they belong to that line of heritage, sharing some sort of ability or power. I'm not quite sure what though. I'll look more into names as well.

    Edit: Oh also, my mc becomes stronger, has sharper nails when her "Nyro mode" is activated (as well as her wings spreading out and her eyes changing to red.) She can sense the presence of others easily, uses scents for tracking, and can pick up blood from far distances away. I don't want to make her sound like a vampire, because she's not, but it's similar in some ways.
     
  14. Show
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    Doesn't have to bother me but "chosen ones" are very cliche. I pass on writing 'em as much as possible.
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I like making my character the least likely one to do the job, but by the end of the novel, she is able to pull it off.
     
  16. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    As a little side tangent while I think the half-neyro story could be done well it might seem like a bit of an asspull if it just comes out of nowhere. Even with the eye explanation it's still going to seem cheap if you just pull it out of nowhere. So maybe show other people who are half neyro before hand (with green eyes perhaps.) or build in some mythology about them so we have some basis for the transformation that makes sense even before we get the eye thingy.
     
  17. Carpenter_writer
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    Carpenter_writer Member

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    I, personally, feel that several things about your story sound like they will need significant back-story to be done right. I have no problem with a 'chosen one', per se, but it would need to be done right or it will feel weak. However I do like your idea of others being capable, but her being best suited. Also, I could think a prophecy that really turns out to just be superstition (even if it happens to come true) could be interesting - kinda like a chosen one scenario where the chosen one's not really chosen.

    Also, I would be more concerned about the self-sacrificing feeling overdone. Perhaps a twist here would be good.

    That said, I think people worry too much about whether something's been done before and not enough on if it was done right before, or how they could do it better. Classical music could be thought of as overdone, but there are hundreds of people writing it, playing it and dedicating their lives to it as their sole income generator. Just do it well and make it worth reading. Even corny cheesy stuff can be tasty - cheetos ;)
     
  18. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    What about an evil chosen one? Like an Antichrist figure? Of course, the archetypical Antichrist is the one from "The Omen" series, but I guess the concept isn't too played out, as usually an evildoer does evil because he chose to, not because he was destined to.

    Usually evil chosen ones are prophesised with a link to a good chosen one. Like in Harry Potter, the title character was destined to fight Voldemort.
     
  19. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    While chosen ones don't necessarily have to be mean "shoddy character and story", my problem is that it basically turns said character into basically something like a generic shonen anime character who begins to drag a bit too much of the story's emphasis towards himself and cause the story to basically advertise him around as some great single-person theater of whatever his/her/other-race's potential. The basically clamps the story down and sends it on a singular tracked path usually and and all subsequent intrigue and twists can't really hide this.

    Of course,this makes the ideal perfect for inverting and breaking. What if the "chosen one" is also one cursed to perish? What if his "heroic position" is one that will cause him to do horrid things against his views of right and wrong? What if it's little more than an outdated cultural creation used as a tool of propaganda and military might? Food for thought.
     
  20. Vaalthurion
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    Vaalthurion Member

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    To answer your immediate question, no, I'm not at all opposed to the 'Chosen One' spin. In fact, I think that course for a storyline is so popular not only because it works (most of the time) but it simply makes for a good fantasy.

    Based on the information you gave about your MC it sounds like the Green Eyes are a product of several possibilities: one possibility is the eyes are part of a unique race with similar qualities of humans. Or maybe the 'Choosen One' is bestowed unique abilities through divine intervention (maybe gods, or another powerful race, or the prophecy itself, etc.), the marking and identifying feature of this intervention are the Green Eyes.

    I think making the situation of your MC to NOT be the only one able to stop the Nyro depends heavily upon your backstory. In the instance you make her Green Eyes part of a unique race, perhaps she is not the only one who can stop the Nyro, but she is the only one still alive from a race who could have stopped the Nyro. This makes her unique to the storyline only inasmuch as her racial qualities allow her to be - as all the others with 'Green Eyes' were killed off.

    I think you merely need a catalyst for Rystal's failure a very real possibility. In the aforementioned example, the catalyst is the other 'Green Eyes' had all the capabilities to stop the Nyro but still failed, why should Rystal be any different from them? As long as you keep your reader guessing and questioning Rystal's ability to stop the Nyro, Chosen One or no, it'll be a good read.

    Good luck!
     
  21. Hanrin
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    Hanrin New Member

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    how about tying in the green eyes with the creation of the Nyro? it could be her race that created them, using their own dna/whatever to do so - this gives her some cause for personal existential angst - her ancesters released this scourge on the world - and could tie into her being the 'chosen one' in that it is because she shares common ancestry with them that she can become part nyro, and also has the ability to kill them. she is not chosen in a godly prophesy kind of way, just that she is one of few of her original line that are left? the reason green eyes are so rare is that it is only her race that ever had them. the only other creature in the world that has them are ... you guessed it - the nyro.
     

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