1. jameskmonger
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    jameskmonger Member

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    When would be the right time to reveal the details of the chracter?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jameskmonger, Aug 27, 2010.

    I have a character who is a hero in his town, but he is a mysterious character. When would I reveal his details, and how? (I mean age, full name, etc)
    I have a plan, where after he jumps out of a burning building after rescuing the people, his ID falls out onto the ground below.

    Any other IDs?
     
  2. Tavares765
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    Tavares765 Member

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    In my novel I reveal my main character's info in a newspaper article about his missing father. Other good ways I've seen it done is the info being told in the actual narration. The I.D idea sounds cool, you can also have your antagonist say the infomation him/herself if there is one.

    ex. "Sir we're looking for the man who escaped the burnt down building."
    "Man? The boy is only seven-teen. Bring him to me!"

    Hope that helps a little :)
     
  3. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    I don't really care for the ID idea because it's way too plot convenient. Personally, I wouldn't stress over the details too much. Let the character be mysterious. There may come a time when he chooses to reveal information about himself through dialogue, but that needs to be dictated by the plot and may never truly be necessary.

    Also, make sure you have a good reason for the character to be mysterious in the first place. That will largely dictate how or if the information is ever revealed.
     
  4. jameskmonger
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    jameskmonger Member

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    He's the main character, and he has the power of water, so he wants to remain mysterious to prevent being hunted as a mutant, if you get what I mean.
     
  5. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    It's pretty open ended, but there are a number of ways to do this. First of all, consider your perspective. If it's third person limited, the reader is going to understand the thoughts of the character, so you can reveal information to the reader that you never reveal to the other characters.

    One idea is to force the character to use his power in public or else suffer moral ramifications. Maybe only one or two others see it and his next challenge is keeping them quiet about who he is. Also, you could have the antagonist actively hunt him and dig up information about him through various means.
     
  6. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    I think you should just, like let little bits of information come out during the story. Don't tell it all at once. We don't need to know everything about him right away.
     
  7. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I agree and I would further say that it would sound like the writer ran out of 'IDs'.

    From what little you have given, I think there needs to be a compelling reason for him to reveal his identity. Like say, some near and dear ones lives will be in danger if he doesn't use his power, thus revealing his true identity.
     
  8. JessaNova
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    JessaNova Senior Member

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    I think gradually building the characters descriptions are nice. I hate when I meet a new character, and there is an overload of what style of clothes they were, to their facial features, to how their voice sounded. It can be too overwhelming.

    You can just say, 'I heard the girl with dark hair speak softly behind me to the other fellow in front of me. I kept my head straight and pretended like I didn't hear, but the soft breeze in her voice made me tempted to turn around and fall in love again with her almond eyes.'
     
  9. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    Run out of ideas and resort to a cliche?
     
  10. jameskmonger
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    jameskmonger Member

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    Ok, I'll experiment with all of the ideas you've given, and see how they turn out.

    And to clear something up about the ID idea, the hero would drop it as he left a scene he just saved, and the antagonist finds it.
     
  11. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Still better than no suggestions. Anyway, I still say there needs to be a compelling reason.
     
  12. jameskmonger
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    jameskmonger Member

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    A compelling reason for what?
     
  13. Cecil
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    Cecil Member

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    To be clear, you are talking about how to write sort of superhero secret identity reveal scene, right? Is this a reveal to other characters, or is it the first time the audience learns anything about the guy?

    If this is meant to be the first reveal to the audience, and this guy is your main character (and presumably the POV character), then you need some kind reason for why the info isn't revealed to the audience right away. If a POV character has relevant info, then I think it's bad form to hide it from the audience just because that's the only way you can think of to build suspense. However, if he has some kind of superhero identity, then you could get away with if you explain that he actually thinks of himself as Hydroman (or whatever), so in his mind, his two identities don't cross over. Then you could have a kind of cool reveal in which two POV characters turn out to be the same person. Another option would be the classic split personality syndrome.

    As far as other characters finding out about his identity, I think you could get away with pretty much anything so long as you do it well. A dropped ID card might make him seem careless, or it might make him seem heroic if he's so focused on saving someone that he totally neglects his secrecy.

    The fact of the matter is, without knowing the whole story, I can't know when a good time to reveal him would be, but all of the suggestions could be potentially good depending on how you use them.
     
  14. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    to make him reveal his true identity..... isn't that the topic we are discussing? or, am I mistaken?
     
  15. jameskmonger
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    jameskmonger Member

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    Cecil, I take it you mean call the normal character by his real name, and him in "superhero mode" by his superhero name?
     
  16. Cecil
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    Cecil Member

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    Yes, that's my thinking. To be honest, I don't really like the idea, but it's the best thing I could think of for hiding a POV character's true identity from the audience without them feeling too cheated. And, honestly, if the story is good enough, I can forgive feeling a little cheated from time to time.

    I think it's believable for double life characters to be psychologically separated between their two lives to the point that they're almost hiding it even from themselves.
     
  17. Anonymouse33
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    Anonymouse33 Member

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    Not to pirate the thread, but I have the same trouble. lol
     
  18. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you done a fitting built up to that moment.
     
  19. Bad_Valentine
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    Bad_Valentine Member

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    James, what is the reason behind revealing his identity? Do you want just his nemesis to know who he is, or everyone?
     
  20. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    In my opinion, a dropped ID can be a perfectly good solution.

    I can picture it now:

    Villain: I have your WALLET.
    Hero: Dammit... my lunch money is in there!

    Epic fight ensues.
     
  21. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    LOL made my day Norm :D
     
  22. jameskmonger
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    jameskmonger Member

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    The reason I want to reveal his info is so the reader can know more (age, full name, etc) whilst still being "in" the story, and I figured that if I need to release the info to the reader AND the other characters, why not do it all at once?

    And Cecil, I'm struggling to put a reason as to why he would hide it from himself.
     
  23. Cecil
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    Cecil Member

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    Maybe he's just so used to keeping it a secret that he just doesn't think about it very much.
    Are you sure you can't just tell the reader? This is your story, so I can only speak for my personal preferences, but I prefer a story that is straightforward with the reader. Your first sentence could actually be something like "Jim had two lives..."

    I thought of another solution that I like better. Can you tell the story as if the main character is telling the story? You could put it in first person, or use a frame narrative. Then the only excuse you need is some reason why he would withhold the truth from his audience. Then, when you get to the reveal, you could go back into frame and have him say something like "I guess I trust you enough now" and then tell the reveal part. Or maybe he's withholding information from his audience to build suspense because he wants them all to gasp when he gets to the ID scene.
     
  24. Bad_Valentine
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    Bad_Valentine Member

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    Can one or more characters catch him in the act of heroism? i.e., he's dragging someone from a building and the villain notices him and recognizes him as clark, the dorky reporter from the city newspaper? Or maybe they are in the same place (in line at starbucks getting lattes? ;)) and he has some distinct object, piece of clothing or bodily mark/injury that only the hero would have, and the villain notices.
     

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