1. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Member

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    Which reaction has more dramatic potential?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Flashfire07, Mar 28, 2012.

    My current story is a kind of romance/drama with a high 'splatter factor'. Near the end of one arc a character finds his boyfriend ran off with another man. Now I've set him up as a quiet, shy character who spends most of the fight scenes knocked on his arse. Anyway, what happens is A or B. A is he grabs a farmyard shotgun, saws the barrels down and kill his partner. The other option is he goes off and gets into multiple fights culminating in him bashing a strangers head in with a brick (yeah it's quite a brutal and gorey story at points). So what I'm wondering is which reaction would have more... impact I suppose. Like which would be better for forming a storyline around (subjective question I know but I'm stuck here)?.

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  2. Mckk
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    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

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    Shotgun option.

    But impact is not the only thing to consider. What would fit your character and serve the purpose of your story best?
  3. Tashanel
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    Tashanel New Member

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    Brick option.

    Brick will be contradictory. Brick option will push your character that desperate. Or the other point is really angry and so, "i will find anything that will end his life!". It's more 'real' for me and you can play the emotion. You can see your character evolve from this way.

    Shotgun point for me too cold. Anyone who take shotgun i imagine this is what his thinking, "oh yeah?! you don't know me?! right?! say hello to my little friend." feel flat for me to combine with your shy character
  4. Tashanel
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    Tashanel New Member

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    Brick option.

    Brick will be contradictory. Brick option will push your character that desperate. Or the other point is really angry and so, "i will find anything that will end his life!". It's more 'real' for me and you can play the emotion. You can see your character evolve from this way.

    Shotgun point for me too cold. Anyone who take shotgun i imagine this is what his thinking, "oh yeah?! you don't know me?! right?! say hello to my little friend." feel flat for me to combine with your shy character
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel I do not like snoopy reporter Supporter Contributor

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    It's a huge jump to either. For the first option, you'll have to set him up as a budding psychopath/morbid jealousy type all through the narrative. The second, well, if he was able to do that, how come previously he ended up spending fights knocked down on his arse? Doesn't make any sense. For the brick option he would have to be a good fighter to begin with, and then he loses control under the influence of alcohol, something like that.

    You know your character best, but to me, from here, both proposed options, in combination with the personality you described, sound like illogical disasters, ie. back to the drawing board.
    Disaster should be unanticipated yet logical turn of events. For him it'd be much more logical to attempt or threaten suicide, or start stalking his ex, or spread some passive-aggressive rumour that backfires on him, something like that.
  6. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I have to agree with jazz... I can't see a shy character who hasn't been able to fight his way out of a wet paper bag for the majority of the novel suddenly going postal with a shotgun, or turning into Bruce Lee with a brick. Either you have to sow the seeds of that personality earlier in the novel, or find a more plausible way for him to react.
  7. Berber
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    Berber Member

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    I personally think the brick option would be better suited to your character. The way you describe the shotgun option feels too methodical; he took the time to search out and saw down the barrel before acting on his anger, instead of simply acting in the heat of the moment. I do see the brick option, however, as entirely plausible, and it may be a way to further develop your character's emotions. I could see a shy, underdog running from the situation, attempting to take his anger out on by starting fights with strangers. Perhaps he fails miserably, finds himself lying in the dirt and grabs a nearby brick. Unbeknownst to his attacker, he smashes the brick upside the other man's head as the other man aims for a final swing. You don't have to be a good fighter to bash a brick into someone's temple; you just have to backed into a corner. This option would also be more dramatic to me - a man previously incapable of harming a fly managed to kill a complete stranger (whether purposefully or not). He would have to respond both to the fact that he's been betrayed by his lover and now he's also got another man's blood on his hands.
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not only is it a subjective question, it's one you should answer for yourself. Which one can YOU do more with in your story?
  9. Good Apollo
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    Good Apollo New Member

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    I think another huge part of the question is how they react. If he kills the partner with a shotgun blast, it's an obvious sensory overload - a deafening pop from the shotgun, blood spattering, ringing ears.... but does he immediately wipe up the blood? Does he sit down and start crying? Does he become numb?

    If he kills a stranger with a brick, does he detach himself? Does he stalk off, feeling a perverse sense of completion after displacing his anger onto a stranger?

    It all depends where you lead after it.
  10. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far, What I've done is written up both scenarios and I honestly can't pick between the two. What I was asking for was advice as to which one would have more... story hooks. Basically which one would have more branches I could take the story along, bring up more plotlines and story elements.

    Actually the passive-aggressive route would be against character, but I didn't provide more beyond that he was shy and spent most of the book losing fights. He's shy, quiet but vicious if pushed too far (there is a scene where one of the other characters gets bitten by him and develops a minor infection). He does do some damage in the fights, but after the initial rush he freezes and gets clobbered. The brick makes sense as a brick is heavy and as has been mentioned you don't have to be a good fighter to whack someone over the head with a brick. Or pump buckshot into their chest for that matter. I hate not providing enough information about my story in the first place but... oh well.. basically this scene takes place after a long and traumatic series of events (being stalked by a serial killer, having a friend get killed in a Romeo and Juliet style affair and various other events) in which these two characters developed a relationship with each other born more out of trauma than love, when things calm down one finds himself bored and seeks excitement elsewhere. This leads to the breakup (which involves bottles being thrown) and then... The Incident and the reaction of the other characters to this whole cocktail of events.
  11. Samo
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    Samo New Member

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    I disagree. True Character is defined through action - specifically a choice made under intense pressure.

    His meek personality is simply a characteristic and in contradicting this characteristic, the writer is adding a dimension to his character that makes him infinitely more interesting.
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel I do not like snoopy reporter Supporter Contributor

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    You know how they say, many different tastes and all that. I know quite a lot about human nature and behaviour and can tell you that these kind of changes are impossible. One can appear shy and inept but self harm in secret, or worse, to indicate rage levels necessary for such a reaction under stress. Only too often I read or watch stories with gratuitous violence that makes no psychological sense at all, or where the writer didn't bother to build up a character appropriately. Personally, I find that insulting to my intelligence, however, I am hampered by knowledge and experience. Someone who knows a lot less about human nature might not be bothered. Like doctors will be offended by medical sitcoms, or lawyers by unrealistic and sometimes wrong legal dramas. So in that sense you are right, it is perfectly legitimate to write any story, someone will always believe and enjoy it :)
  13. Samo
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    Samo New Member

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    Firstly I apologise if I have insulted your intelligence.

    Secondly, while I'm sure your knowledge of human nature is vast, I'm also sure that it can be matched by many members of this community - as Anton Chekhov said "everything I learned about human nature I learned from me."

    I understand what you are saying about the use of gratuitous violence and I was not speaking in its defence. I also agree with you that such a change in personality would be unlikely if not impossible and I think this is where we have a misunderstanding so I shall break my point down:

    True character is defined through choice under pressure
    What a protagonist chooses to do in a moment of intense pressure shows who he or she really is. Does he or she lie or tell the truth when asked for an alibi?

    Characteristics such as shyness, ability to play saxophone, excellent memory and so on are all superficial and do not reflect the nature of the character in any way.

    Therefore there is no "change" in character, there is only a demonstration of true character.
  14. jazzabel
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    jazzabel I do not like snoopy reporter Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, no need to get offended. I am simply speaking from a good working knowledge of psychiatry and psychology, which is a fact of my life, I can't change the fact that it colours my opinion. All the time I see banal and illogical plotlines involving violence so I stated my opinion hoping to be helpful to the OP. Not hoping to enter into an internet argument because that is always pointless.

    I have never said you have insulted me. All I said is that when I see stories where such a change in character is not rooted in quality personality description earlier on, to me it feels gratuitous and, for the lack of a better word - ignorant. But it is only my personal opinion and preference, you can take it or leave it.

    Yes, people show their true character under extreme pressure, but in the absence of a certain type of (vanishingly rare) psychotic illness, or certain heavy drugs, a person needs a specific personality indicative of potential for violence in order to act so extremely. Based on the info OP gave, it is my opinion that these things simply don't happen that way, and just as well, because severe interpersonal violence is extremely rare, and it always takes a particular personality to kill or batter a person to death. Also, someone who takes a beating all the time because they are too weak or inept to fight will not overnight be capable of winning a fight, plain and simple. Unless, of course, they go and batter someone much weaker then themselves (like a woman or a child) or unless they go to a martial arts classes.

    Oh and also, shyness is a cardinal persnality trait, not a "superficial" one, and as such is extremely difficult to change.

    In any case, I said what I had to say, no offence intended.
  15. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Member

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    If this was a permanent change yes, I by no means intend for this to be a permanent character change, nor is it going to be easy.

    I always try to minimize the 'info dump' tendency of mine. In a nutshell the character loses because the enemies he goes up against are usually far stronger than him (ex military types usually are, as are those with extensive combat training) and he has been conditioned (like most normal humans these days) not to get into fights, thus he can do some damage while the feral adrenaline rush is going, but after 11 seconds his caveman brain switches off and he freezes. That's when he gets walloped hard enough to put him on the ground and his self preservation instincts kick in, he curls up and hopes for the fight to end. The shotgun option makes sense as it's all over really quickly, the brick works as by that point he'd be out of his mind with rage, fear and possibly alcohol. At this point in the story he has witnessed quite a few brutal deaths and is very much starting to become emotionally numb, cutting off anyone other than his closest friends. I'm still stuck on deciding, gah I hate it when both options are appealing to me!
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would find it difficult to be interested in a story with a character that plotted and committed a deliberate murder like the shotgun scenario, especially a murder committed for a relatively trivial motive like a breakup. I realize that he's experienced other traumatic events, but to me those don't begin to explain deliberate murder.

    It would feel like violence for the sake of violence, and a character who isn't quite human, and non-human characters aren't all that interesting. I'm not saying that it's impossible to make this character realistic or interesting, but I do think that it would be very difficult.

    I'm not clear on the brick scenario--in that scneario is your character attacked, so that it may be self defense, or is he going out picking fights or even attacking people?

    In general, I don't think that the choice should be based on what has the most impact, but the one that is the most believable and leaves you with a human character.
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