1. xephia
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    xephia New Member

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    Writing a realistic, relatable hero?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by xephia, Apr 1, 2010.

    My biggest problem in writing is writing a realistic main character. I don't have trouble writing their biographies, planning them, giving them realistic traits, flaws, dreams, etc. I'm fine with the before-hand planning, but the actual writing leaves me stumped. I can write supporting characters well enough, but my hero always comes across as being more detached from the readers than the rest of the characters.

    I think my problem is that I know how other people act, but not so much how they feel or think, so while my hero acts normal it's almost impossible for readers to connect to him as intimately as I'd like.

    Has anyone else encountered this problem? Does anyone have any ideas as to how I can overcome it?
     
  2. dazbizkit
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    dazbizkit Member

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    Maybe you should treat him as a secondary character but with bigger more attractive motives. Don't be scared to give them quirky features.

    That's what I did. I had a protagonist that seemed wooden, despite how much individuality I gave him. And like you, my supporting characters had plenty of life in their actions.

    So to get the same results with my main character I detached myself from him and treated him as a supporting character. He still had the same motives and everything else but by looking on them from a different perspective I was able give him the things that made him more 'human'.

    I hope that makes sense!:p

    A good exercise would be to make up a scene where the perspective is focused on a supporting character looking on the protagonist. You will then know the mannerisms of your supporting character and be able to convey them through your writing. And, you will also be developing your hero's characteristics too.
     
  3. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    While you may have the formalities of your character planned out - you know, the kind of things that would go into a spreadsheet or character profile page - you haven't actually connected with them yet.

    As the writer, you should be intuitively aware of their emotional state and how it affects their actions overall - what they're thinking, what they're feeling and what that does to them.

    As an exercise, try placing yourself into a few theoretical positions and pretend to be your character - it should give you a better idea of what to write and it's also good for adding dimension to a character.
     
  4. Loup
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    Loup Member

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    That is what I was thinking when reading your thread ...
     
  5. fruitdruifje
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    fruitdruifje New Member

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    tried method acting yet?

    putting yourself in the shoes of your Mc and work from there? I know it works for me..^^ when I in the zone I walk, talk and dress like my main character.. when Mc frowns, I frown etc... seems to work for me personal. My Mc is rarely ooc..
     
  6. Azihayya
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    Azihayya Banned

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    yes. i feel that right now. i have no idea whats goin on. nobody tells me. I guess they don't think they can talk to me
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a really trivial suggestion but: You refer to him as a hero. Is he heroic in the story?

    If so, that could be part of the problem. I think that nobody walks through life with the role of "hero", it just sort of sneaks up on them. It's not a role that can really define a character.

    So I guess I'm suggesting not using that word when referring to him, and just referring to him as the protagonist. And if his position is "hero-like" - if he's the leader of a group, for example - consider eliminating that as well. Consider making him just another member of the group, just another guy, at least at the beginning of the story.

    Or if he does need to be hero-like when the story begins, perhaps you could write some backstory just for yourself, starting when he was nobody in particular.

    ChickenFreak
     
  8. ToxicWaste
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    ToxicWaste Member

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    Try giving him a relative reason for being the hero. No one jumps up to save the town they just discovered from a massive invading force because it's fun. Try to make him seem 3D by giving him a bio, but try and deliver that bio throughout the story. By having other characters give us small tidbits about our hero throughout the story, it makes him feel more real. Maybe he wasn't always the hero or maybe he's just being the hero to get the girl.
     
  9. Azihayya
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    Azihayya Banned

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    the deepest moral value I've found is to do something because you see its positive consequence
     
  10. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I once heard someone describe a 'Hero' as someone who has a choice to not do whatever dangerous or "death defying" act that needs done, but chooses to do it anyway. (Remember that Frenchman in New York City a few weeks ago? He chose to dive into the water and rescue that little girl - to do what needed to be done - and, when he was no longer needed, he left, causing something of a global manhunt to figure out who he is and find him.) While, to a lage extent, I might agree with that definition, I believe a hero is, by human nature, heroic. Not that he or she goes around trying to earn a cape and tights reputation but, by their very nature, they behave compassionately toward others so, when called upon, they will act without question, even though they have the option to join the crowd looking on and do nothing.

    Most heros are the little kind, like the Frenchman, but without the media exposure. They do what needs to be done and then go on about their lives. Many years ago, my brother (tall, thin, but built like a (really strong) rock) witnessed a purse-snatching in a shopping mall parking lot. He took off after the perpetrator, knocked him to the ground, recovered the woman's purse, and held the would-be thief until police arrived. A few years later, he was killed in a motorcycle accident while on his way home to get his tools to go fix someone else's bike. He was hard drinking, hard living, but it was in his basic nature to view others with compassion and to give of himself what he had to give. THAT, I believe, is the mark of a hero. And it comes in all shapes and sizes.

    Is that the nature of your main character? Does he really need to be a hero or just the primary catalyst for your story?

    You say you, "...don't have trouble writing their biographies, planning them, giving them realistic traits, flaws, dreams, etc.," but all of that is pretty much just two dimensional if you don't truly understand what makes your character tick. Perhaps you have created an unrealistic character full of contradictory traits with no idea how or why he has such an olio of qualities. You don't need a biography of a character to make him 3-D 98.6. But you do need to understand him. Consider trying to tell someone about ... Tom Cruise, and make him seem and feel real. You couldn't do it because you don't know enough about what motivates him. Could you tell someone about the long line of judges and attorneys in his background or working in High School Theater or going to a Catholic High School and what he liked to do with his friends? No. Beacuse you don't know about those things so you can't begin to know what motivates him or drives him to do certain things. It's that same understanding that you need to make your characters 3-D and 98.6. That elusive part of the spirit that makes one person prefer Rocky Road ice cream while another is all strawberry and another is Mint Chocolate Chip.

    Nobody can tell you how to create that, but consider everyone's advice and see what helps lead you in the right direction. I, myself, cannot write without having at least one person read it and say, "I see this as a movie," or "This ought to be made into a movie." That's the way I write. Based on my theater major in college, I envision sequences as they play out and merely 'report' them on the electronic page. That style of writing may absolutely not work for you so, while I can tell you what I would do, I cannot tell you what you should do.

    Without thinking about the arbitrarily assigned flaws, etc. or your biography of the character, try to get in touch with what the soul of the writer inside you is telling you about the character. Get inside that part of him and put that on the page. You may discover much of what you thought you knew about him is all wrong! And, of course, if it's not working ... throw out the garbage and try, try again.

    Good luck.
     
  11. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    If you want an easy-out, try writing in third-person limited.

    If you really want to learn how to write main characters, try giving it some time. Look through the newspaper, and think, "How would So-and-so react to that?"Do the same with things that happen in your everyday life.

    Or, you can practice a little. Write some side-stories until you've really fleshed the character out and have gotten the hang of it, then maybe the little one-shots you've written will come in handy later.
     

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