1. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Writing about something that you don't know anything about

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Stammis, Nov 7, 2015.

    In my story I have three main characters. The protagonist who is either a 14 or 16 year old boy, a young man in his 20s and a young women that is either 16 or 18. Anyway, I know the troubles of puberty, I know the difficulties of a man and I reflect that by giving both male characters a lot of character development. After a while I thought that my women character was a bit underdeveloped, though she has a clear personality that is consistent throughout story. I decided to give her the main focus in a few chapters, however, I am not sure that I can give her justice since I am not a women and all.

    The chapter begins with the women being separated by the group after she is thrown of their boat during a storm. She saved the captains 5 year old son and is in turn saved by a lone old man further down the shore. She has to deal with her motherly instincts of protecting the child and at the same time being this strong independent women that is good at fighting. It is especially difficult for her when people ask if the child his hers and she has to say that its is to not arous suspicion. She gets upset but when she fights she calms down and feel like herself again.

    This is the general idea of her conflict. What do you guys think?
     
  2. Kalleth Bright-Talon
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    Kalleth Bright-Talon Member

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    Well first off, we're in the same boat. I too, find myself incapable of comprehending the opposite sex, at least completely anyway. However when it comes to writing characters that you aren't completely familiar with, the solution is usually quite simple; ask somebody who is familiar! Of course, it's only a matter of time before somebody who is a woman posts on this but in the meantime, try asking women IRL what they think of this character's actions and reactions. The same goes for if you're writing for a character that has a profession you don't know much about, or has anything generally unfamilar to you. Basically, research the hell out of stuff.

    As for the character conflict, from my own perspective I don't see much conflict to begin with. Maybe I don't have the proper context but it would seem that her motherly instincts would only bolster her drive to fight against any threats to the child. Also, I don't see why there would be a need for her to say the child is hers, or she could simply let them assume what they like about her, but I don't know where the suspicion would be coming from. There are indeed people who fight to alleviate stress, or take pleasure in violence, but unless she's an extremely experienced fighter combatting amateurs, she probably wouldn't be calm. Violent acts are, well, violent. It could be cathartic for an individual but they wouldn't be calm during. By necessity they would need to be energetic, fluid, and probably a little angry. Or at least driven.

    So yeah, those are my thoughts. Not female thoughts but the best I could come up with. Best o' luck!

    -KBT
     
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  3. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Thank you. Yes I think I simplified her character in the description. She does not protect the child, so much as thinking that she has a responsibility towards it. Fighting is second nature to her. It comes naturally and it makes sense to her. The idea of suddenly being a mother conflicts with that idea where she only fights for herself or with other people that can fight themselves.

    You are right though, about she doesn't have to say it is hers. Maybe, she is taken by surprise and agreeing that it is her child was easier than coming up with another explanation on the spot... does that sound believable?
     
  4. Kalleth Bright-Talon
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    Kalleth Bright-Talon Member

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    That could make sense, as long as she was flustered or not thinking straight. It depends on who she's talking to. If she doesn't trust them, then absolutely it makes sense. What wouldn't make sense mainly would be why she's lying to someone she trusts about who the kid is because she thinks they will be suspicious of her for protecting him.

    Again, not a mom but I think that could make sense about her conflict. Mainly, I just think that fighting for her kid would make her even fiercer. If she only fights for herself or with people who can fight as well, then she would have an "I can take care of myself" attitude. If she suddenly has motherly instincts then the attitude would change pretty quick to; "I can take care of myself....and junior!"

    So it's a fine point of conflict, as long as you execute it correctly. When a Grizzly bear mothers cubs, does she get any softer towards her prey? Actually that's a great idea, try looking at how other (not necessarily human) mothers fight for their young!
     
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  5. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    If she has any sense, she would not make such a claim. Why? 5-year-olds can talk and will reveal it as sham very easily by outright refusing such a relationship with, "You are not my mommy."

    Then we also get to the whole matter of age at time of conception. By either account, she had the child at 11 or 13. This means she was pregnant for 9 months prior, conceiving at possibly 10 or 12 years of age. Red flags all over the place with that alone. If the child was 3, then yes it would work better - still the kid would blow the cover on this right away.

    Given the situation, the kid is the liability here - being together will not work with sibling relationships or anything. Though "He's my little cousin." or such will work and the child is less likely to even understand the concept or protest it. Heck, it is easy to dupe him into it at that age.
     
  6. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    True. I don't have the kid talk much as it is, I think 3 years old, or something like that, makes more sense. Perhaps the kid is mute. I need a way to instigate this feeling of, for a lack of better word, motherhood.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  7. Kalleth Bright-Talon
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    Kalleth Bright-Talon Member

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    Didn't even think about that. XD But sounds like Inks knows what they're talking about.
     
  8. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Though, it is not her kid. Thats the thing, she discovers a new personality within herself in that instant that she has to proclaim that the child is hers. It doesn't make sense to her so she runs into an alley and does her usual moves against imaginary targets. This calms her down because this makes sense.
     
  9. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Strong, independent woman" has become one of those catch phrases. I cite this again and again, but Ripley and Sarah Connor were not "Strong independent woman" they were just characters fulfilling a role. I think it is perfectly acceptable to imagine the protective instincts you would have over a child and extrapolate this to a female character.

    People are people, yes we may be wired slightly different, but character should trump everything else. If your character is scared and selfish, they look after number one. If they have a strong parental or altruistic instinct they will protect the child. Now obviously there are differences based on gender, but try not to get too caught up on them (except in the specific circumstances where they materially matter).

    They are my thoughts anyway.

    EDIT: By the way, I also find it odd that we had greater iconic female characters in the 70's and 80's than now when we are all getting very worked up about the need for equality. I wish people would park the agenda and just write good characters, regardless of gender, race, leaning or whatever.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Chinspinner - don't write a Female Character, write a character that just happens to be female.

    Are your two male characters identical, just because they're both male? Probably not (I hope!) So your female character may have a protective instinct toward a small child, just as most male characters would have a protective instinct toward a small child. If that's who she is as a character, fine. But if it doesn't really match the rest of her characteristics, she doesn't have to be protective of a child just because she's female.

    Having her get upset because she has to lie about the child being hers doesn't really make sense to me, unless you introduce some other reason for her to not like lying.
     
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  11. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Thx. You have given me a lot to think about. As most of my writing, it sort of leads to a certain set up by chance. For now I will continue forward with the story as I have accepted the Nanowrimo challenge.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  12. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    You got a very good point. I can relate to the protagonist somewhat but I cannot relate to the other male character very much... guess I did get hung up on the gender thing.
     

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