1. Eliza Rain

    Eliza Rain Member

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    Can a Main Character be too quiet?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Eliza Rain, Nov 28, 2016.

    So let me just say, I love my deadpan, quiet but not shy, fifteen year old MC Ivor for my contemporary fantasy. He questions everything, gets angry at the ridiculous rules of magic, and wonders if Harry Potter had to suffer through all the same crap as he's had to deal with.

    My concern is if he's too quiet for the narrative. I've started writing the first draft in third person, since I love all the extra dynamics and space it gives me to move between my characters. Then my brain yells at me, of course, because as we all know third person is rather limiting. And for having a character that's more of an observer than a talker, do you guys think this could be a down fall? My style allows me to peak into his and other character's heads enough if I desire direct thoughts, but I'm not sure if it's enough. Thoughts?
     
  2. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Member

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    It shouldn't be a problem. "Deeds, not words," works fine for an MC, although it does take a little more creativity some times.
     
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  3. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    As a reader, I prefer a character's thoughts be conveyed via action, even passive action/inaction, dialogue, body language, inference, etc.

    Too much head-dialogue and a story just bogs down. The only thing worse, is employing the dreaded soliloquy.o_O
     
  4. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    Yes. And too loud, too.
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I would definitely not agree that we all know that third person is limiting. You may be thinking of "third person" as being a rather distant third person omniscient narrative, like that used in some classic novels. But that's quite different from close third person limited. I can't think of much that you can do in first person that you can't do in close third person limited.

    What do you feel that you can't do in third person? If you can give us examples, we can probably tell you how you can do it.
     
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  6. Eliza Rain

    Eliza Rain Member

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    It's more the lack of a stream of a personal consciousness. That in their head perspective. I've been kinda pushed into if I wanted to do more longer drawn out thought sessions, it should be first person. Or who knows, maybe I'm just bad at blending thoughts into third person and that's why I've been told that haha.
     
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I agree with @ChickenFreak. You can do anything in limited third that you can do in first person. Just a matter of getting in close.

    Also, if you decide to shift to first person there are ways to do anything you can do in third, including head hopping.

    I think you are imposing limitations on POV that don't exist. Just try a few different approaches and see what works best for you.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    You can definitely do stream of consciousness in third person. The grammar is a little bit different, but it's really pretty much the same.

    One random example that I wrote (the original intent was to demonstrate summary versus scene, but it also shows thoughts in third person) is in this post:

    https://www.writingforums.org/threads/going-for-length.136420/#post-1296294
     
  9. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I agree that the first vs third thing is a red herring.

    In terms of a character being too quiet? I'm not sure. I love the IDEA of laconic characters in literature, but I think maybe they work better in movies or TV where we can SEE them being laconic, if that makes sense? Might just be my own limitations, of course, but I have trouble maintaining the strong, quiet type when I'm writing - I feel like I'm doing too much description and inner monologue so I want to do dialogue, but of course that won't work for this character and everything just ends up feeling unbalanced, at least to me.

    And I definitely think it's difficult to write a passive character well - quiet but active is quite different from quiet and uninvolved.
     
  10. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Sure, third-person omniscient is very limiting, but third-person limited doesn't have the same problem ;)

    ... In all some seriousness, I wrote my Doctor Who fanfic in 5 third-person limited POVs, and I feel I did a decent job of writing my narration in terms of what each character was thinking even though I didn't explicitly separate "character's thoughts" from the rest of the narrative with italics.

    Also, on exactly the opposite end, the first-person narrator of my Urban Fantasy WIP is normally a chatterbox, but there are several points where he's observing and thinking about what other people are saying more than he's adding his own. Granted, he's not the main character, and the main character is generally the one talking when my narrator isn't (even though she prefers to be a lot quieter than he does), but I would think that the same principle would apply to a main character: even when they're not saying something, they're thinking about their personal reactions to what other people are saying.
     
  11. Eliza Rain

    Eliza Rain Member

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    Thank you all for responding!
     

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