1. Coreben

    Coreben New Member

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    Character creation.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Coreben, May 7, 2013.

    I have had an idea for a character which I would like to develop into something but i struggle to get it down on paper and really flesh it out. I have found that i find it helpful to bounce ideas off people. So I would greatly appreciate any ideas people can give me and ask that anyone who is willing to ask about parts i have not stated about the character yet.

    The name I am currently running with is Elijah Shroud.

    I have been accumulating ideas about immortality. He will not be a divine immortal or even a regenerative immortal, his body will simply refuse to die, when he can survive any injury though he doesn't regenerate anymore that a normal human. This has resulted in his body becoming horrendously scarred over the decades.This is in addition to horrific full body burns. As a result of these wounds he wears bandages over his entire body over these he wears his clothes. He will not be the only one of his kind though they are a minority and commonly referred to as corpses because of their appearance. Though they are able to live countless years their bodies degenerate along with their minds which leads to many going mad.

    He will be above average height with no real identifying features due to his bodily injuries and his wrappings.
    He has lived longer and seen more than he cares to remember because of his inability to find anywhere else to find a home. Now he has chosen to settle in a city ripe with injustice that he tries to avoid knowing it is beyond him.
    He will exist in an time where firearms are only just entering into circulation and therefore are rather expensive and rare leaving swords and the like as the primary weapons of conflict. Despite this steam and gas are the primary power sources. The clothing of the age will be similar the the 1940's being very formal.
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Hi Coreben - You've set up an interesting set of character tags to work with, but I'm not sure what you're asking from us on the forum. It's hard to give feedback unless you tell what you're planning to do with this character. Or are you asking US what to do with this character? I like the name, but suspect it's a name he's earned, not one he was given as a baby. Was he ever a baby? How did he end up being 'immortal?'
     
  3. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributor Contributor

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    I don't really know much about your character yet. You've given us a name and physical characteristics. The fact that he's immortal, but his body still degenerates is an interesting scenario, but that doesn't tell me how the thinks and feels about that. What do those facts make him do? How does it change his psyche? When did he realize he had this quality? Who else is in his life? Did his parents have this quality? Any siblings? Is it at all genetic? What happens when he encounters someone else like him? Why can't he find a home? What you really need to flesh out and explore is the "he has lived longer and seen more than he cares to remember" -- why? Just how long has he lived? When did the degeneration start to really become a problem? What has he seen that he wants to forget?
     
  4. sanco

    sanco New Member

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    So by the time he's 100+ years old, he'd be a pretty useless skin sack of bones lol.
     
  5. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributor Contributor

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    An interesting character sheet, but it goes nowhere. Put him in a story, see what he does, what happens to him, how he thinks/feels - only then will you know if this character "works".
     
  6. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all of the above...
     
  7. Gallowglass

    Gallowglass Contributor Contributor

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    Hold on, if his mind degenerates at the same rate as a living human then surely he'd either be incapable of living or totally unwilling to by his early 100s? Most of us begin to lose our cognitive grasp far, far before then. If this world is pre-industrial then there's no medicine or therapy available to halt the mental decline, either. If you want him to be anything other than a disfunctional shell needing round-the-clock care, you're going to need to come up with some reason for his mind to be that much more resilient than ours.
     
  8. rhduke

    rhduke Member Reviewer

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    I think he needs some kind of motivation to push the story. Does he uphold justice in this city? Maybe, since he doesn't die naturally, he fights criminals because he has a longing to die. He allows himself to get shot and gutted because deep inside, he enjoys the pain. His deteriorating mind could attribute to this type of life. Just throwing you ideas..
     
  9. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    If you struggle to get it all down on paper, well, that's something we have all dealt with at one time or another. The best way to develop a character is...develop the character. As Shadow says, put him in a story, because that's how you develop a character. There isn't a single character I've developed who was fully formed in my mind before (s)he got into the story. Your story will shape your character, give him depth. As you write your story, you will have additional ideas that will require you to make certain decisions about how your character will react, decisions about aspects of his personality or physical capabilities that you may not have considered before. At times, you might even find yourself face-to-face with an inherent contradiction in your character, having given him qualities, perhaps, that your story can't allow him to have. When this happens, you will adapt.

    This process - story development, character development, reality check, correction or addition or deletion - is, in my experience, an iterative one, but must be done wholly within oneself. Because anything else - any idea about your character that you solicit from someone else - will be less than what you can do for yourself because in the end he is your character. Tom Clancy can tell you all about creating Jack Ryan; James Michener could have told you all about creating Pasquinel; Ernest Hemingway could have talked (and probably did, maybe in a Havana bar downing special mojito cocktails) for hours about Santiago, but none of them could have solved your problem in a way that would be useful to you, because whatever they told you would only take you so far and no further. And, as writers, we all need to go further.

    So, Coreben, my advice is to go for a long walk, or bike ride, or run, or whatever you do to empty your mind of distractions and then march yourself back in, sit down, and have at it. Let the story round our your character and don't be afraid to follow your instincts. Go fill that unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run.
     
  10. Coreben

    Coreben New Member

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    Thanks.

    Ok its only been a single night and you have all given me a great amount of insight. I will attempt to take all of the advice into consideration. This has been exactly the response i was hoping for, identifying issues and lacking features, so i thanks you all and once i work on it i will post an up to date version of the character.
    Thanks all,
    Coreben.
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Hi again Coreben - he best way to develop your character is to write a story with him in it! He'll develop himself as you write. Don't spend too much time developing characters separate from storylines, because you really don't end up with anything much. Just a list of characters with characteristics. Better to just dive in and write your story!

    For me, the best way to do this is to have your 'odd' character interacting with other characters. What do they think of him; how do they treat him; how do they speak to him—that kind of thing. Then, of course, the reverse from his perspective! You'd be surprised what this produces.

    Then, of course, set him in a situation. He sees something happen, or somebody asks him to do something, or he is cold, hungry, scared. Think up some motivating factor to get him going. So much the better if other characters are involved. You don't have to have a complete story mapped out at this stage. Just have a bit of fun, and see where you end up!

    With one or two modifications/explanations (like Gallowglass already mentioned) such as: why doesn't his brain deteriorate along with the rest of his body, because it's also a body part, you have an interesting idea here.
     
  12. Coreben

    Coreben New Member

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    Brain deterioration

    The brain and body deterioration are fair points which i have considered so instead of their bodies deteriorating i have decided that instead the immortality kicks in when they reach maturity and from there their bodies stop aging all together. Instead of become "sacks of bones", instead they will retain normal mental capacity and not gain any further regenerative capabilities, so they will not suffer from the mental deterioration like normal people and do not heal any better than a normal human. Though they do not suffer from the normal mental deterioration that most people do they do however as a majority suffer from depression as well as other psychological issues as a result of both their long lives and the discrimination they receive from mortals for their immortality.

    I have added more as well including a slice of his past etc. but i plan to hold of posting it until i have worked on it a bit further.

    Thanks all for your advice and i will welcome any and all constructive criticism and take it into consideration.

    Coreben.
     
  13. rhduke

    rhduke Member Reviewer

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    ^ So the people are aware of their existence then? That makes it a lot more interesting. You could possibly get into how the government wants to take them in for medical testing, or how the media demonizes them to the masses (maybe glorifies them?). Lots of possibilities. I'm actually getting intrigued the more you talk about it.

    Sorry, I realize you are just focusing on characterization. Maybe you have all of that stuff figured out already.
     
  14. Coreben

    Coreben New Member

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    I'm glad.

    Yes i have been planning on them being demonized by a large portion of the public which is a leading cause of the disfigurement of people like him. I am glad to have peaked interest. Thanks for your input.
     
  15. squishytheduck

    squishytheduck New Member

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    It's actually a misconception that everyone's mental state deteriorates as they grow older. Senility is the result of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases, and there are plenty of people in their 80s and 90s who are still mentally sharp.

    Also, if these people function biologically in the same way that regular humans do, then they'll eventually develop cancer. Cancer is, by definition, cellular immortalization. Basically, the longer someone lives, the more likely they will develop cancer at some point, because the more cell divisions happen in someone's body, the greater the chance of one of those going awry and continue to grow in an abberant, uncontrolled way. Unless something else kills them beforehand, everyone will eventually develop cancer.

    So my question is, are these people susceptible to cancer, and if they do and it doesn't kill them, how does it mess with them physically, and if it does, do they have to get treatment, like just chop off whatever tumors have developed every couple years?

    Alternatively, since they are essentially a bag of immortalized cells, you could say that they are cancer, and that is how society views them, which is why they are shunned by normal people.

    Don't get me wrong, this is a sweet idea, especially if there's like a secret society of them. It's like Tithonus meets X-men.
     
  16. sanco

    sanco New Member

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    It's funny, I've been tackling a similar idea with my vampire novel.

    Summing up some of the responses given, plus my own "method" if you will:
    1. Defining what these beings are and patching up any gaping holes in the logic of it all is the first obstacle.
    2. How these conditions shape your character's psyche, emotions, worldview, beliefs & actions.
    3. Characterisation: habitual actions, speech patterns, likes/dislikes, style, strengths, weaknesses etc.
    4. Their place in the story: what happens to the character to provide the motivation for them to pursue a certain goal in conditions of conflict. Wants, needs, obstacles etc.
    5. Experimentation by writing.

    The longing for immortality is a weird and funny human tendency. I can see why a lot of people would like to be immortal, but when you think about it, eternity would be pretty fucking tedious. Here's my favourite quote (translations vary) in Voltaire's "Candide": “I have been a hundred times on the point of killing myself, but still was fond of life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our worst instincts. What can be more absurd than choosing to carry a burden that one really wants to throw to the ground? To detest, and yet to strive to preserve our existence? To caress the serpent that devours us, and hug him close to our bosoms till he has gnawed into our hearts?” In my opinion, without death, life would be less meaningful. So without some sort of self-prescribed purpose or motivation for living, I don't see how your characters wouldn't go completely insane. Although, it would be kind of interesting for a character to constantly look for ways to kill themselves.
     
  17. squishytheduck

    squishytheduck New Member

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    That'd be quite the spectacle: "The Suicide Artist."
     
  18. Xatron

    Xatron New Member

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    Already stole it.
     
  19. Atari

    Atari Active Member

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    Curses!
     
  20. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    So far, I'd say that you've described a character type, not a character. For example, if you were going to describe hobbits as a character type, you might describe their small stature and furry feet. If you were going to describe Bilbo Baggins as a character, you'd describe his fondness for seedcake and his memories of fireworks and his uncertain feelings about adventure. Now that you've described the character type, I think that you want to move on to describe the character.
     

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