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  1. Ziku

    Ziku Member

    Oct 18, 2008
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    Do "we" have an unhealthy relationship?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ziku, Mar 11, 2009.

    I am heavily familiar with my characters. One of my key heroes was created when I was five. My major antagaonist was created when I was seven. Everyone else was created slowely but surely along the way, some evolving from old ideas, few truely real to me.

    Knowing my characters this much, I realize I opened myself up to one of the most dangerous aproaches in writing.... They have become too real to me.

    All of them.... They speak to me, I hear their voices in my head.... I'm not writing fiction anymore as far as I'm concerned.... I'm telling a real story about fictional people, if that makes any sense.

    I have been warned by another writing friend that I need to stay in control.... If I try and figure my characters out too much, they'll start telling me how to live my life, which was, in her (my friend's) case, a potentially sucidal situation.

    But I feel like the realistic feel gives a charm to my writing.... Makes it feel so emotional.... I cry when I kill off characters often.

    What should my aproach be?
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Characters exist for the sole purpose of advancing the story. To help them best fulfill that purpose, you must be comfortable with putting them through the wringer.

    If you must get attached to them, realize that unless they are continually and harshly tested, they are not living up to their full potential. There is no more horrid abuse you can do to them than to let them languish.

    Honor them by sending them to the front lines. urt them, maim them, torture them. Like true masochists, they will love you for it.
  3. traffic101

    traffic101 Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Ontario, Canada
    Wow. I have to say, I'm impressed with how emotional you've gotten to your characters. So you only write about the same people? I get attached to a character for only the story's purpose. Once it's over, I enjoy building up another character.

    Why don't you try that? I think if you stay on one story too long, you are blocking all the other creative paths that you have inside.

    Try something new.
  4. hiddennovelist

    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

    Feb 25, 2009
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    Fabulous Sin City
    That's a really good suggestion. I have a tendency to get really attached to my characters, too, probably because I usually base my main characters on people I know or have known, and when I find myself getting fond of them to the point where it starts to impact the way the story develops, I usually take a break from that story. Working on something different for a while helps me get my head back to where it needs to be in order to write what will be best for my story instead of what will make my characters happiest.
  5. Ghosts in Latin

    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

    Feb 16, 2009
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    I have the same relationship with one of my characters, but I (we, hah) also realize that whatever I write about him is only fictional; if I write about my death, that, by no means, means I will die - so there isn't much emotional hardship in putting him through some less-than-pleasant endeavors.
  6. HeinleinFan

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Jan 6, 2007
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    Yah. I know what you mean. (Well... not precisely, but a close analog.)

    I develop characters as though they were people. Then I set them against each other. The last third of Berendon's story isn't really his any more; it's his and Oss's story, and they are both good people and well-intentioned despite the backstabbing between them. I cried when I realized that the only real solution was for B to die - how, I'm no longer entirely sure, but he's going to live to around 43 or 44 years maximum no matter what, and he's likely to die before then.

    But having "real" characters lets me tell a more moving story. I love them, so I can write about them honestly. I mean, even my "bad guys" tend to be more like real people because of this. So the evil telepath is merciless and kills everyone he interrogates? Maybe he has to because otherwise the enemy would realize that he's telepathic, not just an efficient torturerer. Maybe he hates his job and wants to get out of the breaking-and-killing-people cycle, but he can't let himself because he knows that his side is horribly outnumbered and if he doesn't devote his life to finding out the enemy's plans, many good and innocent countrymen will die needlessly.

    But to the protagonists, he's still evil. Because whenever one of the main "good guys" is caught and brought to this elusive torturer guy, the good guy is brutally and quickly killed. So it goes. But even though my antagonist is nasty in some ways, he's hard to hate. His motives are reasonable, he isn't intentionally cruel, he hates his job, and he sees no other way. Is he dispicable? Maybe; he certainly doesn't mind taking away someone's free will if that means saving more of his people's lives. But he isn't the sort of evil you can just hate hate hate without understanding a tiny bit.

    Have fun with your characters. Make 'em shine. Then beat on 'em a bit to even it all out, and things will turn out okay.
  7. g1ng3rsnap9ed

    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

    Mar 8, 2009
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    A small town called Pox...
    I don't know if this is an unhealthy relationship, but I know for certain that I have a similair companionship with a few of my characters. (Who were only in one of my stories btw, I don't like writing sequels-they're much more fun to watch.) But also I think that the characters helped me cope with what was currently going on in my life at the time and each and every one of them (,even the characters that I hate,) are a reflection of me at that time. These people are so real to me that I know and enjoy their company more than I do any real person that I can think of.

    Unfortunately after the story was finally over I tried to re-write the story in a complete do-over second draft when I realized that I lost their voices. I got to page nineteen when I looked back on the first draft and realized how stale and lifeless the characters seem in the second draft. That's when I realized that the door was shut to me and I had to move on. I haven't written any complete works after them thus far, but I plan on starting a morbid fantasy tonight that I'm really looking forward to.

    Have you ever dreamed of meeting the "characters" that you're talking about, Ziku? I have once and when I woke up I was (,and still am,) convinced that it really happened. At the time I was still writing the story and incorporated the dream into it by having one character dream the same dream where they met me, though she didn't recognize me and I left myself unnamed. How I think of it is that for an author there are three parallel worlds:The real world, which the author lives in;The fictional world where the characters play out their role in the story;and the space where characters are assigned to their authors by some God-like figure that I named the Deux-Ex Machina. I somewhat believe in this, not literally of course-that would be crazy. ;)

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