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  1. Bluedango

    Bluedango Member

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    Escalating a character's flaw

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Bluedango, May 5, 2019.

    Hullo! New member here.

    I am currently writing about a group of characters in a story that revolves around a shared trauma but I couldn't bring myself to change one of them to shift the story forward because I don't want the character to become a plot device. I'd like to learn more about 'natural' ways to ease a character's story forward without making a needless change of character or drastic plot twist to preserve its whimsical theme. My goal is to finish the current arc in a way that things goes back to the status quo but with a hint of character growth and maybe a new perspective for me and the characters to open up the story for new possibilities.

    The novel is just a pastime hobby of mine but I feel guilty for leaving it as is because writing it has kept me sane for the past five years and I owe it so much for that.

    Thanks.
    PS. Is it too ambiguous? I could provide more details.
     
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    I think I would need more info. Cause I don't really understand
    what any flaw is of the character in question, or why it needs to
    escalate. Not that I understand how a flaw is a major sticking
    point for a character in relation to the story that is strong enough
    to be escalated on, when typically the plot is what is normally
    escalated to climax.
    Color me confused with what you have provided. o_O
     
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    More details, please.
     
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  4. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

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    Just take care that characters and their actions are psychologically credible and it's ok.

    If characters and theirs actions are not psychologically credible, then nothing saves your story.
     
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  5. Bluedango

    Bluedango Member

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    To put it bluntly, the character I am having trouble with is a parent figure who appears to have moved on but actually misses and is actively seeking to capture the thrill of that certain traumatic event again in secret, risking the stability of the group.
     
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    That is still kinda vague, since there are a lot of traumatic events that a parent can go through.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    What was the traumatic event? Are we referring to childbirth? Or perhaps the activities leading to conception?
     
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  8. Zombie Among Us

    Zombie Among Us Member

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    What’s so wrong with a character being a plot device? Not challenging it, just genuinely curious.

    Whimsical theme? I don’t see anything in your post that would suggest the story is all that whimsical. Could you elaborate?

    What is the current arc? What do you mean by going “back to the status quo?”

    What do you mean by a “hint of character growth?” I’m confused as to how a novel (usually classified as 50,000-120,000 words if I’m correct) would have only a hint.

    Moved on from what? How does she want to relive the traumatic event? I’m not sure what you mean by the “thrill” either.

    I think this is an extremely important point. I must ask, what are your sources that are saying this could happen? I have never heard of someone wishing to relive something traumatic. I know about Stockholm Syndrome and missing the person/people who caused the event. If that’s what your character is experiencing, then I would use different words. If that’s the case, then your character likley isn’t missing the event, but actually the cause.

    Stockholm Syndrome usually happens with those have been kidnapped. Afterwards, they miss the kidnapper, forgive them, and even blame theirself. According to Google’s dictonary, it can be defined as “feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think they would enjoy going back and in the status of being in captivity itself, but instead would enjoy being around their captor. They feel emotionally connected to the person/people. Again, I don’t understand what you mean when you say you want your character to miss the “thrill” of the event. Maybe I’m completely wrong in thinking about Stockholm. It’s the first thing that came to my head.

    Referring to the title, I’m confused as to what the character’s flaw is. Is their flaw that they wish to relive the event? If so. I don’t think “flaw” would be the appropriate word. Maybe “difficulty” or “challenge.” Then again, I don’t understand the character or event in question enough to give a firm response.

    In conclusion, we need a lot more elaboration. I ditto basically everything that has been said in these replies, mostly the questions of what the traumatic event was.
     
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  9. Bluedango

    Bluedango Member

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    Fine. Its my fault for not putting clear restrictions.

    My problem is finding a way to end the story arc of one of my character.
    This person was born and raised in conflict but it ended before he could be of any use and he found himself in the middle of a rebuilding city filled with people who , just a few hours ago, were killing each other in a civil war. This city would go on to cover up everything about this event . The patchwork governing body of the broken city went as far as change every citizen's identities in an attempt to prevent revenge related crimes which didn't really do that much because of its devastated population. A decade later, the city flourished under the new government and the character is now living with a family of his own to take care of. Only, the city is under heavy surveillance, each of the families are made up of the war's orphans, and the parents are from both sides. A forced peace.

    Its very awkward.

    The main story revolves around the everyday lives of the orphans poking things they shouldn't with side stories being told as flashbacks reflecting each of the neighbor's current disposition towards one another.

    This problem character wants to feel excitement he felt when his life was on the line. This particular desire of his was reignited when the neighboring nation attempted to take over the city two years prior to the beginning of the main story. For him it ended too quickly, out of his terms.

    ...I think I'm writing an antagonist.
     
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  10. JuryDeva

    JuryDeva New Member

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    From what I'm reading, your character was born and raised when the fighting just came to an end, so what was he feeling exactly when he was... 5? 10? It's strange to me that a kid would want to "feel excitement when his life was on the line" because unless he has a severe personality disorder, he'd either:
    1. be too young to even seriously internalize the war/fighting that JUST ended. More likely his childhood would be based around the rebuilding event. Kids can literally only think in a non-complex manner, so there wouldn't be much depth or abstractness to his thoughts and how he viewed the events taking place. It'd be 1+1=2, never 1+1=11.
    2. he wouldn't even remember much of anything except whatever he internalized from his parents' "kitchen talk" sessions, and what's being taught at school - which mostly would be positive reinforcement unless it doesn't work that way in your world. But it should, since the government is monitoring everything, as you said.
    So based on that, yeah, you're writing an antagonistic psychopathic kid who, for some odd reason, thinks on a grand scale and wants to "feel" the way he did when the world wasn't at peace and to make peace come on his own terms - but again, what kid would even be able to pull from an event like that, and carry those feelings into adulthood? If anything, he'd play them out on a smaller scale, as most people do. Maybe he'd abuse his lovers or himself because he's tormented and wants control. An eating disorder. Has his own business and is a pretty bad boss. That's all that'd be, realistically, from what I know, especially if he was a kid when they were rebuilding and doesn't even have much of a connection to the war as is. His parents, however...
     
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  11. Lilith Fairen

    Lilith Fairen Member

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    This makes me think of something similar in one of my WIPs—one of five heroines who'd fought a magical battle to save the world in the past longs to have a magical life again, though it carries the risk of exposing her and her friends' secrets.

    In my story's case, the escalation of this conflict comes from being exposed to elements connected to that past life, in turn making her present situation seem even more dreary the deeper she gets. This is followed by a possible avenue to get what she wants, albeit one that would involve making a difficult decision with numerous potential complications. Then lastly, an event occurs that makes the protagonist's normal routine life seem so unbearable that she rushes headlong into that aforementioned opportunity, despite the consequences both known and possible. (Cue trouble, obviously.)

    So figure out what drives your character—slowly and/or suddenly—over the edge.
     
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  12. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    You could focus on how, at least for some people, the peace sucks. There's a lot of unfinished business and bad blood from the war--but the government is telling people to just get over it, which is easy to say when you're not looking at one of your former enemies walking down the street and wondering if that guy was the one who shot your friend or bayoneted that child you found. There was a sense of common purpose back when the fighting was going on, but now everyone who used to be on the same side is pulling apart and arguing over petty stuff. You have to watch profiteers and petty criminals exploit the survivors when before, you'd just pull parasites like that out the back and summarily execute them. Yes, it was bad, but everything seemed so clear and simple back then.....
     
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  13. Jayesh Sinha

    Jayesh Sinha Member

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    I think you need to really explain a bit more. You post barely gives anything away about the story you plan to write.
     
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  14. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Can you tie the current state into a sort of general ennui or dissatisfaction from the character? He feels like he's living a lie, like everyone's living a lie, pretending things are fine when they really aren't, and this has made it impossible for him to build anything meaningful in his life. How can he create something true when it's all going to be based on a lie? At least when the fighting was out in the open, people were being honest about what they believed, etc.

    Realistically, any gov't capable of tearing apart and reassembling family units is going to be pretty draconian, so there's going to be a definite shortage of freedom in the new world. Kind of Orwellian? So your guy can be the hero who fights against that oppressive regime, the guy who says that imperfect freedom is better than perfect oppression...

    I'm not really sure how any of this ties into character flaws, though, so possibly I'm totally on the wrong track.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  15. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Senior Member

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    Hello friend. :superhello:

    First welcome to the forum.

    For you to write that character's end story, you need to know that character. Flows, Virtues, his/her desires, his/her past, his/her goals in life, and so on. With all this, your character must react with events, push forward the plot. Both things can mix well unless you prefer one thing to another, and there I mean character first then the plot or vice-versa. Imagine if you were your MC, how will he/she react? What choices will he/she make in this situation?

    Writing about antagonist is a good thing. Not all MC have to be heroes, or better yet, each character is own hero. So yes, your antaginist is the hero of his story. Write about his point of view. Let us readers see struggles, desires, flaws during his journey. Don't make your MC's life easy, test him/her all the time, push his/her limits, and of course, each action must have a consequence. Are you worried about our character to have flaws? But that's the point. At first, he may be a despicable person, but maybe there's a valid reason for him/her to react or behave the way he|/she does. So don't concern too much if your MC has flowed, he/she should be flawed for the readers get invested; and for your character be interesting.

    I hope this helps. Keep on good work and let us know about that story. :superagree:
     
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  16. Bluedango

    Bluedango Member

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    Hello again!

    Thank you for your feedback.
    I reviewed this abomination about four times now and I'm happy to say that I managed to rearrange some parts to give it context. I have to admit that the first time I wrote this I was thinking that I am the only one who's going read it. I let my cousin see it and now I know the problem; I put too much references that would NEVER make sense to another person and some scenes were written in a very specific way that I imagined it without providing enough context for reader to chew on. I am currently updating it to match later chapters.

    Forgive me for showing too little because it makes me terribly self-conscious.

    Many thanks!
     
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  17. Bluedango

    Bluedango Member

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    I reconsidered the flaw and decided to best leave it in the closet for the time being.
    About the regime, I am going to drag this out because I really enjoy exploring the neighborhood's passive-aggressive interaction and the rampant paranoia while the oblivious kids run about doing their stuff.
     
  18. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing like another pair of friendly eyes to give you feedback! They will see things that you (the writer) will miss. Welcome to the forum, by the way. It sounds like you're very serious about writing. And you're getting it done. Fantastic.
     
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  19. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

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    1. Why?

    2. If your protagonist has only hint of character growth, it does not work unless that hint:
    - Is essential and makes the value of his character change.
    - Staying same is like growth. (One constant and stable thing in world gone mad or something like that.)
    - Everything is about that hint.

    If you write about as if he's wanting that, it's very hard to do it well. Story might fight back (because it knows better).

    But if you write about that as if he had a need... Then you might have a piece of gold in your hand.

    Think about that difference! Is it something he wants or something he needs? Thos are totally different stories.

    There is nothing to forgive. Just opposite. Thank you about not telling all the needless details about the story.

    Main things are main things. Floods of details drown them.

     
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