1. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    How cringe worthy are these characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Jan 4, 2017.

    In my fantasy WIP, I have a couple of characters that I personally love, but I'm worried the reader may hate them because of one major life choice each of them make.

    1) Echo is a tomboy. She's stubborn, loud, opinionated, and kind of rude. She's also a lesbian (which I just figured out). As soon as I realized she prefers women, I immediately knew she needed to be in a relationship with Silena, a posh, stuck-up and kind of rude side character. To me, they work perfectly. However, in my head, Silena is mid twenties and Echo is 17. It doesn't bother me at all because in my story, you're legally an adult at 16 (instead of 18 in the real world). Would this age gap bother you as a reader?

    2) Then there's Caius. Warning: he's a very cliche character and I don't care. He's the son of a high ranking military official. When his dad died, Caius made it his mission in life to live up to his father's name. Be a good son, follow in his footsteps and become a military man. However, that isn't what Caius wants. He's always wanted to (wait for it) be a bard. Play a guitar and travel around the country entertaining people. Again, I personally love him. I think it fits his personality so well, it's as if I didn't decide this at all. Like Caius jumped right off the page and told me what he wanted to do. But I'm worried readers will learn of this desire and cringe. A military boy who wants to sing instead? Yuck.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The only thing I don't like is Echo's name. It doesn't fit who she is; it intones the opposite. I don't mean to say you should pick a name that's on the nose, but Echo immediately brings to mind a follower, someone who doesn't have her own mind.
     
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  3. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    The legal age of sex is 16 in the UK. So no, it doesn't bother me as a reader.

    Caius - You're going to have to work hard at getting readers to cringe at him. It'd require modern, likely liberal readers empathising with the dad's position.
     
  4. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    The age gap would make me uncomfortable, not because of legalities, but because of the general emotional maturity of a seventeen-year-old versus a twentysomething. Regardless of the age of consent I'd still think of Echo as a kid and Silena as an adult, and I'd be skeeved.

    Caius sounds cool, though. I don't find him cringe-worthy at all.
     
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  5. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributor Contributor

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    Age of consent in most of the world is actually lower than 18 last time I checked. Granted I am not very good at checking. Also, my girl is 6 years younger than me! Okay granted the age gap is 26/20 but no one bats and eye. I real life you get relations even in America where you have 17/20 year old people that love each other. Its just illegal to have sex in some places. Its a very niche thing being the point, a niche thing that doesn't really apply anymore.

    If you had a fourteen year old girl getting married and having sex against her wishes because of an arranged marriage, that would be territory that you might be worried about.

    Caius! Sorry yugioh player in me. lol. In Yugioh Caius is a card that made you cry if your opponent dropped him.

    For your ideas. I think it is, tough but great. A man torn between to things that are important to him yet conflict with each other is great drama. But it can be tough because you have to show that drama properly and give a proper reason for the two ideas to conflict. So as an idea I think it is perfect. But how well you execute that idea is something yet unseen.
     
  6. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Doesn't bother me at all.

    I can relate to a man who wants to sing. I can't relate to a man who wants to fight.

    All works for me. :D
     
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  7. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    That's actually kind of the point. Echo is a twin, born after her brother. Her mother didn't know about her and didn't want her, so she gave her a generic name. An "echo" of the first child. Echo ends up having a rough upbringing and actually strives to have the military position Caius is trying to give up.
     
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  8. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    With just this summary to go on, I'd find Caius the more annoying. As a long term backpacker, I always loathe seeing those of our flock with a guitar (or worse, ukulele). Plus there's the whole "But daaaaaad..." angle which grinds on me, even if I agree wholeheartedly with the main point, his traveling.

    But these short summaries are worth less than naught when compared to a fully fledged novel.
     
  9. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    What's that got to do with anything?

    Yeah, I was worried about that. If I didn't reveal her exact age, would it help? I posted another thread a while ago about revealing age in a story and whether or not its necessary specifically for this relationship.

    Most of the girls in my story are very mature for their age. They live in a rough world and are forced to grow up quickly. So Echo's been through a lot and, while she's a very dramatic character, she's mature enough to take care of herself. In fact, she lived on her own for about five years, traveling halfway across the continent and learning from mercenaries and the like. Very Arya from GoT.

    Silena, on the other hand, is kind of the opposite. She didn't struggle growing up the way the other girls did. Her family was rich and lived in the nicer parts of town, so she never had to fend for herself. She probably wouldn't survive a night on the street alone. So she's definitely more immature for her age.

    I can make the ages a little more vague if that helps. But I unfortunately can't change their ages. Echo needs to be younger, because while she can take care of herself, she still has some immaturity. And Silena has to be older because of her position. She was placed in a high-ranking role when she was about 18 or 19. And she's been in the position for at least three years before the story starts. So I guess I can make her more early twenties than mid twenties. But she has to be up there a bit.
     
  10. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Your country's military is overwhelmingly conservative. Therefore the ones who are more likely to find rejection of family military traditions "cringeworthy" are...
     
  11. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    If our military is conservative, why would liberals find it cringe worthy? If anything, liberals are going to like Caius for turning his back on the military.

    Also, what the hell does politics have to do with anything? I post a question about my FANTASY novel, and you turn it political? Go somewhere else with that shit.
     
  12. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    That's what I'm fucking saying. Holy crap.
     
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  13. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I did think "well, if Echo's pretty mature and Silena's more immature ..." for a moment before commenting, but I ended up talking myself out of it. I just keep coming back to that fact that I'm in my early twenties and I wouldn't date a 17 y/o - certainly wouldn't given a couple more years, either. But, I also don't live in a fantasy world. I definitely think there's potential for an interesting dynamic between a rough-and-tumble mature-for-her-age type and a somewhat older but relatively sheltered girl, I'd just personally get hung up on their exact ages. So if you're looking to please the very very tiny izzybot demographic, I'd leave it vague :p
     
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  14. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    I can do that. :D I'll probably pinpoint the exact age when Echo runs away and starts living on her own. But I don't have to say exactly how many years she traveled before finding my MC. Same with Silena, except.. well, opposite. I could mention how many years she's been in her position but not at what age she was recruited. Easy enough.
     
  15. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    The name Echo makes me think of Greek mythology. Are you sure that's not too literary for this?
     
  16. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

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    I like them. Echo's a cool name, and the age gap doesn't really matter to me (especially since it's fantasy - age didn't matter too much until the 19th/20 centuries; hell, in the Middle Ages, girls got married at 13). As for Caius... I have no problem with him following his own path, as long as he has a good reason for it.
     
  17. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    No, it happens all the time, this is perfectly normal. The age of consent is 16 in my country as well. Maybe in the US this would be more frowned upon? But then again, didn't Buffy the 16yo vampire slayer date a 300yo vampire, and that was totally acceptable. :p

    Not cringey at all. Military boys hardly come in one shape and size, and many of them can successfully do both. That guy who wrote that awful, cheesy hit song "You're Beautiful", he was basically a war hero. It sounds like the way his bucking the family tradition works, and it also provides some conflict for your story.
     
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  18. Lonely Shadow

    Lonely Shadow Member

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    I truthfully don't mind cliche characters as long as they have their bits of individuality. And I feel that when it comes to same sex couples, there needs to be a clear division between the two, otherwise you'll confuse me. Age is a good thing, as well as species or rank.
     
  19. Zadocfish

    Zadocfish Member

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    I don't care for Echo's name much... kinda too, I don't know, fantasy name-y? Eh, I can get over it. Her personality seems to be pretty generic fantasy girl personality, lesbianism aside, but that's fine. Everything's been done before, and that kind of character is fun to read about. And the 17 dating 24 thing doesn't bother me, either, that's basically normal for a fantasy setting.

    I really like the guy, though.
     
  20. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Not good that you think her name is too fantasy-y. Her's is actually one of the most normal names in the story! :p My MC is Seren, her best friend is Verda, her boyfriend is Levon, Silena's boss is Dysis, and their continent is Edelmira. lol But that's okay. Her name has been Echo since the beginning. It's actually the only name that stayed the same, so I've become very attached to it.

    This is really amusing to me because he's the character I like the least! :p He's kind of a jerk in the beginning of the story (living up to his dad's name and whatnot), but he'll loosen up a bit in book two. I'm glad he'll be likable though!

    Thanks!
     
  21. Vortex Theory

    Vortex Theory New Member

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    1) The age difference wouldn't bother me. In my experience there's not all that much difference between a mature teenager and an immature or sheltered twenty-something, certainly not enough to worry about sounding squicky to anyone but a total prude.

    2) I have firsthand experience of the exact opposite, a bard who wishes he'd been a soldier. Being bound to duty vs. pursuing one's passion is a trope that a lot of us can relate to.
     
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  22. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    @Lea`Brooks

    I am not bothered in the slightest with the age gap. I'm sure if you write it well enough, and make it clear there is no coercion, nobody else will mind either.

    It's good that you recognise the potential for a cliché here. So make sure you don't create one. Whatever the stock character would be in this cliché, do something different with your character. Make him a personality to be reckoned with, and he'll be fine in your story.
     
  23. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I've always struggled with Caius in general. He serves an important purpose, but his appearance and personality didn't come as easily as the other's did. The only thing that feels natural is what I explained above. He's born into a military family, feeling he needs to continue his father's legacy, only that isn't what he wants to do. His personality just doesn't seem to fit him.

    Then again, if he's lying to himself about who he is and who he wants to be, then I guess it would make sense that his personality doesn't feel like "him," right?
     
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  24. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Will there be some big moment where he recognises his situation, and then decides to change it?
     
  25. BBCotaku

    BBCotaku Member

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    Caius doesn't sound cringey in the slightest, in fact he sounds rather sweet and interesting.

    Echo's name however does feel a tad off to me, though the fantasy setting gives you a LOT of leeway with funny-sounding names.

    The age gap is a bit concerning. When deciding an age gap I like to use Josh Sundquist's formula of the character's age divided by two plus seven. The number this gives you is the minimum age their love interest can be without it being creepy.

    E.G if Silena is 25 then: 25/2+=12.5+7=19.5 (personally i'd round it down to 19). Perhaps keep Silena between 17 and 21.
     

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