1. Marthix2016

    Marthix2016 Active Member

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    How Do You Perceive Character that Values Career Over Family?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Marthix2016, Oct 4, 2018.

    I am very curious on this one. Please share your thoughts. When you read about a character that holds work or career over their own family, how do you perceive that character? Do you think they are selfish or not loving?

    There is one particular character in my story that is very obsessed with her career, her own business. She built it from the ground up, it's literally her life. She does have family members (mother, father, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc.) but not married and no kids (those two things will never happen for her because they would get in the way of her business). She absolutely loves her family with all her heart but she is a very career-oriented gal. She does have a heart but she does treat her career more important if you get what I am saying. It's not like she doesn't care for her family or doesn't want to spend time with them. None of that. When I write this character, I hope readers find her likable and I hope they don't perceive her as selfish or disrespectful. She is a very hardworking gal that doesn't care for recognition or attention. She doesn't need to rely on others to get to where she wants to be. She may be a bit of an oddball, but she likes being single and doing her own thing, flying solo. Given that her life is consumed in her work, she doesn't have time for a romantic relationship and she doesn't want to start one at all. She has lots of friends and family that love her and respect her for her whole career-oriented thing. She suffers from a lot of headaches and migraines from all of it, she is a very strong character. She takes care of herself first, protects her body at all costs (kinda strange to say but I think most of you know what I mean by that) before others. She lives an extremely stressful lifestyle and it takes a lot of her energy and strength (and even health) to soldier through it.

    What I want to know is...given how I described this character above....what do you think of her? Would you respect her, appreciate her the way I present her? My character is very passionate about her career/work and it will show in the writing. I hope my audience is inspired by her go-getter mentality and how much she invests in her own career and her strong belief in herself. Thoughts would be appreciated. Just want to know I am portraying her in a likable way.
     
  2. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Contributor Contributor

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    Do you actually need your readers to like or respect her or would it be good enough if they merely invested in her? Because I regularly invest in characters that I neither respect nor like.
     
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  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I've read tons of beach reads in which the mc had no interest in marriage, family, kids and it was pretty apparent from the get go. Unless you're challenging a certain genre there's no real issue.
    As for your character I don't know, to me there is no character just traits until I see her in a scene dealing with conflict. If this was a man instead of a woman I'm not sure I'd find the details all that exciting but it's hard to say cause I have no idea what your plot is or where you're going with this. I just feel like there's something missing -- she's strong and career minded and???
    why must she believe in herself so strongly? Is she doing something that no one in her family has ever done? Is she doing something with the odds stacked against her?
    just avoid tirades of I'm so happy without children, or using scenes of unhappy relationships to explain why she never married and you'll be fine. Keep it focused on her daily life/work showing it as being satisfying and the reader will get it.
     
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  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think a lot depends on how old she is and what kind of work she's in. A hard-working, 25-year-old woman, trying to make it in the corporate finance world would paint a very different picture than a 45-year-old woman running a flower shop that hasn't been on a date in 25 years. See what I'm saying? In both those cases the woman could put her career before other things, but the stories and characters would be vastly different. And I'm not sure you need readers to respect your character. Characters aren't real. I can't remember ever thinking I had respect (or disrespect) for a character. Sure, readers can feel a bunch of things, but characters are never seeking approval from their readers. I think it's more important to justify (in your characters mind) why she is making these choices and living this way. But I think that's true of every character to some extent at least.

    The age and career choice play into what kind of story you're trying to write. Is it sad and hopeless? Is it inspiring and empowering? Is there another reason why she wants to go it alone? I think as people get older they tend to realize that there is more to live than just having a career. Your character reminds me of how I was in my younger days a bit, though, I can't say I was putting things on hold as much as trying trying to juggle a whole lot. Then life throws us unexpected curveballs and everything changes. I'm not saying your character needs to change her lifestyle, but it would probably be good to throw her a curveball so she has to reevaluate or re-justify (to herself) her decisions. Also, curveballs give us a chance to show readers what she's made of.

    I also think people are always reevaluating their goals and plans. Life seldom works out the way we think it will. That's just life. I have a friend who was the opposite of your character and for a long time wanted to get married and have kids. Her curveball and getting older changed things and the way she viewed life and her goals. She is now very career oriented and very busy. But sometimes I wonder if it's not to distract herself from the things she gave up on. Usually, when I think of workaholics there is often an underlying issue for regular 70-hour workweeks.

    Also, I can say from experience, when career is super important it's very easy to burn out. And loneliness can lead to depression. I'm not saying these things have to happen to your character, but usually we see characters change in someway in a story. I would think about how, why and in what ways you want readers to see your character change throughout the story. I don't think there is anything wrong with being career driven and forgoing having a family, but it's usually not as simple as you are laying it out here. And it also doesn't seem like you're character is likely to care what people think of her (I could be wrong). But you certainly don't need readers to respect a character to pull off a good story.
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    At first glance, I'm not seeing why this is a concern. She's an adult. She has a vocation. She has a commitment to that vocation. That strikes me as one perfectly legitimate form of adulthood. Yes, sure, some adults split that commitment with commitment to kids, but many don't.

    You notice that I say 'kids'. Are you assuming that she can't be married because she can't have kids? Because many adults are married and don't have kids, and many married couples can both have intense careers. Is this a career where she is essentially never home, where she can't even have, say, a plant, because she would never have time to water it? One where she is a little fuzzy on what her home address is because she gets home that rarely?
     
  6. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    You can ask why the character puts career first, because putting career first isn't a motivation--it's a symptom.

    Did she grow up with a father that was abusive to her mother and decided she will never be reliant on another person?

    Does she believe a person is worth only what they make, and only worthwhile while they are useful?

    Does she love her work and lack interest in family, or also believe people should take care of themselves and aren't her concern?

    Is she trying to make something of a business to prove herself to someone, and through that, to herself? Why?

    Is she really interested in marrying a successful and rich person, and believes she needs to be successful in order to make herself attractive to her dream mate?

    Does she believe her work is helping people, and what she wants most in the world is to feel the love that comes in return for service to others?

    Does she have a moral obligation to her work because only she can do it, and ignoring duty would disgust her with herself?

    For any kind of motivation, there is probably some element of inborn personality and backstory that go together to give the character the attitude of putting work first, and very different motivations can lead to very similar behaviors.

    Think about all the different kinds of people who become fire fighters: adrenaline junkies, saviors, bullies that love authority, people that love giving medicine and seeing people healed, bros who want a fraternity, people who looked up to fire fighters as kids and want to be respected, people who want to work with their hands but hate the monotony of construction or manufacturing, pyros, people who love hierarchy, people who love their communities and want to protect it...

    From the outside looking in, all of those types of people will do a lot of the same things, and they all might choose to put their careers ahead of their families.
     
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  7. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    Basically? As retarded. What's the point of working if not for a family? Especially with men's cases. With women, working is even more pointless because unless there's a half dozen or so little ones there really isn't much of a point in doing more than the bare minimum.

    I don't take people who work hard/a lot but are lacking in their family lives very seriously, as they're essentially digging their own graves.
     
  8. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    This seems really close minded and is actually insulting to a lot of people.
     
  9. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I don't care. I'm not interested in making friends with workaholics.

    It's one thing to work to live; it's another to live to work.
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Disregarding someone because they work harder or more hours than you think they should says more about you than any character, is flat out stupid an ignorant. And having children is not what makes someone important or more important than those who don't. I have a feeling you never made it far in any career path. Good luck half assing the writing thing. And all those people you don't want to be friends with, I have a feeling it's more your loss. If you have children, I hope you aren't teaching them to be like this. God forbid one of them ever wanted to be a doctor or something along those lines. Your way of thinking is sad.
     
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  11. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I doubt that you care, but this is a really offensive slur against the developmentally disabled.

    Can I assume that you'd say that to Edison, Einstein, Madame Curie, Shakespeare, every teacher you've ever had, and every doctor who's ever treated you? Who needs human accomplishment; we can all just sit around the campfire in the cave and be convivial before we die of cholera?
     
  12. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I will change my mind if you meet the following criteria:
    -You are in a loving, stable marriage
    -You live in a good house in a good area
    -You have at least 5 children
    -You are actually spending time with them.

    The second I could do without, honestly, but the first, third (really it could be less children, but at least 2), and fourth are vital. There isn't much point to working if I am failing to get these things (and while money can buy a house, obviously, money cannot buy love or children. Someone who works smart and can make enough money in less time though can certainly have the fourth thing).

    If anything my way of thinking helps me think of ways to save time, labor, and money. The guy who invented the scythe, the tractor, and whatever we're farming with now, that guy didn't want to spend 12 hours a day breaking his back. And the person (I think it may be a she) who invented the dishwasher, laundry machine, and dryer most likely wanted more free time from generally boring labor.

    Point is; a desire for more free time breeds inventive solutions.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Without people who dedicated their lives to medicine, you're not likely to have five living children, and you're not likely to survive giving birth five times. I suppose if the important part of the world consists only of men, the man can just keep going through wives until he gets all five.
     
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  14. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    You really love strawmans, don't you? I'd argue with you if I thought you'd actually argue against things I said rather than make shit up.
     
  15. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
  16. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I'll bite.
    So, you're saying women don't matter and that housework is unimportant?
     
  17. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    ftfy ;)
     
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  18. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    Your jokes go over my head!
     
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  19. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I have to have five children to make a valid point on a writing forum? And divulge my personal life and personal experiences? Please... Get over yourself. I'm not asking you if your published or anything like that which would seem more relevant on a writing forum. Honestly, reading your points is sickening and a big problem with what's wrong with the world.
     
  20. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Well, that's an interesting and freakish interpretation of...was what I said actually involved at all?

    What does housework have to do with it?

    Let's walk through the logic:

    - You want people to have five kids.
    - Kids involve childbirth.
    - Childbirth is a major medical event.
    - Without decent medicine, people die in childbirth a whole lot.
    - A woman is not all that likely to survive going through that experience five times.
    - So the only person likely to have five living children is a man, because a man can marry a wife, have kids until she dies, marry another one, have kids until that one dies, and so on.
    - So it is possible for a man to have five kids in a world where no one dedicated themselves to their careers and therefore there is no medicine to speak of. It's not nearly as likely for a woman.

    Exactly where housework came in, I can't figure.
     
  21. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I'm responding to you with all the curtesy and intellectual honesty you respond to me with. Which is to say: with strawmans that ignore everything that could be considered a reasonable qualifier and by pounding on what is clearly taken out of context.

    So, you're saying the doctors do not need someone to keep their homes clean, to raise their children, and to make them happy?
     
  22. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I know, right? Who needs more stable families when we can just take pills and work ourselves to death raising other people's children from afar.
     
  23. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I know this is supposed to be a joke, but honestly if I actually were planting grapes I could actually yield some literal fruit instead of respond to a line of dialogue I immediately wanted out of the moment I posted my first post.

    Unfortunately I'm a masochist.
     
  24. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Your argument is against people being dedicated to their careers. Why are you veering off into housework?

    Are you saying that SOME people are allowed to be dedicated to their careers?
     
  25. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I have never not liked someone more on this forum. I feel bad for any kids you do have.
     

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