1. Iei

    Iei New Member

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    Identity

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Iei, May 29, 2020.

    I've been thinking, day and night, about how a character of mine should look. His name's Ethan Ramirez. Ethan is a pure Filipino who grew up in a very very poor household. To hide that fact, he trained himself to become a gentleman that usually wears "casual smart" clothes. This is the reason why most, if not all, get easily intimidated by his style and his "elegance". He is the tritagonist of my story, and is 15 years old.

    A general description of him would be: tall (5'6" maybe), has light brown skin, taupe brown hair, and basically "the ideal man", I suppose. It's very vague, I know ;-;

    Here's a picture of what I used as reference for the skin tone:
    [​IMG]

    The "Taupe Brown" I was referring to is the attached file.

    An even sadder fact is, I'm Aromantic and Asexual, contributing to my inability to find anyone attractive, and therefore, I just cannot think of an image that would fit "Ethan Ramirez". And so, once again, I ask for the opinion/s of the lovely people here. That is all, thank you!!
     

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    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    I'm afraid I just can't see a fifteen year old with the image you describe.

    It's not that he grew up in a poor household - he's *still* growing up. He wouldn't have had time to learn what an "ideal man" is - and an "ideal man" at his age is very different to one at 45. If he really does act like this, he's going to be bullied and ridiculed.
     
  3. Iei

    Iei New Member

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    I suppose you are correct. Sheesh, being a newbie is hard! I would really appreciate it though if you could help me out with making him more... believable? Or suggest anything, thank you!
     
  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    hes far more likely to get the crap kicked out of him by the neighborhood boys... no tough kid is intimidated by a boy wearing smart casual clothes and talking posh... also if he grew up very very poor how at age 15 does he afford these smart casual clothes ? .

    a poor boy training himself to be a gentleman is a well trodden trope - vis for example the talented mr ripley but you need a more believable set up

    Also in terms of actually describing him, don't worry about telling us he has light brown skin and dark hair - that was imparted as soon as you told us he was fillipino
     
  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm going to add that this description, while it does fall within the realm of the possible, doesn't feel very plausible. Filipino people are generally a black-haired people. They typically have that enviably lanky, smooth, glossy black hair that is a common phenotype among Asian peoples. The complete phenotype you mention for this young man feels a little hard to buy, a little romanticized into an anime lean. And I hate to say it, but his being very, very poor as you mention is going to have some demographic go-alongs.

    Untitled.png

    I agree with @big soft moose that you should just tell the reader the boy is Filipino. Let the reader draw in the rest. I spent some time in Quezon City and this description is not fitting with what I know. I also agree that the idea of him butlerizing himself in a poor Filipino neighborhood feels like a recipe for daily thrashings by the local ruffians. Again, it's romantic but very hard to believe when you have any familiarity with the dirtier streets of Quezon or Manila.
     
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  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I hadn't noticed that the OP is in the phillipines so I kinda assumed he was a fillipino in america, so i pictured him growing up in a mixed race projects housing... where Little Lord Fauntleroy will get his arse handed him daily by the 'bangers
     
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  7. Iei

    Iei New Member

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    Ah, to everyone who has given me critiques, thank you so much!

    I suppose being "overly gentleman...ner..ly...err... idk" is too much (you don't say)? Would toning it down be more believable then? I guess he's more behaved than..uhh... the usual classmates (referring to the usual boys from my personal experience)?

    Also, I kinda felt the need to tell of his skin tone and such just because in the Philippines, there is so much skin diversity - plus, the other two have olive skin tones. Oh, @big soft moose regarding the "if he's a poor boy he wouldn't be able to afford the smart casual clothes" part, he's actually a scholar in a national science school in where they receive a monthly allowance (yes, such a school exists. In fact, I'm from one). This monthly allowance that I speak of is decided based on the family's financial status, so he gets quite the money. And, his mother is an OFW.

    Thinking about it, what I probably meant by "ideal man" was purely on the looks. Of course, a mere 15 year old wouldn't be able to beat the wisdom and experience of one that is much older. And @Wreybies may I know what you mean by "demographic go-alongs"? sorry, I'm not a native English speaker and it got me confused ^^"

    Once again, thank you everyone! I really, really appreciate your opinions!
     
  8. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    A story about a boy trying to achieve an unrealistic ideal, failing and then discovering who he really is would be believable.
     
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  9. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    You only need to mention it if it's pertinent to the story. For example, if he's mocked for having darker skin, or others are jealous of him for having light skin.

    Here's the thing though - to most non-Asians, any diversity isn't noticeable. There are 7 Filipino nurses on the hospital ward I go to - and they ALL have black hair. Some of them are a bit lighter skinned than others, but that fact just wouldn't register to most Europeans.
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    If hes on a scholarship with a monthly allowance and his mother is working he isn't growing up very very poor - you can't have it both ways
     
  11. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    And if his mother is poor, and he's receiving all this money and spending it on flashy clothes instead of sending some of it back to his mother, then he's just selfish.
     
  12. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    also not to pile it on but classy clothes are expensive ... you can't wear cheap imitations if you want to pass among the rich, nor can you wear the same thing too often, so its distinctly dubious that he'd afford them out of his scholarship payment anyway..

    personally if i wanted to write a character like this i'd either find him another means of income, or another source of clothing - vis for example edward in the Talisman by linda la plante who is using clothes from the wardrobe of his dead freind (whilst also charging said dead friends mother for sex... he is not a nice person)

    In the talented Mr Ripley, Ripley assumes the identity of rich boy Dickie and steals his luggage - he also eventually kills him (hes also not a nice person)
     
  13. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere... Contributor

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    What does it mean when we say someone is "attractive?" Let's look at that first. When I say I find Liam Neeson's nose "attractive" (and I do) it doesn't mean necessarily sex appeal. It's just that there's something about the shape that I find appealing. The difference between you and me is that I can develope a sexual attraction, where you wouldn't necessarily. And that's a different level of attraction right there. Most people don't develop that unless they nuture certain feelings into a sense of desire... blah, blah, blah. We're not going to get into that.

    So the first step is don't look at things on a face for "attraction" but more astethic appeal.

    Also, you could try a Google search of Filipino Models and find features they might have in common. Like a certain shape of the face. The way they smile, etc.
     
  14. Iei

    Iei New Member

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    That's actually a really good idea! Thank you!

    Well, it's not really like "he's growing up" in a poor household, it's that he grew up in a poor household. (I really should have mentioned this earlier) He's the second youngest of four but he still experienced life's hardships when he was young. His mother started working quite late (maybe the time when the youngest was born), and him being poor is the reason why he became a scholar in the first place. (This is partially inspired by my mom's life story lol)

    Y'all are right though, him spending his money on flashy clothes is selfish, BUT I could incorporate that into the story. It could be a subplot?? Not sure, I'll work on it and ask for opinions again hehe ^^"

    His appearance..... I suppose I'd just have to leave it to the readers.
    I see, that helps a lot! It's really quite hard when you don't know of these things. Thank you for your time, I'll gladly try out your advice! Although I've decided to keep the descriptions to a minimal, it would help if I know what I'm talking about if I do describe him.

    Everyone has helped me so much regarding Ethan, and I've really got a lot to think about....and learn. There's a lot of unreasonable things about him, I realize that now. Then again, thank you!

    (If it comes to such point, I might have to scrap it entirely! XD)
     
  15. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    In addition to the excellent advice you've received already—I'd say don't get too sidetracked by your character's precise appearance. As several of the others have suggested on this thread, it's how the story progresses that's going to matter. Does a Filipino person stand in front of a mirror and apply precise terminology to his skin colour? (Mine is taupe, his is latte, yours is chocolate milk, etc?) If that's not what a Filipino actually does (he might be aware that his skin is darker or lighter than somebody else's, but will he attach labels to his skin colour?) then it starts to become a silly and unrealistic exercise.

    The gentlemanly pretentions will probably get him laughed at and/or bullied by people who know him, within his own community. BUT those pretentions might garner a different reaction from people who don't know him. People who assume by the way he dresses and behaves, that he comes from an upper-class background. And imagine the tension in his own head, trying to maintain that falsehood? If they find out where he's really from, he's toast.

    If he has selfish tendencies, or values his appearance more than he does his education, that will emerge as you write the story. And if he's using his scholarship grant to buy clothes, what is he using for money to buy books, food and other necessities?—the things the grant was intended to cover? He can wear great clothes, but becoming starved and unwell because he can't afford food is not a great look ...despite what high-level fashion designers would have you believe. Malnutrition does more to wreck your appearance and interfere with your life than just making you thin.

    That being said, I can certainly understand the mentality of a 15-year old boy from a poor household being given his own money for the first time, and going rather bonkers with it ...squandering it all on clothes during his first two weeks of term. However, that decision is going to have consequences. So make sure those consequences become part of your story.

    What is his personality like? (I don't need to know the answer to this, but you do.) How does he see himself? How do others see him? What are his real strengths? What is he really good at? And ditto his weaknesses? What does he struggle with? What does he fail at? What are his goals? How does he deal with defeat, or delay, or being constantly thwarted? Is he patient? Does he find it hard to be realistic about himself and his real position in life? Does he pick himself up after every setback, or does he just quit? Does he actually care about others—or their problems and worries? How does he show his affection or love? What attracts HIM to another person? What makes him think, "I want that person to be my friend?" Does he have heroes he looks up to? Are these real people he actually knows, or fantasy characters from films and TV?

    I see so many newbie writers on this forum getting stuck at the planning stages, because they overplan—often based on their characters' appearance—and keep asking for approval from fellow members at every stage of the planning. And the whole exercise soon becomes 'story-building/character creation by committee.' Resist that impulse, if you can. It will only hold you back, and create doubts about your story before you've written a single word. You're already talking about scrapping your story. That's a mistake. You need to develop the story instead. Make the kinds of changes (in your own thinking) that will allow the story to work.

    Personally, I think you've got the makings of an interesting character here ...but you need to get away from worrying about his exact skin tone and start thinking about him as a real person.

    Please. Make your decisions yourself. Start writing. Write a few scenes (even if they aren't from the beginning of your story) and get to know your character and see how he interacts with others, and find out what might arise for him. Tell your own story, not somebody else's version of it. You are unique, and your story will be unique as well, if you allow it to take shape.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  16. Iei

    Iei New Member

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    Thank you so, so, so, so much! Everything you've mentioned really helps, and the overplanning part really hit me hard XD Writing is just so... new to me. So new that every little thing seems like a big deal, when in fact it's not (well, I guess that depends).

    I was, however, not worrying about his skin tone, or the color of his hair and such, I was (at least the first time I made this thread) too caught up in his looks - his facial features. The various people who've commented diverted my attention to his personality and his character as a whole though. I don't regret making this thread, as so many people has helped me, even in the parts that I did not ask help with. I don't know what else to say now so, thank you!
     
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  17. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

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    For pretending to be rich, you could look into the true case of Andrew Cunanan. He murdered four people including the designer Versace. Growing up he wanted to cultivate a very specific identity for himself amongst his peers and lied a lot about his social status and wealth. He was obsessed with Sebastian from the novel Brideshead Revisited and tried to emulate him. I would look him up, there's a YouTuber called Stephanie Harlowe who covered the case well and I think Netflix have made a docudrama about him.

    As I recall, he always tried to be very charismatic so that people with money and social status would want to hang around him and would buy him things so he would appear as part of the group.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
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  18. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    ^ Reminds me of the movie where Leonardo DiCaprio pretended to be an airline pilot (was it called Catch Me if you Can?). Based on a real story. He got ahold of a uniform and would hang out at airports and talk to pilots, had everybody convinced he was the real deal. Apparently the real-life guy also passed himself off as a doctor, a lawyer and a college professor. Obsessed with images of wealth and power.

    Also reminds me of L Ron Hubbard, who was a general con man and must have been extremely charismatic because he kept talking people into giving him money and boats and everything he needed to pull off all kinds of crazy schemes (in addition to creating Dianetics and then Scientology, scamming millions of people out of millions of dollars).
     
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  19. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    He also convinced a lot of people that he was a writer. Like John Travolta.
     
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