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  1. Josie Grenwood

    Josie Grenwood New Member

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    My MC feels 'one dimensional.'

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Josie Grenwood, May 17, 2020.

    So,

    I'm about half way through my latest novel and I'm actually having a tonne of fun writing it. However I'm starting to feel like my MC is a little flat and I don't really know how I can bring more of her personality through.

    She's a sweet girl, trying to be an accomplished journalist just like her father. Who recently divorced her mother and left her behind. She writes in a journal everyday (which plays a key role later in the plot) and does make a few fatal flaws which come back and bite her in the arse shall we say, later in the book.

    I need/want the reader to really empathise with her towards the end of the book. She does something hurtful to the will be antagonist but I want the reader to really feel for her. Like that sick to your stomach kind of feeling. At the minute she's just coming across a bit flat and I don't know how I can liven her up. I don't want my reader to think she had it coming but rather that she made a mistake and doesn't deserve the bad rep she's handed.

    Should I give her little quirks or something to make her more interesting as her own person? I feel at the moment she's a sweet yet timid girl who likes writing and it's a bit... yawn? Does she need to have a quailty readers can see in themselves?

    She tends to be a bit scatty at times and naive but not to the point of annoyance. I did wonder whether to give her a bit of a firey streak.

    I just don't know. Any tips or advice for how develop your own characters?
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Your answer is probably somewhere in there: living up to expectations, bridging generational gaps, picking up the right parental influences and throwing away the wrong ones.

    What's the time period? Journalism has historically been very different between generations, and I've found a lot of the "disconnect" I've experienced with my parent's and grandparent's world views can be exemplified by how they've interacted--or been shaped by--the media of their time and how that molded their expectations of how the world should be. So if you've got a young woman trying to be an accomplished "journalist" in 2020, she would almost certainly have to be a sensationalist, social media, click bait toolbag who can build a reputation/following by hammering on one end of the modern spectrum and completely ignoring the other end. Dad might have something to say about that if he earned his rep by reporting the news factually and offering balanced social commentary based on. Not that all journalism is high-end politics--they could be architectural or entertainment journalists for all I know--but you get the drift.

    Generational conflict in a rapidly evolving milieu such as journalism is probably the best way to give your character some depth and illicit empathy from the reader.
     
    Foxxx and Josie Grenwood like this.
  3. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Senior Member

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    There's quite a few videos on youtube discussing how to develop interesting characters (that's where I turn to when I run into trouble with my writing).

    From such videos, here's some potential things to ask yourself about this character to make her more interesting.

    What is her internal conflict? Her fears and misbeliefs? How do those fears and misbeliefs shape the plot and create not just internal conflict, but also external conflict? You have her want to become a journalist, what led to that? Not everyone wants to follow in their parents footsteps, why does she?

    Also don't be too concerned about making her likeable to the point it makes her dull. Readers like interesting characters, and are more likely to root for an interesting villain than a dull hero. Don't fall into that trap.
     
  4. Josie Grenwood

    Josie Grenwood New Member

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    Ive been hammering youtube lately for advice! I'll take a look and see what I can find. I'm a big fan of Alexa Donne.

    I think the need to live upto her father
    mostly stems from his constant pressure for her to be his model little girl. When he leaves this manifests into a bit of an obsession. She thinks if she can make him proud enough he will want to come back to his wife and her. He does, but only because she almost manages to get herself expelled from university. He defends her but is ashamed of her behaviour. It's only then she does realise he's a bit of an arse.
     
  5. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    Usually when someone asks this question, my immediate counter question is: Why do you think that? Did someone tell you she seems flat? I wouldn't be surprised to find that you're being hard on yourself.

    But you do ask a good question. How do you make an antagonist's anger towards the protagonist fully justified, without making the protagonist out to be some kind of horrible person. And I certainly empathize with this situation, because I had to solve the same problem with my protagonist and antagonist. And my protagonist did do something terrible: she murdered the antagonist's son.

    There are several techniques that could work, and I used a few of them to great success:

    1) Keeping the nature and impact of the crime intentionally vague. This was seen in the original Assault on Precinct 13. You're introduced to a killer on death row. But you're never given a lot of insight on what he exactly did to end up there and it even starts to feel as though maybe he doesn't belong there to begin with. Had they revealed the gruesome details of his crime, it would have been more difficult to fully empathize with him.

    2) Revealing it at the end. This is different from #1 because in the first technique, you know the person did something wrong, you're just not ever told entirely the nature of it. In this one, you don't know the protagonist did anything wrong until about the very end. This was best done in the film The Machinist and the video game Silent Hill 2. And you do feel bad for these two men, because you spent the whole story getting to know them and feeling that they are good people, but they did something terrible.

    3) Disproportional outrage. This is where the writer acknowledges that the protagonist did something wrong, but the antagonist's reaction is absolutely terrible and doesn't fit the crime. This was best seen in the film The Incredibles. Yes, Mr Incredible didn't have the right to treat "Buddy" (though his name isn't Buddy) the way he did. But how did that give Buddy the right to then go and put thousands of people's lives in danger? The answer is that it didn't. So it was really hard to stay angry at Mr Incredible and nearly impossible to have any sympathy for Buddy. (I would call him by his villain name, but I don't want to look how it's spelled. So I'll just put up with him screaming in my head, "My name isn't Buddy!")

    4) One fact changes everything. This is a hard one. Basically, this is where what the Protagonist did is revealed and the impact is felt, but there is one detail that is left out that changes the entire perspective. This is a hard one because normally it's done with the antagonist who reveals to the protagonist that one detail and suddenly revenge isn't a good thing.

    Regardless of what technique you use, there is one thing that the protagonist has to feel and do in order for it to work: they do have to feel a sense of remorse and that remorse needs to be disruptive to their life. This can look differently depending on the story. Mr Incredible's rude slight of Buddy led to Buddy deciding to become a villain. This in turn put Mr Incredible's family at risk. As it was brilliantly pointed out in the film, he probably would have never felt guilty otherwise. But the point is that he still felt guilt. In the Machinist, you see the guilt manifesting in every single aspect of the main character's life. You may not know it's guilt, but you do see it.

    So I hope this helps a bit.
     
    LedaAurum likes this.

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