1. T.S. Wieland

    T.S. Wieland New Member

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    Romance Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by T.S. Wieland, Jan 14, 2017.

    I'm currently working on developing a new futuristic, sci-fi, romance novel, and I'm looking for some suggestions as to what might be some really fantastic qualities for the main characters. I usually name them after I've established their background, qualities, traits, and even appearance, so I'm starting with all that first.

    Male Protagonist:
    So far for the male protagonist, I know he is a big hot shot, young success, wealthy business man, who's biggest problem he needs to over come is his narrow minded attitude and heartless nature. One of my core inspirations for him I think is Charles Dickens, Ebeneezer Scrooge, just younger and more obsessed with himself rather than money. In the end, I know the story will be a rather big transformation from him, making him almost a different man in the end, so I mostly am looking on either thoughts or maybe some suggestions for him.

    Female Protagonist:
    In relation to the male protagonist being wealthy, this character is the complete opposite. She's been poor practically her whole life, making her really down to Earth and caring in ways. What suggestions I'm really looking for with her is flaws. I'm not sure what flaws to implement on her without destroying the readers ability to see her as very innocent and heart warming. But, I still want her to develop as a character as well.

    So, if you guys have any suggestions for these two romantic polar opposites, I'd be interested in hearing them. I might accumulate all the suggestions and hold a poll at the end of next week to see what people like best.

    TDR:
    Any suggestions for character traits in a male, wealthy, arrogant protagonist who changes?
    What might be some good flaws for a young, poor, woman character without breaking the appeal of her heart warming outlook on life?
     
  2. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's really hard to answer these questions without the context of what they're going to be experiencing via the plot. For me as a writer, it's what happens to the characters that creates meaningful change and reveals flaws in their personalities.

    Knowing the backstories of the characters as you write them (even if the details don't make it into the book) is important as well. So not "what character traits make him change" but "what in his past has made him the selfish person he is but leaves him with potential to change" and not "what flaws should she have" but "what are the things in her past that may cause her to have anger, resentment or other less than heartwarming feelings towards the male MC."
     
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  3. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Well that depends on how realistic you want it to be. Plenty of articles that address
    the fact that the rich/wealthy look down on the poor in a negative way (almost hate
    them in fact). Sounds a little Cinderellaesque to be honest minus the whole shoe
    thing. Kinda also sounds like a cliche (a really big one, not that there is anything
    wrong with that seeing as it is a popular one in Romance).

    Perhaps you can have him slowly come to the painful realization that his wealth
    and status doesn't make him happy, cause you can't buy love. Though in my exp.
    arrogance is not something that ever changes, well it does a little with age. So
    would make mister money bags get knocked down a few pegs to show his dissatisfaction
    his lifestyle does not bring him the happiness he is truly seeking in the shallow,
    and the gold digging women of his past.

    I agree with @Laurin Kelly that it will be a slow and hardship filled road for them,
    as the two will be at odds for a while, before any kind of relationship will be
    established between them.

    I have a small romantic subplot in my 2 part mini series, but it is based on different
    factors. The two in the subplot are different because he is a hardened high
    ranking soldier who bares the scars of his status physically and mentally.
    And she is a bio-engineered female alien who is feared through out the
    galaxy because she tortures people. They share a common ground in the
    fact that they are both monsters, but they try to become better persons
    than what they are known to be. Basically what I am trying to say is to find
    some common ground that your MCs can find with which to build upon,
    otherwise it won't come off as 'realistic' but more plot demanded. So try
    to find a way that they can be on even ground about something they
    both agree upon. It is not like the saying 'opposites attract' (that is a
    truth among magnates). :p

    Good luck. :supersmile:
     
  4. T.S. Wieland

    T.S. Wieland New Member

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    Yea, I'm leaving out a lot for the sake of trying to just maybe pin point a few things without the full picture. She doesn't directly know he is wealthy, but she could defiantly have that mind set. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    These are fairly stock characters - The arrogant billionaire and the virgin, the arrogant billionaire and the secretary, the arrogant billionaire and the flower-shop owner, etc. That's not a bad thing, necessarily (we don't get that many complaints about westerns featuring the laconic drifter or fantasy starring a reluctant hero born for great things) but I think it does mean it's either less or more important that you find creative ways to differentiate the characters.

    It could be less important if you're shooting for a 50 Shades imitator (with the requisite black and white cover, cue words in the blurb, etc.). If you are (and I won't be critical - it's a valid marketting decision, even all these years later) then I wouldn't worry too much about the details of characterization. Just go ahead and make the hero damaged by childhood abuse, and make the heroine clumsy or whatever she was in 50 Shade and move on.

    If you're writing for the Harlequin-style billionaire lines, I'd say you also don't need to go too deep into the characterization. Read a few from the line you're aiming for, get the vibe, and find ways to fill the requirements. (This may be overly cynical about Harlequin - I've never written for them and only rarely read them. But if you look at their website, they have very clear requirements for each line, and those I've read have been very uniform in characterization.)

    On the more important side - if you're trying to write an original, single-title romance, based on these stock characters, I think it's really important that you find compelling details to de-stockify them, if possible. And I'm not sure you're going to find those details by brainstorming on a website, but you might...

    I think it'd be interesting if their flaws/details were somehow tied in to the futuristic setting. Maybe Christian's parents over-relied on their robot-nanny and he never learned to bond to humans, maybe he saw his parents killed in the cyborg revolt of 2096 and it scarred him, maybe his computer-enhanced vision makes it possible for him to see every little tic and twitch of human behaviour, making him an expert lie-detector and therefore totally cynical and removed... maybe heroine is allergic to the corn dust used in almost every product and sneezes constantly, maybe she's over-dependent (even addicted? that'd be a fun twist: a sweet, innocent heroine with a serious addiction issue!) on the stim-som patches that regulate mood and prevent any sort of extremes, and hero helps her kick her habit and learn to live in the real world... whatever. The point is that your characterization will probably be tied in to the world you create.
     
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  6. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    It's such a hilarious fantasy. Normal everywoman who anyone can identify with, is still somehow so special and unique that the rich man is willing to risk half his fortune, on a coin flip as statistically half of all marriages end in divorce and pre nups stand or fail at a judge's discretion. Not that they ever sign one in romance stories. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
  7. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Are you, @T.S. Wieland , a reader of romance stories? If you are trying to fit in to a particular market, but don't actually read within that market yourself, then you probably should be doing some 'research' reading.

    If you just want to include a love story within your sci-fi story, then that's a different matter.

    I am wary of writers who want to brainstorm their story ideas. I think relying on others to either solve your problems or create them in the first place can become quite a crutch. This method is unlikely to be as satisfying for you, the writer, as generating your own ideas and turning them into a story that is unique to you. I'm not saying this method won't work—at least in the short term—but why not try to come up with the answers to your questions yourself? It's part of being creative and part of being a writer ...thinking up your own stuff.

    Think about what it would take for 'opposites' to attract one another and, presumably, result in a permanent and successful relationship. Round out one of your characters—backstory, personality and all—then ask yourself ...what would it take? What would it take to turn this person's world upside down? What would it take to break through that character's emotional barriers and get them to love somebody?

    If this person has emotional barriers, what has created them? What does this character think they want from life? Where does this assumption come from? Is it a desire to re-create a lovely past? Or to reject anything that reminds the character of a bad one? Or the notion (either self-created or planted by somebody else) that happiness doesn't come from relationships but from riches, or mastering some skill, or achieving success in a chosen field. What would it take to make this person realise what they think they want is not actually what they want after all? (Think Scrooge. That's what happened to him, isn't it? He realised that the things he'd thought he wanted were worthless, and the realisation made him turn his life in a new and much more satisfying direction.)

    I've always believed that the breakthrough in these kinds of situations comes when the potential lover does NOT do what is expected, but instead surprises and pleases the character in unexpected ways. The character expects A, but gets Z instead, and this makes everything look different. What might not work is if the potential lover presses the wrong buttons. What can work is if the potential lover presses the wrong buttons, then realises their mistake and searches for the right ones. However, pressing wrong buttons isn't a prerequisite to a love affair. Sometimes it's the person who doesn't press buttons who gets the attention.

    Finding a lasting lover often involves a character finally giving up control and learning to trust another person. This is scary, so the trust needs to be strong. It is more likely to happen if the other person actually understands what makes the character tick, and uses that knowledge to be supportive and kind. Other characters might exploit that knowledge to further their own ends, but the lover never does.
     
  8. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    @BayView I also immediately thought FSOG when reading the character profiles!

    You know what I'd love to see? The characters as described above but genderflipped, where the woman is cold/heartless and the man is a sweet cinnamon roll too good for this world.
     
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  9. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    But then it's no longer "mommy porn" or "crack for women" is it.
     
  10. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Why wouldn't "mommies" and other women enjoy a porny book about a rich, successful woman Domming a sweet, virtuous male sub? As both a mommy and a woman, I would be 100% on board with that scenario.
     
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  11. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    I'm sure you would, and Hugh Grant could probably pull it off, but there's a reason why they stick so tightly to the formula of the dominant arrogant but inwardly damaged rich man sweeping the blank slate every woman off her feet where only she can redeem him. It makes big money.
     
  12. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I think Hugh Grant would be a might bit to old for a FSOG genderflip. But maybe cast Charlize Theron as the rich ice princess Dom and Andrew Garfield as the boy next door sub, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be the only one lining up at the theater. Of course we'll probably never know, because Hollywood is kind of ridiculous about formulaic crap offerings over and over again

    But I sure would love to read that book - if only I wrote hetero romance, I probably would, since most of my stories are based on something I'd like to read myself but can't find it.
     
  13. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    Yeah he's too old now. But we'd need somebody Brittish I think. Somebody who the Americans would put his submissiveness down to gentleman behaviour born of cultural difference. Cos alot of people think men in their own countries are pigs but the grass is greener on the other side. Generally though, gender roles as they are, it'd need very skillful execution as it could easily slip into a comedy.
     
  14. Asphyxiates

    Asphyxiates New Member

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    For the girl, sometimes thinking too much about others and not enough about herself can be a character flaw. She sacrifices her own happiness too often. Maybe she sacrifices relationships with family and friends to help total strangers. Maybe she is really messy or always late, character flaws don't have to be moral flaws.
     
  15. T.S. Wieland

    T.S. Wieland New Member

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    No, no, no. You got me all wrong. I have the whole story idea formed and in outline, from start to finish. I already have the skeleton of the story built, I'm just adding flesh now. I'm just interested in hearing peoples thoughts, not really have them build the whole story for me. I've only given information about the characters in raw form, for the sake of preserving my own story.
    And I don't personally see anything wrong with discussing broad subjects with others. As a college graduate, that's all education is about. Discussing subjects as a manner of helping induce a moment of clarity and discover something. I enjoy offering up advice to other writers as a way of helping them run across the same discovery.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
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  16. T.S. Wieland

    T.S. Wieland New Member

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    Very true. I know sometimes flaws can be hidden within character qualities, so that might be an interesting approach.
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, yes, brainstorming does work for some people, and provides not only ideas but enthusiasm as well. And maybe connections the writer hadn't thought about.

    I just worry (and it wasn't easy to tell from your OP) about writers who can't seem to move ahead with a story unless other people tell them what THEY think the story should contain, or what a romance should be like, etc. These writers get good at writing somebody else's ideas, but not so good at generating their own from scratch and developing them to where they work.

    However, if you're already far down that path, know what your characters' romance will be like and just looking to get a discussion about romance writing going, then fair enough. More power to your arm! :) It's fun to talk about stuff like this.
     
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