1. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    Would you contribute to my character? Need personal experience

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Arsel, Dec 21, 2019.

    Hi, I'm writing an epic fantasy. My favourite character is called Telmas, and a long time ago, he suffered a great tragedy.
    Telmas is a prince, and his House was invaded by a rival. In this process his little sister Jhala was killed, a sweet girl who he loved more than anything else in the world. These two had a connection the likes of which few can imagine.
    Telmas has the ability to travel back in time, but only to a certain point in time and space, which he can set. He can always set a new point, but never travel to one he had set further back in time.
    So Telmas travels to his timestamp again and again, trying to save Jhala. But he set it in a distant country and he has to race to arrive in time. Over the course of hundreds of resets, he has virtually exercised his journey to perfection, but he always fails, sometimes coming within seconds of success. This becomes an obsession.
    Eventually, he confesses to his brother Tenoch after another failed attempt, who coerces him into setting his timestamp. This means the opportunity to save Jhala is gone for good.
    Telmas is left utterly broken, resentful towards his brother for stopping him (although Tenoch was trying to help) and resentful at himself for failing. His hatred for the attackers is seething. The world has lost its colour, and truly no feeling can ever compare to the warmth and love he felt for his sister.

    Now my question: do you know any people who have been severely traumatised? What are some ways you might act or think after experiencing such profound sadness? I know this might be a sensitive topic, but I believe that especially sensitive topics should be expored in literature, and I want to do it justice. Any thoughts you have, please post!:bigsmile:
     
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  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Banned Contributor

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    My dog died a couple of months. It was extremely disturbing since I had
    her since she was a puppy. She was sick, and as things got worse she started
    having seizures and vomiting. And the hardest thing was to watch her finally
    leave. She was so weak, and I tried to get her to eat and drink. She had another
    seizure and threw up, before gasping her last shallow breaths. It still hurts to think
    about it, and it was and is so still surreal that even after she passed, I called out her
    name, hoping that it wasn't true. I felt like a helpless child, unsure of what to do,
    and extremely unsettled by the experience.

    It took a good long while to stop looking around the house for her, and coming to
    the realization that I will never be able to hold her or snuggle her like a teddy bear
    anymore. Its like you have to try and come to the realization that they are actually
    gone, no matter how difficult it is to have to let them go. :(
    (I am still not over her death, just coping with it better.) :superfrown:
     
  3. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    Thanks for your story, this approximates the state of mind I'm trying to capture. I wish your dog happiness in dog-heaven :)
     
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  4. Madman

    Madman Senior Member

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    I believe people react in different ways.
    When I lost a loved one a long time ago I also lost a lot of memories surrounding the event. To this day I still can not remember the weeks and months surrounding their death. It felt as though it wasn't real, just a nightmare that would not stop. As time went on I became apathetic about life in general, as though it had lost meaning and purpose. I remember being very social and happy prior to the event, afterwards I was withdrawn and did not want to spend time with people. I greeted life like a chore. I stopped celebrating things I should have been proud of, because one of the persons I loved was not there to see it. Their death affected me deeply, and perhaps I'm just an overly sensitive person, but I really lost interest in life for a very long time. This person's death became a shadow that stalked me every day.

    It wasn't just the realisation that one beloved had passed, it was also the realisation that everyone you will ever love is going to die. This contributed to my social withdraw, I never wanted to feel that kind of pain again.

    Before the event you heard about death all the time, but you just didn't think about it that much. Afterwards, death, in a way, became life.

    Anyhow, life is full of trauma for most people, this was one of many events that have helped shape me into who I am, a person I am somewhat content with. I just can't understand those who suffer and suffer and can just live as though nothing happened, make careers, become successful, seemingly unphased by their torment.

    I am very open, so if you want to know more, ask!
     
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  5. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    I'm sorry. I find solace in reading about characters who have suffered this pain, and I want mine to be of this kind.
    Did you refind your purpose? What brought you back to the "light"?
    As someone who has experienced this, what advice could you give for realizing Telmas on the page? What might be a common mistake to avoid when writing this kind of character?

    To provide a little context:
    Telmas is used to having the ability to fix every problem, due to his powers. So aside from losing his soulmate, he experiences profound helplessness for the first time. Initially, he tries to kill himself but fails out of guilt that his family would suffer another loss. In a strange way, this makes him resent them even more, as they are the reason he cannot find peace.
    Over the course of the book, Telmas comes to terms with his brother's decision (although a small irrational part of him still hates Tenoch for it). Tenoch is not good at showing emotions and giving appreciative gestures, so their relationship remains strained.
    He distances himself from everyone including his betrothed, who desperately tries to revitalize him, but Telmas is too afraid to ever reach out for love again.
    Eventually he meets Arsel, the young MC of my book, who at this point has also been through a tragedy of his own. They go through a lot together, and within the scared and beaten young boy, who used to be full of energy and vigor, he sees himself and his own grief mirrored. The thought of a child having to go through the hell he went through fills him with mental clarity. He decides that he has to find joy and purpose in life again, if not for himself, then maybe only to prove to Arsel that it is possible.

    Anything you can tell that might be helpful, I'm happy to hear!
     
  6. Madman

    Madman Senior Member

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    It didn't happen over night, but I eventually became tired of my own sorrow. Why was I beating on myself so much for something I couldn't change? I chose to turn my thoughts around and to embrace the good in life when I could. I also fell in love, which helped turn things around. But for me, I have never been able to fully heal from this. I had to accept life as it is.

    You have a lot of power to do as you wish here. People react differently to things. The person I lost was most likely not killed, but it was never a complete certainty, at least not for me.
    I have had other loved ones suffer at the hands of others, so for me, the thought of vengeance for Jhala would occupy my soul quiet a lot. I would think of some rather medieval and macabre ways to punish those responsible, and not just physically. I would think of taking away their family as well, and go further than they did. This is why violence breeds more violence. I am afraid I would not be strong enough to forgive anyone. And if power kept me from finding retribution, I would become rather miserable. And if I did find retribution, I would not necessarily be happy either. But that's just me.

    Generally time can feel like a monster in these situations. It just keeps chugging on while you just want to pause to figure out what has happened. Life continues despite your sorrows. Your loved one will miss out on so much that life has to offer, and your senses will ring alarm bells every time they aren't there for some occasion. A missing person in the room, always.

    What has sometimes raised my eyebrows is how the heroes and heroines in some stories lose people left and right, yet carry on as though they were complete sociopaths. I get the feeling by what you have written so far, that you will not make that mistake. If it is a mistake?
    I am consciously guilty of this phenomenon in some parts of my own works, oddly enough.

    I was never suicidal, though, so unlike Telmas, I could not put blame on my family for not finding peace. For us the loss brought the surviving family much closer together. But the death became taboo to talk about within the family. Like everyone was carrying a wound that no one wanted to reopen. Only later did we become more open about it.

    Regarding helplessness, that is something you can use. I never felt so helpless and powerless as when the loss became reality. You go back and rethink what you could have done differently to save the person. For a short period I also blamed myself for the person's death. I later understood how irrational that was. But for Telmas, who has powers, it must be utterly devastating.

    Your portrayal of Telmas and Tenoch's relationship seem believable.

    If I was Telmas, speaking to a Arsel, I would try to iterate the importance of not distancing yourself from others, and to embrace love and relationships. I would try to make Arsel understand how important it is to still love the world. Of course, if I was Arsel hearing those words of encouragement, they would fall deaf on a numb soul. It takes time to come to grasp with the reality of a bad event.

    You seem to have a good understanding of the whole thing. As an author, you also have the ability to play around with your characters emotions quiet a lot without it seeming unbelievable.
     
  7. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    Phenomenal reply, thank you. Telmas is wise and knows that revenge will not relieve his grief, but the way you've described this feeling of vengeance so viscerally makes me revisit this concept. I might highlight the inner dialogue more, the primal force within that calls for retribution battling that which calls for rationality and right.

    As for Arsel, he will actually be rejuvenated quickly, since he is incredibly resilient and his hedonic setpoint is pretty high. He still is, after all, a silly young teen with too much energy. The roles quickly inverse, with Arsel pushing Telmas to stop "gloomying" all the time because "adults have no right to gloom":supergrin:(he doesn't realize how much Telmas has helped him)

    I'm really grateful for what you've shared and how eloquently you've done so, will surely revisit this thread when writing key scenes! Wish you all the hapiness and love you didn't deserve to lose.
     
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  8. madhoca

    madhoca Contributor Contributor

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    I've had 2 traumatising experiences in my life. Each time the news struck me it felt like my body was boiling hot. It took several weeks for that feeling to gradually fade away. Also, I couldn't sleep, although on a couple of occasions I dropped off for a few minutes and then jerked awake totally disoriented and babbling nonsense. So what I'm saying is, it was an overwhelming physical response at first, I didn't have any coherent thoughts.
     
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  9. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    Interesting. I've reacted to trauma totally different before. For Telmas, I had insomnia, weakness and more propensity for illness planned, but no other physical manifestations of the pain. Will consider this.
     
  10. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    `I turned very destructive. Out of control. I felt like a caged animal and everything in my life seemed a reminder of the prison I was in. A lot of that anger and rage still exists inside me. The poem Do not go gentle into the good night expresses it well. https://poets.org/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night here it is for you. Deep down however, deeper underneath the rage was the longing for something beautiful. And the enchantment with the beautiful was so intense that a belief rises in the consciousness that nothing would be as good as this is. This belief fuels the enchantment further and the other person becomes the epitome of beauty. So, the real thing is how beautiful the initial relationship, the initial bond was. You are creating a lot of mystery around it. It'd better be something good, I daresay something transcendental.

    The destructiveness can be expressed in this person destroying everything valuable in his life, relationships, objects, memories. He can turn to hurting anything beautiful he comes across, in case you intend him to go psychotic.
     
  11. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    My trauma over the loss of a loved one would make for a very boring book. I couldn’t do anything but work eat and sleep. I would pull my ten-hour days at work come home, eat dinner, and go to bed only to do the same thing the next day. This went on for months as I gradually turned around. That’s when I realized I had stopped drinking all that time.
     
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  12. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    This put the fear of God into me, as I have a sixteen year old dog, who is becoming sickly and it's only a matter of time. Keeps getting reoccurring infections we just can't get rid of. It's so heart breaking and I'm sorry for your loss. Not looking forwards to it myself as I've had her almost sixteen years.

    Okay, now the question. People deal with things in their own way and no two people are the same when it comes to reactions. Three years ago my Dad died. We were extremely close. I lived with him and was taking care of him and it was becoming extremely difficult and exhausting. I did this for 5 years as well as looked after my Mother for two when she had bad bipolar. So when my Dad died I was so burnt out. For the first three months - nothing. I didn't cry, I carried on with my life as though nothing had happened. I felt great. On top of the world. I felt so free and relaxed. No having to feed someone. No having to get up half way through the night because they'd had an accident in bed and needed cleaning up. Then, after his funeral, it just hit me like a tidal wave. And I went into such a deep depression that I hardly even remember the net 6 months. The doctor said I'd had a mental breakdown. It took two years for me to function like a normal person again. Thankfully I did nothing I might regret as it was my Mum's turn to look after me. But it could have gotten myself in money trouble if she hadn't been there. The human mind can only take so much, until it cannot take anymore. It was just this crushing sensation. I lost track of time, days and months would fly by. I kept going into my own head and forgetting everything around me like the bath I was running or the food I was attempting to cook. Mt doctor ended up writing me off work after my boss called him self as she was so concerned.

    It's a vert hard mental state to explain to anyone is you've never been through extreme grief or trauma. Because you're feelings are different to other people's.

    Hope that helped x
     
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  13. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Banned Contributor

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    :friend:
     
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  14. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    My heart goes out to you cosmic lights.
    I know there are many times the caretaker dies first, because of all the stress. I personally know of six instances.
    I’m not sure how you would write it in the narrative except to show your own feelings.
     
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  15. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    To much time has passed for him to still burn with rage, but you've explained this longing for beauty I want him to feel perfectly. As to how beautiful the initial relationship was... as beautiful as my authorial skills allow :)
    No, he does not go psychotic, since he is still supported by people who love him and he has always had high mental stability.
     
  16. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    It has helped, thank you! This aspect of first being unaffected and then getting smashed by your sorrow like a train is sort of present in the book, and confirmed by your story. Telmas travels to his timestamp hundreds and hundreds of times, and during this process he is focused entirely on saving her, has no room for grief. At some point, he becomes somewhat desensitized, as seeing your sister die the 13th time just doesn't hit you like it did the first time. Once the window of possibility is gone, that's when he's filled with true realization of what has happened, and he descends into darkness and despair.
     
  17. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    Actually, this is precisely the current state Telmas finds himself in, sort of meanlessly surviving (This is some years after the fact). I don't think your kind of trauma would make for a boring book at all! Otherwise I might have a problem:blech:
     
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  18. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    I find this thread very compelling. I have an MC who will lose his lovers and flee the spiritual connection he still has with them until he understands it. He will turn to drink and use women (who also use him) before a certain special one wakes him up, like his first lovers did. Then he will understand his incredible perception of the Swirl and know why he was given his talisman. His perceptions are powers, and come with tremendous responsibilities he will devote his life to fulfill. In so doing, he will find his lost lovers again.
     
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  19. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

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    Happy to hear!
    Your polygamous approach to fantasy is refreshing, but personally, I definitely like the monogamous vibe more. Both will be in my book, however.
     
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  20. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Monogamy was his dearest hope. Didn't work out that way. So it was foretold.
    Tis a bit of Zen-New-Age drama rather than fantasy. I'll try that next time. :D
     

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