1. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

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    Writing an Immortal Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Andi. Just Andi., Nov 10, 2018.

    As you can tell from the title, I'm writing an immortal character. However, I'm trying to take a different route from the usual "Being immortal is suffering!". Though that will be the character's mindset at first, I plan to eventually have Corvus (the immortal character) find some form of happiness and satisfaction with his life.

    So, any advice?
     
  2. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society

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    Having other immortal characters exist is an easy way to make them feel better. Being alone is often a cited con to immortality, but you can get around that if there's a bunch of them.
    Another key factor of immortality that is portrayed as a disadvantage is the idea of not being able to die in peace. Now this is going to depend on how your 'immortality' works. Namely, can your character actually die? Are they truly unkillable, or do they just not die of old age? Because if they can die, that may provide them with some solace that eventually they'll either be killed, or they could kill themselves if they live long enough.

    In the case of my WIP character Jade, who is a vampire, she both has other immortal/ageless friends and knows one way or another she will eventually die and she has the option if it comes to that, so that helps her be okay with it all.
     
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  3. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    Definitely having others is the first step.
    It would also depend on the circumstances. One way in which immortality is portrayed as bad is through the circumstances it is lived in. E.g. being made a monster, eternal pain, heavy isolation from society ex cetera. This emphasises that immortality then becomes a prison, particularly because the immortality is usually connected directly to the negative circumstances like with some vampire portrayals were the moral struggle "I'm a monster!" and isolation from society aspects directly arise from the same thing keeping them alive. If you portray it as working out better and not being connected to curses or evil blood rituals to stay alive at any cost then it's already a much more appealing condition than many of the worst portrayals. How does it affect things like memory, emotion and sanity? That's one issue that should be dealt with. Some portrayals suggest immortality itself is eventually a mental strain not only for loss of loved ones but also the sheer weight of living so long, going through all that you do and your brain having too process that. if you portray the mind as being able to handle it that would make it work. Although simply ignoring any mental strain would be fairly boring because most portrayals don't deal with that issue very much. I'd be interesting to see it mentioned and have an impact but be dealt with and subverted.
     
  4. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

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    I just finished a book about an immortal character. The year of our war by Steph Swainston. There are many immortal characters beside the protagonist. The tension comes from being able to lose and gain immortality. Also there is only ever 50 immortals at one time. It’s a good read if your interested.

    For suggestions for writing, try to make it so there is some cost or price for immortality. Or have the protagonists significant other be mortal. Try to avoid huge time jumps. Maybe? Also immortality doesn’t mean the character in question can’t be killed or injured. Try to humanize him as much as possible. I think an immortal x mortal romance would be interesting. Living out their happy days till the wife becomes old and sick. Dealing with his loss after the fact, and remembering the memories they shared.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
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  5. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I always thought amnesia would be an interesting route. The details would have to be worked out but it might be a temporary / repeatable means of circumventing the suffering of immortality.

    As a spirit or being you can be reborn in many different times, as many different people. Your human form is mortal but you are immortal.

    Alan Watts said something that I think could be related to this. I'm very loosely paraphrasing: "Life is a dream. Imagine you, the universe, could dream any life that it wanted to and could live that dream. But after a while you got bored of it because you knew what would happen, so you decided to do something exciting. You dream a life in which you have no idea what will happen."

    He describes existence - that would be us and the universe all collectively as one - playing hide and go seek with itself. Eventually the game comes to an end and we figure out that we were chasing our timeless selves all along. And then we start a new amnesia-induced game of hide and go seek.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
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  6. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think what interests me about the idea of immortality (in a world where mortals generally do die) is that you would likely lose connectedness with things, people, places, etc. Nothing lasts but YOU. Lovers come and go, places grow, flourish and decay, etc. The kinds of things that normal humans invest in (like relationships, homes, causes, etc) that give their lives meaning would simply not work for an immortal. They would need to come up with a whole different way to look at their lives.

    One way that might work is if the immortal could occasionally have a memory wipe. That way, everything would be new to them, and they could enjoy things again for the first time. They could be aware that they've had or are going to have a memory wipe—or not.
     
  7. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I have a few vampires in my paranormal urban legends thing, which is sort of my runner-up for WIP, and one of them in particular deals with this, Alexa Ravatko. She's changed her exact role and identity now and again over time, but maintains a certain continuity of life, that supports continuity of internal self, through her sirelings, which she especially views as family.
     
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  8. DeeDee

    DeeDee Senior Member

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    You could dwell a bit on the reasons he's happy. Your readers will definitely do. Tolkien's elves were immortal in the sense that they outlived humans but they concerned themselves mostly with their own affairs and humans thought they were a bit aloof. When one elfin woman fell in love with a human and decided to give up her longevity, that was considered a bad thing in the elfin community because for elves humans were not worth it. Now, from our human perspective such thinking is bad because humans think they should be respected etc. So the elves were happy with their lives but humans thought that's not what life should be about. Humans would think that a person who's not concerned with the woes of the world is not a very good person. A rich person living in their castle, happy and peaceful while the world around them burns would not be respected, from a human point of view. The happy, rich, unconcerned person will be considered selfish. Your character may be happy but how would others see him? That's something to think about when creating your story.
     
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  9. Nariac

    Nariac Active Member

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    Give them some sort of goal which only being immortal can help them achieve.

    Such as founding an interstellar empire. Bringing order to the galaxy. Terraforming planets. Reading the entirety of the Wheel of Time series.

    That sort of thing.
     
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  10. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

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    Not so much an advice, just an idea (well two) that may or may not fit your story/plot.

    Going to toss something in here that is [somewhat] rarely done (especially as a main protagonist) and might be an interesting premise. Simply put, make them a psychopath/sociopath (anti-social behavior). Have them simply not care for human or human relationship as a base feature. This might occur since they are immortals, standard 'mortal' lifes are not worth his attention. It makes sense to me anyway.

    Also, I reckon if he is immortally old he would most likely become bery bored with certain activities and might become a thrill-seeker (or at least whatever passes for a thrill for that character).
     
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  11. LordWarGod

    LordWarGod Banned

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    Imagine a character that has longed to travel throughout the universe, longed to meet aliens, discover new worlds and possibly even go beyond this universe or dimension. You could have him travel with a race of super-advanced aliens who might be venturing to leave the universe and your story could be about the incredible wonders of what he sees and experiences. This advice comes from my personal desire to be completely immortal, meaning I couldn't be destroyed or harmed in any way, I don't require food, water, an atmosphere or oxygen. This is so I could explore the universe, meet aliens and discover everything there is to know about everything that exists. I wouldn't wallow about the cons of being immortal, I would likely be so happy and relaxed, knowing I have an infinity ahead of me to do whatever I like.

    If this universe was going to be destroyed either by entropy or heat death then I would try to find an alien civilization that would try to leave before that happened, perhaps to an alternate dimension or reality, maybe even exist in a 4-D or 5-D world. Maybe I'll discover that there are an infinite universes, all with different rules, colors, smells, celestial objects, physics and so on. The possibilities are endless and as an immortal, you have access to every single one of those endless possibilities.

    It would be incredible to be immortal, all you'd need to do is wait for your civilization to reach the technological level required for interstellar or deep space travel and the universe is yours. Just think of the life one would have when they learn to live differently, being an immortal human doesn't mean you have to continue living like one. Of course, there would be periods that would be seriously boring but perhaps a solution to all of that would be to just purposefully sedate yourself for centuries and wake up to see what's going on at that time and if it's an exciting time for you to live in. Then there's the issue of human civilization going to utter shit, nuclear war, you end up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where you're doomed to roam the desolate world for at least a few million years until something interesting comes along.

    I'd imagine as an immortal, I would actively do anything I could to prevent human civilization from going down that kind of route. I'd likely go on every news channel in the world and publicly announce my immortal status, I'd make sure everybody knew about me and my whereabouts. I'd be willing to give blood samples to scientists, I'd be willing to do anything to help humans to advance in medical science, who knows? Perhaps with my blood or genetic material, they could use it to prolong the lives of mortals indefinitely, that would be an incredible breakthrough in science. Government kidnapping would be wholly difficult when you have the entire world's eyes on you and your status, as soon as you disappeared, the world would start asking questions and search for you. That's not something any government would want, imagine the PR fallout from something like that.

    Alright, I've written too much. I admit this is my #1 dream in life, nothing would make me happier than this gift.
     
  12. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

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    Since I don't want to take forever in making multiple posts for each one of you who have helped me, I'll try to cut it down by replying to you all in one big post.

    So firstly @DK3654 & @Oscar Leigh, that sounds like a really good idea! You see, the reason why Corvus is immortal in the first place is because he made a deal with a goddess, the Feathered Goddess, in exchange for protection. He would work as one of her White Crows, a group of assistances for lack of better words who go about the world enacting her will. At first, I was going to have him be the only one working as a White Crow. I've never thought of having a group of them until now, but that might be great for having a sort of consistent, support group for Corvus to meet up with at any time. So, thank you both for these ideas!

    Furthermore, @Spirit of seasons, a cost I have set up in exchange for Corvus's immortality is his own identity. What if Corvus wasn't his original name, but a name given to him by the Feathered Goddess? However, there are a few issues with that that deal with Corvus's past and the reason as to why he needs protection. I could discuss it further with you if you'd like, but I must warn that it is a long explanation.

    So, @Foxxx & @jannert , amnesia and memory wiping sounds like an interesting idea to add. I'll have to think about it more and I can't say that it will definitely happen, but there is a possibility.

    @DeeDee & @Nariac, that is definitely something to consider. So far, I was thinking Corvus's goal much later on is to just prevent gods, humans, and so on from doing stupid things that could wreck the world or any of its civilizations. However, if anyone did know about this purpose, how do you think people would feel about it?

    @Necronox , I won't give this personality to Corvus. However, I may or may not give this personality to another one of the White Crows.

    @LordWarGod, I definitely share this dream. It would be fascinating to spend as much time as I wanted exploring the universe and gaining infinite knowledge without any consequences. Well, maybe I'd explore the ocean first and conquer my fear of it. But, guess we'll have to deal what time we have. . .for now, at least.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
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  13. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Senior Member

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    I gave my immortal character a harem and really a lot of money. It cheered him right up.
     
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  14. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

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    Heh, not really my thing. But, good luck with that.
     
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  15. Nariac

    Nariac Active Member

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    @Andi. Just Andi.

    I have an immortal character in my series. Well, several actually, but some die. (they're immortal, not invincible) One of the usual downsides to being immortal is you have to see everyone you ever like or love die, all the time, over and over. So, you're lonely. In my series though, immortality is hereditary, even if one of the parents is mortal. (because the immortality gene is dominant - it's a survival trait and can be passed on) So one of the things that makes immortality bearable in my series is that the character isn't doomed to be alone forever, they can have a family.

    Of course, when your children are also immortal, are you creating a loving family, or potential rivals? But that's a different topic ... :p
     
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  16. Amarin Reyny

    Amarin Reyny New Member

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    I hope this helps...

    In our story, while there is no such thing as true immortality (i.e. there is no way to die), we have some characters who are immune to age, either through using various means to halt the aging process in their own bodies, or through having been created by someone else with the intent that they never die. One of the characters in the story (and a member of our DID system), who goes by the name ga'Eid Kemerre (see below), is someone who falls into the latter category - he was created by a demigod-like being in order to serve a purpose, and like other beings created by this demigod-like being, he did not age. He also didn't realize until much later that he didn't age, so he didn't really begin with the mindset of a being who expected to live forever or for a very long time. However, once he accepted the idea that he was immune to age, his mind started to adjust to it. He slowly grew to accept the fact that, unless he died of some other means, he would outgrow everyone he ever got close to, but he also started to see those people less as fixtures in his life and more as events that came and went. So long as the time they shared together was happy, and he didn't have any other regrets with them, he could accept their death.

    Of course... most of the people he got close to didn't have such a good time. When those closest to him ended up getting killed rather painfully in a series of events that he was not present to prevent (he was dealing with some of his own issues at the time), he blamed himself for their deaths, thinking that he was selfish for doing his own thing instead of being there with them and doing something - anything - to prevent their deaths. He wasn't sad because they died, but he felt guilty because he felt like they didn't have to die the way they did, and he carried that guilt with him for a very long time.

    Another thing about him, which you might find interesting, given your idea of Corvus losing his identity in exchange for immortality, is that ga'Eid was created by someone who wanted to use him for a particular purpose, but never told what that purpose was or otherwise given any information at all. Instead, he was simply left in a field near where he was supposed to fulfill his duties, with no knowledge other than how to speak the local language and a strange compulsion to investigate the local fascist uprising for some unknown reason (which freaked him out, and caused him to try to do anything *but* what he was mysteriously compelled to do, because he didn't like the idea of some mysterious invisible will controlling his life). ga'Eid even had to come up with a name for himself because he didn't know his own name - because he didn't know or feel any attachment to where he was, he decided to lay low and not draw any attention to himself, until he saw some people who looked and sounded like they weren't from the area he was in, and after they left, decided to come up with a name that sounded like maybe it could be from where they were from, or somewhere else in that general direction, to excuse the fact that he had no history in the current area. As time went on, ga'Eid eventually figured out that he was likely created to serve someone else's purposes, given that he had no history from before the time he mysteriously woke up in a field, he had a mysterious compulsion to investigate something he had no prior knowledge of, and his body never seemed to age, appearing to be 20-something even after he had outlived his species' normal lifespan by hundreds of years. He decided to make it one of his goals to try to find whoever created him, both to gain closure, and do whatever he could to liberate himself from whatever influence or control his creator had over him.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018 at 3:40 PM
  17. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

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    For that, I would say that depends on what your MC likes or appreciates in life. As well, how do you see immortality? What rules exist on your world about it? If there are no rules, how did he got it? Maybe your MC had everything in life and that caused him to be immortal. Despite he enjoys his immortality, make him lose something very important to him. But not straight away. Give the reader he is very happy with his immortality to enjoy every moment, but confronting with other characters, he may be a threat. Maybe he has an important component that could save lives? Perhaps his friends are not so friendly but desire his immortality as well? Could it be that your MC is actually selfish? I hope this helps :)
     
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  18. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

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    @Nariac - First, sorry I couldn't respond sooner! Second, I guess the concept of immortality in my world is similar to yours in how my characters are immortal but not invincible because that would be too easy. However, I won't make it hereditary, unless it's under special circumstances.

    @Amarin Reyny - Thank you for your very helpful comment! I like the way ga'Eid see's people as more of events, something passing by rather than something that is permanently there. But, a question I have is was there ever anyone that went beyond the category of an event, at last during the time they were around? Additionally, reading about ga'Eid has made me want to take the identity exchange further actually. Like, I don't just mean take away his name and whatever else he has on him. I mean, his memories, culture, traditions, everything, leaving him a blank slate.

    @LoaDyron - That's a brilliant idea! What if in the past, Corvus was pretty selfish and that's why he makes this deal for immortality in the first place? As for losing something, he loses his identity, but he also loses people who are close to him.
     
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  19. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

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    "@LoaDyron - That's a brilliant idea! What if in the past, Corvus was pretty selfish and that's why he makes this deal for immortality in the first place? As for losing something, he loses his identity, but he also loses people who are close to him."

    I am glad my idea gave you another perspective to make your MC more interesting. Make him suffer! Test his limits! Be mean to your MC :p
     
  20. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

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    Though, I'm also thinking about making his current self selfish, but to a lesser degree than his past self. But, for what reason? I don't want it to be because there's still some remnants of his former self though. Maybe he has so little control over his life that being selfish makes him feel in control, at least for a little while?
     
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  21. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

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    Yeah, I understand. You can try that idea. Write about and see if it fits. If not, I will suggest to investigate psychology and see what makes people selfish or be selfish. Again it doesn't necessarily mean he has to have a tragic past. Perhaps your MC was already selfish but it was so blind that, as you had told me on your comment, end up losing people important on his life. At that time for him was like trash, but little by little he understands that those people who he lost, let's say his trust, no more desires to be with him. Again, make him suffer his consequences. Make him grow for good or bad, is up to you :). Have fun writing :D
     
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  22. Andi. Just Andi.

    Andi. Just Andi. Active Member

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    Perfect! I would also like to add that I've actually made a change to the White Crow thing. The only way to become a White Crow is to be such a trash person and commit the most heinous crimes. Therefore, along with becoming a White Crow as a consequence of his selfishness, Corvus also lost whatever friends and family he had. But, it would make sense that the reason for him still being selfish in his current life is because he has little control over his life. Instead, the Feathered Goddess has almost total control over him.
     
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  23. Legolas

    Legolas New Member

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    The movie Hancock with Will Smith did great with a memory wipe for a immortal. It left him wondering what kind of person he was before, and to maybe try and be a better person. he still struggled with becoming the better person, but he tried in his own way.
     
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  24. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

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    I just started reading the second book by steph Swainston “No Present like Time.” It has the same protagonist, Jant. I’ll see how it is.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018 at 3:40 AM

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