1. Arsel

    Arsel Member

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    writing immortal characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Arsel, Jan 7, 2020.

    Hey,
    I've seen in a recent post that a lot of people here write immortal/ancient characters.
    Who is your ancient character, what are they like?
    How do you approach the writing of a character who has experienced multiple lifetimes? I'm most interested in how you shaped their psychology and philosophy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
  2. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

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    To my ancient/immortal characters, it's not multiple lifetimes - they are wired to live that long, therefore it's normal to them. They don't get maudlin about how all their friends are dead. They usually don't form attachments to regular mortals, except to great heroes or characters of note. They tend to speak about such characters as if they knew them yesterday - because to them, it was more or less yesterday.

    Most of those kinds of characters use a very stilted and stylised manner of speech as well.
     
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  3. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Banned

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    So,

    The first set are the deity that governed the planet where my story take place, and take a semi-active roll in the development of its people. They try to let events happened but will also interfere when they deem it necessary. Usually in the form of Reviving people who are key to events.

    There are three tiers, the Prime, Lesser and Guardians.

    Most of the societies have developed their cultures around the prime and lesser deities. With specific traits, occupations and even elements assigned to them. Thus, colleges founded in accordance

    The next group, are the Immortals or champions for one of the primary or lesser deities.

    Some where former Mortals, who the deities bestowed immortality on in exchange for Eternal service. Thus, carrying out their will on the planet.

    However, one of the Immortals was punished with immortality after she resurrected the Dead. Another one was one of those Undead, however was resurrected by one of the Prime deities.

    It's also believed that someone can ascend to the status of a lesser deity if they have performed great Deeds on the planet and stood out as a champion. Mostly my MCs, LOL!

    So basically, almost all my MC become immortal at some point. Becoming a lesser deity. That way I can use them in other stories, though they never return to the planet. At least not yet

    Edit: oh yeah, and one of the immortal champions is actually a Demon Dragonkin. He was supposed to become a lesser deity, but got dragged into hell and corrupted. One of the Primes, pulled him out of hell and made him his Immortal champion due to his ability to transverse the Mortal Realm
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2020
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  4. SolZephyr

    SolZephyr Member Supporter

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    I like these kinds of threads. They're both an excuse to talk about my stories and an exercise in presenting concepts and reinforcing my own understanding of my characters and lore. I just hope that the wall of text below isn't too much.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I have three (four?) types of "immortal" beings in my current series -- corrupted, fiends, and seitti (and in a sense prifae).

    The corrupted are normal people who were transformed in various ways and given immortality at the cost of being labeled as villains. The only major characters of this type in my WIP are a "young" couple who are trying to take advantage of a recent revolution to reclaim something of a normal life once again. They struggle with the habits they’ve developed over lifetimes of having to live as “monsters”, but they are trying their best to put their pasts behind them.

    Fiends are artificial creations made to serve various roles. I don't have any in major roles in my WIP, but generally they are cold and detached as they were created for specific purposes.

    The seitti are pretty much gods from the perspective of my characters. The only one who plays an active role in my WIP views mortals and the other types of immortals as disposable. She cares only about the bigger picture as it pertains to her and her own creations. She is like a mother who wants the best for her children and will purposefully sabotage other kids to make sure hers come out ahead... if children were literal worlds. She has this personality because she's been invested in her own worlds for so long she simply doesn't consider the well-being of other worlds anymore, and certainly not the well-being of individuals.

    And to cover all bases, prifae aren't technically immortal, but they exist on a different space of reality than most of my characters. When they appear in the world of my WIP, they can't truly be harmed, giving the illusion of immortality. The one in my WIP takes advantage of this, but otherwise she's no different than writing any other mortal character as the effects of extreme longevity don't play any part in her personality.
     
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  5. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    Most of my 'immortal theory' comes from watching Adrian Paul's Highlander when I was a kid. Good memories...except the last season, that was just weird.

    The way I see it, there are four kinds of immortals in a 'short' timeline, which here means 'under ten thousand years'.
    • The Elders. They've been around basically forever, probably even predating mortals. They're very powerful, whatever that means for their universe, and probably don't really care about humans. They're dispensable. They're interchangeable. One is just as good as another, and they're not going to be around long enough to give a damn about individually. Some of them do care about mortals collectively, and some are so assured of their own godhood that they don't.
    • The Mid-life Immortal. These guys are usually the equivalent of a thousand years or so old, and they've seen empires rise and fall. They know how to get out of Dodge, and they know how to blend in. They're usually stupid rich, because they did the 'poor' thing when it was cool back in Italy in '55--that's 1455, btw--and they just want some creature comforts. They have a range of personalities, and most of them are still dating mortals occasionally because it's fun.
    • The Young Immortal, pt. 1. Like Duncan McLeod, this 400-600 year old immortal is still in love with life itself. They're not bored, but they know enough about themselves to not fear changing financial weather. So what if everything they have burns down? They'll live. They always have. Sure, they experience trauma, and they're arguably human in emotions and respond as such, but there's a sense of constancy in the years that normal humans don't have the benefit of. Some of them care more about mortals than others, but most of them have a sense of Right And Wrong that they try to abide by. A mortal is inherently less important than their own life, but they try not to take unnecessary life.
    • The Young Immortal, pt. 2. This guy was a jackass before he was immortal, and he sees no reason why that should change now that he's literally better than these shitstain mortals that surround him. Mortals are simply cattle to this jerk.

    My own immortals range in lifespan from 'you see that dirt? i knew its dad before he got married' to 'old enough to remember things the galaxy has forgotten, he just doesn't give a shit anymore.' The true immortals were born shortly after time began, during a mini-apocalypse, and that was roughly 20 to 30k years ago. They remember enough of it to get by, and their personalities run the gamut of human emotion. Some date them, just for the lulz; some avoid them, because they literally only cause problems.

    I think the thing to remember when writing immortals is that the older a person gets, the more they get set in their ways. That's not *necessarily* to say more stubborn, specifically, but that does generally happen. A good person, unless they have their worldview torn to shreds intentionally by a Big Bad, will get gooder and gooder until they die. However, their definition of 'good' will change depending on circumstance. (see: harry dresden and his problems with burning buildings down) A bad person will remain evil, and get better at it, until someone hits them with a big enough stick to recalibrate their alignment. Someone who is more neutral might stay firmly neutral, or they might pick a side depending on what happens to them. The way they fall might not even depend on the circumstance, but whether they got up on the wrong side of bed that day.

    An immortal will collect their personality traits and wield them as sword and shield, both; the older they get, the stronger their offense and the stronger their defense.
     
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  6. Damage718

    Damage718 Member

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    Not exactly ancient, but I just began writing a short where the two children of wealthy parents are (possibly) immortal, or at least given an extended life.

    There were rumors that the family had dabbled in witchcraft and other arcane acts to achieve their wealth, and nearly 100 years after the prologue the two children surface in another town but have remained the same age. I'm trying to be somewhat ambiguous on the details, only showing the reader that somehow the kids (and possibly the parents) have managed to elude death. They do have a purpose, something they're trying to achieve, but the reasons why are something I'm just starting to play with. It's a short, so I'm trying not to be stuck in showing too little, or too much.
     
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  7. MissBadWolf

    MissBadWolf Banned

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    I know that immortality can really get family trees messed up. In my current story, my MC’s roommate is her aunt but at the same time younger than my MC.
    Another thing that confuses the family tree in the stories is that some characters when they die, they do not stay dead but get reinvented and sometimes to become the opposite gender. I would go more into it but I need to get off the phone and get to work.
     
  8. Elbron J. Eramia

    Elbron J. Eramia New Member

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    Love the search for psychology and philosophy behind immoral characters...

    Though not ancient, Claude Frollo from Disney's HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME is who I sometimes go back to for developing ANY immoral character. While he's ruthless to Quasimodo, he's also suffering from lust and guilt of not living up to be a godly or moral-man. Even as an animated character, he's a prime example of how to humanize immoral characters, using their own sense of morality, flaws, and inner desires.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    EDITED just realized I mistook immortal for immoral...oops!

    Took go with it still (and to add a spin), Claude Frollo's values and flaws are timeless emotions that speak to the human condition. Since his character also goes back to the 1800s in the original novel by Victor Hugo, he still manages to personify his values within a film medium, and with church scandals having made their way recently in the news, such characters are still timeless.

    Here's an article I ran into that might get further to understanding the psychology of immortal characters often found in myths: https://industrialscripts.com/archetypes-of-characters/
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  9. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Banned

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    Ummm... Immortal not immoral.

    Though one on Immoral characters could be started as well.
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, for me anyway, the immoral angle is more interesting to discuss than 'immortal.' Largely because immorality exists, while immortality doesn't seem to. :) At least Woody Allen's version: "I plan to achieve immortality by not dying."

    However, perhaps Specsavers might be a good idea, @Elbron J. Eramia . :) (Sorry. That'll mean more to people in the UK than elsewhere, I reckon.)

     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  11. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Banned

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    Someone needs to start the

    "Writing an immoral character"

    Thread

    I am crap at writing immoral characters. They always end up having some form of morals, LOL! Even the bad guys
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why don't you start the thread? Probably 'character development' would be the best category.
     
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  13. marshipan

    marshipan Senior Member

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    My immortal characters are immoral characters. They are pretty horrible compared to most people. Entirely concerned with their own wants and forever making the same mistakes because they have huge character flaws.
     
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  14. Madman

    Madman Active Member

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    The immortal characters in my works are just like any other character. They love, hate, create, destroy, and are as human or alien as anybody else. The only difference is that they draw from billions of years of experience when doing things, which is both good and bad. Some of them have "died" numerous times.

    So far I have not done much research into memory, but I might. For now I write them the way I remember things, some things are just clear and other things are just diffuse.
     
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  15. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    I attempt to go beyond what I have seen by imagining The Eternum, a collection of Eternals. They exist outside of time. They exist in The Void where only they can. They do not necessarily create. They express. These expressions are beyond our understanding, yet may coalesce into realities, such as our universe. Expressions may intend realities, which can only manifest through The Eternal Creator, and only upon the agreement of The Eternum. Rules are usually imposed, such as expiration, or non-interference from other Eternals, or even gravity. Some Eternals are personifications of human concepts, such as The Eternal Love. Humans or entities may be invited into The Eternum. It makes for some awesome drama! :D
     
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  16. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Immortal characters, to me, are hideously boring. I hate it even more when people give them ages like 2000 or 3000 years, yet don't write them in a way that supports such an extreme experience. It comes across as ridiculous and made up. That's a LONG time. (also, writing a rounded number like 2000 years rather than, say 1844 years, is childishly simplistic) The only immortal character I like is Dracula, because it's a curse, and that he's 'only' 466 years old and has been a vampire for about 420, yet it's still scary, creepy, and feels old, having influenced folklore with Transylvanian residents in the story.
     
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  17. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I have an immortal creature or two. They're almost completely blase when it comes to the lives of mortals. They see species, not individuals. It doesn't see a war as a struggle of thousands of individuals, it looks as it more like "oh no, humans have caught a war. eh, they'll get over it quickly, just like last time they got sick." They see no difference between a minute or a year any more than we see the difference between a nanosecond and a milliseconds, they're both just "a short period of time."
     
  18. Bowie_the_Birb

    Bowie_the_Birb Member

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    My current work in progress is entirely built around immortality!
    (I touch on some of these in my Workshop post). So there's this city on the moon that's researching this chemical that, quote, "keeps your cells dividing at a healthy rate" and basically makes you never age. Even if you're removed from it, you live out a full life from the point where you were at your best physically.
    I do agree that it sounds a bit over-simplified if the characters have a rounded age like 200. However, I'm having my characters be close to a rounded age so that, during the story, they hit a milestone birthday, for example my characters are 699 and 749. Fun fact, these happened by chance originally: my story takes place in 2525 (reference to the song) and I chose the years 1826 and 1776 for the characters to be born, unaware of how close to a rounded age the characters were.
    As for my main character living out multiple lives, instead of "dying" she just has her memory erased several times (not quite sure how, though). And I do agree that with a long life comes a complicated family tree/history, even more so with living out multiple lives. It can get interesting when one character remembers past lives but another doesn't.
     
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  19. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Member

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    My books have three levels of immortals and they're all immoral in some way.

    First, the Thrice Unbound--Able (spelled that way on purpose), Rissa, and Clyde. They're not of our universe and came from another one to do social experiments with their creations. Which brings us to the second level, The First Four - Gret, Sath, Noth, and Evet. They ruin everything (or do they?!?!?!) and then that leads us to the third level, Milton Fogg and Tobias. Just Tobias. They are essentially the creators of the world as we know it and the ... alternate dimension is the easiest way to explain it.

    They are ageless. The Thrice Unbound are of unknown origins past they just appeared at the beginning of time in our universe, and the First Four were created using blood of the Thrice Unbound. The only immortals born are Tobias and Milton, to the First Four--created the old fashioned way, ya know what I'm sayin'. Milton is a narcissistic bastard with no compassion for anyone and wants the world to burn, and Tobias was cursed through his bloodline, so his whole realm is in shambles because of his bad decisions, but one of them wants to do the right thing and make it better for everyone. Who will it be? I don't know.

    Just kidding, I know.
     
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  20. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    My character hasn't lived a lot of life times (although her species can) but she's lived longer than a human so she has experienced some thing. Like the shift in supremacy on the planet. Her kind went from being the dominant species to having to hide and live in fear of being hunted. Her freedom was taken. They were driven from their home in the ocean. She's loved, she's had her heart broken, she's even broken hearts. Because of this she has her perception of the world and of certain species. She has her scars that wont fade and these are her driving forces. They created her fears, motivations, goals, flaws, personality, wants and needs. She's learnt the art of manipulation to achieve her goals and doesn't really regard life as very precious. She's a bit fed up with living actually and wants to make her existence a happier one. But she is aware she's not indestructible. Her goal started out as a noble one, but along the way, selfishness and greed took over and it's more about her than anyone else.

    Antagonists always seem to want big things so I decided to give her a smaller desire. She just wants to live peacefully. In a little cottage, by the ocean, surrounded by animals and nature. But peace and being hunted don't go together.
     
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