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Character and creator don't get along
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TiroIndite



Joined: 13 Sep 2004
Posts: 20
Location: Helltown USA
Character and creator don't get along  Reply with quote  

I don't like my main character any more, but I am stuck with him. I am glad it is only a short story.

I stuck myself with a character that I would never know in real life. He's a good guy. He's got his mind set on doing the right thing. He has a highly respected job. I know people with really good jobs, but almost all of them aren't respected at all. I don't have the option to change the character, it's who he is and what he does that holds the story together. If I could change him I would. If I could toss the story, I'd probably do that too.

Has anyone of you ever had this problem? What have you done? Any suggestions would really help.

I know that Stephen King despised Carrie and threw the story in the trash. It was only because his wife rescued the manuscript that Mr. King was able to submit the story to a publisher and have it purchased and turned into a best seller. Sadly, I doubt this will be any good, but I want to make it as readable as possible.

Thanks everyone.


Last edited by TiroIndite on Wed Sep 22, 2004 12:35 am; edited 2 times in total

Post Tue Sep 21, 2004 6:31 pm   View user's profile Send private message
chris
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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Finish it and move on, or rewrite it and make the character more likable. I had to fix a couple of major characters in my books because they were unlikable in the beginning, notably Tucker Case from Love Nun and Sam Hunter from Coyote Blue. Both were jerks in the beginning of the books, for reasons of redemption later on, but they had to be likable enough to keep the reader interested in them as the story went on, so I gentled them up, made them a less cold and more excusable for being who they were. With Tucker Case, I made him a womanizer, but one who really didn't get his own attraction, and always got dumped.

So if your guy is broke, fix him. If the story doesn't work if you fix him, then don't. Make the story work. Just finish it and write someone you like.

Post Wed Sep 22, 2004 12:32 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Unc



Joined: 18 Aug 2004
Posts: 300
Location: South of FRANCE
Re: Character and creator don't get along  Reply with quote  

TiroIndite wrote:
I stuck myself with a character that I would never know in real life. He's a good guy.


I don't have anything to say on the writing thang because I like all my characters, even the villains. But given the quote above, I do find myself wondering about your love life.

Laughing

(Not serious...just couldn't resist...)

Post Wed Sep 22, 2004 1:59 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
earthshoes



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 213
Location: SW Missouri
 Reply with quote  

What Chris said.

Also, for a beginning writer, there's a lot to be said for learning how write characters you don't like. In my case, villians are a struggle.

With my first project, I immediately found myself trying to soften my villian up and make him likeable. A friend of mine, who writes too (and is probably the more gifted of the two of us), called me on it. You have to stop making excuses for him, she said. He is supposed to be rotten otherwise your plot won't work. She also pointed out that this was how I went through life too--letting undeserved people off the hook. Interesting life lesson wrapped up in that. I have to admit, it was fun to let him get his come uppance in the end of the book.
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Post Wed Sep 22, 2004 7:34 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address Yahoo Messenger
chris
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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earthshoes wrote:
What Chris said.

Also, for a beginning writer, there's a lot to be said for learning how write characters you don't like. In my case, villians are a struggle.

With my first project, I immediately found myself trying to soften my villian up and make him likeable. A friend of mine, who writes too (and is probably the more gifted of the two of us), called me on it. You have to stop making excuses for him, she said. He is supposed to be rotten otherwise your plot won't work. She also pointed out that this was how I went through life too--letting undeserved people off the hook. Interesting life lesson wrapped up in that. I have to admit, it was fun to let him get his come uppance in the end of the book.


Your friend was right, you don't need to make excuses for your villian, but he must have some internal logic, some motivation that the reader can identify with. Interesting someone mentioned Milton in an earlier thread. Paradise Lost is a perfect example of a bad guy gone wild. Satan is much more interesting and charmng than is God in Paradise Lost, which got Milton into a lot of trouble in his day. Often one can trade likability for a certain charasmatic charm. Chris Walken is a master at playing this kind of bad guy.

Post Wed Sep 22, 2004 12:25 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mercureality



Joined: 01 Sep 2004
Posts: 18
it is my opinion  Reply with quote  

that the very best bad guys aren't immediately recognizable as bad guys. You can empathize with them, and in some circumstances, you might do exactly what they are doing. Internal logic is essential.

Of course, the world is full of people that are just assholes, right? 'Just assholes' are great spice for a story in bits and pieces. That's fine, but do you really want 'just an asshole' to consume as important a role in your story as the primary antagonist?

Just remember to give your villain enough bite that we want to see him defeated, or at least, put in his place. Or, if you want to be daring, make your villian interesting enough that the reader toys with rooting for him.

Ultimately, I think it depends on the kind of story you want to write. Many of my favorite stories don't have villains at all, instead they have conflicts. If the conflict itself is interesting and depthy, often it doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong. Or, perhaps more significantly, if both sides are right and wrong. Our real life history is chock full of stuff like this, but I have a feeling it's hard as hell to write.
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Post Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:10 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
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Looking through most of the stuff I have written, I don’t seem to have many villains at all. I have assholes but no people that anyone would really want to bash. This may be from reading too much Vonnegut, Tom Robbins and Christopher Moore. I do not remember many villains in their books.
For some reason I do not think that this is a conscious decision. I am working on a parody of The Devine Comedy now and I have made Lucifer into somewhat of a likable character, so likable that Satanists would probably want to hunt me down. He still has edge to him but nothing like the burning hellfire that we are used to reading about.

An example…
1
Out is a distant nebula far beyond the reaches of any technology developed by man, sit three people. People is merely a word for what they are, aberrations would be more appropriate a word to describe the three beings sitting out on the edge of the galaxy. The year is exactly half the time it is from now when Dante published his most famous work, The Devine Comedy. They have just received a copy and are none too happy.
“What was he thinking?”
“S’not at all like that.”
“Haven’t been there.”
“I told him everything to write down and he still mucked it up. Sure it is Hell but it isn’t that bad. Good God.”
“Yes?”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, actually I don’t.”
“I was merely using your name to express displeasure in what that idiot wrote.”
“There is no need to get testy.”
“Jesus.”
“Yes.”
“I can’t stand sitting here with you two.”
“We need to sort things out as to what, pardon my language, Hell is all about.”
“Yes all that burning and frying gives my name such besmirch.”
“Good word.”
“Thank you.”
“So what should we do?”
“You may be the son of him but you need to think for yourself a bit.”
“I can see why you were sent to work there.”
“Ha, ha, so what are we going to do?”
God says, “I think I have an idea.”


2

Back on earth…



Camilla Martine wakes in the morning and she does as she always does. She crouches down beside her bed, clasps her hands together then slowly inches her fingers out laying the each finger on top of its mate until they are flat and pointing upwards. In silence she sits with her hands held out in front of herself praying for forgiveness, understanding and cleansing of her soul from the influences of society.
Her biggest sin was the one she will do tonight. She will watch an entire hour of Big Brother on the telly. Although she has no children, she has a parental control box on her television that does not let her watch the programme but each Friday she reprograms her control box so that she can see the latest show and catch up with what has happened in the past week. She says it is ok and there is nothing wrong with it as long as she goes to confession on Saturday. Today is Friday though and she is going to enjoy Big Brother, and damn whatever she feels like afterwards.
She walks to her closet after praying and takes out a bulky jumper that will conceal any figure that she has and a skirt that her grandmother bought her to wear to work. After a meal of a blueberry scone and tea she goes out the door for her daily tube ride.
On the train she, chooses a seat as far back away from anyone that she can get but today there are so many people riding that a gentleman in a long black cloak is sitting next to her. He would most likely be offended if he heard of himself being called a gentleman. Gentleman is usually reserved for someone that is someone but the person who is sitting next to Camilla is not a person.
He says to her, ‘Lovely day today.’
‘It is raining and grey out.’
He smiles and says, ‘I do so love the rain.’
She shakes her head. Her mum told her not to talk to strange men or anyone for that matter on the tube but for some reason she feels the need to talk to him.
‘No one loves rain.’
‘Why else would so many people live here then?’
‘You mean London?’
‘Yes.’
‘I suppose they were born here and they were brought up here so they stayed.’
‘Modern time’s people can move wherever they like. All of these people can get up and go to anyplace that they like but they stay here so they must like the rain.’
‘I stay because this is where I was raised and this is where my family is.’
‘Let’s ask some people?’
‘No lets not.’
‘It will be fun.’
‘No it won’t.’
He gets up and walks to the end of the train where the most people are and asks, ‘Who here likes the rain? The young lady at the end, down there sitting, and I have a debate about this. I think the rain is lovely and she says people don’t stay here for the rain but for ties and relations.’
An aged woman puts up her hand and says, ‘I love the rain and I moved here for it.’
The man smiles at her but soon after she meets his eyes the woman fades into the back of the people and then into thin air when no one is looking on.
‘Anyone else?’
A man gets up and says, ‘I tend to agree with the young lady.’
‘Why is that?’
‘I was brought up here and will die here.’
The man thinks, in exactly twenty two days and sixty nine minuets, ‘Any other feelings on this?’ The crowd is silent so he walks back and smiles at the Camilla.
She says, ‘That proved nothing.’
‘I know but it was better than just sitting here doing nothing.’
‘I generally read whilst on the tube.’
‘Oh, what are you reading?’
‘The Bible.’
‘People still read the thing?’
‘It is a wonderful book.’
‘I have one that you may like. He pulls out of his long black cloak The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce and hands it to her. ‘You may find this better. It is much less preachy.’
He walks to the door and steps off at the first stop.
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Post Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:43 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
 Reply with quote  

If you want to comment on it I will post it in the fan fiction area. But do you get the idea? This is still in an infant stage so be kind. I am working on a homage to my truck, short story, inbetween this.

Ta,
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Post Wed Sep 22, 2004 5:46 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Guest





Disliking characters and Lucifer. What a combo?  Reply with quote  

I don't believe that I've disliked a character of mine. Not truthfully. At least not in the sense that they had some great personality flaw that I could never forgive.

I strive, however, to make characters as real as possible. Also to not repeat the same characters, not to stay inside my "I could be friends with this person and never disagree on anything" comfort zone. There are certain characters that I don't exactly agree with, as well as those whom I would thoroughly criticize and oppose in their actions if I were there. Though, to be honest, there is usually a warped version of myself within the tale. Not me persay, but a character responsible for carrying my point of view in some measure.

In the big picture, however, there is never a character that I don't like on at least some level. Some have different morals then mine, and some are ruder then I would be, and some are exhibit selfish or betraying behavior that I could never condone. But no one that I don't like on other levels.

Even my villains hold an appeal to me. They are evil, they try to kill or torture my heroes. But ultimately there is always some level on which the characters appeal to me. If you have a character that you don't like, truthfully, I think the thing to do is to search the depths of your character. To see if somewhere, there is something you can work with that might make them more acceptable to your tastes.

That failing, there's not much you can do. Especially if the character's being the way they are is necessary to the tale. Though I would hoinestly ask myself is this is true, or only appears to be true. I've had stories that just weren't working for me, only to realize the reason I didn't like the character on some level, was because they weren't the best person to be there, or the person they should be. I was being untrue to them and therefore it didn't click.

I was working on a series of mine called Devil My Cry, and I was very pleased with all the characters and plotlines building in my mind. Something seemed wrong to me, regardless of this fact. It took me awhile to realize that what was wrong was my tale's point of view. Riley Gordon (newly sired high school girl) wasn't where this story truly lied. I was mistaken in that. The real story was with her best friend Nick Alexander. He was a comic foil, an Everyman point of view. And he still is. However, Nick was where the true story came from. When I realized that, the story quickly evolved into something new and even better then before. In realizing who the real main character was, and the hidden secrets of his persona, how wrong I was about him initially, I also realized that there was more to my tale then I'd thought. I'd been wrong about it as well.

As far as that tale involving Lucifer, I myself have a tale that stars the ruler of Hell. Or the former ruler of Hell as it would be in this case. He's actually the heroe of my series. This is going to be a difficult balance to carry. Lucifer might be doing good for the citizens of Los Angeles, saving the souls of the innocent, balancing the scale between good and evil...But ultimately he is not a good person. He himself acknowledges his shortcomings with this quote "I'm not a hero. I'm not a righteous man. But for the first time, I'm not the villain either."

He's grown a heart. But not totally. It's not his nature to be compassionate and even in caring enough to help others, Lucifer does not have the tact nor the social grace to spare feelings. Nor does he care to. He's dour and grim, if tall, dark, and handsome. And that's the way he is. That will never change. Despite whatever growth he may go through.

Bound to get me some calls from Christian Organizations, right?

Wow. I just jumped right into that, didn't I? Sorry. i'll let you go.

Cheers,
Ryan

Post Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:51 pm   
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Blonde moment.  Reply with quote  

That post above is mine. I forgot to log in before posting. My bad.

Anyway. Later.
Ryan

Post Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:54 pm   
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
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I think the reason I don’t write absolute villains is because there is always some way or some reason to rationalize behaviours, Lucifer, for example, being thrown out of heaven. That would tend to tick someone off. Granted he did tempt Eve in the Garden of Eden but she was tempt-able. It is the same question of Jesus being tempted while on the cross. He, depending on how you look at it, resisted and so the story goes. My premise is what if Lucifer is partially forgiven and working in conjunction with heaven so he can take his place back there again. And what if Hell is not such a bad place but maybe similar to a hospital with wards for supposed sins? I do have a sub story about the stigmata and how people who develop the marks are descendants of Judas but it is all still a work in progress. I like to think of it is a damnable religious satire parodying The Devine Comedy.

As for the Christian organizations, who cares, if they can’t take a joke then I think they need to get another god. There are plenty of them. Somewhat kidding about that.

I would not worry about the Christians anyway. Look what they did for Twain and Huck Fin? They turned it into a classic before it was read by too many people, even though it was but the press helped. He sold more books because of being banned. They are doing the same for Harry Potter now. It is also great writing but they helped.

Ta,

BTW, I do wonder if Chris had the same problem with Lamb.
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Post Fri Sep 24, 2004 2:01 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
 Reply with quote  

I would LOVE for my book to be banned! But it would have to be noticed first. Smile

I don't really have a villain in my book, but I have a huge convention of assholes. They have their own motivations, and are excellent antagonists for my protagonist asshole, but since the story is written in first person you only have the P.A.'s take on why they are doing what they are doing. The rest of their motivations are all in my head. There was no room, or necessity, in the story to examine their motivations any further than to say, "Wow! What a bunch of assholes!"
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Post Tue Sep 28, 2004 7:15 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
palmer



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
Posts: 1324
what she said  Reply with quote  

earthshoes wrote:
What Chris said.

Also, for a beginning writer, there's a lot to be said for learning how write characters you don't like. In my case, villians are a struggle.

With my first project, I immediately found myself trying to soften my villian up and make him likeable...


In the story I'm writing now, the Antichrist is a major character. Talk about writing a character you don't like! I mean, if I like him, what would that say about me?

Post Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:42 am   View user's profile Send private message
Ferrit Leggings



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 2658
 Reply with quote  

Palmer,

Satan seems to be rather popular lately? Hillary is writing something about it, I am and now you. Chris has turned us to the darkside. Twisted Evil


Ta,
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Post Tue Sep 28, 2004 3:15 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
chris
Site Admin


Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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Nah, I was going to be an agent of Satan but he wanted too much up-front money.

Turns out, as an agent of My Little Pony, I can make over 20% more.


Bow before my pastel cuteness, gromett!

Post Tue Sep 28, 2004 3:25 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
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