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Dilemmas in character creation

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by buyjupiter, May 19, 2014.

  1. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Because I horribly misheard a line in a song as "one love left", that got me to thinking about what might happen if one of my characters were told by a soothsayer that they could only love one more time.

    What might that knowledge lead my character to do? Would they retreat and never love again, because they couldn't know if that was really, truly their last time? Would they go out into the world and try to find love? Would they do neither, because that's not their way, they are neither miserly with emotions nor overly romantic?

    What if they do find the person/entity/thing they're "supposed" to love and those feelings are not reciprocated, does that negate what the soothsayer said? Do they get another shot at it?

    What other dilemmas (false or otherwise) do you guys use to get a firmer idea of your character? What questions do you like to ask to try and figure out how romantic/aromantic your characters are?
     
  2. sightlessghostraven

    sightlessghostraven Acolyte

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    To be honest, I believe that would entirely depend upon the story in question. Is the story a tragedy in the way of Westros, or more akin to the Wizards First Rule variety? Also, is the main character male or female? Personally, I believe the character should take the soothsayer's words with a grain of salt. Why should fate decide if your character can love? Should not a hero make his or her own destiny in spite of such prophesy?
     
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    That happened to me actually - sort of. At some point in my early twenties I did some kind of online test designed to foretell my future relationships. It proclaimed that in the entire rest of my life I would have sex with two people and that I would love one of them.

    Now, this was an online test on some random website somewhere so I don't hold it very high in regards to likely accuracy. However, this happened to me at a time, when I was quite lonely and the desire for a relationship, both physical and emotional, was great. This is why I still, over fifteen years later, remember that specific prediction. I don't remember any other.

    I don't know that this has affected my love-life in any significant way - not that I have any. I could have gotten hung up on the idea and made the prediction fulfil itself, but that sounds both sad and far fetched.

    Let's say it really was an accurate prediction (yes, I've considered that). I think that I would probably be very reluctant to give my love away. I'd be concerned whether it was the right one or not. I also think that once I did give it away I'd be doing my best to get the most out of it.

    I don't look for love - so I wouldn't be scouring the world trying to find "the one". I try to keep my eyes open though and I'd like to think that if an opportunity presents itself, I'd be able to take it. Most of all though, finding "someone" or even "the one" isn't a priority. I'm usually happy on my own - usually. ;)
     
  4. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    It'll be mostly tragedy, since every great love story I've seen/read has the seeds of tragedy somewhere in it. (I might just be reading things through a glass-half-full lens again, but...) So far, I've got no plans for any death though. So there's less tragedy than Westros.

    I will have two MC's: one man and one woman. The man, as I've envisioned him thus far is fairly closed off and the woman isn't as much. Both are horribly shy, but she'll take the risk of starting a conversation where he won't.

    I should say that I don't believe in soothsaying/prophecy/etc, but I think it would be an interesting exploration of this particular man who does give the soothsayer a second thought, then a third, then a fourth. Until he becomes someone who does believe that this is his destiny. I'm intrigued at how he might develop.
     
  5. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I don't want a character who's self-fulfilling, but maybe more accepting of this is the way things are going to be so might as well figure out a way to live with it. I can see it realistically going one of two ways: he turns into a Casanova/Don Juan type (the well screw that type) or he retreats into himself and falls in "love" with a different girl every week in his head and fantasizes a whole life with, for example, a woman he sees in the supermarket every Tuesday (the overly romantic type). So, he can still get the experience without having to have any of the risk of losing out on his one chance with his "one last love".

    I suppose, if I were really evil, it could be that the soothsayer was a little drunk and a little blind and got him confused with someone else...so he got the wrong prophecy. But only if I were really evil.
     
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    ...or the soothsayer could have tried to be nice and said he'd find one, when really he won't.
     
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  7. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    Most of my characters have their roots in my visual artwork. What usually happens is that I imagine a character, draw them, and then attempt to build a story around that drawing. Writing for me is a way to animate the characters in my artwork.

    Dilemmas can come in handy when plotting a character arc, but truthfully I tend to conceive of my characters' appearances and activities before delving into their internal psychology.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014
  8. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Soothsayer 2: why'd you tell him that?
    Soothsayer 1: [takes a sip from a flask] Do you want to be the one to tell someone they're unloveable?
     
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  9. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    That's another idea for a story: A soothsayer who has to deal with giving bad news to people. :)
     
  10. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    You could have him try not to fall in love, so he could save himself for someone worthy. But we can't really control such things, so he ends up falling in love with, or at least he thinks he's fallen in love with, someone he really doesn't think is right for him. But because of this, he stops trying. Opportunities arise but since he's not open to them, he doesn't see them. Instead he remains in his rut all sad and convinced he's lost his only chance.

    If you keep things a little ambiguous IMHO it can work on many levels. I mean what is love and what type of love is the soothsayer referring too. There are so many different kinds. They can make you sad or happy or both. I remember hearing this story, don't remember where might have been Ripleys Believe it or Not, about a woman who was in love with one man but was duty bound to marry another. She did her duty and married the man she didn't love, or at least didn't love the way she loved the first man. They had kids and a happy life. When her husband died many many years later, she immediately went and found her true love, who hadn't married, and got back together with him.
     
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  11. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    It really depends on the story and the character. I'd ask totally different questions to my Villain than I would ask my hero.
     
  12. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Maybe giving bad news is the job given to recent grads from Soothsayer University.



    RED ELF (who is about to die) - "So, I'm glad to hear you were third in your class... twice now... but about my fate?"
    REESE (the recent grad from Soothsayer U) - "Yeah. Just pull this lever, and shaza--" Checks crystal ball. "--aaaAAAH! You are so ffff..."
    RED ELF - "Um... I'm what?"
    REESE - "So fearless. I see the yellow warrior crouching behind the green valkyrie's shield, but not you! You're in the fray."
    RED ELF - "Great. So I guess I make a good impression on the only woman in the party, eh?"

    (Reese sees the elf's party members at the tavern. The green valkyrie is in tears, telling the blue wizard, "He was a brave fool. So brave. So foolish.")

    REESE - "She thinks you're brave. And funny."
    RED ELF - (peeks at crystal ball) "But why is she crying over the bare, muscular shoulder of the yellow warrior? And where the hell am I?"
    REESE - "Oops." ("accidentally" rolls ball off table) "You're on stage doing something funny. You know how when something's really funny, people sob uncontrollably?"
    RED ELF - "The wizard was staring sadly into space holding his ale. He seemed to be mouthing, why, why, why? Y'know... 'why' as in why the hell would someone react like that if I told a joke?"
    REESE - "He didn't get it."
     
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  13. Scribble

    Scribble Archmage

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    I find this interesting... by being presented with this, do they alternate between believing in it.. or not? Do they want to defy fate?

    Let's say they fall in love with someone that appears to be utterly inaccessible... do they feel cursed to be forever longing for the one they can't have? But what about definitions? What is love? (Baby don't hurt me... ) What if in the end, the love he thought was real wasn't, and then missed the love that was in front of him? (If the ending is happy, he fulfills the prophecy and goes after and attains the one "for him"...)

    If it is tragic, then he "loves" with longing... but the soothsayer said nothing about being loved in return...

    There are many movies and books on this theme, and not by mistake, it is a problem that affects virtually everyone since the invention of romantic love: the problem of being with the "right one".
     
  14. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    Honestly, I can't conceive of a plot or a situation without knowing how my character might first react to it...but I come from a background where psychology and discussing human motivation was dinner time conversation, so that might why I'm a) really interested in that and b) have to start there.

    Granted, sometimes I know how a character "sounds" before I know anything else about them and then have to build up that psychological profile. Very rarely do I know how a character looks before anything else, but then I approach writing from a more musical/acoustic side of the arts than the visual side.

    And that might make for an interesting discussion one day about how we use other ways of doing art to approach our writing. Since it's not just me that does it. :)
     
  15. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    @Penpilot, I think everyone seems to like this idea in a nebulous, ambiguous state. I keep hearing, "well that could mean anything", which is great, because a bunch of people seem to want to do their own approach to it. Which I love, because at first I didn't want anything to do with the idea beyond using it as a character test, but now after I've ironed out some of the kinks I have my own approach to it as well. "What ifs" tend to get me in all sorts of trouble... *grin*

    @darkfantasy, if this piece had a villain I could see where it might take a different turn. As is, no one is good or bad. It's another gray area, in a story full of 'em.

    @legendary...Love it! If you ever decide to do a full on piece with that, I'd love to see it sometime. :)

    @scribble, my dude doesn't want to defy anything. He's more on the chill, let's just accept things as they come, but since no one can live without any love....he does come up with alternative solutions. I'm kinda thinking that he just fantasizes about life, drifting through, time and again because he's too scared to commit to life(?) until he gets knocked out of that behavior by the girl. He doesn't get the girl, in the end, but that's ok because he's changed enough to go out and get the right one.

    I still am trying to figure out a way of working in that the "prophecy" is only because the soothsayer is warning of what he'll become if he doesn't change his ways. With or without the drunkenness.
     
  16. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I've always been a visually oriented guy, so that may explain some of the difference.

    It could also be that I, like many others with Asperger's Syndrome, have a hard time connecting with other people, so I don't consider their internal qualities as much as I do their external, visible ones. That's also why characterization is one of the more difficult aspects of writing for me.
     
  17. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Pen,

    That story of yours is to me truly mean - at least for the guy. I mean if I were him and the woman went off and got married to someone else for whatever reason, did the whole kids thing, I'd be absolutely slutted! (I could use other words!) And then when hubby dies and she suddenly comes back?! That would not be a happy reunion at all. It doesn't matter that she had no choice or what have you. I'd still forever be seeing her with the other man. The children would be an ever present reminder of him.There are some things you just can't accept. Or I can't. And what's he been doing all these years? Pining for her? You run the risk of him seeming truly pathetic.

    As to the OP Buy - I don't know. But it occurs to me that it depends on how it plays out and how it's seen to play out by your MC. He could do as you say. It could be bad. But he could also look at it as a positive. One true, all consuming passion that will last a life time which is destined to be his. Not so bad really. And until then can he play around? After all if it's not love just sex is that an issue for the prophecy?

    If your soothsayer was really mean she could lie and tell him it was someone he hated. And then of course let fate intervene and through chance and a complete lack of understanding by all parties, the prophecy could even end up coming true!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  18. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    Well it depends on how you want to look at it. She did her duty. She did what was expected. The two of them truly loved each other, and for some people, there's nobody else they can love. Maybe for the man, just knowing the other person reciprocates the feelings was enough. Honestly, I don't know what the man did all the years before she came back to him. The story never specified, or I just don't remember, but does it matter? One person's romantic is another's pathetic.

    Also, if you loved someone in all the ways that matter, and you knew they felt the same, would you wait for them? And would you let something like a deceased husband and kids sour what you feel? If so, then maybe that love isn't so strong. There's nothing wrong with that. The strength of love between people is different from couple to couple, so what it takes to break that bond varies too. I mean some widows never even consider remarrying. Others do. Some people can't deal with a spouse that becomes an invalid and leave. Other's care for their invalid spouse without so much as a mumbled complaint.

    The kinds of love out there is as varied as people and as cultures. Marrying people because of the tingles in the gut wasn't how it was always done or how everyone does it now. I think the notion of marrying for romance outside of fiction is something newer. During my parent's time, in the Chinese culture, what people looked for in a mate wasn't romance, but rather, they looked for was if this other person would make a good partner in raising a family. Marriage was like a business, and you looked for a partner that would give you the best chance for success, not someone who just made your naughty bits warm.
     
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  19. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    @Psychotick,

    I also could not be that guy. I'd feel like I wasted my life if I said, "She's still married, but I still love her. Wow... five kids, huh? But does she still think of me when they go on family picnics? Oh, they look so happy together. I'm glad I bought this telescope so I can see her smile from beyond the distance of that silly restraining order. 'Your Honor, with all due respect, you cannot restrain the power of love!' Yeah. That's what I should've said."

    So... that's my opinion, anyway.

    That said, a few years ago, I met a student's mother. She said that my student's stepfather was someone she dated twenty years before. Both got married, had kids, got divorced. She left the U.S., came back, caught up with him. Now they're together. She thought that was romantic. What can I say?

    Yeah. That!^


    EDIT - No disrespect intended toward my former student's mother and stepfather. What I think is pathetic (as in "sad") is all the wasted years for that couple. But then, I was there with my student, who would not have existed in not for those "wasted years," so it really wasn't a waste.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  20. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

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    Damn soothsayers - can't ever talk in plain english!
    But that's half the fun, how can their foretelling come to pass even if the protagonist fights against it. The idea that man could go against the wishes of the gods was termed Hubris and nobody ever escaped it.

    The twist would be how that love manifested.
    perhaps its a love that isn't personal but intangible - love for an ideal or a cause?
    Perhaps love for a long lost (or unknown) child.
    A love that blooms despite every attempt to prevent it.

    Or even an ideal like Curley's (the cowboy) love in City Slickers - which was a fleeting glimpse of someone or a captured moment in time that can never be forgot (despite a relationship not happening).
    - and that's all: i.e. :

    Mitch: You ever been in love?

    Curly: Once. I was driving a herd across the panhandle. Texas. Passed near this little dirt farm right about sundown. Out in the field was this young woman, working down in the dirt. Just about then she stood up to stretch her back. She was wearing a little cotton dress, and the settin' sun was right behind her, showing the shape that God had give her.

    Mitch: What happened?

    Curly: I just turned around and rode away.

    Mitch: Why?

    Curly: I figured it wasn't gonna get any better than that.

    Mitch: But you could have been, you know...with her.

    Curly: Been with lots of women.

    Mitch: Yeah, but you know, she could have been the love of your life.

    Curly: She is.
     
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