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Main Characterization

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by OberonLordofSylva, Mar 25, 2020 at 5:44 PM.

  1. I've been going over my MC for a while and I can't make decisions concerning his characterization. If you'll help me out then here's what I've got. Jack Ridley, born Alois Weiss, is a white-haired Demon-Elf hybrid armed with a big brain and an even bigger heart. However he's picky about who he shows affection to, only having a handful of close friends by the time he's 15 and in high school. This is in part due to the long lifespan of the Elves, he knows that he will outlive most of the people he meets. Being half-demon means Jack feels his emotions more strongly than other people do and once he blows his lid he basically becomes an edgy anime incredible hulk. Fortunately Jack is surprisingly patient when it comes to everyday situations so no berserking when he loses a game or other petty stuff like that. He does however tend to act irrationally when the people he cares about are in danger or are being repressed. Jack has a strong will, a common trait in the Weiss family. He also has a dark sense of humor, fueled equally by cynicism and playfulness. In battle he uses a spell called Shadow Treasure to store and retrieve various weapons. He and his best friend developed an entire fighting style called Zillionbrave built around using all of these weapons in slick, stylish combos. Jack often channels his emotions through art and he found his niche as a freelance graffiti artist shortly after arriving in Yorkshire Neos(the city where a good chunk of the series takes place). Due to his secluded early childhood Jack lacks the arrogance that Elves are known to have and kind of resents his people for being pricks because that stereotype caused him to get bullied by other kids once he made it to the Nova Homo Imperium(literally an entire empire consisting mostly of humans). Any constructive criticism is appreciated and if you want to drop your MC below for a model that would be great. For the record I'm trying to make Jack more of a Byronic Hero then anything else.
     
  2. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Troubadour

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    My main thought after reading this is "He's only 15?"

    I'm willing to suspend a lot of disbelief, but developing your own fighting style and being a good enough artist to work freelance and being self aware enough to consider the implications of outliving people around you does not sound like something a 15 year old is capable of mastering. I think almost all15 year olds consider themselves immortal. They would only worry about it after losing someone close to them. 15 year olds aren't very rational. They're egoistic and self-centered and searching for their place in the world.

    he also sounds a bit like he has only good traits. Yes, he can become a hulk. But he only does that when people he cares about are threatened. That's not a bad trait, that's just caring about people.
     
  3. I did consider loosening the self-restraint to make "rage" his fatal flaw. It seems now that that is the best course of action. I also strongly considered him to be "too protective" but it seems I forgot to mention that in the paragraph. Another thing I could do is make the art thing a subplot of his character arc. Also he has to be that young, a good chunk of the early series takes place while the cast is in high school. I'd like to capitalize on his immaturity as part of character development but I don't trust myself to handle that well.
     
  4. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    I mostly like the sound of him but he does sound a bit too perfect. He also sounds like the MC of a game rather than a novel.

    I had to laugh when I read his name - my uncle is Alois Weiss. (But don't worry - he's in a nursing home with dementia.)
     
  5. Do you have any ideas for flaws? I think expanding on his anger issues might work but something, probably my anxiety, is telling me I won't go through with it. And, erm, sorry about your uncle.
     
  6. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    The anger angle, while clearly appropriate for a demon, could easily feel cliched if not done well.

    I would have him at war with himself somehow - being made of two separate parts. That could also seem a bit cliché but if you do it well people won't notice or care.
     
    OberonLordofSylva likes this.
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    My advice would be to try and connect whatever personality traits you've already thought up for him to events and situations in the past.

    So for instance, the "long lifespan of the Elves" is very abstract. Being picky with showing affection must have a deeper, more visceral reason. Something, someone, or some situation in the past must have reinforced this self-distancing from others. If you can find those specifics, they'll probably also help inform other aspects of his character.
     
    OberonLordofSylva likes this.
  8. Thanks! That'll probably be one of things I develop more as I write.
     
  9. Thanks. I went over something like that as a plot point in my head, but the details got fuzzy and I eventually forgot that aspect. The only problem is that Hybrids are fairly common so the usual half-elf angst probably won't make sense in-universe. The way I was thinking it, Humans and Elves have a bit of a rivalry and nobody really likes Demons so maybe have him struggle as a victim of prejudice? Problem with that is prejudice is a touchy subject and I don't wanna have to deal with any backlash. As an extremely new writer I just don't have the experience or the confidence to pull off a "fantasy racism subplot" well. The idea was that the bullying would make him "lock away" some parts of himself in order to fit in and those "locked" traits would be the root of his internal conflict. I even have a holdover from that subplot, when he reaches harmony with himself and learns to love himself towards the end of the series he would break the last of the power limiters in his soul(forgot to mention those, heh-heh. Just another idea trapped in limbo) and become a Warrior of Chaos.
     
  10. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    Fair enough. If you want to avoid controversy.

    Mind you, it does my head in the way people go on the attack for all sorts of confected reasons. My first novel (2010) was - among other things - an anti-racism novel. But to tell such a story you have to have racists doing and saying appalling things. Does that make me a racist because I can imagine such things and write them? Absolutely not.

    Similarly, my next novel is (among other things) a satire on the issue of refugees in Australia - a very polarising issue here. You won't find a single person in the story making a pro-refugee statement - very much the opposite in fact - but it's a pro-refugee story.

    I hate preachy books, so I try to make the politics happen inside the head of the reader as they respond to the antics of my characters.
     
    OberonLordofSylva likes this.
  11. Interesting philosophy. I'd make the MC's relationship to the bully a personal one, but since I've now decided to bump up the timeskip from book 1 to book 2 a seven year timeskip rather than a three year one, meaning the events of book 2 take place in a college setting rather than a high school one, the bully's interactions with the MC only occur in flashbacks which isn't enough time to develop a profound relationship between characters. In short, in order to fix Jack's backstory I have to waste the audience's time developing a character that doesn't matter in a sloppy manner. Other than that, I really don't have any ideas. I was never bullied in school so I don't really have the experience or knowledge to make this kind of backstory. Help?!
     
  12. The Dark One

    The Dark One Maester

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    If the bully has such an impact on the MC then they are hardly a character that doesn't matter. You could even have them resolved later on to develop them both further.

    A bully needs little reason (especially at school) to target someone. They perceive weakness and attack - in all likelihood because on some level they were bullied themselves or possibly due to sociopathic tendencies. There are any number of reasons which you can either deal with in a few brush strokes (if he doesn't reprise) or go into his back story later (if he does).
     
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