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Character Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Ornen, Jan 7, 2004.

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  1. Ornen

    Ornen Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    Characters are one of the neccessary components of a story. A story without characters is, quite simply, not a story. There are some characters that we remember over the years, both good and bad. They can cause us to smile, they can cause us to cry, they can cause us to cry, and they can cause us to hate them. A great character causes you to have great emotions. You know that Gollum/Smeagol is one of the greatest characters of all time when he brings an entire audience into fits of laughter. Anakin/Vader is an excellent character when you cry at the end of RotJ. When you cry for this villain that has killed countless people, this faceless man in this black suit, it means something.

    In this thread, we will discuss both the creation of these characters and the characters themselves. If you need help writing a certain character, canon or OC, feel free to ask for help.









    To start things off, lets talk about our favorite characters and the reasons why.

    For me, the best characters bring mixed emotions from you. Forrest Gump is a good character because he makes us laugh and cry. Anakin/Vader is undeniably one of (if not the) best characters of all time because while we hate him, we feel sorrow for him.

    Which brings me to a new point: what defines a villain? Is it possible to truely characterize evil? I like to say, no one's bad, they're just f---ed up. Gollum/Smeagol characterizes this - and no one can deny it. He has issues. I strongly believe that there is no way that a storyteller can create human evil. Sauron is evil. But he's a giant fiery eye. He's not a person. Agent Smith is the ultimate bad guy; but he is a machine. If anyone can name a human character that is truely evil, feel free to.





    So, what do you think makes a character a good character? How do you go about writing a character? Do you tend to make plain, faceless bad guys, or do your make villains that feel emotions besides hate? ( :eek: )

    Also, feel free to ask for help on making or fleshing out a character.



    Right now I'm having a little trouble with Anakin. I'm trying to get a little more inside his head in my writing, which is a complicated process. So, any suggestions about what's going on in Anakin's head during and between Episodes 2 and 3? I'm putting a link to my story in my sig.
     
  2. PadawanRoo

    PadawanRoo Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Aug 7, 2003
    wow, good thread!

    I've alsways believed that you can't make truly evil characters.
    well, you can, but they always seem cheesy and two dimensional. To wit, comic book Magneto vs. Movie Magneto. comic book magneto isn't at all frightening. he doesn't creep readers out at all-- it's just like "ok, this is an obstacle."
    But Ian McKellan brought that character to life. he made us fear him. Suddenly he's this real person- this terrifying force that could walk among us and we wouldn't even know he was there. That has everything to do with the fact that we could see what motivated him. He had more than one emotion, and that makes him real. That makes him scary. Babylon 5's Al Bester is the same way.

    I think it's part of the reason the Vong annoy so many people. Not only are they this terribly powerful group of beings, but they're also two-dimensional. There's nothing there to make them REAL.

    Also, has anyone noticed that the creepiest villains are the polite ones? Anyone can be a bloodthirsty, barbarous wretch, but to have class? to say 'please' and 'thank you' when killing people? THAT'S scary. This idea that they are not a puppets to thier feelings-- they is in total control of themselves and their environments, so even though we can't see what makes them tick, we can fear the fact that they're still ticking. We get some of this off of Palpatine, and I definetely got it off of Tarkin.

    Well that's all I've got for now.
     
  3. Bobbacca

    Bobbacca Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Apr 25, 2003
    The vast majority of Yuuzhan Vong in the warrior cast--and I mention the warrior cast specifically because important characters of other casts had more personality--are two dimensional, but there is a logical reason for it. They have been brainwashed and indoctrinated from birth. When you really think about it though, many of the common stormtroopers and clone troopers we see in Star Wars exhibit as little personality as the average Yuuzhan Vong warrior.
     
  4. Ty-gon Jinn

    Ty-gon Jinn Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 12, 2000
    Also, has anyone noticed that the creepiest villains are the polite ones? Anyone can be a bloodthirsty, barbarous wretch, but to have class? to say 'please' and 'thank you' when killing people? THAT'S scary. This idea that they are not a puppets to thier feelings-- they is in total control of themselves and their environments, so even though we can't see what makes them tick, we can fear the fact that they're still ticking. We get some of this off of Palpatine, and I definetely got it off of Tarkin.

    You're right on the money there. It's because it's so unsettling to have the monstrous and the dignified together. You expect horrendous behavior from a psychotic raging lunatic, but the classy, well-dressed, clever man who also happens to be a cold-blooded killer in his spare time is frightening because you wouldn't expect it, and once you realize it, he throws you off guard. Your Magneto example is a good one. Think also of the ultimate example: Hannibal Lecter.

    The thing about evil is that it's best when it's disconcerting; when it comes in a form you don't expect. Anyone can have a serial killer who was so abused as a child that he's messed up in the head and murders people who tick him off. What's truly unsettling is a dignity in it (See Hannibal Lecter), or, worse, a childlike naivete (if you want a good example of this, read "Perelandra," by C.S. Lewis, in which a demon-possesed acquantence of the hero completely takes his notions of evil off-guard).

    Keep thinking about it. In writing, the scariest kinds of evil are not those who do bad things out of greed, or rage - though, in real life, they would be plenty scary - the scariest ones are the ones who do what they do for pleasure, out of some sadistic desire to hurt their victims, out of the desire to EAT their victims, or out of the megalomania that says they're within their rights to do what they do.
     
  5. Les_Wanderer

    Les_Wanderer Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Oct 28, 2003
    To make evil characters truly evil, one must get inside of that character's head. What made them that way? Do they do what they do for revenge? Because they were brainwashed? Because it's more fun?

    Most of my evil characters choose to be evil, and love to be so, but also have quirks that people can identify with. I do that so that maybe people can see just a little bit of that villian in me. I have one that mispronounces words because that's what he thinks the words are and it drives the heroine to annoyance. I have another one that is being developed that is definitely a gentleman. He also is related to the people he hates the most, particularly his nephew. He is only a bad guy, not because he thinks it's the best thing, but because power comes from being the bad guy.
     
  6. Ornen

    Ornen Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    ^ I agree. For a character to be believable, they must have motives. There has to be a reason for them to be there, a reason for them to be the bad guy. Which is another reason why the Vong are so hated; there is no real motive that we know of. They simply love pain and killing and torture, just because. The Stormtroopers were simply soldiers, and while they may be faceless villains, there's still a person inside the suit. For me, its better to have a faceless character than an unmotivated character.
     
  7. Lilith Demodae

    Lilith Demodae Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 1, 1999
    Characters... I start with characters and work the stories around them, rather than the other way around. I promise you that things work easier that way.

    The way I create characters? I don't, they seem to spring into my brain from things, from people I see. People watching is one of my all-time favorite things to do. I like to sit on a street bench and watching the folks stroll past and play What If? and Why?

    I don't think so much in terms of good and evil as in terms of protagonist and antagonist. Just because someone doesn't want you to achieve your goals doesn't make them evil, just contrary or vindictive or petty-minded. Something I'm toying with, but haven't done yet here is to write a story where both parties are firmly convinced that they are doing 'the right thing'. Neither is evil or good, they just have opposite ideas of how to save the galaxy as they know it.

    I like to have realistic bad guys. I like them to feel doubt, frustration, triumph, tenderness, even love. Evil doesn't have to be about hate. It can be cold and mechanical, it can be calculating and methodical with no emotion entering into the picture at all. I can totally see a Sith who simply believes that the galaxy is a terribly untidy, disorganized place and goes about making things simple and neat, even if it means manipulating governments, destroying individual lives, or killing serveral hundred thousand people in job lots to accomplish that goal. Evil doesn't have to be hatred or rage to be convincing, creepy, or icksome. I mean, what's more terrifying, someone who comes after you because you accidentally killed his brother/dog/best friend (or something else that you personally have done to thwart or anger him), or someone who has come to coldly, calmly erase your existence because he's decided you must die to simplify the paperwork?
     
  8. PadawanRoo

    PadawanRoo Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Aug 7, 2003
    very true, Lilith.

    That's what makes sociopaths so much more scary than other types of violent felons. Another more personal example would be the DC sniper shootings. I live inside he DC beltway. My brothers work and attend school on the Pike, where the majority of the shootings happened. I rode Conrad Johnson's bus once- when he got shot, I couldn't leave my room for nearly a day, I was so twisted up inside.
    People get shot in this area every day. There are guns everywhere and frequent muggings, roberies, and gangfights. But the reason the sniper shootings were so terrifying is that they were random. The victims didn't do anything to (or even know) their killers.

    </rambling>

    Seriously, though, it seems to me like good villains are at one end of the spectrum or the other. Either they have driving personal motivations for doing what they do, or their motivations are so strange as to appear nonexistant (or they actualy are nonexistant) or insanity-driven. The former are good, strong, realistic characters, and the latter are freakin' scary.
    Characters in the middle, who have motivations, but none that seems terribly convincing, fail to frighten or interest. The best they can do is amuse.

    Shall we broaden the discussion a bit, though? we do after all already have a villain thread. Can we talk about Antiheroes along with our villains?
    ~Roo
     
  9. Laine_Snowtrekker

    Laine_Snowtrekker Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2003
    Antiheroes? What are antiheroes?
     
  10. -Z-

    -Z- Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Dec 20, 2003
    [blockquote]Antiheroes? What are antiheroes? [/blockquote]

    An antihero is a character who, for all intents and purposes, is good--for instance, they'll save a baby from a burning house. But what makes them anti-hero is that the character's motivation or disposition is that of a villain.

    Basically, they've got the attitude of a bad guy coupled with the actions of a good guy.

    The best example I can think of is Batman. On the one hand, Batman goes out and stops crimes. On the other, he's an outlaw--he usually uses excessive force, and doesn't really recognize the authority of the police/government, at least when it comes to his own actions.
     
  11. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 9, 2000
    Motivation is so important in writing! It drives the characters, and therefore defines the plot. So many times, the only motivation for a character to do something is because the author WANTS them to, not because it makes sense or because it really seems to come from the character. It weakens the story, to me, and makes it implausible. When I as a reader find myself saying "Oh, give me a break!", then the author has failed. And it's a major fault of pro writers in all genres, not just fanfiction authors.

    It is hard to fathom bad guy motivation, and therefore important to write well. Of course, the creepiest villains to me are the ones who are supposedly helpless or innocent. Child villains ("Little Girl who lived down the Lane"), elderly ladies... The idea that the hero/ine could be destroyed or injured by someone who is, on the surface, powerless is very creepy to me.

    Equally creepy re: motivations are the people who do horrible, evil things with the genuine belief that they are doing it to make things better (the fanatics), like that Kathy Bates character, in "Misery." Or that mom who drowned her two kids in that SUV?

     
  12. Laine_Snowtrekker

    Laine_Snowtrekker Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2003
    Thanks for the defintion of Antiheroes.
     
  13. AlrikFassbauer

    AlrikFassbauer Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2003
    Off-Topic :

    I've once heard a different definition of the word "Antihero" :

    A German magazine was writing about the french comic "Asterix" , and about the relationship of the "hero" (Asterix) and his comrade, Obelix.

    It was said there that the creators of the comic were in the beginning discussing of how the protagonists would be made of. They decided to use a hero - which later became Asterix - and an "anti-hero" - Obelix.

    Now Obelix is not a hero at all. He's no villain ! He's friendly, helps everybody, but seems to have the mind of a child (so to say ;) ) and is very huge. He is a very simplistic comrade. ;)

    That's the other definition I had in mind. Someone who acts like a hero, but would never be considered as such.

     
  14. Spacehunter24

    Spacehunter24 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 2, 2003
    I strongly believe that there is no way that a storyteller can create human evil. Sauron is evil. But he's a giant fiery eye. He's not a person. Agent Smith is the ultimate bad guy; but he is a machine. If anyone can name a human character that is truely evil, feel free to.

    Well, if you disregard the information from the later movies, Michael Myers (from HALLOWEEN) is a human who is pure evil. That was John Carpenter's original concept. He's a human, just a young boy--no machine, no monster, no curse (like they came up with in the later films--just absolute pure evil.
     
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