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Little Gifts: When/If/How Many - Deciding on what to do about the children of characters

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Azeria_Jade, Apr 9, 2007.

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  1. Azeria_Jade

    Azeria_Jade Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 3, 2001
    This has been a bit of a curiosity of mine for a while. When writing your fan-fiction do you ever think about any of your characters having children? If so, how do you decide what gender they'll be or how many they'll have? If you are writing with canon characters do you ever change the amount of children they have? For example, maybe Anakin and Padme only had Luke. Or Leia and Han had four kids instead of three, Jaina, Jacen, Anakin and Hanna?

    How do you decide? Roll of the dice?
     
  2. Luna_Nightshade

    Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jan 25, 2006
    I've always thought there's a fine line between giving your characters a new baby and turning a story into too much of a self-insertion/excessively-happily-ever-after story.

    For example, the story of Anakin and Padme's new brood of children: twins Blake and Bryce, twins Emily and Ashley, and of course twins Luke and Leia, in which all the girls have Padme's beautiful hair and intelligent spirit and all the boys are fantastic blond-haired pilots and Anakin is the Best Father in the World can become too much. :D Then it seems that the author is living out his or her own fantasy life through these characters, especially when Obi-Wan also has his own brood of auburn-haired younglings. It is a strange twist on the Mary Sue phenomenon that I've always found a little awkward to read. Of course, that's just my personal preference.

    If you come up with a great OC character in a plausible AU situation and your story would be greatly enhanced by their appearance... then by all means, send your character to the local Walgreens for a pregnancy test.
     
  3. Luna_Nightshade

    Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Jan 25, 2006
    EDIT: Something is wrong with my postability. Very odd.
     
  4. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Since I tend to write about Jedi, giving them children is a bit of a problem.[face_blush] I only really did it in one case and that's because the plot needed it - the child's presence brought out a whole lot of plotpoints and tensions among the characters. As to the sex of the child, it also depends on why you need a child in the story. If they are there to be adorable, either sex is fine, but if it's imperative to the plot, you have to think carefully about the child's sex as well as his/her age.
     
  5. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 22, 2003
    The following is from the perspective of someone whose focus is almost exclusively on OCs. Thank you for your time.

    If you're going to give your characters children, the most important thing to remember is that they are people too (well, characters). Give them personalities beyond just Kinda Cute Kid. Age is no excuse for a flat two-dimensional characterization. Okay, maybe a little, since a baby's pretty much just a baby, but there's still Crying Babies, Quiet Babies, Inquisitive Babies, Babies That Look Like Buddha, etcetera etcetera. :p

    Anyway, put just as much care into making them as their own complete characters as you would a new unrelated OC. Certainly incorporate some elements of the parents' personalities and looks, but don't be a slave to them. Perhaps pick some small part of the father that doesn't come out very often, and make it a major trait of his daughter. Just a thought.

    I recently had to deal with this children thing in my latest epic, Galaxy Grey, which fast-forwarded my characters to middle age. Wes Diabet is a spitting image of his goofball detective father, but his sister Aria is an angry black-haired warrior, with a much harder edge than her ex-gunslinger mother. I gave the cold genius investigator Synth a son who's just as smart, but less experienced and eerily similar to the jokesters Synth hates. Of course I also made Synth and Djerro long-estranged... same with escape artist Onhyu and his pirate daughter Kyte. But then again, my fics thrive on dysfunction. :p
     
  6. AnakinsFavorite

    AnakinsFavorite Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2006
    In my stories, every little detail has a point and purpose- whether the readers recognize it right away or not. The same pertains to children- they are just like any other character and should be developed accordingly.

    I used to hate writing kids, but I just this past week created one for a story who is going to serve as an emotional buffer and also a point of friction. The story will be pivotal about his existance. He is just as developed as the cannon characters and is quite fun to write- I get to determine his personality and such.
     
  7. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I determine it by several things:

    1) Biological clock
    2) Potential emotional conflict/resolution due to kids
    3) End result of the marriage/partnership
    4) How much I like the characters.
     
  8. VaderLVR64

    VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2004
    I never question if I should add a child to the mix. It just always seems clear if I should. Or should NOT. I know that doesn't help much, so I'll try and explain.

    Adding children just to increase the "aw" factor seldom works, but if you're going to make a child an integral part of the story then I say full speed ahead. Sometimes you just know a character would have a child (or want one, depending on the situation) and sometimes you just know it's either not the right time or that character doesn't pine for parenthood.

    I like writing children, having been around them most of my life. :D They're interesting people with definite opinions of their own. They are annoying, obnoxious, generous, loving, and infuriating - just like the rest of us. :)

    If you're debating on whether you should add a child character, then my gut instinct would be to hold off until it becomes clear that the child MUST be in the story. It's sort of like deciding you're ready to have kids. You should be pretty sure before you take that leap. ;)
     
  9. Vongchild

    Vongchild Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2004
    Adding children to a story isn't easy. I've done it spur-of-the-moment before and then realized it was a dumb idea. Generally, I like to plan my stories ahead of time, so unless it's an "OMG BRILLIANT" moment, kids don't "happen" without means.

    Generally, it comes down to whether you want responsibility for the character or not. Sure, it's cute for Jaina and Jag to have a baby at the start of the story, but is it cute when the baby isn't mentioned after chapter five and no one knows what happened? You can't just write kids out like you can write side characters out. They're tied to the adult characters in a way that, once they're in, you can't get them out. Kind of like a particularly bad stain.

    Just having a character get "knocked up" for the heck of it doesn't work, since it makes the plot more complicated and limits your options later on in the story. So, if you ask me, unless it really adds to the plot in a major way or if the child is the central character, kids just kind of get in the way of development.
     
  10. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

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    Sep 20, 2002
    While watching The Peacekeeper Wars last week, I had a thought: What if Farscape had never been cancelled? Aeryn and John would've been raising a baby in a galaxy rife with war, not to mention everyone would be chasing John for his wormhole knowledge. How would they have protected and raised their child? How much of a plot point would the child have remained?

    The writers were no dummies, so I imagine they would've done something fantastic with the storyline, but that put fictional babies in a new light for me. I think you really have to plan ahead if you're going to drop a kid in the middle of a story. Babies will be especially hard to work with, because they're small and helpless beings that always need someone to tend to them. You can conveniently shove them into the arms of a nanny droid while the heroic parents are off saving the galaxy, but you might have limited options with the parents' fate. Jaina and Jag could both die, but what happens to the helpless baby?

    Same thing with kids - they're not all going to be the all-powerful Solo kids, so they won't be able to do flashy lightsaber moves when they're wee lads and lasses. Depending on the plot, someone still has to look out for them. If the parents are constantly running off, to me that says two things: either they're lousy parents, or the author's preparing them for a major angst-fest 20 years later (Leia and Jaina, for example). Both options can make great stories, but this means you have to think of the child as a full character, not just physical proof of how much two people love each other.

    Another thing to consider, as I did after watching Farscape (hey, it's a good show :p ), is whether or not the couple wants kids, the reasons, can they change their minds. At first glance Boba Fett seems like the most unlikely person to want kids, and yet a look at his history shows how much his father meant to him. I think about a character's concept of family from the moment I create it, because that helps me figure out not just the desire for kids, but the way the character connects with other beings. Having a baby can make a character change, but the baby should be more than a plot device.

    Once the kid hits the tween years, seems to me it's a lot easier to treat them as full characters. Even if you're terrible at writing kids, you can still show how the kid is or isn't like his parents since his mind and personality has developed beyond drooling, spitting up, and diaper changes. I hope. :p


    edit: For example, the story of Anakin and Padme's new brood of children: twins Blake and Bryce, twins Emily and Ashley, and of course twins Luke and Leia, in which all the girls have Padme's beautiful hair and intelligent spirit and all the boys are fantastic blond-haired pilots and Anakin is the Best Father in the World can become too much.

    If that story exists, I want to read it! [face_laugh]
     
  11. Azeria_Jade

    Azeria_Jade Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 3, 2001
    [face_laugh] Having babysat a lot and having had to retire a few shirts after a few "incidents" that's a great example.
     
  12. CHEVALIER_RYU

    CHEVALIER_RYU Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    Jun 16, 2005
    One thing that I've noticed about oc's children for canon character in a "after the war/quest/advenrure" setting is that they tend to have a lot: 8 or 10. And franckly I don't find it plausible. I mean the characters are usualy very active, involved individual, with a taste for danger ( they may not all love it, but they sure don't essitate if the situation require it) For them to have family that big it would take lots of their time and prevent at least one of them from doing much else. I think they would go creazy, even Padmé for all her nuturing personnality.


    In the real word, since both parents have a career 3 children is considered a big family, it's the same thing in GFFA.
     
  13. LilyHobbitJedi

    LilyHobbitJedi Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Aug 29, 2005
    For me the decision to give my characters children is often very natural and just feels right. When I do make the decision, however, I am careful to make sure that the kids have an important role in the story as well as not being a complete clone of their parents. Putting children into a story is a wonderful thing to read for sure, but it can definitely be tricky to write them and make everything work out right.
     
  14. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    I've frequently thought of this. For example, in a story I'm currently writing, we find out that Luke and Leia had an older sister named Sarai who died of SIDS at three months. This is very important to certain characterizations. Also, in this AU, the Solos have a daughter named Kaiya about a year after Endor.

    Generally, I use additional children for specific AU purposes or to explore characterization on a smaller scale.
     
  15. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Jun 25, 2002
    I guess the first questions I'd ask when I was considering whether to include a child (any child really) are A) what kind of story am I telling, and B) how would a child with such-and-such characteristics fit into it?

    Some genres seem to tolerate minor children more easily than others. IIRC, I have only once given a character a young OC child in an action/adventure-type story (different fandom), and that time the kid's purpose was essentially to add what I call "the Newt factor." Newt was the little girl from "Alien II," who was there solely to call up people's old childhood nightmares, and play upon every parent's worst fears. Quite honestly, she was a type of McGuffin--almost like the baby in "Willow," only with stringy hair and an expression of perpetual terror.

    I confess that I rather like Newts. They're a quick way to raise the stakes in danger scenes, and the presence of children is always handy for introducing readers to a new world. It seems natural for an adult character to explain basic things about some unfamiliar machine or slathering monster to a child, but slightly stupid if they explain the same stuff to another adult who logically ought to know already. ("As you know, Master Kenobi," said Mace, "We Jedi are the defenders of peace and justice in the galaxy." "No wai," Obi-Wan said, for the 300th time that afternoon.)

    Newts don't have to be the biological children of the main character, but that's a very logical thing for them to be. Few things motivate someone to move heaven and earth like the thought of his/her child in danger.

    And that is why I once put an OC 18-month-old in the middle of a terrorist bombing.

    Well, it was only an imaginary one! It's not like any OC's were harmed in the making of that story.

    Okay, yes they were, but that's beside the point.

    Obviously, any character you want the readers to care about has to be sketched out as a "real person," even if it's done in fairly quick strokes. People have already said that though. +1. QFT. I spend too much time in JCC. Next idea. :p

    I've found that young children do not fit easily into action-adventure stories as active protagonists, however--and that's true of whoever the child belongs to. I think the youngest true action/adventure protagonist I ever wrote was 16. Start subtracting years from that, and you're going to have to do more and more work to suspend a reader's disbelief, unless you want to take the blaster or the ship controls out of the kid's hands and make him a Newt.

    Older offspring of main characters make terrible Newts, by the way--unless there's something especially fragile or childlike about them. The best (worst?) example I can think of is Jack Bauer's daughter in the "24" series. She made a passable combination Newt/protagonist in season 1, when she was supposed to be 15 or 16. When she was still doing the same crap in her early 20's, however, people wanted to throw rocks at her for being an idiot. I've written so few parent/adult child scenes that I don't have much to say about them, other than that I'd probably choose to go the psychodrama route with that scenario. The "why" behind such a child's existence would probably be to explore some psychological vulnerability in the parent--or perhaps in the child, since s/he must live in the shadow of the (presumably outstandingly heroic) canon character. I would expect such a relationship to be somewhere between rocky and estranged.

    I find it's much easier to add children to the mix if you move into genres other than action/adventure--which is usually the default canon genre of the stuff I read and watch. Kids can fit fine within the genres of romance, drama, short introspection pieces, etc. The "why" behind their existence is more likely to be character-driven than plot-driven (that is, more likely to bring out the human sides of stiff Jedi characters like Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon than to implausibly blow up droid control ships. Oh. Wait). [face_plain] Small kids can make great point-of-view characters in scenes
     
  16. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 8, 2005
    Ooh, nice name. (I'm one of those strange baby name addicts, and the more creative yet realistic sounding the name, the better).

    In the evolution of my characters, I've given them as few children in their futures as possible. I'm not a parent, have no intention of being one, so writing about the situation is one that I simply cannot tackle properly. You can write about many things without having done them, but I tend to believe that the best writers of fics involving children are done by those who are parents. Sometimes "write what you know" is the best advice. If you don't have kids, or haven't worked with them or had some kind of close relationship with them, it's probably best to stay away from them as characters in-depth.

    But it can be surprising when you first plan out a character having no children in their future. Sometimes, the character's story line falls down in such a way that they actually DO wind up with a kid or two, despite the writer's first intention. That's how I know one of my OC's is going to have a daughter named Meisen one of these days. I originally planned for him to be a celibate seeker of spiritual knowledge. He, obviously, wanted to reproduce. :p
     
  17. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 3, 2003
    I have an OC that has kids. She wouldn't be complete without kids- she's got too much "mom" in her. It's also a way to help her grow up. I haven't written them much at all- I'm not at that point in the storyline right now, nor will I be for some time yet. I wrote a story with one of them at a very young age once, as a vehicle for telling another story of his parents' past. He was sick, couldn't sleep, and wanted Daddy to tell him a story. An exciting one from the Jedi Civil War, not some dumb fairy tale. Story within a story, that sort of thing.

    They've also served to point out "What is wrong with the galaxy?" They were booted from their home for politics' sake, and they just didn't understand why it was happening.

    Other than that, though... I don't think I intend to do much with them until they're in their teens. Outside of the occasional general life sketch I like to do to shake things up- the galaxy can't be epic full-time, you know.
     
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