Been Thinking...

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Thread: Been Thinking...

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    Default Been Thinking...

    Am I the only one who thinks that there's this over-reliance on relatable main characters?

    Maybe it's just me, but I find that kind of character to be a little overdone. In my opinion, relatable characters, while having the advantage of making an audience care about them more easily, kinda really diminishes their complexity. It's like you could see their behavior and go "Damn, I'd have reacted the same way in that situation!" and move on.

    I think that's why I prefer writing main characters that are messed up in the head. For me, it's a way to challenge readers to think about the character, make them think "What? I know that's not how I'd behave. Wonder why he/she's acting like that..."

    Plus, I find those kinds of characters to be great ways for readers to exercise their empathy muscles, to see how far into the shoes of people who can be nothing like them they can put themselves.
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    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Been Thinking...

    You do bring up a great point, but what exactly do you mean by characters that are "messed up in the head"? Do you mean characters completely different that what your audience expects, or characters with mental disorders?
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    Default Re: Been Thinking...

    I agree with what you said completely, writers should branch out with their characters. To try and be different, because in the end, characters have to be human, and you don't always have to think or act like another person would.

    But at the same time, you need that character to be at least likable. So people can actually care what happens to them. I don't mean "likeable" like good guy type but also characters they love to hate and such. So in the end, if that characters undergoes some sort of experience that causes them to develop, it actually matters.

    Also, the character doesn't have to be "messed up in the head" to be different. For a character to be different, they need to think differently which causes them to act differently, when you give them a reason for their actions. That reason doesn't have to make sense to everyone, (since people don't think the same way) but a reason nonetheless, so it justifies their actions (in the character's mind).

    But in the end, you need to be daring and risky with your characters, not all of them will always work and not all them will be "likeable" but they will be original.

    That my opinion.

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    Default Re: Been Thinking...

    i do agree, i tend to make my characters somewhat relatable, but also different. what i mean is they may do something that someone might have done before, but also do things differently. it's fun to make insane characters some times, but other times you want to be realistic in your writing and offer a bit of clarity to people. idk that's just my feelings on this.

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    Default Re: Been Thinking...

    I agree as well. I think some are worried about making their main characters seem nonsensical in the eyes of the readers, turning them off. However, you can make a relatable character have depth. Like Higurashi's Keiichi Maebara. I was reading the latest volume of the Manga (the Atonement Arc) and I was shocked by such a character revelation.

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    Guess Who's Watching... Aladar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Been Thinking...

    Speaking in general, IMO the core of the problem is that many authors, on both sides of the experience scale, are afraid of their characters being labeled Mary/Gary Stus, so they make their characters a tad too identical to an average person. For example, while having the main character absolutely freak out while having to make some important decision or just mope around for too long after he loses someone close to him/her is realistic, writers shouldn't forget that people read to get away from all the boring and realistic real life stuff. In short, you don't need a Superman for the main character but Shinji Ikari-esques ones got old quite some time ago. There is no need for the main char to be an ace who always wins but you don't have to write him as a weak, shy teen with almsot no social skills either.

    At least in my opinion, the main char has to have a quirk of his own, like any of the side characters. Say, the Tsundere, the Emotionless Girl and the Hot-blooded guy may be considered quite cliched but in the end they'd still probably gather more interest than your main char if his main schtick is just being averagly average.


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    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: Been Thinking...

    I think there is a big difference between being relatable and being able to say I would do that in that situation. It is my belief that if a reader knows enough about any character that has real depth, they will be relatable, even the most abhorrent characters of all. Even if the reader couldn't really imagine themselves doing anything like what the character is doing, they should be able to at least understand (that is, if the writer chooses to give them sufficient background to understand, which they certainly don't have to).

    I don't remember where this quote was from but this is something I truly believe... "Every villain sees himself as the hero" Okay, while villains might not see themselves as actually doing the right thing, they certainly won't see themselves as doing the wrong thing - they will at the very least dehumanise their opponents, by characterising them as either villains ("I'm in this on my own, everyone in the world is a bastard, the only person I can trust is myself, therefore anything I do to anyone else is justified") or as subhuman ("That particular group of people are not my equals. I am better than them for some reason, either because I am individually special or due to some quasi-racial reason. I, therefore, can use and abuse them for whatever reasons I want.") Not just that, but the villains must have a reason for thinking these things.

    That is exactly the feeling that I tried to capture when I wrote Roots... You are reading about someone do things that you know are disgusting and horrible but there's no definitive point at which you can actually say that he has crossed the line... If you accept each thing that he does, the next thing that he does seems completely reasonable. In this way, you can't really say that you agree with what the character does or that you would definitely do what they do but you can relate, which is really uncomfortable. You find yourself relating to someone who is committing horrible acts. Personally, I think this is a lot more interesting than seeing someone committing horrible acts but not relating to them at all.
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    Yeezy taught me The Booty Warrior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Been Thinking...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gastly's Mama View Post
    I think there is a big difference between being relatable and being able to say I would do that in that situation. It is my belief that if a reader knows enough about any character that has real depth, they will be relatable, even the most abhorrent characters of all. Even if the reader couldn't really imagine themselves doing anything like what the character is doing, they should be able to at least understand (that is, if the writer chooses to give them sufficient background to understand, which they certainly don't have to).

    I don't remember where this quote was from but this is something I truly believe... "Every villain sees himself as the hero" Okay, while villains might not see themselves as actually doing the right thing, they certainly won't see themselves as doing the wrong thing - they will at the very least dehumanise their opponents, by characterising them as either villains ("I'm in this on my own, everyone in the world is a bastard, the only person I can trust is myself, therefore anything I do to anyone else is justified") or as subhuman ("That particular group of people are not my equals. I am better than them for some reason, either because I am individually special or due to some quasi-racial reason. I, therefore, can use and abuse them for whatever reasons I want.") Not just that, but the villains must have a reason for thinking these things.

    That is exactly the feeling that I tried to capture when I wrote Roots... You are reading about someone do things that you know are disgusting and horrible but there's no definitive point at which you can actually say that he has crossed the line... If you accept each thing that he does, the next thing that he does seems completely reasonable. In this way, you can't really say that you agree with what the character does or that you would definitely do what they do but you can relate, which is really uncomfortable. You find yourself relating to someone who is committing horrible acts. Personally, I think this is a lot more interesting than seeing someone committing horrible acts but not relating to them at all.
    This is an interesting way of putting it. I like it, though to me it doesn't look so much as relating to someone committing horrible acts as it is being able to get inside their heads. At least, when it comes to a character being relatable, it's usually because they think like most people would or have the same kinds of problems that most people do. That's the definition as I've understood it.

    As for making someone who does horrible things relatable, or at least able to be understood, I recall a lot of people actually being able to feel sorry for the Joker when they read The Killing Joke. Really does humanize him, despite everything he's done. Of course, that may not be as good an example, since we as the readers still have the option to believe that this is all some fabrication he's made up, seeing as how he doesn't really know why he is the way he is himself. Trying to think of a well-known example of a character who commits attrocities but is still very understandable. Perhaps Lex Luthor?

    I think a great challenge is being able to make a character relatable who you wouldn't expect to ever identify with. I'd say Grant Morrison pulls it off well in the All-Star Superman miniseries, for example. Supes is still very powerful, perhaps more powerful than usual, if I recall correctly, but he doesn't lose his human aspect as we're brought into the larger-than-life world he's always living in. He does things like compete with Samson and Atlas to show off to Lois and gets jealous when they hit on her, feeling vengeful and getting some payback like zapping Steve Lombard's wig. And this is Superman, the guy who a lot of folks deride for being just a flat nice guy character, who only gets mad when bad guys do bad things, the character who is generally considered unrelatable other than being the kind of person we can aspire to be. And not just any Superman, either. It's confirmed to be the Silver-Age Superman. The one who could move faster than light, stand in the center of a supernova without a scratch, with super-intellegence, who could juggle planets on his fingers, I believe.

    'Course, I will admit that not everyone sees things the same way, but I do think these kinds of characters and writing challenges are a great way to improve one's skills and really make one stand out as an author.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

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