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Chuguru
It's important for a character to be relatable. Give them real flaws and worries and interests. Strong characters don't have to be extraordinary.


I respectfully agree with your first sentence but definitely not with the second one. I think a strong character HAS to be extraordinary. Whether it be a "normal joe/jane" handling themselves well in an extraordinary situation (ie. Alice goes to Wonderland and discovers she's extraordinarily brave) or they have magic that's powerful....

No one wants to read a story that is UTTERLY relate-able. If there was nothing "interesting" or "extraordinary" about the character then why are you telling a story about them?
WhorribIe's avatar

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Dramatica Angeliqua
I'm currently in the process of planning for a novel I'm thinking of writing, and it has a character named Caela with dark brown eyes, dark blonde hair, petite figure, and beautiful face. I connect with her so well, because we're both deaf and reserved, and I incorporate my emotions into her character, giving her story deep, sincere feelings. I plan for the end of the novel to be her overcoming of shyness and troubles with self-acceptance.


That's awesome that you're deaf! I'm currently learning asl and it's really interesting to learn about the deaf culture! Do you go to a school solely for the deaf, of a public school?
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so Iame
Dramatica Angeliqua
I'm currently in the process of planning for a novel I'm thinking of writing, and it has a character named Caela with dark brown eyes, dark blonde hair, petite figure, and beautiful face. I connect with her so well, because we're both deaf and reserved, and I incorporate my emotions into her character, giving her story deep, sincere feelings. I plan for the end of the novel to be her overcoming of shyness and troubles with self-acceptance.


That's awesome that you're deaf! I'm currently learning asl and it's really interesting to learn about the deaf culture! Do you go to a school solely for the deaf, of a public school?

I am mainstreamed in a hearing private school. smile
My favourite character of my own creation is Malcolm 'Midnight' Anderson. He is, at the start of my novella malcolm midnight, an unambitous 20 year old who dropped out of highschool to withdraw from society, and created a website to make money by helping people with homework and such things, which eventually turned him into something like an accidental private eye, helping solve small cases. He hates the spotlight, wants to be left alone, but he just can't find it in himself to say no to those who need his help. The story is as much about him coming to realize he can live in the world as more than just an isolated and suspicious soul, and that there are people who will help him.
Niniva
Chuguru
It's important for a character to be relatable. Give them real flaws and worries and interests. Strong characters don't have to be extraordinary.


I respectfully agree with your first sentence but definitely not with the second one. I think a strong character HAS to be extraordinary. Whether it be a "normal joe/jane" handling themselves well in an extraordinary situation (ie. Alice goes to Wonderland and discovers she's extraordinarily brave) or they have magic that's powerful....

No one wants to read a story that is UTTERLY relate-able. If there was nothing "interesting" or "extraordinary" about the character then why are you telling a story about them?


There are a ton of really incredible stories written about entirely unextraordinary characters thrown into crazy situations. "Handling themselves well" isn't actually something that is extraordinary. "Handling themselves like a champ and becoming the commander of the winning army" would be extraordinary. But "handling themselves poorly and unwittingly joining the resistance against a reigning monarchy while battling depression" might just be stronger than being the commander, and more relatable. And honestly, that character could be nothing more than an average human and it would still make an interesting read. It allows more in-depth self-projection.

Anyway, what's wrong with having a strong side character who is unextraordinary? I wasn't trying to imply that it has to be a main character.
Chuguru
Niniva
Chuguru
It's important for a character to be relatable. Give them real flaws and worries and interests. Strong characters don't have to be extraordinary.


I respectfully agree with your first sentence but definitely not with the second one. I think a strong character HAS to be extraordinary. Whether it be a "normal joe/jane" handling themselves well in an extraordinary situation (ie. Alice goes to Wonderland and discovers she's extraordinarily brave) or they have magic that's powerful....

No one wants to read a story that is UTTERLY relate-able. If there was nothing "interesting" or "extraordinary" about the character then why are you telling a story about them?


There are a ton of really incredible stories written about entirely unextraordinary characters thrown into crazy situations. "Handling themselves well" isn't actually something that is extraordinary. "Handling themselves like a champ and becoming the commander of the winning army" would be extraordinary. But "handling themselves poorly and unwittingly joining the resistance against a reigning monarchy while battling depression" might just be stronger than being the commander, and more relatable. And honestly, that character could be nothing more than an average human and it would still make an interesting read. It allows more in-depth self-projection.

Anyway, what's wrong with having a strong side character who is unextraordinary? I wasn't trying to imply that it has to be a main character.


Quote:
"Handling themselves well" isn't actually something that is extraordinary.


I see, so you think being heroic in the face of a disaster or war is the kind of thing everyone does? It's just ordinary people stuff?

I think I'll have to disagree on your definitions of "unextraordinary" and claim we're talking past each other because everything that you've said about "unextraordinary" seems pretty extraordinary to me. That is to say, doesn't happen to normal people....and wouldn't be handled by normal people in the same way.

Don't forget that "extraordinary" doesn't mean "better". Extraordinarily BAD things are sometimes just as interesting.

Quote:
what's wrong with having a strong side character who is unextraordinary


Nothing. They just aren't interesting.
GreenInkling's avatar

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This is an excellent question for me to ask myself about my characters.
All people, by the nature of being real and alive, living in this world, are extraordinary. Any fictional character, born of a person's mind and existing only as text, who we can connect with as a person regardless, is therefore just as extraordinary. To say that an ordinary person in a novel can't be interesting is a complete falsehood. As an example, I point to biblo bagins, who was by and large a witness to extraordinary things. He was as normal and unassuming as a person can be, just a guy who made a choice he didn't quite comprehend largely on a whim. But we root for and relate to him precisely because he is not an incredibly powerful being.

Also, yes I believe facing danger in a way worthy of story is a thing that anyone in the world has the ability to do. Its a choice, a choice that many are afraid to make, but none are totally, utterly incapable of. Everyone can do something to help another.
Niniva
Chuguru
Niniva
Chuguru
It's important for a character to be relatable. Give them real flaws and worries and interests. Strong characters don't have to be extraordinary.


I respectfully agree with your first sentence but definitely not with the second one. I think a strong character HAS to be extraordinary. Whether it be a "normal joe/jane" handling themselves well in an extraordinary situation (ie. Alice goes to Wonderland and discovers she's extraordinarily brave) or they have magic that's powerful....

No one wants to read a story that is UTTERLY relate-able. If there was nothing "interesting" or "extraordinary" about the character then why are you telling a story about them?


There are a ton of really incredible stories written about entirely unextraordinary characters thrown into crazy situations. "Handling themselves well" isn't actually something that is extraordinary. "Handling themselves like a champ and becoming the commander of the winning army" would be extraordinary. But "handling themselves poorly and unwittingly joining the resistance against a reigning monarchy while battling depression" might just be stronger than being the commander, and more relatable. And honestly, that character could be nothing more than an average human and it would still make an interesting read. It allows more in-depth self-projection.

Anyway, what's wrong with having a strong side character who is unextraordinary? I wasn't trying to imply that it has to be a main character.


Quote:
"Handling themselves well" isn't actually something that is extraordinary.


I see, so you think being heroic in the face of a disaster or war is the kind of thing everyone does? It's just ordinary people stuff?

I think I'll have to disagree on your definitions of "unextraordinary" and claim we're talking past each other because everything that you've said about "unextraordinary" seems pretty extraordinary to me. That is to say, doesn't happen to normal people....and wouldn't be handled by normal people in the same way.

Don't forget that "extraordinary" doesn't mean "better". Extraordinarily BAD things are sometimes just as interesting.

Quote:
what's wrong with having a strong side character who is unextraordinary


Nothing. They just aren't interesting.


Quote:
I see, so you think being heroic in the face of a disaster or war is the kind of thing everyone does? It's just ordinary people stuff?


How is "handling themselves well" translated into being a hero? You lost me there. Someone simply doing their best to hold themselves together could be how that character handles themselves well.

Quote:
Don't forget that "extraordinary" doesn't mean "better".

Never made that claim.

Quote:
Nothing. They just aren't interesting

I really, really disagree.

I think you have a skewed idea of what is "extraordinary", so yes, we are walking right past each other because we have different definitions of what is normal vs. what is not normal.
Chuguru
Niniva
Chuguru
Niniva
Chuguru
It's important for a character to be relatable. Give them real flaws and worries and interests. Strong characters don't have to be extraordinary.


I respectfully agree with your first sentence but definitely not with the second one. I think a strong character HAS to be extraordinary. Whether it be a "normal joe/jane" handling themselves well in an extraordinary situation (ie. Alice goes to Wonderland and discovers she's extraordinarily brave) or they have magic that's powerful....

No one wants to read a story that is UTTERLY relate-able. If there was nothing "interesting" or "extraordinary" about the character then why are you telling a story about them?


There are a ton of really incredible stories written about entirely unextraordinary characters thrown into crazy situations. "Handling themselves well" isn't actually something that is extraordinary. "Handling themselves like a champ and becoming the commander of the winning army" would be extraordinary. But "handling themselves poorly and unwittingly joining the resistance against a reigning monarchy while battling depression" might just be stronger than being the commander, and more relatable. And honestly, that character could be nothing more than an average human and it would still make an interesting read. It allows more in-depth self-projection.

Anyway, what's wrong with having a strong side character who is unextraordinary? I wasn't trying to imply that it has to be a main character.


Quote:
"Handling themselves well" isn't actually something that is extraordinary.


I see, so you think being heroic in the face of a disaster or war is the kind of thing everyone does? It's just ordinary people stuff?

I think I'll have to disagree on your definitions of "unextraordinary" and claim we're talking past each other because everything that you've said about "unextraordinary" seems pretty extraordinary to me. That is to say, doesn't happen to normal people....and wouldn't be handled by normal people in the same way.

Don't forget that "extraordinary" doesn't mean "better". Extraordinarily BAD things are sometimes just as interesting.

Quote:
what's wrong with having a strong side character who is unextraordinary


Nothing. They just aren't interesting.


Quote:
I see, so you think being heroic in the face of a disaster or war is the kind of thing everyone does? It's just ordinary people stuff?


How is "handling themselves well" translated into being a hero? You lost me there. Someone simply doing their best to hold themselves together could be how that character handles themselves well.


Yes, and if most people wouldn't be able to "hold it together" then that's heroic, and extraordinary.

Quote:
Quote:
Nothing. They just aren't interesting

I really, really disagree.


Obviously. But to say otherwise is to say that you find regular people in the real world interesting. Which, well, they are. Just not in the same way that a character in a novel usually is interesting.

Quote:
I think you have a skewed idea of what is "extraordinary", so yes, we are walking right past each other because we have different definitions of what is normal vs. what is not normal.


I think you're right, except that my idea of "extraordinary" is taking the term literally. "extra" meaning "not" followed by "ordinary" meaning "normal" or "every day".

So....."extra-ordinary" would mean pretty much exactly -not- "regular people". I don't find regular people interesting for the very fact that they aren't extraordinary in any way. You, of course, are welcome to your own opinion on this and it's precisely why there's such a wide variety of fiction out there. I just can't get into anything that doesn't require a little suspension of disbelief.
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The strongest character I've ever created was for a short story for a creative writing class. I originally meant it to be a sort of disguised memoir of a childhood incident, but the character quickly diverged from who I was at the time and became a person of her own. I drew on both family history and fantasy, and I think it was the combination that did it.

And I made sure that everything that she saw, heard, smelled, tasted, or felt was clear and vivid (and mostly taken from memory), and that the setting was detailed and believable.

Also, I strongly believe in picking an image and turning it into a symbol which then collects a hefty load of meaning as the character goes through experiences. Strictly speaking, that part is not about character, but it does give the character's experiences punch. This character survived a trauma partly by trusting that the messages that came to her through the landscape (by way of natural phenomena such as snow and lightening) contained helpful, guiding information -- many people would regard that as crazy, but her survival in fact depends on that trust. That part is really about plot as much as it is about character.

I've written two stories about her and am still revising them both. I was thinking of a novel, and a collection of stories is one way to write a novel.
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I believe one of my characters, Gradie Reviere, is well-developed because she is the zombie hero of the story, but still acted like a a typical teenager (gadgets, friends, school). Gradie wanted a human life but in the story, she learned to accept who she is and why she is such a big influence on the supernaturals who'd been as brave as her. When I wrote this story, I wanted it to be similar to me because I am unpopular in school and only have a few friends I can trust. So, as I developed this in my mind and wrote it on any paper I can find, I realize how much I am beloved by my friends who'd been here for as long as I remember.
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a half man half snake person; snake head with a diamond shape around. he has a human bottom half, long, yellow nails like claws. he's a scientific genius from the future that was trapped in a book and sent back through time to the 21st century. he has been deprived of his resources and has to start over again with his destroy the world plan.
Chuguru

I'm going to have to side with you. I've always felt that the really great characters aren't the people who are larger than life, they're ordinary men and women with well defined personalities and relatable character flaws. Neuromancer, for instance, would have been nowhere near as interesting if Case wasn't a mostly ordinary computer hacker who got thrust into things far beyond his understanding and control.
GreenInkling's avatar

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Niniva

Chuguru


I get what Niniva is saying. You can have ordinary characters that are extraordinary.
Paradox, I know, but consider:

A story about a teenage boy waking up in the morning, brushing his teeth, getting ready for school is not very catchy to the reader.
A story about a teenage boy whose brother committed suicide a year ago, whose first waking thought is to struggle with the guilt of being alive while is brother is dead, in between brushing his teeth and getting ready for school, is much more interesting.

In both stories, nothing astounding or heroic happens, per se. But the strength comes in putting an ordinary person in a conflict-heavy situation.

See Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass.
He explains it much better than I do.

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