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December 8, 2012
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On Loving Characters

:iconlovely-words:
Lovely-Words Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I've heard people say that their characters are like their babies and that's always bugged me; mostly because I would never treat my children the way I treat a fictional character. I mean, the main characters in my stories tend to get maimed, beaten, and murdered with an almost alarming frequency. The authors who say things like "My characters are my babies!" tend to be young and unwilling to do any harm to their creations, going to great lengths and literary contortions to make sure that their precious characters don't have to face and consequences (even something so minor as to have them sweating and disgusting after a hard fought battle). My questions to you is this: Do you, as a writer, become overly attached to your characters and how do you think that effects your story? Do you, as a reader, find it frustrating when it seems like nothing can touch the protagonists? And finally, how do we help remedy this problem in so many writers?
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Devious Comments

:iconchris000:
Chris000 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I AM attached to my characters in a way, but like a lot of things, I realize that they have to move on with their fictional lives. When their story ends, it ends. I've got a whole world out there, and like it or not, despite how I tend to make a big deal out of my current storyline, it's only a slice of the universe. I've got seven hundred years to work with, and at best, the story's only gone through five of those seven hundred years.

My current character for example has grown up during the course of the stories. He's getting married, has an ancient evil to stop, and the whole shebang, but I realize that there will be a time where I have to kill him off. As much as I like this character that I've used in some sense my whole life, his story must come to an end, and another one must begin, because that's life. It has to end sometime. Maybe there'll be more stories with maybe his kids, or maybe a distant descendant, but it won't be him forever.

Although, I have made a point to pretty much drive him to the point of insanity in the latest book, which may, or may not leave him with permanent mental scarring! Fun fun!

As for other characters, oh man, I just can't stop killing them! Depends on how important they are to the plot I guess. Ships blow up here, nukes go off there and nevermind the countless ground battles. So, it all depends on plot dependence for me.
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
I was overly attatched when I had but one character who I roleplayed with, inserted into fandoms, drew a lot and basically was obsessed over. About the only thing she didn't have was an actual life in an actual story because when I tried I realised how badly she fitted in a story despite being so so awesome in my head.

She is still beloved by me but never have I tried to write her into stories or such again for she is a remnant of my teenage days.

My current cast are 'beloved' and but not the same way. They exist to drive story and yes each one is dear to me in a way, but also there to be manipulated and draw a story out of my script. They're beloved for their purpose.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Bloody hell! My favorite original characters are the ones I put through the most hell! I killed off two of them before the first book starts (two faves out of twelve dead at that point) and another dies in the third chapter! And my main character is a freakin' eunuch!...

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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Student Writer
I played a Eunuch in a game of Dungeons and Dragons, once. You present being a eunuch as some kind of torment or terrible burden. Being a Eunuch was a rewarding profession for centuries in all kinds of cultures.
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:icondionaya:
Dionaya Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Student General Artist
While that's true, I think most writers would view castration as a profound debasement of their character. Castration is something far out of the comfort zone of most writers, even those who otherwise torment their characters liberally.
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Student Writer
I think most writers would view castration as a profound debasement of their character.

You think so? Let's find out.
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Eunuchs did get placed into many powerful positions in the Persian, Roman, and Byzantium Empires, that's true. I've done quite a bit of research into the topic.

However, in my story universe, my MC is castrated as part of the sacrifice ritual that nearly ends his life and does kill his friends. It's not so much being a eunuch that's the problem as the memories the castration invokes. He'll get over it soon enough... and I plan to use his eunuch state as a means of breaking a few women's/girl's hearts and embarrassing some guys in later books, which will be a hell of a lot of fun for me to write!
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Student Writer
Ah. Makes sense.
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:icondionaya:
Dionaya Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Student General Artist
Honestly, "my main character is a freakin' eunuch" was all you needed to make your case. :P
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:iconghostinthepines:
GhostInThePines Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Yeah, but I don't want people thinking I'm mean only to my main character... have to spread around the pain, you know?
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:iconmadoldhag:
MadOldHag Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, I am having this character issue. I love them a bit too much, especially one. But that doesn't mean that I don't let them experience bad things when I have to/when it makes sense. They wouldn't be what they are without the things they have been through. Oh, and it even doesn't have to be something overly dramatic. There is one point when I have to hit my protagonist where it hurts most, and I do so in a very unspectacular way. Anyway, my characters, my plots and the setting are growing and changing along. I also think that you can't expect a reader to feel anything for your characters when you, as the author, feel nothing at all. When I want to read an essay, I read an essay. When I want to read a story, I also want characters I can relate to, I can sympathize with or feel with in any way. And be it that I want to slap this stupid idiot ...

I think there are two kinds of authors, maybe three. Those who write more with the left side of the brain don't get attached to their characters, because they are always in full control. Then there are people with such a vivid imagination that the see, hear, smell, taste and feel while reading or writing. The ideal probably would be something in-between.
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:iconkyteglory:
KyteGlory Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
I think there's a difference between loving your characters and characters and loving your character as babies. A lot of my characters are great and I adore them. They intrigue me. They make me laugh. Sometimes they make me want to cry but not actually cry because I'm a man and men don't cry, sniff. But a lot of what makes them so fun and so interesting is the fact that they do have flaws, and they do have problems, and they do occasionally fall short. I just can't imagine caring about a character who didn't have struggles.

Anyway, I feel like my characters and I have an understanding. My characters know their responsibilities as characters and I know my responsibilities a writer. If it's time for somebody to behave unflatteringly, then they behave unflatteringly. If it's time for them to go through hell, then they go through hell. That's all there is to it. If it gets to the point where I feel like something's stopping me from using the character the way the character aught to be used, then I just retire that character. I stop writing about him, and he rides the White Ships off to Mary Sueland where he's free to be as perfect and carefree as he likes as long as nobody has to see him or hear about him.

As for how we can "fix" this problem... well, I'd say that raising awareness about "OCs" might be a start. Taking characters out of the context of a story causes all sorts of problems, but it causes even more problems when people try to put those characters back into a story after having developed them exclusively through memes and profiles.
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:iconwarobb:
Warobb Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Student Writer
Altough I have never called my characters "my babies", they do mean a lot to me. My favorite, Fenrir (my avatar), I usually call my alter-ego, because he's just like me. I would say I'm really attached to my characters, maybe even "overly".. I finished a novel about Fenrir which put an end to his story, and well, the ending is so tragic I got really depressed after finishing writing it. I've also heard that J.K. Rowling stopped writing and went to cry after killing Dumbledore.

What I want to say is just that being attached to your characters isn't the same as not letting anything touch them; that's just bad writing. The first part of Fenrir's novel is about him making a family and living "happily ever after". And it ends with them all dying, except for him. So, his life goes from being at the very top to the very bottom.

I do love my characters, and yes, it affects my writing, but it doesn't restrict me from doing bad things to them.
:)
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Writer
There are characters I have written that I love. That is to say, I really like writing about them and I like the kind of character that they are. I even enjoy reading about them once I've written about them. I think that's probably a good thing, too. Likable characters are a bonus. There's probably only two or three characters like that I've ever come up with.

But I feel absolutely no attachment to them. They are fictional. They are not my babies. They're just fun to write about.
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:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Such people tend, I think, to be shitty writers.

I would say I have been overly attached to at least one of my continuing characters. That means I have to be extra attentive, that I don't let him glide through untouched by events, and make an extra effort to put the screws to him when needed.

I'm not sure it *can* be remedied in many writers because they're not serious writers, and writing a good, readable story is not what they're about.
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:iconlovelyinblack:
Lovelyinblack Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Artist
I am attached to my characters, but I do not "baby" them at all. I've put them through horrible things.
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:iconanthropomorphiccanin:
anthropomorphiccanin Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Digital Artist
:iconthisplz:
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:iconanthropomorphiccanin:
anthropomorphiccanin Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I suffer from this, and hate mah good self for it. I go back and reread an hate myself all over again XD

Any tips for distancing my parental instincts from the characters?
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:icondaghrgenzeen:
Daghrgenzeen Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
If I can't sympathize with the characters at all or they don't get injured or sweaty at all, it's frustrating indeed.

As a writer, well... I want them to have all sorts of experiences. Sorrow, joy, hatred, love, humiliation, madness. I want some of them die. Some of them NEED to die or get otherwise hurt for the sake of the plot. ... Though there's this one sorceress bitch from my fantasy genre project, she keeps coming back no matter how hard I try to kill her. :stare: I'm writing a scene and suddenly realise, "Oh shit, she's here again."
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:icondaghrgenzeen:
Daghrgenzeen Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I mean all my characters, not just the protagonists. God, I should get off the Internet after 1am.
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:iconthehistoryfreak13:
thehistoryfreak13 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student General Artist
When i read a book or even watch a movie I have this intense longing to know what happened to the character. Whether they die, or live happily ever after I have to know, but sometimes authors like to mess with me and make us 'imagine' what happened. And I know that is at times genius way to writing but I dunno it always seemed wrong to me. I feel when I create a character I would want to give them what I dont have. Why should I make someone I created miserable. This is also a reason why I luv Jane Austen and authors like her so much because they do that, they in the end make their characters have a better fate then them. I admire that immensely, because to give up the temptation to make a plot 'intersting' by killing a character or something is a little hard dont u think?
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:iconmidsneypixels:
midsneypixels Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My characters ARE my babies, but I treat them very, very badly-'babies' in the sense of protecting them because they're mine and nobody else can get at them.
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:icondionaya:
Dionaya Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student General Artist
I am far too familliar with my characters' flaws to entertain any wishes to baby them. :P That said, I still tend to like my characters. I become especially attached to characters in the conceptializing stage, as I flesh out their history, their personality and their place in the story. This, inevitably, fades. I'm not so indifferent to my characters that I treat them like pieces on a chessboard, but I have no desire to set them on a pedastal or refer to them as my babies. I believe that a writer needs to have a degree of compassion for their characters, at least to fuel the desire to write about them. However, excessive love for a character will only stifle its development.

I find it extremely irritating when protagonists are invulnerable. This is part of the reason I despise Superman. Superman defeats the bad guy. Superman saves Lois Lane. No one suspects that he's secretly Clark Kent. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Perfection leaves no room for worthwhile plot development. If there's no question of a hero's success, what is the point of telling their story?
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional Writer
My BOOKS are like my babies. My characters are just part of the story.
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:iconmerrak:
merrak Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist
:nod:
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
ILU
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
i dig this.
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Writer
This! Very much this!
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Digital Artist
I have always loved my characters but that has never equated to wanting nothing bad to happen to them. I was surprised to hear that some people feel like this about their characters. I wouldn't like my characters if they never did anything interesting. It would be a boring story.
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
i don't know if i was attached but i had two "pet" characters i wrote about for eight years. in that time, they were victims of violence, perpetrators of violence, drunks, drug addicts, drug dealers, nihilistic/apathetic/selfish... and in the end, after one finished novel, one in progress and at least another 50 short stories about them, i broke them up and will only write for one of them in the future (maybe). they were fun to write for but there was no way i babied them -- everything bad that could happen to them would and in varying degrees.

you can't do much about a young writer but wait for them to grow up.

(How can you write a character without hitting any of your own traits? Actually, this sounds like another Screamprompt.)
to ^neurotype -- i doubt i'll be doing something like that, i already ran the character-building workshop; someone else can run with that. i much prefer to focus on the things no one else seems to pay attention to (plot, setting, theme, dialogue...) ;-)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
FINE.

Okay, yeah, it's totally reasonable.
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
i must say, in closing -- i never did anything to Angie & Nina "just to do something" -- each thing that happened was plot driven. each thing anyone writes has to mean something, has to drive the plot (I got that from Vonnegut but modified it -- if i remember correctly, he's more about "each word has to drive the plot". that seems a bit extreme to me). If it doesn't move the plot along, it doesn't belong. That's tough to do but once you get the hang of it, it becomes habit.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
word.

I think even side plots need to feed the main plot, yeah. I go about it by asking 'why does this scene have to happen.'
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Writer
There would also really be no way of checking to see if they stuck to the prompt or not.
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
true.
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:iconsaevuswinds:
saevuswinds Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Writer
I'm attached to my characters, but I know the difference between a real baby and a fictional one, so to speak. I love watching my characters grow and develop, and I'm fascinated on just how real I can make them. When nothing touches a main character, it tends not to be a good book or story at all, because it's unrealistic and boring. The major difference between fictional characters and real people (besides the obvious) is that real people go through obstacles and problems on their own caused by outside forces that do indeed happen one way or another whether or not it's their fault, which makes them develop without someone predetermining it or making it happen ( of course, this is excluding religion from this argument for the sake of conversation and civility). Fictional characters, however, will not grow and develop unless you do something to them, they'll just stay annoying and the same if who controls the story only loves on them.

There's a saying called "Tough Love", and it definitely applies to a writer and his or her characters.
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:iconhurricaneclaw:
Hurricaneclaw Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love my characters, but I'm not afraid of tearing them apart. So... somewhere in the middle, I guess?
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I do love myself, soooo. (How can you write a character without hitting any of your own traits? Actually, this sounds like another Screamprompt.)

I think some authors overcompensate by torturing their favorite characters and/or drawing out their death scenes, that kind of thing. It's very confusing to read a book and see everyone angst over a character that wasn't all that appealing.
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:iconladyander:
LadyAnder Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I don't understand personifying a character as if they are real or comparing their treatment to anything real. I don't like doing anything to my characters. I don't think about it like that. Whatever I do, good or bad is part of the story I am telling. If the story calls for it, then the story calls for it. Am I this cold person for thinking like this, no, I'm a writer.

My characters aren't my imaginary friends.

Some of them intrigue me as a personality I would like to me but in a real breathing person. I do like many of them as one would say liking anything. I will think of nothing but my current cast any work I'm doing for the time it takes for me to get done with it. Then I leave them. They may linger for a bit until I can think of something new, but I love thinking of something new. Some character's stories demand that I write a little more before I'm officially done as one more thread to tie but I'm always want to do something new because there are just a lot of stories I can tell and they don't include characters in ones I've finished.
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:iconlaemperatrizmariana:
LaEmperatrizMariana Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
The ones I "love" tend to be supporting characters, a few are leading protagonists. If they'e supposed to do something and end up harmed, then it happens. The hero beating up everyone is boring, and the protagonist constantly and needlessly suffering is just a waste of time.

I know some people have an aversion towards anything perfect or pleasant. I'm not going to pander to those either, unless it's aimed for that sort of audience or the person I'm brainstorming is like that.
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:iconladykuki:
LadyKuki Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student General Artist
Yes. I often do feel frustrated.

While I do like my characters, I also like to make them suffer as well. It makes it a lot more dramatic and interesting. :)
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:iconlovely-words:
Lovely-Words Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't mean suffer of the sake of suffering. I prefer there to be a point rather than just senselessly hurting a character.
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:iconladykuki:
LadyKuki Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student General Artist
I know. :XD:

That's what I meant.

Sorry about that.
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
I love my characters but I still make horrible things happen to them. They get captured, injured . . . I won't say who but someone loses an eye.
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:iconlaemperatrizmariana:
LaEmperatrizMariana Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That sounds more like you just like them than love them. If you loved them, then they wouldn't get hurt as much. :P
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Just because I love them doesn't mean I can't write them overcoming obstacles.
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:iconlaemperatrizmariana:
LaEmperatrizMariana Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Overcoming obstacles may or may not include physical or emotional injury.
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Writer
The newest Conan movie suffered from this. I wanted to walk out and demand my money back after one of the first scenes where, as a little 8 year old currently un-trained in combat, Conan beats a group of adult savage hunters with weapons--without breaking an egg he held in his mouth.

Not to mention the fact that all the "barbarians" had perfectly straight glaring white teeth. And everything was super CGI-shiny. This is supposed to be a gritty, raw series, not all clean and shiny. Ugh . . .

Seriously. The old Conan movies were way more awesome, and Conan got his ass handed to him a few times in those movies. In the new one, he just yawns his way through. Oh, you shot me with poison? Well somehow it doesn't affect me at all! Woo!

I fell asleep, and demanded my money back at the end. My boyfriend made me sit through the whole thing, and even he ended up hating it.
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:iconlovely-words:
Lovely-Words Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It seems to be a trend in all forms of story telling mediums where the protagonist must be untouchable. I really hate that because it ruins all tension knowing that yeah this character is going to be just fine so I don't have to worry about him or sympathize with him.
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Writer
I feel the same way. Why should I care? Why am I watching this crap? Where is the struggle?

I can't just sit there and go "Oooh, shiny picture" for almost two hours.
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