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Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
tristancody
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Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby tristancody » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:32 am

This is a very simple question but I have found so many long and complicated answers! My question is: "If you are writing an epic fantasy novel where characters come from magical lands and can shoot fire from their hands, do you like to make them easy to relate to for the reader? Or do you prefer for them to so far out there that they are unlike any one else?"

In advance - thank you for commenting!

- Tristan Cody.
"Do good, do better, do your best. Then work hard so that way your good is better than you best."

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LMGilbert
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby LMGilbert » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:05 am

I don't have any characters with amazing powers, but I am slowly evolving a character who is a small kid. When I say small, think the Borrowers. I'm trying to make it easy to relate to her by setting her in a realisitic, day-to-day world, and having her want to be like the "normal" kids & not stuck in the "special needs" classroom, & so on. But on the side I'm also investigating how to dramatize on the page, how her mind & character have adapted to being small, & how alienated from the big world she's become at a young age.

You know what, THANK YOU for posing this question, because it's got me thinking about this character & story again, & kicking my butt to get back to work on it.

Have you read the Animorphs series by YA writer K.A. Applegate? These characters have an incredible power that manifests differently in every book, and they learn new things about it all the time; it's not static or boring, they have to figure out in each case how to use the power of morphing to solve different problems. And they are all really easy & fun to relate to, probably because each one is a teenager who already has a life-in-progress when they suddenly acquire the ability to morph into animals. Tricky part: they have to acquire the animal's DNA by touching it... so if you want to battle the evil aliens as a tiger, first you have to touch a real live tiger!

tristancody
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby tristancody » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:41 am

"Do good, do better, do your best. Then work hard so that way your good is better than you best."

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:54 am


tristancody
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby tristancody » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:11 am

"Do good, do better, do your best. Then work hard so that way your good is better than you best."

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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby max2011 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:19 pm

There are so many dimensions to go with a character with powers. just check out all the comic book characters out there. The depth of each is depended on their special gift. Rogue of the X-Men struggled between being good vs evil thing, and she cannot physically touch anyone (though in one version she has advanced so much in her mutant abilities, she can control it). Her character has grown so much throughout the years because of this power. Recently, DC had Superman doubt his ability to be the protector of Metropolis because of the threat he poses to mankind. The issues derived from this story arc are endless.
I agree with others that any character has human-like qualities we exploit in our writing. You can take yours to any level that fits your plot.

tristancody
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby tristancody » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:15 pm

"Do good, do better, do your best. Then work hard so that way your good is better than you best."

max2011
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby max2011 » Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:34 pm

Your characters have both good and bad traits. I keep this at the back of my mind when I'm writing because that lets me know it's possible for the character to relate to some reader. If there is nothing one can relate to, then they don't work. For instance, take a look at stories in which animals have human characteristics. Why is that? There needs to be something. Look at "Childhoods End" and stories about vampires. They're out to suck your blood, but why should Angel (the series with David Boreanaz) be any different? There are many examples with aliens, in comics, in Sci-Fi stories, etc.....

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EcoBeauty
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby EcoBeauty » Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:15 am

Unfortunately, I don't--almost all the time. I tend to make my characters different and out-of-the-ordinary. I've always been brought up to do so, I guess. It was just wired into my mentality. Mysterious! That's the word I will describe to be my characters. When I mean "almost," I mean that I have written some work that is reflected off of me and many teenagers can relate to what I went through.

I must admit, though, I haven't been writing much and I've been working on the same short stories and novels since I was fourteen. I haven't been creating new characters as of yet, so I don't really have a collection to properly say whether most of my work can or cannot be related to.

Ben Reader
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Re: Do You Make Your Characters Easy To Relate To?

Postby Ben Reader » Fri May 18, 2012 11:51 pm

Most of the time, but there are also instances when I want to have a character that is like no other. Someone who is out of the box..  I’m sure you understand what I mean.

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