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How to make a character realistic and IC but not annoying:
In my story the protagonist's younger brother is a spoiled but passive child with low self esteem due to a nasty bigoted comment about him by some adults when he was young. He clings to his parents and older brother for acceptance, safety and protection. His parents are murdered when he is at school one day and he and his brother are sent to their father's parents in England. I have talked to someone about realistic psychological reactions and was told that he would likely be repressive and cling to his brother. He is ten years old and still pretty smart with skill at video games and a good memory but doesn't feel useful to anyone. How do I have him act repressive and clingy but not in a way that would make him appear unbearably annoying or extremely stupid.
The local bardI imagine you mean repressed, not "repressive." Anyway, I say you should focus more on the repressed part than the clingy part. A repressed/clingy kid would just kind of follow you quietly and keep out of the way instead of loudly insist that they accompany you everywhere like a Spoiled Brat would. That would be major woobie points for both siblings, especially if his brother handles it gracefully. Or as gracefully as his age allows—how old is the brother, anyway?
Sorry about the long wait. The older brother starts out 13 and then turns 14 during the events of the story. The older brother is the sort who takes the role of a parents and never admits that he has any emotional issues that need to be addressed until he snaps under stress.
edited 6th Feb '11 5:24:34 PM by JewelyJ
In my story the protagonist's younger brother is a spoiled but passive child with low self esteem due to a nasty bigoted comment about him by some adults when he was young. He clings to his parents and older brother for acceptance, safety and protection.Well already your character isn't realistic. You've given him Single Issue Psychology. There is no way that one comment would get to a child that much and warp their whole personality. Unless there is some persistent behavior from other people to justify his thoughts, it reads less like a reason and more like something to tic off on The Woobie checklist.
Oh! My mistake. I should have put incident. Wrong choice of words. It wasn't one comment. His aunt yelled at his father about him saying that the kid was an embarrassment to the family. Then some other people told the parents that they could still send the kid away to people who can handle his 'problem'. The kid is an Empath which is not exactly a valued trait among their kind. I should add the kid doesn't exactly have a perfectly normal childhood. He was born a twin but when he was a toddler his brother was abducted. Later his parents tried to keep that from him but the issues a still there. Also for the first few years of his life a violent, resentful stepson lived with the family and caused a lot of trouble. The kid grows up ultra sheltered and a little bit spoiled. His father forbids him from telling anyone about his Empathy which is sort of a mixed message. His empathy effects his personality a little bit as well. Most of these events I've mentioned come into play in more ways than one. So I added them for story and plot.
edited 6th Feb '11 8:02:35 PM by JewelyJ
My mistake. I should have put incident.It still carries the same problems. Save for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (which tend to arise from, as the name states, serious psychological trauma), single incidents do not tend to significantly affect behavior and personality afterwards.
But it wasn't just those comments. He was like four and watched several adults tell his parents that he should be sent away. When you're a kid you're taught that you're supposed to respect adults. So as a kid hearing a bunch of adults say that it's better to send you away it would be sort of crushing. Also these adults are Psi , one of his kind and his father's kind. His father later tells him to never let anyone find out he's an Empath and it makes him wonder if his father eels differently about him. The father doesn't really help that because he's not the best parent and is distant from his kids. His father isn't really a good parent, but he is just repeating the way he himself was raised. Afterwards his parents spoil him in pity and-in a way-treat him as if he needs extra protection. Like he's weaker. His brother also is super protective of him. Also I mentioned that his empathy affects his personality. It overflows him with a bunch of foreign emotions and he expresses them in a way that gets him picked on as a crybaby. His parents don't teach him to stand up for himself, instead just giving him stuff. He continues to be picked on and it reinforces his belief that he is just weak, The incident isn't the sole cause of his problems but it is a part of it.
edited 6th Feb '11 8:44:31 PM by JewelyJ
But it wasn't just those comments. He was like four and watched several adults tell his parents that he should be sent away. When you're a kid you're taught that you're supposed to respect adults. So as a kid hearing a bunch of adults say that it's better to send you away it would be sort of crushing.I will repeat myself: with the exception of developing PTSD, single incidents do not usually change overall behavior and personality. Unless you are trying to tell me that the character developed PTSD from this one event, it's going to be eye-rollingly unrealistic. And if you are trying to tell me that the character developed PTSD over this incident? You are still going to make me eyeroll because a) PTSD tends to manifest as some pretty specific behavior changes (flashbacks, avoidant behavior relating to the trauma in question, heightened overall anxiety and/or arousal *, numbing of emotional responses. I should know, I have it) and b) PTSD developed in reaction to a single traumatic event (as opposed to PTSD developed in reaction to prolonged trauma, such as abuse or bullying) tends to be in reaction to very severe trauma — usually the sort where the victim has reason to believe that they are immediately going to die. The short of it: very few kids are going to be permanently traumatized by That One Time People Were Really Really Mean to him. Will they have a bad memory of it? Yes. Will it affect their mood when someone brings it up? Yes. Will it significantly affect how they'll react to most situations from that point on, and/or be the constant point of reference for all their behavior. No.
edited 6th Feb '11 11:29:11 PM by Sparkysharps
Thou errant flap-dragon!How about a scene where a family member goes batshit crazy, screams about how worthless he is etc., breaks stuff, and nearly throttles him before someone else intervenes and they finally come to their senses?
Was?That's a bit melodramatic really. Really there is a much simpler explanation that doesn't read like the story is trying to award the kid woobie points. You mentioned that empaths aren't thought of very highly right? Just have it so his family always treated him with kid gloves, perpetually giving him the impression that he was vulnerable.
Thou errant flap-dragon!^ That might not necessarily be "scarring", like OP seems to want, but it would definitely have a lasting effect on him.
In my story the protagonist's younger brother is a spoiled but passive child with low self esteem due to a nasty bigoted incident^I never said that event gave him full-on PTSD. I said it was part of what caused him self esteem and confidence issues. Confidence Issues =/= PTSD.
You mentioned that empaths aren't thought of very highly right? Just have it so his family always treated him with kid gloves, perpetually giving him the impression that he was vulnerable.That's what I was going for. Anyway that was just a bit of backstory that has already happened when the story starts. Sometime into the story the kid and his older brother find out their parents died. THAT'S what traumatizes him (and his brother to some extent). I apologize if this wasn't clear.
edited 7th Feb '11 10:37:16 AM by JewelyJ
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