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Does the fallen friend need characterization?:
Okay so my main character has a best friend who suffers Death by Origin Story. Is it important to give this best friend a fully defined individual personality or would it suffice to have for just be a good person, simmiler to the main character (their both 19-year-old college students) who the main character cares deeply about?
edited 30th Jan '13 10:09:39 PM by HistoryMaker
Thunder, Perfect MindYou should flesh the character out as much as possible even if you don't put all of the details into the story itself. Not only will this make the character feel more real to the reader, but it will also help to define the main character through their relationship. The kind of friends that a person has and how they interact with them can tell you a lot about them, even if the information is only retrospective in nature. The same applies to how they react to that individual's death. Ultimately, it's all about creating something that feels real. Make this person feel real, and your protagonist will feel real.
Wolf1066The more you personally "know" about the character, the more you will learn about the relationship with the protagonist and the more you'll then learn about the protagonist. It's the difference between writing "he really missed his friend" and writing a scene where something happens and you find the protagonist is suddenly hit with a strong feeling of sadness because something in that scene reminds him of his loss. A connection you wouldn't have known about if you hadn't gone into the character and the relationship in depth, something that emerges from the story itself when you're right inside your character's head.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
Is what you're saying that I should write a compleat bio on this character even if I don't directly use the description in-story so latter on I'll know what will remind the character of her friend?
Thunder, Perfect Mind...and why they were friends in the first place, what the friend's death meant to her, how she coped with the lossólots of things.
Ok cool. Do you think I also need to spend some time describing her in story so the audience will get why she's so important to the main character?
Wolf1066Pretty much, especially if the friend is pivotal to the protag's origin story. I've discovered some mind-blowing stuff just writing the first time meetings of characters that already have a long-term friendship at the time of the story. Or writing minor "adventures" they've shared - such as a day's tramp up in the bush that turns into an "overnighter" after a rain-swollen river makes it impossible to get home. Just exploring how they coped with the situations and the bonds they formed in those events gave me strong insights into the way they interact with each other in later years. Very little of what I wrote in the notes/early adventures was mentioned in the actual story I was writing, but the camaraderie and sense of a long shared history certainly manifested in the way they worked together. You probably could get away with not saying specifically "why" she's important. Just that she is important, and that her death has affected the protag. If something does come up that makes it clear why she was important (and this is why it's vital to know as much as you can, so that if/when that happens, your protag will respond appropriately) then the "why" will reveal itself. For example, if your background-building uncovers that she is the one the protag always has turned to when feeling beset/lost/scared then any time in your story when your protag is feeling beset/lost/scared she will be wanting to turn to her friend but can't. If that comes through properly you won't have to say "she was the protag's rock and always willing to lend an ear when things got tough" you'll be showing how the protag feels having to cope without her.
edited 30th Jan '13 11:24:50 PM by Wolf1066
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
Thanks guys! This was helpful.
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Does the fallen friend need characterization?Quite often yes. You need not do a full Posthumous Character but the dead guy deserves better than a name and a reference as "being X's best friend".
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