Nov 12 2008

Manuscript Killers: Immortal Characters

When I’m reading a novel manuscript, immortal characters make me roll my eyes.   

 

1.  Immortals are usually angsty and/or Mary Sues. If the character likes being immortal, he’s probably a Mary Sue because he has an incredible gift.  If he doesn’t like being immortal, he’s probably an insufferable wangstball. “I’m so bored!  Everyone I’ve ever loved is dead.”  Boohoohoo.

 

2.  Far too many stories try to surprise readers by suddenly revealing that some character is actually hundreds of years old.  Ick! This secret origin story is unconscionably cliche.

 

3.  It’s cliche, particularly in fantasy.

 

4.  An immortal’s backstory is usually unwieldy.

 

5.  Authors usually make characters immortal to suggest that the character is worldly, wise, accomplished, sophisticated and/or experienced.  It’s rarely successful.  If anything, an immortal will seem less accomplished because he’s had more time to do whatever he’s done.

 

6. Most authors don’t put in enough effort to make their immortal characters sound like they’re actually old.  Immortal characters that sound like generically young twenty-somethings are kind of annoying.  Ahem.  An incredibly old character should probably have a significantly different voice, interests, mindset and lifestyle than someone who is much younger.  Also, if your character is hundreds of years old and still goes to bars and nightclubs, he may inadvertently come off as a perpetual juvenile, like a forty-something that frequents frat parties.

 

7. It’s much harder to give an immortal character a sense of purpose. Generally, they tend to drift around doing things that don’t add up to very much.

8. Most young authors have trouble writing older characters. That’s not a crippling problem, if your protagonist is pretty young himself. However, if your character is incredibly old, that will draw a lot of attention to how well you can do older characters. It would be bad enough if a 25-year-old sounded like he was 15, but it would be intolerable if he were 250-going-on-15. Some authors try to explain why the 250-year-old sounds like he’s 15 by saying that the character’s species matures very slowly. Usually that explanation isn’t very successful.

36 responses so far

36 Responses to “Manuscript Killers: Immortal Characters”

  1. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Nov 2008 at 1:38 am

    My character Requiem isn’t immortal, but he is reincarnated every time he dies. He is indifferent about his ability, and accepts that while most people he’s known are dead, he can communicate with them if he returns to the place they died or frequented in life. Also, the people from his most recent previous life will probably still be alive. That’s what keeps him going, and he slowly moves on with the knowledge that they’ll mourn and continue their lives. We know what he can do right away, and his latest incarnation is twelve years old. Seeing as he goes through all the childhood stages again, he is like any other kid. With multiple lives, and the ability to communicate with the dead. But he watches kid’s TV and like to eat lots of lollies, like any other preteen.

  2. B. Macon 12 Nov 2008 at 2:19 am

    Although there’s some potential for trouble related to past memories, I think you’ll probably be alright there.

  3. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 4:09 am

    It might be especially good if his reincarnation doesn’t remember everything at once.
    Ex. Aang is the reicarnated Avatar, but he still has to re-learn the bending elements.

  4. t3knomanseron 12 Nov 2008 at 5:42 am

    I’ve always been annoyed by this. If I were immortal, I’d probably be pretty blase about it. “Yeah, I’ll never die. Hold on one second, there’s a really good flamewar on Fark.”

  5. Daveon 14 Nov 2008 at 3:28 am

    I agree that immortals are problematic. I should know, I’m trying to tell a decent story with a bunch of ’em. (Note: I do not claim that I am succeeding. High fantasy space opera is harder than it looks.) Here’s what I think of your points:

    Ad 1) A general statement of this, applicable to mortals and immortals alike, is “Listening to your protagonist whine is a poor substitute for character development.”

    Ad 2) and 3) There should be good reasons for the character to be immortal within the story. Don’t use cliches, rock tropes. Immortality should be meaningful, at very least suggesting that the character has some significant role in the grand scheme of things.

    Ad 4) and 5) I disagree. Eternal youth can be interpreted in a number of ways, including eternal immaturity. The fear of death is a heck of a motivator for growth — remove it, and something else needs to drive the character’s development.

    Ad 6) Yes, and this is terribly open to abuse. The main way to avoid the dreaded “Ass Pull” is foreshadowing.

  6. B. Macon 14 Nov 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I think #5 (a character suddenly revealing that he’s been hundreds of years all along) is an instant-rejection waiting to happen. It’s extremely cliche. Also, it tends to play out in the same way. The star-struck protagonist learns that the Mysterious Stranger (who is usually his mentor) is actually the Lost Hero! Ick. That plotline also requires you to delve heavily into backstory so that we know what the lost hero did way back when. Epic backstories are unwieldy.

    Regarding #4, eternal immaturity, that’s not necessarily a fatal mistake. However, I think that it (usually unintentionally) makes the hero hard to like. If you actually want the character to come off as a perpetual juvenile a la Old School, though, that’s fine. (I’d recommend having him mature over the course of the story, though).

  7. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 14 Nov 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I think Requiem could be an exception to the immaturity rule.

    He gets a different personality, mindset and has to relearn how to walk, talk and use his power every time he’s reincarnated, so it’s like growing up again.

    Since he’s only twelve, he’s going to argue his bedtime as set by Owlie, be scared more easily (and get depressed because of the sad ghosts he sees), want to eat junk food and have some trouble understanding difficult concepts. But he’s not a problematic child character, because he doesn’t have cute lines. The cutest thing he ever says is: “Oh, crap. Looks like we’re in for a fight!”

    Though he remembers his past lives, anything he did that required huge calculations or science-related subjects is difficult to comprehend. He did it in that life, but doesn’t understand it in this life.

    His body is twelve, but his soul (overused word, but looking for a better one) slips out at the instant of death and goes into a newborn child (I’ll have him explain that babies are born without souls and that some of the “trapped emotions” in the world close in on them and inhabit their bodies). Because his soul doesn’t escape and form a ghost when he dies, he retains his memories.

    Your thinkings of the subject, please? Haha.

  8. Ragged Boyon 14 Nov 2008 at 5:11 pm

    How about “essence” instead of soul?

  9. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 14 Nov 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Yeah, that’s good! Thanks!

  10. C. S. Marloweon 01 Apr 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Just wondering here…
    My character is a vampire, around… sixty or so? She looks physically twenty, but towards the protagonist, she tends to act quite condescending- but in a friendly way. She treats him a lot as though he was her son. As for the whole ‘Boo hoo, I’m immortal, how terrible for me’… it doesn’t really come across. More like ‘Meh. Yeah. Immortal. *goes about business.*’ The way she talks is fairly long-winded, and sometimes she sounds a little posh. (Can’t think of a better word to describe it, though I *hate* the p-word.) Never sure, but I think I based her speech on the way some grandmothers sound.
    Anything I should panic about?

  11. Tomon 01 Apr 2009 at 1:10 pm

    No, that sounds pretty good. Of course this article suggests to avoid immortality in general but I can’t see a way to make a vampire without making it immortal, so you’ve done it quite well.

    Just keep in mind that this vampire saw Kennedy’s assasination, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Watergate Scandal, the Vietnam War, you get the idea. She’s seen a lot, so yeah, she’d sound like a grandmother.

  12. C. S. Marloweon 01 Apr 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks. And, actually, it’s set in 1833. So, I’m not so sure on all the Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis, Watergate and Vietnam. She would have seen the Napoleonic Wars, though!

    (smiles proudly at having thought of a historical event)– No, I am not thick. Stop smirking.

  13. Tomon 01 Apr 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Oh, right, I assumed it was contemporary. Point still stands though!

  14. Callofcthulhuon 20 Apr 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve got a character in the story I’m working on. He was one of the first superheroes, going back to Roman times. Every time he dies he comes back immune to that method of death (think the new villain Freak from Spider-man), but it’s very specific: he was stabbed so now he can’t be stabbed to death anymore, he’s suffered organ failure so his organs never fail, etc. He’s died from old age and having decayed, so his body has reverted back into an unidentifiable age, making him look like he’s between 30-50 years old. He’s spent the few thousand years hanging out in a cave building stuff. He’s also kind of nonchalant about being immortal. It’s just how he is and he’s fine with it.

    He doesn’t actually take place in any real fighting, so he doesn’t overpower anyone, but he does serve a purpose later in the story.

    Does this sound like it works? Any ideas on what needs changing?

  15. Tomon 20 Apr 2009 at 2:14 pm

    It depends on his role in the story. If he’s not a fighter, you’ve already saved yourself a lot of hassle with overpoweredness. But where does he fit in?

  16. Callofcthulhuon 20 Apr 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Well my story is superhero/zombie-based and I was planning on him being a victim. My idea for him was that he would be bitten by a zombie, and die. Before his power kicks in, he’s resurrected as a zombie, and THEN his power kicks in, giving him back his mind, intelligence, etc, but he’s still a zombie. I was thinking he’d be used as a cure-tester, as he can say what happens as they try different strains of a vaccine on him and feel whether it actually helps put the hunger aside or not.

  17. thablueon 19 Sep 2009 at 4:46 am

    My character is also a vampire – and very old (the history i am learning!). She accepts what she is without much trouble. She neither whines nor brags about it. I haven’t surprised my readers – anyone picking up the book will know it’s a vampire story. I realize that she wouldn’t quite sound like anyone else, and at first I experimented with different voices – but honestly, none of them were hers. So I am dealing with that issue now by having her listen intently to, and mimic modern ways of speaking (whatever era that “modern” is) – but she also simply doesn’t talk that much. These days she goes to a lot of movies. She is actually not truly immortal – and can be killed like other vampires, (sun=bad) so there’s a key vulnerabilty. She doesn’t go to pubs or clubs that often, finding humanity physically hard to take in large doses.

    I’ve also tweaked the vampire myth to my own version, and there’s some very powerful bad guys. The back story is unwieldy, that is true – and although I am not a huge fan of flashbacks, they are the best way I’ve found to deal with her history. I am mostly keeping her actions in the present – and am working on a trilogy, to both further her modern story and flesh in more of her past as we go.

    Anyway, any thoughts?

  18. Maecaon 20 Mar 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I have a small group of immortal characters, and in my world their kind are heavily prejudiced against. I haven’t really thought about their immortality as a stacking on of years so much as a symbol of imprisonment in a world between life and the afterlife/heaven (since my world is a purgatory-esque kind of place and nobody’s aging anyway, just that the majority of people are supposed to pass away at some point and the immortals don’t). This prejudice and feeling of imprisonment is the fuel of their revolution, a big aspect of my story.

  19. B. Macon 20 Mar 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I like that, Maeca. It sounds like it has dramatic potential.

  20. ekimmakon 15 Nov 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I have couple of aspects of immortality in my story.

    First of all, there’s the Ambrosia drug. It keeps people looking the same age, so it’s a sort of fountain of youth, but it has two drawbacks. Firstly, it’s ridiculously expensive, the sort of stuff that only the rich and famous can afford. And secondly, it cuts someone’s life expectancy down.

    One of the main antagonists discovered away around that. By taking constant doses of Striker Venom (The same chemical that gave Michael his healing powers) along with Ambrosia, they become effectively immortal, but in constant pain. This antagonist is only going to take this until they accomplish their goals.
    (Due to the spoiler nature of this, can’t go much further into the motivation).

    Vampires can also use Ambrosia without those negative side effects, but it has a different drawback. Unless they’ve taken a dose within the last 24 hours, sunlight will put them in a coma until it gets dark again.

    The Electrical Eight are superhumans with supreme technological comprehension (Or basically, really smart with computers.) Some of them successfully developed time travel, only to get stuck in the past with no way back. In order to overcome this, they programmed their minds into ancient electronic devices that could take possession of people, allowing them to survive long enough to get to the future, and retrieve their bodies.

    Is there anything I should change about this look at immortality?

  21. B. Macon 15 Nov 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I like it. It sounds clever, especially the way the Electrical Eight seek to get back to the future.

    I’m not quite sure what the drawback of Ambrosia is for vampires, though. “Unless they’ve taken a dose within the last day, sunlight will put them in a coma” sounds like a drawback for NOT taking it.

  22. Sean Higginson 15 Nov 2010 at 10:39 pm

    I’m planning to use an immortal entity as one of my antagonists. He enters a human host and the host doesn’t age, but can be killed through other means. When the host dies, the entity enters another host, thus taking on different characteristics and possibly revitilizing its youth. I like the idea as a spiritual entity but don’t think I’d ever add anyone with hard immortality to any of my stories. The idea of a character that absolutely cannot be killed and cannot die lacks any risks. Sure, if s/he gets close to a mortal, they will certainly experience the (cliche) pain of loss but beyond that, what can really hurt him.

    Just a note – immortal characters (especially those who have been around already for some time) will likely see the big picture when looking at a problem and will probably not be in a rush to get things done. (Bwuhaha – I’ve injected this small fish with my mind control venom and within three thousand years, every being on the planet will be under my total domination!)

  23. ekimmakon 15 Nov 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Because it’s expensive.
    It’s sort of an economy versus efficiency thing, because taking it in enough doses to prevent aging would require an incredibly large amount of cash. Taking it daily would require an even vaster fortune. Not taking it enough will remove the sunlight coma thing, but then they start aging again.

    There’s only one group of vampires in the novel who can afford to take it like that, The Darknights. All other vampires are too poor to afford any doses of Ambrosia at all.

    Although you do have a point, should I fix it? How?

  24. B. Macon 15 Nov 2010 at 11:27 pm

    I like the idea of a drawback, something that makes the decision to go on Ambrosia maybe a bit more complicated than “do I have the money?” For example, maybe Ambrosia makes them more vulnerable to the sun (or some other vampire weakness) than they are usually, or otherwise off.

    For example, perhaps prolonged use has some unfortunate mental consequence. Maybe the person’s mind starts to perceive things more slowly because Ambrosia prepares the brain for a marathon rather than a sprint.

    Or perhaps the Ambrosia makes it impossible to sleep, which sounds cool at first (24 hours to do whatever!) but quickly gets maddening. (Try watching television at 4 AM).

  25. NicKennyon 16 Nov 2010 at 5:05 pm

    It’s difficult, but it is possible to pull off immortal characters. See the Skulduggery Pleasant series and The Hawthorn Staff and it’s sequels. Both were managed there quite effectively.

  26. Joe Shmoon 10 Jun 2011 at 12:34 am

    I have a character who, despite being immortal for most practical purposes (primarily, he doesn’t age), still has vulnerabilities. For example: fire, explosions, and long falls are all dangerous to him, even if less so than to most people. I’m hoping that these keep him from being overpowered, especially since he’s involved in a lot of modern combat, which involves grenades, tanks, artillery, bombs, etc. The aspect that concerns me most, though, is the “sudden reveal” issue. I’ve been trying to work around it, but since my “immortal” character is not the main protagonist, I’m having trouble bringing it up without it being cliche. I almost feel the need to tell the reader, “Now, just bear with me, here…” Any thoughts?

  27. FotV/Annaon 10 Jun 2011 at 10:49 am

    It can be done well. I feel Wolverine and that guy from heroes Adam make intriguing characters- but both can still die. And it helps that Wolverine is on a team with other mortals and isn’t THAT old of an immortal but doesn’t sound overly young. Plus he never tries to sound like all that life experience has made him wiser than the rest of us- he makes mistakes all the time.

    As for Adam, he’s evil and all of life experience has twisted him into thinking killing off millions would be good for them. Evil guys can be immortal because they’re going to lose anyway.

    For a hero though, I’d recommend against making their healing too powerful. Cuts down on the drama. We want to know they can die.

  28. FotV/Annaon 10 Jun 2011 at 11:01 am

    As for the most young authors have difficulty writing older characters, don’t remind me. I’m nineteen, but I only have one character under 21. None of them are immortal (I suppose she is in the same way Wolverine is except easier to kill, but honestly it will only help so much cause she puts herself in dangerous situations having faith she’s bad-ass enough to take everyone down and heal and fight the next fight. Bridget is very survival oriented). Point is, I’m guessing how a 40 year old war veteran privateer captain who survived famine and riots on his home planet and can never return to see his family cause he fought on the wrong side would think.

    I think the first issue wasn’t too bad.

  29. SuperEpicDude123on 27 Apr 2012 at 4:07 am

    I’m currently writing a story (planning on doing several books) about a bunch of late teens who develop superpowers, and one of them is immortal (well, he can regenerate from any wound and is immune to foreign substances…plus his body has ceased aging and he’s stuck looking 19.) He’s not a very nice person in the beginning of the story, and is REALLY cocky (think deadpool-ish . He purposely throws himself into dangerous situations and drinks insane amounts of alcohol, smokes and eats junk food just because he can…although the latter is really my attempt at rationalizing his power (he eats A LOT to keep a constant flow of energy and uses that to heal.) Not to mention he originally killed people and tourtured information out of others, uses guns, knives and…a katana. (What? He trained in Samurai era Japan.)Although he does have some sense of right and wrong though, he doesn’t just kill bystanders. I tried to put a spin on it by making him unaware of his actual age, (believing himself to be roughly 80, when in actual fact he has lived for well over 1000 years. It’s explained that the government, who are the main antagonists, have brain washed him, using him for their own selfish needs i.e. Kennedy assassination and stuff, which he doesn’t remember.) though he eventually finds out the truth and throughout the story becomes a better person, quitting smoking, killing and even sacrifices himself to save the planet from a suped-up, godlike, superpower stealing antagonist, when he knew (believed) that he wouldn’t come back (one cell was left of him…C’mon, hes like my favorite character…i couldn’t let him die for good.) I tried to make him REALLY original

  30. B. McKenzieon 27 Apr 2012 at 10:50 am

    Hello, SuperEpicDude.

    –It doesn’t sound like the stakes are very high for this character–I think raising the stakes of failure will probably make it easier for readers to care about whether he succeeds. “He purposely throws himself into dangerous situations,” but he can regenerate from any wound, so what sort of situation could possibly be dangerous to him? He drinks and smokes recklessly, but it sounds like he’s immune to alcohol and smoking, so what are the stakes here? I’d recommend softening his regeneration powers, which should make it easier for you to raise the stakes for him and make the readers wonder whether he will succeed.

    –“…even sacrifices himself to save the planet from a suped-up, godlike, superpower stealing antagonist, when he knew (believed) that he wouldn’t come back (one cell was left of him…C’mon, he’s like my favorite character. I couldn’t let him die for good).” Based on how it’s phrased currently, I’d lean towards a rejection here because it sounds like a stereotypical comic book death (meaningless and quickly reversed). His sacrifice might be more meaningful if he gives up something (even if it isn’t his life)–for example, he engages a superpower-stealing antagonist, right? Maybe he loses his immortality permanently? Alternately, if you REALLY want to bring the protagonist back without any long-term consequences, I’d recommend 1) looking into a different angle for this besides an attempt at sacrifice, because a sacrifice arc will probably feel unsatisfying if he doesn’t actually sacrifice anything and 2) coming up with a better explanation for your choice than that you like the character.

    –“I tried to make him REALLY original.” It sounds sort of reminiscent of Highlander (he’s an immortal, uses a sword and even trained in samurai-era Japan) or perhaps Wolverine. It might help if he had a more three-dimensional personality.

  31. Anonymouson 17 May 2012 at 3:01 am

    Hey B McKenzie,

    Thanks for all of the great feedback, I really appreciate it. And by the way, the protagonist with regenerative powers is name Axl Hewley and the “suped up, god-like antagonist is called Lucas (don’t have a second name yet). A couple of things though:

    – When I said that he purposely throws himself into dangerous situations, I didn’t mean dangerous to him. That was the whole point. He is almost invincible, with nothing to hold him back from abusing this power. I took your idea for softening his powers up a bit though; now he can only heal if he has the physical energy to do so, and the faster he heals a wound, the more tired he will become. Once he is completely exhausted he will lose the ability to heal, making him susceptible to harm…or death. I also gave him a “who cares, I can’t die” attitude and the smoking and alcohol abuse was added to strengthen that.

    – As for the sacrifice bit, I understand your concern, so I have twisted and tweaked it. At the moment, Axl is made to watch as one-by-one, all of his friends and the girl he loves are killed in front of him by a Lucas, a kid who was pretending to help him (The sacrifice and betrayal will all happen in the second book, so I can use the first to focus on his negative qualities, since it will be a big shock when he decides to be a hero.) and steals all their powers. He then goes on a chaotic rampage, destroying everything. Two twins (who can warp space and time respectively) appear to him and somehow (not decided yet) give him their powers along with a bunch of others. He confronts the now god-like Lucas and they have a fight of earth shattering proportions. It ends with both exhausted as Axl uses the space-time power to remove Lucas, along with every memory anyone had of him from existence, the only problem is it remove him too. They both disappear as time goes back to before everyone died, none of his friends remember him. Then, about a book later we find out that the Organisation (the name I have for the dark, superpower hunting branch of the American government) have a few of his brain cells, taken shortly before his death. They then grow this into a complete cloned body of him, thanks to his regenerative power, before he breaks out. Major plot character brought back without dying too early on and it’s totally original…i think.

    -I hadn’t even considered Highlander when writing him, and i do realize he has some similarities to Wolverine (although Wolverine didn’t live as long as Axl) but personally, I see more similarities with him and Adam Monroe from Heroes, i.e. the Japanese samurai and living for hundreds of years. By the way I had written this character before Adam was revealed in Heroes. He has actually traveled the world I kinda see him as this Devil-may-care type guy whose lived for hundreds of years and trained in Japan. And as I am writing this i’m finding it really hard to relate his entire personality to anyone specific so he sound original enough. I hope he stands out and is 3D enough. Once again, thanks for the feedback, if you have any more, don’t hesitate to say.

  32. SuperEpicDude123on 19 May 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Sorry about the anonymous post, my bad.
    I was reading the other comments and i noticed that Axl is eternally immature and is hard too like (i want it that way) and I realized that even though he dies early on and is brought back (well, cloned) and doesn’t actually sacrifice anything, it’s the fact he was willing to do so is the important thing. The cocky, arrogant, immortal, stone-cold killer willingly sacrifices himself to save humanity. This is the big turning point for him. He grows as a character and stops abusing his power. If you’ve got any ideas, feedback or advice i’d be more than happy to hear them.

  33. B. McKenzieon 19 May 2012 at 6:09 pm

    “When I said that he purposely throws himself into dangerous situations, I didn’t mean dangerous to him.” Yeah, that’s sort of the issue, isn’t it? If he’s not in danger, I think the potential drama is low… I like the idea of exhaustion leading to vulnerability, though. If executed well (always a big if), I think it sounds workable.


    “He then goes on a chaotic rampage, destroying everything. Two twins (who can warp space and time respectively) appear to him and somehow (not decided yet) give him their powers along with a bunch of others.” My initial impression would be that the appearance of these twins is a contrivance which would make him a less-interesting character–I’d like to see him figure a way out of his own problems (and/or suffer the consequences of failure) rather than get saved by a deus ex machina. (Also, if these twins DO come, why do they pick him rather than another hero or just fighting the villain with their own powers?)



    “we find out that the Organisation (the name I have for the dark, superpower hunting branch of the American government)…” If it’s a U.S. group, I’d recommend spelling Organization with a z, unless the group is trying to hide its American-ness (e.g. it’s secretly run by the conspiracy known usually as Canada).



    “I realized that even though he dies early on and is brought back (well, cloned) and doesn’t actually sacrifice anything, the fact he was willing to do so is the important thing.” Hmm. I wish you the best of luck with that, but personally, I’d lean towards a rejection based on what I know so far–I’d recommend against showing us a gun (sacrifice) unless you’re willing to fire it (make him sacrifice something). Compared to a story where a character actually DOES sacrifice something*, I think your character would come across as half-hearted and not particularly memorable if he were merely willing to sacrifice but didn’t actually sacrifice anything**. When you’re explaining this to publishers, I’d recommend covering it instead in terms of what he’s giving up with his friends (i.e. he’s erasing himself from reality to save the day). As a possible tweak, it might help if several of his friends survived the villain in the first place, so that he has the decision of living with his surviving friends OR giving up all of his friendships so that all of his friends might survive.

    *Rorschach’s life in Watchmen, Peter Parker’s marriage in One More Day, B. Mac’s sanity in the Case of the Purloined Bazooka, etc.

    **Likely exacerbated by the deus ex machinas. Most protagonists wear some plot armor, but I think making it less obvious would help here.

  34. JVKJRon 12 Jun 2013 at 12:46 pm

    My villain is immortal. I THINK it still avoids most of those issues…
    I’m fairly certain he isn’t a Mary Sue. He doesn’t really angst about it. And he’s kinda bats–t insane.
    Is this still going to be a problem? What can I do to fix this?

  35. B. McKenzieon 13 Jun 2013 at 6:34 am

    I think it’s a lot less of an issue for a villain.

  36. AchetTheCaton 16 Feb 2017 at 9:21 am

    my main character, told from her POV, is mortal around the age of 20 (total lifespan of around 1000) but, all her friends and enemies have really long lifespans. The two protagonists that aid her is a fire elemental who mentally is 25-30 but his actual age is almost 3000. his adopted brother is mentally and bodily mature around 16-20 (in comparison to humans there are none in my story) and his actual age is around 2000. I show there maturity level in their recreational activities listing to out dated music, using old catch phrases, reminiscing about their child hood when things and technology were different, and their interactions with there parents who are much much older and fully mature.

    I try and show there age by there relationships to shorter lifespan spices. the older brother is the angsty nobody-understands-me type and over the years has developed a reputation of being “hot headed”. the younger brother is diplomatic especially around his (well meaning)temper flaring brother. He’s also smart, seemingly retains infinite knowledge, but he’s really just a teenager, so he isn’t always wise and has a reputation for being condescending Know-and-seen-it-all. ironicly he doesn’t understand himself, having never meet another of his own kind. this unknown makes everyone around him uncomfortable and he gets blamed for the antagonists actions. Both of them have a lot of character development when faced with the main protagonist.

    The main antagonist ages a little faster than the brothers. His race has an average lifespan of 4000-5000 years. he has a long history with the brothers and blames his life losses and problems on them. when he was a child, he witnessed his parents murder making him psychotic. He’s extra nice to mortals and takes advantage of there short lifespans to hide his serial killing tendencies. He is the assigned teacher to the main protagonist.

    the main character gets tossed around in this-larger-than-her-own-life world. she’s defiant, strong willed and is usually overly cheery and optimistic. she is smart and mature for her age(she dos have her moments). she gets frustrated constantly trying to keep up and prove her self among condescending “your just a mortal” attitudes. The whole first book is her catching the antagonist and proving that she is worthy of her place among them.

    the only cliché I’m worried about is main protagonist and the younger brothers’ romantic relationship they both are looking for a partner who is intellectually stimulating, not caring about appearances or spices compatibility. he thinks he knows it all until he meets her and her powers shed a new perspective on everything he knew. I want to avoid the parent child treatment, but still keep it real any advice on pitfalls?

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