Nikko’s whip ring and a thought on characters.

Characters are important to me. Literature gives allowances for poorly designed characters. You can argue with me, but it’s true.

You never see them.

A normal novel has intricate characters with great back story… ok, let me rephrase… a good novel has intricate characters with well-developed back stories. But compared to visual mediums, like comic books, the development stops at certain stages. Going further, to time-based mediums (animation, video games, film), you have a high degree of effort being put into every movement and facial tick a character has.

I have dabbled in comic books, I have taken classes for animation, I have acted and written. My character development goes beyond the normal character sheet and the odd questions like “what did they do when they first faced the death of a pet?”.

As an example, I give you this…

© Aaron Shively 2010

This is a ring. It is also a weapon.

I get very vivid visions of my characters, what they do, how they move, how they walk and fight and… well, you get where I’m going with this.

They are like daydreams in reality, overlaid on my normal vision. It’s quite bothersome at times.

One day, eight or nine years ago, I had one of these scenarios pop in my head of my character Nikko getting into a fight at an inn. There was no back story, it was simply a young man’s aggressive mind impressing itself on fiction.

In the fight, Nikko didn’t say a word (he rarely speaks, actually) but instead communicates with bright-colored flashes of a thread coming from his ring. The thread creates minor cuts, holding his enemy back until he is attacked by something a little more dangerous.

The ring shows its full potential by turning into a wave of pure death, think of a garrote wire radiating energy and vibrating at high frequencies like an electric knife.

It gave Nikko an interesting aspect, an interesting visual… but it does nothing for any story.

It’s an aspect of his past, something he uses but doesn’t have to use. He uses it because it is sometimes the easiest but most definitely not the only weapon in his arsenal. It has history, history that’s important but not to the story… only to Nikko himself.

We as writers spend so much time polishing our works and cleaning the proverbial lines, we can accidentally take out all that is unnecessary… interesting that, to me, some unnecessary things are, in fact, absolutely required. For a character to be believable, there has to be loose ends. Sometimes there has to be a few things that are there solely because of an arbitrary reason which has nothing to do with the plot.

We as people show these aspects of ourselves ever day… Items we keep, habits we have… Even the cars we drive. They are extraneous details of ourselves that wouldn’t matter to anyone who just ‘needed the facts’. The problem is that no one just needs the facts… We need to know the characters, experience them. We need to understand them. We need to know that sometimes there are things that only concern the individual and not the whole of the story. Too many new writers destroy the extra meat of their stories because they over-carve. They edit beyond the beyond of necessary.

To edit is human… To stop before it becomes a technical manual of how to survive your plot is divine.

There are somethings that are necessarily unnecessary. 😉

Take this with a grain of salt and only from the perspective of a reader and someone who is studying and writing.

– Aaron Shively


About Aaron Shively

I have been working as a freelance writer and artist for the last decade. In that time, I've done everything from ghostwriting to toy design and everything in between. I am currently working on a novel series called 'Myth' which has held my attention for the past sixteen years. I have spent my time developing the world, character and story and am now ready to funnel all the preliminary material into the manuscript of the first installment, 'of Men and Monsters' Bookmark & Share

Posted on 04/24/2011, in character, concept art, Philosophy, Rantings, Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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