2

This question already has an answer here:

A is a special snowflake, though for all the wrong reasons. You see, he was born with a special ability that allowed him to see premonitions of his and his loved ones' future in the form of still images. Of course, future here isn't immutable, and premonitions change as new information comes in.

While the ability is incredibly powerful, watching artistic renditions of his many possible deaths took a toll on A's mental health, making him reclusive, and neurotic. He became obsessed with fate and thinks it's out to get him "because his ability upsets the natural order". A could rarely ever tell others about his ability as it could change the premonition in unexpected ways. From the outsiders' perspective, he sometimes just gets the Thousand-yard stare and begins screaming, only to calm down later and refuse to tell why he freaked out.

Though it's not his fault, I'm still afraid the reader would get tired of A's antics, regardless that they can actually see his premonitions. Saying 'Poor A, he unwittingly pushes everyone away from himself" without ever seeing him do that is disingenuous and is considered poor writing. I don't want to change how his charcter is, only how it's presented.

This can be an issue with other characters where their behavior is rather annoying in-universe but you don't want it to be too annoying in the actual book.

How can I ensure that characters like A don't get tiring in the long run?

marked as duplicate by Lauren Ipsum, Galastel, Secespitus, Thomo, Community Sep 16 at 4:34

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 1
    I think Monk is a prime example how to display a neurotic character without making it tiring. – infinitezero Sep 15 at 21:08
5

A character has to have an arc and be seen to move along that arc. You can't show the reader the same thing they have seen before, you have to show them development -- which may mean development of the character, but more often means development of the situation in which the character finds themselves. But development of the situation has to mean development of the character's response to the situation -- because if the character's response does not change then, as far as the character's arc is concerned, we are not moving.

It really isn't about what the character's characteristics are. Literature provides us with characters of every stripe and variation. They will get boring if they don't have an arc and if they don't move along that arc. They will remain interesting as long as there is development occurring.

Literature really obeys a few pretty simple laws that operate pretty much without regard to subject matter. The challenge of writing is to put convincing flesh on a familiar set of bones. There are a few basic rules about how to be convincing, and they too have very little to do with specific subject matter. But the rules of how to be convincing are far from informing the whole of the art. In the end it comes down to your powers of observation and your ability to find just the right words and sequence of words to show what you have seen.

A how-weird-can-I-be approach to literature is not going to get you anywhere -- not because being weird is problem -- lots of literature is very very weird -- but because worrying about weirdness takes your focus off the basics: the foundations of story and the perceptive observation and description of the human condition.

3

+1 Mark Baker.

In addition, you can pad a character with other characteristics. Don't make A's special ability his only reason to be in the story. Give him a personal goal he's working toward. Give him a charismatic or otherwise appealing ability to go hand in hand with his super-power. Write a subplot just for him. Heck, if you simply give him a love interest that might help, because then the reader can be intrigued by how his partner deals with his craziness.

If you are bored or annoyed by A, listen to that response, and give A more to work with. It's more interesting to see how a character navigates life while dealing with heavy psychological stuff, than to simply see a character with psychological stuff.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.