2

I am having a bit of trouble getting into the head of one of my characters. He isn't one of the main protagonists, but he is allied with them. He is the husband of the leader of the group the protagonists are in, and the group is currently staying in his house near Seoul. Unlike the rest of the group, he has no powers, and so some people in the group feel that he isn't truly one of them, as he has no problem fitting into normal society. The character works very hard for the group as a result, working with finances and documentation, and is strict about the rules to the point of being inefficient. He is very self-conscious about his powerlessness (not that he'd ever admit it).

I know this is a fair bit of characterization, but I feel like he's a bit flat right now. I want to show more positive personality traits so that it would make sense that someone would marry him. Any ideas on how to show these?

(P.S.: I have no idea what to name this guy. He's Korean, and I don't really know how Korean names work. I tried combining bits of Korean names I read in the news, but his name always wound up sounding a bit too similar to those of various Korean politicians. Any suggestions?)

  • Babynames.com is my go to source for cultural names as you can sort the names by male female and unisex (I'm not sure if Korean names have strong gender use, I could be wrong). I tend to google for lists of common surnames and look for the ones that are not top of the list (6+ on a ten list. I tend to go for 7). One thing that would be helpful is if you could tell us what his spouse is like, since it sounds like you have her down. – hszmv Feb 5 at 18:22
1

Also, when writing superheroes, some of my favorite support characters are the ones who are the non-powered spouse who are in on the hero's secrets. You don't have to have powers to be awesome in a superhero story. You don't even have to physically fight. I would suggest that you make this person a INTJ type on the Meyers-Brigg test (AKA The Masterminds) as they tend to be very good at seeing the "big picture system" of the task and will maximize organization to efficiancy (if the system is inefficient, the flaw is in the user, not the the system). They're rule oriented to the point of inefficient with others because the systems they design only work if you follow the rules. They aren't outgoing and having trouble finding love, but once found they are damned loyal. Similarly they won't seek leadership for ego, but only as necessary and will design the rules so that they can be removed from leadership if they ever go bad (or worse, design the system so they can have unlimited power. Yes, Emperor Palpatine is one of the most famous examples). They're rather quiet, and will only speak up when needed and if they are critical of others, it's target at the person's actions, not their own ego.

They are loved in fiction as villains (a good villain's plan needs to be near fool proof to get to a story climax and they consider all the points of failure when designing things) and as the insufferable genius that will punch above their weight class (and it's always a devastating intellectual punch, not a fist fight.). If you're fighting them, they will know your every weakness better than you and take full advantage. If they fight with you, they will anticipate every attack your foe will launch and have a devestating defense against it (Which is actually How Koreans tend to play in video games: typically small (in 4X games, Korea will play to only a small portion of the map) with very few resources and not much interest in conqust plays... but ready to fend off the enemies who on paper should easily overrun a territory that size without even breaking a sweat.

A major flaw in their design is that they tend to form relationships with benefits to their own goals first, so these guys will often act as a chess player with their friends lives and will sacrafice their queen for the checkmate. They don't like to share reasons as to why they make an unpopular call, but their reason always is with logic. Any dislike of you is not factored into the calculation. When they ask you to do an unpleasant task, it's because they know you are the best person for the job, not because of their respect or lack there of, of you as a person. They will tolorate just about any slight against them so long as you aren't inefficient (though this offers wonderful snarks that amount to "If you're gonna be wrong, at least do it right."

Some ideas are to look at Nick Fury and Phil Coulson from Marvel, Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, Sherlock, Spock, Sheldon Cooper, and most incarnations of the Doctor. The common thread in all of them is they are very good at what they do because they can out plan the competition, very pragmatic, but very logical in their pragmatism. They can be good or evil, but rarely are they nice.

| improve this answer | |
  • Funny you mentioned the Meyers-Brigg test...I had to take that for a theatre class once, and I wound up getting INT-J :D – Just some random person Feb 8 at 14:33
3

Whenever I have this kind of problem, I always sit down and try to tell myself this character's story. Pretend like you are now going to write a book, but it's going to be about them and not your MC, and not even about what is going on in your book.

I start at an earlier time, was their childhood interesting? How did they get to meeting the rest of the group? What does this person want? What past life experiences have shaped their personality? What skills have they picked up along the way? Have they developed any phobias, prejudices? Is this story going to be the climax of their life's story, or was it something else? Do they come from any kind of different culture than most other characters? Does that have impact on how they speak and act? Maybe even write some of this as a writing challenge. Don't include any of your current characters unless you have to, and even then treat them as background.

By the time I am done I am often more interested in this character than I am in what is going on in my main writing. That is because I have done the most important thing a writer and a reader does, I have empathised with them. I am now ready to put them back into my main writing. This is now someone I care about, and good dialog and narrative flow naturally.

None of these new details you invented have to make it into your main work. Very likely they won't, what's important is that they are now the reason the character acts the way they do. The reader will feel this even if it is never mentioned. Sometimes the tiniest glimpses into stories not told, are the most interesting parts of novels.

| improve this answer | |
  • When I am having trouble fleshing a secondary character out I sometimes write a quick short story using them as the POV. This often really helps me to gain an understanding of who this person is and what they will do during the events in the story. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Feb 5 at 17:48
0

Well, one answer that instantly came out was give him a talent. This man had to have learned to survive powerless in a world of gods and monsters (Metaphorically). He must have some way of dealing with these types of people.

Maybe he's trained himself in a martial art that can at least stall the villains. Or maybe he's a crack shot, and can take out the villains while they're powerless. Give him a tool or few to fight these souped up bad guys, or at least delay them long enough for the powerhouses.

If he has a talent of blending in, then have him use it to his advantage. Maybe they can use him as a mole in the lair, if it's a large corporation (corny, but it works.) Or he can get them supplies if they have a mad scientist on board. Just little things like that.

Just a few tips to get you started. Hope it helps.

P.S. I don't know of any Korean names, being Chinese-American. But you can definitely look up random name generators until you find one you like (I used it extensively for Japanese names.)

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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