Happy Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

editing for authors ad

A publisher or agency using Google ads to solicit your novel probably isn't anyone you want to write for.


Go Back   Absolute Write Water Cooler > General Writing Interest > Basic Writing Questions
Register FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-11-2012, 05:18 AM   #1
sarrahhakim
sucking out all the marrow of life
 
sarrahhakim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: the present
Posts: 61
sarrahhakim is on a distinguished road
MC Too Similar

I've realized that my protagonist is very similar to a character in another book. I'm not really sure how to change her so that she is different, especially since she has been in my head for a long time, and everything about her (personality, appearance, etc.) seems to be set. It feels weird changing anything about her, but I feel as though I have to, now that I see how similar she is to the other character. Any advice on how to go about doing that?
__________________
"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis
www.sarrahhakim.com
sarrahhakim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 05:31 AM   #2
WillSauger
The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me.
 
WillSauger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Posts: 5,043
WillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
I'm going to take a wild guess and say: The first book is unpublished and the second one you're planning to publish?

If so, I wouldn't worry about it. I've always found writers to create similar characters, especially MCs. But if you're comparing unpublished works, you're just reusing a familiar setup (I did it for 5 years).

If not... dunno. Maybe work with the second character's personality, try to find another edge that could set them apart.
When you revise, go through and make sure all the characterization polarizes to what you want the reader to recognize the character as. Tedious, but simple.
__________________
Don't Fear Failure.

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn" -- Alvin Toffler.

"The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night" -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
WillSauger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 05:40 AM   #3
sarrahhakim
sucking out all the marrow of life
 
sarrahhakim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: the present
Posts: 61
sarrahhakim is on a distinguished road
Thanks for the reply! But I meant to say that my MC is too similar to a character in a book that's already been published by someone else. So, for example, if my MC was a boy with jet black hair, round glasses, and a lightning scar, he would be too similar to Harry Potter. Sorry I wasn't clear in my first post.
__________________
"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis
www.sarrahhakim.com
sarrahhakim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 05:48 AM   #4
WeaselFire
Benefactor Member
 
WeaselFire's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Floral City, FL
Posts: 1,997
WeaselFire leaves trails of profuse coolnessWeaselFire leaves trails of profuse coolnessWeaselFire leaves trails of profuse coolnessWeaselFire leaves trails of profuse coolnessWeaselFire leaves trails of profuse coolness
So change her. An overweight blond kid with six toes wouldn't be Harry Potter. Feelings and personalities are still the same.

Jeff
WeaselFire is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 05:54 AM   #5
Susan Littlefield
Tell it like it Is
 
Susan Littlefield's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: With my cats
Posts: 8,072
Susan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsSusan Littlefield is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
sarrahhakim.

I'll bet that character is not all as similar as you think she is. Just keep writing and make her your own character.
__________________
Susan

Please visit my website: http://www.susanlittlefield.blogspot.com/

Susan Littlefield is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 05:58 AM   #6
WillSauger
The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me.
 
WillSauger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Posts: 5,043
WillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsWillSauger is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
If they're just similar, but not actually copies, or you just designed a character and discovered another character acted/appeared the same; it's fine. In all reality, they are your character, because there is something that will always set them apart. No characters/stories are the same.

You might want to step inside your character. Look at who they are, what they wish to do, and form their personalities and appearance around that.
I had a character who was a bit bland, and another character popped up and they were almost indistinguishable. So, I searched into the first character's life and found that she works for a (let's call it) "police" agency, but her thinking process before this was a bit lax. So, I brought out a sense of order and justice into her life, and this carried on to reason with joining this "police" agency later on.

If you wish to change their personality, because it's bugging you, do what I said earlier. During the revision, rewrite that character's narration and dialogue along the lines that you set for their personality.

If it's appearance, that's a easier fix (but I think your example, is just an example).


It would help to know what character your talking about, and what similarities they share with your character.
__________________
Don't Fear Failure.

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn" -- Alvin Toffler.

"The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night" -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
WillSauger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 06:50 AM   #7
retlaw
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 225
retlaw is on a distinguished road
If they aren't _very_ similar, in fact bordering on near-identical, I wouldn't worry about it. And even then, if the other character isn't from a work that others would readily know - I'm not so sure it's an issue. Nothing knew under the sun, after all.

Of course, this is all presuming innocence and that the rest of the two works are much further apart in semblance than the chars.
retlaw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 07:57 AM   #8
Mark Moore
practical experience, FTW
 
Mark Moore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Homosassa, Florida
Posts: 845
Mark Moore has a spectacular aura
I wouldn't worry about it. My MCs tend to have things in common with each other, and I borrow some traits from another fictional characters sometimes.
__________________


Complete:

Becoming a Hero (10 stories)

WIP:

Vanity City #01 (2939/20000)
The New Girl (5312)
I Can Kill You With My Brain (238)
Vampire Killer #04 (5514)
Blackjack Jill #04 (630)
Destined #04 (editing)

Cute girls must not die in fiction!

Amazon Author Page Facebook YouTube
Mark Moore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 09:19 AM   #9
rwm4768
practical experience, FTW
 
rwm4768's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Missouri
Posts: 12,250
rwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthood
There are so many books and characters out there. You can't create a character that isn't similar to someone else's character, so don't worry about it. Write the character the way you want to write her.

It might help us if you point out what character she is similar to, and how so.
__________________
My writing blog: Ryan Mueller's Writing (updated 12/18)
Writing Advice
The Fantasy Reading List


WIP:
Sunweaver (Epic Fantasy): 104K Querying
Empire of Chains (Epic Fantasy): 163K Revising
The Watersong (Epic Fantasy): 26,000/150,000
The Man in the Crystal Prison (Upper MG Fantasy): 21,000/70,000
rwm4768 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 08:21 PM   #10
Orianna2000
Freelance Writer
 
Orianna2000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 2,277
Orianna2000 is a splendid one to beholdOrianna2000 is a splendid one to beholdOrianna2000 is a splendid one to behold
Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress. It will solve all your characterization woes.

Seriously, this book will help you create unique, individual characters. No two people are identical in real life. Even identical twins have different personalities. So there's no need for your character to be identical to someone else's. Sure, it can be difficult to change a character after you've established her. You feel like you know her personally, she's a friend. But writing is a fluid process--you have to be willing to change things.

Do the exercises the book tells you to do and write a detailed biography of your character. Figure out her likes and dislikes, her motivations and desires. Why does she act the way she does? What kind of childhood did she have? How did that affect her personality? You may learn all kinds of interesting things that you never knew about your character. You may find that she's really nothing like this other character that you're comparing her to. Or you may find that you need to switch a few things around. Give her a scar somewhere, and figure out where it came from. Give her a phobia and decide why she has that fear. Determine what she wants out of life and why. Figure out how she's going to change and grow through the course of the novel--no character should ever remain static (unless that's the point of the story).

Once I started asking these questions of my characters (and there's a lot more in the book), they turned from cardboard caricatures into living, breathing, three-dimensional people.
Orianna2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2012, 08:31 PM   #11
ishtar'sgate
living in the past
 
ishtar'sgate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 3,464
ishtar'sgate should run for Presidentishtar'sgate should run for Presidentishtar'sgate should run for Presidentishtar'sgate should run for Presidentishtar'sgate should run for Presidentishtar'sgate should run for President
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orianna2000 View Post
characters. No two people are identical in real life. Even identical twins have different personalities.
This is so true. I patterned a pair of identical twins in my novel from a single photo in a newspaper clipping. While their features were exactly the same, one looked sort of ethereal and sad while the other had a kind of anxious energy. Regardless of outward appearance, it is the personality and emotional life of the character that will determine how readers view them. It doesn't matter what they look like, it matters who they are.
__________________
medieval novel website

blog
ishtar'sgate is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2012, 09:19 PM   #12
RobertEvert
practical experience, FTW
 
RobertEvert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Ivory Tower
Posts: 454
RobertEvert has a spectacular aura
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarrahhakim View Post
I've realized that my protagonist is very similar to a character in another book. I'm not really sure how to change her so that she is different, especially since she has been in my head for a long time, and everything about her (personality, appearance, etc.) seems to be set. It feels weird changing anything about her, but I feel as though I have to, now that I see how similar she is to the other character. Any advice on how to go about doing that?

Change her hair color. That's what they do in television!
RobertEvert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2012, 10:17 PM   #13
Orianna2000
Freelance Writer
 
Orianna2000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 2,277
Orianna2000 is a splendid one to beholdOrianna2000 is a splendid one to beholdOrianna2000 is a splendid one to behold
I just wanted to add, if you do give your character a scar or a phobia, don't make it random, but have it tie into the story. Like Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes. They didn't just say he was scared of snakes to give him some depth and leave it at that. No, they brought it into the story and made him face his fears. He had to traverse a room full of snakes in order to get the Staff of Ra (if I'm remembering correctly).

So if your character has a unique characteristic, make it important to the plot and not just window dressing. Maybe if she has a fear of heights, she'll have to cross a high bridge in order to escape the enemy at the climax of the story. Or if she has a scar, maybe it was given to her by the bad guy when he defeated her as a teenager. It's haunted her all her life and now she'll have to face him again, not only to save the world, but to prove to herself that she's not still a scared, weak child.
Orianna2000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 01:18 AM   #14
Erin Kelly
Writer
 
Erin Kelly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 91
Erin Kelly is on a distinguished road
Just an FYI:

When my agent subbed my contemporary MG, one of the editors came back and said, "This is great -- unfortunately we just acquired a book with a similar MC, who faces a similar problem."

About four months later, that same book was acquired by another editor in a two-book deal.

So - similar MCs aren't as big an issue as you would think. They are actually quite common. As long as your MC has her OWN story, her OWN plot, and her OWN thoughts and experiences, then you should be okay. What's most important is her personal story.

Best of luck.
__________________
Erin Entrada Kelly
www.erinentradakelly.com
Facebook
P&W Directory Listing
I Tweet, Therefore I Am: @erinkellytweets
BLACKBIRD FLY (HarperCollins, March 2015)
LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS (HarperCollins, 2016)
Erin Kelly is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 01:34 AM   #15
veinglory
volitare nequeo
AW Moderator
 
veinglory's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: right here
Posts: 26,416
veinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsveinglory is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
It depends on whether you mean 'chosen child with powers' similar, or 'chosen British boy with lightning scar who goes who magic boarding school' similar.
__________________
veinglory is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 07:16 AM   #16
dangerousbill
Retired Illuminatus
 
dangerousbill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: The sovereign state of Baja Arizona
Posts: 4,685
dangerousbill has a golden reputationdangerousbill has a golden reputationdangerousbill has a golden reputationdangerousbill has a golden reputationdangerousbill has a golden reputationdangerousbill has a golden reputation
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarrahhakim View Post
It feels weird changing anything about her, but I feel as though I have to, now that I see how similar she is to the other character. Any advice on how to go about doing that?
If you change her, don't be surprised if the story begins to sound contrived. In your own head, she will still be the same person.
__________________
Dangerous Bill

'Lessons for a Dominant Woman' - A woman's journey, breaking out of the abused wife trap to enslaving her college professor. Romantic realistic femdom. A prequel to 'Lessons at the Edge' CAUTION: Explicit, 18+
http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Domina...=william+gaius
dangerousbill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 06:33 PM   #17
Lady Ice
Makes useful distinctions
 
Lady Ice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 4,601
Lady Ice should run for PresidentLady Ice should run for PresidentLady Ice should run for PresidentLady Ice should run for PresidentLady Ice should run for PresidentLady Ice should run for President
Were you reading the other book at the time of writing yours or do they just happen to have similarities?
__________________
"We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art." (Henry James)

"Either you think--or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you." (Tender is The Night)

http://stagebystage.weebly.com/
Lady Ice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-14-2012, 10:38 PM   #18
quicklime
will be in Tucson most of January
 
quicklime's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: wisconsin
Posts: 8,373
quicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsquicklime is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarrahhakim View Post
Thanks for the reply! But I meant to say that my MC is too similar to a character in a book that's already been published by someone else. So, for example, if my MC was a boy with jet black hair, round glasses, and a lightning scar, he would be too similar to Harry Potter. Sorry I wasn't clear in my first post.

as others have said, the details matter.

"chosen boy" may not be new, but isn't going to give you the uphill climb "boy wizard with scar at english boarding school" or "Harold Plotter" is going to. Not knowing what you mean yet about "similar" and where on the spectrum you are, it is difficult to say much about it.
__________________

Three words that convey the meaning of six will always look better than twelve...
quicklime is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2012, 08:29 AM   #19
sarrahhakim
sucking out all the marrow of life
 
sarrahhakim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: the present
Posts: 61
sarrahhakim is on a distinguished road
Thanks for all the replies!

Looking back, I think I was probably just being paranoid about my character. She seemed too similar to Kate, from THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart, because she's bold, adventurous, and carries a backpack with useful things everywhere (in THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY it's a bucket). She's also very flexible and in my mind, looks awfully similar.

But I think I'll be okay. I'll just keep writing, and since the story is entirely different, the events that take place may shape her in a different way. I don't want the story to sound contrived, like dangerousbill says.
__________________
"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis
www.sarrahhakim.com

Last edited by sarrahhakim; 11-25-2012 at 08:55 AM. Reason: I wanted to add the author of THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY.
sarrahhakim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2012, 09:01 AM   #20
The Otter
Friendly Neighborhood Mustelidae
 
The Otter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: In the room next to the noisy ice machine, for all eternity.
Posts: 957
The Otter is a glorious beacon of lightThe Otter is a glorious beacon of lightThe Otter is a glorious beacon of light
I haven't read THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, but those similarities seem very general. I'm sure there are quite a few bold, adventurous female protagonists who carry around useful things; no one is going to accuse you of plagiarism based on that. So yeah, don't worry about it.
The Otter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-25-2012, 09:18 AM   #21
rwm4768
practical experience, FTW
 
rwm4768's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Missouri
Posts: 12,250
rwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthoodrwm4768 is a candidate for sainthood
I agree. Those similarities are general. There are so many characters like that. Don't worry about it.
__________________
My writing blog: Ryan Mueller's Writing (updated 12/18)
Writing Advice
The Fantasy Reading List


WIP:
Sunweaver (Epic Fantasy): 104K Querying
Empire of Chains (Epic Fantasy): 163K Revising
The Watersong (Epic Fantasy): 26,000/150,000
The Man in the Crystal Prison (Upper MG Fantasy): 21,000/70,000
rwm4768 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-27-2012, 09:29 PM   #22
hannahward07
practical experience, FTW
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Dreaming of somewhere else
Posts: 165
hannahward07 is on a distinguished road
I wouldn't be too bothered about it being similar, so long as they've got their own story. It's a big, wide world out there.
__________________
I don't want a perfect life, just a happy one.
hannahward07 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2012, 09:54 PM   #23
absoluteamateur
I like you.
 
absoluteamateur's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 7
absoluteamateur is on a distinguished road
Batman is bold, adventurous and wears a utility belt. A rucksack is a total non issue, anybody can carry one IRL.

Characters follow archetypes. There's dirty cops, barmy detectives, crafty crooks, shady suspects; you'll be familiar with them all, and so it goes for every genre.

These are as recurring in fiction as themes of love, marriage, loss and loneliness and that's okay. Truly unique characters are like snowflakes: they might look like one-of-a-kind close up, but if you take a step back the snow sure looks familiar.
__________________

Last edited by absoluteamateur; 11-29-2012 at 10:54 PM.
absoluteamateur is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Custom Search

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)


All times are GMT +4.5. The time now is 05:25 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.