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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Character Clinic: Julian Requiem and Laziness as a Defense Mechanism

I've got Anastasia's character from her contemporary fantasy on my couch today. Julian is a 17-year-old with innate skills for fighting who prefers not to engage in war or fight. He's a bit lazy and doesn't want to care about anything. When he was younger, his older brother found out Julian's twin sister was "working for the other side" and tried to kill her. Julian killed his brother to make sure he couldn't finish the job, but Julian's twin died anyway. Lately, he's been hanging around with two guys, Tristan and Caine. Tristan wants Julian to fight in the war, but Julian is reluctant to do anything, yet he finds himself caring about these two guys when he doesn't want to care about anything.

Anastasia wants to know: I intend for Julian to eventually reveal his past to one of his two friends – however most of the time he doesn't like to acknowledge even to himself that it happened. What might get him past this? And how to do it without him losing his careless, lazy personality? Also, from what he's revealed here, would you say he has a personality disorder? And what would be the most believable reaction from him if there was a sort of repetition of the past (the two people he cares about most try to kill each other)?

Julian really doesn't fit a personality disorder from what you've shared. He suffered a trauma early in life when his brother tried killing his sister. Since he idolized his brother before this happened, and wanted to join the war efforts to be like him, it makes sense that he would have an intense dislike for the war and for fighting...since it drove his brother to kill his own sister. That would put an intensely bad taste in Julian's mouth.

But it would also cause Julian to doubt his judgment, his decision to be just like his brother. He'd question his values, his morals...second guess how he could have blindly followed someone so intense and "off-kilter" as to kill family for what is essentially a difference in opinion.

I think this makes his preference for being unconcerned, seemingly aloof or "too lazy" to worry about the war or fight much, make a lot of sense. In a way, it's a post-traumatic response...avoiding the very subject that caused all the strife in his family in the first place.

I would think similar stakes (fear for the life of one of his friends due to overzealous warmongers, etc) might get him to break out of his comfort zone and tell about his past, to explain his reluctance to associate with the war. The idea of a repeat performance of his past is an excellent way to reach the climax of his internal and external arc. It would force him off the couch or out of his bedroom and into the fray, so to speak. I think that was a great idea you had.

So if you think of him more as being lazy as a reaction from his previous trauma, that might make writing him more easy. The fact of the matter is that he does care, he's just pretending not to. It's his defense mechanism.

Any other questions, drop them to me in the comment section below. Good luck!

Let's Analyze: What's the most recent book you've read where the hero/heroine had to encounter almost the exact same fearful situation they failed at earlier in order to complete their character arc?