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Empress Theresa - what do you do with unlimited power ? (1 Viewer)

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Lewdog

WF Veterans
I'm almost afraid to post this, considering how combative this thread is... but:

Does Theresa have any character development going on?

I understand your point about her not changing and I think it's a fine enough idea to have someone who stands by their morals no matter what, but something about her has to change to make her an interesting character. If she doesn't change, doesn't have faults, doesn't fail every now and then, then I don't think she is the kind of character I would like to read about. Isn't the best part of fiction the way you can put your characters under extraordinary stresses that are impossible in the real world, and then watch how they change as a result?

Also, I want to say that I disagree about people not changing because of experiences. Everyone changes because of every experience, even if only in a minute fashion.

If people don't think people change because of the environment, they are close minded individuals who still think the world is flat, the sun rotates around the earth, and that there is such a thing as a free lunch. I'd beg the question, what experience wouldn't change someone. For me this argument is in the truth of the matter and it's real effects. I can give you thousands, even millions of things that change a person in some way. So tell me just a few things that doesn't. I've almost got a degree in Sociology and believe me I've learned more about human nature than I ever wanted to know.
 
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empresstheresa

Senior Member
I'm almost afraid to post this, considering how combative this thread is... but:

If by combative you mean people express opposing opinions, which is what a forum is for I would think, aren't you now being combative yourself?

Does Theresa have any character development going on?

I understand your point about her not changing and I think it's a fine enough idea to have someone who stands by their morals no matter what, but something about her has to change to make her an interesting character.

In chapter one, Theresa is ten. She goes down the street to throw a baseball back and forth with her little friend Tommy Kearns. That's the extent of her sex life at age ten.
In chapter two she is a sixteen year old high school Senior. There is no reference to sex in chapter two, but later it will be revealed she only had one boyfriend in high school, a nice kid, a fun to be with kid, a geeky kid with red hair and glasses. He's the only high school boy who ever had the nerve to ask her out. They're obviously not a match, but they get each other circulating out there.
In chapter three Theresa begins college. She immediately starts dating Jack Koster, "the boy from New York City", but not long after Jack's long standing hometown girlfriend shows up on a surprise visit. Steve Hartley, who has had an eye for Theresa, seizes the opportunity and shows up at her dorm room. They hit it off immediately. "We were perfect for each other." They marry in June. She is eighteen.
Theresa's sexuality has certainly changed over the years. The text doesn't explicitly say that. It would be insulting. The reader should already be aware of it.

Another kind of change is increase in knowledge. Obviously Theresa knows a lot more at eighteen than she did at age ten in chapter one when she spoke in simple, short sentences, mostly monosyllables. The text doesn't explicitly say that. It would be insulting. The reader should be aware of it.

Another change in character is a change in morals, which is what is usually meant by the word character.
The are two kinds of change in morals.

One is change in kind. A person moves left or right, up or down, on the spectrum from good to bad. Theresa's morals don't change in kind. Why should they?

The other kind of change is in intensity, grounding, fervor, understanding, whatever you want to call it.
In chapter four government agents seize Theresa and take her out to sea for execution:
Perhaps it was moving away from land for the last time, but for the moment Steve and my parents seemed in another world I had already left. There was nothing they could do for me. I turned to thoughts of my eternity.​
When pushed to the brink someone can panic, or despair, or hope. I had always believed. Some people said they had doubts about God. I pitied them. How could they have doubts? Simple reasoning told me the universe could not be in the form it was without design. It might be a chaos, but the beautiful way it was ordered against a trillion to one odds of elements just happening to have exactly the properties needed to sustain life could only be somebody’s design. Besides that, people’s intellects could not be material alone or would not understand any concept presented to it. But most of all, the goodness of my mother, father, and Steve was not something that could exist in animals. God made them above nature.​
I recited a prayer in my mind as best I could remember it. It was not a standard Church prayer but was fitting for the end.​
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie in
green pastures; he leadeth me to still waters. Though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Can you imagine a ten year old girl thinking and feeling this way?
Clearly Theresa has changed.

The execution fails and HAL's response is disastrous. Theresa agrees to try to get control of HAL. But this means she might acquire limitless power.
The world has never heard of her until two weeks ago and worries she will become a power-mad dictator. Prime Minister Blair appears at the House of Commons to answer questions. Theresa narrates, "When Blair walked into the House you could see from the eyes of the members they couldn't wait to have at him."
But the reader already knows Theresa very well, and knows she will not become a dictator. It's fascinating to watch the Prime Minister's lengthy defense of Theresa. which predicts what we already expect of Theresa. And we have 21 chapters to go.

No change in kind of Theresa's morals is needed to make Theresa interesting.
 
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empresstheresa

Senior Member
If people don't think people change because of the environment, they are close minded individuals who still think the world is flat, the sun rotates around the earth, and that there is such a thing as a free lunch.



Now that's combative.:deadhorse:

It doesn't actually say anything new, of course. :coffeescreen:


I've almost got a degree in Sociology and believe me I've learned more about human nature than I ever wanted to know.

So did I when I took a sociology course at the Univ of Southern Maine around 1995.
My sociology professor said Michael Corleone of The Godfather had no choice but to become the new godfather.

Oh really! Michael couldn't just walk away from it all after his father died? Close down the "family business" and retire with the millions his father had already made? Ask for police protection?

Such erudition! Such knowledge! Such sublime thoughts! Such excitement in learning!
I wanted to get up and take over the lecture myself. :evil:
 
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Lewdog

WF Veterans
Lol ok, it's a proven design that was created by a lot of people very smarter than me and a lot of the people on this board. For example, if a person moves from Nebraska to New York City. Depending on how long they live in New York, they are going to eventually start to take on some of the traits of a New Yorker and lose some of their native traits from Nebraska.

This scene can be played over and over in different situations. Look at the prison model. Look at the change that happens in a person there. This thread is 6 pages long, and to be honest I didn't got back and read this entire thread, so if I said something that is already been said I apologize. I'm just so strong in favor that people will change.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
For example, if a person moves from Nebraska to New York City. Depending on how long they live in New York, they are going to eventually start to take on some of the traits of a New Yorker and lose some of their native traits from Nebraska.



It's all a matter of the degree of change.

A Southern Baptist who moves from Nebraska to New York may take on a different job, and his accent will gradually change over the years,
but he won't become a Hindu and he won't become a criminal.

Theresa spends her first 18 years in Massachusetts. The rest of the story only takes up two years. While she acquires great power, she didn't seek it, doesn't want it, and intends to not use it after the dust settles. The tremendous pressures she's under are not personal, as I explained earlier. They're external, and they pass.
"Theresa will remain Theresa." ( Prime Minister Blair )
 
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Lewdog

WF Veterans
It's all a matter of the degree of change.

A Southern Baptist who moves from Nebraska to New York may take on a different job, and his accent will gradually change over the years,
but he won't become a Hindu and he won't become a criminal.

Theresa spends her first 18 years in Massachusetts. The rest of the story only takes up two years. The tremendous pressures she's under are not personal, as I explained earlier. They're external, and they pass.
"Theresa will remain Theresa." ( Prime Minister Blair )

When I moved from Ohio to Kentucky, and within months I gained a drawl, I started using hillbilly words like rernt (ruined), and hating churches because they own and run the politics of the area, and there is nothing to do because the churches won't allow it. There are more dry counties in Kentucky than I've ever seen.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
When I moved from Ohio to Kentucky, and within months I gained a drawl, I started using hillbilly words like rernt (ruined)



When I entered the Army and encountered Southerners for the first time ( it seemed like most soldiers were Southerners ! ) I adopted a drawl for a time, but it soon passed. It's the need to be a member of the group.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, the black cook Calpurnia invites the kids, Scout and Jem, to her black church. While there, Scout notices that Calpurnia talks "funny" like all the other blacks. But when they return to the Finch home Calpurnia reverts to "white" talk.

When Theresa acquires her power, she avoids all public appearances, talk shows, and reporters. She doesn't want to be manipulated by everybody. She refuses to change in any way, even in simple mannerisms.
 

Lewdog

WF Veterans
When I entered the Army and encountered Southerners for the first time ( it seemed like most soldiers were Southerners ! ) I adopted a drawl for a time, but it soon passed. It's the need to be a member of the group.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, the black cook Calpurnia invites the kids, Scout and Jem, to her black church. While there, Scout notices that Calpurnia talks "funny" like all the other blacks. But when they return to the Finch home Calpurnia reverts to "white" talk.

When Theresa acquires her power, she avoids all public appearances, talk shows, and reporters. She doesn't want to be manipulated by everybody. She refuses to change in any way, even in simple mannerisms.

Easier said than done. How often do you think she talks to herself or other inanimate things? As people we generally crave social interaction in anyway. Whether it means face to face, a phone call, the internet, or sending a letter we are meant to interact, it's in our nature.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
So did I when I took a sociology course at the Univ of Southern Maine around 1995.
My sociology professor said Michael Corleone of The Godfather had no choice but to become the new godfather.

Oh really! Michael couldn't just walk away from it all after his father died? Close down the "family business" and retire with the millions his father had already made? Ask for police protection?

Such erudition! Such knowledge! Such sublime thoughts! Such excitement in learning!
I wanted to get up and take over the lecture myself.

I think this is why no-one's going to get anywhere here.

So I'll answer everything from now on with one-word resposes, to save time.

To Kill a Mockingbird's lawyer hero father Atticus Finch and his children, nine year old daughter Scout, and 13 year old son Jem, don't change, but they're fascinating to watch. Oh sure, they learn something, but THEY don't change.

Wrong.

But while she's under pressures,they're not personal ! She's not being tortured. She doesn't suffer losses. She's not being blamed for anything and can't be; the situations are not her doing.

Boring.

She doesn't change.
Theresa does change.

Eh?

people express opposing opinions, which is what a forum is for I would think

(sigh)

It doesn't actually say anything new, of course.

(sigh)
 

Potty

WF Veterans
The only character I can think of that never changes is Rorschach out of the Watchmen comic. He was the same person the whole way through and he had to be killed by another good guy because he refused to change who he was.

Even vulcans end up changing.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member
It's always this way.

Certain types of people locate the most active thread on the forum,
and they zero in with their nonsense to ruin it.

It's always this way. :grumpy:
 

Lewdog

WF Veterans
It's always this way.

Certain types of people locate the most active thread on the forum,
and they zero in with their nonsense to ruin it.

It's always this way. :grumpy:


What's the nonsense. If you look at things in society, there are only a few answers that people can give. Eventually the thread is going to get derailed because there is nothing to say that hasn't already been said.
 

moeslow

Senior Member
I’m sorry but this just isn’t interesting.
From everything you’ve said the story is nothing more than a “this happens, and then this happens, and then some more of this happens… the end.”

What’s more is the detached main character is deified, and no one is going to want to read about that character. Theresa sounds like an Artemis Fowl, but without any personality, or the devious mind which makes reading him a delight. You’ve got a touch of the Stephanie Meyer and gone all Edward Cullen on us: Hammering in the perfection of Theresa. I mean the world leaders sound like gushy schoolgirls and not savvy politicians when they talk about her. Yuck!

Her biggest challenges are surviving assassins and nuclear bomb loaded planes. That is not interesting. There is a reason Batman is the greatest superhero and has been written by every single top comic book writer in the past 70 years, and the reason is not because he saves Gotham from nuclear weapons and fights off the League of Assassins, it’s because he is human, flawed, and ever changing.

I mean, look back on literature from Gilgamesh to Homer to Mallory to Cervantes to Shakespeare to Tolstoy to Hemmingway to Bolano and you will find stories and characters that are “Human, all too human.” And those are characters we love.

Make it interesting. Have some stakes for your main character that are personal, emotional. Saving the world is fine, but it means nothing if the character doesn’t endure. The world ends and everyone dies and so who cares? 99% of the species that existed on Earth are extinct anyway. But what happens if the world is saved but the main character is damaged in the process? Connect some heartstrings from the reader to the character and then tug and pull and yank and snap them.

Even Hollywood blockbusters attempt it, and the great films achieve it. You don’t have to look far. Take Skyfall which is playing right now. A Bond film that is better than all the previous films in the franchise because they humanize the hero. He is weak, injured, mentally strained, and his loyalties are tested. Emotional turmoil. Sure he thwarts terrorist, but he also finds catharsis. That is a popcorn film. You are writing a novel. Emotional turmoil is your bread and butter, and you haven’t shown any of that crisis.

All the key conflicts you’ve listed are Theresa solving a problem that moves her to the next one. Like the dominos you analogized. Dominos aren’t fun. Chess is fun. Play games with reader. Make it so that HAL is accessible to the average Joe. Then there is a constant fear in the back of the readers mind. It’s like you have E.T, but instead of wrapping him in a blanket, you have him locked in the world’s most unbreakable safe and only the main character knows the combo, and he just sits and waits for the mother-ship to arrive. That’s not fun. There is no drama here. E.T is vulnerable. Make HAL vulnerable. Don’t just tell us Theresa is perfect and that she alone should have this power. Show us how others misuse HAL and that contrast with Theresa makes us believe that she might just be O.K with something like this.

And finally, you keep bringing up Mockingbird, but that is a whole different genre. It is about a small town, with small characters and a small criminal case, and the effect it has on a small community. You on the other hand are writing about geo-political conflicts involving deeply seeded secular and religious ideologies. You shouldn’t attempt it with cardboard messianic figures. It doesn’t work. You are attempting to dwell into human nature and the psychology of power, yet it seems like a Tom Clancy novel.
 

Jeko

WF Veterans
Certain types of people locate the most active thread on the forum,
and they zero in with their nonsense to ruin it.

Then maybe you should stop doing it?

I think moeslow's covered everything I might ever say.
 

empresstheresa

Senior Member


I would have to write ten thousand words to respond to moeslow's assumptions.

I say assumptions because all he does is list assumptions about my story which are contradicted by the story itself, which he has not read.
In other words, he's wrong, and wrong, and wrong again.


To demonstrate, I'll throw out a couple bones:

Have some stakes for your main character that are personal, emotional.

Theresa walks out alone in front of four million North Koreans who have been ordered to kill her.

An assassin tries to kill Theresa by running a car into her. Her back is broken and she's paralyzed from the waist down.
 
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empresstheresa

Senior Member
Really? I don't remember that in your chapter outline and I can't find it in the Google cache. Is that a new part?

That chapter outline was written long before I wrote the current Young Adult version and was obsolete.
There are interesting changes. For example, in the old version, Theresa returned to the United States on the U.S.S. carrier Ronald Reagan, the same carrier from which the jet fighter with Theresa and the A-bomb were launched. The voyage lasts four days. She meets all the sailors and plays football with them.

In the new version, Theresa flies back to the States in a Boeing 747. Naturally things go wrong. When the plane goes out over the Atlantic, if's like the jet fighter flying over the South Atlantic a year earlier from which Theresa fell into the sea. This triggers HAL to respond. He puts everybody into "deep sleep", the process that kept Theresa herself alive in the South Atlantic. Theresa looks around at everybody and hopes Steve and everybody else is only in "deep sleep", not death.


Who was flying the plane?


Nobody is flying the plane. Theresa has to fly it herself.
This is an old movie situation from 1940s movies, but with new twists. Theresa is not a stewardess and knows nothing about flying a plane. The techincal manuals are hundreds of pages long and written for people who already know everything. And the "deep sleep" process also knocks out transistor devices because of their very low voltages.

Electric lights and things like that used voltages thousands of times higher.

In other words, Theresa has no communication with the ground. What will they do when she approaches Kennedy Airport in New York?

 
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moeslow

Senior Member
I'm extrapolating on the information you've given me.
That is what you are here for, and from everything you've provided, it's nothing but a deified character running around doing things those ignorant pageant contest spew: "I would solve hunger and cure aids and bring world peace and blah blah blah." We gag at them on TV, why would we feel different reading about them?

Who cares how many North Koreans there are? She is, presumably at the time, 18-20 years of age, and we feel terrified if a girl that age is approached by even one adult man with bad intentions. You aren't helping the case by the hyperbole. It saturates the danger because 4 million is nothing to a deified character.

And why do you a character walking out alone in front of 4 million people ordered to kill her? That is just plain stupid. There is nothing noble about it and I don't care how you spin it. You are trying to free a nation that by all indications doesn't want freedom. If four million of them are marching at you, its time you leave THEIR COUNTRY. It's the American way now, I guess. Just walk into nations, and shove "freedom" down their throats. This doesn't endear Theresa to me, rather she sounds like a brat. An ignorant, misinformed brat.

Again, all you ever do is have her in danger physically. People try to kill her and that's it. That's boring. Bruce Wayne has his back broken but that isn't the obstacle. Bane has him watch the city he's been trying to save run rampant with criminals and terrorists. He tortures him psychologically. That is interesting because the Wayne family has been trying to save that city for generations, and now all their work is being whipped clean. What could be the major obstacle of Theresa breaking her back? The world somehow destroys itself? What has Theresa invested in the outcome? And if the point has come that we have to rely on a 18 year old girl to keep THE HUMAN SPECIES from annihilation, evolution has failed and our species has reached its extinction point.

I think you need to shift focus from Theresa.
Have her observed through the eyes of another character.
Maybe tell it from the point of view of the husband. Make him be afraid of her, afraid of her power, have a growing fear in his mind that threatens their relationship. Make the stakes close to the heart. We can connect with him, whereas we can't do that with Theresa. The 16-18 years we know/knew are nothing like her, and if we ever met 'em, we tend to move along to the "fun" teenagers.
I suggest you read Artemis Fowl if you haven't. It has a genius 12 year old who is trying to pretty much take over the world. And he isn't anything like the "good girl" you've mentioned.

Good characters aren't fun. That may not be your opinion, but if you are trying to sell this, than you have to play ball. Take the Harry Potter series. The titular character is rarely even in the top five or even top ten favorite characters of the fandom. The majority are twisted and damaged characters or ones that are so flawed they are endearing. Even The Boy Who Lived isn't deified like Theresa. People think of him as such because he survived Voldemort, but we know that Harry is an average boy. He isn't the smartest, Hermione is, nor is he the funniest, Ron is, nor is he the most confident, Draco Malfoy is, nor is he the strongest wizard around. He's an ordinary boy caught up in an extraordinary world. We can relate, and as readers, we are always looking to relate, and for the majority of us, if we had anything like the power Theresa does, we'd be like the kids from the movie Chronicle. Pulling pranks on people, flying around the world, and just having fun.
 
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