I need to write a soldier who's a 19D Count Olaf, but I don't even know where to start :( tips?
Oh boy nonnie do I go some ‘vice for you.
First your character has to be a subpar actor, and it’s VERY important that they’re subpar. Anything above or below might not work, although it is possible for your character to be such a good actor that they’re really good at acting out bad acting. In the biz we call this “Neil Patrick Harrising,” also still known in some circles as “Jim Careying.” Just sticking with a subpar actor might be best for now though, although feel free to edit in later drafts once you feel more confident. It’s always better for your character to have some notable flaws or else they come out feeling very stiff when you want them ALIVE! (of course, it’s always good to give your characters good points too! A Count Olaf may be very handsome, for example)
Next, your character needs a motive. Ideally for a Count Olaf, you’re gonna want a very selfish, self-driven, and vengeful motive, such as stealing the Baudelaire fortune. But becoming rich and famous is also good motivation if you don’t have any Baudelaire orphans available! Remember, you’re the master of your own dastardly narrative, a word which here means “a story that is too terrible to tell due to the likes of Count Olaf.”
Thirdly, try to steer clear of tropes, especially those that are already commonly associated with Count Olaf types, many of which you can find here. I must stress that tropes are not bad, and in fact tropes can be carriers of excellent and inspiring writing. In fact, avoiding writing tropes is actually a trope in and of itself! Plus, cliche and abused tropes will tire and bore your audience when you’re trying to petrify them, a word which here means “frighten into divulging the secrets of the Baudelaire fortune.” One trick to taking care of tropes is to lampshade them, that is, to acknowledge that they exist and then subvert them purposefully by doing the opposite.
Finally, practice! The easiest way to practice writing a Count Olaf is to read accounts of Count Olaf. It’s impossible for me to tell you exactly how your character should act, especially as I’ve never personally been a Count Olaf, but I’ll be honest: that doesn’t necessarily matter right now! If you have a great idea and need to work out the finer details of Count Olaf later, you can go ahead and start writing the story, making notes to yourself on the way about the research you need to do. This way you can get your first draft out quick instead of getting sidetracked, a word which here means “got so into researching Count Olaf that the actual story has suffered.” Just don’t forget to go back, read all of your notes, and if possible run your drafts through some sensitivity readers to ensure you haven’t accidentally invoked something too problematic even for the wicked Count Olaf.
Even if you aren’t writing about Count Olaf, I hope these simple suggestions will help you with character creation in the future! Best of luck!
To the other anon: The main reason why the Harrises accept Eric was a psychopath is because they are too coward to face the fact they were horrible parents. It's easier to say he was a psychopath and there is nothing they could have done than to admit their sins. I'm sorry, but i just hate that family so much. They are such hypocrites.
For completion’s sake, as I’m answering things wildly out of their original order here, this is the post you’re addressing. ^^
I’m always very careful in expressing my views on the Harris family, as I have never met them and only know the little that has appeared in the media about them. I am reluctant to call them horrible parents or to express hatred of any kind toward them, because I do have the impression that they did what they felt was right and the few stories we have about the family reflect on parents who were engaged in their children’s lives and on a family that did not appear to be troubled on the outside. It’s hard to know what was really going on in the household and how this affected Eric, though we can make educated guesses about this that do not always paint the Harrises in a very positive light. I think that their behaviour during and after the massacre is problematic and gives off the impression that they not only pulled their hands off their son but did everything they could to protect themselves in the process. The Harrises closed ranks on investigators and even tried to bar them from accessing Eric’s bedroom, which does not help their case any.
From my perspective, it has become very apparent that some of Eric’s issues were rooted in his family life and the way in which his family dealt with emotions and vulnerability in particular. While their parenting style may have worked on one child to no great detriment, it is crystal clear that this parenting style and the choices they made for their children were not the right fit for Eric and may have exacerbated some of what was going on with him. If the Harris family did some soul searching, they might find that their youngest child’s sensitivity and vulnerability could have been handled better by them in the years in which he was still alive. It goes too far for me to hate them, but I do wish that they would examine other options and seek their own accountability within all of this. In my opinion, they did take the easy way out by accepting the standard view on their son – it’s the way that absolves them of all wrongdoing and blame, which is the most comfortable and easy road by far when it comes to this kind of grief and loss. However, it also destroys their son in the process and makes Eric stand as alone in death as he was in life.
“Some weeks earlier, I had asked Dylan about his friends’ plans. He said Nate, Zack, and some of the others were off to college; Eric was hoping to join the Marines. Before our dinner with the Harrises, I asked Dylan for an update on Eric’s plans. Joining the Marines had fallen through, he told me. Eric would be living at home, working, and attending community college instead. During this conversation, Dylan had a faraway look, which made me worry he was having second thoughts about his own college plans. After an initial flurry of excitement over a warmer climate, he’d withdrawn, becoming even more pensive and quiet than usual, as if he had something on his mind. “You’re sure you want to go away?” I asked. Some of our friends’ kids had started their college careers at community colleges closer to home, and I wanted to remind him there were other options. “I definitely want to go away,” he said, sounding decisive. I nodded, believing I understood: he was nervous, naturally, but ready, too. I think now he was talking about his own death.”
– Sue Klebold - A Mother’s Reckoning - February ‘99
More insight on the Klebolds and Harrises shortly after 4/20
LITTLETON, Colo. - Until their sons launched a bloody rampage on Columbine High School Tuesday, both the Harris and Klebold families appeared to be living their versions of the American dream. Thomas and Susan Klebold resided in a spacious, glass-and-cedar house nestled into a bluff near Dear Creek Canyon. They drove BMWs, enjoyed challenging careers and were blessed with two bright, healthy sons. Wayne and Katherine Harris had settled into a comfortable cul-de-sac here three years ago after he retired from a military career that had them travel across the country. They enjoyed working in their yard and were looking forward to the graduation of their younger son, Eric, in just three weeks. Nothing in their lives seemed to indicate that their sons, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, would soon be responsible for the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. “I never dreamed this could happen, not in the least,” said Bill Konen, who lived next door to the Harrises. […] In his parents, Dylan Klebold appeared to have two strong role models. His father, Thomas, 52, is a self-employed geophysicist in the gas-and-oil field, while his mother, Susan, 50, helps run a program through Colorado Community College that trains disabled persons for employment. The parents also run Fountain Real Estate Mortgage Management, through which they buy and restore properties. They have an older son, Byron. Ed Berg, a geophysicist who worked in a gas-and-oil exploration partnership with Mr. Klebold for five years, praised him as an intelligent, well-respected member of the professional community and an involved father. “Tom talked about having arguments with his son, but it was the typical father’s frustration with typical teen behaviour,” said Mr. Berg. He said it would have been typical of Mr. Klebold to support counselling for his son. Dylan underwent anger management and other counselling as part of a juvenile intervention program after an arrest last year for attempted car theft, said authorities. “This business about, ‘How could he not know about what his son is doing?’ Well, clearly Tom as aware something was wrong and he was trying to do something about it,” said Mr. Berg. He also described Mr. Klebold as a political liberal who probably supported gun control, although Mr. Berg said he had never asked him his position on the issue. “He’s a democrat, probably more liberal than I am,” said Mr. Berg. “I would expect he wouldn’t have a gun in his house.” […] [On the Harrises:] Neighbors said both parents worked full time, but were unfamiliar with their careers. Mrs. Harris, 49, was often seen working in their yard, sometimes with their dog, Sparky, and the couple was friendly, if somewhat remote. “We didn’t see them a whole lot. They kept to themselves, but that’s not unusual around here,” said Mr. Konen. “I’d see Major Harris in the yard, and he seemed very pleasant. He’d give me a big smile and wave.” Their older son, Kevin, visited home on breaks from college. For the past year, Dylan was a regular at the Harris house, his black BMW a fixture in their driveway. “Dylan drove pretty fast, but Eric was pretty good,” said neighbour Allison Good, 13. “Dylan would come over a lot – almost every day.” […] Excerpts from “’Ideal’ families spawned the shooting horror”, Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, April 23, 1999
Perhaps if the Harrises had taken the opportunity to watch the basement tapes, they wouldn't have accepted the view of their son as a psychopath. Those tapes clearly showed that he loved them more than anything.
Perhaps that would have been helpful, yes, though also highly confrontational given that the tapes were primarily filmed inside their home and showcased all the hiding places that Eric utilised within the house. One segment of the tapes was filmed in the dead of night while his parents were asleep upstairs. Seeing the tapes might have added to their guilt, but might also have created a better ground for them from which to try and understand their son. Eric was very quick to absolve them of any wrongdoing and expressed his love and respect for his parents readily, which could have strengthened them in those difficult times.
I believe the choices of the Harris family would not be my choices in this sort of situation, which makes it very hard sometimes to stay neutral about them. I feel like I don’t know them well enough to judge, but at the same time I feel like I know enough of how they come across to judge them anyway.
Eric Harris and his family lived at 8276 S. Reed St, in Littleton, Colorado (80120) at the time of the [Columbine] shootings. The Harrises have long since moved. Their current place of residence is unknown.
Surprise find of the day! An old newspaper article from The Bryan Times about Eric and Dylan mentioned their ties to Ohio – Dylan’s mother grew up in the Columbus suburb of Bexley, while Eric actually lived in Ohio himself between 1983 and 1989. The article mentioned that Eric first lived in Huber Heights, pictured above, before moving to a nearby Beavercreek subdivision. He did attend Valley Elementary School in Beavercreek throughout this time, which I think is why many of us (including myself) assumed that he’d actually lived in Beavercreek itself in those years.
The article goes on to mention that former neighbours were astonished when they heard of Eric’s involvement in the massacre. One of them called Eric “a very typical kid” and said he had very, very nice parents. “A typical American family from the outside”, which is a perfect description of the image the Harrises wished to cultivate.
Hey, guys, the fifth and final chapter of You or Someone Like You is now up.
The last piece of the story was not published on Tumblr, you’ll have to head over there to see what happens with Harris and Tony and the rest.
I hate to do this, but I really just needed to finish this. It was unexpectedly exhausting, from an emotional standpoint. I’ve been having a bit of a tough time recently, and I try not to complain, but right now, I need to be focusing on something that involves less… Angst, for lack of a better word.
Please bear with me, I’ll probably have a ‘state of the Sci’ post up a little later.
But for now, if you’d like to find out what happened to both universes Harrises, head on over to AO3.