Has anyone worked with compartmentalised characters?


Science fiction fantasy
May 5, 2022
Basically it's a character that compartmentalizes his roles and emotions.

I have a compartmentalized character and he's pretty fun to work with. He's the hereditary baron of a fortress (title is Head Chancellor) and his older son was magically selected from birth to join a cadre of sorcerers. As a politician, his motivation is to guide his son to favor the fortress when dealing with the cadre. He was called out on it early on and dug into the fatherly motivation to protect his son... to the point where he became paranoid that the cadre was trying to hurt his son when he was taken elsewhere for lessons. Who he was as a person was subsumed under those two other identities and their motivations. But that all fell apart so he has a chance to grow as a person without having to carry all of that baggage from before.
Giving a character two divergent traits is often fun and makes for an interesting character; it is also useful when setting up a betrayer character. I have a current character who switches from using country aphorisms to strategic planning and analysis. So far, the feedback I've gotten from early readers is that they enjoy the character and completely accept that alternating speaking style. I find that this tends to make for a deeper character by exposing more than one dimension. Have fun with your character; it sounds like an interesting plot line.
Have a look at Bujold's Vorkosigan books for a great execution of this: Mark Vorkosigan, Miles' brother, who starts to appear from Brothers in Arms, with the key compartmentilization happening in Mirror Dance

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