Character Critique sumbittion: Eleanor

characterandwritinghelp:

  • Name: Eleanor Mark.
  • Age: In this part of the story, starts off as 16 and ends at 21.
  • Gender: Female.

[Pleased to meet you. -H]

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Well, since we got mentioned… say the devil’s name and, “oh, why hello there.”

TW Savaging A Character Concept

(The original post had an actual TW for Abuse)

There’s actually more issues on the drinking, smoking, and generally not eating subject. If you’re fighting, or even just very physically active, you need to eat. That’s just non-negotiable.

We’re talking about a character that might be able to make it about 24 hours without a serious hit of protein before it starts to affect her. By three days, she’s going to be lightheaded after physical exertion, and might actually faint mid-fight.

As a quick guide, malnutrition will result in feelings of lethargy, which will get you killed in a fight. It slows down healing, and makes you more vulnerable to infections. Difficulty concentrating. Depression. Irritability, and difficulty staying warm, though the cigarettes would help with those two.

Staying warm might seem a little weird, but, remember, just like every other mammal, you (and your character) need to burn energy to maintain a constant body temperature. It’s actually a big part of why we have to eat as frequently as we do. If your character isn’t eating, over a period of time, her body will decide that’s less vital than maintaining a pulse, so she’ll have to work harder to stay warm.

And, make no mistake, if she’s not getting enough to eat, she is malnourished. For teenagers, persistent malnutrition can impair bone growth, meaning she’d actually be smaller than she would if she’d just eat a cheap burger every day. 5’10” is possible, but without malnutrition, she would have been huge.

Also, and I’m making an educated guess here, but if she’s suffering injuries that will result in scarring, she’s probably going to suffer a fatal infection long before her 5 years are up. Because her body simply won’t have the resources to fight it off.

Smoking isn’t automatically a deal breaker, but anything over a couple cigarettes a day is going to start cutting into her ability to fight. Now, nicotine does work as an appetite suppressant, but it won’t let her continue going after her body starts shutting down from malnutrition.

A habitual smoker will suffer impaired respiratory functioning, that means, once she starts fighting, she’s going to have to choose between fighting, and breathing.

Seriously, go look up smoking symptoms online. This does not mix with a highly active street fighter.

Also, smoking is expensive, a pack of cigarettes today (well, the last time I checked) is around $4 – $5 a pack, with 20 cigarettes per. If you’re smoking a common brand, a pack a day smoker will be going through roughly $120 to $150 a month. For a runaway on the streets, that is four to five months of burger money.

The problem with alcohol is a little different. When you fight, or are otherwise physically active, you sweat. For most people, this will never be a real issue. They’ll do something, sweat, stop doing the thing, and rehydrate. But, if your character is in prolonged combat, and an alcoholic, this will rapidly turn into dehydration.

So again, the symptoms to keep an eye out for are: weakness, dizziness, confusion, sluggishness, and fainting. As with malnutrition… in a fight those are all going to be an effective death sentence.

Also, because the body will try to generate a fever to deal with an infection, she’ll actually be losing even more moisture from sweating, leading to dehydration.

Some other fun stuff associated with an alcoholic combatant:

Habitual alcoholics develop a form of anemia, they face longer clotting times, and reduced healing. When combined with the malnutrition, your character will bleed for longer, and take a lot longer to heal her wounds. It might not be scars, it might actually be open wounds that just refuse to heal.

The anemia also results in easier busing, so, that will make her even more of a mess.

Dilatation of blood vessels which results in a loss of body heat, when combined with the malnutrition difficulty regulating body temperature… while I’m not sure exactly what would happen, it would be deeply unpleasant.

Alcohol dries out respiratory tissues (the sinuses and lungs), making them more vulnerable to infections, which she can’t fight off, because she’s malnourished.

Muscular atrophy, and myopathy (cramping, muscular pain, muscular degeneration, and weakness.) These are all chronic symptoms.

Two long term symptoms that, I’m not 100% certain of. Amenorreah can result in women skipping their menstrual period. I don’t know what that will do to a teenager. But, it’s just this side of possible she could completely shut down her ovaries. Also, I remember reading that, in a teenager, alcohol induced anemia will impair bone formation, resulting in weaker bones, though, I can’t find anything on the subject at the moment.

And, of course, as we’ve said before, combat takes a toll. I’m in my early thirties and there have been several points in my life where I’ve had to use a cane. My knees are beyond shot, and on a day to day basis I can feel bone on bone grinding. That’s without fighting every day. For someone who’s in constant combat every day, she’s going to be wrecked before she hits 20.

Also, if she’s malnourished, she’s going to slip into depression. That’s just her brain flipping her off and storming out of the room.

Okay, after all that, I almost don’t want to rake over the rest, but, here’s a few quick things:

In the words of Law & Order’s Lenny Briscoe: “You’ve got the flaw of most basically honest people. You’re a lousy liar.”

Honesty and lying don’t really work out well together. Someone from an abusive or dysfunctional family can easily end up as a fantastic (or terrible) liar, but they’re not going to be a basically honest person. For them, the truth becomes something that they’re punished for, so, more often than not, they’ll actually find lying more comfortable than telling the truth.

Car accidents that are severe enough to total a car (and kill someone) suck. Realistically, you’re going to keep finding new aches and pains for about a year. Even when you can walk away with a few scratches.

So, honestly, you probably need to ditch the malnutrition. Even if she’s getting enough to eat, while being highly active, she’s going to feel like she’s starving constantly anyway.

The alcoholism needs to go as well, that just wrecks the body in too many ways. When you combine it with malnutrition, you set up a vicious cycle that will kill your character.

Like I said, smoking isn’t a deal breaker, particularly if she’s scavenging for cigarettes when she can get them. It’s not healthy, but, it’s (ironically) a lesser evil here.

Finally, she can’t fight all the time. Well, she can, but realistically “all the time” means between 2 and 4 fights a week. Anything more than that and her body would just break down too fast for her to stay functional for more than a month.

-Starke

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