Suppose you were a successfully published writer who had a well developed, and well liked, main character. But a problem arises: you want to put that character in a different century and in a different social/ethnic/cultural background in order to solve a crime.

A major problem. But what do you think of this idea? You put that character in that setting and you give the character all the traits (and perhaps a few more) of the one already established. But instead of calling him 'Jon Champion' you call him 'John Rogers Champion.' You make your historical character the great-great grandfather of the current character.

Why wouldn't it work? Character traits run in families through genetics. Why not this? What do you think (and has this ever been tried before?)

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That's a sticky wicket. There's an invisible line between a creative idea and something that makes the audience feel that they're being jerked around. So it's tricky, and I guess you won't know unless you do it.

You could have your detective wake up in the end, realize the book was just a dream, and have him wonder why Bobby Ewing is in his shower.
Wait, I've had that dream...
I like this idea. Provided it's done in a separate, stand-alone story. In fact, I may very well rip you off, B. R. (not to worry, the chances of me ever being published are slim to none)...

MK
www.minervakoenig.com
Minerva,

Be my guest, kid. Rip away!

I have an unpublished novel where an ancestor tries to contact his namesake born 500 years after his birth--but tries to do so a 1,000 years into the future and on a different planet (it's complicated).
I didn't see this comment until after I had posted my other response. In light of what your actually trying to accomplish in your story, my ideas don't really work. LOL!
This really sounds like sci-fi/fantasy. Your target audience is going to have a slightly different set of expectations than those who prefer their mysteries straight.
It would work for me, provided that the similarities aren't too obvious. A few genetic traits, and maybe a single oddity of behavior, but otherwise lots of difference to make him an individual.
A caution: a historical novel or story requires enormous research before you're ready to write. I just read a book set in 15th century Venice that was so careless it was ridiculous.

On the other hand, no sign that readers or reviewers knew that. So never mind.
I think there's a word for this kind of thing: it starts with "ch" and ends with "eezy." That doesn't mean it wouldn't work, if what you were going for was kind of a campy, pulp-y, sci-fi goofathon. But it's not something I'd try to pass off as a serious plot device, to the extent that I'd know one of those when I saw it. If it was me, I'd do the period story but with a different character.
It's a tricky proposition. First, you wouldn't want to give the character the same traits. You'd want to mix it up a bit. give him the same intelligence that would make him able to solve the crimes. But you have to take into account that in a different century and social/ethnic/cultural surroundings and background are going to automatically make a difference in the characters. You have to reflect that. But, yes, you could give him some of the more dominant traits. But a persons background and experiences should be reflected in their manner, you should take that into account and adjust your character accordingly.

If you are making a stand alone novel separate from the books of your other character, it could be tricky weaving in the family connection. You could write it from the view point of your original character, maybe in the course of an investigation of his own he finds ties to a crime from the distant past, one that his great-grandfather had investigated. If you tied the two, past and present together, it might make a more interesting story, and could make the transition to the new character easier and perhaps less confusing for the reader who already knows the first character. Then in the future you could break off into a series using that character.

Just my theory. :)
On one end it would be a stand-alone novel. But the author for whom I am speculating over has an established character in a series of novels, so any reader picking up this new character would begin to compare one with the other.

But if the character was sufficient to have his own identity, yet clearly be related to the already established character set in 'modern' times, I actually think it would work.

And Jon, here we are going to disagree. I don't think it automatically would be cheezy. Like everything else, it all depends on the quality of the writing.
I agree it could work, as long as they are careful to establish the characters own identity, separate from his/her ancestor.

I have to disagree w/the idea of just placing the character as is in different time periods though, even if the story is well done, it could be confusing to the reader, and be a bit of a put off. When a reader reads a mystery they want to be wondering about "who done it" not about who the character is and why they are in a different time period from the last novel. The only way (in my so-so opinion) that would work is if an actual time travel thread were worked in.
Yep--we disagree. In my view there are certain story devices that are fundamentally cheezy, no matter how good the writing. The "it was all just a dream" ending, say, or anything to do with elves or sexy virgin vampires, any straight-faced mention of the word "werepanther," most non-comedic intervention by supernatural forces, and so on.

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