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"Throwing characters into the fire", 5 days ago, 12:53 PM #1
Travis

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Are you writing an exciting story? Is it exciting enough? Is your character in a sticky situation? could it be worse? Should it? I'm not always good at really pushing the envelope. It's one of the reasons I decided to do a more family friendly, humor based story. But the new lost in space got me thinking about it. (I'm not going to go into that show, so don't worry about spoilers)

I think the only limitation on upping the drama is believability. Even then, once your over the top, and people can accept that it's that kind of adventure, you can get away with a lot of campy stuff. The Evil Dead comes to mind :)


On the flipside, is it necessary? Is one problem enough? maybe there's other things to focus on. character development or romance? Not that you couldn't up the ante on those situations too.

What are those moments in stories we remember the most? How bad did it get for your favorite hero? Some of the biggest have actually died and come back to life.
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5 days ago, 1:03 PM #2
MK_Wizard

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Well... I would say my story is to the point without frills. I don't do gore or shock value, but I don't sugarcoat the consequences of bad decisions or risks. Sometimes, they are good and sometimes they are bad. However, I didn't want to just make a comic. I wanted to make something that makes you stop and think as well as hope. Sometimes, there is tragedy that you can't do anything about, but I didn't want it to be depressing. I wanted to show that life goes on and it needs to. I think sometimes, you need that element of sadness because we need smart stories that show people that doing bad things will cause bad things to happen.
5 days ago, 2:18 PM #3
DrewSpence

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TONE is the big word here. What's the tone of your universe?
Is it campy? Silly? Serious, sad.....
Some things swing back and forth. Some episodes of.. -even a comedy show- have deep-drama and far-reaching impact moments.
No matter how bad a show or series was, there's always that one episode where things get real.

Readers learn the rules you set forth and trust you to follow them. Once you begin to break them, the show usually jumps the shark and gets real corny. The impossible happens too often and no amount of your characters going Meta can reset the levels. No one expects anything serious and no amount of peril is a worry.

You can't even shock the series back to life cause killing characters becomes the new gimmick.
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Yeah, um, learn from Star Wars and don't break your own rules.
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5 days ago, 2:26 PM #4
Sovember

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I think my favorite stories with characters being thrown into the fire are ones where I actually give a damn about the cast. Or ones with VERY good identity and atmosphere, Dead Space 1 and 2 for example is one of my favorite survival horror games ever. I also like the Uncharted series and think they're very exciting even though I know Drake's never gonna freeakin' die lol, the characters are so likable it's still tense and stimulating to watch them in the fray. With me though I also like strange and experimental stories. Hunter x Hunter is a strange case as an anime because it oscillates between story arcs that are lighthearted and almost childish, to story arcs that are super dark, experimental, and deconstruct and invert shonen tropes. I think it only works because it's anime though where outlandish and experimental are sort of expected, I didn't like the newer Star Wars that much and it did try to go the more experimental genre bending route. Maybe it's because I didn't find the characters that compelling.
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5 days ago, 2:27 PM #5
MK_Wizard

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Honestly, DrewSpence, you should be an Editor or teach Creative Writing. You make a great point. Before throwing a character into the fire, the big question is, what size should the fire be depending on the tone, setting and direction a series is taking? If a series is dealing with stuff like crime and such, sooner or later, you're going to have to show the ugly side of it, but that doesn't mean you have the pick the worst of the faces. Just ugly enough to show that crime is not a spectator sport and people really do get hurt by it from the moment it happens to the years that come after. Think criminal records. You don't have to break rules or undo the camp. You just have to take a moment with finesse.
5 days ago, 3:50 PM #6
Travis

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Tone is super important, but even with that determined. Does your character have enough on her plate? Is she challenged? I tend to walk along a story. Problem, Resolution. I appreciate a storyteller that can go "wait, things just got worse!" without dragging out the story too much, or losing something in the process, like our suspension of disbelief.

Like sometimes a situation is so untenable I begin to think, this guy is dead, if he survives, I'm going to be disappointed, because there is no way that would happen. Basically If I find myself thinking about the writer instead of the protagonist in a situation, you're losing me. If there's an impossible situation, hopefully the story has been told in a way that I believe the hero has a chance.

I guess my feelings on that leave me a little timid to push the envelope.
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5 days ago, 3:55 PM #7
Sovember

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Yeah I see where you're coming from, even in a fantasy story a hero surviving a certain battle or event can be unbelievable assuming you've set up the rules of your world accordingly and consistently. I saw the movie "A Quiet Place" recently and *quasi spoilers* it was more of a sci fi survival thriller comparable to "Alien" than a horror movie I was expecting. What I liked about it was that when certain characters encountered the unstoppable monsters/beasts, they would only escape barely in believable ways (most of the time). And this made this movie very engaging and even stressful. Maybe watch some suspense filled movies like that where the protagonists are pitted against super intimidating circumstances but use their human wit to escape and/or overcome the challenges. It also helps to have a few characters that die, even developed characters, this shows there are stakes and makes it more "believable" to me imo.
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5 days ago, 4:24 PM #8
MK_Wizard

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Travis:Tone is super important, but even with that determined. Does your character have enough on her plate? Is she challenged? I tend to walk along a story. Problem, Resolution. I appreciate a storyteller that can go "wait, things just got worse!" without dragging out the story too much, or losing something in the process, like our suspension of disbelief.

Like sometimes a situation is so untenable I begin to think, this guy is dead, if he survives, I'm going to be disappointed, because there is no way that would happen. Basically If I find myself thinking about the writer instead of the protagonist in a situation, you're losing me. If there's an impossible situation, hopefully the story has been told in a way that I believe the hero has a chance.

I guess my feelings on that leave me a little timid to push the envelope.


That is exactly how I feel about character deaths. I hate it when characters rise form the dead. Like I said, tragedy is sometimes a necessary thing to do especially in crime stories, but they are not to be taken lightly. And I only like "rising from the grave" stories when they're treated right. It's not a good thing for someone to come back especially after years passed and it's unrealistic for things to be the way they once were. People get old, new relationships are formed and what if the person comes back different? Almost every well done rising from the grave story I see always ends with things going bad because the person came back. Superman was the exception not the standard.

Also, a death should have an impact not something we cry about and then get over the very next day. It should have long terms affects and it's a moment where the survivors develop. They either come out of it better or worse. Or in some cases, start being their true selves. And you don't just "get over it". It takes time and even when the mourning period is over, you don't just replace a character.
5 days ago, 4:32 PM #9
Sikyanakotik
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Don't forget to poke them with a stick from time to time so they burn evenly.

I'm serious.
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5 days ago, 4:35 PM #10
Sovember

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True, unless you like your characters rare of course!
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4 days ago, 1:09 PM #11
Bropocalypse

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Yes, characters must often face trials, that is what the reader wants. But the reader also wants to see the characters climb out of the pit now and then.
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4 days ago, 1:17 PM #12
MK_Wizard

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I think it should be a balance. Yes, they should be able to solve some problems, but there are those you just can't solve or change though it should show some moving on.
4 days ago, 2:16 PM #13
TheMario360

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As far as raising the stakes goes, I've heard that making the conflict personal for the characters can increase it's effectiveness, regardless of the actual conflict itself.
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4 days ago, 3:11 PM #14
Maxis-Geryon

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Glad to see that there's another fan of Evil Dead!

It is true that the fire, which is a terrible event in a character's life, needs to be controlled before throwing someone in it.

Handle the fire right, your character which is the meat will come out well done. But mishandle it, and it will end up damaging your story in ways you never thought of. Unless of course, that is your goal.

A good example of an "extra crispy" character here is Guts from Berserk. The start of the story has you seeing the man as a monstrous individual who won't stop at nothing for his revenge. But during the flashback arcs, you get to see what drove him into such a state.

A "well done" example is Luffy from One Piece. Fans have been complaining that Luffy is too happy go lucky despite the situations. So author puts Luffy through all kinds of Hell (literally) and was forced to make so much sacrifices as those were the only choices Luffy could make with his limitations.

The adventures of Ash Williams is an interesting example. He is clearly affected by the events of Evil Dead but manages to retain his sarcastic and gung-ho persona that he gained from the first movie. I'd like to say he is "rare" but he learns from every encounter with Evil. From the movies all the way to the TV series.


To sum it up, putting a character through the fire is exactly like a barbecue. Make sure you got the grill all set up, your tools ready and your characters and or setting to be shoved in it.
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