View Full Version : Do you prefer extraordinary characters or average joes?
June 5th, 2003, 11:08 PM
Alright, I am a little stuck on a detail about a character and it has been bugging me a bit. I am working on some stories (they may be long or short), really just to get myself writing, but if all goes well, it may turn into a bigger project.
The basic gist is that there is this character-a private detective who investigates all sorts of paranormal incidents. Now here is the problem: Should this character be "gifted" with some sort of scifi-ish power such as a psychic intuition or something to that effect *or* should he just be the average, everyday person with a passion for his work?
I took a little tally around the house and it came out even. 2:2. So what do you guys think?
A little off-subject, but how do I post polls. This was originally going to be a poll, but I can't quite figure out how the polls work on this board.
Thanks in advance for any and all help! :D
June 6th, 2003, 12:30 AM
Well, it sounds like this choice will have a big impact on the story. If he has some sort of "ability," then the story will have a more fantastic feel. If the character is just a passionate average joe, then the story will feel more grounded.
If you choose the first, it would probably help to sink the hook. There's something about the unexplained or supernatural that can really make people take notice. But on the flip side, it's easier to identify with someone not so extraordinary. And more than that, a "normal" person would make the supernatural aspects of the story more poignant. It would provide some contrast.
Were it up to me, I'd probably go with the average joe. It would be interesting to see someone normal tackle the paranormal, because it would require a definite amount of intelligence on the main character's part. But I think it would work well either way.
June 6th, 2003, 04:00 AM
I like the idea of having somebody who is just an average Joe (or perhaps even a bit dim) who just keeps going at it, refusing to give in until something turns up.
June 6th, 2003, 04:12 AM
If the character has such a special gift that it absolutely would impact on the plot. so if the plot doesn't demand it...
Personally, I absolutely hate ego-fantasies. I want to read about ordinarily people.
June 6th, 2003, 04:32 AM
I want my protagonist to have special abilities. This can be something simple like a unique kind of intelligence or wisdom, to strength, to special skills, to charm, to super-type powers. And if you are writing about a world where extreme power exists-like magic, gods, or whatever-then I would like that protagonist to have an ability that gives them a realistic ability to overcome the villain/antagonist. I'm not much for average joe's overcoming demons, wizards, or armies by simple circumstance (seems forced by the author). I think I just like reading about above-average people anyway.
However, if you are going to write about super type powers you need to focus extra hard on keeping it realistic. But, if you pull it off I think you would likely have a larger target audience then a fantasy with ordinary characters. It really depends on the type of story you want to tell though.
With my story I start everything out as "ordinary" but then slowly introduce more fantastic/magical elements. With this progression comes greater power for the protagonist.
June 6th, 2003, 04:46 AM
Just don't have him/her working for the FBI or a de-frocked priest of any kind..;)
June 6th, 2003, 09:32 AM
Hmmm...I'm more partial to "ordinary joe" myself. I like that the character's strengths make them more than ordinary, that their passions elevate them, and empower them.
But that's just me...I think you're going to find the answers on this question probably split down the middle where ever you ask it. Just depends really on how much and of what you wish to do with the story.
But if the story's dealing with supernatural stuff already, I kinda think it grounds it nicely with the average fella. :)
June 6th, 2003, 09:45 AM
I'll chime in, but not with my preference...
Seems to me that so far everybodies suggestions are all very valid(a rare thing around here)...
I'd say it depends on what you are trying to do with the story. As stated the normal joe would be a nice contrast to the paranormal, allowing for some truely chilling scenes that are just oozing with fear. On the other hand if he's/she's slightly extraordinary then you have the setting for some great fight scenes where the power strugle becomes a driving factor...
Were it my story I think that either approach would end out with two totaly different stories. Normal = A lot of introspection and reacting, ballanced with dialog with a variety of characters who act as support to the character. Extraordinary = More overt actions, with the main guy being very driven and results oriented, knowing what has to be done and doing it, but less dialog because he's mostly dependant on his own abilities...
Doubt that helped much, but it satisfied my own need to post in here:D
June 6th, 2003, 11:34 AM
Extraordinary people in ordinary situations
Ordinary people in extraordinary situations
Extraordinary people in extraordinary situations
... all good.
Ordinary people in ordinary situations = clearly probably not the forte of our genre.
June 6th, 2003, 11:34 AM
Wasn't the Nightstalker tv series about an ordinary man, a reporter, who pursues stories of supernatural phenomenom?
I think you could have a lot of fun with it either way. Remember also that an ordinary Joe could also pick up some useful amulets and such that might help him out even if he himself does not have powers.
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