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  1. #16
    LaerCarroll.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    You don't have to corral all your readers into one holding pen.
    Amen to that. What was it Elizabeth Moon said in this forum? Something like

    You don't have to please all readers. Just enough of them.

  2. #17
    Shadow's Lure (June 2011)
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    As Jemisin notes in her essay, the negative side to the positive increase in strong, kick-ass female characters has been an increased pressure on authors to have main female characters who are only strong, kick-ass types -- another stereotype. So that's what it sounds like in reaction to Red Mage's story. You will see this often with reader reactions to stories with multiple female main characters -- the ones who are liked are the kick-ass ones who act with traits that we consider very male. Female characters who have traits that we consider very feminine in society (also as a stereotype) -- shyness, quiet, lacking confidence, inability to defend herself physically, etc. -- tend to be regarded as negative.
    This x1000. The negative takeaway to all those kick-ass heroines is that they eclipse the other kinds of strength.

  3. #18
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    I think this was exactly the case with my readers. They all reacted the same way toward the character so that all I can really deduce from their critiques of her characterization is that they very much wanted her to be of the kick-ass strength rather than the intelligent and loyal to her firends. I like both kinds of strength and I think both very much have a place in storytelling.

  4. #19
    Shadow's Lure (June 2011)
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage View Post
    I think this was exactly the case with my readers. They all reacted the same way toward the character so that all I can really deduce from their critiques of her characterization is that they very much wanted her to be of the kick-ass strength rather than the intelligent and loyal to her firends. I like both kinds of strength and I think both very much have a place in storytelling.
    Then stick to your guns. Tell your story.

  5. #20
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    I think that I sometimes come across as if I'm saying screw the readers, and I'm really not. My concerns about my own project that I mentioned come from some concerns about readers re the world setting, but it's in relation to the story itself and what exactly I want to do. (And that, as suggested to me, may take some writing to work out.)

    One of the things you can do, Red Mage, is go back and say to the readers who had a problem with the character that she can't be a kick ass because that's not her nature, or at least not yet in the story. So you can ask them what things they did like about her and which of her thoughts they found most problematic. That's not necessarily going to cause you to change the character, but it may show you where you could make some adjustments to make her own strengths come across better.

  6. #21
    Was: "Virangelus" A. Lynn's Avatar
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    Something that has always been important to me (and that is very in line with Laer's comment) is that no one character should exist in a creative vacuum (unless you're creating a Greek Soliloquy of course). If you have a strong persona, don't be afraid to also have a meek persona. Contrast is king in the world of art.

    An example that comes to mind is in one of my fantasy stories: I have a ton of amusing fantasy characters (werewolves, vampires, etc), and each had their own "hook" of sorts. Then there was the protagonist, who was this meek little mere mortal who was running around all the time frightened of these things. At first I thought this was not going to work well, because my lead character seemed very boring compared to neat things like dragons, vampires, and werewolves (oh my). But then I realized that she provides a great counterbalance to the character, and that others can relate to her mortality. Also, she ends up growing into her bravery while still maintaining that soft, nurturing quality, so it is my hope her contrast is a perfect fit for the cast of wild characters she is amongst.

  7. #22
    I think you can have weak characters. By 'weak' I mean flawed. They can have any trait you would find in a real life person, the trick is to make them interesting. There are characters I read in books who are complete cowards and weak, but say they are incredibly good at one or two things. They are flawed and this makes them interesting to read. You cant have a book full of supermans (well I guess you could) but its the flaws and things that make characters imperfect I find interesting. its all in how you write it.

    An example that comes to mind is Samwell Tarly from A game of thrones. The guy is fat and a coward, but he's also book smart. He knows what he is those and does his best to utilize his strengths and minimizes his weakness. Even though he fails to a degree, the portray of his traits make him intersting.

    My issue seems to be making the reader sympathize with a character's loss, misfortunes, issues, without having him seem to emo. Would learning through a perspective of other characters about this characters tragedies make this seem less emo rather than having the character talking and recounting his misfortunes to others?

  8. #23
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    I would like to add that main characters need to be 'dynamic', and the issue of weak or strong is not that central. By dynamic I mean living, breathing, acting, feeling.

    A reader needs to be impacted by what the character is going through. So we need to put effort into showing our main chars as both real and relatable; imagine the Lord of the Rings with the pov that of Sauron instead of Frodo, Sam, Aragorn. OK for a very brief trip through the mind of a evil genius megalomaniac, but out of steam and real dull after 30 pages!

    Also, our protagonists should be catalysts in their world, not puppets, nor leaves driven along by the winds of the storyline. Of course, totally fine having him or her overtaken by wider events, but too much passivity in a central character makes them a sidekick to the plot. Even a shy and quiet main character must find ways to take the initiative and not be merely a victim.

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