1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Action Driven Completey

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MilesTro, Mar 22, 2013.

    What would a short story or a novel be like without characterization and back story information? A story that is more action driven about what the characters are doing and how they will solve that situation. Does it really matter?

    I think it depends how good the plot is and how addicting the problem is. Some novels I read have a lot of characterization and back story details, which I don't care. The World of Warcraft books are the worst. I just want to know what is going on and how the characters will solve that problem. All those back story stuff and the characters' past gives me a headache. I don't care if some readers are curious about the characters and the setting. Depending on the story, it should be action driven.

    Manga and Anime, they have a lot of characterization, which makes their series too long. Some of their information about the characters are cool, but why should I care? Action is what entertains me.
     
  2. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Without any character development a story really just becomes a series of events... Like a completed 'to-do' list... If the reader is not made to care about the characters, why would they care whether or not the persons solves the puzzle? Live or die, etc.
     
  3. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    If a book fail to properly develop characters within a first few pages, I stop reading. A story is nothing without the people in it. It is what breathes life into the story, what makes us attached to it and what makes the story feel real. The story might still be engaging with properly developed characters ofcourse, but it's unlikely that the story will be something that you remember for a long while after you are done reading.
     
  4. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    What about short characterization? I think how characters are described and what they do in the events is also characterization. The readers might not know about the characters' past, what they will know what those characters are by how the characters talk, behave, and solve problems. So to have no characterization, there can't be any characters at all. But some characters, there will be some characterization.
     
  5. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Even in action movies we are given information about the characters' background or character. What we look in a book is one or more characters that will make us think "i want to read his/her story" or a setting that says "i want to know what happens to this place/land/ship etc". Noone wants to read about the actions sans the characters. I can think of the actions myself. What i want to read about is why this particular character does that particular action or how it is connected with the rest. You need something that will intrigue people to make a successful novel, be it a character, a group of them, a place or a concept/idea. If you ever read a manga or watch an anime which is completely devoid of backstory or characterization, you will probably change your opinion on the matter.
     
  6. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I also think if characters have more mystery about themselves and orgin, it will make the readers become curious and addicted to these characters. Like The Shadow, everybody wants to know about him and why he fights crime.

    Characterization seems more fit in novels because novels require a lot of pages to be a full novel. Readers can get the chance to learn everything, while short stories are limited due to short lenghts.

    Would it also be interesting if a setting is the character itself without people? Like it somehow reflects to human morals and its' mystery?
     
  7. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    I think very few people would read it. Or...read very much of it.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why, thank the Lord that books are not written solely for your pleasure. Your very sentence is a contradiction - you say "depending on the story" thereby admitting that in some stories, characterisation and backstory are important, but you begin by saying "I don't care" - and that you don't care if some readers like it differently, you think it SHOULD be the way YOU like it.

    Like I say, thank God for writers everywhere you're not their only reader, and they do not write books only for you. You're free to choose only the books that interest you, but what's the point in criticising others for enjoying to read or write things that don't happen to appeal to you?
     
  9. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    One of the things that you're missing, MilesTro, is that developed and interesting characters can change you plot drastically. In the novel I'm working on now, I had come up with the plot before the characters. When I started writing, I found that the characters changed the story greatly; they almost made their own decisions. This made it a lot more fun to write, not to mention improving my initial idea. So even if you think your plot is fine by itself, start considering whose acting in it. How will they act? What can they do to shape their own destiny? If you have those answers, you'll probably know why they want those things. Just my two cents...
     
  10. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    If every reader is like me, then there wouldn't be any good books. And the authors will suffer with limits.
     
  11. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    If every reader was like you there wouldn't be books of any kind. OK, maybe picture books. And Twilight.
     
  12. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    I think what Miles is getting at - and correct me if I'm wrong - is that he doesn't like when there's a lot of time in the novel spent going in the pasts of characters. What happens now is what's important to the story, and we can realize what sort of person a character is and what their personality is like, without going through how they were raised or what happened to them as a child.

    For the most part, I disagree. There is a point where you're focusing too much on a character's past, though that amount is different for every story, depending on the plot, the focus on that character and how that history is relayed to the reader. But I think I would find it very difficult to write a novel without including a crucial character's past... You are who you are because of who you were. Your past and what happened to you in the past - those things you were taught and exposed to - are what shape who you are as an individual. So, yes, I can understand that Character A is a sarcastic, sex-crazed jerk without any character background, but then the character simply becomes a sarcastic, sex-crazed jerk. There can be no sympathy without his back story of why he's like that. There can be no understanding of the character. Essentially, you run a high risk of your character becoming flat.

    There's a reason behind most all actions, and to avoid those reasons is to deprive your readers of the explanations they need to understand your character. And your character is the emotional link that you have between story and reader. It's the difference between a great novel and a great textbook. I read about the Civil War in High school. I thought it was tragic. I had an opinion. But if I were to read a piece of historical fiction written about a General in the war who runs the risk of losing his own life, as well as that of his younger brother whose stationed under him, I'm more likely to develop emotions and become tied to the fate of the novel and what happens at the end of the war.

    You see what I mean?
     
  13. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Couldn't put it better.
     
  14. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    If the narrative is in first person, I think that can work because we readers are reading inside the character's head. He or she can tell us the past and what he or she thinks. In third person, I feel it is awkard since we are reading outside the characters. Pretty much it is the author's point of view that we are reading from. There are some novels I read which were more action driven, and I enjoy them pretty well.

    And of course if a novel has too much flashback, long ass history lessons, and character thought on the back story information, I will drop the book.

    Aso why can't the characters just talk about the back story and their lives to other characters instead of the author writing it all in third person?
     
  15. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Firstly, in some books, the character's do tell the story in their own words. However, in such monologues, things get confused often.

    Secondly, why is it wrong for a narrator to tell in third person what's happening now, but not what happened in the past? Why is that any different?
     
  16. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    I'm in stitches!

    I dunno, I don't want to offend miles, but I think he might be quite young. When I was a wee one, all I read was warhammer novels, which were pretty much just that - A pinch of plot mixed throughout vivid fight scenes. I don't recall them ever delving into how the characters became super-badasses, and there is a near countless number of those books published.
     
  17. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I am 27 years old.

    What about pulp magazine stories like Conan, The Shadow, and Doc Savage? Most of them only focus on the action with little characterization and back story. And nobody doesn't care about the villains.
     
  18. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Good short stories, yes, but shorts stories require small or implied back story.

    note: I am not familiar with the shadow or doc savage.
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I never read Conan or the Shadow, but I read a lot of the Doc Savage stories when I was a kid. They were trash. I could tell they were trash before I hit my teens. If you want to write pulp stuff, try to do better than Doc Savage - stories that insult the intelligence of a twelve-year-old probably aren't worth writing.
     
  20. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    There's nothing wrong with that. Every writer has their own style. But sometimes those types of third person narrative sound awkward to me. Sometimes I feel like the characters should explain everything while the writers describe the setting and the action.

    And I am working on a pulp style short story for an anthropomorphic magazine.

    https://www.rabbitvalley.com/sales/Submissions_Pulp.html
     
  21. Xatron
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    That might be why nobody cares about Doc Savage or Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger might have something to do with Conan as well). And Robert E. Howard was doing a good work with the Cimerian brute up to A Witch Shall Be Born in 1934 IIRC and gave enough backstory and character development to sustain the characters. Doc Savage was just garbage as minstrel said.
    The Shadow was never completely action driven. It was MORE action driven before print, when it was a live radio show and as such it required more suspense than story, but it still was character driven. We came to care about the protagonist through all his good qualities and all his glaring flaws, because we were given enough background and insight to his character to make us.
    Even if you write in first person, you still have to find a way to have your character's story told. That's what a book is about. As i already said, nobody cares about the action itself, what we care about is who did this action and why this action occurred.
     
  22. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    What it is more of a dialogue driven story along with action? We can still learn about the characters from their voices and what they do. If we need a flashback, the writer can write another book about the character's origin and explain why they do it. Or the flashback can be a prologue which hooks the readers. Plus the back story information can be shatter across the pages like a trail of golden coins. Have the readers collect those coins, until they reach the big pot of gold. Think of how TV shows and comic books use this technique. Although they are only visual, their methods work well as long as the characters are good and the plot works with addicting twists and turns. A crap load of characterization and back story information can turn you off. How much does a reader needs to relate to the characters and understand their situation. Little information can be enough, and it can build up a long the story line.

    I can understand why some first person stories have a lot of info because some characters do talk a lot to the readers in their own words. But one of those type of books, like by James Patterson, do have short info and simple words to understand. I like his work because I can easily understand what is going on and how the characters feel.

    I read one Doc Savage short story, and it turned me off because the situation didn't hook me enough. Its' writing is not my taste either. I forgot what title it is. Something with dark shadow. Anyway I am reading a Conan novel by Robert Jordan, and it hooked me pretty well, and the action in it is fun. There are some back stories, but they are short.

    Also it sounds like you think character driven stories are better than action driven stories. All depends on what the story is about. If it is about a character, it is a character driven story. If it is about a time machine, it will be about the character using the time machine. If it is about a group of characters fighting a super villain, it will be about those characters fighting the evil super villain.

    Now back then, it seems like people only care about the action during the pulp magazine and comic book era. Now today, you are all reading narrative books about emotional characters with issues and dramatic problems. Is that how it will be in the future?
     
  23. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Well, the idea that someone will finish your book if your character's actions aren't understandable, and then pick up another book afterwards is a bit of a stretch, if you ask me. It doesn't matter if you have to spread the information out in smaller bits that the reader can collect in smaller increments. That's still relaying the character's history. There are numerous ways of doing this. You just need to pick the way that's best for you.

    And no one is implying that action-driven stories are better than character-driven stories. That's a matter of opinion, and, yes, it varies from book to book. But you can't have an action-driven book with no character development and history.
     
  24. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Character development can be driven by action, and the characters can explain their history to other characters. If the writer wants to step in and explain everything, that is his or her method. But it still sounds awkard to me. Let the characters fill in all the info and act in their own way. Make it look like a breathing free world without author interruption, unless it is a first person narrative.
     
  25. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Well, that's your prerogative.
     

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