1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Angst and Whining

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Killer300, Jun 25, 2011.

    A constant criticism thrown at characters that are of the darker type, or have had dark things happen to them, is that they are, "emo," and whine too much. Okay, now, there are characters who I do think whine far too much, like Shinji in Evangelion, however I also do think characters of this type get an unfair rep because of this. Are characters that have angst just never allowed to whine? Or, do we have to do it differently? Or is just the frequency of it? Or, is it just so different from person to person that's it impossible to help?
     
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  2. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    The most interesting "angsty" characters I've ever wrote or known generally try hard to keep their suffering to themselves, only accidently betraying their inner struggle to those around them. Conversely, characters who outright mope about their situation turn me off & tend to seem "emo". Batman seems like a good example: he's a pretty angsty character, but he doesn't wear it on his sleave.
    So yeah, being quietly angsty is okay and builds drama, etc but angsty whining is lame, to me. I think another aspect is that whining can sometimes seem like a cheap ploy to contrive sympathy for the character ("Oh, why me?") instead of letting it develop naturally from more subtle inferences of what they're going through..

    Anyhow, just my 2 cents. Context is everything.
     
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  3. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    I think people have problems with angsting because it comes about when it shouldn't. Feeling depressed because your best friend died, okay, that's justifiable - but talking about it on and on and on and on in the face of the reader for 50 pages might not be; it has to be handled much more subtly. Or, conversely, feeling depressed that your teddy bear got dirty isn't something worth it.

    One of my favorite books is The Catcher in the Rye. The main character is very angsty and arguably whiny. That's why half the people who read it hate it. But I like it for the exact same reason - because I feel that the angst and whininess is portrayed in a believable, character-deep way. And I think that that's what is most important - having the angst be unique and character-based, letting it develop subtly and naturally. But it should usually not be overused, for the same reason that melodrama is good in moderate amounts at strategic points of the story, but it flops when it just appears all over the place.
     
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  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Ah. Well, I guess that showing it too much is a bad idea, but this is still helpful.
     
  5. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Everything in moderation, of course. Doesn't mean some venting is unacceptable.
     
  6. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    It's that it's over-done in very shoddy ways that turn people off. For instance...the multitude of vampire love novels!

    Batman is a perfect example, but what most writers tend to do is go way too into why the character is 'Dark' and it comes out in every chapter pretty much =/!

    That said, there are times in which a bit of 'moping' needs to be done. I am contemplating writing a very short snippet of someone who gets dumped and it will start out from a rather dark area and then open up into something more bubbly.
     
  7. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    As Anonym said, everything should be used in moderation. You should never use it too much or too little. Besides, from what I've seen many times, is that people who are truly suffering are less likely to talk or even think about their problems very much while in the midst of others. People with lesser problems (forbidden to go to a concert/ dumped after a week/ spilt milk), are more likely to complain about it. That could be because those with the bigger problems don't feel that it's safe to confide in others or because they don't want to be a bother.

    I say it would be best to give your character a really good reason to complain and, even then, make sure not to go overboard. No one likes too much of anything. Besides, if you use your discretion, the complaining seems less annoying and maybe even more thought-provoking.
     
  8. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Okay, as I thought, everything in moderation. But also, I guess, when does one let a character complain? Timing is probably a critical factor here.

    As a side question, for those of you who have seen Evangelion, did you hate Shinji too? Just wondering.
     
  9. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    angst is allowed when necessary.a good deal of my cast had some pretty hard lives...but they don't act like it in public.mostly they adapt and only mention when its important.i say use it mostly as a plot point and if they're gonna do something about it or if its directly affecting it.(example,abused girlfriend stands up to abuser).don't have them walk down the street like 'oh i'm sad,my parents hate me'.try this:
    ---
    -as mika walked down the street,she couldn't help but see the groups of families,and couples with children.it made her sick to her stomach; all she had was herself and her cat.suddenly,she felt the urge to get away.she walked briskly,eyes forward,not sparing another glance at the passing crowds.

    ---

    see? necessary angst.
     
  10. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Unfortunately, I was too young to understand what was going on in that show. All I remember was that it seemed scary.

    You're right, timing is a crucial factor, but only because of the events that precede the whining. Even then, timing isn't really everything. It could be years after an event one finds him/herself thinking about it and reflecting on how terrible the event was when, back when it actually happened, he or she tried to forget what happened. Sometimes memories can ambush you. Other times, maybe even right after, you'll find yourself venting over what happened to you earlier.

    Actually, it really depends on the event itself. If someone lost a loved one, for example, there could be two possible scenarios: they could either try to forget about it or they will linger on it entirely, letting it occupy their every thought. Major negative events tend to have extreme reactions. However, for scenario one, they never really do forget.

    Complaining can also be a result of things accumulating. Many small bad things can happen which can lead to frustration. That frustration will gradually mount and cause someone to snap, which could result in major whinage.

    It really depends on how bad the events are.
     
  11. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Yes, very true. As for Evangelion, it would be as amazing as it's hyped up to be if Shinji would STOP FREAKING WHINING!:mad: To be fair, the recent reboot of the series, 1.0, 2.0, and upcoming 3.0, he's better, but still annoying.
     
  12. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Heheh, I'll be sure to check it out. I've always wondered what Evangelion was about. I don't watch much TV, so I could give it a shot.
     
  13. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Angsty characters should have an actual, good reason to angst. In A Single Man, Colin Firth's character is deeply sad because he just lost his true love after being with him for 16 years and he tries his best to go on with life even though it hurts. Reasons like THAT are what make angsty characters good, true suffering. Whining about your boyfriend leaving you (Bella Swan) isn't a good reason.
     
  14. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I disagree that this is a matter of "everything in moderation." I also disagree that it has anything to do with the situation that caused the grievance.

    This is a matter of execution.

    Nobody wants to read a first-person monologue about how awful the character thinks his situation is where the theme is "woe is me."

    Conversely, we like bad things to happen to the characters. We want them to feel the bad things when they happen to them.

    Look at this:

    "Don't forget to water the hydrangeas," Mother said, her hand gripping my arm, and then her head reclined and her hand loosened and I knew that she was dead. Sarah and Jessie wailed and I held Mother's head in my arms. She was a limp doll.

    vs. this:

    "Don't forget to water the hydrangeas," Mother said, and then she was dead. It was so awful, I knew I would miss her forever, and I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Poor Mother, she was taken too young. Now I would have to take care of Sarah and Jessie by myself and already they were crying; what could I do?

    The former tells a story of heartache, while the latter is whining. With hardships, it's often best to show and not tell. Show me what the characters were doing when they were suffering; don't tell me all their whiny thoughts.
     
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  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm wondering if part of the problem with angst is that it usually doesn't do anything - it doesn't lead to conflict, to story, to anything. A character who's wandering around howling in woe isn't _doing_ anything.

    If the angst leads to something - if the character tries to change something, or tries to kill himself, or runs into trouble because everyone else is sick of his whining, then that's plot. I'm reminded of the Buffy episode (yeah, fine, mock me) where Willow is incessantly mourning her absent boyfriend, and everyone is sick to death of it. The incessant complaining causes someone to take notice of Willow, and Things Happen as a direct result of her misery and how she handles it. It drives the plot instead of just decorating it or weighing it down.

    ChickenFreak
     
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  16. CrabCake
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    CrabCake New Member

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    I think it needs to contribute to the story and fit in with the pacing. I fell in love with the Hunger Games trilogy, only to read the last book and see the main character spending it in a closet moping. She has plenty of reasons to mope, I guess, and I would have put up with it for character development for five or ten or even thirty pages. But literally half the book was a gloomy internal monologue.

    I think in cases like these, summaries rather than train-of-thought, or even a judicious decision on POV might benefit the story. (i.e. She moped in the closet for the next two weeks. Meanwhile... ) I would rather have an over-angster be a side character.

    Also, a lot of people say that writing dialog in books isn't exactly like in real life. You omit the useless chatter. I feel like angst should be the same way: enough to know the character has human emotions, but not so realistic that it takes over the story.
     
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  17. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Talking about "Something Blue"? That's seriously one of my favorite Buffy episodes, and it's almost all Willow whining.

    Other than that, I completely agree with your point. Pointless angst is annoying. A character needs to do something about it for it to make an interesting story.
     
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  18. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I think angst becomes irritating when it's seen as romantic -- i.e. a female's love interest is "dark and brooding" and it makes him sexy. Or when a character is extremely incompetent on a regular basis due to said angst.
     
  19. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    Actually for me (and I've talked about this quite a bit with certain friends who display a lack of affinity with the rainbow) the problem comes from before the whining actually starts.

    You see, as soon as you use the word "dark" the alarms start. When you use "dark things", it's over, I'm already expecting an emo/angsty whine.

    Whenever you have a character who feel depressed or whiny about something, certain people will automatically dislike him. One of the main reasons is because there are people who have lived through those same situations, or worse, and yet had the temperance, personality, emotional endurance or however you call it, to keep living a normal life, with happiness, parties and laughs.

    I'm not talking about people who were left by their girlfiriend or who didn't know what to do with their life. I'm talking about people who were tortured and who saw their brothers die in front of them. And after that they were still able to have happy lives.

    I'm not discussing the fact that some people may be depressed, or suffer because of what happens in their lives. It's just that when reading a character whine, some people feel little more than contempt for that character. And as soon as the "dark" situation is described they already prepare themselves for the ensuing whine.
     
  20. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I see a western world teen loaded up on macbooks and fashion accessories sit and whine about how hard their life is, I only want to kick them in the face -- in the hope that they'll get a better perspective on pain that way. There are places in our world, even in this day and age, where people die in the streets and no one even cares. If a character in a story is going to be angsty, they better have a real good reason for it -- if not, it can only mean one thing -- they're self-absorbed. Who can possibly care about someone who's self-absorbed?
     
  21. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the problem with whiny characters is that they're TELLING us how angsty they are. They shouldn't have to tell us; it should SHOW. If we only have their words to go on, it's hard to empathise with them, and we quickly get tired of hearing about it.

    If a character went on about how happy he was and how wonderful everything felt, I think that'd get real old real quick too.
     
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  22. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    I use this only one time. Once! lol

    Here:

     
  23. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    I have an "angsty" character. But he's turned all his angst inwards. And instead is bitter and angry. He's upset because there was no one. He turned most of his depression into strength. A strength that pushes people away.

    All his sadness becomes anger. And he drives it into people like a knife. And he's cold and crude. He doesn't want to get hurt himself. So his sadness became a double edge sword for him.
     
  24. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    That kind of things sounds interesting. I think showing the effects of his angst on other people, while it may not excuse the angst, gives it another dimension that other readers can look at, and not just the self-centeredness.
     
  25. J.P.Clyde
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    J.P.Clyde Prince of Melancholy Contributor

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    Self-centeredness is an awesome word, to bad it doesn't really exist.

    Yeah the character I am talking about is in a kind of psychological horror with supernatural elements. But very little of that.
     

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