1. findingghost
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    findingghost New Member

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    boy defends girl cliche

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by findingghost, Aug 4, 2013.

    hi, i'm writing a webcomic and if i could get some opinions, that would be great! :D
    okay so in one of the first scenes two of my main characters RJ and Cass are at a bar and RJ is close with the Nova a girl who works there. I want to get across to the reader RJ's personality, Nova's personality and their relationship dynamic. RJ is quick tempered and likes to fight while Nova is generally portrayed as quite miserable. They're close friends (though Nova is only a small character). I thought a man may make a comment to Nova which would provoke RJ, which would demonstrate his quick temper and show that he feels protective of Nova.
    However, I don't like the cliche of boy defends girl through show of physical strength. To me, it seems old fashioned and over done.
    But it also seems a very effective way of showing information that will be important later on in the story without spending a lot of time showing things that aren't yet relevant. Though it is important to show his relationship with Nova now because soon RJ will leave and only with Nova return to the story later.
    I would just really appreciate it if you could tell me your opinion on the boy defends girl cliche and if you have any pointers that could help me deliver it in a way which is fresh or doesn't make it seem like women need to be protected by men (because that is not what i'm saying at all)
    Also I think it's important to mention that Nova doesn't really appreciate his protective and aggressive actions.
    Thank you!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's hard to follow.

    RJ and Cass are at the bar
    Nova works at the bar
    RJ likes Nova
    RJ is quick tempered and likes to fight
    Nova is miserable :confused:

    Rj is cliché (quick tempered and likes to fight) and you want him not to act in a cliché manner. That's a problem.
    Nova doesn't appreciate this behavior yet you want the two of them to like each other. That's a problem.

    IMO, I think you need to stop worrying about these particular details and instead get a better handle on your characters, who they are, what do they want, why are they together or destined to not be together? What you've described is very shallow, boy likes girl. The reader is not likely to care about either of them if all you do is show one has a short fuse and he likes the girl who is miserable for some unknown reason.
     
  3. NeonFraction
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    NeonFraction Member

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    GingerCoffee, quick tempered and likes to fight is not a cliche character. A character is always more than just the traits. It's how they're written. A miserable character can also be very interesting, especially if they have a reason to be miserable.

    I'd suggest, if you wanted to highlight how protective and quick tempered he is, have him looking for an excuse to protect her so he can show off. Then, have him jump to her defense against someone who wasn't bullying her at all! Now he looks like an idiot, she has a customer who is angry, and you've shown very well how hot tempered he is and now she's even more miserable.
    Of course, that's just an idea. There are a million other ways to show these two traits. Maybe he's doing plumbing, gets mad, and freaks out and breaks the sink handles right off! Now the bar is flooding, the sink is broken, and the girl is still miserable.

    Generally, the first 3 thing you come up with when searching for an idea will always be cliche. It's finding the 4th and 5th ideas that makes writing fun! (At least, that's what I've been told, and I very much believe it from my own work)
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "Quick tempered and likes to fight is not a cliche character" by itself. But it is cliché when one thinks of this being the only description we were given.

    Which is why I said the characters need more depth. :)

    Your suggestions are peachy, BTW.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I think it is important to keep in mind that what you're talking about here are not necessarily cliches. That goes for the characters, as well as for the basic setup of a fight to protect or defend. If that's all there is to these characters, then you're within the realm of cliche, because they're reduced to a flat, predictable state. But the ideas and characters themselves are perfectly capable of forming the basis for a good scene or story if you put the time into it to give it the appropriate depth and develop complex characters. In short, there is nothing wrong with the general ideas you've expressed here, and the idea that they're cliche in and of themselves is nonsense. The only question is whether you'll treat them in a cliched or hackneyed manner or not.
     
  6. Kelson
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    Kelson Member

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    If the guy is a hot head then make him start something that he can't finish and if Nova is quite miserable have her simply not care if she can't take the attacker and perfunctorily take them out with a bottle to the head or something. Being able to handle a fight doesn't make someone NOT miserable. In fact you can make Nova not breaking her miserable countenance while saving RJ quite comical. Also RJ not being able to take the guy doesn't mean he's not a bad*ss either he just got in over his head once. Any time I feel, I am getting cliche I flip it up and reverse it.

    My two cents,

    ~Kelson Hargis
     
  7. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Hey Bigtits, give me a whisky.'

    'Don't call her bigtits, you fat, stinking, ugly, stupid giant.'

    'By my beard I'll tan your hide.'

    'By your beard you soon shall hide.' Hero flicks the zippo's lid. The ogre is consumed in flame. He rushes, stumbling into the ladies' lavatory.

    'Pussy,' says hero's pal.

    'On the house, ' says the attractive bar woman, and she pours. 'You boys got I.D?'
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My view is that an interaction that is created purely for character development, should be re-sculpted to have plot relevance, so that the character development is absorbed by the reader without him realizing it, while the reader is primarily focused on the plot. So maybe the obnoxious guy is the new bar owner that will be the focus of the first half of the plot--for example. Or he's bullying Nova because he's demanding information or an object that will be relevant to the plot. Or...something. Your scene seems fine, but if it's _just_ "main character protects pretty girl" it will indeed seem simple and cliched. Give it some plot complexity.
     
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  9. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Girls like boys who defend them.

    Girls like bad boys.

    Girls like lots of things. Write about those things and you will have a lot of fans. Unicorns? Fans. Rainbows? Fans. Kittens? Fans. Magic? Fans.

    Rough sex? FANS.

    Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Don't even get me started on glitter. Or shoes.
     
  10. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    ^ Or over-protective bad boy vampires who glitter in the sun.
     
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  11. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    And if you combine them? FANS!

    Now you just need to find a way to combine rough sex with unicorns and you've got the next "Twilight"!
     
  12. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    This happens in real life too, ya know. If it's part of real life, it can be part of fiction.

    I really dislike the seemingly popular habit of calling almost everything under the sun a cliche. It's all in how you make it happen.
     
  13. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd go so far as to say it's one of the most popular and age-old excuses to pick a fight: "Oi! I saw you shove a lady and you didn't apologize!" "Huh? What lady? When? I didn't shove anyb-" "I saw you! You callin' me a liar?" "What? No! I'm just saying I never shov-" *smack*

    Personally, I prefer Kelson's idea of flipping the predictable: the guy makes a big show of defending the girl's honor, against her wishes btw, and ends up getting his ass kicked by someone who actually is a nice guy and initially tries to calm down White Knight, tries to talk him out of a fight, perhaps even apologizes, but WK is seeing read, so all the apologies and explanations go in one ear and out the other. Sure, this would make WK look like a tool, but, in a way, also sympathetic because doing something like that, although usually stupid, is also romantic in that foolishly glorious sort of way.
     
  14. findingghost
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    findingghost New Member

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    Thanks for all the really great feedback! Each of your replies gave me something to think about and I think flipping the situation is brilliant, even making it more lighthearted could do the story good.
    One thing I didn't mention is that i'm actually writing a webcomic/graphic novel so there is much less of the characters inner thoughts being written and instead more action, making it difficult for me as an amateur to get across what I feel I need to.
    The characters in this scene are more complex than I described but I felt for simplicity's sake I should just mention the ones I wanted to communicate, this scene would be either the first or second from the book -that's why I felt the pressure to show RJ's temper etc.
    Again thank you for all your help! I didn't expect anyone to answer so I'm really happy!
    (Sorry if any of what I'm saying is confusing, I'm working on communicating as clearly as possible!)
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I misread this the first time. I read it as if there were a second comma after "fight".

    But that's neither here nor there. Character attributes are not a cliche, nor are boy characters who reflexively leap to the defense of girls. Like it or not, they exist. And truly, how can you ever fault a character for being so devoted to another that he or she would make the ultimate sacrifice? I know parents who know they would sacrifice themselves for their children, and I believe them. There was even one on the local news recently who did exactly that.

    Forget about cliche characters, There's no such thing. There are only characters unconvincingly rendered.
     
  16. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    I agree with Cogito. Avoid cliches...but don't. It's complicated.
     

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