1. kitsune4
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    kitsune4 Member

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    Do you prefer "human" or "superhuman" characters in fiction?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by kitsune4, Feb 16, 2014.

    I'm asking for opinions about the type of protagonists you prefer because I can't decide what to do with one of my POV characters. There are five major main characters (who will all likely become POV) and with the except of the one I can't decide on, they have special abilities, such as telekinesis, magic skills or heightened senses.

    I feel like the story could be interesting either way but I keep flipping back and forth. So I'm hoping some feedback could help me out some.

    So in fiction based not in our strictly human universe, do you generally find protagonists more interesting when they possess amazing abilities or do you find the struggle of a "human" against enemies who may have these abilities more interesting?

    Detailed responses as to why you feel this way would probably be helpful. I don't know if this will ultimately help me decide but this is one phase of writers block I'd like to conquer.
     
  2. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Okay, I'm going to say a few things, but this is the thing I want you to remember: superpowers does not make a boring character more interesting.

    Now there are a few things to consider here: people here like all kinds of fiction and all kinds of characters. Even if you were to set up your story in a fantasy world where anything is possible, a non-powered character can still very well be the most interesting character. That's one of the purposes of learning to write literary (non-genre) fiction: you learn how to write characters without the flash of superhuman abilities.

    The next thing to keep in mind is that there are many struggles that may be considered when writing a story. These struggles are often part of larger conflicts. In man vs. man conflict, it is always great to have you're protagonist outmatched by the antagonist. If the villain is super-powered, and the hero is not, you have infinite potential for setbacks, and obstacles. You have to figure out a better way to make your hero the victor. Think about Batman: he cannot physically compete with other characters in his comics, so has to think of other ways to win. Just be careful, there is still plenty of room for plot holes.

    You must, then consider, the role of the super powers. What's the point in having them if they don't add to the overall characterization. Imagine reading about young Clark Kent, having to fit in with humans in a small town in Kansas. His powers make all the difference because he experiences the world vastly differently. His normal is not our normal. Contrarily, put him in blue and red suit, and drop him in the Justice League. Suddenly, the most interesting thing is how he will interact with other members.

    Finally, you must remember that this is your story. You understand far better than any of us, how well the powers might enhance the story. If you can imagine the character without powers, there is room for a lot of interesting interaction. If you can imagine the character with powers, you have to ask what the powers add. A psychic, I would imagine, might have a more constant struggle with blocking out the thoughts of others, or a fear of large crowds because of it. Someone with telekinesis, might have to control their temper, lest they cause things to start flying off into space.

    Think along those lines.
     
  3. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    Human.
     
  4. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    You can have your characters superhuman outside, but what is going to make it engaging is making them human inside. It's always what's inside.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find superhuman characters inherently less interesting. That's not to say that they should never be used, but the superhuman characteristics are perceived by me as "clutter" that can often distract from the interesting character stuff, so it's harder to make a superhuman character interesting.
     
  6. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    I don't think this is even a factor, because if the plot is done correctly the universe is balanced to contain the superhuman characters.

    When a character is good, it's good regardless of their (lack of) powers.
     
  7. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Many of the popular stories containing superhuman characters also have at least one all-too-human character who acts as a sort of sidekick/foil/conduit to the real world for the others. More often than not, that character is the most interesting.
     
  8. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely human. I don't believe that raw superhuman characters can hold popular appeal. Even with the famous ones, i.e. Superman, it's the human elements that make people relate to and root for them. A homesick man with huge burdens is familiar to us. A brick isn't.
     
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  9. kitsune4
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    kitsune4 Member

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    Thanks everyone! I was definitely expecting a human character to be the most picked. This is only a small pool of answers of course but I'm not surprised that the majority is for humans. I also generally find the struggle of a human against other humans and non-humans very engaging and usually a very rewarding journey as well. Not that it can't work either way.

    I think my characters are interesting because they all struggle with a lot of personal issues. They just happen to have these abilities, that are important to the story as well.

    I still have some consideration to do about this one character. His story arc would generally be the same with or without them. Its just a matter of whether I want him to be a descent of this ancient race with these additional skills or a normal human. That's what I'm struggling with.

    I think I'll just start writing and see what happens :) Thanks again!
     
  10. Man in the Box
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    The question is amusing to me because I find it very difficult for someone to create an intelligent being that has absolutely no sense of humanity into it. Pretty much every mythological creature out there with some sort of intelligence was based on human concepts, not necessarily in appearance but personality traits. Even the Greeks shaped their gods around humans, with human desires and flaws. So if you create an intelligent character with supernatural traits, it will contain a certain degree of humanity for the sole reason it was created by a human. Beneath all the superpowers and alien origins you give a character, there's a trace of humanity around which the conflicts will appear.
     
  11. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I always found human nature conflict to be more interesting even in supernatural characters. Someone who is super strong, but no human problems, is boring. Someone super strong, but worried about how they can keep their family safe, for example, is more interesting.
     
  12. kitsune4
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    kitsune4 Member

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    My conclusion is that as long as the characters are relatable and interesting, it doesn't really matter whether they're regular people or have special abilities.
     
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  13. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Yeah, I think the main thing to take away is that the internal conflicts and issues of a character - superhuman or not - is what's important.

    A superhuman guy with no "human" nature to him is going to be a boring character. But the same is true for a non-superhuman character.
     
  14. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I don't have a preference considering I read a hefty amount of comics. It all boils down to Superman clone, Spiderman clone, or Batman clone. Each can be interesting or boring.

    Moon Knight for example = Boring
    Deadpool = Not boring.
     
  15. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Exactly. Give the story the character it needs... or rather, if it is a POV character, design the story to match the character. Any character can be interesting or boring. Any character can be relatable or alien. What matters is how whatever qualities they have affect the story. Superpowers opens the door for new potential; however, they make it easy to write in easy solutions for the protag. Similarly, not having superpowers makes for interesting potential if you can convince the readers that a ordinary human can pull off what you're asking them to. There is also room for said character to be boring, whiny, or a million other things.

    In short you must decide what kind of character you want to use. It is then your job to make them interesting. neither is inherently more interesting than the other, it is all in how the writer handles them in internal and external conflicts. Ya dig?
     
  16. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Take heed from one of the greatest minds of our time when talking about Super Heroes, Stan Lee. He was the first comic book writer to bring a human element to the side of his heroes. He believed allowing the heroes and their fans to relate to each other would broaden the spectrum of those who read them. He was right, and today he's marveled as a genius for it.





     
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  17. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    BOOOOOOOO! STAN LEE! BOOOOO! DC RUUULEEZZZZ

    Nah I'm kidding. He really did change the game when it came to creating superheros. He did a lot of stuff right, storywise and market-wise. DC is full of characters who are essentially unrelatable icons. Stan Lee and Marvel brought characters that were much more human. I have a friend who says that that ruined the name of "super hero," but this is all fiction... even if it is embedded into our culture. It would be foolish not to value his advice, even if characters aren't "superheroes," he seems to know how to manage super powers and balance it with his character's humanity. Spider-man and the X-men are huge examples...

    (But DC is still cooler :p)
     
  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Because we've built our technology and our society for normal people, we've made superpowers pretty much useless in most cases. In normal, day-to-day life, would the Human Torch actually use his powers? Probably not - doing so would be pretty destructive.

    So if your character has superpowers, and they are in some way important to the story, he's practically forced to become a superhero (or supervillain) at some point. Most superhero stories are pretty dull and unimaginative - there've been thousands of comic-book writers over the last eighty years or so, and few of them have managed to do anything stirring or original with the superhero concept. (Apologies to fans!) It almost seems like the characters are interesting only to the extent that they don't use their powers.

    I've been toying with an idea for a story about a boy with super powers, but it keeps veering into comic-book territory and I really don't want that. I've made him interesting to me because of his powers, simply by having them be a real problem for him, but I'm having a hard time coming up with a resolution of a plot that doesn't carry that pulpy comic-book smell. I'm probably going to drop the idea and just carry on with normal humans.
     
  19. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I think one thing to remember is to make the powers as natural as possible. Admittedly, it is very easy to dilute a super-powered character or a story featuring one, but if you focus on things other than the powers, or make them a feature that is less "in your face," it should not be that much of a problem. You just have to find different ways to challenge them.

    Really it may comes down to the story. Are you writing to showcase characters's super powers, or are you writing a story which features characters who also have abilities that change the way they interact with the world? Maybe it's because I'm a fan of superheroes, but I generally reject the notion that supers are inherently less interesting. The Incredibles was a great movie, okay lol. Sure it was "comic-booky" but there are plenty of decent stories out there with superhuman (or generally inhuman) abilities.
     
  20. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I like powerful characters with super powers because their conflicts and actions are fun to me. I don't care if they have human elements or just perfect perfect heroes. As long as there is action, mystery, and back story details that move the plot, then I will enjoy their stories.

    I do respect Stan Lee. Without him, super heroes would be boring. But most of the Marvel heroes just have too much issues. The X-men are cry babies, Spider Man is a pussy, and Thor is a retard. No disrespect, but that's how they appear to me. Hulk and Wolverine are cool, but their movies suck. The original work is always the best. Even if I don't like all the heroes that Stan Lee invented, I am still a Marvel fan.

    DC, to me, is full of crappy over power super heroes. Super Man is weak against green rocks, Wonder Woman can be man handled, and Aqua Man is only good in water. They are just a bunch of douch bags who think they have the right to act like the police force. If you are a poor guy just robbing a bank so you can feed your starving family, here comes Super Man; kicking your ass and throwing you in prison. While you are in jail, your family dies. Thanks a lot Super Asshole! You ruined my life! Lex Luthor knows that the Justice League are dicks. That's why he built a super villain group to take on these super bullies, even if they want to murder and rape people. The only character I like in DC is Batman. Although rich, his life is shit and he got a good reason for being Batman. He started the Justice League because he thought it would be a good idea to form a super hero society to protect people. But the douch bags kick him out, and then he formed his own group called the Outsiders. Of course DC is getting better, but they still got a long way.

    In my story, War Beast, my super power characters are powerful because they live in a crappy wild savage world where human civilization is gone, monsters are running around eating people, and every tribe is trying to kill each other for power. If you are human in that world, you will die from a peaceful instant death that will make little children cry. It is a savage world where emotions make you weak and being the animal helps you survive. I invented this setting for my characters because I am sick of stories that have civilized human settings. Even in fantasy, most of the settings are run by humans who act weak and start personal problems. It is my own world, and my characters are the way they are.

    You can do the same thing you want. But don't make your characters too human. Make them unique. Give them powers they can use to solve problems, and give them a reason why they use their powers. It shouldn't matter whether people like heroes with human elements, it should be a story about how different your characters are from the normal people. But they can have some human elements if it is what drives your plot. And don't follow the same principals of how other writers make their stories. Do your own work because people like different original stories. And different is better.
     
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  21. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    You Marvel fans are all alike! :p You don't understand what it means to be in with DC. Besides, Marvel characters are too cartoony. I find it ironic how Marvel fans say DC characters a re over-powered, but will turn and say how DC characters couldn't beat Marvel. You CLEARLY aren't ready for DC. ;)
     
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  22. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Forget Marvel and DC, they need to make a Lady Death movie. :D
     
  23. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    That'll never happen in mainstream media ha ha! At least not in this country. lol
     
  24. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    But you should check out his ride.

    [​IMG]
     
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  25. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    coloring_practice_galactus_by_mr_sinister2048.jpg How about this guy.
     

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