1. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Is it just me or does this drive you nuts?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by aguywhotypes, Sep 16, 2014.

    I wish that more MC's would get killed off.

    I hate nothing more than to watch a TV show where the MC gets jammed in a corner and you know that since their the MC nothing drastic will happen to them and then that leads to the MC getting out of the 'impossible' by some usually unrealistic means, like their partner showing up just in the nick of time.

    My favorite: I've seen this sooooo may times. The bad guy just doesn't hesitate at all to kill people off all throughout the show. No emotions at all. Until of course he gets the MC jammed up in a corner and then all of sudden is very slow to kill that person off. Grrr! Which then of course gives the MC's partner to show up up and blow the baddie away. Oy!

    My take is don't get your MC in such a jam unless you are willing to kill them off!

    Agree/Disagree and why?

    I'm a very new writer, less than six months and I'm always defining what I want to write.
    I want to write something simple, realistic and I only want to throw just enough conflict at the MC so that the solution is realistic and not by some highly unlikely chance.
     
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  2. Empty Bird
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    Empty Bird Member

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    But then we love main characters! They're like...our best friends! (I think...) Or, if they're anti-heroes, they're like our...best enemies!

    I don't know really... I get what you mean that sometimes it's like: "What? How did that happen?" but at the same time, I know I thrive to see a main character live through the impossible! It's nice to believe in a hero that can save the day and still manage to raise a family or do something small.

    I think main characters are often people who you aspire to be. Like, when you watch or read a film or movie, often we love the main character because- yes, we can see that they're human- but they're so brave! They managed to get out of that impossible situation even though this is going on and that is going on, and look! Old Uncle Joe turned out to be a serial killer!

    It's nice to be able to sit back and watch a human do something incredible. It's fun. If they were to suddenly just die, it'd be kinda depressing!

    Realism comes with how well you write it. You could write about a world where bananas are so rare that people kill for them. If you can manage to write in a believable way, it's brilliant and is real! Unlikely chance is good if done well, sickening if done terribly- I get you there.

    I hope your writing goes well, anyway!
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree. I have a love hate issue with the new Batman - ruthless killers beat up Batman then they never kill him?!

    The only place I've ever seen this work where I loved it was Intensity by Kootz. The killer goes off to work but has chained Chyna to a really heavy dining table and chair. Since he's into torturing people, and killer dogs patrol the grounds, not only did it make sense to the character and situation, I wondered how in the Hell she'd get out. I think a stall in the showdown with good guy and bad guy must make sense. Most of the time it doesn't. But I'm not sure I agree with the good guy getting blown away. The world has too many bad guys as heros as is. I'm more into write-it-better. It doesn't have to be believable in the real world but it must be believable for the story world. That's the trouble with the new Batman - for the world they created I just didn't buy it.
     
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  4. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    I think where I'm coming from is from my past.

    When I was in school, I never hung with the cool guys or if I did I always felt out of place.
    I never got the girl. Things just never went my way or very little. I did terrible in sports, always picked last for the team.

    I did do well in choir and drama class. So it wasn't all a downer.
    So most movies always seem over the top to me.

    My cousin said wouldn't it be nice if the guy didn't get the girl in the end? We both agreed.
     
  5. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    The main reason that I always write about capable main characters is because it is infinitely more interesting to see how they get out of their predicaments rather if they will make it out. There are worlds of possibilities with a capable and smart character rather than one with major flaws that need dumb luck or great coincidences to save his/her behind.

    It does not really dive me nuts, but I am just tired of seeing main characters struggling as the underdog. There is only so much you can do to save them without getting repetitive.
     
  6. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    You should play video games, nowadays in the game industry it's actually quite surprising if a character doesn't die.
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Be careful that you're not just trying to ax the hero because he represents the guy-who-gets-the-hot-girl. Heros are more than that. They're the guy who does the right thing when it counts, no rewards.

    But if you're going to go the route of doing something like killing him off, make sure you let the reader know right from the start that this is going to be a different sort of ( what-ever genre you choose ) novel. As there is nothing worse than reading a genre novel with all the same motions but a weird twist that bucks one of it's founding tropes. Kinda like reading a romance with a steamy build up only to discover the hero is impotent and never gets cured. Be fresh but don't exasperate your audience.
     
  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Watch Walking Dead.... You never know who's going to live or die in that show. lol

    I feel you, though. I've been working with "unhappily ever afters" in my pieces. I like books that don't end well. I actually have a WIP in which the MC DOES die at the end. I like when the bad guy wins. I like playing with the boundaries of good and evil. I think it'll keep the reader guessing. And it's good for them to guess wrong sometimes. :p
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There is a huge difference between giving your MC an easy way out of a difficult situation, and actually killing him (or her) off.

    If you're talking TV series, of course there will be certain rules applied right at the start that the scriptwriters need to stick to. And that usually includes keeping the MC alive. However, believability comes from other factors. As the OP @aguywhotypes said, if a bad guy kills people right left and centre, without blinking an eye ...then stops to chat with the MC at great length, giving the cavalry time to arrive, then that doesn't work. It contradicts what has been set up beforehand, and is an obvious trick. Viewers will not be very happy with this kind of thing. Neither will readers, if this happens in a book. Best to write a different kind of 'escape' for the MC in that situation.

    At the same time, viewers and readers don't like it when the MC is arbitrarily killed off at the end either, "just to be different."

    I'd say you can't go wrong if you operate on the principle that if an MC dies, it has to be for a good reason. And it has to make sense within the scope of the story. The reader or viewer should walk away feeling sad, perhaps, or even shocked because they didn't see the death coming, but never annoyed.

    One way to inject realism into a serial character's survival from episode to episode is to have him be changed by what has happened to him. Trauma has an effect on people in real life, so it should have an effect on a character's life as well. That way the character can go on 'surviving' but it doesn't feel like they're too lucky to be believable. Two examples of these kinds of characters that spring to mind are John Crichton from Farscape and Patrick Jane from The Mentalist. I'm sure there are many more.
     
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  10. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows largely because of its carefully calculated ruthlessness toward its characters. It is not just a blood and gore fest where people die for the heck of it; when they die, it is because of their (or other characters') mistakes. And the loss is always felt. Each character's departure leaves something missing that is never completely filled in.

    My two favorite shows, Game of Thrones and The Wire, also do this to some extent.

    Anyone Can Die is one of my favorite tropes in fiction. The converse is that, like @aguywhotypes, I am bugged when a character gets into a situation that should kill him and then it seems like the world bends over backward in order to give the character a chance to escape even though a less important character clearly would have died. But I do like when a character uses true ingenuity to survive, especially when it is shown beforehand that this character is quick-thinking and highly capable.

    Dei ex machina really get on my nerves. They probably would not be so bad if not for how common they are.
     
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  11. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    For me, it's about emotional investment in a character and a story. If as the reader I've made it past chapter 10 it's because I'm engaged by the character (I'm a character reader, rather than a plot reader. I prefer books for character development), so now I'm emotionally invested. If you go and blow away my character investment for the sake of him/her simply not surviving because that's been done before I'm going to be very pissed off with you.

    From the OP, I get the feeling the author there is a plot person. Likes detailed and intricate plots over character development, then yeah I can see how you'd enjoy that twist to the plot. But if I find a character I like, I want endless books about that character until their development is done. I just don't want to retire my investment in them. I've followed a single character through all 9 books over a period of 20yrs and if the damn author would release another one I'd buy and read that too. Because I love her character. There's no sense for her to off him.

    I think the real frustration laid out in the OP is the unsatisfying way in which a character deals with or survives a jeopardy situation, not really the fact he actually survives. I've had similar frustrations even in stories that I've enjoyed overall. Every now and again there is just a particularly weak scene that makes you want to face palm the author.
     
  12. Drue Bernardi
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    Drue Bernardi New Member

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    It depends on the circumstances around it, and how and why you plan on killing off this MC. If you're killing off a MC just to kill them off or just to be different, then you run into the same kind of annoyance as pulling them out of an impossible situation so they live. If you are killing them off for an actual reason I see it as a definite way to enhance the drama or the emotion in a story. The Walking Dead (as mentioned above) seems to have a pretty good grip on WHEN to kill a character off and WHICH character to kill off and WHY you are killing that character off.
     
  13. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    not long ago I read a book (even mentioning it in this thread would be a huge spoiler, so I won't) in which the main character is the first-person narrator. about halfway through the story, one of the secondary characters is killed off, and it's like getting kicked in the gut; the emotional impact is brutal. in the last five chapters the main character, the first-person narrator, is killed. saying "I did not see that coming" is a Sixth Sense-level understatement. I didn't know you could do that! but the author did, and pulled it off fantastically.
     
  14. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Check out Blue Valentine. It ain't quite what you're talking about, but it's something of the sort -- and damn good.
     
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  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I know what you mean, @aguywhotypes . Nothing pisses me off more than either of these happening:

    + Villain who has no qualms killing people without hesitation suddenly doesn't kill the protagonist when he/she has the perfect opportunity. He/she decides to just kill the protagonist the long, clunky way, or chat with the protagonist thereby buying the protagonist enough time to come up with a plan of escape/be rescued. Villains with magical powers have no excuse. All the powers of the universe at their fingertips and they act like a neophyte who can barely cast a basic spell.

    + Protagonist somehow is able to survive something that most assuredly would have killed him/her thanks to something we, the audience, had never heard of. In the third Robert Langdon book by Dan Brown, Langdon seemingly drowns in a coffin filling up with liquid. The tension is rising, he's trying to escape, he's gasping for air...only he doesn't make it. It literally ends with him blacking out, seemingly dead. Only for the next chapter to reveal that he is actually alive and breathing...breathable water. Yeah, I wanted to throw that book in the gutter after that chapter.

    + Protagonist dies...just because. No rhyme, no reason, no context. He/she just...dies.

    Yeah, you want to keep the tension going, leave your readers breathless as they read about the dire situation your protagonist is in, but you have to be careful and find the right balance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
  16. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If your character can't survive the reality you created long enough to make a story then you don't have a story
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
  17. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did you mean to respond to me, because I'm totally confused?
     
  18. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Yeah, that's it.. to be honest it really isn't just killing the MC to be different, etc.

    I'd rather not get them in such a jam they couldn't get out of it in some realistic means, that's really the bottom line.

    I've only been writing for only 5 months. I only have two short stories completed, one being flash fiction. The flash fiction piece had conflict in it, man vs computer but the other story was more about the MC going through change.
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with you. I just finished watching a cult show called 'Firefly'. While an amazing show, I could see why it got cancelled. It suffered from the problem you describe, in every episode, the protagonists were put in ridiculously high stakes situation. 1. I don't know them well enough to care that much straight away, and 2. I know they'll survive so, what's the suspense? Also, so much peril and death, every episode was ultimately a bit depressing. I felt it would've done so much better if the stakes were varied, and if instead of repetitively putting us through a roller coaster ride, the writers could've characterised the world and characters through means other than mortal danger a lot more than they did.
     
  20. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like The Following!!

    I had really high hopes for The Following. I mean, it has Kevin Bacon... It HAS to be good, right?

    Wrrroonngg!

    It did everything you explained. Every episode was high stakes, but the protagonist always lost. He never died, obviously, but he was always put in a situation where he would lose and the bad guy would win. Ideally, that sounds exciting to see something different. But it's so unrealistic! No one loses all the time. It got depressing for me because nothing good ever happened to the main character. Ever. So I quit watching. It's still on, of course. But I can't bring myself to catch up with it.
     
  21. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    As Paul Buchman (Mad About You) would say, "This is what I'm saying."
     
  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Never thought of it that way - I watched it only twice so I don't honestly remember most of it. It had so much potential though, and the characters were so varied. Have you seen the film? It's a pity it didn't make enough money to start off another season :(
     
  23. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've killed off PoV characters (in their PoV too), but I will not kill my MAIN main character. At least not in this story.

    One problem with killing MCs is the attachment to them. I got so upset when our favorite character lost his/her head in A Game of Thrones. I don't want to make my readers feel that!

    As to "Don't put them in danger if you're not going to kill them," why not? 90% of books (random statistic, probably not correct) won't kill the main character. So? Why can't I put him in danger? My main character had a noose around his neck and I almost did kill him, but I needed him. So I didn't kill him. But you don't know that. I kill a lot of characters, so maybe this'll be the first. Or maybe it won't. You don't know.

    There was this one photo circulating the Game of Thrones fan pages on facebook. It had a set of photos from Season 1 of Viserys from one of the episodes. He's in the bath with the slave girl and she says "That's very sad," in reference to the death of the dragons. He says, "Yes it is. What did I buy you for, to make me sad?" And it had a picture of the stack of A Song of Ice and Fire books below it.

    Why make my readers sad? Why develop a character all the way for an entire book, just to kill them? If you've got 20 characters, go ahead. You've got room. But most books have only 1 mainly developed character (the MC). So unless you only intend on writing one book and the death is the last scene, I see no point in killing the MC. I do plan to kill my MC down the line, but not after I can squeeze more stories from him.
     
  24. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm about to watch 'Serenity' over the weekend. I know, I'm quite sad it's over. They could've fixed the few issues the show had, in the second season. Apparently, though, FOX television are notorious for cancelling good shows after just one year. 'Firefly is not the only one. I just got into 'Almost Human', really quite a lovely sci fi series, and it was cancelled! When I searched online I found people saying they did it again, and that they'll never watch another new show on FOX again because they're sick of being let down like that.
     
  25. Empty Bird
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    What is this book??? You must tell me! It sounds cool!:)
     

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