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  1. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    To Believe or not to believe

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MilesTro, Apr 12, 2013.

    Do all characters must be believable depending on the setting. Characters in realistic settings have to be realistic. But if the setting isn't realistic, whether it is sci fi or fantasy, does it really matter to all kinds of readers? What if they are just cartoon characters? How believable does the character have to be in a bull!@#$ universe?
     
  2. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    And here we are for another episode of, As The Worm Turns. Or, can I write a story with no characters at all in it...?

    Answer, yes.

    But no one will read it.

    .
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Characters have to be believable in their own universe. There may be no sillier universe in popular culture than the Looney Tunes cartoon universe, but Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and the rest are well-drawn and believable within that universe. They make sense in that universe.

    Face it, Miles. If you don't have believable characters, you don't have a story in any universe.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, they have to be believable. To some extent, no matter what kind of creatures they are, they have to be somewhat human-like, because humans are the ones reading your stories and they have to be able to connect on some level and relate to your character.
     
  5. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    In what way do the characters have to be believable?

    I don't see how some people could relate to Loony Tunes or SpongeBob Squarepants. Even if they have good characterization, they are just funny characters made to make us laugh.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Huh? They just have to be believable. In what way does 2 + 2 = 4?

    Sure, but a large part of the reason they're funny is that we understand them. We understand the motivations they have for doing what they do. We understand why they react the way they do when others do things to them. They have distinct personalities and weaknesses and foibles that make them funny to us, even though they're anthropomorphic animals living in a bizarre universe in which anything can happen.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You need to be able to identify with them--their emotions, their goals, their attitudes.

    For example, Elmer Fudd is a little guy who doesn't have much going for him--he's not very bright, not powerful, not sophisticated. As a defense against this reality, he's deeply invested in the delusion that he's a Mighty Hunter. To bolster that delusion, he wants, _needs_, to kill a wabbit. And over and over and over again, he fails. He gets frustrated and desperate, but then he returns next time, his delusion intact, positive that this time he's going to get that wabbit.

    Bugs Bunny _is_ smart and sophisticated, clever, and, in the way that he cares about--outsmarting people and enjoying his life--powerful. He ought to be the underdog, the bunny facing the gun, but instead he's the one in control.

    And Bugs is quite ruthless--he doesn't care how frustrated or hurt Elmer is. In contrast, Elmer sometimes shows evidence of a soft heart--he's been known to cry tears of sympathy for someone, sometimes Bugs, right before Bugs drops the latest disaster on him. We seesaw between hating Elmer Fudd as the villain that wants to kill our clever funny Bugs, and feeling reluctant laughing sympathy for his frustration.

    Elmer's personality and the way that we can identify with it is _why_ he's funny--if he were just a personality-free automaton aiming a gun at Bugs and getting anvils dropped on his head, he wouldn't be funny.

    Elmer and Bugs are characters. Personalities, with realism. It doesn't matter that they're cartoons.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This^^!

    Well said, ChickenFreak. Very good explanation.
     
  9. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Depends on the tone. Look at the recent batman movies compared to the old ones.
     
  10. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    If characters aren't believable of if your readers have difficulty relating to them, then you have lost the ability to suspend disbelief in your readers.

    And with fiction, that's the whole object.
     
  11. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Oh, you're asking about characters again. I'd say in a fictional setting, you'd need the characters to be MORE believable, in order to help sell the setting to the audience. Also, as people have said, your audience is human. It doesn't matter if your characters are cartoonish, they'd need SOME human attributes and characteristics in order for your audience to relate and care about them.
     
  12. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    of course the audience is human, and every creature, made up or real will have human attributes anyway, kindness/evil, love/hate, happiness/sadness whatever.

    To answer the OP - yes, it is vital your characters are believable or people will put your book down on the first instance or pure unbelievable crap. You can have deep sea diving monkey goblins made of cheese if you like - just don't have him warming his hands on a radiator because obviously he will melt. It's up to you to make whatever 2 dimensional creature you invent and make him 3 or even 4d.

    By the way, what happened warner bros cartoons? Poor kids today have 3d Barney - we had the fabulous flintstones, even in black and white we were spoiled :)
     
  13. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    This is pretty much the same thread as your "action driven completely" one. Seems to me you are still a firm believer that characters with little or no emotions can work, and that you are just fishing for people who agree with you. Am I correct?
     
  14. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    ^ I was thinking the same thing. Although, he seems sincerely lost.
     
  15. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Even Wile E. Coyote's anvil has a personality in the looney toons world. Every character has to fit in with the setting. You can't write a story set in medieval England and have a character fighting with laser guns and spaceships.
    Actually, as Nee said, you could but not a single soul would read it.
     
  16. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    like Cowboys and Aliens for instance... pure rubbish!
     
  17. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Writers can write whatever they want, even if the story sounds awkward. A medieval setting with laser guns can be a Sc Fi fantasy world. And cowboys fighting aliens will be a Sci Fi genre. Some of you sound like that most writers should have limited creativity.

    Yes, this is kind of similar to my other thread, except you one will be more focused on characterization and believable issues.

    I like what chicken freak posted. Seems a lot of funny characters have more that meets the eye. And based on what minstrel posted, the characters just need logic, motivation, and desires to be believable. Everything needs explanation.

    In one first person story in my short story writing class, I wrote about a hybersexual thief who travels back in time to steal a relic. She is very sexual, thinks about dirty thoughts, and fully aware of her body. Most of the female readers, who critic my work, said she is unbelievable, unsympathetic, and flat. They said no girl would explain about her body, and my character is unrealistic, but sexist. So what. She is suppose to be a male fantasy type of girl. The story is about sex, action, and time travel. And my story sounds more like a comic book. The guys enjoyed it, but one of them said that the character's thoughts doesn't sound like her own thoughts. I agree to change my story into third person, and explain why she is like that. Perhaps in her time period, most humans in a dystropian society are like that. I might post that story after I revise it.
     
  18. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is not necessarily true. What you describe is not so far off from the whole steampunk genre, which seems to have plenty of fans.

    Actually, Cowboys & Aliens got some pretty good reviews. I considered going to see it, but since it's near impossible for us to get to the movies, we did not.

    Well, without actually reading your story, it's hard to say exactly what the issue was, but from what you've written, I can guess. First, do you mean "hypersexual," as in extremely or overly sexual? I'm assuming that is what you mean, because I don't know what "hybersexual" means -- so if I have this wrong, please correct me. You say that she's a male fantasy, and the story has sex, action, and time travel, but that even the men didn't think her thoughts sounded realistic. There exists a whole genre of films that portray very sexual women who are male fantasies -- it's called pornography. Many people enjoy it, but people don't watch it for the character development or a deeper understanding of the human condition. You may have veered off into porn or quasi-porn in your story, if your character doesn't seem believable. It's possible that this may be just fine -- it really depends on what you want to convey.

    But, if you really want to convey some sort of message or theme, or explore character's personalities, you can do so. You can still do this even if the female character is extremely sexual. Women can be very sexual and still be well-rounded characters, and still come across as realistic.

    I'm not sure you need to switch to third person in order to do this, either. You certainly can -- you should do it from whatever viewpoint you think best communicates what you want to say. But I think first person could work very well, too. If you want, you can PM me the short story and I'll see what I think.
     
  19. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    I really think you should post your story Miles, instead of arguing what you should be allowed to do: just let us critique it, and see what we say about it. Otherwise, it looks like are you only here to perfect your shouting the guy down technique, rather than using this forum to improve your writing ability.
     
  20. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Only context of hyber- i know is a phrase in Canadian slang where it means having too much fun and being unable to do anything afterwards (hyber-happy). Also i don't know if even hypersexual is what you are going for. Hypersexuality is a medical condition where the person has frequent or suddenly increased sexual urges. So if you were going for a porn story, you almost hit home.
    As liz said, your story sounds a lot like a 90's porn script (i would refer you to Emanuele's numerous adventures in both realistic and sci-fi settings, it could help your script). If you add a few catch-phrases like "hey sailor", "what? you can't pay for the pizza?" and "is this your cell phone or are you just happy to see me?" you got yourself an audience.

    If you are going for any other gender, your characters will have to be much different from that.
     
  21. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    People are more than willing to give you a suspension of disbelief when they pick up a book to read it. That's why they pick up a fictional book in the first place. After all, vampires, wizards, and Hobbits do not exist. But once you create the rules within the universe you build, you must stick to them and build your characters out of that, then stay true to your characters as well. If you don't, the suspension of disbelief comes crashing down. There's also some universals that you have to stick to, or give a good explanation why you are deviating. A fourteen year old is not powerful enough to take on an entire army by himself and win. No matter a person's age, they can't learn a language in a day (unless it's uploaded matrix style). A person can't go from devastated from a lost love to completely in love with someone else in twenty-four hours. Things like that just aren't believable, no matter the situation.

    So yes, your characters have to be believable within the world you create, or there's no reason to read them.
     
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  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Among exactly how many genders are you proposing to choose?
     
  23. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I meant hypersexual. Here is the link to the second draft.

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=61332&p=1020731#post1020731

    It also seems like the readers want to read complex characters, even if the story is action driven. Are you entering an age where character driven stories are highly popular now?
     
  24. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    Character driven stories have always been popular, and always will be. But you would have known that, and why it's the case, had you actually read what people wrote in your other thread where the subject got debated extensively.
     
  25. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Rather all interesting stories have good characters. There is not a single great story with badly written characters.

    To my understanding, there are 5 genders nowadays (not biologically of course). That's without counting cases of hermaphrodites.
     

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