What's more important, changing the characters or plot? - Page 4


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Thread: What's more important, changing the characters or plot?

  1. #31
    When I see characters doing inconsistent things, or the plot is entirely driven by stupidity, I consider it to be lazy writing.
    They simply were too lazy to write it better.


    But lots of people liked Walking Dead, and it was so successful that it even had its own spinoff.
    So what do I know?

  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Another thing is, let's say the characters are behaving more believably and they tell you how they are going to behave and that's a good thing. What if the theme gets lost because the characters are making decisions that do not drive the theme home? Is it okay for a story to not have a theme in the end, cause the characters do not know they are in a story, and are suppose to drive a theme?
    My advice would be to let the characters lead you to a theme. If driving the point home requires the characters to act unbelievably, maybe it's a wrong point? Hehe I don't know. The other thing I would suggest is to not even worry about theme until later drafts. Make sure everything makes sense first and then you can see what little strands and images you can tug at to draw out the theme.

    Also, yeah it's okay for a story not to have an obvious theme, but I think even stories written without intentional themes have accidental themes. A lot of books written purely to entertain have overarching themes inherent within them - good vs. evil, heroes come from ordinary places, love conquers all, etc.
    "So long is the way to the unknown, long is the way we have come. . ." ~ Turisas, Five Hundred and One

    "[An artist is] an idiot babbling through town. . .crying, 'Dreams, dreams for sale! Two for a kopek, two for a song; if you won't buy them, just take them for free!'" ~ Michael O' Brien,
    Sophia House

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.



  3. #33
    Oh okay. Well I was told that the main characters theme doesn't go with the rest of the story, especially if the theme changes as a result of the characters actions. I feel that the more consistent I make the character, the less consistent the theme is, cause the character doesn't know they are suppose to be driving a theme obviously. Perhaps an inconsistent them is okay, in the sense that it's more realistic though?

    Like most real life true crime stories, have no themes to them. They are just real life themeless stories, but the characters are consistent and believable. So it possible to have characters be consistent, and still have a strong theme? Or is that having your cake and eat it too, hence why other strong themed stories, may have inconsistent character behavior?
    Last edited by ironpony; July 22nd, 2019 at 06:59 AM.

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh okay. Well I was told that the main characters theme doesn't go with the rest of the story, especially if the theme changes as a result of the characters actions. I feel that the more consistent I make the character, the less consistent the theme is, cause the character doesn't know they are suppose to be driving a theme obviously. Perhaps an inconsistent them is okay, in the sense that it's more realistic though?

    Like most real life true crime stories, have no themes to them. They are just real life themeless stories, but the characters are consistent and believable. So it possible to have characters be consistent, and still have a strong theme? Or is that having your cake and eat it too, hence why other strong themed stories, may have inconsistent character behavior?
    There are no themeless stories--you've just not found the right English major yet. A real literary person can squeeze a theme out of a toothpaste tube.

    You see, the blue toothpaste represents the interminable sadness and hopelessness in American consumer culture. The person buys into the culture, and rubs it all through his mouth in the hopes that it will clean him, make him beautiful, make him healthier (because advertising, consumerism, medical/industrial complex says so). And even as he swishes and spits it out, some remains in his mouth, bestowing a fake, unnatural smell on his breath.But the odor and taste are fake--just like everything in the culture--they're paint on a rotten structure (like his rotting teeth). And even if he tries to wash himself of the toothpaste/culture, it still clings to him, it's inside him, part of him now.

    So you see, a real literary person will do all the theme work--so you don't have to! All you gotta do is finish and publish! Leave the themes for weirdies!
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  5. #35
    Oh okay I kind of see what you mean. I read the book The Anatomy of Story, and in it, it says to come up with the theme pretty much very early on, with the premise, and follow that theme throughout as you plan everything else.

    It's just that if you find your characters making decisions that break the theme and lead to different ones, is that okay, or is that normal even?

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh okay I kind of see what you mean. I read the book The Anatomy of Story, and in it, it says to come up with the theme pretty much very early on, with the premise, and follow that theme throughout as you plan everything else.

    It's just that if you find your characters making decisions that break the theme and lead to different ones, is that okay, or is that normal even?
    Totally.

    You want to watch out for unintentional themes, but even these aren't deal-breakers, necessarily. If you don't feel like coming up with themes, no worries, because someone else will see themes where none were intended. Even unintended controversy can sell a book.

    Even the most basic plots have themes. Life goes on. Love conquers all. Justice prevails (or doesn't). Gender roles in society. X are people, too. Enjoy life while it lasts. Survival of the fittest. Good guys win (or not). Fear/embrace the unknown. Man up. Girl power. Give peace a chance. Can't outrun a theme. If you've got characters and anything happens, it's going to have a theme of some sort.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  7. #37
    Regarding unintentional themes.... trying to think of an example off the top of my head...

    Okay, got one: Stephen King's It. A probably unintentional theme in that book ruined the book and most of his other books for me, even. Beverly. Everything about her was wrong. Her whole point is to be a sex puppet. Drives me crazy. Everyone else has some superpower, something they can add, but what's she do? Mystically saves the team through underage nooky in a sewer. Because.

    So what's King trying to say? Probably not what came through loud and clear to me. Through the whole book, everyone is perving on her. Nobody stops doing it. Her dad does it. There's this huge emphasis on her sexuality and virginity through the whole dang book. She's looked at as weird (and undoubtedly her virtue/virginity is in question because good girls don't hang out with bunches of boys alone). I had a lot in common with the character. She was like my avatar in that book. So all the boys have "specials" but Beverly has an underage, underdeveloped vagina that everyone has to talk about, fixate on. So, after all that build up, I wanted her to prove that she was useful for something else--that she as a person could thwart these disgusting desires and prove to the world and the group that she was--indeed--a useful person without her sex having anything to do with it.

    Alas, nope, when the boys get lost due to some 'lack of connection' and can't focus properly to get out of a sewer maze, King spends ten pages describing Beverly having sex with all of the other boys. 'Cause that's all girls are good for. Helping boys concentrate on important boy matters. Girls are too stupid to be useful as people. Girls aren't really people like boys are people, because boys are special and girls are just warm, wet holes that exist to make boys happy.

    And perhaps worse yet, Beverly can't even keep a solid long-term relationship up--even as an adult. She's just a wandering sex toy. Shacks up with every last one of the male "friends". Even as an adult--who has been through all this crap--she can't catch a break and just be a person. She's constantly reduced to this gorgeous blowup doll who can only find meaning in male companionship. She's never her own darn person. And I'm supposed to be happy about it because screwing with several guys at a time to save the day... makes the boys bonafide feminists because at least they don't call her a hoebag afterward? They still tolerate her deflowered presence? They're okay passing her around interminably through adulthood, with everyone getting their fair turn with the pretty lady? WTF?

    And despite all this, people still love It. The scenes, characters and themes don't fall like that on everybody. Other people can enjoy the book and movies. Gives me acid reflux just thinking about this book though--and I haven't read it since sixth grade.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post

    Alas, nope, when the boys get lost due to some 'lack of connection' and can't focus properly to get out of a sewer maze, King spends ten pages describing Beverly having sex with all of the other boys. 'Cause that's all girls are good for. Helping boys concentrate on important boy matters. Girls are too stupid to be useful as people. Girls aren't really people like boys are people, because boys are special and girls are just warm, wet holes that exist to make boys happy.
    Huh, is that what happens? I gave up on that book halfway through (which is still something like 700 pages). Glad i did, sounds awful.

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by epimetheus View Post
    Huh, is that what happens? I gave up on that book halfway through (which is still something like 700 pages). Glad i did, sounds awful.
    don't think King can write a woman who isn't used for sex. Somebody's got to perve on her if she's attractive at all. And even if not, the girl herself has to be thinking about it, obsessing about it. If she's not some good little domestic woman, she's a hideous villain, or somebody is obsessed with her love life. Even in Carrie, which is probably my favorite King novel, her mom's this total whacko who's obsessed with sex (even if she pretty much never ges any--it's some terrible sin--and used as some justification to abuse the daughter). Carrie finds meaning in getting romantic interest. There just has to be a boy involved. All of life for girls and women is concerned with attracting and pleasing men. Unless she's a villain (like in Misery), but then she's old and ugly and not fit to have sex with because only beautiful women are decent. Once she gets religion and fat and wrinkles, she's a villain and couldn't possibly be a useful, worthwhile woman.


    In any case, I'm hoping this aside adds something of value regarding themes. Themes are unavoidable. Building a story around a theme at least helps the reader see the intended theme (as opposed to something else you hadn't intended). Building around the theme can help give a lot of flesh to a story, put some meat on its bones and help it stand up on its own. Themes can elevate or detract from the story. They can get controversial--intentionally or otherwise--so if you're looking to make it one side or the other of controversy, get other people to look at a detailed plot synopsis. Oftentimes, we're unable to see these unintentional themes until somebody else points them out.

    Like I said, I don't think King meant to be offensive or controversial necessarily. He might've very well been surprised when people lobbed some criticism at him over those scenes.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Like most real life true crime stories, have no themes to them. They are just real life themeless stories, but the characters are consistent and believable. So it possible to have characters be consistent, and still have a strong theme? Or is that having your cake and eat it too, hence why other strong themed stories, may have inconsistent character behavior?
    I don't know about that. If you note the way that newspapers and books tell these true crime stories, they are almost always extracting themes. It's just that the theme is pulled from the events and not the other way around.
    "So long is the way to the unknown, long is the way we have come. . ." ~ Turisas, Five Hundred and One

    "[An artist is] an idiot babbling through town. . .crying, 'Dreams, dreams for sale! Two for a kopek, two for a song; if you won't buy them, just take them for free!'" ~ Michael O' Brien,
    Sophia House

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.



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