WARNING: Discusses sexual violence: Do my villains have to have a tragic backstories? - Page 8


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Thread: WARNING: Discusses sexual violence: Do my villains have to have a tragic backstories?

  1. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    As for the whole doing it cause they are rejected being completely external, what I mean is, is that the movies only bother to explain the external. Other explanations are not needed for the viewer, accept for mine I am told. I feel that for readers, my script is the exception to the rule, cause readers want a separate internal explanation for every villain in the group, where was with other movies, viewers are able to accept an external explanation for the entire group. So what is it about mine that is different that requires both an internal and external explanation, when other movies are okay with just explaining external?
    You're not a special case, if that's what you're getting at.

    *brace yourself*

    Having read some of your writing I will hazard a guess as to why it is that people are expecting more from you and your work: Your characters are extremely boring.

    We're kind of off-topic here as far as the original question, but since you brought it up I will attempt to help. When I read your screenplay excerpts, I found them readable. I found them readable, like I find daytime soap operas watchable. That is, there was nothing wrong with the dialogue and how it flowed It was polished enough, it wasn't bad, but there was nothing there that made me give a chimpanzee's nipple about any of the characters.

    This was mentioned in at least one of the critiques I gave you. More importantly, it was a running theme in most of the other critiques you got. Your characters all talked the same. None of them talked like human beings. There were no quirks, no idiosyncrasies, no peculiar turns of phrase or uses of slang or variations in accents indicating these were real-life people from different walks of life drawn together by whatever the situation was. They did not reference their personal lives, at least not in any way that was of interest. They did not crack jokes. They did not dig at each other. They were like cardboard cut-outs with voice-boxes installed. They all talked like you. They all over-explained, reacted with the same indifference to the information. They did not forget to put sugar in their tea or walk out of the bathroom with their fly unzipped. They did not get over-excited. They did not seem to have personal vendettas against each other, nor friendships for that matter. There was no undercurrent of emotion. Did character x (can't even remember any of their names - and I just re-looked thirty seconds before this post) have a particular like or dislike for other-character y or thing p? Don't know. Can't remember. Because it simply wasn't there.

    All this might sound overly harsh, but if you're serious about understanding why people are not reacting more positively to your work, what you need to focus on IMO is not backstories for rapists but presence of personality. I understand in screenwriting it can be difficult, but understand that -- as you mention -- screen audiences are not looking for internal explanation of character. What they are looking for is external explanation of character that hints at internal character. What's the difference? The difference is in the kind of external character you create. Like an iceberg, you don't need to say everything that is internal (or anything, actually) but it needs to come across in other ways. They don't need you to be explaining things left and right but they do need you to develop and know these characters in a way that makes their external behavior (actions and dialogue) reflect an internal self that can then be suggested. Your characters all profoundly lack external character, so there's nothing to base any of that on.

    I expect your next question is going to be 'oh okay thanks oh well how do I create good characters then?' if so, please don't bother. It's not something you will learn from a forum. It's something you will learn through going outside, watching people engage in the real world (particularly the kinds of people you are trying to write about in your work) and capturing who they are honestly and consistently as you pour your heart and soul and blood and toil into writing honestly as opposed to merely accurately.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

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  2. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Oh well in Back to the Future, I thought it was an attempted rape because the George character came and stopped Biff before he could do the full rape. So I thought that the rape intention was still there.
    Yeah, there was unwanted sexual touching. There MAY have been rape if it wasn't interrupted. But it was. Having a rape intention (or possibly rape intention) isn't the same as having a rape.

    As for the whole doing it cause they are rejected being completely external, what I mean is, is that the movies only bother to explain the external. Other explanations are not needed for the viewer, accept for mine I am told. I feel that for readers, my script is the exception to the rule, cause readers want a separate internal explanation for every villain in the group, where was with other movies, viewers are able to accept an external explanation for the entire group. So what is it about mine that is different that requires both an internal and external explanation, when other movies are okay with just explaining external?
    I haven't read your story, but as a general rule I think it's a good idea to follow the advice of whomever said writers should trust betas about the problems in their writing, but not trust them about the solutions. So, in this case, it seems as if the betas are saying they don't understand the motivations of your rapists, or maybe saying they find your rapists unbelievable. That's a problem. But the solution is up to you. Including more backstory is just one possibility.

    In terms of whether other movies do include internal motivation - the sexual assault in Back to the Future was an incredibly small part of a cartoonish story about a time-travelling teen. Biff was a cartoonish character. The movie is hardly an indepth character study. The Accused, on the other hand, was a much more serious film, and I would say it did explore at least some aspects of the internal motivations of the rapists. The whole film, as I recall it, was essentially an indictment of what we would today call Rape Culture - it wasn't just the rapists who treated the victim horribly, it was the entire criminal justice system, society, etc.

    Again, though, I don't think you should trust betas about the way to fix the problems they find in your manuscript. I think you should just trust them that they found problems.

  3. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I didn't challenge this the first time but I feel compelled to now. There is a rape scene in Back to the Future. I vividly remember it (and hunted down a clip to re-watch it just now in case I was totally mis-remembering) and it's there: A girl gets trapped in a car with a boy who pushes her down without consent and is in the process of sexually assaulting her when he gets stopped. To me, that's a rape scene. Sorry. I actually remember watching it at 10 years old and it being my first encounter with sexual assault in fiction, together with the scene from Thelma & Louise (which as far as I recall didn't feature Actual Rape either, it was simply suggested) and how horribly frightening it was.

    Yeah it's not exactly a graphic cut-and-thrust of the kind I imagine featuring heavily in ironpony's writing (it's sort of a kids movie), and I suppose one could take the Brock Turner approach -- that it's not A Real Rape because there's no P-I-V or whatever the medical standard is. I'm honestly not sure what your reasoning is for excluding it so adamantly from the definition of 'rape scene' and would love to learn that reasoning.
    Well, I said it wasn't a rape, not that it wasn't a "rape scene". And I said it wasn't a rape because rape didn't occur. It may have been an attempted rape, but... that's not rape.

    And I wouldn't say that I'm all that adamant about that definition - I'm more adamant about thinking that ironpony has some weird ideas about rape, and looking at a kid's movie in which a rape didn't occur in order to learn about cinematic depictions of rape is probably not going to help him rectify those weird ideas.

    So, on one hand we have a book like A Clockwork Orange is a good example of a fantastic novel that uses rape pretty freely throughout its plot, often for quite ludicrous reasons (such as boredom) if for any reason at all, and still manages to be a 'deep' novel that involves some kind of empathy between the audience and the (rapist) main character. In that regard, it could be the perfect example for ironpony to follow if he is as hellbent on involving this subject matter as he seems to be. I could tolerate that sort of thing, if written in an engaging/entertaining manner. There is a place for it...
    A Clockwork Orange was a surreal, satirical exploration of a totally broken, dystopian, 'ultra-violent' world. It portrayed the rapists as profoundly damaged, completely psychotic, etc. It didn't attempt to explain the gang of rapists with a simplistic backstory.

    I agree that we don't always need to see a complex system of explanations for the behaviours of villains in movies. I would say, rather, that we should rarely see simplistic explanations for their behaviours. Having a gang of rapists who all commit rapes because they themselves were gang-raped in the military? It would be better to leave the explanation out entirely than to include such a simplistic one, IMO.

  4. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    I haven't read your story, but as a general rule I think it's a good idea to follow the advice of whomever said writers should trust betas about the problems in their writing, but not trust them about the solutions.
    That would be Neil Gaiman:

    "Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong."

    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony
    I feel that for readers, my script is the exception to the rule, cause readers want a separate internal explanation for every villain in the group, where was with other movies, viewers are able to accept an external explanation for the entire group. So what is it about mine that is different that requires both an internal and external explanation, when other movies are okay with just explaining external?
    Who are these readers? What are their credentials? Do they specialize in your genre? How invested are they in your story? How devoted are they to helping its ultimate success? These are all questions worth considering when weighing their advice.

    Also: it's your story. You should ignore any advice that doesn't work for you. If a beta reader suggests something that I don't agree with? I'll thank them, but ignore their suggestion. This is something you should be doing, instead of hand-wringing over every comment that doesn't align with your creative intentions.

  5. #75
    Oh okay, well even though the villain in Back to the Future was not able to pull of any rape, since he was stopped, I used that as an example, since the motivations were similar to what I had.

    The beta readers I have are just regular people I know, in the filmmaking community that I worked with before, who agreed to give me an honest opinion. Only one of them suggested that they should have been raped in the army, as a backstory.

    The rest said they did not know what it should be and they didn't want to make suggestions themselves, cause that would be writing by committee as one of them put it. So I came up with a few suggestions, but they all felt off to them and something is still not gelling. For one thing, they feel that this group of villains has to be assigned a label first. They are not a gang, nor are they a cult so what are they? I don't know what label they fall under, but I was told I need to establish that first, to make them more believable, if that's true.

  6. #76
    "I haven't read your story, but as a general rule I think it's a good idea to follow the advice of whomever said writers should trust betas about the problems in their writing, but not trust them about the solutions."

    That was me.

  7. #77

  8. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    Well, I said it wasn't a rape, not that it wasn't a "rape scene". And I said it wasn't a rape because rape didn't occur. It may have been an attempted rape, but... that's not rape.
    Wait, so there's an important distinction in writing between a 'rape', an 'attempted rape' and a 'rape scene'?

    I typically find myself agreeing with you, Bayview, but I think you've got this one totally wrong. I assume you wouldn't say 'it's a fight scene but there's no fight' or 'it's a car chase scene but there's no actual car chase - only an attempted car chase' so this is a little bizarre to me. The scene has ALL the themes, emotions and actions of an 'actual rape', to me, minus the fact he gets stopped before he can actually penetrate her with his penis (he may well have already penetrated her with his hands -- it looks like he quite possibly did, and if he did that would absolutely be 'actual rape' per my legal training) so what exactly would be the problem with describing him as raping her? It may not be totally accurate, but neither would it be totally accurate to say -- as you keep saying -- that 'there was no rape', right?

    I agree ironpony has some apparent fixation on the subject and that's strange. But we need to avoid querying his motives here. Whether ironpony has weird ideas about rape or not isn't necessarily relevant to whether he can write about it in a way that works in his story.

    A Clockwork Orange was a surreal, satirical exploration of a totally broken, dystopian, 'ultra-violent' world. It portrayed the rapists as profoundly damaged, completely psychotic, etc. It didn't attempt to explain the gang of rapists with a simplistic backstory.

    I agree that we don't always need to see a complex system of explanations for the behaviours of villains in movies. I would say, rather, that we should rarely see simplistic explanations for their behaviours. Having a gang of rapists who all commit rapes because they themselves were gang-raped in the military? It would be better to leave the explanation out entirely than to include such a simplistic one, IMO.
    I wasn't so much meaning to comment on the backstory itself being simplistic, more that the manner in which it is addressed, the level of emphasis, the amount of explanation given, can be simplistic/minimalist.

    So, I think we probably agree on that. A story can be written simply but address or incorporate complicated motivations, and vice versa. I agree the motivations for people in fictional stories should never be simple. But they can (and, sometimes, should) be presented as such.

    I think the kind of story ironpony wants to write would work best as a noir-ish satire, something in the vein of Clockwork Orange and Sin City. Neither of those really required a whole lot of disclosure of motivation. But, since he struggles to write compelling, humorous or otherwise interesting characters anyway (based on what I have read of his work) I think that is the biggest obstacle here. Not the existence or not of backstory or 'motivations', complex or otherwise.
    Last edited by luckyscars; December 8th, 2019 at 08:58 AM.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

    Hidden Content


  9. #79
    Okay I can concentrate on the beta readers advice about what the problems more, more than the solutions if that's good. However, how does one know what the solutions are then, unless you try to show it to them again after trying to implement solutions, and see if it works?

    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Wait, so there's an important distinction in writing between a 'rape', and 'attempted rape' and a 'rape scene'?

    I typically find myself agreeing with you, Bayview, but I think you've got this one totally wrong. I assume you wouldn't say 'it's a fight scene but there's no fight' or 'it's a car chase scene but there's no actual car chase - only an attempted car chase' so this is a little bizarre to me. The scene has ALL the themes, emotions and actions of an 'actual rape', to me, minus the fact he gets stopped before he can actually penetrate her with his penis (he may well have already done so with his hands -- it looks like he did, and if he did that would absolutely be 'actual rape' per my legal training) so what's the problem with describing him as raping her? It may not be totally accurate, but neither would it be correct to say 'there was no rape', would it?

    I agree ironpony has some apparent fixation on the subject and that's strange. But we need to not get into the realm of querying his motives here. Whether ironpony has weird ideas about rape or not isn't necessarily relevant.



    Absolutely agree, that's kind of my point. I think the kind of story ironpony wants to write would work best as a noirish satire, in the vein of Clockwork Orange and Sin City. Neither of those really required a whole lot of disclosure of motivation. But since he struggles to write compelling, humorous or otherwise interesting characters, I think that's the biggest obstacle here. Not the existence or not of backstory or 'motivations' complex or otherwise.
    Well I thought of making it more satirical, but I was told that by readers that rape is not the subject of the more over the top satirical, or comic-book like stories, and that because of the rape content, my story is set up to be much more realistic, so any satire or comic-book feel is therefore, forced a couple of of them said.

  10. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Okay I can concentrate on the beta readers advice about what the problems more, more than the solutions if that's good. However, how does one know what the solutions are then, unless you try to show it to them again after trying to implement solutions, and see if it works?
    I already told you the likely problem with your writing and I don't think you read any of it.


    Well I thought of making it more satirical, but I was told that by readers that rape is not the subject of the more over the top satirical, or comic-book like stories, and that because of the rape content, my story is set up to be much more realistic, so any satire or comic-book feel is therefore, forced a couple of of them said.
    See above.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

    Hidden Content


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