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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    Well, exactly. My objections to questions like this are there's never an alternative negative spin.

    I'm intrigued (and maybe mildly sleep-deprived). Can you expand on this? My brain's not following on what this negative option entails.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by JBF View Post
    I'm intrigued (and maybe mildly sleep-deprived). Can you expand on this? My brain's not following on what this negative option entails.
    We have two options: Write a story where the protagonist lives or write a story where the protagonist dies. If your protagonist lives, that can be met with accusations of 'plot armour', but what accusations can be aimed at it if your protagonist lives? There isn't one, so the imbalance persists and grows into something it shouldn't: A trend leading to a new cliche. To have a balanced discussion there needs to be either NO negative spin on either, or a negative spin for both. There isn't. Neither are wrong.
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  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by JJBuchholz View Post
    We have all seen this both in movies, as well as books where time and again the main characters or primary protagonist seems
    to be insulated from any kind of harm. While I get the fact that some characters are obviously important to make it to the end
    for the plot's sake, why make them almost invulnerable?

    Some superhero movies are good at showing how the hero can take a beating and almost die, yet make a comeback in the most
    agonizing way possible. In my opinion, it makes the character more relatable to ourselves, and we can better empathize with
    them and get behind them.

    When I create/write for a character, they are no way invulnerable even if they are the hero or protagonist. Examples:

    - The protagonist in my 'Urban Sentinel' series (a vigilante) has nearly died on a couple occasions, and this has given
    him pause as to how fragile he really is. Both instances served to 'bring him back down to Earth' so to speak and help him
    to look at problems he faces from a different direction.
    - Darius (my protagonist from 'Darksword') came up against a foe in one installment that he could have killed and ended
    the danger. Because he will not do something dishonourable, he chose to take extreme damage, and ended up sacrificing his
    own life to save everyone else. (He was later brought back by the Gods for his selfless act)
    - I always try to keep the human element as part of the story, so as not to have the reader at some point go, "Oh this. Yup,
    the hero will somehow come out unscathed, and bye bye baddie!" I see this as bad writing and too easy an out. Much
    character development can come from extreme perils, and a great deal of injury to the hero.

    I am interested to know what everyone thinks of 'plot armour' and the tools the rest of you use to keep your characters
    relatable, and how they grow in the process.

    -JJB

    One area where I see lots of new writers fail is that they never really put their characters in true jeopardy.

    But how they get out of it is where a character really shines.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by JJBuchholz View Post
    We have all seen this both in movies, as well as books where time and again the main characters or primary protagonist seems
    to be insulated from any kind of harm. While I get the fact that some characters are obviously important to make it to the end
    for the plot's sake, why make them almost invulnerable?

    Some superhero movies are good at showing how the hero can take a beating and almost die, yet make a comeback in the most
    agonizing way possible. In my opinion, it makes the character more relatable to ourselves, and we can better empathize with
    them and get behind them.

    When I create/write for a character, they are no way invulnerable even if they are the hero or protagonist. Examples:

    - The protagonist in my 'Urban Sentinel' series (a vigilante) has nearly died on a couple occasions, and this has given
    him pause as to how fragile he really is. Both instances served to 'bring him back down to Earth' so to speak and help him
    to look at problems he faces from a different direction.
    - Darius (my protagonist from 'Darksword') came up against a foe in one installment that he could have killed and ended
    the danger. Because he will not do something dishonourable, he chose to take extreme damage, and ended up sacrificing his
    own life to save everyone else. (He was later brought back by the Gods for his selfless act)
    - I always try to keep the human element as part of the story, so as not to have the reader at some point go, "Oh this. Yup,
    the hero will somehow come out unscathed, and bye bye baddie!" I see this as bad writing and too easy an out. Much
    character development can come from extreme perils, and a great deal of injury to the hero.

    I am interested to know what everyone thinks of 'plot armour' and the tools the rest of you use to keep your characters
    relatable, and how they grow in the process.

    -JJB
    But isn't that the worse sort of 'plot armour'? If you're going to choose a hero that dies or a hero that lives, at least have the balls to stick with your decision.

    Having characters that unexpectedly die can ONLY work if it's rare. If it becomes anything but rare, it doesn't work. It becomes the norm.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  5. #15
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    For the sake of debate, let's say there's two kinds of armor.

    Character Armor is the sum total of a given character's strengths, abilities, and available tools. Within this framework we have a manageable idea of what they can do and how they may do it. So long as they keep the needle in the green they have a reasonable expectation of success.

    Plot Armor is something that the writer pulls out of their ass when they realize their hero is in an unwinnable situation and they're unwilling to either subject their precious to the realistic consequences of failure or adjust the plot accordingly, so they carve out a niche that lets them duck the rules; essentially, they run redline to the point of disaster and the pretend the engine didn't just explode.
    Last edited by JBF; March 3rd, 2021 at 03:49 PM.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by JBF View Post
    For the sake of debate, let's say there's two kinds of armor.

    Character Armor is the sum total of a given character's strengths, abilities, and available tools. Within this framework we have a manageable idea of what they can do and how they may do it. So long as they keep the needle in the green they have a reasonable expectation of success.

    Plot Armor is something that the writer pulls out of their ass when they realize their hero is in an unwinnable situation and they're unwilling to either subject their precious to the realistic consequences of failure or adjust the plot accordingly, so they carve out a niche that lets them duck the rules; essentially, they run redline to the point of disaster and the pretend the engine didn't just explode.
    Good lord, now you're broadening it! lol. I just look at that as bad writing though. I would imagine pantsers are more prone to it than planners. In the few 'longer' pieces I've written (unfinished novels), if my character suddenly gets faced with something he/she wouldn't ordinarily have to confront, I'd do one of two things: Remove that obstacle OR go back and change the character slightly. If you can't be bothered to do either, the accusation shouldn't be 'plot armour' it should be 'lazy writing', which is more to the point and more effectively discussed.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    If you can't be bothered to do either, the accusation shouldn't be 'plot armour' it should be 'lazy writing', which is more to the point and more effectively discussed.
    Unless I misread, the concept of plot armor has been laid at the feet of lazy writers for a goodly portion of the thread.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by JBF View Post
    Unless I misread, the concept of plot armor has been laid at the feet of lazy writers for a goodly portion of the thread.
    Yeah, so THAT is the 'real' discussion. It opens it up instead of narrowing it down. We can then discuss the options available. For instance, I would imagine genre writing offers more options than straight fiction writing. Horror (demonic possession etc), Sci-fi (enhancements), Fantasy (magic). In all those instances, even a writer who hasn't planned well with his character can find a solution for what would ordinarily be a road block for their character. It offers a solution for both physical restrictions AND moral/ethical barriers. Even in general fiction, there's no reason a character who starts off a moral crusader can't end up being corrupted by events so much, they do things they wouldn't have done at the start of the story. It's just a matter of making sure the transition is foreshadowed well, otherwise it would be jarring and out of place. Enter the last season of Game Of Thrones.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  9. #19
    SPOILERS AHEAD:
    If you're one of the 2 remaining people on earth who haven't seen The Princess Bride, go watch it before you read this post.
    Thank you.


    Of all things what comes to mind is The Princess Bride. Stick with me here, I know the movie has its funny bits but I think he's a good example of how to defeat plot armor.

    Wesley/The Dread Pirate Roberts seems to be invulnerable, a Gary Stu. He gets through four tough challenges because he's Just That Good. He gets himself and the princess through the fire swamp and ROUS's mostly on sheer optimism and chutzpah.

    He's no match for a princess pushing him into a ravine (love) or fire and rat bites (he's mortal, after all), or betrayal (princess again), or THE MACHINE.

    "Nobody withstands the machine"...well, guess who's going to have to go there? Yes, the hero. Because, honestly, why else have the machine in the story otherwise?

    And though I hated this and winced and darned near cried when Count Rugen and Prince Humperdink killed Wesley with the machine this was a stripping of the plot armor, wasn't it? Wesley's charmed life was over. His cleverness was over. Love hadn't saved him. His plan was over. He couldn't save the girl.

    An ingenious way that the story deals with this is by finding loyalty in men Wesley has bested. He didn't end them (okay, other than Vizzini but he did pick his poison...) because he had respect for them. This meant that he was a force-multiplier and these characters came to find him, returning the respect he'd given. Joining up with his cause.

    From that point on this is a team effort because Wesley has been brought back from mostly-dead to life again but he can't enact his plan even so. Probably one of the biggest reasons that this story was a hit had to do with the friendship and loyalty of the characters as they each worked through their own stories and saved the princess together.

    Simplistic? Okay, sure, maybe. Even a little hokey. But compelling. A story that is possible to watch over and over again.
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  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Foxee View Post
    SPOILERS AHEAD:
    If you're one of the 2 remaining people on earth who haven't seen The Princess Bride, go watch it before you read this post.
    Thank you.


    Of all things what comes to mind is The Princess Bride. Stick with me here, I know the movie has its funny bits but I think he's a good example of how to defeat plot armor.

    Wesley/The Dread Pirate Roberts seems to be invulnerable, a Gary Stu. He gets through four tough challenges because he's Just That Good. He gets himself and the princess through the fire swamp and ROUS's mostly on sheer optimism and chutzpah.

    He's no match for a princess pushing him into a ravine (love) or fire and rat bites (he's mortal, after all), or betrayal (princess again), or THE MACHINE.

    "Nobody withstands the machine"...well, guess who's going to have to go there? Yes, the hero. Because, honestly, why else have the machine in the story otherwise?

    And though I hated this and winced and darned near cried when Count Rugen and Prince Humperdink killed Wesley with the machine this was a stripping of the plot armor, wasn't it? Wesley's charmed life was over. His cleverness was over. Love hadn't saved him. His plan was over. He couldn't save the girl.

    An ingenious way that the story deals with this is by finding loyalty in men Wesley has bested. He didn't end them (okay, other than Vizzini but he did pick his poison...) because he had respect for them. This meant that he was a force-multiplier and these characters came to find him, returning the respect he'd given. Joining up with his cause.

    From that point on this is a team effort because Wesley has been brought back from mostly-dead to life again but he can't enact his plan even so. Probably one of the biggest reasons that this story was a hit had to do with the friendship and loyalty of the characters as they each worked through their own stories and saved the princess together.

    Simplistic? Okay, sure, maybe. Even a little hokey. But compelling. A story that is possible to watch over and over again.
    Yes, I watched that recently actually. It's a fun romp and I liked it for that.

    My problem with the phrase 'plot armour' is the fact it insinuates any story that doesn't kill main characters off is flawed and therefore bad writing. It has become a sharp nail to crucify many a good story.

    I watch reviews and hear it all the time: 'Yeah it was good but that plot armour', 'If only they hadn't used plot armour', 'I thought it was great, but the plot armour ruined it for me'. It's become a popular phrase since Game Of Thrones. It's what the cool kids say.

    It's not a negative to write a story that allows the protagonist to survive, but the phrase suggests it is. The possibilities and methods for writing stories are deep and broad. On a table of tools, killing your protagonists is merely one option. It's not a 'plus' or a 'minus' it's an 'option'.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

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