Plot armour. - Page 3


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Thread: Plot armour.

  1. #21
    I'm not sure why you quoted my post for what you've replied to it, Az. In no way did I say there is only one way to deal with the plot armor idea. I'm clarifying because otherwise this is so easy to turn into some kind of debate and "I didn't say that". I was pointing out an example, that's all.
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  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    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.
    Not at all. As someone who has more than likely never read anything from my Darksword series (no offense intended), let me
    explain a bit of the motivation behind this plot element. The Gods that brought him back in that moment make appearances
    throughout the series to guide the main characters, and to occasionally show them things they might not see on their own.

    The death of Darius and his subsequent reanimation were done purposely. The Gods know that he has no problem sacrificing
    himself for the greater good, but they need him alive. His journey is one that can't simply end in one story. The underlying
    plot through most of the series is a never ending quest for knowledge any understanding. Darius can't understand anything
    if he stays dead.

    I had another character in the series that actually did die, and evolved into a higher life form after his death. Errian was a
    sorceror (and recurring character that would pop up every few installments) that wasn't a bad person, but started to let his
    desire of being the most powerful sorceror ever known to cloud his judgement and endanger others. He eventually found the
    power he so desired, only to be destroyed by it because it overwhelmed him due to his own arrogance.

    After his death, his soul and life force were absorbed by the Gods and taken to a higher plain, where he saw the error of his
    ways and resolved to watch over the whole realm and make sure other sorcerors would never make the same mistakes he
    once did. Errian was a cool character full of mystery and intrigue, but his death helped several other arcs I had going.

    -JJB
    ​"Strong convictions precede great actions....."

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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    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'.
    Oddly, I've never heard the phrase "plot armor" until a few days ago on this site, although the inference is immediately understandable, and I've always understood the concept. But I write a LOT of reviews, so I don't read other reviews often--don't want to be influenced by them when I write my own--and I didn't watch Game of Thrones.

    And yeah, I don't think many readers are hoping the characters they've been following are going to die. We get plenty of that in real life. Realism in fiction? Yeah, with spaceships and dragons and undead, it would terrible to contradict all the realism with heroes who can survive. But as just about everyone in the thread has discussed, we have to be clever enough to worry the reader AND make survival make sense. I too often commented about a writer who writes his characters into a corner and then proceeds with a really stupid solution. It's more common in movies and TV than in books, but I've seen it in books too. The writer needs to THINK and do a good job. Writing is all about many things, but thinking tops the list.
    Last edited by vranger; March 3rd, 2021 at 08:12 PM.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Foxee View Post
    I'm not sure why you quoted my post for what you've replied to it, Az. In no way did I say there is only one way to deal with the plot armor idea. I'm clarifying because otherwise this is so easy to turn into some kind of debate and "I didn't say that". I was pointing out an example, that's all.
    Yes, apologies. I just wanted to say I'd seen the film lately and took the opportunity to explain why I've got a problem with the phrase. I should have made that a separate post.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by vranger View Post
    Oddly, I've never heard the phrase "plot armor" until a few days ago on this site, although the inference is immediately understandable, and I've always understood the concept. But I write a LOT of reviews, so I don't read other reviews often--don't want to be influenced by them when I write my own--and I didn't watch Game of Thrones.

    And yeah, I don't think many readers are hoping the characters they've been following are going to die. We get plenty of that in real life. Realism in fiction? Yeah, with spaceships and dragons and undead, it would terrible to contradict all the realism with heroes who can survive. But as just about everyone in the thread has discussed, we have to be clever enough to worry the reader AND make survival make sense. I too often comment about a writer who writes his characters into a corner and then proceeds with a really stupid solution. It's more common in movies and TV than in books, but I've seen it in books too. The writer needs to THINK and do a good job. Writing is all about many things, but thinking tops the list.
    Maybe it's because of the amount of times I've heard it in the last few years. If I watch a TV series or a film, the first thing I do afterwards is go online and listen to YT reviews to see what they say. I'll watch dozens of them. Some I agree with and some I don't. That phrase now drives me nuts.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    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 think there's some misunderstanding.

    The negative that has been mentioned is a matter of correlation, not causation: Stories aren't bad because they can be described as including 'plot armor'. However, the fact they can be described as such, the fact it's even something that comes up in their review, indicates a likelihood (not a certainty, but a strong likelihood) one or more scenes that felt rigged in favor of the protagonist. Because if they weren't then that 'armor' would have been invisible, or at least not a distraction.

    For example, Game Of Thrones is being used here as an example of a story that does not employ plot armor. I brought it up intentionally, because the fact is it actually does!. There are multiple scenes where it's incredibly apparent. Perhaps most starkly is the one in which a protagonist is literally brought back from the dead. The ULTIMATE plot armor!

    And yet, nevertheless, the show/book can be described as not relying on plot armor because there is a sense that the destiny of the characters is not pretedermined, that all the characters are in genuine danger. That's a really important differentiator. At no point watching Harry Potter did I ever think Harry Potter was in real danger because that would be f*cking ludicrous -- his name is on the poster and everything about his character from the first scene has screamed 'I'm gonna make it'. I think that's poor, or at least juvenile, writing (sorry JK) and I think it's unnecessary. I think it would have been possible, and probably better, for the same guy not to make it through the entire story as the Hero Warrior and for there to be a real sense of uncertainty. They would have had to change that poster, though!

    Point is: I think the difference is in the word 'relying'. All shows, as I mentioned, do incorporate some sort of special treatment for their protagonists that is why they are protagonists. The degree to which it is used and the level of awareness of it being used is what matters.
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  7. #27
    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
    To me, it's a trope (obligatory TVTropes link), a legit mechanism rather than something to be avoided. The plot has to somewhat be armoured in order to happen. I mean, if any normal person were in a fictional situation, they'd probably die/get tired/sink without trace pretty quick and that would be that. So we have to play fast and loose with reality, but creatively. No-one wants a Gary Stu or an overpowered MC. So make them ludicrously lucky, or have ludicrously devoted allies, or craft something innocuous (that you thought was just scenery) in chapter 2 that comes to save the day in the denouement, heading off allegations of Deus Ex Machina.

    Edited to answer the 2nd part of your question. I guess my MC is lucky. She - spoiler alert, avert your eyes if you don't want the movie ruined - falls from a great height and is fortunate enough to land in tall, thick trees that arrest her fall. She did have a rudimentary parachute but as far as she can tell, it didn't open fully and she put it on in kind of a rush. But she takes a beating, and struggles pretty badly by the end so I am hoping she remains relatable. She has allies too - they sacrifice much for her because they are hopefully inspired by something in her; they'd probably say they loved her if pressed. But again, they betray her, some of them. So in short, I figure I'll give her just enough plot armour to get her over the next hurdle before taking it away again. Plot armour needs to come from the plot.
    Last edited by bdcharles; March 3rd, 2021 at 06:27 PM.


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  8. #28
    Characters shouldn't die because they are hit by a stray bullet.

    You can kill anyone through any means, but it has to be the product of dramatic conflict.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    At no point watching Harry Potter did I ever think Harry Potter was in real danger because that would be f*cking ludicrous -- his name is on the poster and everything about his character from the first scene has screamed 'I'm gonna make it'. I think that's poor, or at least juvenile, writing (sorry JK) and I think it's unnecessary. I think it would have been possible, and probably better, for the same guy not to make it through the entire story as the Hero Warrior and for there to be a real sense of uncertainty.
    Yeah, the Harry Potter series wasn't poor or juvenile writing. When the hero survives, it's never about uncertainty if they'll survive, it's how interesting the journey is leading to the ultimate goal. You might call Tolkien poor and juvenile for letting Frodo and Sam survive, but you'll get buried under millions of people calling bullshit on you. LOL James Bond ... the list goes on. This is what readers want. Kill all your heroes? Readers will move away.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by vranger View Post
    Yeah, the Harry Potter series wasn't poor or juvenile writing. When the hero survives, it's never about uncertainty if they'll survive, it's how interesting the journey is leading to the ultimate goal. You might call Tolkien poor and juvenile for letting Frodo and Sam survive, but you'll get buried under millions of people calling bullshit on you. LOL James Bond ... the list goes on. This is what readers want. Kill all your heroes? Readers will move away.
    (1) I don't think you have the ability to tell me my clearly stated opinion on what constitutes poor writing.

    (2) Harry Potter is written for children therefore is, by definition, juvenile writing.

    (3) I don't care if other people 'call bullshit on me' for liking or disliking writing. I don't like Twilight either, do you?

    (4) Nobody said 'kill all your heroes'. The point is not to have a single 'hero' unless unavoidable.
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