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[AFD 2008] Allowing Things to Happen to Characters: What Does It Accomplish?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by The_Face, Mar 30, 2008.

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  1. The_Face

    The_Face Ex-Manager star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 22, 2003
    I'm sure we all know the kind of fics I'm talking about. You're reading happily and then BAM. Things. Death, injury, dropping one's caf, getting promoted at work, having children, stubbing a toe, going to the store... It can take any number of forms, but there's always a constant: Things happening to characters.

    My question is: Is it worth it? Do you like reading fics where Things happen (and why or why not?)? Do you as a writer have Things happen to characters? What are the right reasons to allow a Thing to happen to a character?

    Discuss (politely, of course! ;)).
  2. Jedi Trace

    Jedi Trace SouthEast RSA star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Dec 15, 1999
    My question is: Is it worth it?

    I think it can be. It depends on how well the author has established that a Thing should happen.

    Do you like reading fics where Things happen (and why or why not?)?

    Depends on the Thing. Honestly, I?d rather read a fic where a This or That happens, but I can appreciate a Thing as long as it?s well-written. Sometimes, it?s necessary and when you get to a Thing, you can?t help but think: ?Finally! It?s about darn time.? In other cases, though, it?s like a Thing just jumps out of the blue and, without proper back story, it can really be a let down.

    Do you as a writer have Things happen to characters?

    Occasionally. I try not to over-use Things because then they lose their effect, IMHO. Like I said, I'm a This or That writer. ;)

    What are the right reasons to allow a Thing to happen to a character?

    It has to mean something. I?m all for Thing-less characterization for seven chapters, and I actually gravitate towards those types of fics, but every now and then you have to have a Thing just to shake it up a bit.

  3. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade VIP star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    I'm very anti-Thing. You just don't need Things to make a story interesting. [face_not_talking] Honestly, I'd like to see more fics scaling back on This and That, too. It takes all the joy out of reading. You start getting attached to a character, and then wham! Things, or This or That. Seems kind of pointless to me. :(

  4. Klimt_Of_Tornesdal

    Klimt_Of_Tornesdal Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 8, 1999
    I thoroughly agree, Gabri. Quite frannkly, if someone needs to rely on Things happening to their characters to tell the story, I would question why they are even writing it. [face_talk_hand]
  5. HyperionRising

    HyperionRising Jedi Youngling star 2

    Sep 15, 2007
    I am pro-Things. Things need to happen for Reasons.
  6. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Nov 3, 2003
    Those Reasons are almost worse than the Things, IMHO. Reasons muddy the story. They only get in the way of the characters, and can serve to confuse the reader.

    I admit, Things happen to my characters sometimes. But mostly only for the purposes of jokes. I don't really want Things to happen to my characters.
  7. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    You know, I am infamous for what I do to my characters. So, for the fic I finished on Sunday, I restrained myself. There was a war going on, but not a single death happened on-screen until the final post, where someone was executed. After a mugging at the beginning and a random slapped Leia, no one got hurt at all. Writing all the other stuff tortured my readers much more. It can go either way and be successful.
  8. JediNemesis

    JediNemesis Jedi Padawan star 4

    Mar 27, 2003
    I don't mind reading the odd Thing, if it's tastefully done and necessary for the story, but gratuitous Things just put me off. [face_plain]
  9. Bri_Windstar

    Bri_Windstar Jedi Master star 4

    May 27, 2002
    Stagnancy FTW! Who cares about progression and advancement for the sake of character growth and plot development?!?!?!?!
  10. rhonderoo

    rhonderoo Former Head Admin star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Aug 7, 2002
    Make sure you mention the Thing a LOT. Quite a bit. Readers might be stupid.
  11. madman007

    madman007 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 22, 2007
    Things happen to characters? No way. I am all for having several pages of nothing but a character stare into space or watch the grass grow. Has a serene feel to the story.
  12. Jaina_and_Jag

    Jaina_and_Jag Jedi Master star 5

    Apr 19, 2003
    IMO, Things are overrated. A lot of authors use Things without knowing what they're doing and they ruin it for the authors who know how to use Things. I can only think of a couple names off the top of my head of author's who properly use Things. It's disgraceful. I say that we ban Things from being used in fanfic. We'd be better off without them. [face_plain]
  13. Jade_Pilot

    Jade_Pilot Jedi Master star 5

    Dec 10, 2005
    I tried going 'thing-less' for a while, but wound up in a 12 step program instead.
  14. Idrelle_Miocovani

    Idrelle_Miocovani Jedi Master star 6

    Feb 5, 2005
    Things are very annoying and entirely disruptive to a story. My characters, in rebellion, decided to spend their time discussing "things" instead of taking part in "things", but that did not last very long.

    You cannot run away from "things." Which is unfortunate!
  15. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 20, 2002
    Things are so tl;dr. Such-and-Such and Etc, on the other hand, are way awesome happenings. I would totally read that stuff.
  16. Tahi

    Tahi Jedi Knight star 5

    Jun 8, 2002
    I'm with Idrelle on the "discussing" Things idea. Very sensible. Things! Blah - it's all a conspiracy by the masculine hegemony that writers have to have Things happen in their story. I mean, look - even Dr Seuss was sucked into it with those Things #1 and #2.

    I'm all for a more inclusive, rational, feminine approach - discussing Things, examining Things over a nice cuppa and some chocolate cake. I mean all it takes is a little colour adjustment and a Thing could well become a . . . well, a designer feature or an artistic installation.

    Things! Kill the little -----s. :p
  17. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Mar 1, 2002
    But sometimes Things just happen. You fight and fight to avoid them and still those pesky things get the upper hand and then what do you have but character development and plot! It's disgusting!
  18. Darth_Manion

    Darth_Manion Jedi Youngling star 3

    Feb 5, 2007
    Getting rid of Things? It's a start, but really, when you think about it, why don't we all just cut straight to the chase and get rid of the source of the problem - characters.

    I mean, with no characters, we wouldn't have to worry about Things at all! And none of that annoying 'development' or 'plot' stuff that readers and writers alike simply can't stand.
  19. 1Yodimus_Prime

    1Yodimus_Prime Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 13, 2004
    It's true. Characters are really the crux of the problem here. I once wrote a 900 page novel about a rock in a gravel pit somewhere in suburban Pittsburgh. It was a minor success, and I owe it primarily to the removal of all charcters. The Thing problem turned out to solve itself after that.
  20. little_miss_jedi

    little_miss_jedi Jedi Youngling star 2

    Aug 6, 2005
    I must try writing a book about a rock sometime. :)

    I believe a Thing may only occur if there is a Lead-Up. Too many times characters randomly eat 15 chocolate biscuits. There must be a spot earlier in the fic that states this character is partial to chocolate biscuits - or is not partial to them, depending on whether they are force-fed the biscuits.

    I like Things, but there must be a Reason for the Thing.

    And the Thing cannot be death - unless the character is unloved. That's OK :)
  21. Qui-Gon Tim

    Qui-Gon Tim Memphis, TN FanForce Chapter Rep star 5

    Apr 1, 2000
    OK, I'm reading that whole Thrawn Duology set right now, and these "things" that you speak of just keep happening on every single page. What is up with that? I'm 200 pages in and it's nothing but "thing X, Y, and Z happened" right and left. I can't keep up.
  22. Earthknight

    Earthknight Jedi Padawan star 4

    Oct 3, 2002
    I like to do bad things to characters. It shows they are not invincible and not perfect. Letting them have happy times is cool too.
  23. MsLanna

    MsLanna Jedi Master star 6

    Jul 8, 2005
    I am trying to get rid of Things by having little space for them to happen. So I took those two characters and put them in an flaoting TUG. It's incredible how little Things suddenly seem to happen. Amazing!
    Though I have to damit that they try to creep back into even that story. Is there really no help?:_|
  24. Qui-Gon Tim

    Qui-Gon Tim Memphis, TN FanForce Chapter Rep star 5

    Apr 1, 2000
    I've found that if you make your characters float in the empty vacuum of space without a vac suit, all that "stuff" just seems to stop happening to them. Sweet! It's so much easier to read!
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