[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 Ex-Manager

    Member Since:
    Feb 22, 2003
    star 5
    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 SouthEast RSA

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 15, 1999
    star 6
    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 VIP

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Nov 9, 2002
    star 5
    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 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 1999
    star 3
    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 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 15, 2007
    star 2
    I am pro-Things. Things need to happen for Reasons.
  6. Commander-DWH Shiny Costuming & Props Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 3, 2003
    star 4
    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 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 9
    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 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2003
    star 4
    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 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 4
    Stagnancy FTW! Who cares about progression and advancement for the sake of character growth and plot development?!?!?!?!
  10. rhonderoo Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2002
    star 9
    Make sure you mention the Thing a LOT. Quite a bit. Readers might be stupid.
  11. madman007 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 2007
    star 4
    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 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 19, 2003
    star 5
    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 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 10, 2005
    star 5
    I tried going 'thing-less' for a while, but wound up in a 12 step program instead.
  14. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    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 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 20, 2002
    star 6
    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 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2002
    star 5
    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 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 1, 2002
    star 6
    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 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2007
    star 3
    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 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2004
    star 4
    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 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2005
    star 2
    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 Memphis, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2000
    star 5
    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 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2002
    star 4
    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 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2005
    star 6
    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 Memphis, TN FanForce Chapter Rep

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2000
    star 5
    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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