Lit Pet Characters

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Sinrebirth, May 10, 2013.

  1. Sinrebirth SWC and EUC Forum Moderator

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    A lot of us comment on pet characters, and how they ruin the flow of a story by appearing everywhere or being placed in illogical positions when in the context of the greater cast of characters we have.

    I'm not disagreeing, but what would you consider the most flagrant abuse of pet characters?

    I'm considering Saba the most frustrating, if only because of how she took point in FotJ, when Kyle would have worked just as well as acting-Grandmaster. Corran, I can understand why not with the context of his children. Clighal, well, she herself probably doesn't have the temperament for war. But why not Kyle over Saba? Kyp, perhaps?
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  2. Gorefiend Chosen One

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    Traviss-Lorians regularly cause(d?) total plot and context break down.
    Last edited by Gorefiend, May 10, 2013
  3. AdmiralWesJanson Force Ghost

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    Saba, the Squibs, Tarfang and JaeJung by Denning
    Boba Fett (and the Mandolorians in general) by Traviss
    Ewok Pilots (post Iron Fist) by Allston
    Kyp Durron (KJA, others)
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  4. Reveen Jedi Grand Master

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    I'm starting to consider Ben Skywalker a pet character for the whole creative team at this point. The rest of the cast tends to crow about how awesome he is. Though he's done very little to prove it.

    Same thing goes for Allana, but she hasn't assassinated anyone yet, to be fair.
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  5. JediMara77 Force Ghost

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    Saba's the worst offender for me, too, after giving Mara's eulogy and killing Kenth Hamner and becoming acting Grand Master. Thing is she can be interesting when she's not shoehorned into having a huge role in the story.
  6. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Traviss's pet characters/culture are certainly the elephant in the room. I would argue that Pellaeon became one of her pets as well.

    It might be useful for us to define just what a pet character entails, and how it differs from an author making effective use of their original characters (for example, Stover utilizing Nick Rostu and Kar Vastor in Shadows of Mindor). Zahn's characters can come across as pet characters to some, while others see them as effectively utilized original characters.
  7. AdmiralWesJanson Force Ghost

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    They are still alive? Pretty impressive compared to the rest of their generation and the one before them.
  8. Reveen Jedi Grand Master

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    I can't get too annoyed about Saba, because at the end of the day she's still portrayed as a Stupid Lizard Alien who's defined largely by her instincts and species traits.

    Only because other characters keep taking bullets for them.
    Last edited by Reveen, May 10, 2013
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  9. kataja Force Ghost

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    This is so subjective a topic,, but ok, here's my take on it.

    I think pet characters are ok and natural as long as they just make their appreance in a story. All the SW authors basically operate in someone else's universe - so it's more than ok for them to have something 'self made' to hang on to. The problem arises when these characters are boosted up more than they can handle. I see no problem at all with Nick Rostu or Kar Vastor, f.ex. I was also ok with Saba doing Mara's eulogy, so much was screwed up at that funeral anyway and it was several books since mentioned that Saba and Mara were very close friends. And ok, it was Denning who said that too, but at least he gave people time to contradict him. And as Reveen says, she might be boosted up in FOTJ - but she's shown full of faults as well. Hre major fault IMO, is that she's had page time while other good characetrs haven't.

    Agree with Sinre that Kyle, Cilghal and Kyp would have been better choises,though.

    My personal irritation isn't so much pet character's as Zahn's tendency of letting some characters seem so extremely smart and capable - often at the cost of other characters. It's often his pet characters that appear smart and capable - but it's ok, by me to a large extent. It's when this is pointed out again and again, or when other's look silly that I mind. Or when they start to replicate, like Mara and Shada, f.ex.

    Also, I thought I, Jedi was a pain to get through.:p I know it was Corran's POV and of course he was to boost himself - but it was still more than I could handle.

    Kyp was annoying in JAT, but at least he screwed up.

    Worst by far were the Mando's in Travisses LOTF books. They were a nice try to create a warrior culture in SW - but it was blown up far, far, far too much.
    Last edited by kataja, May 10, 2013
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  10. DarthJenari Force Ghost

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    As others have said Traviss and her Mandalorians is probably the most infamous example. However, I don't think Pet Character's have to be a bad thing. Example, Troy Denning and Alema Rar. I thought the path Denning took her down from her intro. to her death was handled very well and tragically. Her role grew larger to be sure, but I never felt she took away from other characters.
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  11. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    This.

    I don't know if this tendency falls under "pet characters" but I cannot stand being told how brilliant, strong, brave, etc. a character is. I'm not stupid, I don't need to be told--show me and let me figure it out for myself.

    I see this with Thrawn and also with Mara Jade, and it makes me hate both of them, if for no other reason, I'm a rebellious person and I'm going to hate the characters that I'm told I'm "supposed to" like.

    I have the same issue with Ahsoka Tano in the latter seasons of TCW. She's shoehorned into far too many situations and all the other characters talk about how awesome she is and how she saved the day; even when we see her saving the day, it seems shoehorned. Case in point: the Mon Cal arc at the beginning of season 4. She saved Anakin by retrieving his mask for him, but there is no reason whatsoever that Anakin shouldn't be able to retrieve his own mask, the writers just wanted to give her a chance to save the day. Also, in the Assassin episode in season 3, someone else should have been having the Aurra Sing visions, as opposed to Ahsoka saving Padme and Padme returning to Anakin and talking about how wonderful Ahsoka was.
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  12. Grand Admiral Crumb Jedi Knight

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    What is an example of being told how great a character is?
  13. Todd the Jedi Mod and Sitcom Dad of SWTV

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    It's funny with Saba, since Denning overexposed her in DNT, but then significantly dialed back with her in LOTF, not including her in Tempest, only to slowly increase her role over the course of his subsequent books. But back to Dark Nest, which I consider Denning's weakest collective work, and she's unbearably a pet character. I think it's something about her in particular, since Alema is nowhere near as annoying in the same series.

    Same with Traviss. Bloodlines is yes, a love-letter to Fett, but not Mandalorians. That doesn't happen until Sacrifice, when her themes from Rep Com really bleed across all of her SW work. Bloodlines is also absent the Jedi hate.

    Stackpole was certainly guilty of using pet characters, as was Allston, though he's a bit better about it most of the time. In both cases it's never too bad, with few contrivances.
    It's never really overt, but the implication with a lot of pet characters is that they are superior to everyone else. It's all about author intent, hence author pets.
  14. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Other characters fawning over that character being a "brilliant strategist" (Thrawn) or "strong and brave and so good with Jaina" (Mara) or "if it weren't for Ahsoka things would have gone much worse".

    Once in awhile is fine, but over and over and over again, to the point of taking up half the damn book (Outbound Flight) with characters drooling over the pet character, gets ridiculous. And as Todd said, it's all about author intent, the author loves that character and wants to say why he or she is awesome...over and over and over again.
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  15. kataja Force Ghost

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    Thrawn is a good example - it's constantly shown how he's making his enemies shake in his boots and it's repeated over and over how clever he is. Plus we see him sit on his rumpus and figure out what the next move of his enemies will be from a sculpure or a painting. Now, Tharwn is ok, and I think it's nice that art gets a place in SW - but less would be better.

    Another, backwards example was in VOTF when Moranda Savich spoke ill of Wedge and Corran to Karrde. She was shown oh so brillaint at her job, along with Shada at hers that I more or less strated to skim that storyline. Also, I never quite bought characters like Carr'das or Bel Iblis - we only hear about how brilliant they are - we never really see it.

    Can't say they're over used, though. Only over exposed.

    Ironically, Maras' my favourite character after Luke - but that's due to her portrayal in TTT and later Kathy Tyers brilliant addition in BP. I started to love her as flawed - and thus manage to shug off how awesome she comes off in Zahn's later books. I do wish he'd explore her faults more, though :(
    Last edited by kataja, May 10, 2013
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  16. JediMara77 Force Ghost

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    Mara is a pet character, but she earned it. She had a major role in the Thrawn Trilogy, and later Hand of Thrawn, and actually did stuff to save the New Republic. (And I hated Mara to begin with. She won me over by the end of DFR.)

    Same with Thrawn. Sure people in-universe fawn over him, but there's a reason they do it. He nearly brought the New Republic to its knees, and we saw that happen. (I'd go on, but I'd be reiterating stuff said in the 181st discussion thread about Specter of the Past.)

    Corran's another pet character, but Stackpole spent a lot of time with him. Same with Allston and Wedge. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with authors preferring certain characters and using their own creations.

    The difference with characters like Saba is that Denning shoehorned her into books where she's not helping to drive the plot. She's there just to be there. And that's fine: we definitely need more non-human females in the GFFA. But let her do something. Let her have a role where she's important. He tried to do that in FotJ, but that whole plotline with the inept Jedi Council was a fiasco to me. Also, I don't want to be TOLD things about characters. I want to see them DO awesome things.
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  17. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Interestingly enough, this is precisely why I disagree with you about Mara and Thrawn. I haven't seen either of them do anything awesome, no more than the OT characters did in the movies, and Thrawn's very existence seems to be to make Vader look bad--that I don't like.

    I also don't think any character can "earn" being a pet character. I'd rather the author write all the characters objectively and let me decide which ones I like and don't like. I think Stover is pretty good at this for the most part, although some people say that he wrote Obi-Wan as a pet character in the ROTS novelization. I also think Luceno is pretty good. I'm a little into Hero's Trial and I've read several of his other books; I have no idea so far who his favorite character is, and I hope to remain ignorant of that. To me that's a sign of a good author, if I can read several of his or her books and have no clue which character or characters he or she likes best.

    I've been hearing a lot about Corran being a Stackpole pet and I saw it a little bit at the end of Ruin but not much.
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  18. kataja Force Ghost

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    Corran's good in Ruin, I think. It's in I, Jedi that his narrator prespective doesn't work out for me at all.

    And I agree JM, they have to earn it. DO things. Another thing then, is that I guess we acknowledge different things, even when we should see it...:p
  19. Grand Admiral Crumb Jedi Knight

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    I think most of it comes from people forming preconceived notions about other characters and then if some other character comes along and is implied even vaguely to be better than their own favorite they label it as petting. Corran worked for one of the top police organizations in the galaxy, and then proceeded to steal both his X-Wing and his assigned astrodroid. It's not hard to imagine that an official CorSec astrodroid would have super-top of the line equipment, and his lineage is fairly well explained. As for Kyp, a lot of that is dealt with in I, Jedi and subsequently everyone else never fails to remind him of his earlier actions.
  20. Grand Admiral Crumb Jedi Knight

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    @kataja If we saw every action attributed to them in their first book, what would be the purpose of writing other books?
  21. Reveen Jedi Grand Master

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    I think pet characters are sometimes more of a result of the narrow focus of the main plot than anything else. Of course an author wants to create his character to make his mark on the franchise, it's a natural part of creative writing. But so many of the series so far are centered on a small Corleone-esque clique of movie characters and their kids, making everyone else secondary.

    The writer has to try harder in order to distinguish their own character from the hordes of extra's and redshirts, and if they don't do it gracefully we end up with one non-Skysolo guy hogging screentime, and marginalizing all the other secondary characters even more.

    Would Saba be as annoying if Kyle Katarn, Fish Lady and Mass Murder McGee got just as much focus?
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  22. kataja Force Ghost

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    Fair point. And as I said in the start og my first post here - this topic really is very much depending on personal preferences. There's nothing wrong with per characters as thus. But the subjective reader can get quite annoyed at them. I just tried to find less subjective reasons above as for what I get annoyed at.

    This is an excellent point, I think.
  23. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    Personally, I think that Outbound Flight was a prime example of how much of a pet Thrawn is to Zahn. His arrogance, his "know your enemy by studying their art" bull-hockey, his "your inferior vocal chords can't pronounce my name correctly, and you're flossing your teeth with my ear canals every time you speak" crap... It seemed like every time Thrawn was on the page, the story catered to just how great he was. That book made me hate that malformed Smurf with a burning passion.
  24. Grand Admiral Crumb Jedi Knight

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    Isn't he supposed to be "super-arrogant, stick up his butt, I've already thought of all the possible moves you could make so you might as well concede already," type character anyways? Part of the point of his defeat in The Last Command is that for all of his art studying and high-mindedness he failed to notice his own bodyguard was planning to betray him, only waiting for the right signal.
  25. TrakNar Force Ghost

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    He was, but OF made sure to beat it into your skull with a pillowcase full of billiard balls.