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Are fictional character arcs realistic?

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Old 08-03-2018, 12:54 PM
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Default Are fictional character arcs realistic?


Hear me out...

Your classical character arc is something along the lines of an internal character flaw and an external antagonist the character must overcome. As a result they are fundamentally changed and improved. My basic supposition may be wrong here, so feel free to correct it.

It is why Mary-Sue's are so maligned. If there are no internal flaws, then what aspect of their character can they improve and what new truth can they learn? If their antagonists are easily defeated, then what advancement have we witnessed?

But in reality, most people stumble along. They fight battles but rarely win wars. They do not grow and mature as a character (other than those flushes of youth that bring with them an unearned certainty that is cleansed with age). They fall back on old habits. They are aware of their own foibles, yet powerless to correct them. People are not stupid, ignorant beings, they are flawed, but (outside of ideology, which is rampant these days and requires more of a correction of a false set of beliefs then any sort of self-improvement), they are also self-aware. They do not grow and change, they bury their self-awareness or they act on it. And rarely do they act on it.

Thoughts?


Last edited by Chinspinner; 08-03-2018 at 12:56 PM..
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Old 08-03-2018, 01:07 PM
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Fiction isnt reality.
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Old 08-03-2018, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by flyingtart View Post
Fiction isn’t reality.
So fiction operates on a set of rules separate from reality? And if so, how do we connect to fictional characters who bear little resemblance to our own perceived (or practised) reality?
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Old 08-03-2018, 01:19 PM
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Fiction would be very dull if it followed the same random banality as reality. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “If I want a long boring story with no point to it I have my life.” Stories should entertain. People seem to have an inbuilt need for completion, and since it’s so elusive in real life stories fill that void.
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Old 08-03-2018, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by flyingtart View Post
Fiction would be very dull if it followed the same random banality as reality. As Jerry Seinfeld once said, If I want a long boring story with no point to it I have my life. Stories should entertain. People seem to have an inbuilt need for completion, and since its so elusive in real life stories fill that void.
Yes.
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Old 08-03-2018, 01:52 PM
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wow guys, have your lives really been that boring ...

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Old 08-03-2018, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by anna View Post
wow guys, have your lives really been that boring ...

Pretty much :/
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Old 08-03-2018, 02:27 PM
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No, they're not usually realistic, but often entertaining for some.

At the same time, there are a lot of good novels about people stumbling along.

I prefer the latter.
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Old 08-03-2018, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by E. Zamora View Post
No, they're not usually realistic, but often entertaining.

At the same time, there are a lot of good novels about people stumbling along.
Yes, as a huge fan of Dostoevsky (whatever the spelling is), I do agree. but there are very few mainstream characters who do not glide through this tedious arc.
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Old 08-03-2018, 02:41 PM
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One of my favorite novels is "Revolutionary Road."

It's about people who want to change, or at least they like the idea of change, but they won't or they can't due to circumstances.

That's more like real life to me.

Could be why I like short stories so much. You can imply a whole lot about a person's life; what came before or even some trajectory, but you don't have to lay it all out or go through any kind of "arc."

Last edited by E. Zamora; 08-04-2018 at 12:39 AM..
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Old 08-03-2018, 02:51 PM
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... but there does feel to be completion in life
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Old 08-03-2018, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by E. Zamora View Post
One of my favorite novels is "Revolutionary Road."

It's about people who want to change, or at least they like the idea of change, but they won't or they can't do to circumstances.

That's more like real life to me.

Could be why I like short stories so much. You can imply a whole lot about a person's life; what came before or even some trajectory, but you don't have to lay it all out or go through any kind of "arc."
It is exacerbated slightly by the fact that we have removed all female characters from one pidgeon-hole and inserted them into another. Now we have plastic Mary-Sues, which are frankly more tedious than damsel's in distress. My MC is female, and she is weak and inept compared to her fellow characters. Her growth is not that she suddenly becomes magnificently strong via some magical orb, her arc is that she builds repartee and trust. She become important via character, not some external attribute.
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Old 08-03-2018, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by anna View Post
wow guys, have your lives really been that boring ...

Sometimes I think so, but then.....


A deputy sheriff assigned to our end of the county stopped in (at our vollie fire station) one night when we got back from a fire. He reminded me of all the odd/unusual calls we get....
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Old 08-03-2018, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Chinspinner View Post
Hear me out...

Your classical character arc is something along the lines of an internal character flaw and an external antagonist the character must overcome. As a result they are fundamentally changed and improved. My basic supposition may be wrong here, so feel free to correct it.

It is why Mary-Sue's are so maligned. If there are no internal flaws, then what aspect of their character can they improve and what new truth can they learn? If their antagonists are easily defeated, then what advancement have we witnessed?

But in reality, most people stumble along. They fight battles but rarely win wars. They do not grow and mature as a character (other than those flushes of youth that bring with them an unearned certainty that is cleansed with age). They fall back on old habits. They are aware of their own foibles, yet powerless to correct them. People are not stupid, ignorant beings, they are flawed, but (outside of ideology, which is rampant these days and requires more of a correction of a false set of beliefs then any sort of self-improvement), they are also self-aware. They do not grow and change, they bury their self-awareness or they act on it. And rarely do they act on it.

Thoughts?
Character flaws in writing too often follow cliches.



If you want the character to have an arc then I suggest making it realistic.
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Old 08-03-2018, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mohican View Post
Character flaws in writing too often follow cliches.



If you want the character to have an arc then I suggest making it realistic.
um ... but if you can’t truly feel it, perceive it, how can you make it real beyond steal it

... things can be beautifully crafted, immaculate, polished perfect yet vacuous


Last edited by anna; 08-03-2018 at 11:44 PM..
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