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Fourth Wall breaking
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Fourth Wall breaking:

Love it or hate it?

I'm planning on including a fourth wall breaker in my otherwise serious story, but he's the comic relief anyway. Think Dead Pool.
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 2 Mr AHR, Sat, 5th Feb '11 12:23:43 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
You can either do it or you can't, and chances are, you can't. My advice? Don't do any type that's been done. That means no OOTS style, no Deadpool style, that doesn't help at all.
As in he fully knows he's in a comic? I always prefer winking at the wall. But it really depends on the story.
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 4 Nomic, Sat, 5th Feb '11 2:20:01 PM from beyond the Void
Exitus Acta Probat
I have a habit of doing it. Not all the time, but as occasional gags where the characters display genresavyness or lampshade some story detail. Occasionally I outright break the fourth wall. Forgotten Lore is supposed to have atleast one scene where a character comments on the fact that music doesn't really work in a comic, and the big bad occasionally adresses readers directly (I migth include a story about him that starts with him hijacking the plot to tell his story to the readers).

 5 Ronka 87, Sat, 5th Feb '11 6:56:07 PM from the mouth of madness.
Maid of Win
Funny thing about lampshade hanging: It started out as a way to point out cliches, and has now become a cliche.

Fourth wall breaking has soured on me, mostly because it's overdone and poorly done. Obviously metahumour can still be used well, but the media, especially the internet and especially especially webcomics, are saturated with it, and that means lots of crappy, rehashed, lazy jokes.

I don't know much about your story, but I'd be hesitant to include a character who constantly and blatantly breaks the fourth wall. First, it's been done by everyone and second, if it's a serious story, it won't be comic relief, it'll be a mood killer. Genre awareness is the realm of postmodernism and over the top comedies— it really doesn't have a place in a serious story. Deadpool, for example, doesn't appear in many dramatic plots, and on the rare occasion he does he tends to leave his "little yellow boxes" out of it.

Like I said, it can still be done and done well, but be careful with it because it's easy to misuse and overuse and it will take a reader out of a story.

Like this:

Hero Q. Awesomesauce: (sweating handsomely) Ha HA! At last, we meet, you monster! You killed my beloved wife, raped her corpse, and used her blood to draw Sonichu porn on the walls!

Villain B. Badguy: Also, she was pregnant with your unborn child! Or should I say— unborn OCTUPLETS?

Hero Q. Awesomesauce: (gasp, step back) No.

Fourth Wall Breaker Bob: Anyone ever notice how when we talk, our names show up in bold letters and then our words come after it?

Hero Q. Awesomesauce: (falls to knees, grabs hair) No!

Fourth Wall Breaker Bob: And, like, when we fight villains, they always send the weaker ones first then build up to stronger ones, instead of sending the stronger ones first.

Hero Q. Awesomesauce: (skyward scream) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fourth Wall Breaker Bob: And what's the deal with airline food?

edited 5th Feb '11 6:58:58 PM by Ronka87

Thanks for the all fish!
You need jokes. You can't expect people to laugh just because a character is aware of patterns in entertainment. I think this is where a lot of people fail with this. It's similar to how many amateur writers think that nonsense = funny.

I strongly second the notion of, at most, winking at the fourth wall because this is a drama. Another tip is to make this character absent during dramatic scenes and just have a few silly scenes specific to that character.

This can be great or terrible, and there's very little in-between.
 
 7 Bobby G, Sun, 6th Feb '11 4:21:06 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
I think it works best either in comedic works where everybody shows awareness of the Fourth Wall - The Order of the Stick, for one; see Banjo-Kazooie for another example - or else where there's some element that allows you to handwave it as a funny coincidence; perhaps the fourth wall breaker is actually mad, or maybe the characters are talking about something else that just so happens to sound like it breaks the fourth wall (think Who Would Want to Watch Us?).
 8 Ralph Crown, Mon, 7th Feb '11 2:28:48 PM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
My vote is a big No. It may work in TV or movies (Ferris Bueller comes to mind), but in written form it instantly pulls me out of the story. When I read something like, "Oh, no, we're characters in a book!" I want to throw the book across the room. My 2c.
Under World. It rocks!
Personally, I hate fourth wall breaking. It doesn't make it impossible for me to enjoy the story (I'm a big fan of The Order of the Stick) but I always cringe when they do it. I'm fine with Genre Savvy characters or Leaning on the Fourth Wall, but actually breaking the fourth wall annoys me.
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
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On the whole no, but that doesn't mean I haven't used it. I shy away from the Deadpool approach though. I prefer to use the old Looney Tunes approach. All Bugs would have to do would be to look at us, raise an eyebrow, and say "Graceful aint' he?" or whenever Porky busted open that drum and would say "Babedeba That's all folks!!". That was simple!

It was elegant and still can get some laughs without turning into a Seinfeld routine. It was done justly in my opinion.

edited 8th Feb '11 9:04:51 AM by AtomJames

Theres sex and death and human grime in monochrome for one thin dime and at least the trains all run on time but they dont go anywhere.
 11 pagad, Tue, 8th Feb '11 10:02:52 AM from perfidious Albion Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Sneering Imperialist
I really hate fourth wall breaking because it is not as clever as those who do it seem to think it is. Characters don't realise they're in a book/film/game, the writer is still in control.

Painting the Fourth Wall, on the other hand, I can quite like.
To clarify, the character I have in mind is Genre Savvy, frequently references out-of-universe events, and worships the Author. Like Deadpool, everyone else thinks he's insane.
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 13 JHM, Wed, 9th Feb '11 3:22:00 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
Out of sheer perversity, I'd love to have the fourth-wall-aware character be a Complete Monster, making fun of their medium while committing unspeakable acts of cruelty, laughing at the audience's disgust all the way... Although avoiding making such a person a Villain Sue would be somewhat difficult.
I need a drink
Wouldn't The Joker be an example of that though? I mean in the comics he addresses the reader directly from time to time, and in the DCU Animated shows he would whistle his own lietmotif.
Theres sex and death and human grime in monochrome for one thin dime and at least the trains all run on time but they dont go anywhere.
 15 Ronka 87, Wed, 9th Feb '11 7:05:49 PM from the mouth of madness.
Maid of Win
There is a line of thinking that says the Joker is a madman because he's the only one who realizes he's a character in a comic book, but with so many writers tackling the comic it's hardly canon. Besides, even at his most Genre Savvy he's more of a fourth wall leaner than breaker.
Thanks for the all fish!
Grin and bear it
IMO, Ronka hit it on the head; it can be used to great success, but it's become such a cliche at this point that it's no longer surprising when it happens.

Personally it's becoming a little too common in the stories I've read (hence the cliche). However, it can still be pretty funny when it's pulled correctly.
 17 doorhandle, Mon, 14th Feb '11 11:13:32 PM from Space Australia!
Indeed, breaking the poor abused fourth wall is a cliché like no other.

What I would like to see is a Double/single Subversion. Like for example, the characters could ram someone against a comic's panel boarder for example, or read a person's speech bubble, or even see and converse with the narration box... but they have no clue that this is abnormal or that they are in a fictional work. They certainly wouldn’t know about terms from our world, but on the other hand, they might be able to catch snippets of the Big Bad’s plan from the previous page.

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Total posts: 17
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