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Unintentional villain, plot device, or something else?:
patience, young padawanHi. I have a dilemma with a character of mine. Her name is Viviana, and she is an incompetent, childish empress in my story's fantasy world. However, I'm not sure exactly what I should call her. She used to be a viceroy for one of her father's territories, until there was a revolution and she was crowned empress. She has no skills in politics whatsoever, as evidenced when she wrote everything that the commoners hated (including taxes) out of the constitution, leaving the people happy in what they think is a Utopia while the government is in shambles. Now, she quite honestly doesn't fully get it and means no harm to anyone. And this only escalates further when she discovers video games and completely ignores her country. Again, she doesn't get how much time you need to devote to running a country. And why hasn't anyone called her out on this? Her magic-happy court was driven loony by excessive magic use, which costs the user's sanity over time and kept them as unaware as the common folk. Essentially, it is her actions that drive both main plot strings. My current established "villain" died during the revolution that put Viviana on the throne, and he came back from the dead so that he could kill her while simultaneously destroying the life of the man who sentenced him to death in the first place, which involves the protagonist. (But that's something else.) In the second plot string, Viviana's closest advisor has been brewing a conspiracy to remove her from the throne. So... what is she? Unintentional villain, plot device, or something else?
Her with the hatDoes it really matter? Despite the fact this is a wiki for tropes, you don't need to classify something in order for it to be a viable story, you just need a decent character. And as a character, Viviana sounds quite interesting and reasonably unique.
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Short HairWhat you might do is keep Viviana as is, but add a real villain who keeps her in the dark about what he's doing. He is the head of a shadow Cabinet or something, and he gives orders with the understanding that he is using Viviana's authority. If anyone checks with her, she waves off the interruption: "Whatever he does is fine with me." She thinks everything's fine, so when the other villain confronts her, she is truly surprised by what's been happening. As you say, it takes a lot of time to run a country, and it takes some time and effort just to keep up with current events.
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patience, young padawanThanks, guys. I was just afraid that she was more "plot device" and less "person". I was talking about my story with my friend a few days ago, and she said that Viviana comes off to her more as a plot device. That was a scary thought, so I guess I just wanted a second opinion. Now, if I were to create a bigger villain who was The Man Behind the Man, I'd have to somehow justify their motives for replacing the constitution with an Articles of Confederation clone, which, admittedly, sounds like the kind of thing Viviana herself would've written. Oh, yeah. Wanting to destroy the empire from the inside out. That's it.
After reading the definition of Plot Device back in the day, I realized that absolutely anything could be called a plot device. Heck, it's a good thing when a character furthers or enhances the story, lest we wind up with a work of entertainment completely devoid of any forward progression (I think that's called a painting, not a story - in which case, why'd anybody hire a writer?). This is a personal question and please decide for yourself, but do you have to make the nation's downfall result from video games? In real life, politicians who don't protect the people with gun laws and parents who don't notice when their sons gather lots of guns and make explosives blame video games for their own failures. The shame of this is that the politicians and parents then do nothing to stop this from happening again and take no responsibility for their own failures, causing the same thing to happen over and over again. There's also the issue of how someone would be driven to acts of violence, too. What I'm getting at is I don't think it's at all healthy for our society to put all the blame on one party when the violence could have also been avoided by the other party not antagonizing everyone. This tolerance of any and all dickery yet zero tolerance of reprisal only aggrevates the bullied more, making violent reprisal even more likely. As far as neglect goes, it could appear to result from anything but would ultimately stem from being a sociopath (meaning feeling nothing or joy at others' pain and death instead of sadness). For example, if you were playing a video game and a sick, bleeding child stepped in front of the tv screen, would you shout "Get the fuck out of the way! You're blocking my view!" or would you react with fear, worry, sadness, etc? The character sounds great, and I really like how it could accurately represent George Bush as the sociopath he is with some small touches.
edited 16th Feb '11 3:53:23 PM by colbertimposter
patience, young padawanThank you. I am so happy and relieved to find that more than one person thinks Viviana is a person, and an interesting one at that. I'll have to keep developing!
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