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I Desperately Wanna Avoid A Mary Tzu:

 51 Major Tom, Sun, 18th Dec '11 5:01:47 PM Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
I beg your pardon? Star Wars is like the posterboy for Hollywood Tactics. Just look at the infantry waves in Attack of the Clones.

Allow me to offer counterpoint: The Battle of Hoth. Fully mechanized infantry divisions by the Empire and a naval blockade to stymie Rebel escape attempts (which really only fail because they didn't anticipate the Hoth base having an Ion Cannon). On the Rebel side you have well-prepared systems of defensive gun emplacements and trenches with the added bonus of local close air support.

The Battle of Yavin was similar in new tactics and using them well. Starfighter raids especially against big targets (and worse by non-Jedi pilots) finally proving itself useful since the Death Star's defenses were not geared toward anti-starfighter warfare. (It was largely dependent on its TIE Fighter divisions in that regard.)

Endor was no slouch either. A fully combined arms naval battle (for both sides to boot!) to decide the course of the civil war once and for all with the only key to decide either was the raid on Endor itself to disable the shield generators. (Scrappiness of the Ewoks aside, their Rock Beats Laser tactics there are fully justified. They know the terrain, the Empire doesn't. For Real Life parallel see some of the battles of Vietnam where VC traps proved to be a major annoyance to US/ARVN forces.)

Attack of the Clones is more subject to Fridge Brilliance, the Republic hadn't truly waged war in almost 1000 years. They probably didn't know the first thing about real war in the age of blasters and spaceships of that type. Which later leads to Fridge Horror. Those poor tactics are where the Empire learned from their mistakes and utilized the combined arms tactics seen at Hoth and Endor. (Also such attacks were done in reality, Passchendaele and the Marne say hi.)

edited 18th Dec '11 5:02:12 PM by MajorTom

Endless Conflict: Every war ends in time, even supposedly this one.
 52 Age And Youth, Sun, 18th Dec '11 5:25:45 PM from Floppy Coppying HQ
It really was, though
[up]My eyes just sort of glaze over at reading all of that stuff, and I still love Star Wars. Part of getting out of the Sci-Fi Ghetto is acknowledging that speculative fiction is going to lose a lot of its appeal if it's written just for people who are reading for a list of theoretical measurements.

As for the original question, make your villain flawed in a significant way. An easy way to do this is to make them arrogant, or possibly make them too clever for their own good.
He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
 53 USAF713, Sun, 18th Dec '11 5:44:36 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Oh boy, Tom. I hope you didn't try to emulate Star Wars when you did the tactics for your story.

Hoth: an absurd farce with low-quality, low-technology armored vehicles against an entrenched enemy, without preparation for enemy air attack, and without proper intelligence gathering.

Yavin: the most expensive and powerful weapon in the galaxy, which should be loaded to the brim with point defenses and defensive fighter craft, not to mention its attending fleet, is destroyed by a farmhand in a fighter-bomber.

Endor: the most effective fighting force in the galaxy goes to a jungle environment with stark white outfits, poorly-designed armored fighting vehicles, no air cover, and gets defeated by teddy bears with spears, rocks, and primitive traps.

Geonosis: clones supposedly trained from birth for warfare in a setting where technology moves at a snail's pace (and thus old battles like those mentioned and shown in KOTOR would still be plenty applicable) go into battle against an enemy with superior numbers and the better defensive position and fights using column formations and line-fire tactics.

And they win.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 54 Crimson Zephyr, Sun, 18th Dec '11 6:49:16 PM from New England Relationship Status: All is for my lord
The North Remembers
[up][awesome]
Talos guide you.
 55 Major Tom, Sun, 18th Dec '11 7:59:48 PM Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
Oh boy, Tom. I hope you didn't try to emulate Star Wars when you did the tactics for your story.

Of course not.
Endless Conflict: Every war ends in time, even supposedly this one.
oh no the snack table
In my opinion, tropes are essentially building blocks and a solid knowledge of tropes can definetly benefit any writer.

Your opinion is simply wrong in this case. The Xanatos trope articles are over-specific and nonsensical, and attempting to "use" them will result in writing which is as convoluted and nonsensical as the trope articles themselves are. I would be happy to explain in detail, if you have a particular trope article in mind.

I cite the "Code Geass versus the new Sherlock Holmes movies" post above as an example of what I'm talking about.

It's interesting that you mention Code Geass. Code Geass escalates scale to ridiculous levels in order to make the story a pure battle of personalties. Once the characters are "beyond the impossible", the only thing that matters is the struggle of personalties, which is really the only conflict the viewer is interested in anyway. It's simplification by escalation.

My eyes just sort of glaze over at reading all of that stuff, and I still love Star Wars.

Goodness yes. Wars and battles in science fiction are almost always the backdrop for scenes which are interesting in and of themselves. Logistics are only interesting to a tiny minority of readers.
It's beautiful and so full of deep imagery that it doesn't surprise me to find that it has gone WAY over your head
 57 Kersey 475, Mon, 19th Dec '11 7:12:30 PM from Everywhere and Nowhere
My Namesakes
Your opinion that my opinion is wrong is just that: an opinion.

(Responding to: "I would be happy to explain in detail, if you have a particular trope article in mind.") In that case, could you explain in detail the Xanatos Gambit and Xanatos Speed Chess tropes as well as your arguements against them?

My arguement in their defense is that a Boring Invincible Hero is just that, boring. However, some writers go overboard in giving the heroes flaws and defeats turning them into Boring Failure Heros. The Xanatos Gambit is useful in this scenario by giving the hero his/her physical victory while the villain still benefits and remains an actual threat. Xanatos Speed Chess also works as it falls under the previous arguement with the bonus of the villain improvising on the fly to keep his/her plans more or less on track, thus making the villain look even more intelligent and believable by having him make genuine miscalculations, but still try to use the errors to his/her advanatage.

If the Xanatos Gambit and Xanatos Speed Chess become too convoluted and implausible then they aren't Xanatos Gambit or Xanatos Speed Chess anymore. They have essentially mutated into Xanatos Roulette.

Are you saying that knowledge of tropes is COMPLETELY useless? Now while that may still be an opinion, it is a rather faulty one. No offense.
"Think like a man of action, act like a man of thinking, and don't be a dumbass."
 58 USAF713, Mon, 19th Dec '11 7:18:54 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
It's interesting that you mention Code Geass. Code Geass escalates scale to ridiculous levels in order to make the story a pure battle of personalties. Once the characters are "beyond the impossible", the only thing that matters is the struggle of personalties, which is really the only conflict the viewer is interested in anyway. It's simplification by escalation.

Which is kind of absurd, IMO. They would have been better off never introducing the crazy shit to begin with and sticking with the basic Knightmares. That way, at the end we could have had a really cool fight with genius tactics and such instead of a metaphorical piece of nonsense that tries to make mechas act like chess pieces in the air.

I mean, the series wasn't that bad, for a mecha series, when it came to tactics, until they started adding energy weapons and flight. Then it just went downhill from there, and though the characters were good, the flaws in the writing really started to show without the quality action scenes to back it up.

Of course, that's just my unsubstantiated opinion; take it how you will.
I am now known as Flyboy.
oh no the snack table
I know Big-Lebowski-style "Well, that's just your opinion, man" ideas of how opinions work are popular on the internet, but that is not how opinions work. Contrary to my choice of avatar, opinions are only valuable insofar as they are well-argued.

"Xanatos gambits" are complicated conditional plans, and are foiled when something unexpected happens. The entire article could be reduced to that. They aren't excellent storytelling, but rather a writing trap. They're an excuse to have a scene where the villain explains their complicated plan, but these almost always come off as the sort of hokey Lex Luthor/Bond villain scene that even kids movies make fun of. "Xanatos speed chess" isn't any sort of theme at all: it just seems to be a villain that just reacts to what's going on in an intelligent way. However, the fact that the speed chess trope exist hints at the pointless of the gambit trope: there is no difference whatsoever between a villain who reacts to what happens and a villain who had a plan all along unless you show the viewer/reader the villain's thought process! The real theme or archetype is the dramatic-revelation-of-my-plot scene, which, again, is very rarely done well and is strictly confined to genre fiction.

These are badly-written articles about bad genre writing, and one of them isn't even a recurring theme, just the absence of a recurring theme.

Are you saying that knowledge of tropes is COMPLETELY useless?

Not exactly. I'm saying that thinking in tropes will make you a worse writer, that building characters or settings or plots out of tropes will make you a worse writer, and that talking in tropes is obstructive to making yourself understood. If tropes are entertaining, then they're useful for that.
It's beautiful and so full of deep imagery that it doesn't surprise me to find that it has gone WAY over your head
 60 Archereon, Mon, 19th Dec '11 7:35:00 PM from Everywhere.
Ave Imperator
Alright, to the OP, I think the best course forward is to study a bit of real world military strategy. In terms of chess master deductions, keep it reasonable.

The difference between a reasonable chesmaster and a ludicrous one can be seen early in Death Note, with L and Light respectively playing the reasonable chessmaster and the ludicrous chessmaster.

L's line of thought started out completely reasonable: "Kira likely has connections to the police, as his killing pattern changed almost immediately after I pointed out the pattern to the police."

Compared to Light: "I know L's plan just because I'm smart."

Of course, that series suffered from the same Mary Tzu creep that Code Geass did, and both of them quickly started making weird logical leaps.

Basically, if your characters deduction follows a line of reasoning you could understand, then it's good.
This is a signature. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
 61 USAF713, Mon, 19th Dec '11 7:43:33 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Not exactly. I'm saying that thinking in tropes will make you a worse writer, that building characters or settings or plots out of tropes will make you a worse writer, and that talking in tropes is obstructive to making yourself understood. If tropes are entertaining, then they're useful for that.

I would postulate that it isn't necessarily the tropes themselves that are the problem, it's the way they're organized.

TV Tropes isn't organized to be used as a tool for writing, it's organized (in theory), to be used to analysis for preexisting works. The compartmentalization of everything leads to restrictions if you attempt to use the tropes as-is to make your story, instead of thinking about them as broader concepts.

For example, you shouldn't think about things in terms of "gambits" or what have you, but rather in terms of "this character is particularly cunning or good at thinking on their feet; therefore, in this situation, with these resources available, they would do this, this, and this, and this is the logical pattern they use to get there."

...

I think that might have gotten butchered from my head to text, but oh well.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 62 Age And Youth, Mon, 19th Dec '11 11:07:10 PM from Floppy Coppying HQ
It really was, though
[up] I think get what you're saying.

If you can only think in a limited pattern of ideas, your characterization becomes weaker, because instead of complex characters with thoughts and feelings, they become a list of traits and attributes instead of fleshed out characters.

It's why Character Pages, while interesting, aren't as compelling as actual characters.
He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
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Total posts: 62
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