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Necessity of realistic incompetence? :

 1 d Roy, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:08:59 PM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
So I had a discussion that went like this:

Me: God, she's really whiny and incompetent! How bloody annoying!

Friend: Well, that's how a normal fifteen year old girl would react in that situation.

I don't know about you guys, but I find this "realistic incompetence" really, REALLY, annoying. Sure, if you were given a gun and thrown into a war tomorrow, you would panic the hell out. However, my opinion is that if such character are exist to slow everyone else down, s/he shouldn't be in the cast to begin with.

Help me out here, because I'm not sure about the definition of this either...
Rabid Fujoshi
Not every fifteen year old girl is whiny, just most of them. I don't see why you're character has to be 'normal'. Besides, literature is art, and things have to be skewed and hedged to make a better story, in fact it's expected that you do so. Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic, for instance. The point of literature is the appearance of realism, not actual realism.

edited 15th Dec '11 11:13:23 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 3 nrjxll, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:12:36 PM Relationship Status: Not war
My personal reaction would be "well, then don't have a fifteen-year-old as your protagonist", but I think I've beaten that dead horse enough.

I have to say, this wasn't what I was expecting from the title.

 4 d Roy, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:14:03 PM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
"You would be scared as hell too if you are fifteen year old girl and forced to fight a bloody fucking devils."

This kind of reaction is what made me think that way. Why can't someone sucking it up and show guts be realistic, because I have heard of a lot of news about people like that showing impressive bravery and competence.

"well, then don't have a fifteen-year-old as your protagonist"

My sentiment, exactly.

edited 15th Dec '11 11:15:11 PM by dRoy

oh no the snack table
This is hard to judge without more context. Why is she panicking? What's the situation? How is she panicking? Panic is not an unreasonable reaction to a warzone, but it's not the only reaction, and it says something that your reader(s?) is rejecting it. Can you offer a sample or some more info?
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
Shadowed Philosopher
I don't like it either. A major component of such a reaction—that is, freezing or spazzing out when suddenly faced with an unexpected situation—is the result of it being a complete surprise, to the degree that the first time the person has considered the situation is when they are faced with it. If you can make it so that the character might have actually thought about that situation, or a similar one, previously, or just make them unusually easily-adjusting, that can easily justify a non-stupid reaction. Or you can just go the way of most people and Hand Wave it. I personally like the former, because it provides lots of opportunities for the right sort of character to make sarcastic comments about things.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 7 d Roy, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:19:55 PM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
@AMID (heh, that has a nice ring to it) - Well, you know how in some anime, particularly mecha or magical girl genre, when the creators want to become more "realistic" and "edgy" they make the main characters angst about how they are dragged into such paranormal situation despite being just a normal kid? That kind of situation.
Rabid Fujoshi
I like alethiophile's suggestion. Is there a reason she has to be a normal kid?

edited 15th Dec '11 11:24:04 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 9 Dec, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:23:55 PM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
Yeah, a bit of incompetence is one thing, but when you overload them with a whole bunch of negatives traits, you eventually need something to act as a counterbalance. I've forgiven a lot of really whiny characters before, if only because they have Hidden Depths, or an awesome sense of humor.

Actually, now that I think about it, this is kinda in line with why an Anti-Sue is such a bad idea — you focus so much on making them "real", that you remove all traces of lovability.

edited 15th Dec '11 11:26:10 PM by Dec

Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
Deviantart.
oh no the snack table
Well, you know how in some anime

It's not possible to usefully criticize your work by vague comparison to unspecified other fictional works. I can't tell you why your work isn't working if I can't actually look at it.
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
 11 d Roy, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:29:37 PM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
Oh, it's not about my work.

The problem with MY main character is that while only being 15, he is one of the top students in his very competitive school AND very well-versed in martial arts and basic magic. In addition, he can be particularly ruthless, casually gouging his assaulter's eyes.

If anything, the problem with him is that he is far from being normal.

edited 15th Dec '11 11:31:14 PM by dRoy

oh no the snack table
Well, whatever. It's still not possible to critique a work based on vague allusion.
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
 13 d Roy, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:32:07 PM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
I suppose.

The problem with MY main character is that while only being 15, he is one of the top students in his very competitive school AND very well-versed in martial arts and basic magic. In addition, he can be particularly ruthless, casually gouging his assaulter's eyes.

If anything, the problem with him is that he is far from being normal.

Circumstances...it's going to take some details.

One thing that can possibly justify is that he spends a lot of time in a place with different time flow, where time flows 12 times faster. By the plot kicks in, he's technically 19, but got deaged by special drugs that the his mentor, who is also the creator of the said place, injects into him in a regular base.

edited 15th Dec '11 11:34:37 PM by dRoy

oh no the snack table
The problem with MY main character is that details

Worldbuilding details don't help. It doesn't matter what pieces go into the character, it matters how well-written and well-characterized the character is. It's not possible to tell you how well that has been done from a description, but rather from actually reading your prose.
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
 15 d Roy, Thu, 15th Dec '11 11:35:52 PM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
Wow, this is something of an irony/hypocrisy from my behalf. tongue
"I don't like it either. A major component of such a reaction—that is, freezing or spazzing out when suddenly faced with an unexpected situation—is the result of it being a complete surprise, to the degree that the first time the person has considered the situation is when they are faced with it. If you can make it so that the character might have actually thought about that situation, or a similar one, previously, or just make them unusually easily-adjusting, that can easily justify a non-stupid reaction."

I want you to think very hard about being in a war zone. Imagine the shouting, the bullets, the disorienting confusion.

Then have yourself dropped off to, say, Libya, and tell us how that's prepared you for not panicking.
And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
Joining the Team.doc
Did you just finish watching My HiME by any chance?

Because you sound like you just finished watching My HiME and had the same problems with it that I had.

edited 16th Dec '11 12:04:19 AM by Dragonzordasaurus

Teens dress as Batman to catch pedophiles; cops not impressed
 18 d Roy, Fri, 16th Dec '11 12:04:14 AM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
[up] No, another series. Well, I don't know how many people here read the series, but it was about a character from Mahou Sensei Negima!. If you read it, you probably know which character I'm talking about.

edited 16th Dec '11 12:04:45 AM by dRoy

edited 16th Dec '11 12:05:07 AM by kashchei

And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
oh no the snack table
My advice? Don't start by aping highly stylized anime series when you're trying to make human interactions that ring true. Starting with that as your base for learning about human interaction and emotion leads to fiction which is unrealistic as cartoons drawn by someone who has never done any life drawing in their life.
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
Fallen Paladin
I'd much rather read a story where a character panics and acts incompetent in a realistic way, than one where they adapt to the situation in a way that's completely unbelievable for any human being (unless, of course, there are solid reasons for the latter). I don't want to read about unrealistic badasses.
You always take us with you when you go
 22 Noir Grimoir, Fri, 16th Dec '11 1:59:47 AM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
One thing that can possibly justify is that he spends a lot of time in a place with different time flow, where time flows 12 times faster. By the plot kicks in, he's technically 19, but got deaged by special drugs that the his mentor, who is also the creator of the said place, injects into him in a regular base.

This seems unnecessarily elaborate, IMO.
SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 23 feotakahari, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:11:37 AM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
There are degrees of incompetence. Let's take the video below, for instance. My disbelief can handle the character's staying cool in a crisis, and I can go with the fact that he can use a gun without any training. The point where I call bullshit is at 5:27.

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
 24 USAF713, Fri, 16th Dec '11 4:36:31 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I agree with nrjxll, the proper response is "why the hell is you protagonist fifteen?"
I am now known as Flyboy.
 25 d Roy, Fri, 16th Dec '11 4:45:14 AM from New York Relationship Status: How YOU doin'?
Blurrggghh.
@USAF - The answer to that is it's easier for me to write because it's more familiar and I actually went through that time. tongue

Well, blame also goes to my influences...
Total posts: 46
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