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Total posts: [14]
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Would it tick readers off if I never explained what someone was?:

Okay. I've got a character who, due to me frequently changing my mind about, even I'm uncertain as to exactly what they are (current theory is a sort of hyrid throwback pile-up). Question is, do I have to decide on a specific classification and identify them as such, or would it be okay to just leave it as mysterious WMG fodder?
 
 2 Mr AHR, Fri, 23rd Mar '12 5:44:58 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Depends if you play off the mystery as something that would be explained or not. If it's just a silly thing, people will be less inclined to know.

For example, Zuko's mom never being followed up on is a bad. But no one expects Kenny's deaths to be explained (even though they were)
 3 Ekuran, Fri, 23rd Mar '12 5:46:54 PM from somewhere. Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Hi.
Yeah, I'd keep them mysterious. Inexplicably Awesome, even.

Just don't constantly hint at what it is without actually revealing it, as that would just be annoying.

[down]That too.

edited 23rd Mar '12 5:48:59 PM by Ekuran

[Insert seemingly profound or amusing phrase here.]
 4 nrjxll, Fri, 23rd Mar '12 5:47:44 PM Relationship Status: Not war
No, I don't think so. Generally, it seems more people tend to be annoyed at getting unsatisfactory answers then never getting answers at all.

Although this is a somewhat subjective issue.

 5 Bobby G, Fri, 23rd Mar '12 5:47:53 PM from the Silvery Tay
vigilantly taxonomish
I think the answer is probably "yes, but not all readers". Maybe not most readers, if you do it well.
 6 Mr AHR, Fri, 23rd Mar '12 5:49:55 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
I think the key is to never present it as a mystery, just something that is.
Okay, lot of good advice so far. As for how I was going to present it, I was toying with the idea of having the fact that nobody knows what the character in question actually is as something of a running gag but beyond the implied existance of a betting pool, no one really cares, including the character in question (their standard reply to the question 'what are you' is, simply, 'me').
 
 8 Ekuran, Sat, 24th Mar '12 5:13:16 PM from somewhere. Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Hi.
Playing it for comedy is probably a good idea.

edited 24th Mar '12 5:13:24 PM by Ekuran

[Insert seemingly profound or amusing phrase here.]
Responsible adult
I'd disagree that playing it for comedy is necessarily a good thing. Not that it can't work (such as in the Kenny situation), but that I think playing it with a very real air of mystique works too. I think if it's portrayed as just the way things are, as suggested above, and it's a little bit mysterious, then it can work well.

I think the important thing, though, is to make sure the answer isn't important. If part of the plot, or character development, is tied into the answer of what the character is, then it will piss people off if they don't find out because they will feel that they have been denied resolution. If, however, the answer is merely secondary and finding out would only satisfy readers' curiosity, then it's fine to pull a Shrug of God. In that case, people will probably have fun making up their own theories.
"Proto-Indo-European makes the damnedest words related. It's great. It's the Kevin Bacon of etymology." ~Madrugada
When I said that I was considering making it something of a running gag, I was planning on doing so in a fairly understated way. Stuff like someone who fancy themselves as an expert meeting them, being stumped and getting frustrated while the character in question couldn't care less, and/or an exchange along the lines of character A saying "Do you know what they are?", character B admitting that they don't, and character A replying "Me neither. Let me know if you find out, I know someone who's running a book."

What the character is doesn't really matter, in fact one of the underlying themes that I have in mind is that who you are is a lot more important then what you are.
 
Also known as Katz
I'd caution you about this. Good authors can and do make the calculated choice to leave out key information (eg, the protagonist's name in Rebecca), but good authors don't do this because they couldn't figure out what the key information ought to be.

Responsible adult
[up][up]: Considering that it's not that important and is more of a Running Gag, I'd say it sounds pretty fine, yeah.
"Proto-Indo-European makes the damnedest words related. It's great. It's the Kevin Bacon of etymology." ~Madrugada
 13 Mr AHR, Mon, 26th Mar '12 3:38:47 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
[up][up]Only if it matters to the story. I know you have things like Shrug of God, so...
Also known as Katz
[up]That's getting back into "some people can do it; you are probably not one of them" territory. General rule: Don't leave holes in your story because you couldn't figure out what should go in them.

The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
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Total posts: 14
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