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Possible Overuse of Angst:

So my series is in a Fantasy setting where there's a war going on and there has been for a while. This has the unfortunate side effect that nearly all the characters are affected in some way. I've realized recently that nearly ALL of the characters (some for reasons other than the war) have some aspect of a Tearjerker in the backstory. Keep in mind that it's not like all of the character's parents were killed by A. Firebender. (Also, there's the chance that some of this stuff won't even be mentioned for some characters and will just remain Word of God)
  • A couple of them have dead parent(s) for whatever reason (illness, war, etc.)
  • A couple have symptoms of (justified) PTSD
  • And so on and so forth
It's not like all of the characters are orphan mutant outcasts, there's some pretty mundane sad stuff. This isn't intended to be mostly optimistic side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism (although that there is some dark stuff at points.) So, can anyone offer any tips on balancing this so I can avoid it from inducing Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy?

edited 6th Feb '13 2:36:03 PM by TheMuse

Don't have them dwell on their problems endlessly. If they've got a problem, show them working to overcome or fix or deflect it. Don't make them passive emitters of sadness.

And don't make things sad just to be dramatic.

 3 Voltech 44, Wed, 6th Feb '13 7:51:52 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
I second [up], but I figured I should add a little bit more. It's worth remembering that all the stuff that happened to your characters is backstory. Stuff in the past. What's important is to focus on the present — the events of the plot, and the anatagonists therein. Those dark and troubled pasts can be motivation or an impetus (or connect one character to another, potentially), but that's it.

Focus on what the characters need to do to bring about a happy ending. Do that, and I'd wager you'll be well on your way.

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 4 Prime of Perfection, Wed, 6th Feb '13 8:03:14 PM Relationship Status: P.S. I love you
A noble thief is not seen, heard, or felt
For a good example I feel of how this works, see One Piece. All the protagonists have some Tear Jerker back stories. The events of the past help shape who they are, but aren't who they are.

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Total posts: 4
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