Tag Archives: characters
You know what trope is not my favorite? Miscommunication.
To be fair, miscommunication usually gives way to conflict which in turn gives way to a story. Conflict is obviously needed for a story to happen, but I feel as if miscommunication is used far too often to help the conflict along.
Seeing opportunities in stories where the characters could solve so many problems by just talking to each other — rather than keeping quiet to “protect the others” or to “not burden anyone else” — just really bothers me.
Honestly, I’m probably guilty of this too, but I try to subvert the trope as well. Instead of having characters hide information for the good of the rest of the group, writers could have the forgetful characters have the information, or have the character always get interrupted when they’re trying to share the info. I’ve also had a character who just had different ways of prioritizing information and, thus, thought that the information didn’t need sharing.
What overused, or not, tropes do you dislike in stories? How do you avoid or twist them around?
At our last writer’s group meeting, we were talking about conflict. No conflict, no story, right? As mentioned yesterday, one of my favorite types of conflict is Character vs Self, but there are other types as well:
Character vs Character — usually the most common external conflict, and tends to play out in the classic good versus evil, with the protagonist wanting something and the antagonist doing all they can to prevent it.
Character vs Society — Hunger Games, anyone? Character vs Society is about a character going against the traditional views of the world they live in, giving the external conflict a broad perspective and consequences that can reach out further than just the character.
Character vs Nature — this conflict pits the protagonist against the forces of nature, usually in the form of a natural disaster or perhaps an animal or beast.
Character vs Technology — found usually in sci-fi stories, Character vs Technology is when the protagonist faces robots or other machinery in the way of what they want.
Character vs Supernatural — a stable in most horror stories, supernatural obstacles are what prevents the protagonist from their goal. This is also called Character vs Fate, especially if gods or other immortal beings are involved.
They’re all very basic definitions, of course, with a myriad of examples that can be tacked onto each. It’s interesting to think of the bare-bones of stories, what makes the skeleton of the book, like the simplest conflict. Moby Dick is Character vs Nature, Harry Potter has Character vs Character, Fahrenheit 451 is Character vs Society, The Night Circus is Character vs Supernatural…
What about your favorite stories, either ones you’ve read or ones you’ve written?
A few of my more recent works in progress tend not to have a concrete villain. Rather, the type of conflict involved in the story is more Person vs Self, whereas the main character learns about themselves, overcoming their own self-imposed obstacles or reaching for goals where they do not (or cannot) rely on others to help.
Person vs Self is an internal conflict — the struggle for the character takes place in their own mind. Generally it has to do with making a tough decision, perhaps between what is right and wrong (or trying to determine what is right and wrong), or overcoming mixed, strong emotions.
A well-rounded story usually has both internal and external conflict to keep it moving and interesting, but internal conflicts are probably my favorite to write about. I love digging deep into a character’s emotions and motivations, figuring out the whys to their actions. Seeing them overcome their own doubts, nature, and prejudices make the ending of the story so much more satisfying to me.