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Is making the characters flawed the only option?


Sepul-Coloratura
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I have been thinking about a common belief, which is a character being flawed makes more dynamic, interesting, "relatable" stories. I get the merit of it, but is it the only way of making good stories? Story telling guidelines and critiques talk a lot about these things, but I think this can be overused and sometimes misused. I'm sick of seeing flawed characters keep making mistakes, but I also don't want a character to be perfect. I want to see if there are good examples of a more perfect character. And also, I want to know where a show like MLP, which is about the characters learning lessons and becoming better selves, should go. If they become better and better, won't they become pretty close to perfect eventually? And if that happens, would they be boring characters and not "relatable" at all? Or if the characters stay flawed for too long beyond the point of self ignorance, would it be also a bad thing especially in a show about lessons and as a role-model for kids, even make the characters less interesting, likable, "relatable"?

What would be a good strategy to deal with the character's flaws?

Edited by Sepul-Coloratura
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I feel like the problem with this post is that it assumes that a story should continue even after its character have reached the end of their character arcs. If a character has learned enough to surpass their flaws, their purpose in the story is more or less done and the story should either shift the focus to other characters who haven't yet gotten over their own flaws or start reaching its end. 

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A good story forced the character to face/overcome their flaws. We may learn to overcome our flaws as we grow but it doesn’t mean that new ones don’t come along. For instance, you may be bad at public speaking when you’re young but may have a feeling of being old and useless when you get older. Also, people can have more than one flaw at a time.

One movie I always look to for his is Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan. Kirk has to overcome his feeling of being old and useless in order to defeat his nemesis who is smarter than he is. By the end of the movie, he has overcome this and feels young again.

Edited by Twilight Luna
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Yes. Unless you are writing some kind of a parody, don't write your characters as overpowered or flawless. Ever. One of the most basic techniques that goes into creating a character is ensuring that the character has balance and sensibility not only in their abilities, but also their personality. You can get away with writing a few flat supporting characters that aren't meant to contribute much to the plot, but all of your main characters should change and learn as they go on their journey in the story, otherwise, there is no story. 

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19 hours ago, Goat-kun said:

Flawed means human not broken. Come on, I'm drunk. Do I need to write more? I want to believe that you'll understand.

 

Grammar violation. I read "human not broken" meaning "the human is not broken" and I was confused.

@Sepul-Coloratura I, too, am sick of this talk about flaws being so neccessary for an interesting story. Sometimes it can be fun to watch a perfect characrer.

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You could have 2 characters at odds with each other because they both think they're right, and are both relatable without necessarily being wrong. For example, chaotic good vs lawful good who both want to make the world a better place. 

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1 hour ago, Merry Brony 2A said:

Grammar violation. I read "human not broken" meaning "the human is not broken" and I was confused.

@Sepul-Coloratura I, too, am sick of this talk about flaws being so neccessary for an interesting story. Sometimes it can be fun to watch a perfect characrer.

For a character to be written as a human, not as a broken pile of mental disabilities. That means that a character, like any human, has an assortment of quirks that can be regarded as flaws. Some are introverted, others are stubborn, or hotheaded, etc. See, our glorious writers are to blame.

 

 

Quirks do not necessarily make you act a certain way cause a character is also influenced by other things, like companions and values. You can definitely paint the picture where Fluttershy is feeling bad cause she needs to do something outside of her comfort zone, but her distress should never have been the main plotline of so many of her episodes. You place it on the viewers to notice her struggle and see her progress. Unfortunately, our glorious writers, mercenaries who are only using H-Bro as a springboard towards Disney that they are, have abused the quirks of Mane 6 as easy plot material. Thus we're mostly not seeing characters reacting to certain events in their particular way, and we're most definitely not seeing them change due to such events; rather, we are constantly observing how their comfortable and ordinary lives are being unexpectedly and continuously disrupted by their completely ordinary quirks as if these were indeed some sort of mental illnesses in need of a treatment (aka circle of trust friendship interventions). And due to this narrative we're now having Mane 6 behave either as complete idiots or as some bland mascots of teaching software for elementary school children.

 

 

Let me explain it a bit further: the way characters get involved in events, and how they react to them is important. Some might want to refute my claim by stating that Mane 6 are very expressive, but that's not the expressiveness you're looking for. I'm talking about meaningful reactions that are not there cause they needed some comic relief. The difference is exactly in the aforementioned factors like upbringing, values, knowledge, experience ... And then you get to the quirks. Thus you can still get Fluttershy to do something scary cause it's in line with what she believes. You just need that something to be very important. And once she's done it you can begin so slowly progress her character. She should still want nothing to do with social events and should probably be the pony who is seen the least on Mane 6 leisure time affairs, but on the other appendage, she should become less reluctant to express her opinion and more inclined to do something outside her comfort zone, at least when she herself thinks that it's important to do so.

 

 

Instead of such strategy to character development we got to the point where fans among us genuinely think that they are erasing quirks through lessons or that quirks are bad cause it's just episode on episode of pony nonissues.

 

 

You really want to watch perfect characters, huh? Have you seen old Disney movies? I suggest Snow White. If my memory serves, she should be quite quirkless and perfect for your tastes.

 

 

That's that. Goatspeed!

Edited by Goat-kun
Tipsy faeries
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  • 1 year later...
On 1/1/2019 at 12:32 AM, Sepul-Coloratura said:

What would be a good strategy to deal with the character's flaws?

Maybe put a time frame of each character, that overlaps?
 

Like, deal with Twilight Sparkle's problems with herself in Season 1 to 3, while dealing with Fluttershy between Season 2 to 5, etc. You have an undefined period where a character is dealt with, a little bit at a time, but not so much as an entire episode. Rather, have an episode about Applejack on the farm, but deal a little bit with Fluttershy in the story (basically every time she appears, but not just make it about her).
And keeping those characters grow, up to a point where they have learned to live with their issues, or overcome them completely, or even ascend (Princess Twilight Sparkle).

And if you run out of characters to work with, you just start taking background ponies instead, or bring in a new pony like Starlight Glimmer.

 

The key is, to not make it as obvious. It should be a secret to the makers of the show. That way, we would just feel a flow of stories come together, and figure out long after how much each character have grown.

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  • 3 months later...

A perfect character is a cool character, for a while. Everything is relative. Everything has a value, compared to something similar. If a character isn't flawed, at least that character must be compared to something or someone that is flawed, or more perfect, in order to be interesting

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I noticed that people like villains a lot more than heroes. Everyone gets excited over their music, their backstory, their battle if they have one, etc. I think people like villains more because they expose a lot of humanity’s flaws than the heroes do, this making them more relatable. Plus, everyone likes knowing why someone turned out bad a lot more than why they turned out good.

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Just now, ExplosionMare said:

I noticed that people like villains a lot more than heroes. Everyone gets excited over their music, their backstory, their battle if they have one, etc. I think people like villains more because they expose a lot of humanity’s flaws than the heroes do, this making them more relatable. Plus, everyone likes knowing why someone turned out bad a lot more than why they turned out good.

People like conflict, that's why :kirin: .

Conflict could go both ways though; good to evil, evil to good :pout: .

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The question is framed as if part of writing is making an explicit choice between "having flawed characters" and "having flawless characters", but that's not really how people work, and IMO not how the best stories work either.

Most "character flaws" are also the flip side of a positive quality, and since no one is omniscient, characters cannot know every time they're about to do too much of a good thing. When does Twilight being "organized" and "prepared" turn into "paranoid" and "overprepared"? It depends on the situation she finds herself in. This is precisely why gaining years of practical experience is so indispensable in most fields, and one of the reasons why having a diverse group of friends with different personalities is so valuable.

Usually when people complain about a character being flawless or a Mary Sue, what they really mean is that the fictional universe seems to conspire in her favor such that she is never wrong about anything, despite her lack of omniscience/omnipotence. If the writers only ever put Twilight (for example) in situations where she is exactly the right amount of prepared, no more and no less, then she might be a Mary Sue, but obviously MLP:FiM never came close to that.

 

Semi-unrelated:

18 hours ago, Kujamih said:

Thats why we liked mlp they make evil to good... Which is rare to tv shows

This is actually becoming a bit of a trend in western animation lately. Off the top of my head, Steven Universe, She-Ra and Kipo all consistently spend quite a lot of effort trying to befriend and reform their villains.

Personally, I like this trend. :yay:

Edited by Ixrec
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