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04:30 pm: How to let your protagonist make mistakes


Date:January 20th, 2008 12:01 pm (UTC)
Hello limyaael, long time, no see. I decided to make an IJ when Six Apart sold LJ to the russian company SUP. Am waiting to see if and how they either improve/wreck things more, but just in case... I'm visiting here as well. Have missed seeing your posts on my f-list, so I friended you here. Ah, I've changed my username too (I was jihira_raitoken)
I'm pleased to see this rant up, it's one I've been waiting for for some time. I'm all for character/plot/world realism even more than before and have finally reached the stage where certain books and authors are avoided with something that borders on paranoia now - and I try not to make huge mistakes.
How far does a character have to go making mistakes before it's obvious he is being manipulated by the author? I'm curious about where to draw that line, since one of my characters falls very strongly within 1 and 3, being very ignorant of the world he is suddenly thrown into, even with an accelerated few years of "learning" implanted in his head, he is still majorly ignorant of the world and the attitudes of the people there and he thinks he's smart (and yes, on Earth he is) but he's reacting to a different world with his Earth experiences and really screwing up all the time. The two cultures are different enough that it's impossible for him to use one lot of knowledge to react appropriately to another. He comes from 20th century Australia and is thrown into a somewhat medieval society with a few twists. But he really, really stuffs up which results in his grandfather (his guardian) being abducted, and is arrogant and resistant to change... (yes he is a teenage protagonist) I'm trying to make him realistic as a person, without too much authorial manipulation, but in each of the conflicts he's tossed into, he fails and fails again. And keeps on failing, and still he doesn't learn. I don't know - maybe I'm throwing him into too much too quickly. Back to the topic - how far can that mistake making be dragged out before it's a bore and obvious that the author wants him to keep on failing? He *should* learn to adapt or realise that he needs help, but... where?

Good rant, as usual, it gives me much to think about and once more sparks off little ideas in my head that continue to make my everlasting annoyance series keep on going.
Date:February 14th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
I am also writing a story with the character making #1 errors a lot. She is asked to assist with a magic spell in the first chapter. She is then left to deal with the ramifications of this alone since the person who requested the help left and she doesn't trust other people with magic. She has to answer a lot of questions herself and gets the answers wrong much of the time.

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