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Would it cause losing faith in characters if...

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 2:19 pm
by HawkEliz489
Hey guys.
This is probably most dumbest question I'm being tormented with, but lately it got me thinking a lot and I need your opinions.

In my story, I have one particular scene in which my Main Character is forced to put her hand willingly on table, while the bad guy prepares to cut her fingers with an axe. She is threatened that if she doesn't do so, then her friend is going to die. So, my MC is not exactly a heroic type, but she does as she's told in order to save her friend's life. However, the bad guys actually play a prank and when they swing axe it hits the table between MC's fingers. And here is the part which makes me thinking: When axe hits the table, MC instinctively falls backward and pisses her pants.

Now I'm wondering, would a reader lose faith in such character about not being brave enough? I mean, MC actually 'passes the prank test', because she doesn't remove her hand until the axe hits its destination. But I'm talking about the fact how she responses after. Could such straightforward scenes cause the reader to somewhat lose faith in Protagonist? (Anyway, that is one particular scene, it doesn't talk much about the rest of the story or character itself). I just want to know if it'll cause negative reactions, and is it going to be a mistake to be so straightforward about such matters?

Thank you.

Re: Would it cause losing faith in characters if...

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 3:02 pm
by shadowwalker
I guess it wouldn't put me off the character, but I would be wondering about more practical matters - now that she's done that, how does she cope? I mean, she's going to be wet and smelly. How does that work with what happens next? From the sound of the bad guy, he's not going to offer her a change of clothes. Are you going to be just as "open" with it in following scenes, or just ignore it?

ie, what's the purpose here, and is this the best way to fulfil that?

Re: Would it cause losing faith in characters if...

PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:09 pm
by DrG2
I don't think it would be a problem. However, pissing/pooping pants out of fear is a cliche, imo.

Re: Would it cause losing faith in characters if...

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 8:30 am
by HawkEliz489
Actually, I was not talking about 'details', but the fact that character shows somewhat a cowardice, or a great fear which causes huge embarrassment afterwards. I don't think it's necessary to write up those little details, or how a character took bath and all (unless someone wants to). I'm talking from the emotional aspect.

Re: Would it cause losing faith in characters if...

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:33 am
by shadowwalker
Well, for me it's a variation of Chekhov's gun. Whatever method you use to show supposed cowardice and aftermath, you can't ignore the other obvious aspects of that method. If she simply broke down and cried, even having red rimmed eyes is not going to last long - but the smell of urine will.

Re: Would it cause losing faith in characters if...

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:26 am
by cynicalwanderer
Also depends on the genre. If it's horror or a slasher thriller, as implied somewhat by the scene you've described, then one of the functions of the hero/heroine character is to be a conduit for all of the emotions and reactions you want to wring out of the scene, written to feel true enough that the reader can empathise and identify with that character. If your hero is too tough, it'll lessen that sense of empathy, just as dangerously as if they're too weak, so try to find the balance between moving the character/plot forward and keeping the reactions feeling genuine to what the reader herself would feel in such a scenario.

Re: Would it cause losing faith in characters if...

PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 5:53 pm
by Yportne
Depends on whether her response is compatible with the kind of person you've created in the minds of your readers before this scene. Sometimes it's wise to be explicit about who a character is or is not. And sometimes it's best to only imply what a character is like, thereby giving your readers the freedom to make up their own minds. We can surprise our readers with a twist or two, of course, but it's probably best to foreshadow that change somewhere earlier in the story so your readers don't think the character's unexpected behavior isn't properly motivated, doesn't come out of the blue.