June 25, 2018 at 2:48 am #347054
Many (most?) guides to writing say the MC must change. There has to be growth in the MC. S/he has to be different somehow at the end.
But is this really so or just conventional wisdom of the internet?
Does superman really change? Not in any significant way that I recall.
James Bond does not change.
Do the MCs of most thrillers really change?
I read one where in the subplot there was some minor change but most of them seem to be the same at the end just ready to do it all again in a new adventure against the next bad buy.
I guess in romcoms and some genre you have to have change or nothing really happened.
Would not all that changing mess up a series where we expect the MC to be essentially the same all the time ?
What is your take on change and how important it is to have the MC change.
June 25, 2018 at 1:43 pm #656195
I don’t know if “growth” is necessary, but certainly change is (it doesn’t have to mean a ‘grand awakening’, after all). I mean, a character who doesn’t change at least somewhat over the course of a story is either a robot or stuck in a story where nothing of significance happens. Superman did change – if I recall, he fell in love, learned to deal with various antagonists, etc, and those all changed him. Bond – well, he may have had some changes, but he’s probably closer to the robot character. Nobody really cared about him – it was all about the fancy equipment and weird foes. So maybe if the character is just there to make sure the plot works, change isn’t necessary – but certainly would make the story more interesting.
June 25, 2018 at 2:43 pm #656196
> I don’t know if “growth” is necessary, but certainly change is
> a character who doesn’t change at least somewhat over the course of a story
> is either a robot or stuck in a story where nothing of significance happens.
I guess it depends what is meant by change.
Falling in love is not really a change to me. It is just something that happens. The person is the same.
And what about the next book. Divorce just to have some ‘required’ change?
That sort of change seems irrelevant to the core character and who they are.
James Bond does not change. He is not a robot. It is key to his long series of movies.
If James Bond were not always the same James Bond would his books and movies kept selling?
I guess if one doesn’t like thrillers and similar genre then the lack of change is a problem.
From what I have read and seen the lack of change means a special character you can always count on in any situation.
Or maybe change is just some minor thing that got blown out of proportion by writing profs.
If the assassin becomes a preacherman that would be change. But is it really necessary ? Is it even good?
Again from the potential of a sequence of books it would seem to be counterproductive.
June 25, 2018 at 3:43 pm #656197
If falling in love doesn’t change someone, what would?
Bond probably did not need to change because he was not the focus of the stories. He was the anchor for outlandish toys and even more outlandish criminals.
I love thrillers. But if the characters are just going through the motions, if nothing makes them think about their actions, their beliefs, if nothing ever changes in the character, then it quickly becomes predictable. Now, this is not the same as a character in a series that readers get to know – even those characters can change over the series of books. It would be very dull if we knew exactly how they would act/react in every story, story after story, same thing, over and over and – well, you get the picture.
I like characters that are human. Human beings change every day. Maybe not, as I noted before, a grand awakening, but if the character is just going through the motions, we’re talking cartoon characters. I don’t get involved with cartoons. I like my characters to behave as much like a real human being as possible.
June 25, 2018 at 7:31 pm #656198
Look at “Death of a Saleman.” Willy Loman doesn’t change. But that’s the whole point of his tragedy. Rules in writing are not 100%. But in order to “break” them, you should first understand why they exist.
The reader is moving with the protagonist through his or her (its?) story. But if there’s no movement, then what is the reader following?
So yeah, I see the rule. It not 100% true, but you darned well better have a plan for how and why you go against that grain.
June 25, 2018 at 8:42 pm #656199
Rules in writing are not 100%. But
> in order to “break” them, you should first understand why they
I agree. Yet others seem to say bleep the rules just write.
And if you just read enough first then you will write well.
July 3, 2018 at 10:09 am #656246
Yet others seem to say bleep the rules just write.
I don’t think anyone has said “bleep” the rules – more like, they really aren’t rules, they’re advice. Take with a hefty grain of salt, and don’t let them get in the way of actually writing.
And if you just read enough first then you will write well.
I don’t think anyone has said that either. We have said that you can learn more by reading (and especially by reading what you want to write) than by reading a bunch of how-to books. But not everyone can write, let alone write well.
July 3, 2018 at 10:42 am #656248
Welcome back, Ostarella! I wonder how long it will take the others to realise that the forum is finally back up.
Actually i have seen stronger words at some web sites. And bleep seems like an accurate adjective to describe the wide spread feeling about the rules for writing.
You fooled me; I was sure you told me to read enough and then I would know how to write well without any instruction books; at least that is how I interpreted your advice.
Agreed that not everyone can write, especially not well. But I still say that everyone can be taught to write better and most people can be adequate if not great. And that teaching explicitly is far faster and more effective than letting them write and correcting mistakes like the uni did with us, as well as faster and more effective and more efficient than using the socratic method by letting them figure it out for themselves by just reading a lot of other writers first.
Not to mention the question of who they should read. If they read the entire kindle catalog I doubt they would ever be able to write well at all:)
July 3, 2018 at 2:35 pm #656261
What I (and many others) have said is that the best way to learn how to write is to read a lot. That’s the way you learn – by seeing the finished product of many writers, rather than trying to read how-to books that only tell you what worked for that particular author (if you’re actually reading a book by an actual author and not somebody who makes a living by writing how-to books). And of course, the more wedded to a particular method an author is, the more determined they are that everyone else should write that way – thus, the numerous “The Only Book You Should Ever Read On How To Write”. If there is actually a book out there that describes and discusses the myriad ways of writing without advocating (or alternately dismissing), I’ve never seen it. Now, that would be a book I would recommend to newbie writers – but again, only after they’ve experimented to see how they like to write.
I think that’s my biggest complaint about reading how-to books first – creative writing is all about experimenting, thinking outside the box. Until you (generic you) free yourself to try things without being told to do this or that first, it will take much longer to reach your potential, if you ever do. How-to books cannot tell you how to be creative, how to let loose your imagination, how to dare. Only when you have tried and know what works for you will you know what hasn’t, and then be able to determine which of their commandments might help figure out the answer.
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