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Thread: How much drama and angst do you expect from your fantasy?

  1. #1
    Back From My Self-Imposed Exile Kindness's Avatar
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    How much drama and angst do you expect from your fantasy?

    Fantasy can get pretty dark and messy. Do you like yours with or without a lot of angst?

    I'm not really an angst person, but sometimes it can be fun to sulk alongside a main character (when you know that revenge is coming), so I'm going to say just a little.

    Characters need to react to the crap that happens to them, but I'm not fussed about moral dilemmas and all that other stuff. I prefer seeing characters out and about to reading sections where they turn things over in their minds. I don't latch on to their pain the way some readers seem to.

    I like drama when it explodes into violence. If there's no hint of danger to be found then I start to lose interest (unless love or pride is on the line). Take UF heroes... I don't tend to care about their baggage unless the things/people involved are a) direct antagonists or b) some kind of looming, concrete threat. If they're trying to get over issues then I read it but I don't enjoy/dislike it... it's basically just overlong description to me.

  2. #2
    all hail zombie babies! CrastersBabies's Avatar
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    When I think of "angst," I think of emo bullshit, and yeah, I don't want to read that anywhere. Ever. Keep in mind that the formal definition of "angst" is different than what's in my head.

    To me, dark and deep does not equal "angst."

    I like dark. I like complexity. I like messy. I like emotion. But, I like balance.
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  3. #3
    Who rules?! Hyrules! Liosse de Velishaf's Avatar
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    I'm fine with moral//emotional dilemmas or a majority of action, but either way I agree with Craster that I'm not so much in for a character sitting around all day feeling sorry for themselves.

  4. #4
    Impractical Fantasy Animal sunandshadow's Avatar
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    I prefer mine on the light side. I have no problem with a character who's an angsty halfblood (or dark mage or whatever) who starts out lonely and feeling like everyone is prejudiced against him, but I want to see that developed into a romance with some comic moments and a happy ending. I'm not up for stories where minor characters die right and left and in most cases I don't want to see any major character deaths (the villain doesn't count).

  5. #5
    Adaptation, FTW! LadyV's Avatar
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    I like stuff happening. When there's chapter after chapter of characters just pondering over all the crappy stuff in their lives it's boring. Go do something about it. I don't like really dark stories either.

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    practical experience, FTW SianaBlackwood's Avatar
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    I expect action and pain. I want characters to be out doing stuff and getting hurt doing it, but ultimately triumphing over 'ye forces of darknesse'. Characters sitting around feeling sorry for themselves? Not interesting. If I want to spend time with a character who has no idea what to do next, I have unfinished drafts of my own.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    If I want an emo wallow, I can read fanfic. When I read original fiction, I'm generally looking for something that doesn't spend all its time circling the id vortex or staring at its own navel.

  8. #8
    Creepy Centipede Chasing the Horizon's Avatar
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    I like drama, but I don't like angst (as angst is generally defined in the writing community). I prefer for the majority of character development and reactions to come through the characters interacting rather than through them sitting alone thinking about stuff. I definitely get irritated when all sorts of bad things happen and the characters don't seem upset afterwards, but I like to show those feelings through them talking to each other, comforting each other or taking the feelings out on each other, rather than sitting in the dark contemplating how much it all sucks.


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  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW sohalt's Avatar
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    "The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself" - I'm with Faulkner and George R.R.Martin on this one. Stories where all the obstacles are entirely external tend to bore me quickly, mainly because I can't really believe in characters who never feel the slightest bit conflicted about anything (we are large, we contain multitudes, we contradict ourselves). I want multi-dimensional, dynamic characters - they can't be that without having flaws to overcome, and what are flaws other than internal obstacles?

    But of course that doesn't mean that I'm too keen on characters wallowing in misery. Drama doesn't require drawn-out passages entirely dedicated to moping. It can affect characters in more subtle ways, maybe even largely between the lines, while a lot of other shit is going down.

    And, I have to say, I'm turned off by characters who are too much of a martyr.

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by sohalt View Post
    And, I have to say, I'm turned off by characters who are too much of a martyr.
    ^This. Or a whiner. I can't stand reading about either of those.

    It makes it worse if they're passive. So, your life sucks and it's mostly of your own making? Awesome. I like reading that more than external threats. But wallow and wait and whimper while you do it and I'll start to sympathise with any character who could possibly run you over with a truck.

  11. #11
    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kindness View Post
    Fantasy can get pretty dark and messy. Do you like yours with or without a lot of angst?

    I'm not really an angst person, but sometimes it can be fun to sulk alongside a main character (when you know that revenge is coming), so I'm going to say just a little.

    Characters need to react to the crap that happens to them, but I'm not fussed about moral dilemmas and all that other stuff. I prefer seeing characters out and about to reading sections where they turn things over in their minds. I don't latch on to their pain the way some readers seem to.

    I like drama when it explodes into violence. If there's no hint of danger to be found then I start to lose interest (unless love or pride is on the line). Take UF heroes... I don't tend to care about their baggage unless the things/people involved are a) direct antagonists or b) some kind of looming, concrete threat. If they're trying to get over issues then I read it but I don't enjoy/dislike it... it's basically just overlong description to me.
    Hmm, for me it really depends on the story. I like my characters complex and conflicted, and this means a certain amount of angst is needed, but how much is the right amount really varies. I liked Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy, for instance, but some people don't, because they think the protagonist is too wrapped up in self pity at times. I did want to smack him occasionally, but that was because I cared about him enough to feel annoyed. And I never got to where I didn't want to know what would happen to him, even if I was a bit disappointed by the way the entire series ended.

    I find that I tend to get annoyed with characters when I feel they're not doing everything they can or should be doing in a given situation (regardless of their emotional state). So if a character is doing something he or she needs to do, but feeling rotten/guilty about it because it means he can't do something he or she wants to do (or something else he or she needs to do), then I'm more sympathetic than if he or she is doing something he or she wants to do (or nothing at all) but feeling guilty because it's not what he or she needs to do.
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  12. #12
    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Personal choice.


    Remember Kindness, do what you wish. If you see the need, go ahead. Some of my favorite reading moments are sitting with the character in their thoughts, but I'd have to have a strong connection to them to care.


    I don't do much. Like others have said, I like progress. But I do have it in places, just well organized and mixed into good parts so it doesn't come off strongly.
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  13. #13
    Onwards, ever onwards ClareGreen's Avatar
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    I tend to like a bit of introspection with my fantasy - I mean, if your character's going out and stabbing people up for fun/profit/a cause, I like to know that the character's actually thinking about the morality of their actions. I like characters with a strong grasp of right and wrong, and I don't mind them actually making the decision to do wrong as long as there's some sort of reasoning behind it that makes sense for the character.

    Personally, I can't stand it when a character is presented as being absolutely and objectively in the right while doing things that are, when you stop to think about them, absolutely horrific. If your character is burning down an orphanage, they need to own the deed, not stick their fingers in their ears and say 'But I'm the nicest person in the world, my author says so!'

    Also, my tastes have changed over the years. When I was in my teens, Elric of Melnibone and Drizzt do'Urden were both awesome characters. Elric is still awesome, but Drizzt has become a whining, moaning caricature of something that could have been awesome. I suspect that it's because Elric was a flawed character actively trying to do good things despite himself, his culture, his possessions and his destiny, while Drizzt was so busy whinging about his bad start while being presented as perfect that he blew any chance of my adult self caring.
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  14. #14
    Got the hang of it, here Maxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kindness View Post
    Fantasy can get pretty dark and messy. Do you like yours with or without a lot of angst?
    I'm winding up a story about a guy who could have done better if he'd been a bit more introspective. As it is he has ploughed through an immense series of nightmares and is only now wondering what happened.

    I suppose he was a reaction to an earlier character who suffered major angst when he had a typo on his manual typewriter (a horror from 1976 or so).

    I now see angst as a reasonable adaptive mechanism for characters in very disturbing stories. Sometimes a little angsty hesitation could be a good way to avoid some kinds of trouble. And even your evil angelic overlord may force you to get a good cognative therapist before you head off to struggle for Kinder, prettier, better evil in a crappy, ugly evil universe.
    Last edited by Maxx; 02-18-2013 at 07:38 PM. Reason: kinder, prettier
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  15. #15
    Blissfully Clueless Mutive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbenberi View Post
    If I want an emo wallow, I can read fanfic. When I read original fiction, I'm generally looking for something that doesn't spend all its time circling the id vortex or staring at its own navel.
    Very much. Although I'm okay with an angsty character if it makes sense and it's made fairly clear that they are annoying everyone around them. (TBH, I'd find an angsty teenager who drove every adult around them crazy to be hilarious.)

  16. #16
    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutive View Post
    Very much. Although I'm okay with an angsty character if it makes sense and it's made fairly clear that they are annoying everyone around them. (TBH, I'd find an angsty teenager who drove every adult around them crazy to be hilarious.)
    Good point here. I've had friends and relatives who were very depressed in real life (and have struggled with it myself), and even though I find the emotions compelling and interesting and sympathetic, there are times when someone's helpless/hopeless maunderings get tedious. But in many books, everyone seems to take a self-pitying character (or a character who is paralyzed or very conflicted) at face value with little more than a shrug and a smile. Whether or not it's really helpful or not, "real" people do get frustrated with their friends and loved ones' angst and sometimes even get annoyed at them because of it. This could be an opportunity for more character development, or even humor.
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  17. #17
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    As long as it isn't that "coming of age" crap, I like my fantasy dark and gritty. These happily-ever-after endings rarely occur in real life, why should they in fantasy.
    I've seen what evils the world can bring, and soon the world will see that I have evils of my own.

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    Drama and angst are fine as long as they're not overdone and seem appropriate to the story. Of course, in one of my series, the main character can get quite angsty (I do plan on it annoying people, though). Similarly, I know a lot of people couldn't stand Harry Potter's angst in The Order of the Phoenix. I was fine with it. It seemed fitting for someone who'd been through all the crap Harry went through.

  19. #19
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shroud View Post
    These happily-ever-after endings rarely occur in real life, why should they in fantasy.
    Because "fantasy" means "not like real life"?

    I tend to like dark and gritty books too, but that doesn't mean the stuff I dislike shouldn't exist. I'm okay with other people being able to find books they like too.
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  20. #20
    you didn't come and help me kuwisdelu's Avatar
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  21. #21
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    I like long complex epic tales; so quite a bit.

    If the characters are in the midst of an epic quest and they DON'T have at least some worries and self doubts they come off as two dimensional to me.

    For example, in 'The Wheel Of Time' series Rand Al Thor was the most interesting character. That's not surprising as he was also the main character, but I liked him because he did not embrace his role as the savior of mankind. Like any sane teenager would, he tried to run away from it.

    Once he was convinced that he really was the chosen one he struggled with figuring out what he needed to become. How he could spare the ones he loved by pushing them away.

    It did get annoying some times when he was obviously being an idiot. But all his self doubts and mistakes made him more real to me and made his successes that much more fun.

  22. #22
    practical experience, FTW thebird's Avatar
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    I don't mind "angst" in terms of inner conflict/turmoil. But if the character is excessively whiny or just keeps rehashing the same problems over (and over), it gets old. With fantasy, I expect the most angst if the character's being suddenly thrown into a world they didn't know existed. I think that's the case when it makes the most sense.

  23. #23
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shroud View Post
    As long as it isn't that "coming of age" crap, I like my fantasy dark and gritty. These happily-ever-after endings rarely occur in real life, why should they in fantasy.
    Because happily-ever-after endings rarely occur in real life and some of us would really like it in our escapist reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by jjdebenedictis View Post
    Because "fantasy" means "not like real life"?
    Which is what JJ said.

    I am not fond of those stories that descend into the constant morass of self-pity and 'woe is me for my liiiiiiife'. I'm an adventure kind of fan. I like adventure and sometimes I like my hero to step up to the plate and 'git 'er done'. That's not to say that sometimes they don't look at their choices and go 'wow, all these choices suck ass and now I get to choose between the best of them? what a rip. why does it have to me be that decides?'

    But to endlessly dwell on it? Nah, I'll pass, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by LOTLOF View Post
    If the characters are in the midst of an epic quest and they DON'T have at least some worries and self doubts they come off as two dimensional to me.
    Yep. There's wallowing in self pity and lamenting the tragedy that is their life, and there's having worries and self-doubt. Give me the second kind. Keep the emo-handwringing.
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  24. #24
    coffee and pistols at dawn KateJJ's Avatar
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    I like angst, but I like it to have a point. I'm a big fan of happy endings, or at least not utterly depressing end of the world disasters. But happy ending doesn't have to mean ending up king of the universe or rich or anything.

    A passage that's always resonated with me, as far as endings go, from Heinlein's Podakyne of Mars:


    "I never did tell you the end of it, Poddy: you always fell asleep. It ends with a miracle."
    "A truly miracle?"
    "Yes. This is the end. Poddy grew up and had another Poddy. And the world was young again."
    "Is that all?"
    "That's all there ever is. But it's enough."
    Suffering, drama and angst are awesome. But if there's no hope at the end, why did I bother reading?
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  25. #25
    figuring it all out Lady Silver's Avatar
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    I don't like much of a muchness. Drama, sure if it's needed, if that's what is true to the character. The challenge is to prevent it bleeding into the narrative.
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