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Thread: feeling sorry for someone...

  1. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2009


    Look, I'm kinda coming into this out of nowhere since I haven't read the oneshot that you're talking about in this thread but I just wanted to comment on something in general here... in writing, well, we all know that part of the name of the game is getting your readers to feel some kind of emotion. But here's the thing... people in general don't like to be emotionally manipulated. So, as a reader, if I really feel like the writer is working hard to make me feel sad about a character (particularly if I don't think the situation warrants such dramatics) then I'll disconnect with the character even further.

    If you want to show a conflict between Ariana and someone else and you want to show that she's in some way effected by this, you don't need to use broad strokes like having her break down or physically assault someone. In fact, she should probably be giving as good as she gets most of the time, at least from my perspective. If all she's dealing with for insults is generic stuff like "lying *****" and whatnot, then she should be able to easily craft witty comebacks to deal with the situation. If an insult from her opponent actually goes beyond basic name-calling and actually extends to something that she's sensitive about (because that's where the real payload is to the situation. Just having her react to garden-variety name-calling isn't particularly worthwhile) then you can show that it effects her in small ways. She narrows her eyebrows or absentmindedly clenches a fist or takes just a moment longer to give a scathing reply than she would normally have. Then the reader can see that the comments do hurt her. But we don't see her as any weaker because of it. We see that she can overcome.

    And, I don't know, because I'm not going to claim to be an expert on Ariana's character or anything. But I generally find an "I demand respect!" line to be more in line with toadies who shouldn't necessarily get respect. So Ariana shouldn't ask for respect--she should do things that make her respected.

  2. #27
    JX Valentine is offline ██████████
    Join Date
    Jul 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Gothitelle K View Post
    At the same time, he called her a dumb ***** that was a liar.
    Weeeellll...! Given Ariana's character, she'd probably take that as a compliment. Well, except the "dumb" part, but that might just prompt a sarcastic remark served with a smug grin (given that she's prone to sarcastic and smug comments in canon).

    That being said, self-confident, headstrong women like Ariana really don't break down over mild name-calling from people with anger management issues -- which is what Ariana would be doing when Proton (the person with anger management issues in this case) calls her a lying ***** (the mild insult) -- unless there's a very, very good reason behind it. And by "very, very good reason," I mean things like "this happened no fewer than 100 times, coming from practically everyone she knew" or "the people she thought were her best friends are the ones who said it" or something along those lines. If it's just some jerk who's a self-proclaimed jerk (like Proton) calling her a lying *****, there's really no reason why she would take it seriously if she had any sense of self-confidence.

    Also if she didn't punch him, would that change things to the point where she's thinking clearly?
    Depends on how you do it. If she's yelling "omg you guys are so meeeean," then no. If she just makes a snide and well-thought-out comeback, then yes.

    She still yells at the two guys and demands respect etc. And would you kinda feel sorry for her like you want to give her a hug etc?
    Not... really? Like Skiyomi said, it's difficult to take a character seriously when they outright demand to be respected. There's a difference between commanding respect and demanding it. Commanding respect would mean that you just have a powerful and charismatic aura around you, so people just naturally respect you. Demanding respect means you actually tell people that they have to respect you. If you have a character working hard to be respected -- or even if the entire story is about how one should be respecting them -- then it's difficult to connect with that character because it sounds forced. If you have a character who's just naturally charismatic and just does things that would be considered awesome instead of proclaiming that they're awesome, then that's easier to take seriously.

    That and if I see a character who's yelling at others and telling them off for not respecting her, that doesn't make me want to give them a hug. That just makes me write them off as being a bully themselves because they're using force to get people to do what they want them to do. So it ends up doing the exact opposite of making me want to hug them: it makes me dislike the character.

    Other than that, I really would like to say a big "this" to Skiyomi's post. Even the first line sums up a lot of the issue here: people don't like to be forced to feel a certain way about a subject. So the only way to coax them into responding how you want them to respond is by showing instead of telling -- as in, creating a situation with an in-depth backstory (that's shown to us, not simply told to us briefly) that gives us a reason to think this character has ever been helpless, ostracized (that is, made into an outcast), or otherwise worthy of being pitied. It's not just a scene in the present that will make us pity a character; it's also what leads up to that moment.

  3. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    I've recently finished the most recent book in A Song of Ice and Fire. The series is outstanding, and one of the things I've learned from Martin's writing is that you can make a reader feel sorry for anyone, even the characters you absolutely hate. This is something Martin does often. Not to give anything away, but he writes his story in such a way that I found myself feeling sympathy for characters I wanted to die in a fire only chapters ago. So how does he do this?

    First, characters have to be 3-D. If you take a plank of wood, stab it, beat it, disfigure it, yell terrible things at it, and then set it on fire, I'm not really going to care. But if you have a character with a past, hopes and dreams for the future, desires and needs, fears, behavioral quirks, etc, it's much easier for a reader to connect.

    One way I found to evoke sympathy from a reader is to make things unfair. Fairness is not always objective, but most people have a sense of what someone deserves. If a young girl works for an hour building a pretty sand castle on the beach, but some kids with a soccer ball knock it over before the girl's mom can take a picture, then most people will feel sorry for the girl because it isn't fair that her work was destroyed. When things don't go the way they should, people get upset, and that's when they can feel sorry for someone.

    Another way that works well with villains as well as heroes is punishment greater than the crime. A swift execution for a vicious murderer may seem like justice, but if that character is deprived of food and water, then has the skin of his fingers and toes flayed off, one could then feel sympathy. This goes back to fairness. It may seem fair to execute a criminal, but torture can evoke pity. Torture doesn't always have to be physical though. Humiliation, punishing innocents instead, and other things can be used to create the sense that things aren't fair.

    That's my advice. Take a real character and deprive them of something they should be entitled to.

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