Friday, 17 April 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions - O is for Originality (writing discussion & fiction)

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions









This year for the A to Z Challenge, I'm investigating emotions and reactions and their use to in writing. So, I'll be talking about my first thoughts as a writer when I think about the words we use to describe emotions and my experience of their use in literature.

originality
originality: the ability to think independently and creatively / the quality of being novel or unusual.

So, what on earth am I on about today. 'Originality is not a reaction,' I hear you cry - well, actually, I think it is, it can be part of many reactions and it is something that we strive for in our characters. Having said that, it shouldn't be the be all and end all for them. Some characters are ordinary, that is what makes them important, if everyone did something off the wall at every turn, it would be a strange, surreal story - Alice in Wonderland comes to mind!

So, if we're looking at a story that isn't meant to feel like a dream, then ordinary people have to do ordinary things, in fact some stories rely on this. For example, Leverage, the TV show, relies on people reacting to 'the con' the way the protagonists expect them to. It is a little unfair to say that this is ordinary, because the way the stories are constructed, the action is anything but run of the mill, still, someone thought of it first, so the reaction is not original, even if 'the con' is :).

However, when someone does do something different, that's when things get really interesting.

As well as original reactions, there are original thinkers, characters who do not conform to the mould. Sherlock Holmes is very definitely one of these characters. He does not fit with conventional Victorian society, he is a scientist who did not know the Earth went round the Sun, something all Victorian men of learning knew, but it did not interest him - unless it was related to solving puzzles and crime, then Holmes was not interested.

Just one word of warning when it comes to original characters, don't make them too different and too perfect, because you may just end up with a Mary Sue (male or female) - watch out for those amethyst irises and ability to win the day ;P

QUESTION: When do you think original, interesting characters wander into the range of Mary Sues - what makes the difference for you?

~

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20 comments:

  1. I do agree that a writer would want characters who are have originality. Makes it more interesting to read if they are not all run of the mill type characters predictable in what they do.

    betty

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    1. I think it's what we strive for as writers, to offer something with our own stamp, characters that are a little or a lot different from other writers', but it's a careful line between original and unconvincing :)

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  2. Hmm, this is a hard one. But for me, I think characters enter Mary Sue territory when they can't ever do wrong, and are adored by everyone for no (apparent) reason. It's tricky, because I think even Mary Sue characters can be pulled off (look at James T. Kirk, for example). As everything, it's all in the execution. ;)

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    1. Great example, yes Captain Kirk is definitely a Mary Sue, but he works - maybe it was the times he was written, since a lot of heroes were the same - funny that we have a female term predominantly to mean this type of character when the 60's and 70's were full of male characters like that (and yes, I know we have Marty Stu's, but it's not as common a term) :)

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  3. Originality brings a certain air of completeness to a story, because in essences we are all original.

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  4. Ugh, Mary Sues. As a role-player, I hate them with a passion, they are horrible to play with :D I think in writing, they are easy to recognize because they are too perfect or self-obsessed to be likable...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. That's a good point about being self-obsessed, and they can also be unknowingly self-obsessed, because the writer hasn't spotted how much of a Mary Sue they are writing :)

      I can understand how that could be worse in role-playing as well, since you not in total control of the 'adventure'.

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  5. Hi Sophie - we definitely need to relate to the character and they must conform within the parameters of the story ... not too perfect or too stereotyped ... I like originality and to see something out of the box per se ... But it's a great O word for writers and character builders ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks - it made me think, so I thought it would be a good topic of conversation. :)

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  6. As long as the story interesting me, I don't mind if an original character wanders into Mary Sue territory. Still, it's a fine line to walk, so I'd recommend the advice here. =)

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    1. I know what you mean, it's like cliches, if they're done well and interest me, then it doesn't matter that they're cliches. I don't think we writers are allowed to get away with as much as writers of old when it comes to Mary Sue's though, our readership is too aware of them :)

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  7. Actually, I think some authors try to get *too* original. There's comfort in the familiar, and we can relate to the familiar.

    Precious Monsters

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    1. That's why I think it's a fine line.:)

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  8. I try to make my characters original. I definitely don't want them to be too perfect because I know there's no such thing. I hope none of my characters fall into the Mary Sue category, but I guess that would depend on the reader.

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    1. You could be right there, one person's Mary Sue is another's brilliantly written hero/ine :)

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  9. The imperfections are what make characters unique and real, I think. It's too easy to create characters that have no flaws--but we have to give them flaws to make them relatable.

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    1. Yes, flaws maketh interest - one of the ten commandments of character writing :)

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  10. Answer to the question is always! It is my best quality as well as my worst quality. Definitely would say it's been rough fitting in. Another great article from you. :D
    http://sytiva.blogspot.com/

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