Forum: Prospective Challenges

Discussing: "Nobody's Perfect" prospective challenge

"Nobody's Perfect" prospective challenge

What would people think of a challenge aimed specifically at forcing you to explore your favorite character's flaws? And I do mean flaws of the kind that aren't able to be explained away. The greedy, selfish, petty, jealous, brash, stupid, bigoted, cowardly things that you know they have to do sometimes because they're not perfect, even if they are Legolas. ;-) This could be a good challenge to set during that character's youth, when such traits would be more evident and more likely to be acted upon. It would also then provide an obvious opportunity for correction. But it's not necessary to set that sort of temporal limit, either.

This sort of fic actually requires you to be fully sympathetic to the character, otherwise, it's hard to portray the charcter accurately, without going overboard or writing a cut-out. By the same token, it's tough, because you *loooove* that character and don't want to write him or her being a moron, which desire is exacerbated by the mythic distance Tolkien gives them.

 

 

Re:

(2nd try)

Hmm, I agree with you that this is a touch, but very interesting one. The 'mystical distance' Tolkien uses to describe most of the characters does conceal their flaws quite well, though a little more thorough reading and a good deal of imagination is required. But there are those tiny hints (Yes, Aragorn, be a good boy and leave that sword outside the Golden Hall. Yes, we no it is nice and shiny and powerfull. Yes, we do promise not to touch it, biiig Rohirrim promise .)

Though I do not know if I will find the time to enter that challenge (but I am already taking serious considerations, given the huge plot bunny that keeps staring at me and occupies the better half of my living room), I would love to read any story covering this particular topic.

greetings,

fliewatuet (who is trying to find a toasted Gimli for breakfast to share with her new plot bunny)

 

 

Re:

Small technical point - don't put double quote marks in titles - the site code thinks they are HTML commands when it is filling out the title field in the message form and won't read them. One of those pesky things to remember about HTML forums. :-(

Umm, not to be a wet blanket or anything, but isn't this what we should be doing anyway? I don't think of this as a "challenge" - I think of this as writing a well-rounded character who has strengths, weaknesses, and qualities we might not particularly like to see, as well as qualities we admire.

It's an OK challenge, I guess, but I think it would foreground what should simply be part of the environment.

Ang

 

 

Re: Re:

Umm, not to be a wet blanket or anything, but isn't this what we should be doing anyway? I don't think of this as a "challenge" - I think of this as writing a well-rounded character who has strengths, weaknesses, and qualities we might not particularly like to see, as well as qualities we admire.

The difference I see is that not so many stories have the flaw as the focal point. The thing that interests me about it, and the reason I'd enter it, is that it forces you to focus on the flaw. Yes, writing a well-rounded character wih strengths and weaknesses is good writing, but I see this as an opportunity to make that the point of the story, and thus really work through what one thinks about the flaws of the character one chooses. I'm excited about the prospect, myself.

 

 

Re: Re:

Umm, not to be a wet blanket or anything, but isn't this what we should be doing anyway? I don't think of this as a "challenge" - I think of this as writing a well-rounded character who has strengths, weaknesses, and qualities we might not particularly like to see, as well as qualities we admire.

I both agree and disagree with Ang's comment! Of course all fiction should attempt to present well-rounded characters with both admirable and less admirable qualities.

However, it's my opinion that a major flaw with a lot of otherwise well-written JRRT fic, especially LoTR stuff, is the lack of real conflict. This expresses itself in several ways. The main characters can be too heroic, with their flaws and weaknesses glossed over -- which to some extent is true of the original, esp. perhaps Aragorn, Faramir, Legolas.

In what I imagine is an attempt to counter this tendency there's a lot of what I'd call 'cutesy fic', eg with the characters as children, or sharing a very human moment -- not that there's anything wrong with this, but it doesn't often tend to be all that 'serious'.

Then there's also the evil-Thranduil type badfic that Dwim was thinking of when she suggested this challenge, where one character is deliberately made evil to introduce conflict. The villain is too black, and the heros too white, and the resulting conflict entirely unnatural.

If I understood Dwim's Challenge suggestion aright, she's trying to get writers to focus on writing a character they admire, one who's generally considered to be among the good guys -- say Aragorn, Faramir, Legolas again -- and to consider their flaws and weaknesses, and how these might form the centre of a story. Which sounds like an interesting concept.

Tavia

 

 

Wet blankets

Well, I have to admit, I tend to find the "humanising" of the characters to be something which is better undertaken by things such as the "Make 'em Laugh" challenge (it was a right whatsit finding the right form of humour for Boromir, in particular) than by focussing in on their flaws. Possibly I'm odd.

I will admit though that it *is* good to see those glimpses of faults showing up in characters, even though Tolkien does put them in there on a "few and far between" basis. It's even more interesting to see the shared faults - for example, both Aragorn and Frodo share the fault of being *too* independent, and too self-reliant. They won't let their team-mates help them, and they won't let other people in on the details of what they're planning - it's up to the others to guess. They're both "reluctant to share", and that can very much be ascribed to the pair of them effectively growing up as only children, very much younger than everyone else around them.

Aragorn and Boromir both share the flaw of wanting to take *too* much responsibility. Both of them have been raised to be in charge, and both of them are very much alpha males of their particular packs. However, the story treats this in different ways: in Aragorn, it's positive, because he's *supposed* to be in charge. In Boromir, meanwhile, it becomes a negative thing, because he *can't* be in charge, and this burns and bites and niggles at him.

Then there's flaws from the cultural side of things: the hobbits in particular are depicted as having a deeply parochial culture. Ditto everyone else in the story, but the hobbits have a culture where this is actually encouraged and allowed. (The biggest mistake that Aragorn made, IMO, is saying that the Shire wasn't allowed to be travelled by humans any more - the hobbits *needed* that mixing with other cultures, or they were going to stagnate and fade). That parochialism informs a lot of what they do throughout the story, and in many cases this is a good thing. But in some cases, it's a bad one.

Both of these bring up another point: just what *is* a flaw? In the right lights, the same trait can be both a genuine advantage *and* a tragic flaw. Examples of this are Boromir's pride and his love for his homeland.

It's an interesting notion to explore - after all, with the Fellowship especially, there must have been *something* for the Ring to try and get hold of. So, what did the ring show them to tempt them? What did Galadriel use to try and tempt them?

Exploring those two notions might prove a better challenge than the planned one, but that's just me.

 

 

A possible twist?

I have a sort of twist for this which might make it more interesting (or maybe not).
What about taking a basically HEROIC character, even acting as themselves, but making them the "villian" of the story by showing it from someone else's point of view.
I had (*cue teary confessional music*) been writing lots of Gladiator fanfic from Maximus's point of view when someone challenged me to depict the exact same events from Commodus's viewpoint, and I have to say that the result was, by far, the fic (in that genre) that I am the proudest of, it makes you think about how actions can be seen from two different perspectives.
That said, it might be VERY hard to write a "feel sorry for the orcs" story (unless maybe you were an original "ruined elf" who felt abandoned by the other elves?, but surely someone could write an interesting, if not ultimately compelling story from the viewpoint of Feanor, or Grima, or Sauraman. I think that someone has already done a humorous Balrog story with this idea.
What do you think?
-Kirixchi

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'd be very interested in it. That is sort of the idea I had for "Good guys... Bad guys?"
I feel there is just so much room for exploration when you (the author) put yourself in the other person's shoes and try to depict events from their POV. It should make for a very complete, moving piece, and a very interesting one to write. Perhaps we could come up with a mix of these ideas and create one challenge out of them. What do you all think?

btw, where can I find your Gladiator fics? Do you post to ffnet?

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

A lot of them are gone from ff.net since the NC-17 restriction was put in (they were het, and the smut wasn't the only thing going on!).
The best place to find them now is: http://www.stonethecrows.100megswebhosting.com/GaslightBlue/MainPages/author.html
I wrote them there under the name: Steph, and I co-wrote some stories with a girl named Ilaria. The one I am talking about (re: Commodus) is "The Sun on My Heart". Ilaria wrote the Maximus parts, and I wrote the Commodus parts.
One other story that I am really proud of is "The Enemy". I would warn you, however, that ALL of my stories have OFC's (It's nearly impossible not to in Gladiator fic, where there is only one woman (okay, one LIVING woman) in the canon. And I did post on Fanfiction.net as Kirixchi and as IlariaandSteph (for the joint stories).

-K

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

This is an interesting twist, and I think it's closer to Starlight's proposal than mine.

I find that it is interesting and good to look at your heroic types through the eyes of a villain, but that doesn't necessarily get at the sort of mundane faults of personality because in the back of your mind, you *know* that you're looking through they eyes of the villain. That tends to make such faults as are exposed exculpable.

But if people are interested, we could try running a combined challenge:

1) Pick your personal favorite hero--write a story that centers on a really existing mundane flaw (jealousy, quick-tempered, arrogance, etc.) and doesn't excuse it even though there would be a resolution and even explanation of said flaw.

2) Pick your personal favorite villain--write the story that centers on a really existing *good* trait (aesthetic sensibility, love for a wife or husband/pet/child, loyalty, etc.) without at the same time making him or her any less the villain that s/he is in terms of his/her other actions.

Do we have any who would be willing to write a fic like this? Show of hands?

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'd be interested in it. I don't know if i could, but i'd like to give it a shot. It's certainly an interesting challenge

Then again, it's finding the personality flaws/good traits. I'm being attacked by a Saruman nuzgul (curse you! I'm not done with the last one yet!) but I don't know how canon the trait I'd base this around is. Mind you, I suspect that's part of the challenge...

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I like the combined idea because, in the end, we would all be writing total opposites: good guy/flaw; bad guy/quality... I think we would be amazed by what people come up with! I am willing to give it a try... it will be challenging, but, after all, that is what this is all about.
Naming the challenge might be a bit of a problem, since at first read, it appears as though both ideas might be (sorry for using that word again) opposites, but I think it will work out perfectly if we unify them with the proper name. This would be pretty interesting! Anybody else want to try?

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

That said, it might be VERY hard to write a "feel sorry for the orcs" story

Oh hell! Between you and Dwim I'm well and truely bitten now!! To be honest I've always rather wanted to write the battle at Fangorn from Ugluk's point of view - book verse of course! Don't get me started on the travesty that we saw in the film!
I'm not quite sure that you'll feel 'sorry' for him, but I do think I can make you sympathetic, and maybe even sad at his death.
*siiigh* All this (real life) warmongering is getting in the way of my fanfic writing!

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Oh, I'd *love* to read something like that! I am also quite intrigued about that Saruman nuzgul Kerosene talked about. Yes, this is challenging. Would any of you try to make Bill Ferny a little bit more sympathetic? (well, if that were only possible!)

What about some of our heroes with flaws? Rachel, would you do Boromir, or Meg, perhaps Aragorn? Anybody care to explain why Legolas feared before the balrog at Moria, or why Gimli was frightened to go with the Grey Company, or perhaps enlighten us as to what it is exactly that Tolkien means when he says that Boromir was Faramir's protector?

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Anybody care to explain why Legolas feared before the balrog at Moria?...

You could tempt me to a shortie on that one, I suspect. I suspect the Why is absolutely soddin' obvious - a creature which is one of the most ancient terrors of his race, ancestral primeval horror of his worst nightmares, suddenly appears before him in Real Life... hmm, this is starting to sound more like the sort of thing Bellatrys would write... but I could be tempted to try to show what it felt like. Oh, boy, this might be bad for my head.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Remember, though, that you're trying to write a flaw for the good guys. Is it a flaw to be scared in the face of one of the Ancient Terrors of the World (tm)? My take is "no, you'd be a moron not to be frightened."

Were I doing Legolas, I'd go more with trying to get at his insularity--hey, the Elf's been here a *looooong* time. You'd think he'd make more of an effort to get out, as it were, especially before things heated up and Dol Guldur rose. The other obvious one would be prejudice. Explicable, but is it really excusable that it lasted as long as it did, despite a few harrowing experiences together, when he and Gimli had had no (that we know of) reason to personally dislike each other?

Just some thoughts.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Just some thoughts.

I need some thoughts. I'm trying to think of what Glorfindel's faults would be. Vanity, rashness...

Anyone have anything to suggest? I could get bitten by this one, but I haven't got the right flaw.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I need some thoughts. I'm trying to think of what Glorfindel's faults would be. Vanity, rashness...

Anyone have anything to suggest? I could get bitten by this one, but I haven't got the right flaw.


Could I add a little something? Just a few rambles, but perhaps they will kind of spark an idea about the flaw...
Well, it is actually hard to think about a flaw for Glorfindel, isn't it? Vanity might work perfectly, according to the way I see it. What about stubbornnes? That could make out for a flaw or a quality depending on your take on it, but I think it would make for a nice flaw. If we take his encounter with the balrog, or his encounter with Frodo during the WotR (if you follow the version that there is just one Glorfindel who comes back to ME) both times stubbornnes could enter into play if we consider that perhaps others had surrendered and he just kept going until he did what he had to. That is a nice thing to do (he finds Frodo and helps him, after all) but that is something that can get you into trouble many, many times (as I have painfully discovered, hehehe)

Anyway, hope you find the right flaw for him. He would be a challenge to write, and I think it would be a great writing exercise, wouldn't it?

Starlight

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

So list of bite victims:

kerosene
Az
Kirixchi
Starlight
Enros/Sorne (heh, you should have no trouble with this one--you've got a nice split personality already! ;-) )
Lyllyn

Do I hear a "yea" from all five of you? Do I hear a "me, too!" from anyone else?

I think if this goes up, it should run for a full year, because this is a toughie, especially if you want to do both parts of the Challenge.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Do I hear a "yea" from all five of you? Do I hear a "me, too!" from anyone else?

Hey, I was only a possible victim. The fangs haven't broken the skin yet.

Lyllyn, still thinking about possible faults of the Golden One.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'm still waffling. I'll do it if we have a year, but I'm comitted to about a billion stories for the mother's day challenge, and the "Fall of Dol Guldur" challenge is tickling at the back of my brain too.....

Still, it is SOOOO interesting...but I can't committ yet.
-Kirixchi

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'll definitely commit.

I'm not planning a long story, so it'll be fine tuning the details that'll get me. The Nuzgul seems to have a Saruman & Gandalf poison on it's fangs and doing justice to them will stretch me considerably, but I hope that I should be able to manage that with a year to do it.

kero

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'll give a 'yea' if you give me a year *grin*, not sure if I can manage both parts of the challenge though! Hmmmm....could I do Eomer and Ugluk in the same story?

"There he was slain at last by Eomer, the Third Marshal of the Mark, who dismounted and fought him sword to sword."

Damn! I *so* wanted to see that in the film!

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'll commit to being wildly interested in this idea. However, I've got a WIP, an answer to the Anything But Ordinary challenge that's stalled, an answer to the Mother's Day challenge yet to start, another vignette I need to finish soon, and an extended bio for my beloved Boromir in progress. I'll say I want to do this, but I can't promise I'll actually manage it.

Though if it does run for a year, I might....

Cheers!
-Rachel
...never try to eat anything larger than your head

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Hmmmm....could I do Eomer and Ugluk in the same story?

Please do! I would love to see that - there's so much potential there, and I know you'd realize it.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'll give a 'yea' if you give me a year *grin*, not sure if I can manage both parts of the challenge though! Hmmmm....could I do Eomer and Ugluk in the same story?

"There he was slain at last by Eomer, the Third Marshal of the Mark, who dismounted and fought him sword to sword."


I'll give you a year if I can get five hands.

And if you do Éomer and Uglúk, you might also be able to make it fit into Movie Challenge--recall that that one is set up to let you "fix" the parts that didn't quite work for you, so long as you can plausibly slip the scene into the movieverse. M&P did run away, I think, during the middle of the battle. We don't know if Éomer dismounted to take on second-in-command Uglúk, who was Lurtz's hench-orc, and there's plenty of room to write in that battle sequence even in the books.

Just a thought.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'll give you a year if I can get five hands.

I'm so keen to see the results of this that I'll give you a hand -- as long as we get a full year and don't have to do both parts. Not sure which part is biting me hardest at the moment, but I certainly don't have time to write both!

Tavia

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

I'll give you a year if I can get five hands.

With a year I ought to be able to do it. Either Glorfindel's flaws or the Witch-king's good points, not sure yet.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Kirixchi? It's going to be a year. You can do one half or the other (or both, in a fit of masochism). Are you in?

We need one more committment, and then you can all pester everyone else you know to join you in writing this one.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

Okay, if I have a year, I'm in. I will try to branch out a little and write about someone outside the LOTR for a change.
-K, ruing the day she ever stumbled into Dwim's lair....er....I mean the "Challenges" forum.

 

 

Re: A possible twist?

And it's up! I'm calling it "Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness" because I am that way. Go here to discuss your methods, your madness, your stories.

Thanks to all willing victims who signed up--I love ya, and look forward to seeing what you come up with.

 

 

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