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 What do you like in a story?

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Duskglass

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PostSubject: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:45 am

Just curious to hear what everyone's preferences are! C:

- What are your favourite storytelling tropes and plot devices?
- Which character types and relationship dynamics do you love?
...or, alternately, what type of story do you find mind-numbingly dull? Which tropes and character types make you want to throw the book across the room?
(be extra careful with that last one-- this isn't about specific works, but about elements many works may share in common.)
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sky665

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:54 am

What I love best in stories is the heart! The characters and the bonds they create with other characters. I've said this before, but I really am a sucker for platonic relationships! Characters that create strong bonds without becoming love interests. I find these type of bonds just a lot more interesting to watch - or controversially I also like rival bonds that forms between characters. Characters that are so into each other... simple because they hate each others guts! Hehe. Both want to defeat the other in some form of way or another, but also tend to have a deep respect for that character. Some of my favorite stories/movies have these type of character traits and bonds in 'em.

I also like stories that really develop and flesh out characters. (For example, one thing I really admire in stories that have this is when their villain redeems themselves rather than is just killed by the hero and everyone is happy about it.)

Hmhm and for things in stories I don't care for, is excessive plot narration and and constant battles/fights. A lot of them tend to have episode upon episode where the main character is simply fighting an enemy. They stand around talking forever about things related to the plot, but I simply don't care for, and spend the rest beating each other up. And some times in this show same type of scenario just goes on and on for eppiisooodddeess upon epiiisoooddes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for a story to have. I know a lot of people who enjoy these types of aspects in their stories. But for me, it just makes me want to skip ahead until they get to the part where everyone is just hanging out and forming bonds with each other!



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Mashimizu

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:09 am

I also love strong bonds between characters. For me it can be friendship, enemies, or romantic relationships. I'm not thinking the normal romantic novel romantic relationships but ones that seem founded on something other than physical or random attraction. I do think it's harder to maintain the feeling of that relationship when romance is involved though. I love that strong feeling of belonging, of complete acceptance between two or more people.

I do love a well thought out and developed character. One with depth and multiple aspects to their personality. I don't hate typical characters at all though, they are popular because they have something in them people want to see.

I also really love a well thought out world. Probably because I have always enjoyed studying different cultures I like worlds that have their own culture and add in different details about how those cultures work. It gives the story a nice unique flavor.

I love science fiction and fantasy....inventiveness and wonder attract me.

I love when an author has a character do something that most people may not notice but when I stop and think about it it changes my way of thinking about the world, but not in a way that makes me feel sad or depressed but which makes it bigger or better somehow.



I do not like as much when stories start with the ending. Like with the grandma telling the story of how X happened to get her where she is now. To me it's like you just gave me a gigantic plot spoiler from the get-go and killed my ability to continue the story on after you end it in my head.

I also do not like as much long unrelated flashbacks in the middle of the story that have no relevance to the current plot.

I also pause for a moment sometimes when the author has an agenda and randomly inserts something that is obviously their opinion on X issue into the middle of their writing. (Like a random line of the character is obviously the author speaking about something unrelated to the story).

Also....random amnesia as a plot twist in a story that was highly realistic up to that point.

I'm not fond of tragedy stories. I'm super sensitive so I'm emotionally useless for days after I read one.


I feel like I should add that some of my favorite authors have done some or all of the things I claim I commented against and not only has it not bothered me at all but I have loved it. For example I've had them do flashbacks that were so interesting and well written I did not care that they were distracting me from the main story. So really I don't mind any of the things I listed but think they are things which are difficult to do well.

As long as people put thought into what they are writing I like it. I'm actually super easy to please when it comes to writing, I like most of what I read. Even stuff that other people trash. Everything has some intrinsic worth. Razz
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Duskglass

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:09 am

Yeah I completely agree about really deep platonic bonds! <333
I personally find the majority of romance subplots to be extremely dull. I've read books that are excellent overall but they tossed in an Unrequited Love subplot or something and I just.... don't care. At all. I don't care that the protagonist's childhood friend and One True Love is in love with someone else. They should just get over it and be friends and kick asses together.

And animes that have those long fight scenes where the characters keep stopping to monologue about every attack they use and how it works... just... ugh. (I love action, but it needs to.... actually be action.... it should be fast and exciting, not draggy and tedious.)

One thing that really bugs me is when stories about non-cisgendered or non-heteronormative characters focus entirely on the fact that they are a Minority. I want to read about a wide variety of characters (including characters like me!) having active and interesting roles in the types of stories I like... where the thing that makes them Different does NOT define their entire personality and life story. (and on a related note, Token Characters are also really annoying; the characters whose only purpose is to make the cast seem more diverse-- like The Girl, The POC, The Gay Best Friend... most of the time they just end up being two-dimensional stereotypes, not real people.)

I guess tl;dr I like interesting and well-developed characters in character-driven plots with good, believable arcs for all the characters.

I also have a weakness for/love writing...
- Socially-Awkward Badass + Silly Kid duos
- wingdorks (doing wingy things or just messing around being derps together)
- creepy powers acquired through creepy shenanigans
- creepy tree mythology (and natural powers in general)
- grey morality (both protagonist and antagonist)
- ace protagonists!
- sarcastic snarky badasses
- characters who were the subjects of Creepy Unethical Experiments
(...among other things!)

(Mashi, I sort of admire people who can like almost everything xD;; See the good in it and enjoy it for what it's worth, not get caught up in the negatives... and yeah, almost any 'bad' plot device/trope/archetype can be good if it's handled well.)
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Kynale



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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:32 pm

I agree with a lot of the things others pointed out already. I think my favourite part in any story is the characters and their dynamic. I can get into most genres provided there are good characters! I love deep bonds (any kind) but also deep rivalries or enemies. I think even more, I love seeing how their relationships change over time. Like if the relationship is static the whole way through, it's not quite as interesting. For examples, rivals who just hate each other's guts learning to respect each other over time. Or say the main character meets another character who annoys the crap out of them and they think is an idiot, but by the end of the story they become best friends. It can also be a negative change, like lovers who turn into enemies by the end. I think positive ones give me a better feeling obviously, but either way is very interesting to me.

(EDIT: This makes rereading/rewatching more fun for me too. I love going back to the scenes where characters are first introduced to each other, when you know what's going to happen to them in the future. Then I get to be all "hehehe you may hate each other now, but just wait >D")

It has to be done realistically, though. Not a big fan of when a character suddenly makes a complete change out of nowhere (unless there is a very good reason for it.) Like if a character hates another character and then instantly one scene makes them flip and now they're completely in love with them, I just have a hard time believing that most of the time. XD;

I do love romance when done well but I think I can be a bit picky with it because a lot of my story pet peeves involve it in some way...

I don't like it when it seems like a character's role is just to be the love interest and there is nothing more to them. This seems especially common in movies with a male lead, where they just throw a generic female in there to be the love interest. I think for this reason, I do prefer movies where the lead male and female end up as just close friends or something.

I feel like it creates for duller romances, if a character is created only for that purpose. And definitely a more boring character.

(This is related to another pet peeve Dusk already mentioned - those "token" characters thrown in to make the cast seem more diverse. I hate that too.)

I really dislike jealousy subplots. Say you have your main couple that's established and already obvious they're going to get together by the end or whatever. Then they purposely introduce a third character just to hit on one so the other one gets jealous and then they probably fight, and blaah... I hate that! It seems like that was really common in anime, when I used to watch a lot of them. They almost always had a plot like this and it was just annoying. x.x

That's also probably a big reason for my next pet peeve: love triangles. It seems like most people I know love them, but to me I feel like most stories I read that have them would have been more enjoyable to me if they didn't. It depends though, there are exceptions where this is done really well. And I am guilty of sometimes having a hint of this in my own writing, but not to the same extent that certain other stories do...

Okay that was a lot of negative. I should probably note, there are exceptions for most of the above! There are ways to do those things in such a way that I enjoy them, I just find it is pretty rare. And for some reason it is easier to think of things that annoy me than pinpoint specific aspects I love. Different stories capture me for different reasons and they all have their own positives and negatives.

Let's see. In general, I also really love shape-shifting characters (especially if it is between a human form and something else - maybe an animal or beast of some kind) as well as secret identities. And in general, characters who are hiding pretty big/interesting secrets and the subsequent scenes where they get revealed. Even if you as a reader already know what their secret is, I keep reading because I am so curious what will happen if other characters find out, how they will react to it, etc.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Great thread!
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Selini

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:38 pm

Ohh dear... Please don't hate me. XD I tend to like a lot of things that most people say they dislike. Or I tend to not mind them as much. Namely the uh... romance/love interest stuff. I hate to say it, but the biggest thing that hooks me into a story is the romance aspect. Granted it's the number one thing that grabs my attention, but... my attention won't last if the story/characters fall flat.

Also, I definitely agree when it comes to a well-developed and progressed relationship versus some random feelings that just come out of nowhere. ^^; I find it's more meaningful if I can see and witness the characters fall in love overtime, the trials and challenges they went through to become the people they are and how that contributes to how they feel towards each other. One of my favorite things to do in stories (similar to what Ky said) is to go back and find the point of time when they realized they loved each other. (I've done it for almost every story I've read >>) A love that spawns from initial hate I find to be very very interesting as well. x3

And... don't think badly of me for this, but one of my favorite elements is when two characters knew each other or met in their early life. Could be that they knew each other since childhood, or better yet if they had a chance encounter as kids or something. Ugh, I wish I could explain this better because I love seeing it and seeing it done right, especially when it adds mystery to the story or meaning to the relationship. I know an example of a series that executed this perfectly. I wonder if I should say it... /)n(\ But to then see said characters fall in love, it just sets my heart aflutter. x) Because they had that extra connection way back when.

I'm open to seeing many other kinds of bonds as well, and have been intrigued by them. ^^ I really like seeing family-related bonds, my favorite kind I guess is parent-to-child. I think the love between a parent and child is one of the most beautiful things. Mother to daughter, father to son, vice versa. And something similar, older sibling taking care of a younger sibling. And then they don't even have to be related. If it's some stranger who takes in a young one and raises them as their own, that touches my heart as well.

And I agree with Mashi about well thought out worlds. I love seeing those. Where things like culture, customs, dress... even units of measurement are taken into account. I like seeing what the author puts into developing that world because it really draws me in and makes me feel like I could be part of it too.

As for elements that I don't like... Hmm. I've seen and read through a lot of cliches/tropes that don't usually bother me, but... If they are done to the extreme or are just there for the sake of it (with no relevance to anything whatsoever) then I will definitely lose interest. XD Fanservice is a major one that comes to mind.

I can't think of much else right now. Maybe I'll edit if I do.

And lol, I feel like I know exactly what stories/shows you guys are talking about with the excessive and prolonged fight scenes that last for episodes on end. XD Those can be quite... tiring.

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:10 pm

Aw nobody will hate you Selini for not minding things other people dislike. XD; And some of the things I listed, I don't mind as much as it might seem I do. Like a lot of good books I've read have included some of those elements and at most it would just make me a little annoyed, but I still loved the books.

And I really do love romance in a story too, so you're not alone. As I said I can just be picky with it sometimes, haha.

Selini wrote:
I find it's more meaningful if I can see and witness the characters fall in love overtime, the trials and challenges they went through to become the people they are and how that contributes to how they feel towards each other.

See, I agree with this completely. This is a great way of putting it!

And I don't like when it seems like the writer is throwing in a romance for the sake of having one. It's just dull, usually. It's hard to explain though. As an example, in my own stories I never plan them out thinking "and there has to be a romance between these two characters" - instead I develop the characters themselves and the relationships develop from there - whether it is friendship or whatever, and sometimes I just feel a sort of pull between two of them where I can tell there might be something more than just friendship evolving there. It feels more natural and true to the characters that way, rather than molding the characters purposely around the romance.

That's just me though! We all have our own personal tastes and I'm not offended by anyone thinking differently, hehe.

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Selini

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:41 pm

Oh okay. XD; Yeah, I understand. (Sorry, I just got a little nervous)

I see what you mean too. I very much agree with that approach. Don't just throw in romance because 'something' just has to be there (though I'm not gonna lie, if someone did do that it would definitely grab my attention instantly). I like that idea of developing the characters and just letting things happen naturally. ^^
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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:20 pm

I don't mind romance if it's done well. Some stories have really great romance plots! But there is a lot of emphasis on romantic (and sexual) relationships in popular media, while friendships are interpreted as less significant. As an ace myself, I find this really... tiring. Those stories, and culture as a whole, are telling me that my relationships are less 'valid' than traditional romantic+sexual relationships. I know this is not true, but it's still really disappointing to see. I really like stories with platonic love because that's what I identify with; I have no personal connection to Sexual People Problems, so plots that focus around that are less interesting and relevant to me.

...That said, I do have a few romances in my stories, of many different kinds. I also write many other types of relationships that I would label as 'love' but which aren't 'romance'. The thing all of these relationship types have in common is the characters coming to mutually care about each other, which is the thing you pinpointed anyway! That statement you made can be applied not only to conventional romance, but also friendlove, ace romance, mentor/student or someone 'adopting' and looking after a lost child....... it doesn't need to be limited the way it often is.
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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:42 pm

I totally understand where you're coming from, Dusk. I really like to see platonic love in stories as well and I don't think it is any less significant than romantic love. I write quite a bit of these kind of relationships as well. =)

(Hehe, I like the example of somebody adopting/taking care of a lost child. That's pretty much what the main relationship is in the comic Selini and I have been planning.)
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varethane

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:06 pm

I like stories where people get hurt :U (and I am a sucker for stories involving ethically bankrupt supersoldier projects and the like, especially if there's body horror involved)

hurr hurr hurr /sadistic towards fictional characters

Also I am a sucker for Strong Platonic Bonds; I can only handle romance in small doses, if it's not sappy or poorly-written. There've been a few cases I've seen where the characters were so well-written and had such great chemistry with each other I actually wouldn't mind seeing more glimpses of their relationship (for instance in the webcomic Archipelago I am on tenterhooks waiting for any new developments in Credenza and Raven's relationship, aaahhhh), but I have to admit if it took over the entire story I'd lose interest pretty fast.

I also like well-choreographed martial arts sequences, provided they are integrated into the story and not just sort of there Because. (I've seen these appear in stories where the abilities sort of came out of nowhere and....... why even bother??)
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Duskglass

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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:12 pm

varethane wrote:
I like stories where people get hurt :U (and I am a sucker for stories involving ethically bankrupt supersoldier projects and the like, especially if there's body horror involved)
.....yep. this.

also frightening and creepy (and often uncontrollable) powers with a body horror element....
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PostSubject: Re: What do you like in a story?   Tue Jan 29, 2013 1:10 am

I see what you mean as well, and I agree. ^^ Platonic relationships are definitely harder to find compared to romantic ones. ><

varethane wrote:
(for instance in the webcomic Archipelago I am on tenterhooks waiting for any new developments in Credenza and Raven's relationship, aaahhhh)
I am toooo. x) I love those two and I am rooting for them.
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