Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#1
This is an appeal to RR authors, please don’t continue to beat a dead horse by forcing the reader to read about yet ANOTHER hall of judgement that include the following elements:
  • The main character is dead
  • This is a mimicry of the afterlife featured prominently in a Christian judgement by God
  • The main character has no agency (they’re powerless)
  • The main character is clueless
  • The main character is not allowed to learn about what is happening while they’re being judged
  • The main character is humiliated, physically below others, etc.
  • The main character faces inscrutable beings of great power
  • These beings are callous towards the main character
  • These beings have convoluted plans and they compete against each other
  • These beings speak with ominous voices
  • They force the character to make uninformed or poorly informed choices
  • The choices have wildly unforeseen consequences about the next “life” the character gets to live
  • Parting words by the judgmental beings involved further humiliations or self aggrandizement
  • Following the judgement, the character immediately is introduced to litrpg statistics
This trope is really tiresome. Subjectively (IMO) it is a strong indicator that the story will lack creativity, interesting characters, plot and skillful prose. Often, unless the trope is heavily modified to suit the author's voice, I'll just stop reading immediately. Personally speaking, I don't invest in the notion that humans will face judgement before "entering" the afterlife. It may be that is why this trope is so irksome to my tastes. Regardless of this, it has become boilerplate to many stories here which I do not find worthwhile to invest my time in.

I'm not an author or a professional editor, so take my words with a grain of salt -for they do seem salty!

For reference: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JudgementOfTheDead

Perhaps, there are "riffs" or other specific changes to those bulleted points above that can transform this from a trope into something... novel! Personal request: remove all divine elements altogether and especially remove all the self-aggrandizement, humiliation and "begging for information" elements from the transition of the main character from our world into the story setting. 

Best wishes!

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#2
I've always found just including gods somewhat problematic, they are gods and are extremely powerful so the author has to include some cornbally reason that they can't interfere for X reasons or only in Y contrived situation. It creates only a thin walled rationale to protect against questioning the purpose of the MC even being there which isn't great. I think a number of fantasy works would be improved by removing gods or just having them be like our world where the gods don't really exist, it feels like it raises the stakes when you don't have gods looking over everything.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#3
not sure how the OP follows on 'clueless' mc, I thought the two were different things, but here's my thought on either the judgment thing or a clueless mc:

Do what you want if you think you can pull it off in an entertaining and possibly somewhat original way. Whenever people say 'don't use this trope' or 'don't use this cliche', just take it as a recommendation. It's not a rule, law or whatever and is purely their own taste and opinion.


That being said, by now the tropes carry a tone you may not wish in your novel. Think carefully about your choices, then do what you think is best. There are tropes and such I don't like and I won't enjoy finding them in a novel. Others will enjoy it, that's the beautiful thing of having so many different tastes and opinions in the world. If I find one I'll always be honest that I didn't enjoy it, but I wouldn't tell someone they're wrong to use it. I may recommend against it if I think it's disliked enough, but again, in the end, do as you think is best.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#4
I am not convinced that creativity is enhanced or encouraged by listing a lot of prohibitions, especially categorical ones. Most heroic journeys involve a character in moving into an unknown situation that past skills have not prepared him/her for.  Otherwise you would be chronicling a contractor taking a routine service call.  Generally the journey involves a lot of what in writing is called try/fails. Fantasy is the main motif for this site. So there will be jinn and zombies and gods and elves and dragons and dwarves and all manner of reasonably stock codas and motifs that, it is assumed, most fantasy readers want to see. How well and originally this is approached by the author and how interesting the plot is, how well the characters are developed, usually discriminates the good stories from the pedestrian. I don't think the tropes matter as much as what is done with them.  Always like to see new things though.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#6

Half Wrote: I love tropes-- the more tired the better. It gives the author a chance to go against the expectations set by using the trope. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't -- like a literary version of russian roulette.

Lmao. I like your interpretation, and actually find it pretty fitting. Like when you are 300 pages deep in a novel and realize that it's boring and cliché. What do you do then? 

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#7
It kinda feels funny when gods are just regular people, but with super powers. Quite often really STUPID people, but I guess x-dere baka-ddesses (?) and whatnot are their own trope. It's all pretty lazy but I guess it's just the fast food fries of the lit world. Nobody can claim it's good, but it sure is easy to eat and hits the right buttons.

Oopsie I made a mistake and killed you now I'm gonna spend all this power to grant all your wishes and make you OP.. yeah sure it doesn't make sense but tee hee, go make your catgirl and elf harem?

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#8
I think KonoSuba is the perfect example why beating the dead horse is funny and interesting and people will continue to try it. I like some which are exactly point by point as you describe, so I kinda disagree that the recipe is what turns them that way, it's the skill imo.
But I'm fine with it, there is always gonna be a good story or two buried under all the bad. You just have to find the good ones and ignore the rest. The lack of interest and support culls most of them out. The only problem I have is when something undeserving becomes popular enough and turns into the standard of quality and success.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#9
I don’t know. These tropes can be indeed tedious but when used right they can make an engaging story. I highly recommend “The Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want A Fourth Time”. It has all of the above mentioned clichés and yet it was a highly enjoyable read with villains worth hating and cool characters. And you know that it was good when someone like me, who runs away the moment she sees the “harem” tag, is recommending the story.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#11


I love me some isekai, so I really don't care if:


Quote:
  • The main character is dead


This is just bad writing overall:

Quote:
  • The main character has no agency (they’re powerless)
  • The main character is clueless
  • The main character is not allowed to learn about what is happening while they’re being judged
  • They force the character to make uninformed or poorly informed choices
  • The choices have wildly unforeseen consequences about the next “life” the character gets to live
  • Parting words by the judgmental beings involved further humiliations or self aggrandizement
  • Following the judgement, the character immediately is introduced to litrpg statistics


These can work when written correctly:
Quote:
  • This is a mimicry of the afterlife featured prominently in a Christian judgement by God
  • The main character is humiliated, physically below others, etc.
  • The main character faces inscrutable beings of great power
  • These beings are callous towards the main character
  • These beings have convoluted plans and they compete against each other
  • These beings speak with ominous voices


There's a big difference between "tropes that occur because the author is bad at writing," and, "tropes that occur because the author enjoys a certain cliche."

Some problems can be avoided with good writing, but other problems only exist because the writing was bad to begin with.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#12
An MC without agency can make for an interesting story. I forgot who gave me the example of a story like that, or what the example was, but as long as the writer realizes what they're doing, it doesn't have to be bad. It's only bad for me when there is a gap between how the author tries to portray the MC and the actual agency of the character.

Forcing the character to make uninformed or poorly informed choices is also fine when done right, as well as adding unforeseen consequences. Those can often go together. A minmaxer might choose a draconic bloodline when presented with the option without realizing it will mean vertical pupils, yellow eyes, no hair and scales in places. Later on he (or she) may be drawn into a conflict between the strongest dragons simply because the progenitor of the bloodline is involved. When done well, I see nothing wrong with this.


Having the god or goddess be a jerk and finish with a nasty farewell will solidify the goal of getting one over that god by (for example) surviving - see 'death mage who doesn't want a fourth time'. Again, it needs to be done well.

Any cliche and trope can be enjoyable when done right and done well - or even when done wrong enough. 

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#13

Bizmatech Wrote: I love me some isekai, so I really don't care if:


Quote:
  • The main character is dead


This is just bad writing overall:






These can work when written correctly:


I think OP is actually listing the elements of a particular way of starting stories, not saying that each listed element is necessarilly a problem individually.


This sort of setup is a slightly more detailed (but still very cliched) variation of what is referred to as ROB - Random Omnipotent Being.  It's convenient for setting up a hypothetical scenario for a discussion thread, but is pretty dull and lazy if used for actual narrative purposes.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#14
I don't believe in 'you shouldn't use this' in a work of fiction (unless it's illegal). There are things I do and do not enjoy, but I would never tell anyone not to use the things I don't enjoy. There is probably someone else who does like it, after all.

Telling people you shouldn't use a beginning in which all the parts of the OP are used is, frankly, ridiculous. As others have said, don't blame the trope or whatever, there is nothing wrong with it. Blame the lazy authors.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#17

RoboRoyoRoa Wrote: This is an appeal to RR authors, please don’t continue to beat a dead horse by forcing the reader to read about yet ANOTHER hall of judgement that include the following elements:
  • The main character is dead
  • This is a mimicry of the afterlife featured prominently in a Christian judgement by God
  • The main character has no agency (they’re powerless)
  • The main character is clueless
  • The main character is not allowed to learn about what is happening while they’re being judged
  • The main character is humiliated, physically below others, etc.
  • The main character faces inscrutable beings of great power
  • These beings are callous towards the main character
  • These beings have convoluted plans and they compete against each other
  • These beings speak with ominous voices
  • They force the character to make uninformed or poorly informed choices
  • The choices have wildly unforeseen consequences about the next “life” the character gets to live
  • Parting words by the judgmental beings involved further humiliations or self aggrandizement
  • Following the judgement, the character immediately is introduced to litrpg statistics
This trope is really tiresome. Subjectively (IMO) it is a strong indicator that the story will lack creativity, interesting characters, plot and skillful prose. Often, unless the trope is heavily modified to suit the author's voice, I'll just stop reading immediately. Personally speaking, I don't invest in the notion that humans will face judgement before "entering" the afterlife. It may be that is why this trope is so irksome to my tastes. Regardless of this, it has become boilerplate to many stories here which I do not find worthwhile to invest my time in.

I'm not an author or a professional editor, so take my words with a grain of salt -for they do seem salty!

For reference: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JudgementOfTheDead

Perhaps, there are "riffs" or other specific changes to those bulleted points above that can transform this from a trope into something... novel! Personal request: remove all divine elements altogether and especially remove all the self-aggrandizement, humiliation and "begging for information" elements from the transition of the main character from our world into the story setting. 

Best wishes!

Ehhh, what Stories are you talking about? Because I've read literally hundreds of web novels, but while the first 4-5 are pretty common, I've only seen the others maybe 2-3 times, tops.

Re: beating a dead horse: the callous judgement of the clueless MC trope

#18
If Gods are done right, the novel could be quite good. 
I feel a great tell to recognise a novel with Gods well is how gods are humanised. If they are humanised at all, it is not a great novel. XD
Gods, in my opinion, are superior beings whose motivations and emotions should be different from us humans. If the author gives them the same emotions and goals and makes them appear human, they are simply stupidly powerful human. Not gods.