Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#1
When was the last time you read a story where the priest was a devout (if imperfect) man trying to give reasonable advice to people, not a fanatical zealot or a disingenuous hack?

When was the last time you read a story where Mom & Dad were happily married, had been for years, and proud of it?

When was the last time you read a story that didn't portray a large family (5+ kids) in a negative light? 

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes actually wanted to become better people, not simply stronger people?

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes were trying to put the world back to the way it was, not recreate it in their own image?


I can't find any. From a thousand different authors, they are all the same story, and I know how all of them go. For a long time, I was writing the same story. But the counter-culture is now mainstream. Anybody seen that meme, where a hundred punks wearing leather and chains with spiked hair all look at the one guy in a suit and tie and they're all like "Ha! What a conformist!"

Feels like that aptly describes the literary world recently.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#2
Married couple happen but it's usually side characters as authors usually want to write about an MC who is meeting their love for the first time and all that entails, it's just juicier to write about to be honest with more options for drama.

5+ kids and positive? weasleys from harry potter? They were portrayed as pretty awesome people.

Being better people is like wanting to be being more moral? I guess that's a thing? Generally characters just want to kick ass than philosophise too much.

And lots of times, the heroes aren't generally the ones running the world, that's the rulers, the heroes are generally just murder hobos who step in and put the hammer on the villain and are lavished with praise afterward and don't have to deal with any actual responsibility or governing.

You are right about priests regularly getting the secretly evil trope though, that said it's not 100% I'm reading a story with a good priest right now.


Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#3
Got me on Harry Potter and the Weasleys. Missed the point with most of the other ones, though.

I am not suggesting that protagonists start married, simply that (when they bother mentioning parents at all) how often are their parents married? Not divorced, not separated, not dead in a ditch somewhere?

And I am not suggesting they wax philosophical either: when was the last time you read about a hero who honestly had some sort of moral fault (addiction, lying, being unfaithful to his significant other, stealing, so on) where they say "Hold on, am I a scummy person? I have these behaviors that I'm not really proud of, maybe I should stop doing those things." When's the last time you saw that?

And of course the heroes aren't running the world. But when they do get involved in the way things are run, how often is it that they say "Maybe things were better before {insert disruptive change here} happened, maybe we should get back to the way they were run instead of inserting my personal opinion in the matter and becoming the new arbiter of right and wrong?"

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#4
To put it simple – b’cause of drama.

It is much more interesting to read about a protagonist that has to brave the dangerous world on his own, has to fight with the horror of losing his family, than him getting three meals per day and cuddles.

Another point is… do you think that the protagonist would decide to go on a perilous journey if he had a stable family? Or rather, do you think he could? Knowing my parents, the moment I were to ditch home, the police, the National Guard and a big band of relatives would be on my tale. My mother would then personally drag me by the collar and drop me before my dad for a set of double nagging and being grounded until I’m in my 40ies.

Not saying that the dead family trope is not overused. But if not implementing it, the author has to think really really hard for a reason to begin ‘the hero’s journey’.


Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#5
For most of those points, the last time I read stories with those elements was, at most, last week or a few weeks ago. They're really not that rare in my experience.

Of course, maybe the traditional family with lots of kids is rarer in fiction nowadays than in the past. But that's because it's rarer in the real world, too. In stories set in modern times, or close to them, it's just less realistic to have more than five children (for most settings). And it's also more common to have divorced or single parents.
Plus, if the protagonist has many family members, then they probably have to appear in the story. It may just be easier to not have to portray them, and focus on one or two family members. Plus, if the protagonist is an orphan mourning or searching for their real family, you have instant drama set up.

For the actually evil priests, I guess those are more common in fiction, but there are still a lot of the more positively portrayed types. Especially if they're from the same religion as the protagonist. For fantasy, there are lots of stories where the protagonist is a champion or paladin of some deity, and priests of those deities will support them. I think the fact that more are of the fanatical or disingenuous ones reflects developments in the real world, where often it's become more acceptable to criticize religion and priests, and these issues have become more noticeable.

As to main characters wanting to be better people, that's in a lot of stories in principle. Character development is the heart of most good stories. I don't think that's in any danger of dying out. Of course, some generic wish fulfillment stories have the hero just want to get stronger, but I don't think that's a new development, either. Well, maybe it is, I don't know.

One thing I don't really get, though.
Runt147 Wrote: When was the last time you read a story where the heroes were trying to put the world back to the way it was, not recreate it in their own image?

It sounds like you think recreating the world of the story is by definition a good thing. I don't think I can agree to that. Even if the previous society was portrayed in a positive light, there would have been issues. No society is perfect. And this disruptive change happening during the story would often make those issues more prevalent. In most stories, it would probably be pretty hard to put things together exactly the way they were, anyway. The events of the story will have changed too many things, so trying to recreate the old world would probably be a recipe for disaster.

Of course, the important point is that the heroes don't force their ideas or ideology on their people/country/group. But you could just as well do that by, say, forming a committee to decide what's going to happen with the country.
In my experience, the hero becoming the new tyrant after they defeat the old one may be a classic, but it doesn't really appear that often in stories.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#6
People like edgy, anti-heroic, misanthropic storytelling because it makes them feel good about their own pessimistic views of the world and people. It makes them feel smarter than people who see the good in others, who believe in doing the right thing and putting others above themselves.

Frankly, you can see in this in the fandoms of works that are the most edgy and dark—their fans are often very toxic people, just as devoted to dragging down more optimistic works of fiction as they are in glorifying the horrible things in whatever they praise.


Ariana Wrote: Another point is… do you think that the protagonist would decide to go on a perilous journey if he had a stable family? Or rather, do you think he could? Knowing my parents, the moment I were to ditch home, the police, the National Guard and a big band of relatives would be on my tale. My mother would then personally drag me by the collar and drop me before my dad for a set of double nagging and being grounded until I’m in my 40ies.

Not saying that the dead family trope is not overused. But if not implementing it, the author has to think really really hard for a reason to begin ‘the hero’s journey’.


A good writer can work that into personal conflict for the protagonist. What's more interesting: a character who has to juggle whatever it is they do with their normal family life, potentially having to keep it a secret? A character who must bring themselves to leave a comfortable life to stop something that might put said comfortable life in peril, or even something that would affect people other than themselves? Or simply "my parents are dead, no biggie"?


The "dead/absent parents" trope is typically just an easy way out of conflict and difficulty that could make a story much more interesting and unique.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#8

Lilith Wrote:
Ariana Wrote: Another point is… do you think that the protagonist would decide to go on a perilous journey if he had a stable family? Or rather, do you think he could? Knowing my parents, the moment I were to ditch home, the police, the National Guard and a big band of relatives would be on my tale. My mother would then personally drag me by the collar and drop me before my dad for a set of double nagging and being grounded until I’m in my 40ies.

Not saying that the dead family trope is not overused. But if not implementing it, the author has to think really really hard for a reason to begin ‘the hero’s journey’.


A good writer can work that into personal conflict for the protagonist. What's more interesting: a character who has to juggle whatever it is they do with their normal family life, potentially having to keep it a secret? A character who must bring themselves to leave a comfortable life to stop something that might put said comfortable life in peril, or even something that would affect people other than themselves? Or simply "my parents are dead, no biggie"?


The "dead/absent parents" trope is typically just an easy way out of conflict and difficulty that could make a story much more interesting and unique.

I absolutely agree.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#9

Runt147 Wrote: When was the last time you read a story where the priest was a devout (if imperfect) man trying to give reasonable advice to people, not a fanatical zealot or a disingenuous hack? 1*

When was the last time you read a story where Mom & Dad were happily married, had been for years, and proud of it? 2*

When was the last time you read a story that didn't portray a large family (5+ kids) in a negative light? 3*

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes actually wanted to become better people, not simply stronger people? 4*

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes were trying to put the world back to the way it was, not recreate it in their own image? 5*



1: I know I read one, not too long ago. Do some of the priests from HWFWM count?
2: Today. Magic Smithing
3: I can't recall reading a story with a family that big
4: It does happen, and those usually are the more interesting stories
5: If you put the world back the way it was, won't it just get broken again?

Don't worry, I get your point. The answer is given by Ariana: 'Because drama'. Stories about people with a balanced personality and no baggage are less interesting. A story set in a world where everyone is trying their best to get along is also not that interesting. Combine the two and it gets even harder. I'm not saying it's impossible, but given the fact that not everyone has the tools to pull that off, they will opt for easier alternatives.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#10

Quote:
People like edgy, anti-heroic, misanthropic storytelling because it makes them feel good about their own pessimistic views of the world and people. It makes them feel smarter than people who see the good in others, who believe in doing the right thing and putting others above themselves.

Frankly, you can see in this in the fandoms of works that are the most edgy and dark—their fans are often very toxic people, just as devoted to dragging down more optimistic works of fiction as they are in glorifying the horrible things in whatever they praise.


Do they? That seems like an awful lot of assumptions.

And that fandom thing doesn't really align with what I've seen, some of the most toxic fandoms are of works that are incredibly innocent and heartfelt: Undertale and Steven Universe come to mind. 

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#13
I killed my MC's family because:

1) No strings attached. Not having close ties on Earth meant it was much easier to agree to run off to a galactic war. Having people to look after and bailing on that to go on an adventure just makes the MC a bad person.

2) Starting at zero. Starting with next to nothing means there is more room to grow. If a person already has a pretty good life they are likely to be interested in maintaining it, instead of making some huge change in their life.

3) Remove good advice. It is rarely advisable to get involved in a war (if you're already involved that's different). People will die, you may even become a mass murderer on you path to "victory". A good parent is likely to want to keep their child away from such a conflict.

As for putting things back the way they used to be: Change is the only constant. There is no putting things back the way they used to be. You can only move forward. Now, the new thing you build can look a lot like the old thing that was destroyed, but that doesn't change the fact that all things have a natural life cycle. Anything else is just wish fulfillment.

Grand adventures don't happen when things are stable. Grand adventures require chaos to tame.

Also, it's worth noting that stable, responsible, family-oriented types don't tend to get involved in adventures -- by definition that isn't very stable, responsible or considerate toward your family. Look at Lord of the Rings. None of those primary characters had a family. Sure, they were fighting to protect a way of life, but even that wasn't the same by the end... life was in some ways better, some ways worse, but the original way of life was gone for good.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#14

Runt147 Wrote: When was the last time you read a story where Mom & Dad were happily married, had been for years, and proud of it?


As I'm in an applicable situation, I feel like I can get involved.
Thought to start, my MCs parents are not happily married, they are happily divorced. Neither have bad blood, and because of different viewpoints just don't see eye to eye. Doesn't mean they hate eachother or anything.

Though I do agree that writing a story with happily married parents that are supportive of their children's decisions is rare in action stories. I suppose at its core, it would depend on society in that world. If you wrote a world where it's considered the norm for children to try and get stronger, with all the downsides out in the open alongside it, then you're quite likely to find parents who unwillingly hope their child goes on to become the next bigshot adventurer/cultivator thing. You can somewhat see this in xianxia, where the immortal sects recruit new blood from peasant youths and the parents are more than happy to send their children off.

I could also go on a rant about the zealous/corrupt church thing, as well as the imposing MC, but some people love the easy enemy. Although, it's always blindingly stupid when you have a story with a good god but their followers are utter piles of crap. Why the hell does this not break divine canon and end with a load of smiting?

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#15
When was the last time you read a story where the priest was a devout (if imperfect) man trying to give reasonable advice to people, not a fanatical zealot or a disingenuous hack?

The Luminian Order in Elder Empire are examples of good priests who are trying to make the world a better place. Then there’s Alanic Zosk in Mother of Learning. In fact, while Mother of Learning has plenty of cultists, it seemed like most of the priest-like characters were just trying to help. The majority of the Ardents in Stormlight Archive aren’t bad people either.

One of the characters in Hands Hand in the Snow is training to become a Priest, and while I haven’t finished that one yet, she seemed devout and unlikely to go dark.

For some non-book examples, many of the priests in the Warcraft universe (especially Anduin) fit the 'good priest' role, not to mention all the white mage characters in JRPGs (Yuna and Aerith from Final Fantasy come to mind). I even started with the priest / white mage trope for series' my own main character.

The Jedi in Star Wars are more monks than priests, but once again, most of them are religious people trying to do the right thing without being zealots.

When was the last time you read a story that didn't portray a large family (5+ kids) in a negative light?

The Weasley’s in Harry Potter (as others have mentioned). Also, the Starks in Game of Thrones have five kids plus Jon Snow

When was the last time you read a story where Mom & Dad were happily married, had been for years, and proud of it?

Again, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones both have examples of this. (Mr/Mrs. Weasley and Ned/Catelyn Stark). The Starks might even be the better example here because they’re actually the main characters of the series.

Kaladin's parents in Stormlight Archive have also been married for 19+ years, and they're still alive after three books.

Zorian's parents in Mother of Learning are also still married, and most of the conflicts seem to be with their children rather than with each other. 

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes actually wanted to become better people, not simply stronger people?

Calder Marten in Elder Empire. His ultimate goal is to be a better emperor than the one before him. 

Many of the characters in Stormlight Archive fit this trope, but Dalinar is the best example since he already starts out as a ruler with a dark past. There’s even a quote where he talks about rising as a better man. 

Elend Venture in the Mistborn series is always striving to do the right thing and become the best leader he can be.

The Star Wars universe plays with this a lot. For the Jedi, they’re constantly forced to choose between doing what’s right vs. quick and easy power that eventually corrupts you. Similarly, in Lord of the Rings, the Ring is constantly tempting the main characters with power, and try to reject it.

This one really depends on how interested in Philosophy the author is, since “becoming better” usually involves questioning what it means to be better (and if it’s even possible under the circumstances). Authors like Brandon Sanderson seem to find this topic interesting more interesting than most. 

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes were trying to put the world back to the way it was, not recreate it in their own image?

Most of the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings. They start out living peacefully in the Shire, and their end goal is to keep doing that. 

In Harry Potter once again, none of the heroes are really trying to change anything. Once Voldemort is dead, life goes on. For most of the characters, their biggest aspiration is to make things go back to how they were before he rose to power. (Sure, Hermione has a side-story about civil rights, but it’s not really the main focus.)

Overall, I see your point, and I agree with Ariana Vivoni that the reason is drama/conflict, not to mention the fact that they're trying to subvert classic fantasy and/or Disney movies. But there are definitely plenty of modern authors out there who still use the tropes you’ve mentioned. Antiheroes are popular right now, but there will always be popular stories with regular heroes too.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#16
Wow, do people ever make a lot of assumptions about what I'm asking. There are too many replies to address individually, so I'll do it en mass.

1.) For all of the people who didn't assume that I wanted Gumdrops and rainbows for a story, thank you.

2.) For all the people who did, why would you assume that? Did I say that the world couldn't be violent? Couldn't have conflict? Without conflict, indeed, there is no story.

3.) For all the people who pointed out the classics such as LoTR and Star Wars, you are exactly where I am aiming, I just phrased the question cynically (my apologies). Those are indeed classics and for very good reason. Luke Skywalker was raised by two people (not parents technically, but identical in the roll they fulfill) who live together and are trying to raise a child together to the very best of their ability. He is also trying to put the galaxy back the way it was before it was shattered by the Empire. The heroes who seem to capture our imagination the most are always questioning themselves, not trying to impose their personal vision upon the world around them. Ironically enough, Dragon Ball Z abridged from Team Four Star also has some amazing character development:

Krillin, the coward, becomes braver to protect the woman he loves.

Goku, the bullheaded idiot, becomes aware that he has neglected his son in awful ways.

Vegeta finally overcomes his personal pride (after nearly sacrificing the human race for it) and utters his first apology.

Gohan realizes he needs to become more independent because better individuals keep sacrificing themselves to save him.


All in all, keep the conversation going, people, love the debate, keep it up!

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#17

Runt147 Wrote: Vegeta finally overcomes his personal pride (after nearly sacrificing the human race for it) and utters his first apology.


It's always amused me how Vegeta gets treated by the fandom. He has committed genocide amongst other atrocities on innocent people and if he were human he would have been put on trial for war crimes. But we're gonna forget that all that because he's a cool edgy badass. "I pretend I do not see it"😂


I think people write about what's easiest. It's harder to write a cool badass hero with their mother leaning on their shoulder as they adventure, or a big family.

I don't think it's rebelling or counter culture, just not wanting to write difficult things that very few people are able to pull off.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#20

Quote:When was the last time you read a story where Mom & Dad were happily married, had been for years, and proud of it?

When was the last time you read a story that didn't portray a large family (5+ kids) in a negative light? 



I'm curious how you regard the story behind Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. The protagonist abandons his family in order to


Quote:the heroe(s) actually wanted to become a better (people) person, not simply a stronger (people) person?


IOW, meet his divine calling in accord to the writ tenets of his faith.

Values shift, and what was once godly in one generation seem wretched to us now.