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Would it bother you if a protagonist in a fantasy often thought deeply?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by fantastic, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. fantastic

    fantastic Minstrel

    Would it bother you if the thoughts of a main character or one of the protagonists in a fantasy were often shown thinking deeply?

    Would it bother you if it actually showed what the character thought and not just one or a few sentences explaining an idea that the main character thinks. Most people say that you do not want to write a realistic dialogue, you just want to write a dialogue that seems realistic. Is the same with thoughts?

    For example:

    "This stone is mine." she said.
    He didn't say anything. After all that happened, he wasn't sure whether it truly belonged to her. Was it ever her father's to begin with? After some thinking he decided she should have it for now.

    What about this?

    "This stone is mine." she said.
    He didn't say anything. It was true that the stone belonged to her father and since he was dead, all his property was now hers. But then again, her father was entrusted with protecting the stone, he was never said to be the owner. In case he weren't, stone would not belong to her. Unless she could claim that she is the most suitable one to protect it, in which case she still wouldn't really be an owner, only protector like her father, if he truly was just a protector. But if he was more than the protector, and those who entrusted him with a stone, if they were the real owners, considered him the owner of a stone, then the stone would now belong to her. That was, assuming that the ownership was not decided by some additional rules. Either way, it seemed more likely it was hers than anybody else's. So he decided she should keep it until they learn more about it.

    Which one would you like better? Not the quality of prose, only the way in which character is shown to be thinking. Assume the quality of writing was the same in both examples.

    Do you think it depends on the personality of the character? Even if it does, would it bother you to read it in a fantasy story?
  2. I hope it doesn't bother many people. One of my main characters is extremely introspective, often spending paragraphs consumed in thought. (Her brother, the other narrator, is far more succinct and to the point in his narration and quicker in his decision-making, so I hope it balances.

    I think the thing to consider is, are this character's thoughts important, adding something to the story, or are they just pointless rambling? Think of all the random garbage that goes through your mind within the span of just five minutes. Writers must be far more selective in what they allow onto the page.

    A character that thinks often is far better than a character that doesn't think at all, though. We have far too much of the latter.
  3. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    Second could be okay in some pivotal places, but would drag down the pace for me if it was all the time. Then again I tend to prefer really fast paced stories, like much faster than the typical epic fantasy. The thoughts would probably be less boring than excessive description at least.
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Doesn't bother me. See, for example, Steven Erikson.
  5. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Doesn't bother me. I think it's one of the strengths of books and what sets it apart from film. You have the freedom to get deep withing a character's thoughts. In Game of Thrones we're in character's heads for extended periods without a peep of dialogue. For me personally, I see it all the time in the books I read.
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

    At that length, done not too, too often, it would not bother me at all. I like the insight.
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I don't mind some introspection now and again, but I enjoy a lot of dialogue myself. It depends on what the character is thinking deeply about. If it's something really cool and interesting, I can hang out in their mind for a bit.
  8. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I saw the title of the thread and wondered what might be meant by "deeply." A character can have long, meandering thoughts that are rather shallow, possibly unnecessary, and quite annoying.

    I would say yes, it's the same. But really what lies behind the notion is this: dialogue should be interesting, hold attention, and seem necessary. Have you ever listened to someone ramble on and on and found yourself quickly growing bored? At least in real speech, lots of "ums" and "uhs" and so forth go by quickly (whereas in writing they are sitting there staring us in the face), and meandering speech will have the benefit of body language and so much else to hold our attention or at least distract us from the rambling speech. Even so, it's easy to grow bored by what doesn't interest us.

    I would say the same goes for internal thoughts. The length of internal dialogue is less important than the quality; each new sentence or thought should hold attention, and the combination of thoughts should create an interesting narrative. Just as I'm not interested in hearing a rambling, largely irrelevant monologue, I'm not interested in being privy to a rambling string of sophomoric thoughts. (I suspect that if I were suddenly given the power of telepathy, I'd avoid using it often not out of decency so much as out of a desire to avoid mind-numbing boredom and a wish to limit any feelings of misanthropy I might have.)
  9. cydare

    cydare Minstrel

    I like introspection. It makes me feel closer to the character, and I prefer the way it slows things down a little. Something I need to work on is adding more introspection to my work, rather than action like a laundry list.

    One thing I'll caution you on is take care that you don't have too much circular thoughts. Most books I've read in which introspection didn't work for me had the characters think the same things over and over and over again, with little change. It got pointless and boring to the point that I'd start skipping paragraphs because I couldn't sit through the hero wonder yet again if the love interest was into him, after she'd confessed her devotion 5 times at least.
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    So, the way I see it, it's like this . . . .

    If you have absolutely no writing skill, and you're telling a run-of-the-mill boring story, keep to super-tight prose. And you can add stuff like deep thoughts and long descriptions based on the strength of your story and your skill level as a writer. If a reader really cares about the characters, or find your prose compelling, they're more likely to go along with the extras.

    What you want to do here is an extra. You can. You should. If you're skilled enough to make the deep thoughts actually feel deep and interesting, and if your story is good enough to carry the tension through the extra prose.
  11. Alile

    Alile Scribe

    I was also wondering what a "deep thought" is. The ownership of a stone seems shallow to me. Thoughts about the meaning of life, the value of human life, does any gods exist, what is ethical, good and right, why people feel pain and die in stupid accidents, why do people do wrong things like crime, and can crime be justified - is it okay to steal food to feed your starving child? Even these topics have been covered in length by thinkers since mankind was an ape. They say philosophy was born 500 years before Christ, but people have had to face hunger, hatred, war, pain, illness and death for millennia. So what is a deep thought? Did you mean longer paragraphs that are thoughts?

    Maybe you shouldn't go for deep thoughts. Go for new ones, pointful and meaningful ones, those that belong in a story, those that will matter to your story. If they serve no purpose, don't include them.
    jm.milks likes this.
  12. fantastic

    fantastic Minstrel

    Well, I meant thinking in greater detail and following someone's flow of thoughts. These thoughts can be about everday things, philosophical ideas and other things.
  13. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    I think one should generally confine long introspection to sequels, not scenes. The sequel needs a slower pace, and that's what long introspection will give you. Also, introspection is generally in response to stuff happening, but not while it is happening.

    As a quick example, if someone is being attacked by ninjas, he'd be fighting them off etc., and only after defeating them will he turn to thoughts about why they had attacked him (maybe while being patched up).
  14. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    ^^^ I notice this about my own writing.

    So in my scenes I will have


    In fairly quick succession with little time spent on long (deep) introspective thought.

    But the sequel? Watch out. That's when everything slows down and my character gets all thinky. She starts having second thoughts, debating with herself, feeling conflicting emotions, having to make a plan etc...

    So i say yes, please do give your character deep thoughts! But save it for the sequel.
  15. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

    It really depends how often it is done. If they go off on tangents all the time then it could become irritating, but if it's like once a chapter then I wouldn't mind the insight into the character's thoughts.

    But I do find stories more engaging when things are actually happening and the story is progressing. When their character is shown by what they do and not all inner monologue.
  16. Xitra_Blud

    Xitra_Blud Sage

    I personally did prefer the first one, but the second one doesn't bother me. If you feel like the second is necessary, than I'd say go ahead in do it. It sounds like it boils down to style and what going for than anything else.
  17. artsyChica

    artsyChica Dreamer

    I think it's all about the pacing of the story. Done at the wrong place and the wrong time, a reader could find it jarring and find themselves skipping over it. But done right, your reader gets to know your character a little better [so yes, the personality of the character counts] and starts to care and that's a good thing.

    My main worry, writer-wise, would be to not have so much thought feel like the dreaded info-dump; I'd be more inclined to take a paragraph like the example given and make it a mix of dialogue and character action.
  18. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

    Not at all. I would read it, yes. I prefer the second one over the first. Just me though, lol.
  19. KBA

    KBA Dreamer

    I love introspection in fiction. Of course it can be overdone and drag on like any other component of fiction, but in general, I like it as long as I'm still "shown" alot more than "told" via inner thoughts.
  20. spectre

    spectre Sage

    I think there has to be a nominal amount of this in writing where authors do not expressly show character emotion but rely on dialogue and action vs. methods that are less 'visible'. I wouldn't be bothered by it at all, it has to be polished but I enjoyed the second paragraph. There was insight into different aspects of ownership which started to reflect either culture or personality. I think of characters like Tarzan, and even that genius kid from criminal minds who is always metaanalysing everything until someone says," Reed." and he stops. Just develop the character into more that just that pedestal.

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