The Primacy of Character in Story, or “Why I Can’t Write”

  • by Gitabushi

I originally was going to write about how I am committed to the primacy of Story. I crave a story, not spectacle.  I don’t like Hollywood much anymore because they are filming blockbuster movies that can sell well overseas, and explosions don’t need translation.  I don’t like TV very much because they seem to be focused on “shipping” (focused on the relationships of the characters just for the sake of relationships).  I haven’t been able to get much into PulpRev because as much as I want to support it, too many of the stories seem to be merely wish fulfillment: the main character succeeds because they are heroes…because it is much easier to succeed on paper than in real life.

So what *do* I like?

My original answer was “I like a *story*,” but then I realized people who want a relationship story, or a hero story, etc., also just like “a story,” so I had to dig deeper.

I realized I like character stories.

I like stories that show some insight into human nature, that help me to understand something important about life that will help me be happier or more successful.

I want stories that show us humans acting naturally and normally, and at the right time, decide to do something heroic but out of character…and yet, with all the groundwork of the reasons for the out-of-character decision firmly and clearly established, so that it is both believable and inspiring.  Like “Star Wars” works as a movie for me almost 90% due to Han Solo appearing to ruin Darth Vader’s day and ensure Luke’s success.

aircraft airplane architecture indoors
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Pulp Rev story most likely wouldn’t have Han, it would just have Luke doing Marty Stu things until he blows up the Death Star because he can fly better than anyone else.

A modern television show would explore Leia’s relationship with every male in the series, including some of the robots, and probably retcon Luke into being gay C3P0 and keep adding complications until the series was cancelled with none of the major issues being answered.

A Modern Hollywood movies would probably just skip all the stuff on the Death Star as being too complicated and too slow, and replace it with more footage of the Death Star blowing up planets with a few more failed attack runs by various planet defenses.

But Star Wars is good because we care about Luke from where he starts and what he goes through. Han is quippy and dashing, but selfish…a foil to Luke’s youthful idealism and heroism. That’s all Han is: a cynical human, more human than Luke, and just to make Luke all the more heroic.  The Death Star commando raid is necessary to establish all sorts of things about both Luke’s and Han’s character.

And in the end, they only succeed because Han makes an unselfish decision for the first time in probably decades.

That’s what I love to read. That’s what I want to write.

But it takes time, patience, effort, and skill. And I don’t have the time to develop the skill to craft that good of a story. At least, that’s how it seems right now.

I want to write a novel I can be proud of. I think if I write it, it will sell.  But I’m to the point where I don’t care if it sells. I just want to write a *great* character story.

Pray for me. I want this ability.

2 thoughts on “The Primacy of Character in Story, or “Why I Can’t Write”

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