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Does relating to protagonists make or break stories for you?

Lokar
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How important is it that you can relate to the protagonists for you? I'm talking about stories with an actual plot, not stroke stories.

The last two stories I've read, I just finished the story but didn't really find any incentive to continue to the next book in the series because I couldn't really relate to the protagonist.

In one of them, the protagonists mother confessed to him that she had cheated on his father for years with her brother until the father found out. His father was really hurt by that, and although they stayed together, the brother wasn't allowed to come to the house again, and the father was still upset about it 20 years later where the story takes place, so he was obviously very hurt by the mother. So the mother is telling the protagonist, her son, about it, pleading to him to forgive her, asking him to please understand that she loved her brother and he had a really big cock which she really needed (this wasn't a stroke story, most sex after the first time was just "and we had sex that night").

So while reading, I was expecting him to really blow up. I mean, putting myself in his shoes, if my mother told me how she cheated on my father with her brother for years because she liked his big cock, and my father was obviously hurting 20 years later, I'd be fucking pissed at her for betraying him and hurting him so bad. Instead, the first thing he says when his mother asks him if he can forgive her, he just says something like "There's nothing to forgive on my part" and that's all. I mean yeah, the father is the one that needs to forgive her, but to not be upset at all knowing how badly she hurt his own father (who he had a great relationship with by the way) for such a shallow reason as she needed a bigger cock? I mean, he's not upset at all, he doesn't once think about how she hurt his father. He just goes, "Meh, whatever. By the way, how about that weather huh? Really cold outside today!"

That was so disappointing, and I guess it's one of my hangups that I can't let it go when protagonists doesn't react in a way that is logical to me.

The second story, the character was just so inconsistent. On one page he'd win verbal duels with doctors (the protagonist was a high school kid), he'd give really sound advice and generally act like a 30 year old. On the next page, he'd say or do something really inappropriate, saying something or doing something that a 10 year old would know better that to say/do.

Personally, it's super important that the protagonists in the stories I read act in a way that makes sense to me. I have a hard time taking a step back and just watch how the chaos plays out when the protagonist does something that's obviously stupid from my point of view. I can lay awake for hours just replaying it in my head thinking about what should have been done or should have been said. And then I'll mentally berate the protagonist for being stupid, and in some cases I won't pick it up again because I'm almost angry with the protagonist and want nothing to do with him.

So for me, it's very important to be able to relate to the protagonists on an almost personal level. Am I weird in doing this, or does others do the same thing?

LonelyDad

I'm a total immersion reader. As such, if I can't relate to the characters and their behavior, I'm not going to finish the story, or if I do, I won't start another.

I have a set of authors I know will provide an entertaining, usually thoughtful story. I will start one of theirs without question. If I see a recommendation or a story blurb for one of the other authors, I might check them out if the recommendation sounds reasonable. I just checked, and I have almost 25k of stories saved on my system. If I went through them all I might remove about 25% of them as my tastes have changed in the last six or seven years. The best of the best I have transferred to my tablet. They are mainly there so I have something to read while waiting, like at the doctor's office or getting my car serviced. I also am prepared that way for an extended power outage. Parts of our area (rural Iowa) lost power for over a week a few years ago due to an ice storm. If that happens again I will at least have something to read.

Replies:   tendertouch
tendertouch

@LonelyDad

Parts of our area (rural Iowa) lost power for over a week a few years ago due to an ice storm. If that happens again I will at least have something to read.


Hopefully you have some backup batteries available :) I have stories on my tablet mostly for travel since connectivity is spotty or expensive. I should probably do some pruning of my stash of stories as my tastes have evolved as well.

Being able to relate is a big plus for me but probably not a 100% requirement. Some stories I read because of the writing itself, dancing, lilting prose that just sounds good. It has to be really good, though, to get past characters that I can't relate to.

Replies:   LonelyDad
LonelyDad

@tendertouch

Parts of our area (rural Iowa) lost power for over a week a few years ago due to an ice storm. If that happens again I will at least have something to read.

Hopefully you have some backup batteries available :) I have stories on my tablet mostly for travel since connectivity is spotty or expensive. I should probably do some pruning of my stash of stories as my tastes have evolved as well.

I have a 100 watt solar panel, with associated controller and battery, a 15 watt portable solar panel, and three large power banks I keep charged. As long as the sun shines at least part of the time I should be fine.

LucyAnneThorn

@Lokar

So for me, it's very important to be able to relate to the protagonists on an almost personal level. Am I weird in doing this, or does others do the same thing?


I also often quit reading a story part way through because I just can't relate to the main character's behavior. It's the duty of the writer to make a main character behave consistent, put in his/her best effort and believably work through conflict. It doesn't necessarily mean that I'd act even remotely the same way, but the actions and motivations must be tangible and in themselves plausible to make me suspend my disbelief. Too much disbelief, and I'm out.

Replies:   REP
Darian Wolfe

@Lokar

The sudden switches in maturity can be quite jarring in a character. In real life that's half the reason parent's get pissed at their kids. Lol So when I see it in a story I just go typical kid. Lol

REP

@LucyAnneThorn

It's the duty of the writer to make a main character behave consistent,


That could be interrupted in a couple of ways.

If a character is supposed to behave in an inconsistent manner in various instances, then the author's duty is to have his character consistently behave in an inconsistent manner when those different circumstances occur.

Crumbly Writer

It's an interesting quagmire far an author. You've got to ask yourself: is the character unbelievable because the writer took a short cut (assuming something without ever explaining it, in order to save time), or because the author is blind to their own ideosyncrasies?

If they're trying to start a story at an unrealistic point (i.e. by 'jumping in' in the middle of an unrealistic situation), then it's mostly laziness and you (the reader) have no one to blame but yourself for even bothering with the story. If however it's an author's own disturbed perspective, it takes considerable perspective to divorce it from oneself. However, a character should always be consistent and understandable, at least from their perspective.

It's ok to have an unreliable narrator, or a dysfunctional or insane character, but the character needs to behave in a rational manner for readers to accept them (i.e. their 'ideosyncracies' need to be consistent, and fit into their larger disturbed thinking).

But kids thinking like adults, or adults behaving like kids, is just more lazy writing, as the author is unwilling to stick to character, or justify why the character is behaving inconsistently (i.e. they're once again shoving a character into a particular role without taking the time to establish the necessary framework).

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