Seth Crimson wrote:How do you guys feel about character dissonance? For example how a person looks at themselves versus how others do?
Handled well, I think it's great. That said, it runs into issues super often as a result of SOTF's house style and how that meshes with application.
SOTF generally speaking is told in third person, which means the narrative has some level of distance from a character. It might not be that much distance; D/N's kids, for example, tend to have super strong and distinct voices that seep into even mundane narration. The thing about it, though, is that such distance, minimal though it may be, is still enough that there should be some idea that the character is deluding themselves/an unreliable perspective. This is where it can become really tricky.
To portray a character (even a character who's a really terrible person) in an engaging manner usually requires some level of sympathy--from the author if not from the audience. This becomes even more notable if the character thinks they're not a horrible person; the author has to get into their head and figure out how they make themselves believe what they do and how they keep up the facade. The thing is, from all I've seen this can easily lead the author to not just sympathize with, but actually be unambiguously on the side of their character. Even that's not necessarily bad, but it tends to be a huge warning sign.
See, even if the author's on their character's side, the narrative
should not be. If it is, things end up unbecoming in a hurry. What happens when the character has no self-awareness and the author is on their character's side and the narrative is too is that the character's story starts to come off like it's constantly glorifying them (sometimes with occasional halfhearted "But, tee hee, he was doing bad things really" moments where you can tell that it's sorta there to pretend things haven't progressed to the stage they have).
Then there's the other side, where the author doesn't
spend that time establishing empathy. Usually this comes from someone wanting to write a player and running into trouble trying to figure out why someone would play; "She's deluded and trying to do the right thing!" is then an attractive option because it means not having to get into really scary headspace and it allows for a lot of possible shifts in perspective/evolutions in narrative. The thing is, in these cases what is missed is that it's really hard to kill lots of people and think you're doing the right thing.
An underdeveloped justification leaves it feeling like nobody's taking the character's perfunctory insistence that they're doing the right thing seriously. This, in turn, can leave it feeling like an obvious sham on every level. It either ends up feeling like the character is lying to themselves (which can be handled well if done intentionally, but actually does benefit a lot from not being jaw-droppingly obvious) or like the character is a massive idiot (which, again, is the sort of trait that should probably be developed intentionally).
There's also the thing that can occur where everyone
thinks they're doing the right thing. Now, it's true that almost everyone's the protagonist of their own story, but there's a huge difference between justifying to yourself/minimizing the reprehensibility of your actions and thinking you're doing the right thing, that is to say believing killing a bunch of folks is not only morally justified but actually good
Have more to say later, maybe, but not really feeling up to that right now.