I’m going to start by saying I love shonen manga. Swordfights, energy blasts, insane power-ups – they are Fun. And sometimes if everything has just not been going your way, you just want something going boom in fiction. Preferably with squished bad guys.
But characters are not just the funky powers and slashy swords. (Sorry, all you action-adventure types out there, it’s true.) Unless the character was born from a lab vat – okay, some are! – they had some kind of family to raise them, some kind of friends-slash-competitive acquaintances while growing up, and some kind of skills besides Unrestrained Violence.
A lot of shonen manga, adventure stories, urban fantasies, what have you, recognize that. And get it in, at least as backstory. Harry Dresden with his stage magician father, Aang with the other kids in the Air Temple, Alibaba’s tutoring in court, politics, and trade.
What annoys me, sometimes, is that too often that kind of thing stays as just backstory.
…Yes, yes, I am so hypocritical here, I say I come for the explosions and then I pout because I want Character Development. I’m a fan. Comes with the territory.
But for me, this is an impetus to write; fanfic and otherwise. Because if a creator throws out an Informed Attribute – having early training in stage magic, knowing that the kid who sounds Fair and Reasonable is out to make people miserable, being able to successfully out-bargain an experienced trader before you’re 13 – the law of conservation of narrative detail means that the reader has some fair expectation that this will come up again.
If it doesn’t… well. The creator’s set up an automatic “Argh!” from anyone who was gleefully anticipating that particular Chekhov’s Gun to go off.
There is nothing that motivates my bunnies more than “Argh!”
Seriously. “Logic Fail!” and “Plothole” and “we saw X before, why didn’t it come back?” are some of the things that will spur up the Inner Brat right along with the creative impulse. Remember the Inner Brat? It’s scary, it doesn’t take no for an answer, and it thinks those mountains in the way would look just awesome hit by a Getsuga Tenshou.
…So. That’s just a few thoughts I have on how the plotbunnies get going, and what keeps them going. And now you know where the “Economics” fic came from. *G* In a way, this is what created Count Taka and Myrrh, as well: annoyance at how vampires and/or monster hunters are portrayed as just antagonists/action types on the screen, without going into, if this were a real setting, how would it work long-term?
So if you’re trying to get a story going, try tapping into the power of Argh. Just… be sure you want to. Because plotbunnies stop at nothing.
And I think I have another idea for Alibaba and trade, hmm….