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how do you define a well written character?/what makes you like/dislike a character?

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(I dunno if I should put this in general fire emblem, entertainment, or general because this may go beyond just fire emblem characters.)

So with all these topics asking about who is your favorite or least favorite character in FE, I thought I'd get to the heart of the matter. I'm curious what makes you like or dislike a character? Like what exactly about the character rubs you the wrong way? are there characters you like that you feel are poorly written? and vice versa. Are there characters you dislike that you feel are well written? What is a well written character to you? I wanna get a discussion going on this cause it'll give me a better understanding on the nature of critique as a whole.

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This definitely feels like a general question that doesn't specifiy to anything but since it's currently in the FE section, i'm gonna try to keep it relevant to that but you can apply my logic to other things. 

Bottom line for me is that a character has to enjoyable. I don't mean in a "so bad it's good" way, i mean i have to get genuine enjoyment out of that character, which in turn, leads me to care about them. If i don't get even the slightest bit of enjoyment, i'm not gonna like the character, no matter how well written they are. That also applies to stories as well. For example, i just do not care about Sigurd. I honestly think he's the worst Lord in the series because watching paint dry is more fun. People say Corrin is the worst Lord but at least i actually got some genuine enjoyment out of his Supports.

From there, a character's worth is determined by the quality of their writing. I don't think a character needs like 7 dimensional layers of "deep and complex" like some people seem to want nowadays. It definitely can help but just because a character has that doesn't mean that they are good. Because again, if i don't enjoy them at all, then what's the point? I also like to split characters into two categories: favorites and who's better written. For example, Azura isn't well written (in Fates, she's a lot better in the spin-offs) but she's still one of my favorite characters. On the flip end, i like Hector and i think he's well written but he doesn't rank quite high enough on my favorites list (he's like top 30 tho).

I also want to talk about tropes, because Fire Emblem seems to have a problem with them lately. Tropey characters are not automatically bad. I hate that train of thought. If a character is tropey and that's the point, then it's fine. If a character is tropey and there's a legitimate, understandable reason as to why, then it's fine. If a character is tropey but it's done in a genuinely entertaining way, then it's fine (i feel like that kind of ties into the first point i made regarding tropey characters). If a tropey character feels out of place in the world and story, then it becomes a problem. If a character is tropey because the writer couldn't think of anything, then that's when it becomes a problem. How much of a problem these two things can become depends on the severity, of which there can be many factors. For example, Owain is a good tropey character. There's an understandable reason as to why he acts the way he does and it's genuinely entertaining. Peri is a bad tropey character because there isn't really a good reason as to why she's the way she is and to make matters worse, everyone treats her murderous intent as a funny quirk.

I do wanna say that the yandere trope is pretty much universally bad. It's why i don't like Tharja and Rhajat (and Birthright Camilla). For the record, i wouldn't group Faye here because she's more of just obsessed rather than actually being a yandere.

To end it off, i'm gonna head back to the first thing i talked about: genuine enjoyment and not "so bad it's good" characters. I do enjoy "so bad it's good" kind of characters but it's definitely an ironic enjoyment. Because at the end of the day, the absolute worst type of character is the one that i can't enjoy. If i can't enjoy it genuinely, at least let me enjoy it ironically. If i can't even do that, you have failed as a writer in my eyes. 

Actually, one more thing: I strongly believe that good characters can save a bad story. Likewise, bad characters can absolutely ruin a good story. Characters are more important than the story you are trying to tell.

On a general note, this only applies to things where writing matters. Like, i'm not gonna call Mario or Kirby a bad character because writing quite honestly does not matter at all in those games.

 

Edited by Armagon

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#1 thing is don't bore me, a character can be a real jerk but if the character is at least vaguely interesting while being a jerk I'll still at least not hate them as a character.  

Characters that fail this include FE10 Ike, Validar, Garon, Grima (in FE13).  There's nothing interesting there.  They're either a bland gary stu (Ike), or villains who are just too mustache twirling (the rest).  

#2 is don't take screentime that could have been easily given to someone more interesting/get shoved in my face.  

FE10 Ike (again) falls into this.  If we can't have a full Micaiah game, Skirmir would have worked far better as the main lord of the Laguz side of Part III .  Robin/Kris too.  

 

#3 is undeserved shilling without enough likability.

Looking at you, Corrin.

 

A thing I feel worth pointing out is author intent for a character.  It stands out much more if a character we're supposed to like is unlikeable than if a character we're supposed to hate is unlikable.  Camilla's probably a good example of this.  She's clearly there to appeal to certain fetishes and doesn't expand her character enough to be interesting or likeable to a lot of people, but we (the player/reader) are supposed to like her.

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This is an interesting question because it's very hard to define. I was about to say "multi-faceted", but then realized that I think Walhart is well-written because he's so unflinching in his one belief. I guess it depends on the role of the character, as I don't think the minor characters are - nor should be - held to the same standard as the protagonists 

I believe the single most important factor is that they work within the context of the story. Their presence should feel natural and not detract from either the story or other characters, but rather improve them. A sense of cohesion is good, and even if a series like Fire Emblem, which has a lot of characters, needs to make sure characters don't end up feeling too samey, going too far will just result in a jarring experience. 

I can't help but to think of Avatar: The Last Airbender and how the main characters there felt like such a natural part of the world and complementary to each other, with each adding their own way of viewing the world. Zuko is my favorite fictional character of any medium, and I think fantasy writers definitely should keep his journey in mind.

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16 minutes ago, Thane said:

Walhart is well-written because he's so unflinching in his one belief.

Well walhart is more a force of nature(at least when you put it like that) if anything which is a whole other can of worms that deserves an entirely different thread on it's own.

Edited by Otts486

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To answer your question, it really depends on the execution of their writing. Or the creator's intent.

There are some types of characters I'm bound to like, while others not so much. But, more often than not, it all depends on a number of factors (personality, how they're written, etc).

1 hour ago, Armagon said:

This definitely feels like a general question that doesn't specifiy to anything but since it's currently in the FE section, i'm gonna try to keep it relevant to that but you can apply my logic to other things. 

Bottom line for me is that a character has to enjoyable. I don't mean in a "so bad it's good" way, i mean i have to get genuine enjoyment out of that character, which in turn, leads me to care about them. If i don't get even the slightest bit of enjoyment, i'm not gonna like the character, no matter how well written they are. That also applies to stories as well. For example, i just do not care about Sigurd. I honestly think he's the worst Lord in the series because watching paint dry is more fun. People say Corrin is the worst Lord but at least i actually got some genuine enjoyment out of his Supports.

From there, a character's worth is determined by the quality of their writing. I don't think a character needs like 7 dimensional layers of "deep and complex" like some people seem to want nowadays. It definitely can help but just because a character has that doesn't mean that they are good. Because again, if i don't enjoy them at all, then what's the point? I also like to split characters into two categories: favorites and who's better written. For example, Azura isn't well written (in Fates, she's a lot better in the spin-offs) but she's still one of my favorite characters. On the flip end, i like Hector and i think he's well written but he doesn't rank quite high enough on my favorites list (he's like top 30 tho).

I also want to talk about tropes, because Fire Emblem seems to have a problem with them lately. Tropey characters are not automatically bad. I hate that train of thought. If a character is tropey and that's the point, then it's fine. If a character is tropey and there's a legitimate, understandable reason as to why, then it's fine. If a character is tropey but it's done in a genuinely entertaining way, then it's fine (i feel like that kind of ties into the first point i made regarding tropey characters). If a tropey character feels out of place in the world and story, then it becomes a problem. If a character is tropey because the writer couldn't think of anything, then that's when it becomes a problem. How much of a problem these two things can become depends on the severity, of which there can be many factors. For example, Owain is a good tropey character. There's an understandable reason as to why he acts the way he does and it's genuinely entertaining. Peri is a bad tropey character because there isn't really a good reason as to why she's the way she is and to make matters worse, everyone treats her murderous intent as a funny quirk.

I do wanna say that the yandere trope is pretty much universally bad. It's why i don't like Tharja and Rhajat (and Birthright Camilla). For the record, i wouldn't group Faye here because she's more of just obsessed rather than actually being a yandere.

To end it off, i'm gonna head back to the first thing i talked about: genuine enjoyment and not "so bad it's good" characters. I do enjoy "so bad it's good" kind of characters but it's definitely an ironic enjoyment. Because at the end of the day, the absolute worst type of character is the one that i can't enjoy. If i can't enjoy it genuinely, at least let me enjoy it ironically. If i can't even do that, you have failed as a writer in my eyes. 

Actually, one more thing: I strongly believe that good characters can save a bad story. Likewise, bad characters can absolutely ruin a good story. Characters are more important than the story you are trying to tell.

On a general note, this only applies to things where writing matters. Like, i'm not gonna call Mario or Kirby a bad character because writing quite honestly does not matter at all in those games.

 

1. I don't know much about Sigurd, other than he is a Fire Emblem lord. From the way you put it, he sounds like a boring character. Also, I may not be a fan of Corrin, but I agree with you on some of his supports actually being entertaining.

2. Scarlet is one of my favorite FE characters (obviously), but she only has a few, support conversations, and isn't given much to work with in the main plot. Yet I love her to pieces! And then there's Xander, a well written noble... in the support conversations, and in Conquest. I don't mind him, but he's not really a favorite of mine.

3. My stance on tropey characters is rather similar to yours, actually. I don't dislike Peri, though she could have been better written. As for Owain... yeah, he's very entertaining.

4. Yeah, not so big on Tharja and Rhajat myself. Faye is obsessed, but even then, at least the other three you mentioned have personality that isn't just obsession over one character.

5. Enjoyment does play a huge factor for well written characters (intentionally). As for characters that are so bad they're good... that depends.

6. Amen to that! If the story's good but the characters are not, I will not enjoy it at all. If the story isn't good but the characters are, then that's more than enough for me. Also, good example mentioning Kirby and Mario.

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20 minutes ago, MetalAmethyst said:

Yeah, not so big on Tharja and Rhajat myself. Faye is obsessed, but even then, at least the other three you mentioned have personality that isn't just obsession over one character.

True but at least Faye never purposely puts Alm's life in danger. The other three (well, not sure about Rhajat), do. Tharja curses Robin just to have an excuse to take care of him. Birthright Camilla literally states that she wants to cradle Corrin's corpse. Tharja, Rhajat and Birthright Camilla may have more personality but they'll forever be attached to the yandere trope, which i hate. Faye isn't that great of a character but she's generally inoffensive. Even if i didn't like her, i would never compare her to the actual yanderes in the series.

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4 hours ago, Armagon said:

True but at least Faye never purposely puts Alm's life in danger. The other three (well, not sure about Rhajat), do. Tharja curses Robin just to have an excuse to take care of him. Birthright Camilla literally states that she wants to cradle Corrin's corpse. Tharja, Rhajat and Birthright Camilla may have more personality but they'll forever be attached to the yandere trope, which i hate. Faye isn't that great of a character but she's generally inoffensive. Even if i didn't like her, i would never compare her to the actual yanderes in the series.

Eh, fair enough.

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You asked what a well-written character is but I decided to do the inverse. My examples of well-written characters can be found in my signature. 

For a protagonist, they need to have traits that the majority of the readers can appreciate. In FE, this is usually accomplished easily. They should also have struggles, be it moral, ideological and/or physical which should be made clear in the story's presentation so that we can empathize with their plight. This is something FE struggles to do competently. For example, in supports we find out that Roy is not confident about his leadership abilities and can't fathom the prospect of even a single soldier dying. However, Roy in the story doesn't come off as a young inexperienced boy who is struggling with duties that no young boy his age can realistically do. He also doesn't have an ideological struggle either. Roy's philosophy is that he will always make sure the oppressed people are taken care of even if it may potentially jeopardize the safety of his country/army. Yet whenever Roy follows his ideals, much to Merlinus' dismay, nothing bad happens and it turns out his methods always work. What makes this worse is that all his allies and enemies hold him with such high regards even though in principle he's getting lucky more than his actual talent. You can't have a struggle when things don't go awry for you. As a result, I don't have a reason to empathize with his plight. 

A villain should have clearly defined motives and active presence in the plot. FE usually gets the motives right but not active presence. Active presence is important so that the protagonists feel they are in danger and we feel empathy for them. Ashnard is an example of a villain with a defined ideology but due to not doing much on screen, he's not a villain I care for. Furthermore, villains should be competent and their plans shouldn't be easily thwarted. Narcian does have a lot of presence but he doesn't accomplish much with it which also throws into question the intelligence of Zephiel in why he chose Narcian in the first place. 

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#1.I enjoy characters with depth and multiple facets but it's not always necessary. Sometimes a character can just fill an agreeable role in the story. For example, the villain cast in Sacred Stones is enjoyable because while they aren't the most complex characters, they each have their own flavor that isn't ruined by oversaturation. e.g. the Fates villains, Surtr, etc.

#2. A well written character should be internally consistent, and if they're going to be hypocritical, the narrative should be aware of this. For an example of this not happening, we can look at Xander who often speaks of supporting his family but is willing to put a sword through them when they question Garon. I still wouldn't like him, but I could at least respect the writing if characters acknowledged his moral myopia. 

#3. A character should make sense in the setting and be treated appropriately for their behavior. To give some examples where this doesn't happen, Azama is a douchebag to everyone but he gets to be a royal retainer, support a large chunk of the cast and even marry them. Peri is likewise a deplorable individual who is tolerated by people who would normally hunt her down. I hate it when a story tells me I should like a character when they're morally repulsive. Lastly, as Glaceon Mage described above, a character shouldn't get endless shilling, especially when they do little to deserve it.

---

Concerning primary heroes, there should have heroic qualities but I also appreciate it when they have flaws that are explored. Micaiah is undeniably a force for good in the world but her patriotism leads her towards some dark actions and even turning a blind eye to injustices she could stop. As I said above, it's important that flaws are acknowledged and Micaiah does get called out for what she's doing. Another thing I appreciate is character development. Eliwood is a good baseline lord but Hector has a much more compelling character arc.

For villains, we should have a good understanding of their motivations, and for those motivations to have some kind of value to them. Force of nature/pure evil characters have their place, but they often make boring primary villains. A character who does evil things in order to achieve an understandable goal is much more engaging.

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On the negative end of the spectrum there are two things that I can hold against a character. Either I think they just don't work or I just don't enjoy them. In the worst case scenario it may even be both.

Peri is a good example of a character who doesn't work. She isn't an awful character because she's an awful person but because her presence in the army makes no sense. There isn't any reason why Corrin and Xander should accept Peri despite her being like Iago who they oppose. Hana is also a character who likely doesn't work out as the writers intended. Hana was always intended to be rough around the edges but I doubt the writers planned for her to end up as a scumbag who's unable to empathise with a kidnap victim. And there is of course Garon. I've always had the stance that Garon being irredeemably evil wasn't the issue, the issue was that he's exactly what the Fates story required him NOT to be. Because he's so evil it negatively affects Corrin for choosing Nohr despite knowing its ruled by Garon, it negatively affects Xander or even a minor character like Arthur who's superhero gimmick rings hollow because he willingly serves a super villain. 

Unlike the examples above Shinon isn't a failed character. He doesn't unintentionally come off much worse than he's supposed to like Hana and him being an asshole doesn't come with unintended consequences like Peri and Garon. But he's still a complete scumbag who's only redeemable trait is that he has a soft spot for a very sympathetic character that's already easy to like. Shinon comes off exactly as he's supposed to be, but at the end of the day he's still a racist drunk who's unreasonably hostile to everyone around him which leaves me with little to like him for. 

On the other hand I'm very willing to downplay flaws of characters that give me reasons to like them. I think their good traits are more important and that the good can wash away the bad. I don't really disagree with the criticism for Alm and Celica but I find them being such likable characters much more important. Alm is a joy to have on screen so I can't really justify disliking a character I enjoy seeing so much. I don't disagree much with many criticism of Nergal either but his failures are also the source of his strength. Repeatedly not killing the heroes due to a fit of dementia ensures Nergal has a personal connection with the Heroes that the other villains aside Lyon and the Black Knight don't have. 

 

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At the very least for Lords, if they have to be Gary Stus, then at least do it in a way it makes sense. Military strategy, charisma, and leadership were the defining role of the majority of historical generals, and the only case where I've seen all the said attributes being addressed for the few games I played was Roy where he talked about them often in his game. It would be ideal if his strong focus on strategy would translate into FE6's gameplay too.

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Well, for starters, Characters have to be interesting enough for me to actually care about them. If they have, like no dialogues, supports, base conversation. Then, of course I'm not going to give a damn about them.
I am a big fan of complex characters, I like characters to be real and nuanced. This means they have to have flaws, Because let’s face it, we all do. It’s part of being human. So Characters that are realistic and have a humane aspect to them appeal me the most. Of course these are only my opinion. And different people have different taste. So try not get offended.


1) Perfectionists 
Someone who is too good, or perfect is rather annoying. Especially for the protagonists. Nobody is perfect. And perfectionism in a character is something I tend to hate…A LOT. Flaws, such as having a quick temper, being clumsy, or disorganized, make a character relatable. A Likeable character has to make the wrong decisions sometimes, or let their flaws show through occasionally. At the same time, they must also be aware of their flaws and strive to keep them a bit under control. A perfect example of this is Ike. Por!Ike to be exact. I  can expand on how he fits this but that will make this respond even longer then it’s going to be.


Roy, on the other hand, is the worst offender of this as he’s the typical prodigical, perfect protagonist who can do no wrong, with so much plot-armour that it’s not even funny. All he does in the entire game is give a brief description of the events that either occurred in the chapter or are going to occur in the next. No humor, no changes, no struggle, no mistakes, no nothing but bland, monotone, robotic Roy. 


2) Intriguing Backstory:

I love characters with tragic backstories. I don’t know why but tragedy is the first aspect of a character that I adore for some odd reason. Characters having a tragic or interesting back story goes a long way to making an emotional connection. For example Soren, yes, he is a cold-hearted jerk but he has a very valid reason for being so. After looking at the pain and abuse he endured it’s hard not to open up your heart towards him. Backstories like his, that is actually interlinked with the lore makes his past even more appealing. It’s not just some sob story but an actual event that expands the lore and world-buliding of the game. This is kind of an unpopular opinion but I'm a bigger fan of tragic characters that end up hating and blaming the world for their misfortune instead of going the Disney route and "hide their pain with kindness and a smile" but honestly in Soren's case, his hatred for the entire world is understandable as the Laguz shunned him and the Beorc abused him. 

What can I say, if it’s sad, dark and tragic, I'm gonna love it. 

3) Gimmick-y or bland character: 

Characters with a single gimmick just to appeal a certain kind of audience, M̶u̶c̶h̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶e̶n̶t̶i̶r̶e̶ c̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶A̶w̶a̶k̶e̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ and who end up being so annoyingly popular are characters i just don't tend to like.

Same goes for bland characters with little to no interactions. Pretty much how the entire shadow Dragon cast is...a bunch of nobodies.

Straight up jerks: 

Characters like Tharja and Peri, of course being a terrible person just for the sake of being terrible is not going to make a every likeable character. Yet, they're still popular in this fandom for some reason. I can withstand jerks, if they are entertaining. Like Shinon, I actually really like him simply because of how entertaining he is and Azama is alright imo. But Tharja and Peri, yeah no way.

Lastly, For Antagonists, I HATE Charcters that are evil just for the sake of being evil. I don't care how awfully flawed an antagonist is as long as they have a reason for their villainy. 

Edited by Skyla

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17 minutes ago, Skyla said:

I am a big fan of complex characters, I like characters to be real and nuanced. This means they have to have flaws, Because let’s face it, we all do. It’s part of being human. So Characters that are realistic and have a humane aspect to them appeal me the most. Of course these are only my opinion. And different people have different taste. So try not get offended.

You and me both. It doesn't have to be much but when writing a character they should be grounded in some way. What I mean by this is that the character needs to in some way fall victim to some kind innately human and relatable struggle/flaw/conflict/etc. This is one of the reasons I like Severa so much because her struggles are innately human. I mean I think most of us ,especially those with successful older/younger siblings, can relate to wanting to live up to the expectations of others but failing to do so at every turn which can create feelings of inferiority. Again it's inherently relatable. it's a very human emotion which manifests itself in different ways thus creating nuance. I could go on but you get the idea. A character needs to feel real and understandable. I need to be able to understand them on some fundamental level. A character can be as wacky, goofy, or as over the top as you want but if I can't relate to or understand them, I'm not gonna care. 

 

39 minutes ago, Skyla said:

I love characters with tragic backstories. I don’t know why but tragedy is the first aspect of a character that I adore for some odd reason. Characters having a tragic or interesting back story goes a long way to making an emotional connection. For example Soren, yes, he is a cold-hearted jerk but he has a very valid reason for being so. After looking at the pain and abuse he endured it’s hard not to open up your heart towards him. Backstories like his, that is actually interlinked with the lore makes his past even more appealing. It’s not just some sob story but an actual event that expands the lore and world-buliding of the game. This is kind of an unpopular opinion but I'm a bigger fan of tragic characters that end up hating and blaming the world for this misfortune instead if going the Disney route and "hide their pain with kindness and a smile" but honestly in Soren's case, his hatred for the entire world is justified as the Laguz shunned him and the Beorc abused him. What can I say if it’s sad, dark and tragic, I'm gonna love it. 

yep totally agreed which again is another reason I like Severa. I can understand her. She may be a jerk but at least I can understand why she is the way she is. She grew up in a world where death was a constant and through feeling that pain of loss over and over again, she came to the conclusion that getting close to others will just lead to more emotional scarring. Thus she pushes people away or if she can't do that she will be overtly critical of their missteps because she doesn't want to see them die.  May not be as nuanced as soren's but I think it works.

46 minutes ago, Skyla said:

Lastly, For Antagonists, I HATE Charcters that are evil just for the sake of being evil. I don't care how awfully flawed an antagonist is as long as they have a reason for their villainy. 

ehh again force of nature villains are a thing but that's a topic for another day.

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While this topic is placed in general Fire Emblem I will use examples from other series since there are not enough good examples in Fire Emblem.

Relatable/enjoyable: One of the most important parts of a good character is understanding their behaviour. When we see parts of ourselves in another character we can more easily relate and we become interested. When someone is enjoyable to watch we also are also easily interested in them and are easily immersed since we like there behaviour and more quickly understand what they're saying (although you can write good characters that aren't enjoyable). Seliph & Leif are some of my favourite characters in the series since many of their characters traits are relatable to me and while Revenge of the Sith had major problems I really enjoyed watching Obiwan & Palpatine which made me more forgiving to the movie as a whole. One of the major reasons why I disliked movies like Star Wars VIII, Transformers, Raiders of the Lost ark & Ghostbusters (the original one) was because I personally couldn't relate to the characters and because I didn't enjoy their actions.

Struggle: people struggle in real life and get great satisfaction from overcoming them. These feelings extend to other people, animals & fictional characters. When we see a character struggle with something we can relate, we want them to succeed and when he overcomes it with his own strength we enjoy their victory (this is the reason why we are often attracted to stories about rebels). The reason why Samwise Gamgee (and most other characters in The Lord of the Rings) is such a great character is because he struggles a lot but keeps going on despite the fact that he could easily have run away. When someone doesn't struggle it doesn't feel like they earned it.  

Consistent: a character has to be realistic and must follow the rules of the story. Consistency is very important. Characters have to act in a way that is consistent with their character, their location, the time and the events that unfold at that moment. This doesn't mean that they can't develop, but that they can only develop when it is consistent with the events in the story. The reason why Fates is so bad is because the characters are inconsistent and it sometimes seems that they haven't learned from the past (that's also a part of consistency, reaction).

The next traits aren't as important as the earlier named things but are still important and often makes the difference between good & great writing (AKA something I rarely keep in mind when looking at Fire Emblem). When we're talking main characters, they should NEVER come at the cost of the things I talked about earlier.

Interesting It is nice when something can distinguish itself. This rule also applies to fiction. The reason why Paul Atreides is such a great character is because he is very different from other characters in fiction (how often can you say that the main character is fully responsible for a space crusade) while still feeling like a real person.

Role-model When characters have traits that we value we start liking them. Beowulf & Arthur are characters that were (and still are) very popular and that is because these characters have traits that where very important in the cultures they come from.

Flawed A contradiction of being a role-model. People often want characters to be as realistic as possible and often want them to have flaws just like normal people. Travis Buckle (Taxi driver) and Micheal Corleone (the Godfather) are good examples of characters that are flawed but still great characters. If you want a character that has good intentions but is still flawed think Seita from Grave of the Fireflies.

Most characters in Fire Emblem only succeed in one or two of the major categories (relatable, enjoyable, struggle & consistent), fail in the other and make an attempt at one of the minor categories. When looking at a Fire Emblem character I almost never consider these rules and just look at if there positives outweigh there negatives and they get bonus points if I had an experience with them. There are in my eyes only 5 characters in the entire series that succeed in all 3 major categories and have a minor category they fullfil.

Edited by LJwalhout

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21 hours ago, Otts486 said:

yep totally agreed which again is another reason I like Severa. I can understand her. She may be a jerk but at least I can understand why she is the way she is. She grew up in a world where death was a constant and through feeling that pain of loss over and over again, she came to the conclusion that getting close to others will just lead to more emotional scarring. Thus she pushes people away or if she can't do that she will be overtly critical of their missteps because she doesn't want to see them die.  May not be as nuanced as soren's but I think it works.

Interesting, I personally haven't looked to deep in Awakening child characters but Yes, these are the traits in a character I tend to like. 

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On 11/25/2018 at 8:19 AM, Etrurian emperor said:

 Hana is also a character who likely doesn't work out as the writers intended. Hana was always intended to be rough around the edges but I doubt the writers planned for her to end up as a scumbag who's unable to empathise with a kidnap victim.  

Unlike the examples above Shinon isn't a failed character. He doesn't unintentionally come off much worse than he's supposed to like Hana and him being an asshole doesn't come with unintended consequences like Peri and Garon.

 

I'm... terribly confused. Who's the kidnap victim in question? Was this in the main story, or in support conversations? It's been forever since I played Birthright, so I don't remember any of that.

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40 minutes ago, MetalAmethyst said:

I'm... terribly confused. Who's the kidnap victim in question? Was this in the main story, or in support conversations? It's been forever since I played Birthright, so I don't remember any of that.

Its her support with Corrin. When Corrin notices Hana acts hostile to him he asks her if he did something wrong. Hana then tells Corrin she doesn't like him because his kidnapping made Sakura sad and apparantly thats much more important than Corrin being kidnapped, getting Amnesia and being forced to have Garon as a part of his life.

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1 hour ago, Etrurian emperor said:

Its her support with Corrin. When Corrin notices Hana acts hostile to him he asks her if he did something wrong. Hana then tells Corrin she doesn't like him because his kidnapping made Sakura sad and apparantly thats much more important than Corrin being kidnapped, getting Amnesia and being forced to have Garon as a part of his life.

Ah. Thanks for clearing that up.

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Words are not my strong point, but I will do my best:

To me, a well-written character is a character whose character traits, personality, morality, limits, flaws, goals and motivations are clear and well-defined, and are effectively utilized by the story. This doesn’t mean the reader has to know all this information at once, but a well-written enigmatic character still has these things well-defined; just kept mysterious. These things also don’t have to be static, but it must be acknowledged by the story and the reader must at least be able to learn the context for the change at some point in the story. 

One thing I once heard that is a good way to test how well written your characters (and your dialogue) is this: take a section of the script, remove the character’s name and substitute a random character or even “[insert filler character here]”. If the script still makes sense, then either your character is not well written or the piece of script you chose is extremely generic.

Another good way to test how well-written a character is this: what is something this character would never do? For instance: Ike would never betray someone for money, be intentionally racist, or be clever with words. Micaiah would never enjoy the spotlight. Sothe would never betray Micaiah, not even if Ike told him to (and Ike would not tell him to).

Ike is easily my favourite FE character. He is very well-written in my opinion for reasons I have stated a number of times in many previous topics.

Corrin and Alm, on the other hand, are extremely poorly written. As far as the plot is concerned, glorifying these two characters takes precedence over actually bothering to write them. That is the definition of a Mary Sue/Gary Sue. Alm has a bit more defined personality than Corrin, but it’s generic. Replace him with Marth or even Roy and a lot of his dialogue can easily still make sense. Both games also don’t bother establishing their limits. Ike had limits: he was more comfortable leading a small group than an army and had to defer a lot of command to others. Micaiah has limits.  Micaiah’s healing drained her own health. What are Corrin’s limits? What are Alm’s limits? 

Also, these two had flaws, but neither of their respective games presented their flaws as flaws. That’s bad writing as it means nothing can come of their flaws or struggles, and it makes them inherently less relatable. 

There’s more I could say, but I’ll have to stop here for now. 

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Okay sorry(exams were a b*tch) but now that I have the time I'm just gonna say I'm loving the responses here and now I am going to write up what I feel makes a well written character.

For me when writing a character, it all boils down to asking three main questions:

What does this character want? why do they want it? and how does that affect them as a person?

It's the answer to these questions is what makes up a character's core or the foundation that defines them. Now let's break each question down shall we?

The what:

by far the most simple and easiest thing to discern about a character because it can be literally almost anything from world peace, acceptance, recognition or hell even just a glass of water. Characters are reflections of people and people want things that's just how humans work. Everyone has a goal or something they strive for even if it is as simple as just staying alive so if you have a character that doesn't really have that, they're not really believable and in turn not relatable. "the what" can also be 'what kind of person is this character?" you know stuff like this character is shy or that character is an asshole, or this character is very boisterous, etc.  

The Why:

so now that we have the what, let's go over the why. Why does a character do the things that they do? why do they want the thing that they want? simple questions but the answer is a little more complex than you may think. This is by far one of, if not, the most important part of character writing because again all a character really is at the end of the day is a reflection of a person. And when you think about, no one in their right mind does anything without a reason behind it. Even if you don't know the reason, there is a reason behind the things that you say or do. Why do you want a glass of water? well it's because you're thirsty. Why do you play video games/watch movies, etc.? well it's fun and entertaining. why does someone act like an arrogant asshole? well maybe it's a result of them constantly being told they're special all their lives so they've developed a superiority complex. I could go on but you get the point. If a character does not have a reason to want something or act that the way that they do, then they're not really human in a sense. They're just token gimmicks nothing but a walking cliche because again humans only act when we have a reason to be it personal or otherwise. And again all a character is in essence is a reflection of a person that could be found in reality. The goal of the character is to get us to care about them, their struggles and who they are as people and we can't do that if we can't understand them. In order for us to understand them, they need to feel like real people with their own struggles and insecurities. 

The How:

This one is sort of an extension to the previous segment and in some cases can be omitted entirely. However, it is important none the less. Once you have a what and why, it's time to really ask yourself how do those things blend together to create well the character and their personality. For example, if a character grew up a child solider knowing only war, death, and starvation, it would likely lead to the character being very stand offish, cold, and generally very detached from emotion and reality. Of course that's not the only way to handle a backstory like that but it's a good way to show how that kind of backstory can effect a person and how they view the world. You can have one of the most tragic backstories imaginable for a character but if those experiences don't effect the character at all, then why is the backstory there in the first place. If it's not relevant, then why is it there? People are influenced by their experiences and it is those experiences that mold us into who we are today. That's just how people work. Again it's all about being able to understand and relate to the character. "The how" can also be "how do they plan to achieve what they want?" Like if a character wants revenge, then how do they plan on getting it? if the character is cool, smart, and calculated they'll likely formulate a strategy by gathering intel on their target and obtaining the skills necessary to beat them. If the character is a hot head, they'll likely disregard all that in favor of just wandering about until they find their target. It's a matter of consistency if nothing else.

 

Nuance:

after figuring out the core of the character, there isn't much else left aside from just adding extra nuances to them that make sense. Like maybe the character likes bread, likes to cook, draw, dance, sing, or read. It can most anything really. These things may be small but they do a lot in humanizing the character again making them feel real and tangible. The only thing you gotta keep in mind when adding stuff like this to the character is if it makes sense with the already established core foundation. Like if a character grew up in nobility, I doubt they'd know a whole lot about farming. 

 

In conclusion, at the end of the day it's all about establishing all the nuances of a character(like personality, backstory, etc.) and seeing if they blend together well and make sense. Or at least that's how I see it anyway.

 

Edited by Otts486

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On 24/11/2018 at 6:09 PM, Otts486 said:

I'm curious what makes you like or dislike a character? Like what exactly about the character rubs you the wrong way? are there characters you like that you feel are poorly written? and vice versa. Are there characters you dislike that you feel are well written? What is a well written character to you? I wanna get a discussion going on this cause it'll give me a better understanding on the nature of critique as a whole.

for me, basicly anything related to lolicons needs to burn down to the ground, let its ashes be scattered to the winds, and be forgotten for good.

it's a part of japanese culture that i really can't stand, because it's something that i find really weird and unreal.

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On 11/25/2018 at 9:59 AM, Skyla said:

Well, for starters, Characters have to be interesting enough for me to actually care about them. If they have, like no dialogues, supports, base conversation. Then, of course I'm not going to give a damn about them.
I am a big fan of complex characters, I like characters to be real and nuanced. This means they have to have flaws, Because let’s face it, we all do. It’s part of being human. So Characters that are realistic and have a humane aspect to them appeal me the most. Of course these are only my opinion. And different people have different taste. So try not get offended.


1) Perfectionists 
Someone who is too good, or perfect is rather annoying. Especially for the protagonists. Nobody is perfect. And perfectionism in a character is something I tend to hate…A LOT. Flaws, such as having a quick temper, being clumsy, or disorganized, make a character relatable. A Likeable character has to make the wrong decisions sometimes, or let their flaws show through occasionally. At the same time, they must also be aware of their flaws and strive to keep them a bit under control. A perfect example of this is Ike. Por!Ike to be exact. I  can expand on how he fits this but that will make this respond even longer then it’s going to be.


Roy, on the other hand, is the worst offender of this as he’s the typical prodigical, perfect protagonist who can do no wrong, with so much plot-armour that it’s not even funny. All he does in the entire game is give a brief description of the events that either occurred in the chapter or are going to occur in the next. No humor, no changes, no struggle, no mistakes, no nothing but bland, monotone, robotic Roy. 


2) Intriguing Backstory:

I love characters with tragic backstories. I don’t know why but tragedy is the first aspect of a character that I adore for some odd reason. Characters having a tragic or interesting back story goes a long way to making an emotional connection. For example Soren, yes, he is a cold-hearted jerk but he has a very valid reason for being so. After looking at the pain and abuse he endured it’s hard not to open up your heart towards him. Backstories like his, that is actually interlinked with the lore makes his past even more appealing. It’s not just some sob story but an actual event that expands the lore and world-buliding of the game. This is kind of an unpopular opinion but I'm a bigger fan of tragic characters that end up hating and blaming the world for their misfortune instead of going the Disney route and "hide their pain with kindness and a smile" but honestly in Soren's case, his hatred for the entire world is understandable as the Laguz shunned him and the Beorc abused him. 

What can I say, if it’s sad, dark and tragic, I'm gonna love it. 

3) Gimmick-y or bland character: 

Characters with a single gimmick just to appeal a certain kind of audience, M̶u̶c̶h̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶e̶n̶t̶i̶r̶e̶ c̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶A̶w̶a̶k̶e̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ and who end up being so annoyingly popular are characters i just don't tend to like.

Same goes for bland characters with little to no interactions. Pretty much how the entire shadow Dragon cast is...a bunch of nobodies.

Straight up jerks: 

Characters like Tharja and Peri, of course being a terrible person just for the sake of being terrible is not going to make a every likeable character. Yet, they're still popular in this fandom for some reason. I can withstand jerks, if they are entertaining. Like Shinon, I actually really like him simply because of how entertaining he is and Azama is alright imo. But Tharja and Peri, yeah no way.

Lastly, For Antagonists, I HATE Charcters that are evil just for the sake of being evil. I don't care how awfully flawed an antagonist is as long as they have a reason for their villainy. 

I agree with this, especially the 3rd part. You ask me, there is nothing worse in terms of writing than a bunch of bland and one dimensional cardboard cutouts that try to pass as characters. That's the big reason I hate Awakening and Fates so much. I could live with the poor story-telling if the casts were worth investing myself into. Hell, Kid Icarus Uprising probably isn't very good in story, but the characters are amazing and practically carry the game. I can't say the same for Awakening and Fates. In every other Fire Emblem game, there was at least 7 to 12 characters that I liked, while with Awakening and Fates there were only 2. 

Edited by Roland

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If I can envision the character as a real person having a real life and real relationships and real emotions outside of their scripted story, its a well-written character.  

Edited by Shoblongoo

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A lot of others have said these points already, but I think it bears repeating.

1.Presence

The character needs to have some weight in the world, even a minor character. If they were to be cut from the story and your reaction is that nothing of value was lost, then it's a had character. A character doesn't need to contribute as lot, but they need to contribute something (ideally weighted against their screen time). This even goes for characters that don't have any actual presence (like Kellam).

2. Empathy

I need to understand a character for them to be well written (I think we've all felt like Kellam, if only a little bit, at  some point) even if only on a very small level. This is why Gharnef is a better villain than Validar imo, even though they're both Saturday morning cartoon in motivations. Gharnef at least comes with a dab of spite and greed while Validar is just *shrug*.

3. Variety

I mean this I  two ways. The character has to bring something new to the table, something no other character does the same way. They also have to have variety in the character themselves, they need to consistently bring something new (this is what stops Kellam being a truly great character, he has presence and he has empathy, but he also has repetition). This doesn't stop one note characters from being well written. Someone above mentioned dismissing multifaceted (which is sort of what I'm talking about here) because of Whalhart, I disagree. Whalhart is one note, but he's still multifaceted and brings a lot of vareity in that one note. We see how his philosophy works in many different lights, like in victory, defeat, his view on the risen, his vegetarianism and how he treats individuals differently. Having only one thing is fine if the Chari really explores that one thing. By variety I really mean just that the character shouldn't feel repetitive.

 

Edited by Jotari

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