hey there! thanks for answering all our questions on this blog + how possible would it for someone to crack ribs with a solid kick? there's a character i have in mind that's escaping captivity, but they're also young, so i'm not quite sure how easily they'd be able to hurt the (adult) antagonist in such a manner, especially lacking any fighting experience to begin with?
Well, you can break someone’s ribs with a kick. That’s the entire purpose of the roundhouse, especially the version where you strike with the ball of the foot rather than the top of the foot. (And… aren’t like me when I was seven or eight, when I was new to sparring and totally stubbed my toe in another kid’s side at a tournament after my brain/body got confused between the two. I didn’t break my toe, but I could’ve.)
That story above is important, by the way. If you’ve got a character who doesn’t know how to fight then they’re not even going to get that far. If you don’t know how to kick then that’s a great way to get your leg caught by someone who knows what they’re doing. They catch the foot by the ankle, and then drag you wherever they want. That’s assuming the character can get their leg up and out without falling over. Even if they do manage that, say because they’ve watched a lot of martial arts flicks, they won’t know how to generate power and will be very slow. A, B, and C occur anyway. Your protagonist is going to end up back wherever they were being kept, this time in a much less comfortable position.
Even for an experienced martial artist, kicks require fairly constant bodily upkeep in order to be able to do them cold (much less perform them at all). That’s not a combat scenario, that’s just in general. You’ve got a great chance of pulling all the leg muscles you need to get away, including ones you didn’t realize you had and that’s if you don’t break your toes. Board breaks with the roundhouse kick are the most terrifying of them all because you’ve got to remember to curl your toes just right in order to carry your foot through the board.
Kicks are off the table.
More importantly, this is an exact rendition of the “Feel Good Violence” trope: My Instincts Performed A Wheel Kick.
The protagonist is suddenly and randomly enough good at fighting to not only fight, but win when making their first attempt at a violent altercation. They use techniques which require a fairly high level of dedication and aptitude out of “natural ability” and “instinct”.
Unless you’ve got an ironclad reason for invoking the trope (past lives/ immortality/memory loss/the matrix) it will undercut your narrative credibility in ways the story cannot recover from.
When you’ve cracked your foundation, you’re done.
“The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible,” - Mark Twain
Narrative integrity is based on the rules or limitations we’ve set for ourselves, those limitations are the ironclad rules by which the narrative functions. They exist on two levels: in behavior and actions of characters within the world, and on a secondary level the setting’s behavior around them. Everything in your story must be working to uphold the fiction. When it doesn’t the audience’s “suspension of disbelief” starts to crack. You are beholden to the rules and limitations set down by your setting. Without them, you have no story.
When you’re setting out to create a character, there are four questions you should ask yourself:
1) What can the character do?
2) What can’t the character do?
3) What is the character willing to do but can’t?
4) What can the character do, but is unwilling to?
Within these four circles you have your character, their ethics/morals, and their limitations. That is the box you’ve created for yourself. It is important to own it and abide by it. When dealing with a protagonist, those limitations are not just the foundations of a character but the entire narrative.
Your character cannot fight your antagonist in a one on one and come away with any victorybecause you have established they don’t know how to. That
is a limitation you set for yourself. That the audience knows and
understands, so they will expect this character to act in accordance
with it. They may want to walk up to the antagonist and kick them in the ribs so hard those ribs break, but they can’t. That desire could be a driving force behind them learning to fight later. As of now, though, their powerlessness in active violent conflict serves to reinforce the antagonist’s position. Reinforcing the antagonist’s position is for the narrative good.
They should be making choices based on the Venn diagram’s center: when what they can do meets what they are willing to do.
If what they can’t do conflicts with what they’re willing to do and they go with it anyway then the result is a failed escape attempt. A captive’s survival is based on their value. If they’re valuable enough for the antagonist to go through the trouble of capturing them in the first place, then they’re probably not going to be killed. At least, not until their value runs through. They lose and wind up back in captivity under more scrutiny, more security, and with fewer exit options. This reminds us why they were captured in the first place, and reinforces our villain’s position.
A protagonist can fail and retain their legitimacy many more times than an antagonist can. While this is a perfectly legitimate narrative outcome, I don’t think its the one you’re looking for.
This is the second issue with your question:
A narrative’s antagonist is its backbone.
Your antagonist is one of the most important pieces of your story, if not the most. They are the lingering threat, the shadow hovering over the story, and the knife at your protagonist’s throat. They are seventy percent threat, and the last thirty relies on their ability to make good on it.
One of the biggest mistakes an author can make is assuming their antagonist’s position in their narrative and the threat they provide are impervious to harm.
Unlike your protagonist, your antagonist is always in a precarious position. They must constantly re-affirm themselves and the threat they represent through their actions. That threat is all consuming and when challenged, it must either be defeated or confirmed.
If defeated, then the threat is gone.
If confirmed, then the threat level is heightened because now we imagine what they might do next.
An antagonist can re-affirm themselves after a defeat, but they’ve got to double down on their effort and create a new threat rather than relying on their old one. You as the author must work harder to make up for what you lost, and even then you’ll never have the initial fear ever again.
The first rule of the antagonist is: your capital is limited, so spend it wisely.
When you undercut an antagonist in favor of the protagonist before its necessary, you damage the antagonist’s credibility and, subsequently, their position in the story. When you lose your antagonist, you lose most of your narrative tension.
A character who doesn’t know how to do something is applying a limitation to the character. You are applying a restriction to what they can and can’t do. If you’re character doesn’t know how to fight, then fighting will be off the table. More importantly, having your character succeed at a skill set they have no experience in doesn’t make them “awesome” or “cool”, it means instead that the other characters who put time and effort into honing these skills suck.
When those characters are your antagonists… that hurts.
If you’ve got a protagonist with no hacking experience who manages to overcome a supposedly great hacker on their first or second go round with no time spent learning how to hack, then who looks bad? The second hacker. They’re the ones who are supposed to be good at hacking. If the narrative hinges on them being a major antagonist, then the author just shot their narrative in the foot.
Combat skills are the same way. They’re a skill set, not an instinct. They don’t come naturally, and take a great deal of time and effort to hone.
If your goal is to show your dangerous antagonist is a bumbling moron when an untrained teenager gets a lucky shot so miraculous they manage to lay them up for the rest of the story, then that’s a job well done.
If your goal is for the antagonist to maintain their credibility within the narrative? Don’t use them for a punching bag.
Violent confrontation is based just as much on threat of force as it is on the follow through. The threat is usually more frightening than what follows, and your protagonist is already challenging the fear by trying to escape. From a narrative perspective, if they get over their fear enough to challenge their antagonist directly then it’s game over. You spent your all capital either at the beginning or midway through the story, and you’re not getting it back.
Remember, your antagonist has to do just as much work to earn their street cred as your protagonist. Their position is a delicate balance of power management and threat of force. They rely on show over tell. They need to live up to whatever it is you’ve been saying about them. They need to be as dangerous as they’ve been puffed up to be, unless their reputation itself is the real antagonist. Never forget, your antagonist (whoever they are/whatever it is) is the backbone of your story. They are often the driving force of action, the reason why the protagonist is struggling, and the focal point. In some ways, they are more important than your protagonist because without them the protagonist’s got a whole lot of nothing.
When you undercut your antagonist, you also hurt your protagonist’s development. You cheat them of their chance for growth, and deny them their ability to show off whatever it is that they’re actually good at i.e. using their bravery, intelligence, and cleverness to sneak out.
If your protagonist beats down their Goliath at the beginning of (or even the middle) of the story then there’s no reason for them to go to the mountain master and learn to throw rocks.
so apparently femshep’s official height is 5′3″, and garrus’ is 7′. that’s a height difference of a whopping 21 inches. I’m honestly so disappointed that this isn’t addressed in-game because you just know he’d absolutely rip the piss out of her for it
“hey shep I’m pretty sure alliance regulations say that anyone under 5′7″ has to use a booster seat in the mako…”
garrus…kiss ur tiny angry girlfriend before she decks you…
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to play soccer mom? Not one where Steve played your soccer son
well, last week i kicked the heads off of about fifteen robots, and then used them as projectiles to hit other robots with. does that count as soccer? afterwards i yelled at steve for taking his helmet off dramatically in the middle of a fight. he got a concussion. again.
its not there to prevent hat hair steven, its so you DONT DIE. which is also my job, and i can use all the help i can get.
maybe we should get him a pair of sunglasses or something, so he has something he can remove at a dramatic point mid-combat without actually losing safety equipment. sometimes i think the star-spangled show actually made his tendency towards the dramatic even worse.
- Okay so the team is investigating the ruins of some seemingly abandoned planet bc they received a distress signal or w/e
- Keith comes across this weird device that looks sort of like a compass?? but he doesn’t recognize any of the symbols on the rim and the needle’s kind of swinging around a bit even when keith stays still
- so he figures it’s broken and is considering just dropping it when *surprise!* they’re ambushed by galra soldiers
- fight instincts kick in and they make it back to their lions and escape miraculously unscathed etc etc
- Keith doesn’t even realise he had shoved the compass into his pocket until a few days later when he’s cleaning his suit
- This time the needle stays pointing in the same direction no matter which way keith moves
- he shows it to Coran the next time they’re alone, who gets really excited when he sees it
- As far as he can tell, the symbols say it’s meant to point you towards whatever you most desire
-Keith finds the vagueness of that really irritating so Coran just shrugs and says that’s probably why the invention never took off on other planets
- Keith takes to carrying it around with him in his pocket anyway, and when he’s really bored and on his own he takes it out and watches it
- Usually the needle itself stays pretty stationary, even if the direction its pointing in has changed
- Sometimes though it spins around like crazy
- Keith figures it definitely has to be broken
- Until one day when the whole team is gathered in the control room to argue what the next step in their current predicament should be
- The team are pretty split down the middle, Allura spearheading her side with Shiro leading the counter argument
- it’s been going on for over an hour at this point and everyone’s extremely frustrated, even Lance is pacing back and forth
- Keith thinks the answer is obvious, especially with Shiro on their side, so he sits back grumpily and lets him handle it
- He takes his out his compass out of habit, checking if the direction has changed since this morning
- When he realizes
- The needle is swinging back and forth
- keeping pace with Lance’s anxious pacing perfectly
Hey! If you're still taking prompts, could you write about neil and Andrew having a conversation about Neil's past? Like the stuff he had to do to survive and the stuff he went through with the worlds shittiest parents? Also I'm pretty sure neil has killed people like it makes complete sense so maybe andreil talking about that?
There’s a band of pale blue light nipping at the tops of the trees and sharpening the silhouettes of the houses, but everything else is fresh and dark. Andrew smokes with the pack clenched in his fist, the cherry of the cigarette winking at the street lamps winking at the orange moon.
Their front porch isn’t like the rush of the rooftop, but he can get that same jitter of fear from Neil nowadays, and he’s more portable. He’d left him knotted in the bedsheets an hour ago, and knowing he’s inside somewhere at his back is burning him up. Andrew inhales and focuses on the exhale, the way the smoke still tries to hurt him when it should’ve given up. He likes that nicotine doesn’t leave him alone.
Neil slips out the front door and lets the screen door clatter, and Andrew knows that he’s upset before he sits down two steps below Andrew, holding his own head.
He doesn’t ask; just smokes fervently. The moon bobs its head sympathetically, wind catches the smoke and breaks it over Neil’s head like water on rocks.
It occurs to Andrew that Neil isn’t going to start this conversation, because he likes to think things through on his own, solve them wrong, and tell Andrew about his mistakes later. He’s insufferably convinced of his own problem-solving abilities, then obsessed with the mechanism of his own missteps.
“What?” Andrew asks impatiently. He flicks ash from his cigarette and holds it out in front of Neil’s face. Neil sidles through his own tangled thinking for long enough to glance up. He leans forward and sucks the smoke from between Andrew’s fingers.
When he looks away, gusting smoke from his open mouth, he says, “Matt called. We fought.”
“You fought,” Andrew guesses.
Neil looks agitated, blue in the choked light, eyes black and furious. “He was being unfair. He keeps trying to tell me what’s right or wrong lately, because he thinks I’ve been— been deprived, like my experiences were outside of humanity, or morality, and it’s so— condescending.”
“You’re only realizing this now? All of the foxes are condescending. It is the only way they can avoid their own failure.”
“This was different,” Neil says, shaking his head. “I can tell when they’re saying things because they want to see my reaction, and this wasn’t that. He meant what he was saying.”
“And what was that?”
Neil goes gagged silent. He shifts backwards up to Andrew’s stair without looking at him, settling into the groove worn into the wood.
“That killing someone makes you a monster. That murder is the worst thing you can do to a person.”
i just wanna be very clear that if you dare THINK murdoc ever wanted noodle to be killed when this girl is the most family he will ever come close to having you can come meet me @ carvel to come fight so i can kick your ass and reward myself with ice cream afterward