META: Plot vs. Character

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Sun Sep 3 00:22:14 PDT 2006

Tom Russell wrote:

> Iron Man's always had a more right-wing streak in him, and, to my mind,
> Cap's always been more on the left.

Yes, Iron Man is right of centre and Captain America is left of centre
but I would have thought they would have gone the other way with this
particular issue: Iron Man is more of a pro-NRA Libertarian, not a
God-and-country conservative, and Captain America is very pro-military
and very much a God-and-country conservative, even if he is more
liberal with regards to social equality.  Iron Man formed Force Works,
the Avengers equivalent of X-Force, while Captain America fought in the
Second World War.  But the plot demands that Iron Man be
pro-registration and Captain America be anti-registration, forty+ years
of characterisation be damned!

(Note that I can't really complain if I'm getting my comics through the
internet.  You try finding a local comics shop in South East Asia.)

> Martin wrote:
> >   To me though, the sense of
> > grandeur comes not from the forty years of history but from the years
> > of comraderie that these characters share.
> I concur; excellently stated!

And that comraderie is what they are throwing out the window.  Worse,
they are pretending it never existed.

> > Tom Russell
> > other hand, tries to make almost everything he writes a jumping on
> > point by providing a full page of exposition at the beginning of each
> > story: sometimes it's better to jump in mid res and explain things as
> Do I?  I thought I'd been getting better at that, but there's always
> room for improvement.

Confession time: I often don't read your stories from beginning to end.
 Sometimes I skip sections thinking "I already know this".  Actually,
that's a bit unfair: sometimes you will do flashbacks not to provide
important plot information but to round out the character, perhaps just
as much for yourself as much as for the reader.  And if I skip sections
then I can't fairly criticize them either. :)

> > you go along.  Mid res.  That's actually a term I picked up from Tom
> Media res, actually. :-)


> I think character is much more important than plot,

I can tell. :)

But I agree with you and that's why Net.Heroes, Speak, Fiction and
Green Knight appealed to me.

> but at the same
> time, it's the plot that excites the emotions and encourages
> identification with the character.  For example, Nancy Drew is a very
> sexy girl detective,

Ew.  You think so?  I assumed she was underaged. :)

> And, Martin, thanks for the plugs of my Eightfold work, BTW.  Glad
> you're enjoying them.  I think with the Nostalgics that all will be
> revealed, but I must admit that I've lost my passion for it:

I think that's my fault because I've been more critical of the
Nostalgics than anything else, including Speak.  I think you could
always skip ahead to the surprise ending:

"We're out of spaghetti sauce," he said.  That was it.  I couldn't take
it anymore.  "What are you doing?" he asked as I choked the life out of

Then all the seemingly irrelevent information would come together and
form a cohesive whole. :)

That being said, I don't skip anything when I read Nostalgics for that
very reason: I'm assuming that everything the narrator says is somehow
related to the mystery of why he would want to kill someone.  So that's
a good thing. :)


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