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Kita-Ysabell
What I would keep an eye out for is how the story itself is framed: is a character's worth within the story based on their ability to look out for themselves in a combat situation? I have plenty of characters that I think of as complete badasses (and I do think they come across that way) who would go down in five seconds flat in a fight-- they're just not in the sort of story where that's what's most important.

It's good to see that you've noticed how the guy's sense of self-worth is based around his ability to protect others, now you just have to ask yourself: in what way is he wrong.


Thanks for that! That's a great point. I'm still finalizing the paladin's character and that's precisely the void I've got to deal with to get him where he needs to be at the start of the story.
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I'm generally okay with Damsels in Distress as long as they aren't, entirely pathetic. One thing that irks me in stories -- and this is simply my opinion, so please don't take offence -- is when the damsel says or does things like:
"Oh, I'm helpless! Somebody, please help me! Oh! Oh no! The evil beast is going to kill me," and then she proceeds to simply stand there and not even TRY to run away or attempt at self preservation. Instincts have to kick in some time.

...what? I don't want to go among mad people!
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i am book worm
If I were looking for the white rabbit I'd ask the Mad Hatter...


I'm generally okay with Damsels in Distress as long as they aren't, entirely pathetic. One thing that irks me in stories -- and this is simply my opinion, so please don't take offence -- is when the damsel says or does things like:
"Oh, I'm helpless! Somebody, please help me! Oh! Oh no! The evil beast is going to kill me," and then she proceeds to simply stand there and not even TRY to run away or attempt at self preservation. Instincts have to kick in some time.

...what? I don't want to go among mad people!

I agree. At least be pathetic at running away.

I also had insisting on modesty or etiquette in the wrong situation. If you're traveling in the wilderness, don't complain about the lack of napkins or forks. If some guy just beat up a monster that tried to attack you while you're naked, don't get made he saw boobies.
i am book worm
If I were looking for the white rabbit I'd ask the Mad Hatter...


I'm generally okay with Damsels in Distress as long as they aren't, entirely pathetic. One thing that irks me in stories -- and this is simply my opinion, so please don't take offence -- is when the damsel says or does things like:
"Oh, I'm helpless! Somebody, please help me! Oh! Oh no! The evil beast is going to kill me," and then she proceeds to simply stand there and not even TRY to run away or attempt at self preservation. Instincts have to kick in some time.

...what? I don't want to go among mad people!


Those types of characters always remind me of Scarlet O'Hara for some reason. Don't get me wrong, Scarlett was a brilliant character. But I always think about how she manipulated that one man in like the middle of the story and the scene where she's riding in the coach with him and going, "Ooh you're so smart/strong/clever/whatever" and then the guy proposes to her eventually.

I always want to assume that those heroines who are just standing there know better and are just attempting a shockingly ignorant plan to manipulate the hero into falling in love with them, or at least feel sorry enough to solve all their problems. sweatdrop
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i am book worm
If I were looking for the white rabbit I'd ask the Mad Hatter...


I'm generally okay with Damsels in Distress as long as they aren't, entirely pathetic. One thing that irks me in stories -- and this is simply my opinion, so please don't take offence -- is when the damsel says or does things like:
"Oh, I'm helpless! Somebody, please help me! Oh! Oh no! The evil beast is going to kill me," and then she proceeds to simply stand there and not even TRY to run away or attempt at self preservation. Instincts have to kick in some time.

...what? I don't want to go among mad people!


Those types of characters always remind me of Scarlet O'Hara for some reason. Don't get me wrong, Scarlett was a brilliant character. But I always think about how she manipulated that one man in like the middle of the story and the scene where she's riding in the coach with him and going, "Ooh you're so smart/strong/clever/whatever" and then the guy proposes to her eventually.

I always want to assume that those heroines who are just standing there know better and are just attempting a shockingly ignorant plan to manipulate the hero into falling in love with them, or at least feel sorry enough to solve all their problems. sweatdrop

Exactly! It ruins the story for me to be perfectly honest.
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Kairi Nightingale
As long as the girl is likable as a character and it makes sense for her to be unable to do anything, I don't see a problem with it.

What I hate is when the girl is a damsel in distress at first, but then you find out that she's actually has some great power that she didn't use to help herself earlier for reasons unknown. Or the opposite where she's able to take care of herself just fine, until she is suddenly kidnapped and playing the helpless maiden when there is no reason why she couldn't get herself out of that situation.

Oh, I also don't care for love at first sight, but that doesn't seem a problem with what you've said.


Agreed. There are times where it would make sense for a female character to be totally helpless. In many societies, cultures, and times, women were only supposed to perform domestic duties and be submissive, and that's how they were raised. A girl from such a culture would be totally helpless in a kidnapping situation because she wouldn't have much physical strength, probably couldn't run too fast. Alternately, you also have characters (not just women) who end up in places so wildly different from where they're from that they don't know what to do. A civilized, well-educated elite upper class woman who lives in, and always has lived in, complete luxury can easily be a cool, interesting character, but I won't complain if she requires rescuing after the Dark Lord's griffin snatches her up and takes her to a dungeon or if she gets stranded in a wild, dangerous jungle. It doesn't make her a bad character and it doesn't make her a weak character, she's just in a situation she was never prepared for.

But I really hate it when otherwise competent female characters get kidnapped just so the writer can have the guy rescue her. I like what Nostalgia Critic calls them, "Dumasses in Distress". Girls who can take care of themselves but don't. Like when she goes against taking the easy, logical action and just stands around like a moron. Or when the writer tries to make her out to be this tough, smart action girl, only to have her act completely helpless when she gets kidnapped later. That seems to be one of the more common types of situations where the writer shows something totally different from what s/he's telling.

I have nothing against the whole "girl needs to be rescued" story, just as long as there's a good reason for her to be helpless in her situation. Though, three things I want to add. One, it's very frustrating if she's COMPLETELY useless and needs to be rescued lots and lots of times. At the very least, give her some skills that help her contribute while she's with the hero. (like if she's good with medicine or cooking) Two, if she's going to be a prissy, upper-class, don't go really over-the-top to the point where she doesn't seem to have a grasp on the situation and she acts completely unreasonable about everything. I really hate it when there are characters that insist on looking perfect even in the empty wilderness. I get that she's in a society where appearance is everything, but she should still have enough common sense to know that it isn't a priority when you're stranded in the forest. Three, don't make her an object that exists just so the hero has something to rescue. If I don't care about the girl, I don't see any reason why the hero should care about her, and then there are no stakes.
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Well, she has to be able to do something.
The main thing I hate about most damsel in distress stories, especially those half assed ones, is that the girl is just so unbelievably helpless to the point of annoyance. A person's normal reaction under those circumstances would have attempted to help herself before needing to be rescued.
marshmallowcreampie
Kairi Nightingale
As long as the girl is likable as a character and it makes sense for her to be unable to do anything, I don't see a problem with it.

What I hate is when the girl is a damsel in distress at first, but then you find out that she's actually has some great power that she didn't use to help herself earlier for reasons unknown. Or the opposite where she's able to take care of herself just fine, until she is suddenly kidnapped and playing the helpless maiden when there is no reason why she couldn't get herself out of that situation.

Oh, I also don't care for love at first sight, but that doesn't seem a problem with what you've said.


Agreed. There are times where it would make sense for a female character to be totally helpless. In many societies, cultures, and times, women were only supposed to perform domestic duties and be submissive, and that's how they were raised. A girl from such a culture would be totally helpless in a kidnapping situation because she wouldn't have much physical strength, probably couldn't run too fast. Alternately, you also have characters (not just women) who end up in places so wildly different from where they're from that they don't know what to do. A civilized, well-educated elite upper class woman who lives in, and always has lived in, complete luxury can easily be a cool, interesting character, but I won't complain if she requires rescuing after the Dark Lord's griffin snatches her up and takes her to a dungeon or if she gets stranded in a wild, dangerous jungle. It doesn't make her a bad character and it doesn't make her a weak character, she's just in a situation she was never prepared for.

But I really hate it when otherwise competent female characters get kidnapped just so the writer can have the guy rescue her. I like what Nostalgia Critic calls them, "Dumasses in Distress". Girls who can take care of themselves but don't. Like when she goes against taking the easy, logical action and just stands around like a moron. Or when the writer tries to make her out to be this tough, smart action girl, only to have her act completely helpless when she gets kidnapped later. That seems to be one of the more common types of situations where the writer shows something totally different from what s/he's telling.

I have nothing against the whole "girl needs to be rescued" story, just as long as there's a good reason for her to be helpless in her situation. Though, three things I want to add. One, it's very frustrating if she's COMPLETELY useless and needs to be rescued lots and lots of times. At the very least, give her some skills that help her contribute while she's with the hero. (like if she's good with medicine or cooking) Two, if she's going to be a prissy, upper-class, don't go really over-the-top to the point where she doesn't seem to have a grasp on the situation and she acts completely unreasonable about everything. I really hate it when there are characters that insist on looking perfect even in the empty wilderness. I get that she's in a society where appearance is everything, but she should still have enough common sense to know that it isn't a priority when you're stranded in the forest. Three, don't make her an object that exists just so the hero has something to rescue. If I don't care about the girl, I don't see any reason why the hero should care about her, and then there are no stakes.


You know, I was watching MTV quite a few years back, and they had this show where they sent privileged, spoiled girls to Africa to learn how easy they really have it in life. So the girl is shipped out, watches them slaughter animals for their dinner and then sleeps the first night in a hovel made of mud and I'm pretty sure animal droppings, and then wakes up and puts on her makeup in front of the camera.

The other girls from the tribe her age are looking at her like she's insane, and she complains about in an interview for the camera later, that she felt they were judging her because she wasn't comfortable without any makeup on.

There really is no cure for some people.

But I agree, those types of women do make for a very annoying read. My favorite princess-dragged-through-the-wilderness character is Buttercup from The Princess Bride. When she got tired of Mr. Ninja Assassian Guy she pushed him down a steep hill. Never mind that she was in the middle of nowhere and probably had no idea how to get home. That guy pissed her off. xd I could totally see her figuring out how to live in the wilderness on her own.
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You know, I was watching MTV quite a few years back, and they had this show where they sent privileged, spoiled girls to Africa to learn how easy they really have it in life. So the girl is shipped out, watches them slaughter animals for their dinner and then sleeps the first night in a hovel made of mud and I'm pretty sure animal droppings, and then wakes up and puts on her makeup in front of the camera.

The other girls from the tribe her age are looking at her like she's insane, and she complains about in an interview for the camera later, that she felt they were judging her because she wasn't comfortable without any makeup on.

There really is no cure for some people.


Oh, yeah, I remember that show. It was hilarious. cat_rofl There was this one chick who said she would only drink bottled water and complained that it wasn't available. She refused to drink the well water for a long time, even after a very long trek she made with another girl when they were leading cattle to water. Even if that show was scripted, (no idea if it was) it's exactly the type of character I'm talking about.
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Tsuki Z
Well, she has to be able to do something.
The main thing I hate about most damsel in distress stories, especially those half assed ones, is that the girl is just so unbelievably helpless to the point of annoyance. A person's normal reaction under those circumstances would have attempted to help herself before needing to be rescued.


I'd love to see a damsel in distress asked what useful stuff she can do and she just admits she's a secretary or great at tap dance.
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I_Write_Ivre
Tsuki Z
Well, she has to be able to do something.
The main thing I hate about most damsel in distress stories, especially those half assed ones, is that the girl is just so unbelievably helpless to the point of annoyance. A person's normal reaction under those circumstances would have attempted to help herself before needing to be rescued.


I'd love to see a damsel in distress asked what useful stuff she can do and she just admits she's a secretary or great at tap dance.

I'm just answering the question on what we hate about those types of stories.
And why are so many damsels pictures as empty headed. They never seem to ask something that could come in useful for her or other people...
well, I'm a bit of a feminist so I've never been appreciative of the whole "damsel in distress" deal.
Even when i was little I wondered why the princesses waited to be saved instead
of cutting throats and kneeing groins. I like shrek because Fiona was a badass
who kicked guys in the face. I don't like being taken care of (even though I'm little and thin) because girls need to look out for themselves. If somebody attacks me, I'm not gonna
wait to be helped; I'm gonna pop the b*****d's eye out with my knife. Though backup and protection from a big guy is always comforting to have.
...with that being said, I'm sure its a great story in the works, it could make her seem sweet to need a bit of protecting, but (this is only a mild suggestion) maybe you could add a few scenes where she helps save his a** rather than him saving hers? But in the long run he could still have
his ego trip from being a hero.

anyway, cheers to your story! mrgreen

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neowired's avatar

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I would start by making the paladin a girl and the "damsel" a guy.
I like inverting tropes, I think it makes stories more interesting and lets you explore various issues.

But that's just me.
neowired
I would start by making the paladin a girl and the "damsel" a guy.
I like inverting tropes, I think it makes stories more interesting and lets you explore various issues.

But that's just me.


That sounds like fun. But the girl's ability in this story really resonates with her being a female character. =/ I'm obsessed with the idea of paladins so I'm sure I'll write a story with a female one at some point.
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neowired
I would start by making the paladin a girl and the "damsel" a guy.
I like inverting tropes, I think it makes stories more interesting and lets you explore various issues.

But that's just me.

Inverting a trope doesn't necessarily make it better. It's always the writing and execution, not the trope, that makes it good or bad.

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