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A big part of character interactions in storytelling is how one character's words and actions influence other characters. The intended influences could range from just a tiny manner or perspective's change to a more drastic and fundamental change of the character.

Here, we will look at one particular way to express the influences transferred between characters, which is throuch an advice. And a lot of ways we could use it for making an interesting story.

Do the Opposite

Anti-Advice - The Simpsons

It's called Anti-Advice. Let's say you have character A who's consistently giving wrong advice/opinions for some reason. Then, every time he/she gives advice/opinion whether directly or not, character B could chime in and say something like "Okay, let's do the opposite."

Why use it?

Anti-Advice - One Piece

It's a popular way to enforce a character's trait into the plot of the story. For example, Zorro from One Piece has a bad sense of direction. As the image above shown, the plot exploits this trait of him and makes him decide which way to go when he's lost. It incorporates the characters' traits more into the decision-making process of the story.

It Backfires

Advice Backfire - The Legend of Korra

One ironic way to make an advice more meaningful is to have it backfired for its receivers/givers. Character A gives a certain wisdom to character B, then character B heeds to the advice and one of them suffers a bad consequence because of it. 

There are a lot of reasons why the advice is not working. Character B could misunderstand character A, for example. Or, the advice is just misguided and ill-suited to the need of the situation. Or, many other reasons.

For example, in The Legend of Korra, Tenzin asked for Bumi's advice to make him a more respected leader of the new airbenders. Then, Bumi talked about the strict military-style tactics that might help. It immediately backfired when Tenzin accepted the advice and became more militant and aggressive in training the airbenders, including Bumi.

Why use it?

Advice Backfire - Tokyo Ghoul

It's good for both comedic or serious situations. For serious situations, you have Tokyo Ghoul's Kaneki Ken (image above) who's captured by the enemy and tortured mercilessly because his mother told him not to hurt other people, leading to the most memorable and gruesome moment of the show.

It expresses the character's flaws to the audience, whether it's character A's ill-advised wisdom or character B's false decision in trusting character A.


That's it for now!

Idiot Note Writing