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Developing Trainers vs already developed Trainers

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by matt0044, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    What do I mean? Well, I seem to find that amongst the Pokemon fandom (this is my experience though), characters that start out like a novice Trainer (like Ash Ketchum as a Trainer) but get better as their character develops. While characters who start out pretty competent with good skills and strategic minds (and smart and sensible in other areas) for the start of the series (like Yugi Moto, Lina Inverse or others outside Pokemon) aren't very well received by everyone. Unsually they're claimed they're bland or uninteresting with the potential to be Mary Sues (this has a bit of truth to it but still...). At least by idea alone. Not that they can't get better and are already "perfect" but they're not a Monkey D. Luffy or Ash Ketchum (Kanto-wise and BW) by far.

    The former is understandable and even I like such character arcs, being very profound and touching (especially when one can relate to them). But for the latter, I feel like that it can be done well if the story presents it in a good way. How they interact with others, how their traits are balanced out, how they can be flawed and how likable they can be. You wouldn't hand over Pokemon, creatures with extraordinary powers, to a kid who'd get killed with one step into the tall grass, would you?

    I'm pretty confident in this belief of mine but I'd like to know about what your stances are on all this. Assuming you get the gist of this.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  2. pacman000

    pacman000 Well-Known Member

    Actually, yes. In fact, I thought that's why you gave them Pokemon; so they wouldn't get killed.
  3. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me Staff Member Moderator

    They're each good for different kinds of stories. If you want to make a primarily coming-of-age story, you're usually better off with a novice trainer who has more to learn, but other stories that are more based around some plot not fundamentally related to the trainer's personal journey are often better with an established trainer who already has some degree of competence and can therefore believably be involved in a higher-stakes conflict. And they don't have to be uninteresting or Mary-Sues just because they're experienced as trainers, any more than any character in any non-Pokémon fanfiction book has to.

    elyvorg's Lost Evolution has two established trainers as the main human characters, for example, and they're both flawed, interesting, have their own issues, and so on even though they've already got full Pokémon teams and established strategic ability. And that's clearly a better choice for that story than it would be to have them be novices, because the plot is about finding an extinct Grovyle evolution and having to include the characters knowing nothing about battling, having to catch all their Pokémon and being unable to take on any serious threat would get severely in its way.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  4. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    True. I probably should've phrased that better. Sorry.

    @Dragonfree That's true but I had "just starting a journey" kind of Trainer more in mind. One who has gone to classes on Pokemon Training for two years (so says my fanfic ideas) and knows a lot of the basics enough but still has quite a way to go once he/she begin a journey to hone his/her skills to get better. He/she is smart and pretty mature (which helps when you're raising six Pokemon at a time) though isn't at all infallible.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  5. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Hmm, I would have given a reply pretty well in line with Dragonfree's, but your last post there kind of confused me... when you say "established trainer," then, you're not talking about someone who already has pokémon/badges and has already been traveling for a while, but rather someone who's been going to some kind of prep school or academy thing before starting out on their journey? Contrary to established-trainer stories, those sorts of 'fics tend to be subpar, if only because the premise is usually poorly thought out. For example, when it comes to maturity necessary to raise a team of pokémon, I would not expect a twelve-year-old to perform significantly better than a ten-year-old. Just what on earth are you learning in those two years that your character isn't going to be able to pick up quickly out in the world/with a 'dex to help, anyway? Further, the distinction tends to make absolutely no difference to the way the trainer is actually portrayed in the story (for example, if your two years of education were actually worth anything you would be just roflstomping all the poor shmucks who rushed out at ten and didn't study up); the first couple chapters of the 'fic might be a little different, but after that, it never comes up again. At that point, why bother? tbqh I'm not sure why people like that setup so much, except maybe that it provides some slight degree of plausibility to whatever absurd starter choice they've decided on for their character (because naturally academies will give out pretty much whatever rare and cool pokémon their students like).

    For what it's worth, I've not heard people calling trainers that start out with some experience Mary-Sues (or rather, not *because* they start out as established trainers), and as for handing over Pokémon to kids... yes, obviously? That's kind of a major premise of the franchise.
  6. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    *Ahem* I never said anything about their age. Just that they've took classes on being a Trainer before being recognize as worthy of the title and role and they know information that should be basic to them for their journey. They don't really have to be "ten" really.

    P.S. That's a bit of an generalization there.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  7. IJuggler

    IJuggler how much words

    I feel like there's an undeserved connection between novice trainers and inexperienced people. It's a big world, and maybe this ten-year old has been an working under a nearby widgetsmith his entire life and has a widget-based perspective that can really add to the story. The idea that novice trainer stories are boring is mostly because of that; the author focuses the story on the Pokemon adventure to the exclusion of other interesting parts, things that show the characters' personal interests more closely. For every Jack who's living and breathing Pokemon at the age of ten, there must be a Jane who has decided she needs to train Pokemon because of a motivational speech dedicated to the profession that pulled her from depression after her latest art exhibit failed. I would find Jane's story at least as interesting as Jack's, and it has the bonus of not being immediately judged in comparison to every other expansion on the games.

    That's a bit off-topic, but I felt it needed to be said. On the topic of just trainers, a more developed one is more easily expected to face problems of greater scale, but subverting those expectations is a good way to write as well. A League Champion stumbling through a bad day of small problems, or an epic of a new trainer throwing an ignorant cog into machinations greater than he knows, are examples of how subverting it can be just as good. As with almost all writing, it relies purely on the ability of the writer to make it into a good thing.
  8. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Well, no. The issue remains whatever age they are, whatever. What you're describing here is a bit different than the typical trainer academy, then, but I'm skeptical that it would take two years for anybody to learn the basics of trainer stuff.

    Well, yes... because I'm speaking about 'fics in general, not about any one in particular.
  9. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    Okay, how about one single year?
  10. Negrek

    Negrek Lost but Seeking

    Nah. How long did it take you to figure out how to play the games? Other than that, about all you need to know is some wilderness survival skills, and you can learn the basics of "how not to die in the woods" in a matter of hours, not that most people would take a class before their first e.g. hiking trip anyway.

    I'm thinking like a semester at most, and you could easily get up to speed in a week or so if you had multiple hours of classes every day, with some practical stuff thrown in. This is all working off the assumption that you're talking about fairly basic skills/knowledge, not some kind of advanced battling curriculum. Also, considering how much of a Big Deal pokémon training is in canon, I would think that most people can osmotize most of the basics, in the same way that you may not have actually taken driver's ed yet but yet still know e.g. what the steering wheel is for.

    But more to the point, why are you interested in adding this in in the first place? How is it actually going to matter? That's the real important thing.
  11. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    I don't even know what to say anymore. I just suck at getting my point across.
  12. IJuggler

    IJuggler how much words

    I think it would make more sense, rather than the sort of Trainer School (which, from what we saw in RBY, was quite basic), to have training as an elective in normal school. It would have a normal, somewhat-inefficient curriculum, probably throwing in some stuff that trainers wouldn't actually use and combining a lot of different aspects of training. This seems like a more sensible way for the schooling to work, as well as some private schooling that teaches either the basics of survival or the basics of battling in 'a few hours', as you said. Maybe there could be a prestigious school where the focus is on pokemon training, but that seems like it would go pretty far beyond the basics of survival, leading to a whole bunch of OP 'novices'.
  13. matt0044

    matt0044 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that's what I had in mind.

    BTW, by "OP novices" what'd you mean? Original Poster or something else? Can't be too sure.
  14. IJuggler

    IJuggler how much words

    Overpowered, sorry. I think they'd be overpowered in that fashion because their battling skills would be more practiced than trainers who've been working for years, even more than their peers who left at the same time they entered the school, because guided learning like that would be highly effective. The only redeeming factor I can think of in that would be the fact that they wouldn't have nearly so much experience with other things a trainer would need, like catching skills and feeding themselves. And maybe they wouldn't be used to inexperienced Pokemon, but that's something that would really depend on the story, characters, and writing.

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