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Post edited by user avatar Amadeus · 2020-02-15T17:22:34Z (5 months ago)
You can't do just "dumb." You can write a mentally impaired character, like Lenny in "Of Mice and Men," that does dumb things that cause complications out of an **inability** to understand. Stephen King has a mentally impaired character (Tom Cullen) in "The Stand" and turns that mental impairment into a strategic asset (the bad guy cannot read his mind).

Otherwise, in an MC, any _consequential_ dumb mistakes are a deus ex machina, it is the author putting their thumb on the scale in order to force a plot point.

Nobody cares if that "happens in real life." A novel is NOT real life, a novel is about humans facing adversity and doing their damnedest to overcome it. They can have some bad luck, that may BE the adversity (like getting cancer, being in a car accident, being held hostage in bank robbery).

They can also **have been** dumb in the past, that can be the adversity (e.g. drove angry drunk and killed a child).

They might guess wrong given multiple options, they might be misled, they might be betrayed or trust someone that lies to them.

But they cannot be just dumb. Any reader that sees a dumb move that **has** plot consequences will not identify with the MC, that breaks their immersion, and that is a bad story.

You can't do just "dumb." You can write a mentally impaired character, like Lenny in "Of Mice and Men," that does dumb things that cause complications out of an **inability** to understand. Stephen King has a mentally impaired character (Tom Cullen) in "The Stand" and turns that mental impairment into a strategic asset (the bad guy cannot read his mind).

Otherwise, in an MC, any _consequential_ dumb mistakes are a deus ex machina, it is the author putting their thumb on the scale in order to force a plot point.

Nobody cares if that "happens in real life." A novel is NOT real life, a novel is about humans facing adversity and doing their damnedest to overcome it. They can have some bad luck, that may BE the adversity (like getting cancer, being in a car accident, being held hostage in bank robbery).

They can also **have been** dumb in the past, that can be the adversity (e.g. drove angry drunk and killed a child).

They might guess wrong given multiple options, they might be misled, they might be betrayed or trust someone that lies to them.

But they cannot be just dumb. Any reader that sees a dumb move that **has** plot consequences will not identify with the MC, that breaks their immersion, and that is a bad story.

Attribution notice removed by user avatar System · 2019-12-19T22:13:54Z (7 months ago)
Source: https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/47980
License name: CC BY-SA 4.0
License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
Initial revision by (deleted user) · 2019-12-08T12:57:18Z (7 months ago)
You can't do just "dumb." You can write a mentally impaired character, like Lenny in "Of Mice and Men," that does dumb things that cause complications out of an **inability** to understand. Stephen King has a mentally impaired character (Tom Cullen) in "The Stand" and turns that mental impairment into a strategic asset (the bad guy cannot read his mind).

Otherwise, in an MC, any _consequential_ dumb mistakes are a deus ex machina, it is the author putting their thumb on the scale in order to force a plot point.

Nobody cares if that "happens in real life." A novel is NOT real life, a novel is about humans facing adversity and doing their damnedest to overcome it. They can have some bad luck, that may BE the adversity (like getting cancer, being in a car accident, being held hostage in bank robbery).

They can also **have been** dumb in the past, that can be the adversity (e.g. drove angry drunk and killed a child).

They might guess wrong given multiple options, they might be misled, they might be betrayed or trust someone that lies to them.

But they cannot be just dumb. Any reader that sees a dumb move that **has** plot consequences will not identify with the MC, that breaks their immersion, and that is a bad story.

Attribution notice added by user avatar System · 2019-12-08T12:57:18Z (7 months ago)
Source: https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/47980
License name: CC BY-SA 4.0
License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
Imported from external source by user avatar System · 2019-09-12T21:03:58Z (10 months ago)
Original score: 9