I’m a bit behind schedule for this post. It’s my own fault. I was away from my laptop but I knew I would be, and failed to get this finished quite in time. And I’ll be honest, it really isn’t worth the wait. It’s just me rambling as usual, though I’ve tried to keep a bit of a structure to it.
This post isn’t about writing romantic relationships, or any one specific type of relationship. It’s really about deciding how well different characters do or not get on, and how readers may respond to that. For the sake of structure, this post will stick to three categories; relationships between different heroes, between heroes and villains, and between different villains. Not all characters qualify as either, and I don’t explore every single possibility within each category, so it’s not comprehensive. But sometimes my posts ramble off into an entirely different subject to what they started out as, and I have to change the title. I’ve avoided that, at least, on this occasion.
So, relationships between heroes. Most stories do have multiple heroes, be it one main one with others supporting, or two or three main ones. And they’ll usually interact at some point, even if they don’t work together as a group, so the various heroes will end up forming some sort of relationships with eachother, even if there was nothing pre-existing. Which there often is.
Continue reading “Relationships Between Characters”
I was struggling a lot to come up with a subject for this post, so I spent a minute listing everything that came to mind and then picked out the topics that most captured my interest. This was one of them. So that’s how this post came to be.
A retelling is taking an existing story and putting some kind of twist on it. Typically, it’s of a myth or fairytale, or a classic that’s passed into the public domain. I was mostly thinking of the latter type when writing this post, so some what I say might not necessarily apply to the former. Of course, you can retell a more recent story, but you probably won’t be able to publish it.
Also, I’m referring to works that are actually billed as retellings, not just stories that reflect older ones, having the same themes and plot elements. In some cases, these can be considered retellings, but they’re not what I’m talking about here. Some of the points do still apply though.
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I’ve tried to do a post on Mary Sues a few times, but it’s never really happened. I was never quite sure how because it’s quite a debated subject. The label has often been misused and not everyone believes it’s a thing at all. I’m very firmly on the side that it is, but as I say, I think it’s been applied to a lot of characters it really doesn’t apply to.
There doesn’t seem to be a consensus what exactly constitutes a Mary Sue. The basic idea is it’s a character that is idealised to the point of being treated like they’re perfect, but I don’t know if there’s a single character who’s been accused of being a Sue that wouldn’t have defenders.
In this post I will lay out what I think one is, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with me. But I think that’s the only way I can do this post, just go through what I think the traits are. Some of my wording may seem odd but that’s because I want to be precise about what I mean.
So I’ll try this.
1 – The character has not been written to have any significant flaws
I’ve seen people accuse characters of being Sues while also pointing out their flaws, which seems contradictory. But usually they’re pointing out flaws which clearly weren’t intentional on the writer’s part. If they’re unintentional then they can’t really be used as a defence against being a Sue. So if they come across as very selfish, while everything in the narrative makes it seem readers are supposed to see them as selfless, then they may still validly be called a Sue.
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There’s shadows sat behind your smile
Flickering in your eyes
I’ve always heard them in your voice
Although you rarely cry.
You’ve always stayed a little close
Held me a bit too tight
And at the slightest hint of threat
You’ve been ready to fight.
Continue reading “Poetry – Shadows”
This was supposed to be a post about writing believable and effective dialogue, but it’s ended up being more about the various purposes dialogue can serve in a story. And very rambly. I promise when I’m actually writing a story I don’t ramble so much – or at least, it gets cut out in the redraft. But I think it’s slightly more acceptable in a blog, if it’s all mostly on-topic. That’s my excuse.
Anyway, I did delete the several paragraphs of introduction, so I’ll dive right in now. What purpose can dialogue serve?
It can be used to give exposition, tell the reader some information about the characters, the setting, or the backstory. A common writing tip I see is that slipping details into dialogue is better than just putting an infodump in the narrative, and it is. But for the first tip I will give here, I’ll say that it’s quite easy to fall into a trap of still doing an infodump, just in dialogue, which I’d say is worse, just because it’s hard to write it in a way that feels warranted and not clunky.
Another problem that can come up – and indeed double up with the infodumping – is characters telling eachother things they already know. That seems an obvious thing not to do, but I’ve certainly found myself tempted to have a character say something like “Remind me again what the plan is?”, or “So what’s the deal with that place again?”. I don’t think that’s automatically terrible, but you can only have so many forgetful characters before it starts to become a bit conspicuous. This is one reason why so many works have a newcomer character who doesn’t know a lot more – if anything – about the situation than the readers, and therefore needs a lot of things explaining to them.
Continue reading “Using Dialogue”
Antiheroes and villain protagonists obviously aren’t the same thing, but I think they can be somewhat similar to write in spirit, so I’m writing about them both here. With both you get to have your protagonist do things that a standard hero wouldn’t, and get away with it, because if readers know a protagonist isn’t supposed to be nice, or even good, they’ll generally be more forgiving of any questionable things they do. So antiheroes and villain protagonists are fun to write and, when well done, fun to read about.
So, first off, the difference, which is really right there in the words. An antihero is still a hero, no matter how unsavoury their methods or motives may be. Even if they cross the line and do something unforgivable, overall they are working towards something good. They may lose sight of it at some point, if they get caught up obsessing over revenge or something, but they start off at least with admirable aims.
A villain protagonist is a villain who happens to be the main character. They are doing something wrong, and even if the reader is kind of rooting for them, they are still painted as being clearly in the wrong. They may get redeemed at some point, they may end up teaming up with the heroes to defeat a worse villain, or even trying to stop their own plan. But they are still bad guys themselves.
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Time for another post of me rambling inanely about writing. As usual, I’m hesitant to give any definitive opinions about what does and doesn’t make for a good story start, so I’ll just do as I normally do and ramble through different ways you can open, and my thoughts on them. And as usual, I’m just some random person who’s not yet managed to get published, so my opinions are of no more value than anyone else’s, and less value than some people’s.
So, a pretty vital part of writing a story – or anything – is the beginning. If you don’t grab people at the start then they don’t have any reason to read on, and a promise of ‘it gets better’ won’t help very much. People can’t be expected to read something they don’t like in the hopes that they may eventually start liking it. They sometimes do; I’ve ended up liking some things that I initially had to force my way through. But I’ve also put books down because they didn’t catch my interest fast enough. Whether or not I keep on going depends on my mood and what else I happen to have on hand that I could be doing. And I don’t think any writer wants to rely on readers being in a charitable mood and having nothing else to do.
Continue reading “Beginning a Story”