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  1. 4 points
    Oh, wow, I loved that! Tragic relief is so necessary for comedy, and you got both in one twist here. Nice! I found the evil overlord a bit hard to twist too, it's been twisted a lot for comedy already, so it was a challenge. I don't actually know if this has been done by someone, but here it goes: The evil overlord inherited his title as evil overlord, and have a league of minions eagerly awaiting his grand plan for world destruction, but the evil overlord is a perfectionist. He can't act until every piece in the puzzle is utterly fail-proof. By then the bank he planned on robbing has closed, the superhero decided to get new villains to fight and the landlord for the overlord-lair got fed up waiting for rent. New trope: The Gentle Giant (big, strong, intimidating, but with a heart of gold)
  2. 4 points
    I would say I have a combination of inductive and deductive, but I lean more towards the inductive (if I'm reading the OP right.) Generally I have a very specific scene in mind because I have a literal dream at night that would make a good story seed. So I write up that scene the best I can. From there I have to figure out a) how the characters got to that point and b) where they go from that point. My dream scenes rarely start at the beginning and I'm rarely able to sleep long enough to finish it (even when I don't get interrupted, my dream's cohesion will break down into events that are not helpful for the story). Since I only see the one scene, I rarely have any idea of what the world at large looks like, and I have to use the general type of clothing worn, or furnishings in the 'room' to gauge what sort of level of technology the people might have. The same goes for things inspired from watching a show/reading a book. I usually have a clear idea of a single scene and have to expand outwards from there. But sometimes during conversation I'll get a more vague, large world idea that I have to distill back down to an actual plot. My story, A Time Before was like that, where I started with just the idea I wanted a story with Gods like the Greek Gods that weren't exactly the Greek Gods, and tell a creation story that explained them all. This sort of approach is far rarer for me. I think that's because, when I have these dreams or other specific inspiration, there's a strong emotional component that draws me in, making me WANT to tell the story. The other approach rarely has that sort of connection; generally it's purely cerebral without the emotional side. Interestingly enough, Mynoris, the character my screen name is from, came from A Time Before, which was not an emotionally drawn out story.
  3. 3 points
    I found this one quite hard to twist, since the most obvious twist is almost a trope in itself: The sidekick is not brave, but simply stupid 😛 So I came up with a more original twist, but it's rather tragic than comedic - the sidekick is suicidal and what looks like bravery is in reality someone who's trying to get themselves killed on purpose. Trying to twist that one to make it a little more funny, here's what I came up with: The sidekick has recently lost a relative and desperately wants to reconnect with them in the afterworld. The problem is: Killing yourself doesn't get you to the afterworld, but to the underworld, so that is not an option. The sidekick joined the hero's quest in order to make their own death meaningful - dying a martyr and for a good cause, achieving both their own goal to get to the afterworld, and helping save the world. Only... it didn't work out as planned, and no matter how risky their actions seem, the sidekick miraculously survives every single time they risk their own life in order to save the hero. Now the hero even thinks they are deeply indebted to the sidekick, and tries to protect their companion wherever they can in return. The sidekick silently curses both fate and the hero, and they are running out of ideas how to get killed. New trope: The evil overlord who wants to destroy everything. Because... well, because they're evil.
  4. 3 points
    Moodboarding is one of my favorite novel-adjacent timewasters! Mine always tends to be character focused. If left unchecked, I`ll spend hours trying to find just the right picture to add. I use Pinterest for moodboards. Pros: Infinite scrolling! Cons: Remember, you're here forever. (Also, I've noticed Pinterest's inspo leans more YA.) Okay, I joke about how much of a timesink it can be, but it also helped me to get back a spark of enthusiasm about my WIP. I return to it when I want to remind myself of the core of my characters. My boards are set to private, meaning only myself and the shadow agent monitoring me can see them, but here's some examples:
  5. 3 points
    I think I don't get some of these questions, but here are my thoughts: How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? Changing stuff to make the characters more different, if they are important characters - if their voices are too similar, chances are their personalities are as well. Or they're simply too flat, then "they sound too similar" tells me that I should take a break from writing the story, take a step back and flesh the characters out more. If they are not important characters, I'll question if I need them at all and chances are I'll cut one of them or combine them into one person. Or if it fits the plot, do something funny and gimmicky, like making them twins or siblings that are supposed to be similar - obviously, this one should be used sparingly. How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? That's one of the questions I don't get - what problem are we even talking about? Guess I'll have to listen to the episode to get more context. How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? Same as with side characters that sound too similar - I don't, I'll often end up cutting inactive characters or combining them with a more active one. What function does this character have in a story? Can any other character fulfill it as well? Why do I need to keep this character at all? How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? Giving them plausible motives. Making them relatable. I'm a fan of gray antagonists - they might be more ruthless (or desperate) than the protagonists in getting what they want, but they need a motivation and a goal, and there are obstacles they have to overcome to reach their goals (which is often where the protagonists come in - either the protagonists happen to be those obstacles, or they have a goal that clashes with the protagonists' goal). How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? I don't. I'm terribly bored by powerful characters, so I don't write them 😛 Well, at least not as POV characters - powerful mentors, advisors or antagonists are fine. How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? By making them relatable. Defining their goals, motivation, conflicts, and values. Giving them challenges that resonate with me and hopefully with readers as well. How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? That's another one I don't get - if a character's interests don't mesh with the plot, why are they there in the first place? I guess the answer would be "add a meaningful subplot or cut the character"? If the manuscript already exists and is finished, the plot obviously gets resolved without that character just fine, so what is that character's function? If there is none, there's no reason to keep the character. (Yep, I'm a plot-driven writer, in case someone didn't suspect that yet)
  6. 3 points
    I'll have to give that podcast a listen, these were some really interesting questions to work through! How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? I usually run into this problem with side characters that aren't fleshed out or haven't had much page time. I rarely run into it with a POV character since I spend so much time in their head and they become distinctive through each draft. When I fix the issue with a side character it usually entails taking time to draw up their backstory and get a feel for them through that. Then I can bring in nuances through dialogue and their actions. Or I cut them completely if they aren't truly necessary to the story. How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? If I have to constantly go back and double check names and facts about a character and find I'm confusing them then that's a pretty sure sign the character is the problem. Or if my primary beta reader can't keep them straight. Or if I become avoidant about certain passages I know something about them is throwing me off and I have to sit down and pick it apart to find what it is. How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? Well, short answer is: I don't. As I've gotten older and dealt steadily with depression through my twenties up to now I find my attention span has shortened immensely. If a character doesn't hold my interest and can't be engaging then I either throw a wrench at them or scrap them completely. I don't have the energy to spend on a character who doesn't add anything new or keep the book going. I'll work with them a bit to see if they can shape into a character who pulls their weight within the story, but if they don't I'm not going to keep them around to clutter up the page. How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? I spend time with them behind the scenes. Bad guys or antagonists are the heroes and main characters in their own minds so I will let them take the reins, so to speak, and let them show me who they are. Depending on what their deal is I may need to do extra research so I understand or can empathize where they are coming from. My current villain is a budding teenage serial killer. In his case he is a true sociopath and is unable to feel empathy towards other living creatures or people, but he is able to blend in with his community and fake human emotions and connections very well. Research, in his case, means delving into true crime documentaries and books that focus on the psychological makeup of such a person. His main drive is obsession and without the usual checks and balances of empathy and sympathy the way he goes after what he wants and why is different than other characters. Beyond him there are less extreme antagonists who aren't sociopaths but are ruled by purely emotional factors, such as greed, love, hatred, bigotry, etc... Then I just have to find that same component within myself and explore it. One of the most helpful things I've ever come across to help with all my characters came from this Maya Angelou video: How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? Still working on this for some of my characters. Right now the ones who are powerful are witches capable of greater than ordinary magic but are kept in check by strict laws, societal distrust, and they are outnumbered. Also, delving too deeply into using more magic than one is capable of carries the danger of burning out or going mad. Other challenges I'm currently toying with have to do with individual personal stakes. Power of any kind doesn't come for free, so there has to be consequences for obtaining or using it, and it has a greater impact when the challenge comes from dealing with those consequences. In my current project my main characters obtain a connection to each other that gives them a greater capacity for using magic, however this puts their sanity and social standing in jeopardy, especially with their mother who has finally obtained respect for being a competent and trustworthy witch. In trying to protect their neighbors from the teenage serial killer who is also using magic they have to break laws and rules and then deal with the social fallout. How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? They have to have something personal at stake in something that I can relate to. Even if they get thrown into the most extreme of fantastical situations a character will get boring if the only stakes are something like, the world is going to literally end apocalypse style. That's fine to use as a plot, but the ordinary character getting through the situation isn't equipped to worry about the large scale event as a whole and nothing else. They have to have something personal that's driving them to survive, like trying to get back to their family or finding a safe zone or finding the cure for their loved one, even just surviving for their own sake. They have to want something and need something, and it's far more interesting if those things are relatable (and at cross purposes because, yay, tension and conflict!). The world going down in flames is not that interesting, but how people deal with it to fulfill their needs and wants is. How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? If it's an old manuscript I would probably take time to go behind the scenes with the characters and establish those interests first, then have the existing manuscript and a new document on screen side by side and just do a massive rewrite. With the way my brain works, if I tried to go in and tweak things here and there I would end up with a knotted mess and even more work. I can do that if the manuscript is 90% complete and I'm just doing touch ups, but those interests are completely absent that has the potential to change the existing manuscript in pretty fundamental ways. I'd feel more comfortable taking it page by page. I actually did something similar to the book I published last year when I had to go in and add things to the plot line that needed to carry forward into book two. It was tedious but kept everything straight in my head.
  7. 3 points
    So I tried to find out where 'said is dead' came from, and it looks like there's no singular source. I've found two blogs that claim is comes from elementary schools, (here and here). They claim the advice 'said is dead' comes from teachers of beginning writers who are looking to expand their students vocabulary primarily by providing big lists of things to say instead of said. The advice has been parroted without knowing this context, until its bled into other new writers. I didn't do a thorough search, but based on all the fancy graphics and things, it looks like it re-surged on the internet as writing advice in the late 2000's/early 2010's. I think using a lot of words like yelled, grimaced, shrugged... it reads a lot younger, more grade school than aimed at audiences. Do you agree? I am firmly on the 'said is invisible' side of this debate. It doesn't pull attention to itself. Using alternate dialogue tags does pull attention. If you are using them every time it clutters up a page, people are yelling, whispering, grumbling, all within a few breaths? It sounds exhausting. It can also border on 'telling' as opposed to 'showing' a character's internal state. Now I don't believe they should never ever be used, they can definitely help get into a characters head or to visualize a scene. They should just be used sparingly, a spice, not the main flavour. Basically, I think this is just poor writing advice that keeps circulating because its short and pithy and sounds on the surface like it could be helpful, but it really isn't.
  8. 3 points
    Did it with a Discworld book, and found Nanny Ogg singing "A wizard's staff has a knob on the end"... That certainly was an epiphany for me. 😄
  9. 3 points
    I was linked to this Tumblr post on another writing forum and thought I'd bring it here. It introduces the concept of Deductive vs Inductive storyteller to describe how you write, as an alternative to the pantser/plotter dichotomy that is spoken of more often. Very loose definitions: Deductive = large, general concepts to specific details. Inductive = small, specific details to large, general concepts I really like it! Here's what the post says: What do you think? I'm mostly a deductive storyteller, I have a concept I want to explore, like a cool kind of magic, and figure out what the rest of the world looks like from that, then figure out what characters fit in that world, theeeen figure out what those characters want, and come up with a plot. How about you?
  10. 3 points
    I've never heard of this before either, but they do make a lot of sense! I'm usually always inductive with my stories. I come to them by way of a scene, a conversation, or just a flash frame that looks interesting. The first book I ever finished started that way. I was doing dishes and listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra near Christmas and was hit by a powerful wave of loneliness and then saw a scene where a boy was watching his family celebrate the holiday through a window. I knew the boy had been missing for years, that bad things had happened to him, and because of it he could never walk through the front door. I knew he also had wings, so when I got to a notebook and wrote it out I had that for a foundation and built it from there. I find I often get lost when I try to start broad and narrow stuff down. I don't feel a good connection to the story on an emotional level. I can world build all day long because it's interesting, but doing that first and the crafting characters to fit the world causes me to lose interest, or go off on tangents and re-create things that muck with the entire system. I already know how everything works, I guess, so exploring it through a character a second time isn't as appealing. Now, given that I'm currently writing a series I have to do some deductive writing just to keep everything in order, so I end up trying to balance planning just enough to keep it all straight while leaving enough blank to explore so I don't wander off to play with something else. It's kind of like placing strategic piles of toys and treats within a large playpen area to keep a toddler occupied and simultaneously unaware of the fence so they don't try to escape.
  11. 3 points
    I've heard this described as the point of no return, where the main character (or which ever character it is having this crisis) has to make the conscious decision to take action of some kind. It's the point at which they go from reacting to acting. I like the mirror description, I do think self reflection is an important aspect of it. I'm not sure about starting in the MIDDLE of a story. To know what the middle is, don't you have to know what it's in the middle of? But I agree that its an excellent tool for making sure your story pacing is working, and that the character arcs are going somewhere. If you look at your outline (planner) or first draft (panster) and find that there is no mirror point transition like this, you may want to consider adding one. I think this turning point really helps the 'flabby middle' syndrome so many stories have. Another point too, it doesn't have to be physical dead center in the story. It works for the examples given, but other stories might have the moment of realization closer to the inciting incident, or closer to the end, near the 'dark night of the soul' where they are falling to despair and have to rethink their approach.
  12. 2 points
    It really depends on the book for me. For example, @Sheepy-Pie recommended The Magician's Guild to me. It's totally right up my alley. I got it for Christmas, I started reading it...I don't even think I got half way through it before I gave up. My friend got me Deep Blue for Christmas this past year, and I'm...I think more than halfway through reading the book, but I just haven't felt like reading it. It's young adult, and I enjoy young adult fantasy books (usually), but this is a little TOO young adult. I don't even like the main character, and I found myself rolling my eyes a LOT. At this point, though, I'm so close to being done that I really just want to power through it and finish....and then never think about it again. I feel a bit guilty, though, because she also bought me the second book. I have tried a few times to start reading A Game of Thrones, but I haven't been able to get very far so far. I think part of it is because I've been watching seasons one through seven of the show so even though there's a lot of things they left out of the show and that they changed, I basically already know what happens so it's harder to get into.
  13. 2 points
    Do you spend time moodboarding your story? Like, what the feel of story are, the look of it (setting/characters) and the sounds of it. It's worldbuilding in a way, but maybe a bit more than that too, like the general atmosphere of a story. Do you love doing it? How do you do it? Do you keep it in your head? Have a folder/board full of pics and stuff? When do you break out your moodboard for inspiration? Any tips for moodboarding? How would you describe the moodboard for your current story?
  14. 2 points
    I don't moodboard but I do create a visual of my characters so that i can see them and get a feel for them. It helps me remember them when describing because I used to forget details and ended up with character details all over the place
  15. 2 points
    I've got another Writing Excuses inspired post! I know, you are all shocked. I just listened to Season 13, Episode 47 (link) on fixing characters that aren't working. It's a Q&A on how to fix certain problems, and I thought I'd bring it here to see what your answers are! Here's the list: How do you fix character voices when you find out that two of them are too similar? How can you tell if a character is, in fact, the problem? How do you maintain interest in a character who is largely inactive? How do you write interesting bad guys when your only POV characters are the good guys? How do you give meaningful challenges to a powerful character? How can you make a normal, everyday character interesting? How do you edit an existing manuscript to give characters interests which mesh with the plot? Here's a link to the transcript of the episode if you want to see how they answered, but aren't able to listen to the podcast.
  16. 2 points
    I don't quite do a 'moodboard' and certainly not online, but I do have folders on my own PC with images that seem relevant to story creation. In particular, photos of people (actors, sometimes) who might resemble my characters. I find it easier to visualize and describe them that way. And landscapes and buildings and weapons and so on. It is long since I had a Pinterest account. It really never seemed that useful to me but then I'm not connected constantly to the internet as so many are these days (that is a result of living out in the boonies, with a satellite hookup and spotty cell coverage).
  17. 2 points
    Here's the second part of the Writers Game challenge that @Sheepy-Pie and I are taking part of. Others are welcome to participate in the craziness too. We've got 72 hours (actually just 70 by the time of this post) to write and edit a short story. Prompt: Now if you are on the Discord server you've already seen the drama this challenge creates. The people who run it are VERY particular, and have extra stipulations that aren't in the prompt, which they only reveal when people ask clarifying questions on their Facebook page. This isn't by design, they are just bad at this. So below is a doc where I am compiling the questions the participants ask, so we can make sure we nail every aspect of the prompt. Doc - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cDVVH7ZFNrkcq37cE6wqjevcXXwEbTgP9h9DQ-3FPmc/edit
  18. 2 points
    Said is definitely invisible for me and I try to be super sparing with other dialogue tags. I think you can convey how something is said with other indicators sprinkled throughout the text, especially body language. Example: There are times tags other than said work well in a text, but on the whole I think said is best. Unless, of course, you have a couple characters trapped in a dark closet, then tags like whispered, hissed, or shouted work because the regular visual cues and such would be absent, but you wouldn't need many. In the closet situation you could begin an exchange with some of those tags to set the scene and then peter them out to pure dialogue exchanges by keeping the voices distinctive . Otherwise too many tags makes the work clunky and I feel it robs the reader of the full chance to visualize the scene for themselves.
  19. 2 points
    I've never thought said is dead persé. I was taught that said is one of those words that you basically not register as much, so you can use it pretty much every time. I'm looking at it like this. Most of time using said is the way to go, same as with your go to breakfast or lunch or meal of choice. But sometimes it's just nice to spice it up a little bit and do something different. So I try to use other dialogue tags with a lot of caution because they are so easy to overuse and become annoying.
  20. 2 points
    I've always seen mood boards on Tumblr and I love the concept, but like @Penguinball I usually just create a Pinterest board. The one for Witches of Texas is fairly extensive, so when I need inspiration I just go scroll through it or look at the graphics I made on Canva that I put out on Facebook and Twitter to advertise my book. I'd love to know what program you used for yours, it looks awesome!
  21. 2 points
    I like moodboards when I see them, but I've never made one myself. The closest I get is pinterest boards for a particular story. What program do you use to put the pictures together? Also, I like that moodboard. Feels very mermaidy. That could be a fun idea for a prompt or a brainstorming exercise, post a moodboard and reverse engineer what the story is about.
  22. 2 points
    I haven't tried to do a mood board, exactly. The closest thing I've come is just creating boards on Pinterest for the characters and even inspiration for specific scenes/items/creatures. This is mine for Court of Shadows. I might have to try creating an actual mood board like yours, though, so I'm following this for any potential tips. XD
  23. 2 points
    I like James Scott Bell's writing advice, but I never came across his Mirror Moment theory until this week. It gave me some ideas for my midpoint while I was plotting, so I thought I might share this for anyone else who hasn't seen that before. Bell uses it for planning his novel, having been both a plotter and a pantser, so he talks about how planning a story can be done from the middle. Here's what he says himself: What is this novel approach? (Pun intended). Well, it’s a method. In this method you don’t start at the beginning and pants your way through. Nor do you start with the ending and outline the whole doggone thing. You actually start from the middle. What? That’s what I said—the dead center of your novel. Because it is here, in what I call “the mirror moment,” that you discover, truly, what your novel is really all about. In researching the topic, I discovered there was no agreement on what the midpoint was supposed to do. So I took some of my favorite movies and books and went right to the smack-dab middles and rooted around. What was going on here? What I found literally knocked my socks off. (Yes, I actually had to go around my house picking up my socks, so revelatory was this). What I discovered was that the true midpoint was not a scene at all—it was a moment within a scene. And that very moment, if properly rendered, clarified the entire story. It’s about the Lead character, taking a long, hard look at himself (as in a mirror). He asks, Who am I? What have I become? Who am I supposed to be? An example is the classic film Casablanca. In the dead center is that moment when Ilsa comes to Rick after closing time, to explain about why she left him. He’s drunk, and basically calls her a whore. She cries and leaves. And Rick buries his head in his hands. The rest of the film is about what kind of man Rick will be. Or, the mirror moment is when the character realizes that the odds are so great he’s probably going to die. This is the very middle of The Fugitive. Dr. Richard Kimble realizes every police officer and fed in the country is after him. He can’t possibly survive. Now, if you are intentional about what this moment is in your own book, it will illuminate everything for you. The writing will be more unified and organic. If you’re a panster, you’ll be guided on what to pants next. If you’re an outliner, it will help you revise your outline. Diana Cranstoun also describes the method on her website: Open Pride and Prejudice about half-way through and you’ll find the scene where Darcy proposes to Elizabeth in the most pompous fashion. Of course she turns him down and tells him exactly why she’s rejecting him, particularly for his treatment of Mr. Wickham. The next day, having taken her comments to heart, Darcy returns and gives Elizabeth a letter, acknowledging his pride and putting her right on Wickham. Reflecting on the letter and her own prejudice in the next chapter, she admits, ‘Till this moment, I never knew myself.’ (In fact, when I opened my copy of P&P from my university days, I discovered I had underlined those lines and written – moral climax of book.) James Scott Bell calls this Midpoint in the internal story The Mirror Moment. The moment (not a scene) when: The character is forced to look at himself. As if in a mirror, only it’s a reflection of who he is at that moment in time. Who am I? What have I become? What do I have to do to regain my humanity? Sometimes, it’s the character looking at the odds. How can I possibly win? It looks like I’m going to die—physically or spiritually. Now what am I supposed to do? Sometimes, James Scott Bell says, it can be a moment when he actually looks in a mirror and sees – really sees – himself. So, what's your thoughts about a character's self-discovery and beginning of a change? Is the mirror moment something you use while plotting? Would it be a good starting point for planning a story the way Bell uses it (before and after the mirror)? Do you find you have a mirror moment in your story?
  24. 2 points
    Oh, I love this! The story of your older mentor who puts a lot of pressure on the protagonist sounds like a great way to get make tropes interesting and for creating a lot of conflict. I've seen a lot of mentors who are too patient and too knowledgeable, to the point where they become really boring, so weird sounds like a great way to get away from that. :) I can totally see how some twisting of the tropes can be the wrong turn when we do it "just because". Sometimes that fun idea works, and other times they're just a meh character... I've recently had to do some shuffling around too with mentors. I an older female mentor who was disabled because of magic back story, but she turned out to have the most interesting stuff going on and way more motivation than my protag, so I merged her with my younger trainee into a whole new main middle-aged character. She's is not only becoming a kind of mentor for a younger person, but gets a mentor of her own during the story. It really breathed some life into the novel. Oh, I loved your twists on the tropes, really neat! And yes! It could definitely be a forum game. When I read about your chosen one I was so inspired by the sheer multitude of way one can play around with tropes. It could be what characters do, how they act (personality), backstory, situations... Play around with setting ideas, with trope-y plot twists, with macguffins and weapons, etc. So many things to do. Yay! And I'm gonna start the game by using the Chosen One: The chosen one is sent out on a quest in the border-regions, but unknown to him another chosen one has been sent out from another country on the same quest. When a third, fourth and fifth one shows up, they're not feeling all that special anymore. Also, they are opposite in every conceivable way, bringing out not so noble traits in each other. New trope: The Blind Seer (the sacrifice of sight gains cosmic knowledge)
  25. 2 points
    Looks like we have a winner. Congratulations, @TricksterShi! @Sheepy-Pie will make you an award graphic soon!