Madoka Magica AU /人◕‿‿◕人\

/人◕‿‿◕人\ Contains spoilers for Puella Magi Madoka Magica. /人◕‿‿◕人\

What would you do if you were offered to have any wish granted by *3* in exchange for becoming a magical girl/boy and having to hunt witches? *1* is about to find out.

After seeing *1*, a magical g/b, die, *2* makes the wish to go back in time so that instead of *1* protecting xir, xe’d be protecting *2*. The problem? *2* isn’t able to save *1*, and must repeat the timeline.

*2* is slowly losing xir sanity, after watching *1* (and other magical g/b’s, if you wish) die so many times, and having to repeat the timeline… again. Sometimes *1* was killed prior to becoming magical, sometimes *1*’s soul gem shattered, and sometimes *1*’s soul gem turned into a grief seed, thus making xir a witch. No matter what, *2* was always unable to save xir. Whirr… click! Reset complete.

*1* just had an awful dream where *2* is fighting a witch, and *3* told *1* “Xe’s not going to be able to do this alone. However, you can save everyone if you make a contract with me and become a magical boy/girl! /人◕‿‿◕人\" The next day, *2* transfers to *1*’s class, and *3* asks for *1* to make a contract and become a magical girl/boy.

*2* isn’t going to let that happen. Last time, it would’ve taken *1*’s witch 10 days to destroy the world. This time, it’ll be worse. Not to mention that *2*’s mental health won’t be able to take *1* dying another time.

/人◕‿‿◕人\ emoticon found here: <http://superkawaiiemoticon.tumblr.com/post/41653408097/contract>.

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Naming is incredibly subjective, and incredibly tough. Names are usually the first things we see about someone or something. It’s often the first impression we get, and the impact of a name can be important in a story. Sometimes, names mean something. Sometimes, they don’t. I am not here to tell you which is the better way, but I am here to talk about a few of the different schools of thought around naming.

This is a giant post about names, different kinds of names, and lots of different ways to play the name game with characters and places.

INSIDE THIS POST: One of a probable series of posts giving an overview of what can go into a name, plus a ton of links to generators and articles about naming at the end.

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sxtrovert said:

Okay, so I recently began writing a new story (after shamefully abandoning a previous story with over 30k words) and I'm a little stuck on something pretty trivial. There's a scene in which two characters are walking to a nearby location and talking to each other along the way. My issue is that the scene is basically 70-80% dialogue, which I think makes it boring and would have readers skipping lines. Is there any way I can bring the scene to life? Thanks in advance.

Well first off, make a list of all of the information this scene delivers unto the reader.

For example,

  • The reader learns there is a great war brewing in the east.
  • The reader learns that Jo has budding feelings for John.
  • The reader learns that hunters frequently poach the woods, looking for…

Then ask yourself if all of this information really needs to be conveyed via dialogue. I’m gonna stick with those things for my scene to use as an example. It’s not gonna be the best writing in the world, but the purpose is just to show you how to work with scenes where there is due to be more dialogue than there has been previously.

Keep Them Talking

The first point about the war could be relayed through conversation alone since there isn’t likely to be a news broadcast in the middle of nowhere. In this instance, word of mouth is the most likely source for the information, so you don’t have to avoid dialogue at all costs. By all means, use it!

'Things are tense now,' said John.

He had his back to me, his gaze trained on the sun as it rose behind the distant mountains.

'They've closed their borders for fear of invasion from the north. There's no way we're getting through that passage today.'

Just don’t make it black and white. Tease information, so that the reader can draw their own conclusions. I don’t have to say, ‘there is a war brewing in the east’. John looking eastward and speaking of closed borders and invasion makes that clear enough.

Undertones

The feelings of one character towards another are things you can layer underneath the scene. Rather than getting a character to shout, ‘I hate you!’ or ‘I care about you!’, try and show their brewing hatred - or affection - in other ways.

He looked thin and frail, and the wound at his arm still seeped through the precarious bandage I’d tied the night before. Pulling my jacket tighter around my waist, I hid the torn part of my shirt out of sight.

'We should keep going,' I said. 'There's a town not far from here -'

'And what if we're seen?'

'You can't carry that injury for much longer. It's already infected.'

'Then I'll lose my arm.'

'Don't be ridiculous.'

I shoved him hard, knocking him a step off balance. It would have been more fitting for me to keep the distance between us, but I closed it with a sure stride. I teased the bandage at his arm and re-tightened the knot…

Rely on Your Setting

You say your characters are walking from A to B, so what kind of things around them can speak on their behalf? I listed that in my scene, there are hunters around, poaching the woods for something specific. It’s not likely that John or Jo would know everything about the landscape or what is to come, so they can see it or hear it instead, right?

Already, I have a fair bit of dialogue in my scene, but it can be broken up with description or internal monologue to keep it from coming across as a ping-pong dialogue segment.

Where the track had once been uncertain, a pathway of flattened grass opened up beneath the tree boughs. John shielded his eyes from the jabbing rays of the sun. If I hadn’t kept my gaze low, I might never have caught it. With no time to explain, I wrapped my arms around his waist and dragged him a few steps back.

'Idiot,' I seethed. 'You almost lost your foot as well as your arm!'

He broke free of my hold and stared ahead, aware of the toothed, metal trap concealed well by the long grass.

'Hunters?' he wondered aloud. 'It's unusual for them to be this far out.'

I shivered. ‘Let’s just get out of here already.’

'Yeah,' he agreed. 'Rumour says they're raised in darkness. They see in the night better than they see during the day.'

I caught a laugh in my throat, then stifled it. Hurt softened his expression for a brief moment, before he continued to walk on ahead. I trotted to keep up…

My examples aren’t the best, but I hope you can see now that dialogue segments can still be kept interesting (this being the operative word when it comes to my quick writing, but you know what I mean, ha ha!) without it all being supported by talking alone.

To recap:

  • Use the five senses. Sometimes taste is a difficult one to put in there, but make sure your characters are taking in the world around them as they walk through it. Give your reader a strong setting, so that they can visualise the world you have created and also learn through the dialogue and the things your characters perceive.
  • Break up the dialogue. Without indicators or any kind of movement between characters, your reader might struggle to keep up with who is talking and when. This in itself should keep the scene from being too dialogue-heavy.
  • Subtext. Try not to have the dialogue too black and white. Make your reader work for their information, and also use the opportunity to show them some character development and character interactions. This will keep the dialogue pieces interesting and also motivate your reader to pay attention as they learn new things about the characters and their feelings for one another.

I hope this helps you out…! Best of luck.

- enlee

How to Introduce a Setting

The important thing to remember is that you do not need to spend paragraphs in the beginning of your novel introducing your setting. Only give your readers what they need to know right away to understand the story, then you can gradually introduce the other aspects of your setting over time. Focus on where your character is, what is important about the setting at that moment, and how the setting either hinders or helps your character in that scene.

Remember that your setting also includes people and their ideologies. People interact with the setting of your story in a specific way and it should be explored. 

Here are a few ways to practice introducing your setting:

  • Pick a place you’re familiar with and write down details you think are important.
  • Imagine that you need to describe that setting to someone who has never seen it before. What would be important? What would be worth mentioning? Focus on these points.
  • Write a paragraph of that setting you would find in an advertisement. Why would people be interested in it? After that, write a negative review from someone who has visited that place. Why don’t they like it? What might be bad about that place?

Setting is not just about location, it’s about everything that can be experienced in your scene. What time is it? What’s the weather like? Is this place creepy? Is it warm and inviting? It helps to focus on the feel of a place, not just it’s physical location. 

Hope this helps!

Southern Gothic Genre

Definitions

Gothic Fiction: Gothic fiction (sometimes referred to as Gothic horror) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. (Wikipedia)

Southern Gothic Fiction: Southern Gothic is a subgenre of Gothic fiction unique to American literature that takes place exclusively in the American South

Books of the Genre

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

As a Southern Gothic novel and a Bildungsroman, the primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South. (Wikipedia)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

[The novel] addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans early in the twentieth century, including Black Nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity. (Wikipedia)

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Written in Charlotte, North Carolina in a house on East Blvd, it is about a deaf man named John Singer and the people he encounters in a 1930s mill town in the U.S. state of Georgia. (Wikipedia)

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The novel narrates main character Janie Crawford’s “ripening from a vibrant, but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her own destiny.” [The novel is] set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century. (Wikipedia)

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

The story of Hazel Motes, a twenty-two-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a “blind” street preacher names Asa Hawks and his degenerate fifteen-year-old daughter, Lily Sabbath. In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel Motes founds The Church Without Christ, but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with “wise blood,” who leads him to a mummified holy child, and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel’s existential struggles. (Publisher)

The sections below were taken from this PDF document.

Characteristics of Southern Literature

  • A focus on Southern History
  • Significance of family
  • A sense of community and one’s role within it
  • A sense of justice
  • Religion and the burdens/rewards religion often brings
  • Issues of racial tension
  • Land and the promise it brings
  • A sense of social class and place
  • Southern dialect

Southern Gothic

  • Uses the macabre, supernatural, grotesque, and ironic to examine the values of the South
  •  Known for its damaged and delusional characters
  • First popularized by Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ambrose Bierce
  • Portrays a world in ruins
  • Often deals with the plight of those who are ostracized or oppressed by traditional Southern culture
  • When southern gothic authors examine the human condition, they see the potential to do harm.
  •  Morality is in question for many characters.
  • A major theme for southern gothic writers hinges on innocence, and the innocent’s place in the world — they are often asked to act as redeemer.

Elements of the Southern Gothic Genre:

Freakishness

In most southern gothic stories, there is a pivotal character or someone close to them who is set apart from the world by a disability or odd way of seeing the world. You won’t meet very many “normal” characters in the writings of William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote or Carson McCullers—and this is by design. This fascination with the outsider is in many ways used to show readers not only the individuality of the southern culture, but also to connect each reader to their own unique “freakish” nature.

Imprisonment

This is often both literal and figurative. While many southern gothic tales include an incident where a character is sent to jail or locked up, there are also several gothic characters that live in fate’s prison without hope of parole.

 Violence

Southern gothic writers covered a period in the South’s history when violence was particularly prevalent. After the bloodshed of the Civil War, and the period of reconstruction that followed, racial tension and fear ran high in many small southern towns. This plays its part in many of the stories of this genre.

Sense of Place

It wouldn’t be southern gothic if you didn’t feel like you’d been thrust in the center of a dusty, peach-scented, lonely downtown where porch-bound widows rock gently on creaky rockers, rusty pick-up trucks drive by filled with grimy farmhands, the general store is run by the town drunk, and flies and mosquitoes circle glasses of ice-filled lemonade. The sense of place is strong—awash in calm, pregnant heat, lost dreams and wayward souls.

Using the 5 Senses to Create Setting

This post is actually going to be quite simple, yet sometimes it seems we miss the most obvious of things, doesn’t it? I’ve discussed character development briefly in a previous post (3 Tips For Creating Believable Characters), but another important element to a great story is……SETTING! Yes, it is the literary element that I drill into my students’ heads as “time and place.” However, setting is so much more than just those two elements! How do you create a believable setting? How do you use words to create a vivid picture in your reader’s mind? I’ll tell you a tip I teach to my students: IMAGERY!

What is imagery, you ask? It is just as it sounds, creating an image. But how does one do that? With your 5 senses! Let me elaborate.

1. See: This one is obvious. What does the setting look like? Sure, you can write that it is Shakespeare’s time late 1500s or you can describe it. You can say: "The blonde, lithe woman pulled her long, red skirt out of the way as a horse and carriage clomped down the dirt road on its way to the Globe theater for tonight’s performance." I just created a picture in my reader’s mind as opposed to simply giving the time and place.

2. Hear: Instead of saying: the glass fell to the floor; you could say: the glass clattered to the floor. Is it raining? Does the rain pound against the roof? Is the wind howling? Birds singing? People crying/laughing/talking? Be specific.

3. Touch: The fabric was rough beneath her fingers. BORING! How about the fabric was a coarse burlap that scratched the skin or the fabric was a smooth silk that wrapped her skin in cool luxury? Don’t forget temperature is also a touch sensation: hot, cold, burning, tingling, so on and so forth.

4. Smell: This one can be a bit tough sometimes and may require thinking out side of the box. For example, when describing a library think of the things of which books (old) are made: fabric, leather, paper—they may smell musty or dusty or musky. When describing a person describe their smell to the reader: smelled of stale cigarettes and cheap perfume or smelled of fresh-cut grass and laundry. Smell can really make a place or person come alive.

5. Taste: By far a favorite of the senses and maybe one of the easier to write about. Sweet, salty, bitter, tart, sour? The ice cream was cool, syrupy, and sweet as it melted down his throat. Or maybe the fear rises up like something bitter in the back of someone’s throat?

As you can see taking the 5 senses into account when writing will really help with creating IMAGERY in your reader’s mind’s eye. It will help establish setting, create more vivid characters, and enable your writing to be more descriptive. I hope you found this post helpful! Happy writing!

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