backstory design

Okay so, since obviously I’m not focusing, I might as well distract myself properly with some character advice. In particular, a method of fleshing out a character’s motivations with what I call:

The Five Whys Method

Basically, when you design an important character’s personality, start with some sort of simple motive. Prince Zuko, the designated villain, wants to hunt down the Avatar. Then ask, why do they want to do this? Zuko wants to hunt down the Avatar to restore his honor. And then ask and answer a second time: Zuko wants to hunt down the Avatar (1) to restore his honor (2) because he was banished from the Fire Nation. And then a third time, and a fourth, and a fifth, and if you want to continue, however many times as you feel are necessary:

- Zuko wants to hunt down the Avatar

- Because he wants to restore his honor

- Because he was banished by his father, Fire Lord Ozai

- Because he disrespected a Fire Nation general

- Because he didn’t agree with the general in question

- Because the general planned to sacrifice a group of new recruits

And so on and so forth, even venturing beyond the events and decisions that take place within the initial character’s experience. Each “because” represents its own jumping-off point for development, and asking other questions beyond the Five Whys at the base:

Why was Zuko in the situation with the general in the first place? What led up to him being in that meeting room?

Why did his father punish him rather than leave the dispute between him and the general? 

Why was the punishment to find the Avatar, who hadn’t been seen in a century? What are the implications on Ozai’s character?

Why hadn’t the Avatar been seen in a century?

It’s entirely possible to build an entire world, separate from the actions that directly affect a particular character, based on the history of that single character and how many times you ask “why did this happen?” Create a reason for as much as you possibly can. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be around a character, if you want to think broadly, as long as you can answer “why” at least five times backward.

Revenant Dossier: Seth/Joker (REUPLOADED)

SETH: An average, everyday loser who works in a Gas station who’s 100% OK with having a Pathetic, yet quiet life. However, After being targeted and rescued from a Supernatural Serial Killer known as “The Nidhogg”, Its revealed that Seth has the potential to wield strange powers and to summon a Demon that represents his other self, known to those who have the same abilities, as a Revenant. After begrudgingly awakening his power, Seth is pretty much forced into helping solve the mystery of “The Nidhogg’s” Identity, so that he can be brought to justice, so he can resume is normal, quiet life. (Well, as quiet as it can possibly get)

JOKER: Seth’s personal Revenant, a manifestation of his true self, who lives in his shadow. While Seth is Quiet, Modest, and Collected, Joker is anything but, as he’s Cocky, Loud, and just an overall annoyance when things dont go his way. His main ability is to take in any damage that comes at him and hit twice as hard, The fire coming off his fur represents how much power he can release. Also unlike Seth, Joker is more prone to violence, even over trivial things. 

Ok, So posted some of my first OCs about a month ago, and I plan on showing more, but I feel like I didn’t do a good job of introducing them properly, So Im gonna try again but with shorter, more basic info about em without typing an entire book. Expect more soon, with 75% less text! -Boo

i wanted to try to redraw my old pikmin ocs in a more pikmin-ish artstyle, so heres that lol

on the left is beep, whos a historian, and on the right is nova, whos a programmer. they both explore pnf-404 after the food crisis is over to learn about earth’s history/technology

@dualthesol‘s “#dezel no #DEZEL FUCKING YES” tags keep making me crack tf up everytime I read them so I

Further work on ‘Chandra Remix’.

Working on the others, and still waffling on if I should just take this and run with it into my own ‘original’ story. I mean, she is already almost different enough to be more ‘homage’ then ‘rip-off’…

I think we will see where I take my version of Nissa. If she is different enough, then sure, I’ll start writing something for a first ‘adventure’ and see where that goes.

Until then, this is just a silly au style exercise. X3 

(if this does become a thing, I promise to never hide the true origins of the story. Cause that would be silly)

(important clarification: Every character is inspired from something else, same with every story. If I don’t feel like I have an original enough angle with the rest of what I want to do, then I’ll leave this project at the remix stage. I will only move forward with an original story if I feel like I can legally do it and that it comes across as an homage. So far, I feel like what I have in mind for This design and backstory is different enough, but I do want to do all five and see what happens first. Next up: Nissa)

(further thought: Frack… if I do go with the original story thing… I’ll actually have to name these characters. My greatest weakness. T3T Open to suggestions for names as I go if you guys got any)

Nightrunner modern au:

in which alec is not an archer, but a painter, seregil is not a thief, but a bartender, they do not meet at a dungeon, but at the subway, and yet their first kiss is still the same.

“It was Alec who brought their lips together. 

Seregil’s first reaction was disbelief. But Alec was insistent, clumsy but determined. It lasted an instant, an eternity, that one awkward kiss, and it spoke silent volumes of bewildered honesty.

The moment that followed was too fragile for words.”

the-archangel-of-zeref  asked:

I have a question: Where does one draw the line between redeemable villain down the wrong path and a sociopathic Villain who needs his ass whooped and probably killed (*cough* Zeref *cough)

Depends a lot on the character in question. Mashima seems determined to try and redeem his villains for one reason or another, but he tends to fall in flat in the execution. It seems like the commonly held belief is that if a character had a tragic backstory, their actions can be excused. This is especially prevalent in this fandom, with characters like Minerva, Flare, Zeref and - most recently - Eileen. I’ve seen many a character’s actions get handwaved because of their backstory - they had a hard life, so everything they did was excusable and made sense.

See, that’s bullshit. 

What makes a good redemption a good redemption is the villain’s propensity to accept they did the wrong thing and willingness to take responsibility for what they did. You can have a completely unsympathetic villain with no tragic backstory accept that they did the wrong thing for whatever reason and have it read as character development - you know, like Gajeel. Gajeel has zero excuses for his behaviour in Phantom Lord, but got the message that he was an asshole beaten into him and then never did that shit again. Gajeel didn’t even really change his personality that much; he’s still an abrasive dick, only now he’s an abrasive dick that isn’t going to torture people for fun anymore. He learnt his lesson.

No excuses. No backstories. Just a lesson learnt. Gajeel’s a decent person now.

As for Mashima’s time honoured standby…

There’s an art to managing tragic backstories, and how much they do and don’t absolve. The way I like to think of it is this: a tragic backstory can be presented as an explanation for why someone acted the way they did, or as an excuse for why they acted the way they did. 

Ultear had a tragic backstory, but almost as soon as she accepted she’d been used and had done the wrong thing, she stopped doing the wrong thing and started trying to make up for it. Laxus, similarly, had a shitty past and did the wrong thing. He’s punished for it and accepts he screwed up. The narrative doesn’t make any excuses for him either; Laxus fucked up, everyone knows it, he’s trying to redeem himself.

In other words, characters like Ultear and Laxus don’t use their pasts as excuses for why they did the wrong thing. Their pasts aren’t presented as reasons to absolve them of guilt - they’re presented as the reason why they act the way they do, and from there the characters have to try and actively improve themselves and make up for what they did. 

On the flipside, you get characters like Minerva and Flare. Flare does terrible things like trying to hurt a child and torture and humiliate Lucy because she didn’t know any better. That’s it. We’re told that Flare didn’t know better, and it’s presented as an excuse. Minerva does terrible things, but she was abused as a child, so it’s forgivable- it’s a last minute excuse. Minerva does barely anything to earn her redemption - her backstory is revealed, it’s very sad, but Sting and Rogue have already forgiven her, how touching, and the next we see her she’s totally forgiven. That’s not a good redemption - Minerva’s just been given an out.

Flare and Minerva are forgiven almost instantly because their backstories are designed to excuse their wrongdoings - it wasn’t their fault, they had a tough time, boo hoo. Ultear and Laxus own up to their pasts and wrongdoings, and try extremely hard to make up for it. Minerva and Flare are handed their redemptions on a silver platter.   

And that’s where I draw the line: I consider how a character accepts what they did was wrong and how they act with the knowledge they fucked up, as well as how the narrative treats the fact that they fucked up, or if the author gives them excuses. Do the characters get treated like they’re bad guys, or do they get given excuses as to why what they did wasn’t their fault, etc. 

As for Zeref… well, Zeref’s a selfish, murderous dickwad and infamously so. He’s kind of a strange case in that he tried to be a better person, it didn’t work and he turned back into a villain. His backstory explains why he’s in his situation, but he’s also demonised for… y’know, basically everything he did wrong… and that would have been fine. Zeref could have been played straight as a villain that got dealt a shit hand if not for literally everything Zervis, wherein Mavis tries to give Zeref more sympathy than he deserves. I… fully believe that Zeref doesn’t deserve redemption, because every attempt he’s had at becoming a better person ends with him backstepping into being a villainous peanut. It’d be easy enough for him to… you know, not get his entire empire curbstomped, or, I don’t know, actually deal with the remaining demons he let loose, but he doesn’t seem willing to do that. The best redemption Zeref can possibly hope to get is to surrender and die gracefully, but I have a niggling fear that he’s going to get redeemed by the power of love and… ugh.