i love fma because in one scene we have a character eat a shoe and then ten minutes later a stone made from sacrificing thousands of lives is put into his bloodstream and one of the seven deadly sins takes over his body
tonal and aesthetic dissonance, many different historical costume and architectural style clashes (medieval-era character in converse shoes, british tudor royalty in a french rococo inspired castle, etc), usually little to no rendered textures, horrible usually flat light rendering, a lot of purples??, random animal characters have needless human clothing accessories in a non-fantasy world, usually ‘modern’ fairy tale movies trying to be like shrek
in which i project me and my egyptian family and extended family onto fareeha amari
-your concept of personal space is approximately twice to three times as gracious as hers; would you really mind having fareeha amari closer to you
-absolutely refuses to accept help if she feels even slight confidence in what she’s doing; this doesn’t change unless she trusts someone very deeply, and even then she still doesn’t feel like relying on other people for help
-is so bitter about snow that she angrily rants about it even when it isn’t there, even in fucking summer she just has to get her feelings about snow out she fucking hates that frozen white bullshit
-she doesnt believe when you offer something nice; she’s usually like “wait really???”
-while you studied makeup fareeha studied the gun. as a consequence it takes her a really long time to get her eyeliner just right
-will try her hardest to sing songs even if she doesnt know them
-can detect even the slightest fucking change in the house temperature like yeah fareeha i upped the thermostat by one damn degree it’s gonna be ok
-talks during movies all the time, constantly misses key plot details and notices that one character has the same shoes as she did in high school
- e x p e r t c h e f f a r e e h a
-uses all of the fucking hot water in the morning and at night, she’s the first one to take a shower and she knows damn well how long she’s in there
-constantly does impressions of americans, especially southerners; has almost undeniably yelled “howdy partner!” when entering a room on several different occasions
-constantly makes jokes about The White Man
-has never heard of any classic American musicians besides David Bowie why does she know so much David Bowie please help
Want to do something after school? Can’t, it’s hell week. It’s always hell week.
“It’s in the prop room!” The prop room door is open, the lights are off. Everything is in the prop room but nothing can be found. People who enter the prop room never return.
The show is three weeks away, it’s hell week, the show is three weeks away, time is crunched, the show is three weeks away, we’ve only blocked half of act one.
Your costumes are hanging in the prop room. You don’t dare to ask how, you’ve never been given a costume, but it’s hanging in the prop room.
You need your character shoes, the left one is missing. Nobody has a left shoe. Where did the left shoes go?
Remember to watch your back. If the audience can see it, they can see everything. The things you don’t want them to see.
You have a quick change, you have thirty seconds. The techies have you dressed in five. How do they do it? You don’t even remember exiting stage left and you’re ready to enter stage right in your new costume.
It’s hell week and the lights are running. Who’s running the lights? You can’t see, the lights are too bright.
You are hot and cold, the lights are one you, temperature makes no sense, you’re sweating but want to put on a sweatshirt.
There’s mic tape all over you. You don’t wear a mic, but there’s mic tape on your face and neck and chest and back. It hurts.
You need to get makeup done. “Go to Ben!” There’s nobody named Ben at the theatre, but you find him anyway. He does your makeup perfectly.
Sometimes I wonder if fans make animators loose sleep over little things. Like the fact we lost our shits over the fact Keith slept with shoes on. And the animators all saw this and went “shit we’ve done it now, we got to fix it”
so they go to the writers and have to ask for a specific scene to fix their error. Like “Oh my God, we need a scene with Keith in bed.”
“We need to take his shoes off. Please, for the love of God, for the fans. Give us this second chance to make things right.”
“Alright, I suppose we can make a random scene of him looking at his knife again-”
“YES LORD PLEASE, and we’ll take his shoes and fanny pack off. The fans will be so pleased. character development.”
And then when the episode finally airs they try to make a huge deal of it. Like, LOOK LOOK FANDOM WE TOOK HIS SHOES OFF. IS IT OKAY? HAVE WE DONE GOOD?
And then the fans either loose their shit over this development with them, or find something else about it to make a big deal about it.
(A table of contents is available. This series will remain open for additional posts and the table of contents up-to-date as new posts are added.)
Part Twenty: Conversations with Antagonists
Sooner or later, your characters are going to meet up with your antagonist for a conflict. Maybe it’s only during the climax, maybe there are meetings peppered throughout; whatever your structural choice for your narrative might be, we’re all facing one inevitable fact: Our antagonists will speak. Those lines of dialogue, those conversations your protagonist has with them may be the most difficult to nail and nail well. There are so many factors at play–style, character, goals, narrative needs, not to mention the pressure you’ve been building up about this person throughout the entire story!–that writing the dialogue well when it comes time is one of the most daunting tasks.
Avoid constant vague and/or ominous lines, including one-liners:
Let me make myself clear from the start: It’s not that you can’t have any vague, ominous, and/or one-liners, but that you should use them sparingly and judiciously. Constantly being vague, ominous, or quippy leads to a fundamental problem with the antagonist: melodrama. In fact, melodrama is exactly what your antagonist opening their mouth, ever, must vigilantly steer away from. They are the one character who has the uncanny ability to come pre-packaged in melodrama.
Last summer, we spent some time talking about handling characters’ emotions, and part of that is wrapped up in melodrama. I suggest checking out the post to find out more about spotting the beginnings of melodrama in your writing.
The allure of vague, ominous, and witty one-liners is clear: We want our antagonists to seem threatening, to feel as though they have knowledge the protagonist doesn’t have or doesn’t want them to have, to appear smart, smarter or at least more wily and cunning and 100% capable of either having or gaining the upper hand against the protagonist. After all, isn’t that the point of an antagonist?
If an antagonist only speaks in quippy one-liners, they are only ever responding to your protagonist, never initiating the action themselves. If an antagonist is only vague, they are only ever talk, never action. If an antagonist is only ominous, that sense of doom and dread becomes normal, the protagonist acclimates, and it becomes ineffective.
For your dialogue between your antagonist and protagonist to feel genuine, to feel as though they are real people rather than cardboard cut-outs, it sometimes helps to stop thinking about the interactions as having such high stakes. I know that when I’m trying to write these moments, I often find that I get too wrapped up in what the scene/conversation has to do for the story, what things I have to reveal, how much or how little should be unveiled now vs. later, further cement the antagonist as an unlikable person and the protagonist as right and virtuous. I lose sight of the characters in the midst of plot and devices.
Try to bring your thinking out of the mire of plot and back into these characters, who they are, how they speak, what their agenda within the conversation is. They’re just people, trying to do something within the scene. If this were another person who happened to be in their way (a construction worker whose ladder is in the way, or who can’t let them into a room while they’re putting in the carpet, whatever), how would your characters react? Without the knowledge that this is their Big Bad, their #1 Enemy, their Most Hated Rival, how would they navigate the scene? Distancing the characters a little bit from their archetypal story purposes may help you focus better on writing good dialogue and maintaining your characters rather than shoe-horning in the information just for the sake of it.
Avoid extreme emotional reactions:
If you’re one of those writers who can more or less see your story animated like a movie in your mind, you may have experienced the moment where a character says, does, or reveals something, and that ominous beat of music plays–ba-doom!–and the scene cuts to black. Something big, something revolutionary, something the audience needs time to process just happened and a commercial break just played in the metaphorical episode of your tale. Moments like that are great in TV and movies, but the only version of that available in story-telling is to start a new chapter. If all of your major moments and reveals require a new chapter, you’re going to wind up with a very choppy book. Many of us recognize that and turn to other options to cue the audience in to the intensity and importance of what’s been said or done. One of those tactics is, of course, using our protagonist’s and other characters’ reactions.
The classic responses include:
“I won’t let you!”
“You can’t do that!”
a general outpouring of emotion
Among the problems with all of these go-to reaction tendencies is melodrama, certainly. It throws characterization out the window in favor of emphasizing the plot/actions that have occurred, all while under the guise of maintaining and furthering characterization. That’s what makes these reactions so popular: They seem as though they are reinforcing the protagonist’s goal and mission against the antagonist, reinforcing their character. Instead what they do is insult the intelligence of your audience.
If you’ve written your protagonist well, these lines and emotions toward the actions of the antagonist become redundant and don’t necessarily further or develop new facets about your characters. Your audience knows they don’t want the antagonist to do The Thing™, that’s the whole point! That’s what you’ve been building to this entire time! So of course they’re not going to let the antagonist do That; of course they’re upset about it.
It may also be an out-of-character reaction, worse of all. If your protagonist hasn’t been prone to emotional outbursts throughout the story but instead handles things going wrong with snark, outward calm, and a sense of just-get-things-done-cry-about-it-later, then an emotional breakdown at this moment doesn’t follow in line with what you’ve established about the character. “But it’s showing the stress they’re under and the heightened sense of impending danger! Their goals are in jeopardy!” you say. True, but it’s also probably not what your character would do.
We feel strapped in to these reactions because they’re what happens in movies, TV, and a thousand other books. These are the reactions that must happen in order for things to be “right” and fulfilling. In truth, they’re archetypes of emotion that come hand-in-hand with the antagonist/protagonist relationship. It’s time to break away and write real reactions from our characters, ones they would really make.
so here’s some character design advice if anyone wants it:
first of all, a character design is a visual symbol, or a collection of visual symbols. when you are representing a character visually their design needs to convey some information to the viewer.
every part of the design needs to be there for a reason. “because it looks cool” is absolutely a valid reason, UNLESS it conflicts with some other aspect of the design or character. it has to make sense, or you have to find a way to make it make sense, otherwise it’s simply bulk with no substance.
you need to especially consider this if you’re trying to deliberately subvert a trope with a character design. If your character is a rugged-looking badass with fly outfits and a dope-ass weapon, but they’re actually an optimistic creampuff who likes baking and kittens, that discrepancy needs to be a part of their personality and their story, and in depictions of them you should try to contain hints of the character’s gentleness alongside their cool toughness.
otherwise you have a visual design built simply on random traits that you like that has nothing to do with who the character is. in that case, the design is communicating no information, or wrong information, to the viewer, and is therefore unsuccessful.
to kinda touch on that a little bit, here’s one i’m pretty proud of:
Y’all know Roadrunner, he’s one of my favorite things to draw. Here are some design decisions for this character, and this piece in particular, and why i chose them:
- Physique: This character is small and very fit because he is an acrobat. - Hair: the long hair is a cultural symbol, but also a deliberate choice for this character because he is very active, and it’s a great visual tool for showing movement and grace - Crop top: This character is flirty and a little vain - Shoes: this character is a freerunner - FLY: This one’s kinda sneaky. Roadrunner has a circus arts background and is a “flyer” (in partner acrobatics, the smaller partner who does aerials, as opposed to a “catcher” or “base”). There’s also a recurring bird motif with this character (I mean, Roadrunner…) that I’ve used this to hint at as well. - Floral print bomber jacket: I just think it looks cool, but it still fits in with this character and his style so it works with the design and ties the color scheme together.
Here’s another one where I think I did a good job conveying information about the characters.
not gonna go into a ton of detail about it since it’s not my best work ever, but i feel like you get a good sense of who they are, who they are to each other, and how they’re gonna kick your ass.
which is another thing. if your character does some kind of combat on the reg, that’s going to affect their morality and disposition. if your character is the best swordsman in all the land, they got that way by fighting, and killing people. with swords. unless they are practicing it specifically as a sport, in which case that will not translate to real life combat skills.
obviously there’s some room for leeway here – all fiction presents augmented reality, and therefore augmented morality. a D&D character might kill 10 random encounter bandits before breakfast. in a superhero universe, a city-destroying battle might not even make headlines.
but you do need to consider your setting, and what your character’s combat skills and experience mean in that setting. if your character is a hardened, seasoned warrior that means they have blood on their hands. probably a lot. you need to meaningfully consider what that means to them, and if and how they justify it.
i think this is something people forget a lot considering how many of the asks sent to @howtofightwrite are variations on “how can my character knock someone out without injuring/killing them” and how many of the answers are variations on “they can’t.”
anyway, sorry this is kinda rambly and nonsensical, just stuff i’m thinkin’ about after a healthy all-nighter! hope some people find this interesting or helpful.
okay so, we all know she’s trans but like, I just realised it all possibly goes back to her introduction. Her first moments on screen are being introduced as a safe, goody two shoes character who wants to be more dangerous and rebellious. This aspect of her reaches a major point in
St. Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses where she goes full revolutionary, taking it upon herself to start an uprising against the oppressive school.
Marco became the kind of person she wanted to be from the beginning during that episode, her first arc reaching it’s end and evolving into a new one. Her journey to becoming the princess entirely. I feel the St. O’s episode is where she first really considers the fact she might not be a boy.