every character is important to the story

How to Use Description to Show Character Development

This is a follow-up to my post How to Make Your Descriptions Less Boring. In that post, I talked about the difference between static descriptions and dynamic descriptions and argued that as long as you’re using dynamic descriptions, readers will be much more engaged and you can throw out the old “don’t use description because it’s boring” advice.

To recap:

Static descriptions don’t move or get interacted with. They exist almost like a painted backdrop to a play or the background on an old cartoon.

Example: The grass was green.

Dynamic descriptions, on the other hand, take on the voice and perceptions of your point-of-view character, and are interactive. They combine description, action, perception, and character development.

Example: The grass outside the house was so green James couldn’t believe it – it almost looked fake. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, he squatted down and ran his hands through it.

If you’re new to description, trying to use more dynamic description is a great starting point…

…but there’s so much more you can do with description once you understand how to work with it!

Keep reading

Building an Audience.

Anonymous asked:

For an unpublished author, you seem to have a huge following. How did you build up your audience? Any tips you can share with other budding authors?

First off, I have another list of tips that’s about starting writeblrs, which will overlap with this a bit. Secondly, of you’re looking for tips on how to get 10K followers, this is not that list.

These are tips on how to build an audience of people who will stick with you and also hopefully pay you money in exchange for writing, specifically made for writers like me who are terribly unlucky on social media and need to work like hell for any amount of recognition.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

I hope the next main Sonic game uses the Chaos Emeralds again.

I’m hesitant on that.

The Chaos Emeralds may be a Sonic staple, but from a story perspective, I feel they’re relied on too often in the series. Since Sonic and Co end up needing the Emeralds to go Super and face the final boss so often, it ends up making them look like a bunch of weak blowhards who can’t overcome anything on their own accord. Not to mention the Emeralds essentially decide which characters are “important” by who gets to be Super or not.

It’s also a little too convenient that they have some sort of relation to damn near every incident in the franchise. Examples like Adventure 1 are fair enough since they’re related to Chaos, but these same gems are the only way the Eclipse Cannon can be powered up, the only way Mephiles can rejoin with Iblis, AND the only way Black Doom can warp the Black Comet, among many other things?

So in that regard, I’m glad the Emeralds have been used more sparingly compared in recent times. Granted, I will say it was odd for them to be left out of Forces due to the Phantom Ruby seemingly being established as a darker counterpart to them according to Mania. But other than that, I can’t say I’d fully welcome the period when everyone was always relying on the same MacGuffins for every single plot. Doesn’t come off as good storytelling IMO.

Why Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is my favorite media of All Time without spoiling anything

1. The plot moves a million miles per hour and has like, a minimum of two plot twists an episode. It’s super serialized and feels like a novel.

2. Answers that most series would drag out until the end are answered super quickly to keep the story moving.

3. The protagonists’ plight is really sad/interesting and you actually feel invested in their story and how it ends right from the first episode.

4. The protagonists have lots of agency and drive the story forwards, and there are multiple protagonists with their own plotlines.

5. Multiple interesting antagonists with intriguing worldviews.

6. The antagonists are super intimidating, not just to the characters but to the audience. Every scene one of them is in is extremely tense.

7. Unique setting that isn’t exactly fantasy and isn’t sci-fi.

8. The world’s “magic” has all of it’s rules explained so characters can’t manifest abilities you’ve never seen before without it being logical or foreshadowed.

9. Lots of tragic backstories, but the story has a light tone, and doesn’t try to be dark for no reason.

10. Never afraid to kill off characters, no matter how important, but gives lots of importance to every death that does happen so none of them feel “cheap”.

12. Romantic plotlines that don’t feel forced or boring. No love triangle nonsense to be seen.

13. Side characters that are actually given importance to the overall plot and are given their own characterizations and motivations.

14. Multiple badass female characters.

15. Midwifery being presented as awesome.

16. Gender norms being subverted left and right. Giant, muscly men full of emotions and tears. Women with majestic, long hair that have killed before and will kill again.

17. Deals with race, genocide and the aftermath of war, showing both sides of the conflict.

18. Doesn’t take itself too seriously. Contains the most masterful humorous to emotional tone shifts I have ever seen. They feel seamless.

19. Well choreographed combat scenes with innovative tactics abound.

20. This is subjective, but there are many, many scenes that are sad, or thought provoking, or spine-chilling. It’s a series that constantly shocks and amazes, even on rewatches.

21. AMAZING ending. You’ve heard of 2 episode climaxes. You’ve heard of 4 episode climaxes (hello, Avatar the Last Airbender). Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has a 15 EPISODE CLIMAX. That’s 5 straight hours of finale that literally NEVER GETS BORING.

22. Incredible philosophy.

How To: Develop Your Characters

I think we’ve all been in the situation where we want to write about a specific character but have no idea how to approach it. For some reason, despite them being your own character, you have no idea how they would act or what they would say in a certain situation. Sometimes, if you even write about your character(s) at all, when you read it back they seem fake or 2-Dimensional. Unrealistic, if you’d prefer.

In this post, I am going to give you some exercises to get past hollow characters and help develop your writing. 

1) Empty Their Pockets

Pretty simple. Think of what your characters would have in their pockets on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t have to be anything super extraordinary, of course. Just start writing some everyday items down and think about whether your character would have these items in their pockets. 

Let’s take a look at one I did for my characters earlier. (sorry that just sounded like something from Blue Peter)

For example:

Character A’s Pockets Contained:

pack of gum, empty pack of cigarettes, library card, NOKIA brick phone

So, here a few things you can tell about Character A simply through the items in their pockets. They visit the library often, meaning that they probably have a high interest in reading (this also could be a sign of intelligence). Judging by the fact Character A has both a pack of gum and cigarettes this could indicate a potential smoking habit, chewing gum is a known way for helping people quit smoking. The pack of cigarettes could show that they are not very good at restricting themselves and could in fact be addicted and finding it hard to cope with smoking. Finally, the NOKIA brick phone shows how they may want to feel connected to people or want to allow their friends/family members/whoever to be able to contact them but have no desire to get the latest model of phone or perhaps believe that having such a device would distract them unnecessarily. 

When doing this exercise, think about key objects which portray certain details about your character! Try not to overthink it too much, write whatever comes to mind and put it down on the page! After writing down a couple objects, go back through them and feel free to edit out items you think are unnecessary or add items which you think would suit the character. 

2) Go Through Their Daily Routine

Again, another easily explained exercise. Go through a regular day in your character’s life, try and do this exercise as if it was happening before whatever events occur in your story or novel. This way it makes it easier to understand your character before they met a secondary character in the novel or before whatever events happened in your writing which may affect their routine. You don’t need to include every single detail in your description, just brief notes or key events which occur during their day would be fine. You can make it as short or as long as you wish, maybe don’t just do it for one day in your character’s week perhaps do it for multiple days. 

Does their routine change during the week? What time do they wake up? What time do they go to sleep? Are they punctual with going to work? Do they do any other activities outside their day-job? These are the kind of things you may want to ask yourself when writing it. 

3) Give Them Fears/Phobias

Everyone fears something: whether it be a phobia of spiders or oblivion, everyone has a fear. Giving your character a phobia makes them seem more realistic, it allows your reader to easily relate to your character.

However, just having a phobia for the sake of it doesn’t help develop your character at all. If you give them a terrible phobia of snakes and they come across a snake and suddenly within moments are able to get over their fear just like that, it’s not a phobia. It’s more of a mild inconvenience than anything else. The reader needs to feel convinced by their fears, they would feel more dissatisfied with your writing if they felt the character could dismiss anything and everything than knowing them being confronted by their fears could be a possible problem. Besides, it would give them no reason to motivate or encourage the character if they knew it was impossible for them to be defeated by anything. Still, this does not mean that your character has to be destroyed by their fear. There is a very big difference between simply dismissing your character’s fear and perhaps overcoming it in the future.

An easy way to write your character possibly overcoming their fear in the future is that when they first encounter that fear, add an element of chance or fate into it. For example, if a character were to move to get away from the creature which may be coming towards them; in the process of getting up, they could slip which could cause their legs to lash out towards the creature. The sudden movement may just be enough to scare the creature away, this way it does not appear to the reader as ridiculous or uncharacteristic courage but instead accidental bravery. This sudden revelation that the character’s horrible fear may not be as all powerful as they first thought could be the first step for them to slowly overcome that fear.

Don’t believe me? Let’s think about this for a moment. Imagine your character, let’s call them the Protagonist™, is stuck in a terrible situation. It doesn’t matter what the situation is but let’s say it’s something which involves them being trapped in a room with a snake. I’m going to give you two examples, both involving the same situation.

Example #1:

Protagonist watched with wide eyes as the snake slowly slithered towards them. The snake paused for a moment, it hissed lowly as it waited for Protagonist to move, waiting for the right moment to strike.  Not hesitating for a single moment, they suddenly realised how dire the situation was and jumped to their feet. Their heart pumping wildly as their body was filled with adrenaline, they were terrified yet they had to do something. Protagonist grabbed the nearest thing to them and stepped towards the snake.

“Get away!” They threatened, “Get away!”

Example #2:

Protagonist watched with wide eyes as the snake slowly slithered towards them. The snake paused for a moment, it hissed lowly as it waited for Protagonist to move, waiting for the right moment to strike. The blood in Protagonist’s veins ran cold as the snake grew closer and closer, Protagonist couldn’t move. They begged and screamed on the inside to move away, to get away as far as possible. They had lost all control of their movement, their fear had consumed them. They were frozen to the spot and could only watch as the snake widened it’s jaw, ready to bite down on it’s prey. It widened it’s jaw once, twice - suddenly, Protagonist gained back their instincts. Fleeing seemed like the only realistic option and seconds before the snake could chomp down on their ankle, Protagonist stumbled to their feet. They stumbled backwards into a puddle of water which had pooled behind them and their ankle rolled as they slipped, their legs accidentally lashing out towards the predator. The snake recoiled backwards in shock before deciding that the risk wasn’t worth it: it quickly retreated back to it’s nest, disappearing from Protagonist’s view.

Now, hopefully you see what I mean. I think we can all agree that the second example is a lot better than the first one. 

4) Create Their Flaws/Bad Habits

No one is perfect, this includes your characters. 

If you’re finding it challenging to think of any flaws, try to think of some bad habits. It doesn’t have to be anything so terribly bad that’s it’s illegal. Think simple when it comes to this exercise. It can range from anything between chewing their nails to swearing. 

It might help to try and develop these bad habits into possible flaws or weaknesses. If your character keeps biting their nails that might be a sign of nervousness or anxiety. So, creating bad habits might be a good way to show a certain trait your character may possess. 

Flaws are important as well. Let’s be realistic, if no character had any flaws then every single book we read would be filled with a bunch of characters which are exactly the same. Besides, what’s a hero without it’s villain? 

So, to give you a few ideas, let’s go back to superheroes. Maybe a hero is so set on doing the right thing that they lose sight of what they want? Perhaps it gets to a certain point where they can’t handle that hollow feeling inside of them that they grow arrogant, selfish or even stubborn? There’s a story for you right there. 

Not only that, by giving your characters flaws it is possible that you could work that into your story somehow. This way, not only will you get to show off your amazing character development, but it could also be an exciting point in your storyline.

Write down some ideas, think of flawed personality traits and just write them down! Try to write down at least five straight off the bat, for each one you don’t like you should think about why it doesn’t suit your character. You’re bound to find one flaw you’re happy with!

5) Write Some Scenarios

Now that you’ve developed your characters, go ahead and write them in your story! If you think you still need a bit of practice, try writing something about them being in a certain scenario. It could be anything from ordering their favourite coffee to being trapped in a prison: just write it! Try not to think about it too much, just do whatever feels write (I unintentionally made that pun but i’m not deleting it). 

It doesn’t have to be long either, just a couple paragraphs would be fine. Try to focus on body movements and interior thoughts, it would be ideal if your character was on their own in the situation: that way you can get to know the character on their own a lot better. No other characters means no distractions. It’s just you, the wonderful author, and your character - there is an endless amount of possibilities for you! 


Have faith in yourself too! Nobody knows your brilliantly developed characters better than you do, so here’s your chance to show them off! If you’d like a second opinion, write something about them and give it to a friend/parent/random stranger etc. to read! If they don’t want to, make them read it anyway! 

I hope this helps you all in developing your characters! 

Happy writing!

- jess

  • what she says: avatar is one of my favorite shows.
  • what she means: avatar: the last airbender is one of the best shows i have ever seen. words cannot describe how much this show means to me. every single one of the characters were diverse, three-dimensional, and well-written, with arcs and character development that were all beautifully orchestrated. the characters were all so human, with flaws, and ambitions, and compelling back stories and motivations. it even shows how the antagonists weren't evil and heartless monsters, but how they were just as human as the heroes. the stories the show itself followed were just as beautiful, mixing humor and playfulness with important, hard-hitting life lessons that have shaped me as a person. the show stressed the importance of friendships and familial bonds, and how everyone is not only deserving of redemption, but can achieve it. it showed the strength in kindness and humility and forgiveness, and how you aren't defined by your past. it showed that just because you're related by blood to someone doesn't mean they're your family, and how friends can be your family too. the show even depicted how animals can be like family. it showed how unhealthy relationships and abuse work, and it showed how you can move and work past those things. it taught how to deal with grief and pain, and how those things can help you grow as a person. it showed that even if everyone is telling you something is right, it doesn't mean it is, and that you should stand up for what's truly right. the visuals were absolutely stunning, and the soundtrack is the best soundtrack of any show or movie i've ever heard. the stories and the characters of this show have resonated with me deeply, and are still affecting me today. to me, nothing will ever compare to avatar: the last airbender.

 Does It Pass The Aila Test?

We all know the rules of The Bechdel Test. In recent years, fans of more feminist-friendly films have included their own character tests, like The Mako Mori Test, The Furiosa Test, The Sexy Lamp Test, the list goes on. While these are all helpful (though comical) tools feminists have used to criticize media narratives, very few of them seem to empower or apply when viewing Indigenous and Aboriginal women in media narratives / storytelling.

As a Native woman, I’ve experienced disappointment and heartache from the way Native women were represented on film, television, cartoons, and other forms of media. From stereotypical “Indian princesses” to the distressing amount of physical and sexual violence in live action period pieces, it felt that a Native woman was not a character you were meant to love and root for. She was never a character you were supposed to relate to or want to be. In almost every role she’s in, she cannot exist without being a prop for another character’s story, and if she has a “happy ending,” it’s usually in the arms of a white colonist or settler.

I’ve created the Aila Test to bring my own concerns to the table when feminists criticize media. Not only should these issues be analyzed and addressed, but content creators who write about Indigenous / Aboriginal women should consider writing characters who pass this test. We need them now, more than ever.

To pass the Aila Test, your film / animation / comic book / novel / etc, must abide by these three important rules:

1. Is she an Indigenous / Aboriginal woman who is a main character…

2. Who  DOES NOT fall in love with a white man…

3. And DOES NOT end up raped or murdered at any point in the story.

Do you know characters that pass the Aila Test? Please submit them to this page!

anonymous asked:

Hey, you're awesome, thanks for existing, basically ^_^ Anyway, I wanted to know if you have any tips on how to write different personalities? My characters (all of them) always end up with the same default personality that I fall back on. Thanks!

Thanks for your question, darling!  I think most of us have struggled with this – after all, we’re conditioned to one way of thinking, feeling, and acting for as long as we live.  That doesn’t necessarily mean we write characters like ourselves, though.  In fact, many of us have a “default character” that’s sassier than we are, sweeter than we are, or in some way different enough from us that we still feel like we’re writing a character.

The problem, then, isn’t that we can’t visualize a different personality than ours.  On the whole, we can.  What we’re missing are the small details that make it feel whole – otherwise, it’s like painting the same room six different colors and trying to pass it off as six different rooms.  Different dominant traits can’t hide the fact that you’re working with one template!

So the question we’re left with: what are the traits we’re missing?  And how can we change them to create a unique and whole personality?


Three Types of Character Traits

There are, as the title suggests, three major categories of personality traits as I see it: fundamental traits, acquired traits, and detrimental traits.  A well-rounded character needs some of each to be three-dimensional and realistic.

Fundamental Traits

The fundamental traits of a person’s character are not as simple as interests and preferences; they are the very base of all decisions and desires.  They are either learned in early life or developed over a long period of time, rooting deeply into the personality.  A few examples of fundamental personality traits include:

  • Upbringing – The word choice here is conscious, as upbringing encompasses many different aspects of a person’s development.  Consider who raised them, and with what morals and practices they were raised to adulthood.  Consider their influences, both familial, social, and in media; consider the relationships that were normalized during their development, as well as the living conditions (financially, emotionally, environmentally, etc.).  The people, places, emotions, and conflicts made common during a person’s developmental period are essential to their personality in adulthood.  This is why psychologists often draw present-day problems back to a person’s childhood memories – because those formative years can subconsciously dictate so much of a person’s future!
  • Values – These may not coincide with the values a person is raised to hold, but upbringing certainly has an influence on this. A person’s values will direct the course of their life through every decision, large and small.  You don’t need to outline everything your character believes is important – every moral and every law they agree/disagree with. But those values which stand above others will give your character purpose.  A few of my favorite examples are: Jane from Jane the Virgin (whose initial storyline is heavily based on her religion and desire for a beautiful love story, as well as her childhood influences who inspired these values) and Han Solo from Star Wars (whose character development rested upon his values shifting from money and gratification to more honorable things).
  • Beliefs – Different from values, beliefs are a more general set of guidelines for how a person believes things are supposed to be.  Beliefs can also be a source of great conflict, as a character tries to stay aligned with their beliefs despite other values or desires.  These beliefs can be established systems, like religion or politics; they can also include more personal belief systems, like nihilism or veganism.  A characters beliefs, like their values, can change over the course of the story – but even if a character is questioning one system of belief, like religion or pacifism, they should have other belief systems in place to govern some of their activity.
  • Reputation – A lot of human activity, whether consciously or not, is dictated by how others perceive them (or how they believe others perceive them).  There are two types of reputation: personal and passing.  For instance, a woman named Sally who gains a personal reputation of sleeping around will behave in reaction to this reputation – either sleeping around because everyone already expects it of her, or specifically not hooking up because she wants to shake this reputation, or developing a thicker skin to deal with the rumors until it passes.  A man named Billy who, because of his tattoos, bears a passing reputation as an intimidating man will either try to soften his demeanor with strangers, own up to the image, or at least learn to expect judgment from strangers as a consequence.
  • Self-Image – Also relevant to a person’s behavior is the way they perceive themselves, which can often have little to do with their reputation.  A lot of self-image is based on definitive moments or phases in the past.  For instance: for several years after I started wearing contacts and cutting my hair, I still saw myself, in dreams at night, with long hair and glasses.  One of my friends, similarly, could not seem to notice when boys would flirt with her during sophomore year – because she still saw herself as an awkward middle schooler with braces, and not as the charming cheerleader with the great smile.
    Inversely, self-image can be inflated, causing character to behave as though they are funnier, smarter, or more prepared than they truly are (see: the rest of my sophomore acquaintances).  This can be an overlooked character flaw opportunity – or flawportunity…

Originally posted by alliefallie


Acquired Traits

Now we move on to the acquired traits of personality, which are the ones you’re more likely to find on a character sheet or a list of “10 Questions for Character Development”, alongside a million other things like their zodiac sign and their spirit animal.  But the traits I’m about to outline are a little more relevant to a character’s behavior, and more importantly, how to make this behavior unique from other characters’ behavior.  The following traits will be learned by your characters throughout their life (and their story), and are more likely to shift and grow with time:

  • Interests – I know, I had to reach deep down into my soul to think of this one.  But it’s true!  Interests, both in childhood/adolescence and in adulthood, are an important part of a character’s personality and lifestyle.  Childhood interests both reveal something about the character (for instance: my nephew loves trains, Legos, and building, suggesting a future interest in construction or engineering) and create values that can last for a lifetime.  Current interests affect career choice, social circles, and daily activity for everyone.  Forgotten or rejected interests can be the source of pet peeves, fears, or bad memories. There’s a reason I’ll never play with Polly Pockets again, and it 100% has to do with bloody fingertips and a purse that wouldn’t open.
  • Sense of Humor – This can be a little hard to define, understandably.  If you were to ask me what my sense of humor is, I’d probably start with a few stupid memes, pass by Drake & Josh on the way, and somehow wind up telling you bad puns or quoting Chelsea Peretti’s standup comedy. A person’s sense of humor can be complex and contradictory!  Sometimes we just laugh at stuff because someone said it in a funny way.  But anyway, to help you boil this down to something useful: take a look at a few kinds of comedy and relate it to your character’s maturity level.  Do they laugh when someone lets out a toot?  Are they the kind of person to mutter, “That’s what she said,” or simply try not to laugh when something sounds dirty?  Can puns make them crack a smile?  Do they like political humor?  Do cat videos kill them?  Is their humor particularly dark?  Can the mere sound of someone else laughing make them laugh?  Figure out where your character’s sense of humor is, and you’ll feel closer to them already.
  • Pet Peeves – For every interest a person may have, and everything that makes them laugh, there’s something else that can piss them off, large- or small-scale.  Are they finnicky about their living space and neatness? Do they require a lot of privacy? Do certain sounds or behaviors drive them crazy?  What qualities are intolerable in a romantic interest for them? What kind of comments or beliefs make them roll their eyes?  If you need help, just try imagining their worst enemy – someone whose every word or action elicits the best eye-rolls and sarcastic remarks and even a middle finger or two – and ask yourself, what about this person makes them that mortal enemy?  What behaviors or standards make them despicable to your character?  That’s all it takes.
  • Skills – Everybody has them, and they’re not just something we’re born with.  Skills can be natural talent, sure, but they’re also cultivated from time, values, and interests.  What is your character okay at?  What are they good at?  What are they fantastic at?  Maybe they can cook.  Maybe they have a beautiful eye for colors.  Maybe they have an inherent sense of right and wrong that others admire. Maybe they’re super-athletic or incredibly patient or sharp as a tack or sweet as a cupcake.  Maybe they know how to juggle, or maybe they’re secretly the most likely of all their friends to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Where do they shine?  What would make someone look at them and think, “Wow, I wish I were them right now”?
  • Desires – A good way to “separate” one character from the next is to define what it is they want, and then use every other detail to dictate how they pursue that goal.  Every real person has a desire, whether they’ve defined it or not – whether it’s something huge, like fame or a family of five with triplet girls and a beach house on an island, or something small, like good grades for the semester.  These desires can cause a person to revise their values or forsake their morals; and these desires can conflict with other people’s desires, influencing how people interact with each other.  Remember that every character is living their own story, even if it’s not the story you’re telling.
  • Communication Style – A majorly overlooked character trait in pop fiction is unique communication styles.  Having every character feel comfortable arguing, or bursting out with the words, “I love you,” is unrealistic.  Having every character feel paralyzed at the idea of confronting a bully or being honest to their spouse is also unrealistic.  There should be a healthy mix of communicators in a group of characters. Some people are too softspoken to mouth off at their racist lab partner.  Some people wouldn’t see their girlfriend kissing another guy and just walk away without saying something.  Some people just don’t react to conflict by raising their voice; some people enjoy sharing their opinions or giving the correct answer in class.  Boldness, social skills, and emotional health all have a part to play in how people communicate their thoughts – so keep this in mind to create a more realistic, consistent character.
  • Emotional Expression – Along the same lines but not the same, emotional expression is more focal on feelings than thoughts.  If you’ve ever heard of the fight-or-flight response, the different types of anger, the stages of grief, or the five love languages, then you’re aware of different “classifications” of emotional expression and management.  Read up on some of those things, and think about how your character handles emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, anger, loneliness, paranoia, and so forth.

Detrimental Traits

While acquired traits are certainly more enjoyable to brainstorm during the creation process, detrimental traits are as important – or even more important – to the character’s wholeness as well as their role in the story.  Not only do these negative or limiting traits make your character realistic, relatable, and conflicted – they create a need for other characters and their strengths to move the plot forward.  A few examples of detrimental traits include:

  • Flaws – Character flaws are probably the first thing that came to your mind while reading this, but they’re the essence of the category.  Flaws in a character’s personality, morality, or behavior can be a source of character development; they set an individual on their own path and provide a unique motivation for them.  Having Character A struggle with sobriety while Character B learns to be a more patient mother can do a lot to separate their stories and personalities from each other.  Even if certain flaws don’t reach a point of growth, they create a third aspect to personality and force us, as writers, to be more creative with how our characters get from Point A to Point B, and what they screw up along the way.
  • Fears – Everyone has fears, whether we’re conscious of them or not – and I’m not talking about phobias or “things that give you shivers”.  Just like everyone has a primary motivation throughout life (romance, family, success, meaning, peace of mind, etc.), everyone has a fear behind that motivation (loneliness, failure, emptiness, anxiety).  We all have something we don’t want to happen places we never want to be and things we never want to do.  We’ve all been in situations that mildly bothered others but wildly affected us at the same time.  For me, it’s a lack of autonomy, or in any way being forced to do something or be somewhere against my will.
    What does this mean for me?  It means that when other people have nightmares about being chased by an axe murderer, I have nightmares about being kidnapped and locked up.  It means that I’m continually aware of my “escape plan” if something goes wrong in my living situation, and I’m hypersensitive to someone telling me, “You have to do this.”  It means I struggle to follow rules and usually don’t get along with authority figures because I have to assert my independence to them.  It’s irrational and continual and doesn’t just affect me in one situation; it subconsciously directs my steps if I let it.  That’s how real, guttural fears work. Phobias are only skin deep, and they don’t make you feel any closer to the character.

Originally posted by giantmonster

  • Secrets – Even goody two-shoes Amber from the swim team, with her blonde blonde hair and her good good grades, has a secret.  Everybody does, even if it’s not a purposeful, “I have a deep, dark secret,” sort of secret. We have things we don’t tell people, just because they’re embarrassing, or painful, or too deep to get into, or they don’t paint us in a good light.  While the secrets themselves tell a lot about a person, so do the reasons a person keeps a secret.  Hiding something out of shame suggests a person is prideful, or critical of themselves, or holds themselves to a higher standard than they hold others.  Hiding something painful suggests that the person struggles to handle sadness or regret, or that they feel uncomfortable showing raw emotion in front of loved ones. And so on and so forth.
  • Conflict – Whether internal, interpersonal, legal, moral, societal, or what have you, conflict will limit your character’s actions at every turn.  A story is nothing without conflict driving the plot in different directions and causing your character to rethink both their plans and their lifestyle.  Without Katniss’s moral conflict over killing other tributes, The Hunger Games would be the story of a girl who entered an arena, killed a lot of people, and lived the rest of her life rich and comfortable.  If Luke Skywalker didn’t have interpersonal conflict with Darth Vader, Star Wars would be the war-story of a guy who joined a rebellion and then… yeah.
  • Health – Physical, mental, and emotional health is a huge limiting factor for characters that often goes untouched, but it’s valuable nonetheless.  Not everyone has a clean bill of health and can jump off trains without pulling a muscle, go through a traumatic life experience without any hint of depression or anxiety, or watch a loved one die in gunfire and shove right on without emotional repercussions. Consider creating a character who’s not perfect – who isn’t perfectly in-shape or abled, or neurotypical or stable day-to-day, or completely clean and clear of residual heartache, unhealthy relationships, or bad emotional habits.  Don’t define them by these traits, of course – but don’t feel that you can’t write a character with health issues without writing a “sick character.”

So this post got ridiculously long, but I hope it works as a reference for you when creating unique characters.  Remember that you don’t need to outline all of this information to create an individual, realistic character.  These are just some relevant ideas to get you started!  It’s up to you, as the writer, to decide what’s necessary and what’s excessive for your creative process.

Still, I hope a majority of this is helpful to you!  If you have any more questions, be sure to send them in and we’ll get back to you :)  Good luck!

- Mod Joanna ♥️


If you need advice on general writing or fanfiction, you should maybe ask us!

Tom and Lin-Manuel: An Appreciation/Jealous Rant

Every writer has a golden period – a chunk of time when her brain is ripest, when the veins he is tapping are the richest, when the ideas, big and small, spill out over the sides of the bucket instead of having to be patiently collected like drops of rain off a leaf. This is true for songwriters, playwrights, novelists, screenwriters, anyone who writes anything in any genre. Go look at John Hughes’s IMDb page and marvel at his golden period, which I would bookend as 1983-1990. It’s outrageous. He wrote Vacation, Mr. Mom, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and Home Alone in eight years. Eight years?! That’s absurd.

But then look at his next 20 years. You won’t find one movie that is better than the worst one he wrote in those seven years. The vein ran dry. It always does. That’s just the deal.

Tom Petty’s golden period never ended. Or, at least, the silver periods on either side of his golden period were seemingly infinite. No matter where you think he peaked – Full Moon Fever, or Wildflowers, or Damn the Torpedoes – the decades on either side were wonderful. He was great from the moment he released his first album in 1977 to the day he died last month. For forty years he wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and the songs he wrote were good or great or amazing.

Tom Petty wrote “Breakdown” and “American Girl” in 1977. He wrote “You Don’t Know How it Feels” seventeen years later, in 1994. He wrote “You Got Lucky” in 1982, “King’s Highway” in 1992, “The Last DJ” in 2002. He wrote “I Won’t Back Down,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” Free Fallin’,” “Love is a Long Road,” “A Face in the Crowd,” Yer So Bad,” and “The Apartment Song,” and “Depending on You,” all in 1989, and they were all on the same album, and that’s absurd.

He wrote “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” in 1981 and “Big Weekend” in 2006. He wrote every song on Wildflowers – and they are all great – in or around 1994. He wrote fifty other great songs I haven’t named yet, like “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “Jammin Me.” He wrote great songs you’ve heard a million times, and great songs you’ve maybe never heard, like “Billy the Kid” (1999) and “Walls” (1996) which was buried on the soundtrack to She’s the One.  He took a break from the Heartbreakers and casually released “End of the Line” and “Handle With Care” and “She’s My Baby” with the Traveling Wilburys in 1989-90. He wrote “Refugee” in 1980 and “I Should Have Known It” in 2010. Is there any rock and roll songwriter alive who wrote two songs that good, 30 years apart? (Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” in 1968, and only 12 years later he wrote “Wonderful Christmas Time,” which is so bad it nearly retroactively undid “Hey Jude.”)

He wrote about rock and roll things, like ’62 Cadillacs, getting out of this town, and dancing with Mary Jane. He wrote about love and loss and heartbreak. He wrote legitimately funny jokes, and moribund memories, and personal narratives, and imaginative flights of fancy. One of his characters calls his father his “old man” and it somehow isn’t cheesy. He was from Florida and California and wrote about both of them, and every time I’m on Ventura Boulevard I think of vampires, because the images he wrote are indelible. 

Petty didn’t just write songs directed at women, like most rock stars. He wrote about women, and he wrote for women, and he wrote with women. He treated the women in his songs as lovingly and respectfully as he treated the men. He cared about them as much, he spent as much time thinking about them, and he liked them as much, and all of that is rare.

He wrote simply, but not boringly. He made his characters three-dimensional, somehow, in a matter of seconds. There’s a famous (probably apocryphal) story about Hemingway bragging he could write an entire novel in six words, then writing: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I prefer the 18-word novel Petty wrote as the first verse to “Down South” –

Headed back down south
Gonna see my daddy’s mistress
Gonna buy back her forgiveness
Pay off every witness

When I was working on Parks and Recreation, whenever we needed a song to score an important moment in Leslie Knope’s life, we chose a Tom Petty song. It started with “American Girl,” when her biggest career project came to fruition. It was “Wildflowers” when she said goodbye to her best friend. It was “End of the Line” at the moment the show ended. For the seven seasons of our show, Tom Petty was the writer we trusted to explain how our main character was feeling, because he wrote so much, so well, for so long.

*******

It seems like a joke, Hamilton – a joke in a TV show where one of the characters is a struggling New York actor, and is always dragging his friends to his terrible plays. Like Joey in Friends. There’s an episode of Friends where Joey is in a terrible musical called like Freud!, about Sigmund Freud, and you get to see some of it, and it’s predictably terrible. Freud! the musical is arguably a better idea than Hamilton the musical.

I’m far from the first person to say this – I’m probably somewhere around the millionth person to write about Hamilton, and the maybe 500,000th to make this particular point, but it needs to be said – a hip-hop Broadway musical about the founding fathers is an astoundingly terrible idea. Lin-Manuel Miranda should never have written it. As soon as he started to write it, he should’ve said to himself, “What the fuck am I doing?!” and stopped. And after he got halfway through, he should’ve junked it, gotten really drunk, and moved on with his life, and made his wife and friends swear to never mention the weird six months where he was trying to write a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton. I literally guarantee you that when Lin-Manuel Miranda first told his friends what he was writing, every one of them reacted with at best a frozen smile, and at worst a horrified recoiling. Some of them might have been outwardly encouraging – “sounds awesome bud! Go get ‘em!” But then later, alone, they would call each other and say What the fuck is he doing?

There is a moment, in Hamilton, when what you are watching overwhelms you. (It’s not the same moment for everyone, but most everyone has one, I suspect.) It’s the moment when the enormity, the complexity, the meaning of it, the entirety of it, overpowers you, and you realize that what you are experiencing is new – new both in your specific life, and new, like, on Earth.  The first time I saw it, that moment was a line in the middle of “Yorktown.” Hamilton sang the line And so the American experiment begins / With my friends all scattered to the winds, and I burst into tears in a way I hadn’t since I was 10 and a baseball went through a guy’s legs in the World Series. Something about how casually he says that – And so the American experiment begins – just settled over me, like a collapsing tent, and this thing I was watching wasn’t in front of me, it was everywhere around me, and it was exhilarating and transformative.

(If I could put this part in a footnote, I would, but I don’t know how to, so: I should mention that I am very far from a musical theater aficionado. I have seen maybe eight musicals in my life. Not only did I not expect to cry, hard, during Hamilton, I did not expect to enjoy it. I saw it like a week after it opened on Broadway, kind of on a whim, knew nothing about it, and the last thing I said to my wife, as the lights went down, was: “We’ll leave at intermission.”)

The second time I saw it, that moment came much earlier (I knew what I was getting into, this time, so I was more ready to be subsumed). It came barely three minutes in, when the entire cast of the show, in a piece of choreography that can best be referred to as “badass,” all walk down to the very front of the stage and stand, shoulder to shoulder, and sing very loudly about how Alexander Hamilton never learned to take his time. The cast has, to this point, trickled on stage, slowly, one by one, telling you Hamilton’s origin story, and then suddenly there they all are, all of them – maybe 20? 50? It seems like 1000? – as close to the audience as they can get, and they are every size and ethnicity and gender, and their voices are loud, and I thought to myself, oh my God, this is a cast of people descended from every nation on Earth, all singing about the foundations of the American experience, and yes I “knew” that, intellectually, but holy shit, now that I see them all, I know it, like in my stomach, I understand it, and what a thing that is.

The third time I saw Hamilton, that moment was during “It’s Quiet Uptown,” when this enormous, sprawling, improbable, otherworldly, multi-ethnic, historical, art tornado presses pause on all of its historical-cultural-ethno-sociological-artistic investigations, and spends four and a half spare minutes with a couple who are grieving an unimaginable tragedy.  Specifically, it was the lines

Forgiveness
Can you imagine?
Forgiveness
Can you imagine?

What a thing to do, for your characters – to give them four and a half minutes in the middle of an enormous, sprawling, historical swirl, to just be sad. What a piece of writing that is.

(Again, should be a footnote, but: as long as I’m talking about writers here, I should point out that if the late Harris Wittels were alive, he would, at this moment, text me and hit me with a “humblebrag” for writing about how I have seen Hamilton three times, and he would be right. Miss you Harris!)

In the hundreds of hours of my life I have spent thinking about Hamilton since I first saw it – far more hours than any other single piece of art I have ever experienced – I have revisited that same thought over and over: he never should’ve written it. It was an absurd thing to do. It took him a year to write the title song, then another year to write the second song, and how did he not give up when two years had gone by and he’d written two songs?  He must’ve known in his heart it needed to be a 50-song, 2 ½-hour enterprise, and he had two songs after two years, and he kept going. How did he keep going? I’ve been trying to write this blog post about two writers I admire for different reasons since the week Tom Petty died, and I’ve almost given up five times.

At this point, the entire musical is that “moment” for me. It’s the whole thing, now – the thing that overwhelms me is the whole thing. The conception of it, the writing of it, the rewriting of it. The music and the motifs and the themes and the threads and the dramatic shape and the characters and their inner lives, and the eagle-eye writer’s view it took to keep all of that in his head, all of it, the whole time. The writing of it. The utterly impossible writing of it. 

People actually expect me to believe that if you throw a group of only one sex inside a fucking maze with no memories, no social, cultural or religious discourses forced upon them, no outside influences of any kind for years and years with only each other to grow close too, trust, survive with, protect, build with, bond with etc. 

That eVERY SINGLE ONE WOULD END UP STRAIGHT??????!??!!

5 Common Story Problems with Simple Fixes

Our stories are often plagued with these common story problems, but if we don’t know how to fix them, we’ll never improve our writing. It’s important that you remember you don’t need to scrap your novel if you keep having the same issues over and over again. Hopefully this list will help you pinpoint what’s going on and provide ways for you to improve your novel.

Problem: Unmotivated Characters

If you’re having trouble figuring out where your story should go next, the problem could be with unmotivated characters. Characters aren’t in your novel just so you can push them around every once in a while and make them do things. They need to develop over time and keep your story going in the right direction.

Solution:

Work on your character’s wants, goals, and motivations. You need to figure out what’s driving your character if you want them to do anything. Where do they want to end up? What’s standing in their way? What’s their plan? Who will help them? Think about everything your character will need to do to resolve your novel. Focus on what they want and what motivates their actions and your characters will stop being dull and lifeless.

Problem: Boring First Chapters

A boring first chapter is dangerous because you want to captivate your audience right away. You don’t want to lose readers just because of this, but sometimes it happens.  You should give enough information to keep your readers interested, while also keeping them intrigued enough to figure out what happens next.

Solution:

Putting emotion into your scenes from the beginning will not only help set the tone, but we’ll get an immediate understanding of your world. The best advice I can give is to construct a scene that helps us best understand your character. If they’re on the run, show us that they’re being chased. If they’re sad and lonely, construct a scene that lets us feel their isolation. You don’t necessarily need to open your book with action, but you do need to introduce the conflict. Think about what your character wants and go from there. Think of your first chapter as an introduction to an essay. You don’t go right into the points immediately, but you set us up for something good.

Problem: Plot Holes

Writers worry about forgetting to include important information in their novel that’s necessary to the plot. If you’re discovering that readers often point out plot holes in your story, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how you plan your novel.

Solution:

Pre-planning or prewriting your novel often solves any plot hole problems. If you take the time to write out important scenes so you don’t forget them, your story will become stronger. However, if you’re not someone who likes to do so much planning, you can tackle plot holes during the editing phase. Take notes when you’re editing so that you can catch these plot holes and figure out where you can add necessary information. A plot hole does not always mean your novel needs loads of reworking, but it is something you need to take the time to fill in.

Problem: Poor Pacing

Poor pacing can ruin a novel, but luckily it’s something you can tackle head on before you even start writing your story. Good pacing helps add tension to your novel and helps you make sure there’s enough rising and falling action to keep your story interesting.

Solution:

Planning out your novel ahead of time also helps solve pacing problems. You can create a timeline that helps you keep track and plan out when you want certain things to happen. Read up on story arcs and try to plan out your scenes accordingly. If you’re already done with your novel and you notice poor pacing, try rearranging scenes or spreading out the action.

Problem: Info-Dumping

A very common writing problem is info-dumping. This is when you tell your readers loads of information at a time without showing them anything important. Info-dumps usually occur in first chapters of novels, but they can happen anytime during the course of your story. Info- dumps can drag down your story and bore your readers.

Solution:

Cut out long paragraphs where you explain what’s going on in your novel and show your readers instead. Avoid over explaining things that can be explained through action. Letting your audience figure things out instead is a much more satisfying reading experience and it lets your readers connect with your characters on a deeper level.

-Kris Noel

Writing: The Villain

In most stories, there is a tangible villain that works at every opportunity to stop your hero from reaching their goal. They are oftentimes the epitome of evil and hatred, depending on how extremely their villainy runs. In many ways, they are almost as important as the main character, so here are some tips on developing them well.

  • Villains should be handled with the same deep thought as heroes.
    • Just because they’re the villain doesn’t mean they aren’t a very major character, and complex characters are always more favorable than simple, boring characters. Develop their appearance and personality in detail. Formulate a backstory. Understand the motivations behind what they do, and let their actions reflect their internal desires.
  • Find ways to make your villain stand out from other villains.
    • Most villains are maniacal. They are almost all willing to do terrible things in order to get what they want. A lot of villains are related to their character in some way, and sometimes this relationship is revealed in a plot twist. These are all well and good, but trying to make these ideas seem fresh and interesting is difficult nowadays. Play with your ideas and tweak these tropes, or maybe even disregard them all together. Do what you can to make your villain not sound like another Voldemort or Darth Vader. (Reading your work and/or having others read your work is a good way to see if your villain (and other characters, too) are interesting and unique enough.)
  • Consider that your villain is (probably) still human.
    • Even if they aren’t human in the technical sense, they probably still have human emotions. Give your character depth by exploring their sense of morality and where they came from. Why do they think what they’re doing is acceptable. Do they think it’s acceptable? What happened that lead them up to this point of villainy?
  • Explore your villain’s relationship with the other characters.
    • Are they closely connected with your hero and the hero’s friends? Are they in no way related? What did the good characters do to get on the villain’s bad side? How deep does your villain’s anger or hatred for your hero run? Do they hate them at all, or are they doing what they’re doing for another reason? Are the things that your villain is doing a direct result of the hero’s actions, or was there another cause?
  • Decide what the end result of the villain’s actions will be.
    • You have one of two very basic routes this can take: your villain can either defeat or be defeated by the hero. The hero also has one of two routes (if they defeat the villain): they can defeat them by force and kill/imprison/etc. them, or they can “convert” them to the good side. How will this decision affect your villain? How will it affect the overall story? How will it affect the other characters? What will the long-term effects be?
  • Their motivations must be believable.
    • Too often the villain comes off as cheesy or unsatisfying because there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for them to be acting against the main character. Their actions and motivations should be just as definitive and interesting as any other character’s. Try to avoid falling into the trap of “sworn revenge” for no good reason–or, even worse, copping out by saying the villain is “just crazy”.
Ok, so... this show is – without hyperbole – the single worst piece of Scooby-related media I’ve ever watched.

And this is coming from someone who analyzed every single episode of Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics.

Alright, look. The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show is… argh, how to put it….

Imagine watching a 10-minute condensed version of a Scooby-Doo episode, in which random things have been added and subtracted… all for zero reason.

Why, look! No Fred and Velma in this series! Why’s that?

no reason. They just… aren’t there.

What dynamics does it change within the group, and how does it affect the stories/shenanigans?

it doesn’t. Everything happens as usual, just… minus two people.

Subtract two characters, and add the canine embodiment of pandering and obnoxious non-importance. That’s the show.

Sorry, Scrappy, but… well, at least the story revolved around young Anakin. He’s got you beaten there, friend.

But forget the random character changes – it’s all miniscule in comparison to the rest of these bizarre, 10-minute fever dreams.

After great reflection, I can find no other way to describe the experience of the show besides this: 

Things just happen.

They went to an allegedly haunted house, and now there’s a face in the fireplace for one scene, because there is!

Now, they’re scared of the face in the fireplace!

Now, Scrappy says some words from his face hole!

Now, there’s a ghost playing the piano, because there is!

Now, they’re scared of the ghost playing the piano!

Now, there’s a floating rhinoceros head in the living room, because there is!

Now, they’re scared of the floating rhinoceros head!

Now, there’s a random living statue, because there is!

Now, Scrappy many words says talk hole from!

Now, there’s a skeleton all gussied up for sunday brunch while Shaggy looks like he’s flirting with it and OH SWEET GOODNESS MY BRAIN IS MELTING

…ok, this is making the show sound way more interesting than it actually is.

Because when you actually watch it, it’s an incoherent, unfocused, bizarrely-paced, unstructured, redundant jumble of things just happening.

Remember when you saw all those classic Scooby-Doo elements ‘n’ plot archetypes in the older shows?

Want to see those same things all over again, but crammed haphazardly into an incomprehensible fun-sized candy bar of visual and auditory suffering…

…while Scrappy-Doo slowly sucks out your soul?

Then this is the series for you.

it’s too late for me

save yourselves

A Killer First Chapter

Anonymous asked:

Do you have any advise on how to open a story? I have all my characters and my plot and my conflict and everything but I don’t know how to start. How to keep a reader hooked and interested enough to keep going.

This is a little ironic, because I’m about to rewrite my opening three chapters for The Warlord’s Contact from scratch for about the tenth time. But practice does make perfect, and boy have I learned a lot through this process.

Sometimes you look at a story and you just know how it needs to open. It’s the most obvious choice in the world, and it’s clear why no other option would work.

Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. Usually, the beginning to your book will take preplanning and rewriting and replanning and bit more rewriting, and all the while you’ll never quite be sure you chose the best spot to open to, or the right characters to introduce, or the proper setting. 

Here are a few specific methods of thought for tackling your first chapter…

Keep reading

Writing Character Arcs

Post suggested by @amethystvalkyrie.

Let’s get this out straight away: You cannot disregard character arcs. The way you can think of character arcs is that readers usually come for the plot but stay for the character because you can have a kick ass plot but if the characters don’t have depth and don’t grow or change throughout, then the readers can’t connect to the story. Readers need to care about the character to care about what they are going through and the best way to do this is through their arc. Now, though attention to character is always important, certain genres demand more than others just like certain genres demand more plot than others. For example, literary, contemporary YA, and romance put more emphasis of character than more plot-driven genres like thriller, adventure, fantasy and sci fi. In any case, character arc enhances the story but it can be tricky to understand how create this arc and how to use it to better the story, so here are some tips:

  • Really, think of it as a curve. Okay, so maybe not a nice smooth curve, more like one with a bunch of bumps and squiggles in it. Also, the direction of this curve depends on who you want your character to become. Usually, a protagonist will arc up, starting at point where they have some personal obstacles to overcome, whether this is just a few things or a major attitude adjustment. You can also have characters that arc down and progressively get worse, like a villain or a tragic hero. The point is that as the time goes on, your characters should move on the Y axis (sorry for the math). You can actually plot it out if it helps you understand the rises and falls of your character’s arc.
  • Find what each character really needs to change. What is holding them back from achieving their goal? Why is it so important that they change? What would happen or who would they be if they don’t change? Alternatively, what can go wrong if they change or change for the worse? Remember that not every character arc is a positive one and sometimes readers need to see the characters fall to understand what is at stake and cheer for them more when they get back up.
  • Don’t make it sudden or pointless. Like anything else in your story you want to make the character’s advancement (or deterioration) have a cause and effect relationship. Something that happens in the story causes the character to have to change or at least consider how their actions are impacting others and their own life. A drunk who gets into a car accident and nearly kills their kid. A hero whose selfishness nearly causes the destruction of a village. Typically, the biggest shifts happen near the climax where the stakes are highest and the character has to make the biggest decisions.
  • Don’t make the character passive. Passive characters, in particular passive protagonists are unbearable. These are the ones that have the plot happen to them rather than contributing to the direction and outcome of the events. A character needs to take charge of their own destiny even if it’s a story where destiny is literally coming after them. Like I said before, some genres have more room for this than others. A high-stakes thriller that’s more plot driven has moments where the characters have to struggle to keep up with the events happening to them, but they should still be making the major decisions that ultimately lead to the conclusion. When the characters aren’t being decisive they can’t grow or change and their personal story stays flat and boring.

“Not only are there no happy endings…There aren’t even any endings.”

Every time I read American Gods by Neil Gaiman, I find more things to adore about this novel. I read it this time while traveling across the United States, and I have to say, something about reading this book in transit just makes sense. It makes even more sense reading it while soaring over America itself, gazing down on fields and hills, a New Jersey import who lives in Chicago, went to LA a week or so ago, and just left Florida. There is something so intensely American about this novel, and it wows me every time. From the smaller mythic chapters telling folk tales and stories of the people who brought their gods to America, to the gods themselves and their characters, this novel always gets me. This was my third time reading this novel, and I’m going to dig deep to highlight new things that I had forgotten, so solid warning: Spoilers ahead.

I will never get over the way that Neil Gaiman melds together the idea of the gods and the land, and gives them both their own power and will. Something that wows me that I often forget about the standalone is now astoundingly diverse it is without being appropriative, and how Gaiman incorporates so many cultures, a diverse range of characters, as well as a huge amount of humor without it becoming problematic. I think this novel could be a guidebook for authors who want to know how to write diverse stories and mythos respectfully. I forgot about so many fantastic characters that Gaiman pours himself into, from Samantha Black Crow to side characters that brim with energy and character themselves, like Whiskey Jack’s son or Bilquis. I also never noticed before the two mentions of Mr. Nancy’s son that point to Anansi Boys. Not to mention the wealth of research and knowledge that goes into the bottomless well of background characters and visions leading up to the battle. 

One thing I gained a new appreciation for in this novel was the character of Shadow. He is big, and not dumb, and I remembered all that, but what I forgot is how nice he is. Shadow’s such a cinnamon roll of a character, and I forget that. He stands up for a waitress and believes in the good of people. At the Lakeside library book sale, he tries to find the book that’s least likely to be purchased, so that he can help the library out by buying it. He performs coin tricks for children. He is obligated to hold Odin’s vigil, but he never questions whether he should also hold Mad Sweeney’s. As Laura speaks with the cutting, too-open words of the already-dead, Shadow still refuses to tell her about her appearance or to not hold her hand, because he doesn’t want to hurt her still. When Shadow picks up bodies with the coroners, he carries them always in his arms. 

The scene between Shadow and Odin before his death is one of my absolute favorites (other favorite scenes include Samantha Black Crow’s protest kiss, the scene in which Shadow thinks snow into being, and Shadow’s long death scene). Odin recites to Shadow what he knows—the charms, in a long list. And it ends with that long scene where Shadow wonders what would have happened if he touched Odin’s hand, and wishes he had. And Odin’s twisting grift of the fiddle is so complicated and well done that even on the third re-read, I find myself forgetting about it until the moment Odin dies, and doubting myself on it until the moment Shadow says it out loud.

@neil-gaiman’s American Gods just gets better every time I read it, and I am cautiously thrilled and excited for the show coming out later this spring. 

“It doesn’t matter that you didn’t believe in us. We believed in you.”

Questions to Ask Yourself

When you’re writing a story, there’s obviously some things you need to know. Here’s a list of important questions to ask yourself as you write, divided into several sections: What, Who, When/Where, Why, and How.

WHAT:

The first question you should ask is What is my story? I recommend keeping this answer as short as possible–one sentence is all you should need.

Other What Questions:

-What is the protagonist’s goal?
-What is the antagonist’s goal?
-What is the purpose/moral of the story?
-What are the ultimate consequences?

WHO:

You’ve heard it once, or maybe a million times: Character is key. Make sure you know all of your characters better than the back of your hand.

Who Questions:

-Who is the story about?
-Who affects the main character?
-Who is trying to stop the protagonist?
-Who is trying to stop the antagonist?
-Who are allies?
-Who are enemies?
-Who ‘wins’?

WHEN/WHERE:

When doesn’t seem as important to plot, but the reality is, it changes everything. Make sure you know your whens just as well as you know everything else. I’ve combined this section with where as well.

When Questions:

-When does the story take place?
-Where does the story take place?
-Where is the character at in their life?
-When is the deadline?
-When is there a change?
-Where is there a change?

WHY:

Why is the motivation behind each and every character. It is essential in a sorry worth reading. If your character has no motivation, then the story is shallow and unimportant. Take some risks!

Why Questions:

-Why is the antagonist 'evil’?
-Why is my protagonist against him?
-Why does anyone keep fighting?
-Why do they care?

HOW:

How is the story itself. It’s the characters’ journey throughout, and without the how, you have nothing.

How Questions:

-How does the character get out of this situation?
-How did they get into this situation?
-How do they get from this point to this point?
-How do they change throughout the story?


There are many, many more questions you should ask yourself–these are merely the bare essentials. Asking questions is important in making a plot, so question everything!

Quick Writing Tip: Point of View

As a fiction editor, I read a lot of manuscripts by beginning fiction writers that fall flat because they haven’t settled on a clear and consistent point of view for their story. In my experience, many new writers take point of view for granted, focusing instead on plot, character, and world-building. While those elements are important, too, point of view, in my opinion, is one of the most crucial (and complicated!) elements of storytelling. Simply stated, if you don’t have a clear point of view, you don’t have a clear story.

But if you’re struggling with it, don’t worry! Point of view can be difficult and take a long time to master. To get you started, here are 6 questions to answer for yourself about the point of view in your story. (If you’re writing with multiple POV, you would want to ask these questions for every POV character in the story):

1. Who speaks?

Is it a main character? The town gossip? The dog? The author? God?

2. To whom?

Who is the narrator speaking to? A reader? Another character in the story? Their dead mother, to whom they are writing a letter (e.g. if the story is in the epistolary form). To the judge and jury?

3. With what tone or attitude?

Sarcastic? Earnest? Deceitful? The narrator’s personality as well as how they view the assumed listener/reader and how they view themselves will inform this. Think about how different the tone of Lolita would have been if Humbert Humbert were writing to Lolita herself about the events, rather than to those who accused him of a crime. If the story is told in past tense, is there a difference between how the narrator viewed the events while they were happening versus how they reflect upon them now?

4. In what form?

Is this narrative a diary? A journal? A steam-of-consciousness? A straight-forward story? A verbal account? A dispatch?

5. At what distance?

Consider intimacy as well as how much time as passed since the events of the story. Is your story told in the present tense, with the narrator revealing every single thought and emotion to the reader? Or is your narrator keeping the reader at a distance and not revealing too much about their inner landscape? If your story is in the past tense, have the events of the story happened 5 years ago? 25? 100? Yesterday?

6. With what limitations?

Whose interior thoughts and feelings does your narrator have access to? Only their own? Every character in the story? What other limitation might they have in their perception of the story? Perhaps they are 95 years old and their memory is fading. Maybe they are a child. They could be sick and unable to leave the house. Or they could be neurodivergent, like the narrator of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. What limitations does your narrator have in terms of what they can see, hear, do, perceive, and thus report to the reader?

Hope this helps! More writing advice and other literary nonsense @bucketsiler

Mikael as an important character in Sana’s story

OK so, after my post remarking how prominent Mikael was in “FY FAEN”, I started to wonder “why?”.

“Why would Mikael go from being barely visible, teasingly so almost, to so ‘in your face’ in the space of one episode?”

It’s not just because Julie is trying to remind us we’ve seen him before: she knows we spend our time on the internet analysing every frame of her show, she’s knows we’re tech-savvy, she knew the minute NRK would update their profiler page we would start looking up the characters and making the connection with Mikael (if we hadn’t already, I’m guessing she knew most of the core fandom would know about Mikael coming back already, the sudden influx of followers on Yousef Hjelde El Mofty’s instagram was indication enough, we also know Mari and Julie regularly look up the SKAM tags to take the pulse of the skamily).

But even if for the non-internet fans, the casual viewers, keeping Mikael gently in the background would have been more than enough to later pull the rug
and go

“Tadaaaa! Even’s best buddy, Mikael! You should have known! He was there all along but you didn’t notice!”

So, to me, it’s not just Julie teasing us about Mikael and his connection to Even.

And that’s when I realised that every season is from the main’s POV, this season is no exception.
And who is becoming more and more prominent in Sana’s POV, while Yousef is progressively seemingly falling from grace? Mikael.

@darker-sooner​ pointed out the frame above to me and how there are two main characters in it: Sana and Mikael (also, in terms of the position of the characters, Sana and Mikael are turned towards each other in this picture…they’re still not really looking at each other though, that will come later)

My reasoning is that, from a directing standpoint, having Mikael progressively take more and more space in the frame equates having him take more and more space in Sana’s life.
For now, she’s not really looking at him. She’s interested in Yousef. Mikael is still background. But even in the background, she’s starting to notice him more.

My theory is that we will start seeing them interact and be in each other’s “backgrounds” more and more.
Maybe next time it will be a “hi” exchanged on camera.
Maybe after that a sentence or two.
I’m not yet certain Mikael will definitely be a love interest for her. But I really feel like he’s going to be an important person in her life in this season.

Ever think about the fact that when Konan died she was literally erased from the whole narrative? She wasn’t brought back by Edo Tensei like the other members of Akatsuki, in fact she wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the 4th war. Obito doesn’t mention her, neither does Zetsu, Madara doesn’t ask, Naruto doesn’t think about her at any time, not even Nagato takes a second to angst about her. In fact it’s possible Naruto doesn’t even know when, where, and how she died. It’s possible he doesn’t know she died at all. I doubt Nagato or any of the other reanimated Akatsuki members knew, since they were all already dead when it happened and no one mentioned anything about her. It’s possible no one knows about the sacrifice she made, about the ideals she died defending, her legacy. No one remembers. No one cared. It’s possible no one even retrieved her corpse, she decomposed at the pitch dark bottom of the sea as if she were nothing but garbage. After being denied a family, a happy childhood, a healthy relationship, a stable adolescence and adulthood. After being denied so many things her whole life she was also even denied a proper burial alongside her childhood friends. She died like an animal. Worse than an animal. She was completely deleted from the narrative, as if her character had been completely useless and her presence had never affected anything in the story, as if she had been nothing but a cheap plot device that lost it’s purpose after Nagato had a change of heart. Every male character that died in the series, no matter how important or unimportant they were to the plot, left a legacy and were remembered after they died. Why couldn’t Konan get the same respect and honor? Why did the story continue on as if she had never existed?

The paper angel deserved better.

Fuck you kishimoto.