let your protagonists be in character

Creating Conflict

Or, as I call it, causing ~drama~

The key that keeps readers interested in your story is conflict. If nothing is at stake, then there is not much to see. So, here are a few general tips to cause some ripples in the ponds of your characters’ lives.

“Prioritizing”: Your character has two main motives that they have been working towards, but they end up in a situation where they have to sacrifice one to save the other. Depending on how easy or hard the choice is, this range from “disappointing” to “devastating” in the sacrifice. 

Character Flaws: As I talked about in my cornerstones post, every character should have a flaw. Flaws are flaws and not strengths for a reason- they get in the way. Have your character have a moment of weakness, where they lose their values and give in to temptation or get carried away.

 In addition: Even without their key flaws, characters can sometimes just… be wrong. Maybe they miscalculated. Maybe they misunderstood. Maybe they made the wrong guess. They did what everyone does: They Done Messed Up, and now they have to deal with the result.

Liar, Liar: Someone is lying, or even keeping secrets, and now, it’s causing problems. They can’t go forward without the truth, or worse, they are making mistakes due to a warped perception of the situation.

Draw backs: Let the good things come at a cost. One key rule for worlds with magic or superpowers is that all power should come at cost- equal to or greater than the power itself. 

“Because I Said So”: Don’t forget, there are other characters in your story, and even if they are on the protagonist’s own side, they are not always going to just merrily go along with whatever the protagonist said. Maybe they disagree. Maybe they are powerful enough to get in the protagonist’s way, and maybe it’s that important to them that they try. If fighting an enemy is hard, fighting a friend is harder.

Take It Back: Your character makes a decision that seems right at the time. Maybe it was the obvious choice, or maybe it was taking a risk. But uh-oh…now there are unforeseen consequences. 

Or, the opposite…

Decisions, Decisions: Maybe your character has to make a decision where there is not an immediately obvious choice. Make sure that both/all the options have both positive and negative possible or certain outcomes. There is no obvious right or wrong choice. Bonus, it’s funny to watch the fandom debate it later. 

Strip Them Down: Remove your character’s greatest strength. For whatever reason, your character’s most valuable asset is not available, and now, they have to live without it. Bonus mode- it would be really, really helpful if they had it right now!

Or, do the opposite…

Boss Fight: Maybe, instead of your protagonist getting weaker, it’s your antagonist that gets stronger. Strengthen the opposition and see if your characters can adapt to survive, or if they lack what it takes. 

Change of Plan: The rules of the game have changed. This can mean different things depending on your story. They could be literal rules, or more general. Think Hunger Games- did I say two tributes? I meant one, after all. Fight to the death now, please.

Amplify the Emotions: … And the results that come with. People do crazy things in the heat of the moment. You can’t think straight when all you can do is feel. Blinded by anger, sadness, or even joy, your character makes a bad choice. 

*Pile It On: You know what a full plate needs? Even more stuff. Your character is already juggling, trying to balance a variety of responsibilities. So add one more ball. Do they crash and burn immediately? Does it take a while? Do they succeed?  Any which way, the stress is high.

*Note: this one can be difficult on the author, too. Make sure that with all these plot lines, you’re not losing track, yourself.

“Murphy’s Law”: Simply stated, this is a plot tool that says, “whatever can go wrong, will.” I’m just going to say right away… be careful with this one. It’s really frustrating for your audience to watch the characters fail or lose or face misfortune over and over and over again. It makes it feel like nothing will ever come out of rooting for them, so you may as well give up now. Murphy’s Law can be great in the proper proportions, please, let your characters have some victories, or there’s no point to it.

And hey, don’t forget about your inner conflicts. You never know when those are going to have the opportunity to cause trouble. 

Give ‘em hell, kids!*

***disclaimer: you do not have to be a kid to give them hell.


Creating Likeable Characters

Sometimes it’s difficult to make your characters likeable as they are tested and are pushed to further and further lengths. Sometimes they have to make hard decisions, and sometimes the pressure gets to them and they mess up, hurt another character or an innocent bystander. How can you keep them likeable throughout the whole plotline?

- Keep their motivations pure.
It almost always comes back to the heart – if their heart is pure, and that’s established early-on, the audience is more likely to root for them.

- Give them flaws – make them human.
Not every character has to have some huge problem, like an addiction or a traumatic past or a disability – if your entire cast does, it’s no problem, but it’s not necessary. But every character has to have some flaw(s), whether it’s cheating at card games because he can’t stand to lose or being too-closed minded or closing off when she gets too emotional. If your character doesn’t have a flaw, they start to come off as too perfect, too angelic, pretentious.

- Give them permission to mess up.
This ties in with flaws – if your character is inclined to make a bad decision at any point in the plot, don’t steer him away from it because “oh no he’s my protagonist and he must be Good and Whole and Pure and All-Knowing”. Let him walk into that ambush despite the sick feeling in his stomach and get half his army killed; let her rush into a confrontation with a bully and get into a fight with another girl who has a switchblade. Let your characters mess up – it shows that they’re human.

- But if your character messes up, let them own up to it eventually.
The general who killed half his army by ignoring the unease in the back of his mind might cry over their makeshift graves long after the rest of the platoon is asleep; the girl sitting in the infirmary might feel remorse for knocking her opponent’s block off. Or your characters might argue and might be stubborn and might not apologize for weeks. But let them apologize eventually. This goes back to the heart, and what the character knows is right.

- Relationships with other characters are vital.
That’s not to say a loner character can’t be likeable – but the audience’s perception of a loner character is determined by the thoughts/words of other characters. Characters all color each other and define parts of each other, just like people do to each other in real life. If your character is a jerk to other characters and other characters don’t like him (especially if the characters who dislike him are likeable), the audience won’t like him either. The character’s image depends not just on himself, but on his supporting cast.

Hope this helps! - @authors-haven

Some of the Philippines' most famous superheroes

Are DARNA, a  provincial girl who transforms into a warrior woman, based on the creator’s single mother (largely considered the Philippines’ greatest and central fictional superhero)–released in a time when everybody insisted that “a female comic book heroine won’t sell” (though the creator never gave up, considering the country itself a woman, and Darna its powerful and beautiful female spirit)

TRESE, a woman who is the head of their family and its responsibility over the streets of Manila and its supernatural relations (a mix of a supernatural crime boss and detective) whose fan following is enormous and growing and whose authority is unquestionable despite being the youngest of six living siblings and the only daughter 

ZSA-ZSA ZATURNNAH, a gay man and arguable transwoman (some gay men in the Philippines might in fact be transwomen who self-identify as gay men due to lack of knowledge about other genders, and Zsa-Zsa has expressed delight in being a woman) who, like Darna, can transform into a woman warrior and defend the world from outer threats while dealing with the more personal hardships of her everyday life as an effeminate gay man in a traditional Filipino community

and CAPTAIN BARBELL, a poor, disabled man who is abused by his siblings, who can transform into a strongman type hero who uses his powers for good and to help others in need like he was

So let me reiterate: The Philippines’ most famous comic book and TV show/film heroes are

A young girl, a woman, a gay man /  transwoman, and a disabled man. 

The only comics representation we really need is more people being interested in our comics, since our representation is a hundred tiers and dozens of years ahead of your average American brooding thirty something white man. 

not sure what should happen next in your story?
  1. Embarrass your protagonist. Make them seem weak and vulnerable in some way.
  2. Shoot someone. That always takes the reader by surprise. 
  3. In relation, kidnap someone. Or, rather, make it seem to your protagonist like someone has been kidnapped. 
  4. Have one of your side characters disappear or become unavailable for some reason. This will frustrate your protagonist.
  5. Have someone kiss the wrong girl, boy, or person, especially if you’ve been setting up a romance angle. It’s annoying.
  6. If this story involves parents, have them argue. Push the threat of divorce, even if you know it won’t ever happen. It’ll make your readers nervous.
  7. Have someone frame your protagonist for a crime they didn’t commit. This could range from a dispute to a minor crime to a full-blown felony.
  8. If this is a fantasy story involving magic or witchcraft, create a terrible accident that’s a direct result of their spell-casting. 
  9. Injure your protagonist in some way, or push them into a treacherous scenario where they might not make it out alive. 
  10. Have two side characters who are both close to the protagonist get into a literal fist-fight. This creates tension for the reader, especially if these characters are well-developed, because they won’t know who to root for.
  11. Make your protagonist get lost somewhere (at night in the middle of town, in the woods, in someone else’s house, etc.) 
  12. Involve a murder. It can be as in-depth and as important as you want it to be. 
  13. Introduce a new character that seems to prey on your protagonist’s flaws and bring them out to light.
  14. If it’s in-character, have one of your characters get drunk or take drugs. Show the fallout of that decision through your protagonist. 
  15. Spread a rumor about your protagonist. 
  16. If your protagonist is in high-school, create drama in the school atmosphere. A death of a student, even if your protagonist didn’t know them personally, changes the vibe. 
  17. If your story involves children, have one of them do something dangerous (touch a hot stove, run out into the road, etc.) and show how the protagonist responds to this, even if the child isn’t related to them. 
  18. In a fantasy story, toss out the idea of a rebellion or war between clans or villages (or whatever units you are working with). 
  19. Add a scenario where your protagonist has to make a choice. We all have watched movies where we have screamed don’t go in there! at the top of our lungs at the main character. Make them go in there. 
  20. Have your protagonist find something, even if they don’t understand the importance of it yet. A key, a document, an old stuffed animal, etc. 
  21. Foreshadow later events in some way. (Need help? Ask me!)
  22. Have your protagonist get involved in some sort of verbal altercation with someone else, even if they weren’t the one who started it. 
  23. Let your protagonist get sick. No, but really, this happens in real life all the time and it’s rarely ever talked about in literature, unless it’s at its extremes. It could range from a common cold to pneumonia. Maybe they end up in the hospital because of it. Maybe they are unable to do that one thing (whatever that may be) because of it.
  24. Have someone unexpected knock on your protagonist’s door. 
  25. Introduce a character that takes immediate interest in your protagonist’s past, which might trigger a flashback.
  26. Have your protagonist try to hide something from someone else and fail.
  27. Formulate some sort of argument or dispute between your protagonist and their love interest to push them apart. 
  28. Have your protagonist lose something of great value in their house and show their struggle to find it. This will frustrate the reader just as much as the protagonist.
  29. Create a situation where your protagonist needs to sneak out in the middle of the night for some reason.
  30. Prevent your character from getting home or to an important destination in some way (a car accident, a bad storm, flat tire, running out of gas, etc.)
A Character’s Internal Struggle

Anonymous asked: “I know that for a story there has to be internal and external conflict. Now, external conflict to normal stories come easy to me, while in romance stories I struggle a lot. What would you recommend?”

I wouldn’t limit internal conflict to just romance. Really it can be so much more than that. Essentially, I think of it as anything that involves emotional growth or development. 

Keep reading

(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:

  • “No!”
  • “I won’t let you!”
  • “That’s murder!”
  • “You can’t do that!”
  • general crying,
  • screaming/yelling,
  • 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.

Next up: Close relationships!

anonymous asked:

I want the protagonist of my story to be the chosen one but without the overused "offspring of an important person" as the reason, or the "I'm going to be the hero this world needs because I want to". Any suggestions? By the way, your blog is amazing!

I’m glad you like the blog! Thanks for saying so :)

The “Chosen One” Trope

Before I go further, let me turn your attention to a great post written by Penney not too long ago where she discusses the different types of “chosen ones,” as she talks about how it’s more than just fate or prophecy that can lead to someone becoming the chosen one in a particular story. If you missed it, check it out now: Penney’s “Chosen Ones” Post.

I also just want to add that the chosen one is a trope for a very good reason - readers LOVE it, regardless of how overused it might seem. In my mind, it’s only overused if the writer doesn’t take the time to plan the “rise of the chosen” thoughtfully. So if my anon, or anyone else reading this, is shying away from doing the trope in its traditional way because they think it’s expected or overdone, remember that it’s all in your execution. 

But okay, disclaimers out the way, let’s get down to the real discussion about this trope and the desire to do it. 

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

It’s difficult to give advice in this situation when I don’t really know what drew the anon to doing this trope to begin with. You mention that you want them to be chosen, but why? Does the story demand it? Or does the idea of a character rising from zero to hero appeal to you? Where are you in the process of developing this idea? Is it just a concept? Or are you working with plot? (for more about the difference between concept and plot, check out my post here).

Let me put it another way. How much are you considering your story’s plot in making this decision? I could throw out some ideas, but would they be relevant to your story? Was your character “chosen” to overthrow a government? To defeat a monster? To find a mystical portal and close it? These are important details when it comes to the “why” behind their chosen-ness. 

So before you start thinking outside the box, make sure you understand what you’ve currently got in the box. Write out precisely what they were chosen for, and why them versus someone else, and can their chosen purpose become something more? Let’s break that down using one of my favorite executions of the Chosen One trope, A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (spoilers to follow). 

  • What were they chosen for? 

I’m using the word “chosen” very broadly here, so don’t get too hung up on semantics. When I say chosen, I don’t mean chosen by a god or powerful being or even nature. I mean chosen, as in, the person who has been put in this role to alter the outcome of the conflict. 

Start by making a list of the exact things this person was put in this role to change or affect. In A Thousand Pieces of You, the protagonist Marguerite is chosen to find who she believes to be her father’s murderer and bring him to justice. This list may just be one item long, or it may be two or three. Think about your conflicts and put the causes your character is chosen for into precise words. 

  • Why were they chosen?

In this step, answer why the character was “chosen” within the story. Marguerite was put in this role, because her father’s murderer has fled into an alternate dimension, one that only a handful of people know about and that have the technology to travel there. This means that the number of people that can chase this murderer is severely limited. 

Also consider, if the “why” is knowledge or possession based, why can’t this character turn their resources over to someone else? Marguerite’s knowledge is sensitive, not to mention outrageous. She cannot trust this information in just anyone’s hands, nor would that person have the expertise to know what to do if someone goes wrong. It’s also the type of information that most people may laugh in her face about. A police officer would think her theory about her dad’s killer vanishing into another dimension to be absolutely ludicrous. 

Was Marguerite anointed by some higher being? Did she step up to save the world? No! She found herself in this position for very personal reasons, and because she couldn’t trust anyone else with the knowledge and resources to do it. If she didn’t run after her father’s killer, no one else would. That makes her the chosen one out of necessity, because her love for her father will not allow her to sit and do nothing.  

Make a list of the circumstances that have put your character in this position. If you haven’t figured that out yet, then now is the time. Don’t worry if the circumstances are new or refreshing enough. Just focus on your story’s logic. Go back to what the character was chosen for and come up with the reasons why. At this stage, you might come up with conflicting reasons as you’re brainstorming, but this is good. It gives you a few different ways to take the story. 

  • Will their chosen purpose become something more?

In the case of Marguerite, she uncovers some pretty diabolical stuff in the search for her father’s killer, and she discovers that hopping to new universes affects her differently than it does others in her small circle. She doesn’t experience the same negative side effects that others do, and this immediately makes her a target of the antagonist, who wants her unique abilities for some terrible masterplan. With these abilities, and how closely she has now become to the events, her purpose has grown from uncovering the truth about her father’s death to stopping this evil plan from being put into motion. 

And while these “abilities” scream overplayed chosen one trope, Claudia Gray presents a backstory that is well hinted at throughout the novel until its reveal shows that Marguerite is a victim of some surreal accident, who seeks justice for her father, and discovers how those two situations collide, turning her from grief stricken daughter to chosen one through the course of the novel. 

So once you’ve thought about the reasons, consider if other reasons will come into play once the character has started on this journey. 

Mixing it Up (or not)

Ultimately, I don’t think chosen one tropes need mixing up. I think writers try too hard to be new and different, when it comes down to simply telling thoughtful stories. Chosen One stories fail when characters accept their role just because it was given to them, without thought, without question. And when the author fails to consider the why’s behind the character’s chosen-ness, the story loses its authenticity. 

Decide what they’re chosen for, why it has to be them and no one else, if that chosen purpose can grow into something bigger, and (the clincher) how your character will respond to these circumstances. Give the character their own personal reasons for giving into the role. Rather than saving the world, make it first about saving their family, their friends, or hell, even themselves. Fate might hand them a baton with Chosen One written on it, but if you give your character a personal reason to reach out and take it, you’re one step closer to an authentic story. 

I hope this was helpful to you. Bottom line is, tell the story the way you think it shoud be told. It’s not about the originality of the idea; it’s about the thoughtfulness you put into your execution of it. 

Good luck!


burrito-blanket-cat  asked:

Hi. I'm having some concerns about my main character. I have the vision of making her darker skinned but I don't want to upset anyone over the representation. I'm worried that since I am white as a vampire people will criticizes against the character. I have read many reviewers of books and it's a big worry, a reason I can't move forward with my boom.

This is a good question, and not one I am qualified to answer for you, but I will link you to some very good articles written by people of color that may point you in the right direction. 

Some general tips I can give you are:

  • “darker skinned” will not be enough to build a character off of, and if you are going to write a POC, make sure you know their heritage and culture and research thoroughly what it is like to to grow up and live in whatever country (whether it be the US or not) that they live in and how they will be treated because of their skin color, heritage culture, etc, in that society. You will have to do extensive research on institutionalized racism, white privilege, and intersectionality with sexualities, gender, and other parts of a person’s identity. You cannot simply describe their skin color and think you are done with it. 
  • Be open and receptive and listen. If you are going to write what you don’t know, you better make sure you are ready to actually learn and do more than the bare minimum. You don’t have to be a bad and evil person to be racist; many racists ideas and attitudes are so ingrained our society, we don’t realize that we are perpetuating them, and don’t realize their affect. Be open to discussing privilege, own what you don’t know, and always strive to learn more and correct your behavior. Being good intentioned doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, and it is a constant learning process, so don’t let your good intentions or white guilt stop you from learning. Don’t go into this research process with your defenses up. 

Here are some articles to take a look at:

2017 Resolutions for Writers

It’s the start of a new calendar year, and with it, a new year of writing.

I’ve made a (very) short list of resolutions I believe every writer should have.

1. Write what you know

2. Know the stakes

3. Know when a character isn’t capable of being a protagonist

4. Know when the story is over

Write What You Know
May people mistakenly believe this phrase to mean, “write only what you have personally experienced,” however, that is a gross misrepresentation. It simply means, “write what you know.” If there is something you would like to write about that you don’t currently know, research it first, so you will know.

Know the Stakes
Your character needs a motive for doing what they do and for going along with the plot. However, your character having a motive isn’t quite enough; your audience needs a reason to care if your character will succeed. Or, more importantly, they need to care about what will happen if your character fails. Basically, it can’t just be that something good will happen if your character succeeds, your character’s success should also prevent something bad from happening, and your audience should know what that bad thing is. The stakes don’t have to be world-destroying or life-ending, but they do have to be negative and must personally affect your character.

Know When a Character Isn’t Capable of Being a Protagonist
There are characters we all have that we love to death, but, to be honest, are not protagonist material. It’s natural to want to put these much-loved characters at the fore-front of a story, but doing so can actually be detrimental to your writing. There are a few to watch out for.
>A character that cannot develop cannot be a protagonist. Once a character has reached their “end point” in the writers mind, then their time as a protagonist must come to and end as well. There are very few exceptions to this, and they’re almost all mystery novel series. Characters who have completed their run make good advisors for better suited protagonists.
>A character that is better than everyone else, likewise, not fit to be a protagonist. If your character has already bested everyone, then they are more fit to be a side character– a rival or mentor would be best.
>Characters that have reached the point where they are now divine or practically divine are also not fit to be protagonists, with very few exceptions. In settings where there are multiple characters like this, as long as the character doesn’t start out at the top of the heap, may work if your setting adequately explains why so many of them exist. Characters that have reached this status through training may be viable protagonists again in the future if your narrative gives a sufficient amount of time for a rival to emerge. The rival has to best the character early on in order for this to work. For the most part, this type of character is most suited to being a side character that a protagonist would have to track down a plead for assistance or training from.

Know When the Story Is Over
There comes a time when your story must end. The main conflict has been resolved, then ends have been all tied nicely, and the curtains have dropped. But sometimes you don’t want to let go. You love your characters. You love what they’ve done. You don’t want to leave them. However, it must be done. It doesn’t need to be permanent, of course. If everything works out properly (story-wise), and a suitable protagonist is found, there may be sequels and much more, but those will be their own stories.

And with that, I bid you a happy new year!

anonymous asked:

What do you do when your main character just doesn't seem to jump off the page? I feel like the rest of my characters, even the world are really well developed but my POV protagonist just doesn't seem nearly as engaging compared to some of them.

Hi, love!  Thanks for your question and your patience <3

So I’d first redirect you to this LGF post about creating strong characters – it outlines a lot of things that I won’t cover here.  But I will expand on it for this question, because this is more than creating a strong character.  Main characters need to be iconic, especially if a work is character-driven.  A protagonist should stand out; they should be memorable and unique.

Memorable, noticeable characters have:

  • Something to say – Whether they’re physically saying something (”Just keep swimming!”) or whether you’re saying something through them (in Finding Nemo, Nemo’s character delivered a message about disability and growing up), main characters must be communicating something to the reader.  Readers hear better than they see, so what your character says will stick with them better than how your characters looks, dresses, or emotes.
  • Something to do – Like all characters, your protagonists need to play a prominent role in the story.  If a character is just there to be there, readers will sense it and they’ll look somewhere else.  They must be active, occupied throughout the whole story.  Even if they’re sitting in a room, listening to two other people talk, they should be actively listening to those people talk.  Here is a post on active characters to help you.
  • Something hateable – This is a good test for memorable characters: ask yourself if there’s a reason for anyone to hate them.  Is there something about them – habits, social skills, conflicts, or even their sense of humor – that someone out there could read and absolutely despise?  Anything?  Even if they’re a “good” character, there should be something strong enough in them that it could rub someone the wrong way.  If not, your character may be bland, and thereby forgettable.
  • A unique look and sound – Your characters don’t need purple hair, an Irish accent, and feathers growing out of their tail to be unique.  But think about the image of them in your head.  Do they look and talk like a specific celebrity?  Are they inspired by one person very strongly, rather than pieces of multiple people?  If so, you may be projecting a character onto a person, instead of creating the person on the whole.  Give them something unexpected about their look – fashion, tattoos, skin imperfections/discolorations, glasses/braces, body type, etc. – and their voice – social skills, opinions, emotions, sense of humor, formality, speech impediments, etc.
  • A strong name – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: protagonists need names that count.  It doesn’t have to be super weird or made-up, but it should (a) fit their personality and universe, and (b) jump off the page.  Alliteration sometimes helps (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner), and you can go with a “normal” first name and a unique last name (Tony Stark, Clark Kent).  Go through baby name websites, or play around with traditional names to give them a twist.  Find the right name, and you’ll know it.

That’s all I have for you right now, but if this doesn’t answer your question, be sure to let us know!  I wish you much luck and happy writing :)  Thanks again!

– Mod Joanna ♥️

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

Reason to watch OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heros

 1. Great nerd humor

Enemy: “Let me just uh roll for initiative.  You guys gonna roll your dice or what?”


Enemy: “Filthy casuals…”

2. The lovable evil robots and their evil robot-building dad

3. Creative side-character designs

and my favorite:

4. The sweetest and most lovable protagonists

I love this show. It’s honestly my favorite thing now.  I can’t believe I didn’t give it a chance sooner.  It’s so heckin cute please go watch it.  

Show Courtesy to Your Villains!

In every good story there is always something in common: They have a trial of some sort to overcome. Most stories follow the pattern of the lead up, the climax when they face the problem, then the resolution. These trials take various forms.

One of the most popular forms? Villains!

In RP, I’ve run across many villains ranging from the creepers, the mustache twirlers, the over dominating, dark and brooding, etc etc.
What there seems to be a large lack of is courteous villains.

Let me define that a little more; by courteous villain I mean those who understand they are playing an antagonist in a RP setting. They understand people have different levels of comfort regarding their characters, and will adapt accordingly. And they do their best to portray a villain for others, and cause strife, without crossing that threshold.

Being courteous villains is a lot of work, because you have to be able to clearly define boundaries with those you play with. And not just for the protagonists. You also have to make sure boundaries are defined for your villains as well.

Something run into a lot, is people who have to be the “tough guy”. They want to showboat their character, and broadcast them as strong. Which is cool. There’s nothing wrong with playing a tough character. However, you can easily take it too far.

Over here, you have the villain. You’ve talked to them, you know they can’t kill your character. So your character puffs up their chest, and smart mouths the villain. The fight starts, and your character won’t back down and acts superior the whole time. Why? Because you know that they can’t kill you.

So let me ask you, from the villain’s standpoint, what do they do with that? There’s no chance for character development, further interactions, or, well, anything. You’re basically using this villain by shoving him to the dirt to showboat your character.

This same scenario carries out to its inevitable end. Of course, to look cool, well you GOT to kill the bad guy. Can’t possibly spare him. And this it ends with no potential for further plot.

So a character whether villain or not, that someone took the time and effort to put together, that someone who took the plunge to make an antagonist in a world of heroes, gets belittled and killed. Just so you can feel tough.

You know if you alter the scenario even a little, like say, the villain had not done THE THING in story that made him/her seem villainous, and instead was a regular character; That is called bullying. Which, fairly often, courteous villains have characters that are gray over black, and ARE a regular character. Sometimes it’s even a good guy at heart who is just misled. You don’t know!

I’m not saying don’t love to hate the villain, far from it. What I am going to say is this, do not invite in a villain into the scene if you’re just going to piss on their character. Unless it’s a game master that’s accepting you guys are murder hobos and just throwing black and white scenarios and mustache twirlers, show some courtesy.

Bad guys in most stories inevitably lose. They know this, we all do. But who is going to read the story about the invincible hero who just wins over and over without any effort? People like the unexpected, the twists, and real tension and fear. Use that. Don’t be the Mary Sue/Gary Stu that can’t be intimidated and makes fun of the bad guy. Show wariness, react in fear, make some STORY.
Otherwise you’re going to be hanging out bored without any bad guys around because you’re not fun to play with.

The Importance of a Protagonist’s Failure

Many writers believe that the protagonist should fail in three major ways throughout the story. The First, Second, and Third Act all compose, they say, of different types of failure, be it a flaw in their personality, a complicated relationship, or from a physical source. This isn’t, however, what I want to talk about: To have a character fail allows the reader to do more than understand the risks involved. It lets them feel what’s at stake. If the protagonist is harmed by one of his mistakes, we know that the danger is there instead of lurking off somewhere in the background. Furthermore, failure should bring about the best and worst your character has to offer, which is exactly what the audience paid to see.

I’ll use Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a brief example. The other character’s failure is evident throughout the film, as they’re picked off one by one by their own selfish habits. Charlie and his grandpa are nearly killed by their mistake by drinking the potion, and at the very end, we see their decision has carried further consequences when Mr. Wonka refuses to award them their prize. Of course, this lasts only for a small time, but in it we see both the despair in Charlie and the justifiable anger in Mr. Wonka. It makes their scene in the flying elevator that much more sweeter.

whenever marginalized groups complain about the lack of content highlighting their stories and issues, they are told to “create their own content, then.” however, when they do, they are faced with overwhelming critique, overwhelming ignorance, or a mixture of both.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

How do I develop my side characters when I am focusing on my main characters? I don't know how to do it. They speak every-now-and-then, but that's all they do and I feel like they are just plot points to push my plot in the right direction.

Hey there! Have you checked out our minor characters tag? You might find some ideas there!

From my experience as both a reader and a writer, I’ve found three groups of minor characters:

-Minors: These are the ones that the story doesn’t revolve around, but they have their own development and stories. Think Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. She’s not one of the main characters, but you know her history, interests, and she has her own story. These take the most development, as you have to flesh them out a bit.

-Creepers: You’d know them if you saw them! These characters are the ones you recognize by name, although you don’t really learn much about them. A good example is Barliman Butterbur from Lord of the Rings. He’s a bartender, he knows the gossip in the town, but you don’t learn much more about him. And that’s fine-he’s there as a creative way for the readers to get information that they might not get otherwise. For these, a general appearance, the opinion of those around them, and the way they speak are pretty much what you need.

-Fillers: The last kind of background characters are there one minute and gone the next. They’re the ones who fill in the location and give it a bit more depth. They provide one liners, are on-lookers, and set the tone of the scene. Think of the village from Beauty and the Beast. You don’t know the members save the antagonist and his sidekick. But when they start singing “Belle” and “Kill the Beast” they provide validation to the storyline. They don’t need names; just a basic description and perhaps a facial expression (”The large woman sneered and pointed one of her perfectly manicured fingers.”)

If you can divide your background characters into these categories, it’s much easier to decide which ones need your attention and time the most. For those, you should look at each one and ask “Why are you here? Why do I need you?”. Put them through a rigorous job interview. Figure out their strengths, weaknesses, hopes and dreams, etc. What was their family like? Do they love what they’re doing or are they envious of their neighbor? 

If you’re like me and need to write everything down, there are several different character profiles out there that you can use. The most basic one should include:


Although you can customize them to your own needs. If you keep these with you, it’s easy to go back if you forgot whether they were 21 or 22, or if they prefer sushi over steak. 

Secondary characters are important to any story because they push the main characters along. Depending on the type, they should stand out a bit and shine on their own. Make them memorable, but don’t feel like you need to give them as much time and attention as your protagonist and antagonist. 

Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any other questions!


anonymous asked:

Some time ago you talked about things that get you excited in games (like the dialogues in Uncharted 4). There are any upcoming game this year that are you looking for?

Persona 5 in two weeks, hands down, end of story. There are very few games I actively look forward to - the majority of games are usually more of a “Oh, that’s coming. I’ll probably get it” type acknowledgement than anything else. I know how much work goes into AAA game dev, and I enjoy my time with them, but they don’t really excite me much. I like playing them, and they’re interesting, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I wait a bit and pick it up later (or sometimes not at all, like how I never purchased a WiiU). My exception to this is the Persona series. I’ve been a huge fan since playing through Persona 3 on the PS2, and I love it from so many different angles. It is the one series I actually get excited about.

For those who are unfamiliar with this series, it’s an utterly bizarre combination of Pokemon-style battle and collection gameplay, Visual Novel Scheduled Dating Sim character and relationship building, and randomly-generated dungeon crawler all wrapped up in an urban fantasy JRPG setting, and it is wonderful. I didn’t think that such disparate core gameplay systems could work so well together, but they synergize like peanut butter and chocolate in a way that got me hooked from the get go.

The metaplot moves forward through day-to-day scheduled gameplay, where the player’s protagonist character meets and befriends characters in a Japanese high school setting over the course of a school year. Each character relationship is represented by a specific tarot arcana, and the strength of your friendship with that character also affects the strength of the pokemon you can collect and summon of that tarot arcana. The pokemon are necessary to battle the enemies in the randomly generated dungeons, which you must complete in order to advance the plot, which opens up access to more of the individual character storylines, which let your pokemon get stronger, which makes the dungeons easier, which lets you advance the plot… and so on. The relationships you build with your teammates translate into improvements in battle. The pokemon you collect also help build closer relationships with your friends. The money and items you collect in the random dungeons are used to buy better equipment, but also gifts for friends and toys and books for stat increases. It’s a fantastic multi-level synergistic feedback cycle that kept me playing for hours because of how many connection points there are between the different core gameplay systems. 

From a developer’s perspective, Persona 5 specifically has got me very interested in their presentation and user interface design. The game is highly visually stylized, and that extends to the UI as well. But it isn’t something particularly basic either - the fonts, the color scheme, the lettering are all highly stylized as well. Just thinking about how they managed to get the fonts to work with that kind of stylization must have been a huge design challenge… especially because they knew they had to localize it to a whole different writing system, while still maintaining the style of the game. I’ve done localization before - fitting stuff from other languages into limited text space is already a challenge, but doing so while adhering to this gorgeous visual style guide is a super daunting task. Are they only rotating or highlighting specific letters? Is there some kind of special preprocessing pass for the the text? Is everything drawn separately and simply treated as a texture? My mind is abuzz with possibilities.

As a player, I love great character development, story development, and deep RPG combat systems. As a developer, I really like seeing how different and deep gameplay systems interact and intersect with each other. The Persona series has managed to keep me fascinated as both a player and a developer for quite some time. Combine this with the totally addictive genre-bending fusion score by Shoji Meguro and I’ve got a game that I’ll easily sink 80+ hours into without blinking and still go back for more. Persona is the only game series I actively avoid spoilers and marketing for, because I know for certain that I will be buying it and I want to remain as unspoiled as possible. 

Got a burning question you want answered?

Negative Character Development: Can My Protagonist Make Bad Choices?

Writing a good protagonist doesn’t have to be all sunshine and roses. Advice blogs often talk about letting your characters succeed and having them learn from their mistakes, but this doesn’t always happen in real life. Sometimes we make bad choices and we don’t learn from them—and sometimes this leads to failure. It is absolutely possible for character development to be negative.

We don’t often talk about this because a lot of readers like happy endings. They want to see their favorite characters end up on the path they belong. However, these don’t always make great stories. Sometimes our characters head down a path that isn’t right for them and they are unwilling to learn from their mistakes. Or they’ve been lead astray by other characters that negative influence their lives. There are many reasons why negative character growth can happen.

A good protagonist doesn’t necessarily mean that your main character is a good person. Making mistakes doesn’t make a character a bad person either. Understanding the complexities of human nature and how differently we all respond to adversity is one of the most important steps of developing a good character. Also, take into consideration privilege and circumstances. You need to decide where your story is going and how you want your characters to grow.

Here are a few ways to approach negative character development in a story:


A character can have negative growth, but there should be a reason for it. A protagonist can make bad choices and your audience will accept those choices as long as you explain why. If a character suddenly runs away from home, despite having a great life, family, and friends, your readers are going to be angry about it and not necessarily understand why. If there’s a reason, however, your audience will accept it. Explain your character’s motivations and needs!

Character Flaws

One of the best ways to show negative character development is to make their flaws apparent and visible. If your character is jealous, show how they’re jealous. Maybe this contributes to their development throughout your story. Everything you say about your character should play a part in the story. Every character should have flaws, but not every character has to learn from their flaws. 


Many characters will make bad decisions due to fear. This is an important motivating factor, so keep this in mind when you want your character to make less-than-perfect choices. I’ve done a lot of stupid things due to fear, which could have been remedied if I had taken a moment to calm down. Your character will lie to protect themselves out of fear or maybe do something more drastic in order to save themselves. Keep fear in mind.

Internal Conflict

We always have a lot of things going on in our head that we can barely explain to other people. We might have some irrational thoughts that cause us to make bad choices. You need to show this somehow and let your audience in on what’s going on in your character’s head. This will help your readers relate to your characters and understand their choices. Your character will have to make some hard decisions and it’s understandable that they might not know the right direction to go in. Make sure you show your character is struggling.

Outside Forces

Some characters make bad decisions simply because they saw other people they love and care about make those same poor decisions. They might not have had the opportunity to come out on top and that’s just the cold, hard reality of it. It might be more realistic, depending on your story, if your character doesn’t have the resources or support to be successful. It’s not always your character’s fault if they fail in someway. Take these outside forces into consideration.

-Kris Noel

the problem with fate is that it needs to be more gay and by that I don’t mean “we wrote this game with a male protagonist in mind but you can play as a female protagonist without significant changes to the female romances however if you play as a man you can’t even unlock the last bond event for one of the male characters’ routes” gay or “these female characters are extremely heavily coded as lesbians and literally cant shut up about how much they love women but are definitely interested in protagonist dick when its convenient” gay or “male character mentions being also interested in men exactly once but treats the assumed to be male protagonist as a Heterosexual Bro™ and never mentions his interest in men let alone possibly the protagonist again ever because we don’t want to risk alienating our assumed to be straight male audience” gay I want actual fucking gays. women who have no interest in men. men who have no interest in women. men who remain romanceable when playing as a male protagonist. FUCK your straight male audience nasu I will become the most financially successful gay in history and cover for whatever losses you might suffer from no longer pandering to an audience you probably only assume you have without ever actually researching it

royalkaiju  asked:

I'm not gonna put anon because ill lose it if I do, but I'm a new dm and I'm so worried that my campaign isnt original enough. I listen to the adventure zone and play lots of video games that all give ideas but I'm worried my players will think I'm carbon copying peices, how do I keep it original

Personally, I think originality is overrated.  I shamelessly take inspiration from books, movies, games and legends.  Often I don’t even bother to be subtle about it.  For example, I had a campaign where the players traveled to the lost city of Atlantica, a mythical island of legend that had sunken into the sea ages ago.  Obviously, it wasn’t a very original idea, but by referencing an already existing mythos, I was able to set up exactly the tone I wanted with very little effort. 

Originally posted by overcast-phan

Having aspects of your campaign inspired by things that your players are familiar with can actually be a good thing, because the built in mythos comes with a lot of cultural shorthand that will give your setting more depth.  I tend to go out of my way to describe my campaign settings by comparing them to things my players are familiar with, like “Fallout, but with a magical apocalypse instead of a nuclear one” or “Narnia, but without any Jesus allegories”.  By adding your own twists to it and executing your sessions well, you will make these ideas truly your own.

Stories are experienced differently when you’re actively taking part in them rather than passively observing them.  I’ve found that few things feel cliche when they are happening to you.  So the important thing is to make your players feel like the true protagonists of your shared story.  

Here are some tips for keeping your players at the center of your campaign:

  • Make the story personal by incorporating elements from your players’ backstories.
  • Don’t let the players get upstaged by NPCs.  This is their story.
  • If your players want to help with worldbuilding, let them!  Let a player describe an area of the city their character would be familiar with, or allow them to contribute to the cannon with their ideas for historical figures and events.
  • Practice your skills of description, so that your players are better able to visualize what is happening in the game.
  • Try to make sure every character gets a turn in the spotlight.  
  • Design challenges that will allow them to use their abilities.
  • Remember their names!
  • Make the world feel real by showing how actions have consequences.
  • Have NPCs react to the party based on their reputation, good or ill.

Thanks for the question, and good luck with your campaign!