Wednesday, 5 June 2019

GrAmNo #7: The Villain Part 2

THE GRAPH

The "Good, Neutral, Evil Graph" is something that I think writers should familiarize themselves with. It's very useful and it can help you put your characters in the positions that they need to be in. Specifically the villain.

Here's an example of one of these graphs.


If you know the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) then you'll know that these characters have changed places since they were first introduced. So based on how the characters have changed over the years, the graph should look more like this.


While you're creating your characters, you have to take into consideration that they will change and often times they are going to change places on this graph as well.

In relation to villains, did you notice how Loki changed quite dramatically from Chaotic Evil to Chaotic Good? That is because he has gone from being a villain to an anti-hero.

An example of an altruistic anti-hero is Batman. He's a vigilante who doesn't generally care if he kills bad guys or not. But despite being an anti-hero, Batman could be placed under any of the Neutrals considering he works with the police most of the time. I would normally place him under Lawful Neutral.

YOUR VILLAIN

Placing your villain under one of these sections will help you figure out what kind of villain you're dealing with. My villain Dovelander, for instance, would go under Chaotic Evil considering he's a psychopath who doesn't care who he hurts, even it's himself.

If your villain goes under several of them than good on you. You have a villain that is very fluid and can do more random things that people won't necessarily expect. Such as Hawkeye. He was under True Neutral until very bad things happened and he drastically switched to Lawful Evil.

LAWFUL EVIL

The most interesting of the sections in the graph is Lawful Evil because it can be a good character who is doing the wrong things for the right reasons. These characters are generally conflicted morally and it makes for very interesting and morally grey characters. Lawful Evil characters can be either protagonists or antagonists.

I hope that this graph can help you figure out a little bit more about your characters and where they belong in the story.


Thursday, 30 May 2019

GrAmNo #6 The Villain Part 1

CASTING THE BADGUY

Over the years I've found it easier to understand evil characters. Probably because I've read and seen some brilliant stories with incredible villains. Such as Loki from The Avengers, Sauron from Lord of the Rings, and of course we can't leave out Darth Vader from Star Wars.

But the interesting thing about villains is that they can have many different sides to them. They can be far more than just the hero's obstacle that must be overcome.

THE BLAND VILLAIN

A villain is a very special character that must be developed properly, otherwise you get a boring and nondescript villain like Snoke from Star Wars.

Snoke does not play a significant role in the film as we might have expected, rather he seems to be there simply for dramatic flair that doesn't have any follow through unlike Emporer Palpatine who is incredible critical to the plot Star Wars in general.

Sorry, I went on a rant there, but it helps to explain my point that a villain must be engaging, interesting, and sometimes even likable and relatable.

THE ENGAGING VILLAIN

A character who is like this is Loki. All he wants is his father's approval. Even though he already has it he still feels rejected and wants more than he can handle.

Of course, later in Loki's character arc we find that what he really wants is not simply approval, but love, yet the strange and keniving ways he tries to obtain it only brings suffering to him.

This makes his character both relatable and pitied. The reason people like him is because Loki begins to realize that his methods are not good or loving and he must make drastic changes if he is to redeem himself.

ALL OUT BAD

There are of course the all evil badguys such as Count Rugen from The Princess Bride and Thanos from The Avengers.

I have a villain from my GrAmNo called Dovelander and he is an altruistic villain for most of his character arc and there are few instances where this is not true.

Dovelander is by far the best villain I have ever written. He is much like Moriarty from the TV show Sherlock. He has both psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies. His main goal is to have the ability to give himself whatever he wants and to get overall revenge on those who've tried to stop him.

I'll have a second blog for villains next, partly because I could on about them forever but mainly because I'd like to dive into the lawful, nuetral, and chaotic graph when it comes to both good, nuetral, and evil characters.




Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Character Distinction in Dialogue

DIFFERENTIATION

Character voice is very important to differentiate from other characters. Because you'll want to have a character say something and not have to put "Jane said" or "Bernard said" etc.

EXAMPLE: This is a good example of differentiating how characters speak. You can tell just by reading it, that these are two very different people talking.

"I've got nuffin dat you'd want, gov."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah dat's so."


"Well, I suppose you wouldn't mind a little trip down the river to jog your memory about our little... arrangement?"

Now, of course, this is a bit over the top, but it gets my point across.

SUBTLE EXAMPLE: Here's another way of doing it to where the accents of the characters are roughly the same, but the way they speak is different.

"Come on, Steven. It'll be an adventure."

"Well, I don't know if I'm quite up for that."

"You don't seem to be up for anything these days."

"I'm just cautious, Lee. I don't like to take chances."

With this conversation hopefully, you can tell that these two characters are also very different. Lee is obviously the adventurous one and Steven is more of a nervous gentleman who is not a risk taker.
(Btw: Lee and Steven are the characters from my GrAnMo.)

BAD EXAMPLE: This is something you don't want to do.

"I need to go shopping today."

"What do you need to buy?"

"Just some apples or something."

"I'll come with you."

"Okay."

This conversation was difficult for me to write, considering I don't enjoy writing super bland conversations. But the point is that you want your characters to be recognized without having to use the "he said" "she said" tag at the end of their every sentence.

Notice that you had no idea what the difference was between the two characters in the example above, but you could tell with the two better examples. That is why character voices and differentiating between them is important. Because using the "(character) said" tag becomes repetitive and boring very quickly.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Info Dumping

TMI or NEI (Not Enough Information)

What I see commonly with new writers is that they tend to either over-tell or under-tell. 

Over-telling: When a writer gives too much information and it makes the rest of the story boring because there's nothing left to learn about it.

Under-telling: When the writer doesn't give enough information and it confuses readers. So much so that they don't want to read the story.

I have had trouble with both of these problems in my early years of writing and I'm still working on it, but with the book that I'm writing now, there's a delicate balance I have to keep when it comes to how much I tell the reader.

KEEP THE MYSTERY

You have to carefully judge when to give information to your reader. You'll want to give your info out in bits and pieces not all at once or not enough.

For my own story, I need to keep some mystery going to make sure the reader wants to keep reading. However, there are those interesting moments when you can throw information at them and they still don't quite understand. This happens in the television show Warehouse 13. (Great show btw I'd recommend watching it.)

In the show, two SS agents are put on a new assignment. To start out they're given absolutely no information about what the new job is. When they actually get to the job, information is suddenly dumped on them like crazy, but they still don't quite understand.

Real Life Example: You're minding your own business when your friend walks into the room and talks to you about something that just happened, but they don't give you any context for what they're talking about. In turn, you're left confused and asking questions.

ANSWER THE QUESTIONS

The example above is what you want your readers to do. You want them to be curious and ask questions. However, the problem I see with a lot of new writers is that they don't always answer those questions. Sometimes they forget about them.

So if you see that you're raising questions for the readers, make sure you remember to answer them. If you don't, you'll end up with readers alike to the audience of 'Avengers: End Game'.

Remember that 'Infinity War' raised a lot of questions. (And don't worry I won't spoil anything for 'End Game') I hate to break it to you, but some of the questions aren't answered in 'End Game'. Which is disappointing to me.

(Perhaps after the movie is out of theaters I'll talk a little more about it.)

The point is, you should put some thought into gauging how much information you give your readers and when you give it to them.


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

GrAmNo: #4 Drafts and Beginnings

Btw: Great American Novel (GrAmNo). (Similar to the abbreviation for NaNoWriMo)

EVOLUTION

Knowing where to start a story and how to start it is critical to keeping your readers interested. Normally if the first page of a book doesn't grab my attention, I'm most likely not going to read it. So I try to start my own stories the way I'd want to read them. Sometimes I forget that which is why I have more drafts and mistakes then I'd like, but I think that's most writers.

1ST DRAFT

The first draft of my GrAmNo was not a complete disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. I started the story with my main character (at the time) meeting her uncle and living a rather boring study life in his mansion. Even after 12 chapters the story still had not become exciting or interesting.

This was a bad start in my opinion, but of course, some amazing books start out really slowly, such as The Lord of the Rings which has about 5 chapters of Hobbits just being Hobbits. But I knew that my story could not start out slowly. I had to cut to the chase.

2ND DRAFT

The second draft of my story was told by my main character (at the time) in the first person. It was going to be formatted like a journal, but the flow didn't work very well considering no one writes whole conversations in their journals. Except me, but I'm weird. ;)

So, although the start was interesting, it would have been confusing to people reading it.

3RD DRAFT

This is the one I'm currently working on. It's also the one I like the best.

For one thing, you may be wondering why I kept saying "my main character (at the time)"... Well, that's because I've chosen to start the story long before she was even born, so now the main character is her uncle.

While I looked over the two other versions of the story, I wondered where the best place to start was, because I knew that I hadn't found it yet.  So I decided to start the story further back in time to give the reader a bit of background for what they were jumping into.

Sometimes I'd say it's okay to make backstory part of the actual story, but if I did that with all of the back stories I would end up with a very long and boring book.

BEGINNING

So pick where you begin a story very carefully because it could mean the difference between a great novel and a not so great novel.




Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Great American Novel: #3 The Prologue

PROLOGUE

I had never really thought about prologues until my dad suggested that I use one for my story, considering it needs a bit of explaining before-hand.

You can be super creative with a prologue. For mine, I'm having a librarian explain some things that would be difficult to show in the story itself. Such as the fact that the story happens in an alternate reality where some things are the same as our world and some are very much not.

SORTS OF PROLOGUES

Prologues can come in many different forms. Mine, for example, is an outside character that is completely separate from the story itself and has nothing to do with it.

On another hand, you could have a character, that is very prevalent in your story, do the prologue, such as in The Kingdom Series, by Chuck Black. (It's a great series by the way. Those are books I'd highly recommend. In fact, go read anything that Chuck Black has written because it's all ingenious.)

His prologues are done by Cedric of Chessington as he begins to tell the stories of the Noble Knights.

CONCERNING HOBBITS

"Concerning Hobbits" is a similar type of prologue to my own in the fact that they are both explaining things that the reader might not know otherwise. Although Tolkien's is much longer than mine.

In my own opinion, this prologue is not as necessary on the informative side of things, but it adds intrigue to the world and gives it depth, which is critical for a huge story of that kind.

MY ODD PROLOGUE

My prologue is different from most since it's a short note written by an outside character.

You can read it here. Let me know what you think of it.


The nature of the book you are about to read is rather unorthodox.

The events recorded here are of an alternate reality. Some things may be familiar to you, while other things will not be.

I do hope that reading this specific account will prevent the untimely downfalls that you will witness while reading it. 
                                                                                      -Philip Sailing Bookkeeper                                        

That's literally all it is, and sometimes that's all you have to do to get your point across.

NARRATED (normal) PROLOGUES

Then, of course, there's the normal prologue that is written simply as the narrator and not as any special character. These can be useful as well, but I find them slightly uninteresting in my own opinion.

What kind of prologue do you like best?

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Great American Novel #2 What I did

THE JUST OF IT

Through this series, I'm going to take you through the process of writing my novel. I'm going to show you my mistakes, how to fix them, and how to make it more interesting overall.

Basically, I'm going to tell you what I'm going to tell you, then I'm going to tell you, then I'm going to tell you what I told you........ Make sense??? No? Okay then let's get into it.

THE FIRST IDEA

The first idea I had was from watching the banter between characters like Shawn Spencer and Detective Lassiter from the show Psych. Another example is when the 10th Doctor meets the 11th in "Day of the Doctor" from Doctor Who. (Phwew!that's a lot of 'doctors').

Characters who are more serious, talking with characters that aren't, creates a wonderful banter that I love observing. Another pair of characters like this, that I've only recently found are Jim and Dwight from The Office. (So if you ever want to write great banter, study those characters and how they talk with, to, and at one another.)

Anyway, I wanted to write about a government agent who takes a Jon Doe into custody. But the Jon Doe knows his own name, he just simply won't say. The agent thinks that Jon has malicious reasons for hiding his identity, but he really doesn't, he's simply asking anyone he finds "What's in a name?"

So Dovelander (the agent) and Jon Doe have some very funny banter and the idea for them was to become partners to solve crimes because Jon is smarter than he lets on.

THE SECOND IDEA

This is a different idea I got when I watched "The Never Ending Story" and "Inkheart".

If you don't know these two movies, you need to go watch them because they are both strange and brilliant.

They're both about storybooks and the characters from them, as they come to life. They are both about letting your imagination take you wherever you want to go.

So I had an idea about a machine that you could put any book in and it would make whatever character you picked come to life.

I thought it would interesting to have someone write their own story about their true love (Not a person they already know, mind you) and make the person come to life.

MIXING/EVOLVING

With these two ideas, I create one very different story about a book that could make anything the reader imagined real. The story would feature around a girl who creates her true love, but he feels as though he's not real so he leaves her to find himself but is captured by the man who's spent centuries trying to find the book.

The banter comes in when the girl's true love (Bard) begins to talk with the insane Dovelander (who happened to have used the book centuries ago to make himself immortal).

So as you can see, the idea for the story has changed immensely, but it still holds very key aspects of the two original ideas.

PROMPT

Take the ideas you've mixed, and write a random scene for a character. It doesn't even have to be something that goes into the main story. It can be something random that happens to them. Write about how they would react to that situation.

Example: Bard would react differently if he was staying with a family with a mother/father/children etc... because he has never known childhood and he doesn't know what to think of parents. He may act strangely around them, or he may think they're acting strangely.