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Community (Misc.) => Tricks of the Trades => Topic started by: Merlandese on February 29, 2012, 05:26:49 PM

Title: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on February 29, 2012, 05:26:49 PM
I've been writing for school a lot recently, and I noticed that I was using the word "utilize" a bit too often. Despite having heard it in context a million times, I couldn't think of an appropriate definition and figured it was a synonym for "use." That made me wonder why I was using "utilize" when I could just as easily have been using "use." So I looked it up and got a rather satisfactory answer.

I wanted to make this thread so that we can all share our writing tips with each other, hopefully to better our abilities as writers. If you think you know something about writing and care to explain, please do! Also, if you have writing preferences or certain things you do or don't like to read, place it here! Evidence for writing rules are always welcome.

Of all of the articles differentiating "use" and "utilize," I found this to be the most succinct: Here (http://ezinearticles.com/?Writing----How-To-Use-Use-Versus-Utilize-Correctly?&id=479574)

Quote
"Use" is to employ objects for the purposes they were designed for.

"Utilize," on the other hand, is to employ objects for unintended purposes.


Also, as some personal advice, I abstain from using the word "began" as much as possible. Read through some poor writing and you might notice that things "begin" a lot. "The water began dripping," "the earth began to rumble," etc.

I find that there are many words and many ways to re-structure a sentence that make it sound good. If most sentences have the word "began" in them, the structure of the sentence also falls within two bland variations. Overuse can make it seem like the author has a sentence-shaped cookie cutter with Began filling.

Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Just Lance on February 29, 2012, 06:07:25 PM
Mmm that's interesting. If you keep with this I could utilize this and finally begin to conquer and defeat my writing block.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Cef on February 29, 2012, 08:09:24 PM
Hey cool~!

I think it helps if you have people go over the first draft of your stuff before considering it done. Or, better yet, you read it out loud yourself. Your mistakes in the grammar and styling of the writing becomes more noticeable that way since you get a different perspective over the writing. It's a technique my prof employs in our essay writing class, and, I have to say, it's extremely effective.

For creative writing tips, I suggest giving Limyaael a look. She's better at giving advice than me lol.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on February 29, 2012, 08:22:04 PM
That's a great tip, and I completely agree with it.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on February 29, 2012, 11:25:25 PM
Advice on stereotypes: If they're too obvious, they're extremely annoying. But if done well or subverted or whatnot, they can be kind of fun.

Also, don't be too informal in your writing. This goes mostly for creative writing, cuz essays you shouldn't be informal at all, but if you're too relaxed when you're writing, it looks just kind of sloppy. Give your paragraphs/dialogue/story/everything good structure. (I still cringe when I remember the first time I ever wrote something, and anything that wasn't speech was dictated through closed-captioning-like speech, like *whistling* and *singing in the shower*)

ALSO, that reminds me. PARAGRAPHS ARE YOU FRIENDS. It's one of the most basic things we learn when learning about Grammar, that EVERY TIME A NEW PERSON SPEAKS YOU HAVE A PARAGRAPH BREAK. So many of the people that I've seen who experiment with writing just seem to have totally thrown that rule out of their mind. I did, too, when I first started back in elementary school, but it is SO IMPORTANT.

Also (Wow, I was planning on saying only one thing here), lay off the crazy names. Just because it's a fictional world, that doesn't give you an excuse to have your characters named Asfsa, Zaaaajcqu, and Flynrdl (and Bob). Stick with names that people can actually pronounce.

Mmm that's interesting. If you keep with this I could utilize this and finally begin to conquer and defeat my writing block.

Haha, utilize :P
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Cef on March 01, 2012, 03:14:29 AM
Advice on stereotypes: If they're too obvious, they're extremely annoying. But if done well or subverted or whatnot, they can be kind of fun.

Also, don't be too informal in your writing. This goes mostly for creative writing, cuz essays you shouldn't be informal at all, but if you're too relaxed when you're writing, it looks just kind of sloppy. Give your paragraphs/dialogue/story/everything good structure. (I still cringe when I remember the first time I ever wrote something, and anything that wasn't speech was dictated through closed-captioning-like speech, like *whistling* and *singing in the shower*)

ALSO, that reminds me. PARAGRAPHS ARE YOU FRIENDS. It's one of the most basic things we learn when learning about Grammar, that EVERY TIME A NEW PERSON SPEAKS YOU HAVE A PARAGRAPH BREAK. So many of the people that I've seen who experiment with writing just seem to have totally thrown that rule out of their mind. I did, too, when I first started back in elementary school, but it is SO IMPORTANT.

Also (Wow, I was planning on saying only one thing here), lay off the crazy names. Just because it's a fictional world, that doesn't give you an excuse to have your characters named Asfsa, Zaaaajcqu, and Flynrdl (and Bob). Stick with names that people can actually pronounce.


Points that I agreed with strongly are bolded. Initially, I've been avoiding those things since I realized how tacky those were in serious writing, but after some time, I've come to realize some things:


- Subverting cliches and stereotypes and/or remaking them is the best. The reason they're cliches now is because someone once used them RIGHT, and hack jobs think that if they do that too, they'd be awesome too. The thing about cliches is that when done right, they can be genuinely interesting.

For example, docile, beautiful princesses can just be as good as wild, rebellious princesses, you just have to actually give her a personality and develop her character. It can be big, like the docile princess standing up to her evil uncle and asserting her rule, or small things, like learning to press flowers from a servant. Wild princesses can be done horribly wrong as well. It's HOW you present them that determines their effectiveness.

The 'chosen hero' cliche is probably one of my favorite cliches to work with, simply because there's a wide range of possibilities for that. The 'chosen one' status may actually be a bad thing, like in Tales of Symphonia, or is something that's totally different from the implied purpose, or was played out to be a BAD THING, like in Scrapped Princess. The only thing you have to think about when making a 'chosen one' plot is what exactly is the hero chosen to do? Who chose them and why?

- The thing about paragraphs is that they really are like people in that can be your best friends, but if you abuse them, it gets ugly real fast.

Some people go overboard in paragraph breaks.

And don't realize that just because you put a break, it doesn't mean that it looks good.

And that it actually makes it harder to read.

Other people use paragraphs too much to the point that you just wanna cry from the eyestrain. Sure, they're good for information, but they tend to get overboard and include every comment they can think of in the paragraph. It looks hella ugly as well. Amateur writers must learn how to differentiate appropriate breaks from inappropriate breaks because of this. Usually, reading it over either out loud or with a friend works, because you can see how the paragraph flows, and you can see whether it's appropriate or not. Same with really long sentences that lose sight of the subject in that it just goes on and on and on and on until you forget what you're writing about. Sure long sentences are awesome but they have massive drawbacks as well, and the smae goes for short sentences, much like my point with the paragraph things because separation is a vital thing in writing after all.

(lol self-demonstrating)

- Truth be told, I love crazy names, especially ones with good meanings. But it only works when A) You can pronounce it, and B) You can make a plausible, nicer sounding nickname out of it, or C) It's actually a pretty simple name.

For example, my character is named Dagrun Blaire. The first name really does exist, BTW. His friends always call him 'Dee' or 'Blaire', or sometimes even 'DB'. So learn to work with nicknames before you decide to give them a crazy name.

An example of a good, simple, crazy name is (and I apologize for the Homestuck) Karkat Vantas. Easy to pronounce, simple, and still strange enough to be counted as a crazy name.

I can understand the urge to give characters long, ridiculous names, but when making a long name, consider this: Is that the character's full name? How many 'names' make up their full name? Are some of them simply titles given to them? How ridiculous and hard is it to remember? And finally, what do they tell people to call them?

[/rant]
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on March 01, 2012, 11:22:23 PM
Personally, I think that as you add characterization to a cliche, it's not really a cliche anymore. Cliches are pretty much stock characters: you recognize "oh, this is the idiot hero" right away, and then you never both giving them more backstory.

Or the thing that I addmitedly have a problem with is actually stock backstories :P I think "hmm... this person needs some emotional connection... I KNOW, let's kill of their parents!" XD I do that a lot, though I'm trying to kick the habit.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Cef on March 02, 2012, 06:19:52 AM
Personally, I think that as you add characterization to a cliche, it's not really a cliche anymore. Cliches are pretty much stock characters: you recognize "oh, this is the idiot hero" right away, and then you never both giving them more backstory.

Or the thing that I addmitedly have a problem with is actually stock backstories :P I think "hmm... this person needs some emotional connection... I KNOW, let's kill of their parents!" XD I do that a lot, though I'm trying to kick the habit.

Well, to me, a cliche means 'overused', or 'overly popular'.

I have a bad habit of giving my characters unusual backstories, though not all of them are tragic. But giving each character tragic or boring backstories can be done interestingly as well. One kid whose parents were brutally murdered won't react the same way another kid who experienced the same does. Each person reacts and develops differently in similar tragedies, so taking that in account would really help with their development and make them genuine people, and not just walking stencils with dialogue.

One fun think I like doing is mixing and matching cliche tragic backstories with some regular life stuff and some weird things. Then afterwards, I try and see what direction that character's personality develops into. Usually the end result can be pretty surprising. Some of my most unusual results were a necromantic grimdark healer mage who's partially dead (because his blood and flesh have more or less been replaced with venom and/or diseases), a green-haired vampire who has the personality of a smug internet troll, and a master of runic magic who's both extremely off-kilter and extremely forgetful.

Try it, and see what weirdo you end up with!
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on March 02, 2012, 06:15:41 PM
I have a bad habit of giving my characters unusual backstories, though not all of them are tragic. But giving each character tragic or boring backstories can be done interestingly as well. One kid whose parents were brutally murdered won't react the same way another kid who experienced the same does. Each person reacts and develops differently in similar tragedies, so taking that in account would really help with their development and make them genuine people, and not just walking stencils with dialogue.

While, that's true, I do it a bit too much. I have... at least three I can think of just off the top of my head who all had their parents die (ooh, wait, four, though that one had rather different circumstances), but there probably are/might be more.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Cef on March 02, 2012, 07:11:59 PM
I have a bad habit of giving my characters unusual backstories, though not all of them are tragic. But giving each character tragic or boring backstories can be done interestingly as well. One kid whose parents were brutally murdered won't react the same way another kid who experienced the same does. Each person reacts and develops differently in similar tragedies, so taking that in account would really help with their development and make them genuine people, and not just walking stencils with dialogue.

While, that's true, I do it a bit too much. I have... at least three I can think of just off the top of my head who all had their parents die (ooh, wait, four, though that one had rather different circumstances), but there probably are/might be more.

I have at least five that I can immediately recall, though their parents did not all die the same ways. In fact, a few of them are old enough to see their parents die of old age, and one, who was raised by a single mother, saw her parent die from illness. Not all parents have to be brutally murdered in front of them.

And besides, I have the excuse of a very large cast list in a somewhat crapsack-y world. >=P
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on March 03, 2012, 03:10:18 PM
Here's the ones I was thinking of.

1)  Sara Lingerman - Her parents died off-page; she doesn't know how; it was pretty much just to torture her, because she 'needed to have a ~troubled past~
2)  Some dude from one of my first ever stories who I don't even know how they died the just died. ~Emotional appeal!~
3)  Judas - One parent may be alive, Judas got the other parent killed when he was like 12 or something.
4)  Kai - Parents murdered in a lycan/lycanthrope/werewolf attack. This one actually works well into his story, though, it wasn't just a throw-in.

...And I really thought that I did this more often. Huh. Weird.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on March 15, 2012, 06:19:47 PM
Here's personal opinion of point of view (POV). It's less a tip and more of an insight; something to be wary of. It came to mind while reading Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

First Person (FP) has its perk (such as inner-thought mechanics, emotional attachment, casual writing, and keeping the reader "in the dark"), but it also has some crazy drawbacks that should be considered heavily before deciding to narrate in that POV.

Data collection suffers a lot in FP. In any book with a mystery element, the main character must figure out that mystery actively. Third Person allows the author to expose information to the reader without informing the characters, but in FP, the main character must learn something if the author wants the reader to learn something.

This leads to the most predictably contrived written circumstances. In order to get hidden information, the main character either has to be sneaky or lucky. Often the character will creep down a hall (sneaky), peep through a conveniently cracked door, just barely hear part of a rare and important conversation (lucky), and get away with the knowledge. Other examples include picking up the phone to call someone and hearing other people on the line (lucky), tripping over a piece of evidence (lucky), and hacking into emails or the boss' computer (sneaky).

Since having other characters tell the main character plot points can get boring quick, the author must one-up the circumstances of the data collection throughout the length of the writing, typically relying on "lucky" in the end and detailing the most ridiculous and unbelievable of situations.

I recommend choosing FP only in genres thin in mystery elements. If they have mystery elements, I suggest reconsidering the POV, or attempting to write more than one character through which the reader may experience FP POV.

[/thought]
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on March 15, 2012, 08:05:10 PM
I'm having a problem recently that maybe you guys can help me with.

A while back I only wrote in past tense. And then I tried past tense. It was really fun. So I kept writing like that.

AND NOW I CAN'T GET OUT D: I keep trying to write past tense, and it either doesn't stay that way for long (aka: I keep accidentally switching back to present tense), or it just seems horrible or blegh to me. Any tips?
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Raxus on March 16, 2012, 02:29:05 AM
Good writing advice--do not make it sound like this:
Spiderses - Dramatic Reading (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7elbrjustg#)
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on March 16, 2012, 02:47:00 AM
What!? It really turned into spider porn? Haha! This is the worst fanfic ever because it's about spiders! I mean, the main hook of My Little Ponies is that it's about ponies, and the first thing that happens is Twilight becomes a spider! Why even write about ponies if you turn them into spiders!?
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Raxus on March 16, 2012, 02:51:58 AM
It gets better after they have "Spider Sex" actually. Here's the full text. http://pastebin.com/FpAEscPG (http://pastebin.com/FpAEscPG)

Favorite line?

"He gaved the book to twilight and she said thank you spike go away now" and spike said ok I will go away and he slided away like a dragon."
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on May 10, 2012, 07:14:47 PM
I usually stick to comedy, but I dabble a little bit in more thought provoking inspirational stuff from time to time, but it's usually comedy.  :vikonsmile:

When it comes to non-script stuff, I like to try a lot of various things. Just last week I wrote a parable and a story in the form of a diary entry.  :seraismile:

From what I've seen, it looks like you write for stage and I write for screen. Very different worlds. :)
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Cef on May 11, 2012, 01:57:46 AM
I tend to write 'plays for books' when writing in script format. I forgot the exact term for those tho. Generally speaking, the 'plays for books' only describe the actions, and not state the technical parts of the script like staging, music and positioning. While some look possible to stage as a play, others are written strictly for the books. I suggest reading 'The House of Bernarda Alba' and 'The Glass Menagerie' for a better grasp of the techniques. I'd suggest more but right now I can't recall the names.

If you want to look for script format stories, they're a little hard to sort through, but you can mainly find them under the tag 'drama' or 'play'.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on May 11, 2012, 02:39:24 AM
I write for mysteries (not necessarily murder mysteries, but even emotional or psyche mysteries--thought-provoking in attempt), whereas I place information necessary for later use among scene-setting/character-setting descriptive information. That makes my written work--not unlike my Freebird postings--a bit too elaborate.

I wrote a To the Moon inspired screenplay once just to test my boundaries, but it was uncomfortable and clearly outside of my "expertise," should I ever pretend to be a good writer.

I've read Vasha, LegacyBlade, and Luv's written works, and I like them. Ronnie is also a fantastic writer, but she's been mysteriously absent lately. Long story short, post your stuff, guys. This is a good thread to talk about how to write, but I'd like to see more works from you up on Freebird so I can criticize and judge you on a personal level. :)

My advice would be to write up the story as a script, then if you like it, but would prefer it in novel form, you've already got the story in front of you to work with.  :seraismile:

I like that. It basically advocates outlines and storyboards, which I'm a fan of. It's good to leave some wiggle room when writing, but having a plan to at least 80% completion is the best way to get a quality product, IMO.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Kracken Kitty on May 13, 2012, 07:01:12 PM
*favorited page because she ish noob at writing and therefore appreciates everyone as teachers* OwO I'm not kidding, these are some great tips, and by damn am I the worst at writing. So you guys are super awesomely saucemley to pass on your expertises.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on May 13, 2012, 07:39:13 PM
Writing Tip no. 1: Use more words like "Saucemley". They make me happy.  :seraismile:
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on May 27, 2012, 09:09:40 PM
I prefer "Good artists copy, great artists steal."  :seraismile: I made it up.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on May 27, 2012, 09:10:47 PM
I have an even better one. "Good artists copy, great artists steal."
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on May 27, 2012, 09:17:04 PM
Haha, I didn't actually make it up. I think it was Picasso.  :seraismile: We made a very similar joke. XD
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on May 27, 2012, 09:24:36 PM
I know, I've heard it before. I just thought I'd double up on the joke. To be honest, I thought we were going to form a cycling running gag. XD
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on May 27, 2012, 09:35:40 PM
Well then sorry for the C-C-C-Combo Breaker!!  :P
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on May 27, 2012, 09:49:19 PM
All is forgiven.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on May 27, 2012, 10:44:11 PM
Hahaha, I love you two so much :D
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on May 27, 2012, 11:27:24 PM
Aww, I love you too Vash.  :seraismile: In a very manly way of course. I'm gonna go chop down a tree or something to get my man points back.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Cef on May 27, 2012, 11:31:24 PM
Heh, missed the party then~

Anyways, many people find that my style is quite close to the usual Japanese Light Novel format. I've read a bunch and I have to say that their style has influenced me enough that I emulate how they show how the whole plot flows. So I usually take that as a complement. And yes, people have been telling me this plot element/character/power reminds them of [insert title here], but that's a given since I have a lot of inspirations that help me write
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on May 27, 2012, 11:36:23 PM
Besides, nothing's 100% original anyway. Having inspiration is extremely important, and if people notice the similarities, that just means it worked.  :seraismile:
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Unimaginative Username on May 29, 2012, 11:01:41 AM
 Everything has been inspired by something else. Being entirely original would mean creating a new genre and writing style, and even then the plot might not be completely original.

I know, I've heard it before. I just thought I'd double up on the joke. To be honest, I thought we were going to form a cycling running gag. XD

It took me so long to get that.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Question Mark on May 29, 2012, 12:09:44 PM
I guess it's just a matter of letting it go when it comes to that, huh? :P

BTW, I never meant that the stuff I read (that had similarities) served as my inspiration. It was something I've read/played when I'm not writing, that just happened to be rather (too) similar. Just clearing it up. :)
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on May 29, 2012, 05:30:11 PM
I've had that feeling before, too, but nobody can blame you for being similar to something if you weren't even aware of the thing you were similar to.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on May 29, 2012, 05:36:10 PM
I've had that feeling before, too, but nobody can blame you for being similar to something if you weren't even aware of the thing you were similar to.

But they will probably blame you anyway if they're jerks.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Unimaginative Username on May 29, 2012, 06:11:15 PM
I've had that feeling before, too, but nobody can blame you for being similar to something if you weren't even aware of the thing you were similar to.

A Dutch DT teacher I had once can.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on May 29, 2012, 11:47:33 PM
I've had that feeling before, too, but nobody can blame you for being similar to something if you weren't even aware of the thing you were similar to.

But they will probably blame you anyway if they're jerks.

Yeah, I was thinking that while I wrote that. People CAN blame you, but they SHOULDN'T blame you.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on June 22, 2012, 12:22:42 AM
Should we move this to the new, nifty "Tricks of the Trade" board?
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on June 22, 2012, 12:56:33 AM
Sounds like a good idea! I'd make a thread there myself if I knew how to do anything. XD
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Avarlie on June 22, 2012, 07:45:38 AM
@Tumbles- how bout tips for making a game trailer.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on June 22, 2012, 09:23:38 AM
Haha, maybe! I've only done one, and I kinda improvised it, so I'm not a pro just yet!
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Ferdk on July 12, 2012, 09:10:23 PM
You guys are so full of win did you know that? I'm stealing reading all the cool things posted on these forums and learning so much ^^ I'm feeling motivated to actually do something for a change haha
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on July 22, 2012, 03:10:25 PM
I have a friend who's working on a series of books that have a central thematic element in number form: the number 12.

But he has a lot of elements. It's a fantasy world that progresses into a sci-fi world, or vice versa. It has dwarves, zombies, vampires, magic crystals, a malformed Earth, and tons off tie-ins to existing mythologies. It's a handful!

I thought maybe his book would have twelve chapters, but he was like, nope. Then I thought maybe he'd have three books each with four parts. Bigger. Twelve books?

No, three sets of twelve books.

Elves. Elemental plains. Yggdrasil. Blood spells. Computer chips in heads. Australia. Terra-forming. Gods and demons.

Look, this is a lot. Any one of these things can be expanded to make a delicious book by itself. These ideas are excellent in books, but if you add too many, they all bundle together and lose substance. Your theme becomes "High Fantasy World" and usually "Good Versus Evil." Very basic, very bland. Unless that's what you like. I mean, Harry Potter did exactly this and sold millions. So did Narnia.

But I suggest toning it down. Don't think of a new, awesome idea and figure out a way to shove it into your world. Instead, think of a few key themes and work with those continuously. When a new idea comes along, ask yourself if it will help your book thematically. Because anyone can make a fantasy world--it requires tossing in a bunch of known elements and mythologies. It's harder, however, to make that world mean something. At least that's my opinion.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Ferdk on July 22, 2012, 05:03:03 PM
I wholeheartedly agree with that, I'm writing a story and noticed that if I write it chronologically i just make things happen, but they just happen. Its like everything leads to another thing and so on and then I look back and nothing really happened other than a chain of events. So I decided that for this story I set my mind to the core themes in it, and especially worked about what I want the story to lead up to, so I have an ending "prototype". I have a few concepts that I want the game to revolve around, and then I'm gonna write a story that explores these, without making it a convoluted mess XD

Hopefully it'll work out. I guess it goes like the saying "do more with less". The question is if less will eventually become too little. I hope not XD
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on July 22, 2012, 08:49:19 PM
The problem I'm having right now is I'm not sure if my characters are too flat, or I'm just too hard in myself. It seems to me that a lot of my characters have one event in their life that really defined them, and then every part of their character stems from that, but that's just not realistic!
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on July 22, 2012, 09:20:05 PM
The problem I'm having right now is I'm not sure if my characters are too flat, or I'm just too hard in myself. It seems to me that a lot of my characters have one event in their life that really defined them, and then every part of their character stems from that, but that's just not realistic!

I personally think that's fine if you make the events of the book count as another defining event--or maybe have an event that changes the people involved. As long as they're adapting or changing, I think it's fine. But if they stay defined by that one event, I might suggest fleshing out their past a little more.

Then again, I can't know without reading it. :)
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on July 22, 2012, 09:37:12 PM
Part of me wants to rewrite the book anyways, cuz I (and some other people) love the characters, but the story was honestly a piece of crap :P
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on August 13, 2012, 03:44:07 PM
Recently I've been reading/hearing a lot about good character development, and I thought I'd share these three steps I keep hearing over and over for those who want something to think about.

When making a character:

01. What do they want?
02. Why can't they get it?
03. Why do we care?

I think step 02 is the most interesting. The expected question is "How do they get it?" but this setup asks why they can't. There's a lot to that because the question in itself implies hardship or an adventure. If you have this question, your character already has a goal and a problem to overcome, and that's immediately interesting. The question "How do they get it" is then something you can infer automatically, and what inherently pushes the story forward.

Think about Johnny in To the Moon. He easily fills the first two questions, like, at the beginning of the game! We know he wants to go to the moon (01.) and that he can't because he's dying (02.). Brilliance.

River: What does she want? We learn that she wants to communicate with Johnny about their past (and in general), and that she can't because both of them have issues (her condition and his beta blockers). Both of her character questions are answered, but this time later in the game.

So we have two strong, leading characters who answer these important development questions, except one we learn early to get us hooked, and the other we learn later. This means we're constantly learning, almost scene after scene, about what makes these characters valuable as characters. We never get a chance to stop caring. And that's how it should be.

BRILLIANCE!

Look at Call of Warfare: Modern Duty for an example. These games are easy to pick apart because they don't have a character focus--on purpose. They show when a character doesn't work as a memorable character. The person you play as has no emphasis on the first two questions. You beat enemies, and you get to victory, but those are your goals, not theirs. That, of course, is the point of those games; they want you to be the hero. But the way for you to step into those shoes is to get rid of the questions above. When you add the character development--that is, when you give a character a want and an obstacle--you make them less an avatar and more a believable, interesting entity.

Question three is the trickiest. I have some thoughts on this, but it's really hard to pinpoint. It's even more multifaceted than question 02.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Ferdk on August 13, 2012, 05:38:46 PM
That is indeed very helpful and makes me love TtM all the more :D

If you have more "summed up" tips like these, please share ^_^ or even a link to a long-winded explanation, anything can be useful :D
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on August 13, 2012, 08:37:50 PM
Yeah, that was a good read. :seraismile: Makes me think about all the characters I've probably screwed up before. :vikonsmile:

I think I've learned more in this thread than my writing unit at uni.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Ferdk on August 14, 2012, 11:35:48 AM
Yeah while it was an awesome read for future writing endeavours it was also a bit heartbreaking checking back the story I was trying to write. Its like watching a trainwreck XD none of my characters have anything remotely as useful as what Merlan described there -.- guess its time for a rewrite xD
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on August 14, 2012, 06:29:06 PM
I was going to make my example use Johnny as the early development, River as the middle development, and Watts as the later development, but it was too wordy and I didn't want to spoonfeed you all my opinion using a game we've already played. I figured you'd get the point after two examples. :p

I've been applying it to characters I like and dislike and seeing if the concept holds water, and it seems to. Enjoyable characters more often than not fit the requirements of that seemingly simple three step idea.

Not that I'm any authority on the subject. :) I really wish I would have applied it more heavily in Fleuret Blanc, but I was so focused on the underlying theme that the character of Florentine herself didn't answers those questions well on the surface. I mean, she did, but it's a little obstructed by the mystery, so it's something to watch out for in the future.

Glad you guys like the thread. Feel free to add your own information to the pool. :)
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Gogobrasil8 on January 22, 2013, 07:22:46 PM
I will save that post on my "utility" folder :plat:
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Stardale on January 30, 2013, 06:49:00 AM
I just want to settle this, since I heard some clever things today.

Make sure that your spelling is always consistent with the English variety. For example, if your spelling of behavior is "behaviour," then that word should be spelled like that throughout. In the same manner, if you use British English words in one sentence, you might as well use words that are commonly used in British English. It's actually confusing to read to varieties in one passage.

Also, the details are so important instead of simply saying "he said" or "says the Big Fat Neil." Details give life to a piece of writing.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on January 30, 2013, 07:26:37 AM
Also, the details are so important instead of simply saying "he said" or "says the Big Fat Neil." Details give life to a piece of writing.


Spoiler: show
(https://freebirdgames.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F3.bp.blogspot.com%2F-04vZbbItXIA%2FT6MU2g3_DJI%2FAAAAAAAAA6k%2FWb24m7jQqkw%2Fs1600%2Ffat%2Bneil.jpg&hash=2c302dba93fa224d46304b846f59cc9d)
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: HipsterPie on January 31, 2013, 06:46:17 PM
Every time I notice my text is too short, I try to make sentences longer by describing the environment. That really helps. E.g. you could describe a look on someone's face, the clouds, how the weather is outside, what a person is thinking, how the ground feels, how a person is feeling at that moment. An not just 'sad, happy, angry' but in detail.
Always works for me.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Tumbles on March 07, 2013, 07:48:04 PM
Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling. I thought this was a truly interesting little read. :vikonsmile:

http://aerogrammestudio.com/2013/03/07/pixars-22-rules-of-storytelling/ (http://aerogrammestudio.com/2013/03/07/pixars-22-rules-of-storytelling/)
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on March 26, 2013, 08:32:00 PM
I'd just like to point out that details CAN add life to a story, but it also can really kill it if there's too much (I'm looking at you, Tolkien.)

Also, how do you describe something in a story if the first-person narrator is familiar with his surroundings? -always has this problem-
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Merlandese on March 26, 2013, 11:16:43 PM
I don't think there's a huge issue. First person is THE storytelling perspective. If you know the environment, you'd still convey the details of it to me in first person.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: HipsterPie on March 27, 2013, 05:41:17 PM
I'd just like to point out that details CAN add life to a story, but it also can really kill it if there's too much (I'm looking at you, Tolkien.)

Also, how do you describe something in a story if the first-person narrator is familiar with his surroundings? -always has this problem-
I always try to make up some surroundings that I'm familiar with myself, like streets and the city, or villages in the mountains I've seen, maybe places you've visited multiple times on vacation. And then bend it into your story and make up some little details.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Vasha on April 08, 2013, 10:38:21 PM
Well, it always just feels forced when I'm talking first-person present-tense about something the narrator has seen a lot, and I try to sneak in details.
Title: Re: Writing Tips
Post by: Unimaginative Username on April 09, 2013, 08:07:25 AM
I'd just like to point out that details CAN add life to a story, but it also can really kill it if there's too much (I'm looking at you, Tolkien.)

I like the detail that Tokien goes into when describing things. I think it is the structure of his books, such as the Silmarillion, which is was more detrimental to the story. Then again most of those books were compiled from his notes so the structure was never going to be fantastic.