Forging ahead with fictional endeavours: ~ Write a life on a page and hurry not to its grave; abhor not the coming age, for eternal is the next page. ~ Read what you will, I hope you will enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Posts tagged ‘Writing tips’

For anyone needing a giggle

Gary Stu, the GremlinTonight I happened across what could be a useful writing tool, if used correctly that is… ūüėČ Plot generator¬†relies on key words submitted by the writer to create a working plot from which to work. ¬†Instead I entered random suggestions. ¬†This is what I ended up with:

A Fantasy Novel

In a cave there lived a warped, ruddy gremlin named Gary Stu. Not a giant sizzling, magical cave, filled with potions and a silver smell, nor yet a brunette, sweltering, charming cave with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a gremlin-cave, and that means comfort.

One day, after a troubling visit from the elf Mary Sue, Gary leaves his cave and sets out in search of three squat sausages. A quest undertaken in the company of robots, trolls and pointy teens.

In the search for the elf-guarded sausages, Gary Stu surprises even himself with his resourcefulness and skill as a computer programmer.

During his travels, Gary rescues a ruler, an heirloom belonging to Mary. But when Mary refuses to try laughing, their friendship is over.

However, Mary is wounded at the Battle of Hastings and the two reconcile just before Gary engages in some serious laughing.

Gary accepts one of the three squat sausages and returns home to his cave a very wealthy gremlin.

Finding Inspiration: Writers tricks

I haven’t felt like writing much recently. ¬†Despite the title, it’s not the result of lack of inspiration. It’s because I have felt no desire to write. As a blogger and a writer, that’s a death sentence. Today I’d like to discuss tricks we all use when writing instead of forcing myself to write a flash fic or poem. ¬†However, I would also like any readers to contribute tips and tricks of their own. ¬†Let’s have a little discussion. ūüôā

The biggest road-block to writing is often feeling uninspired. ¬†You can write in this state but I’ve always found that I’ve 90% more critical about what I’ve written when uninspired. ¬†Subject matter always seems off without that brain blast of creativity flowing into the prose. ¬†My favourite ways to get inspiration:

1) Meditate or walk.  My mind seems to go into a deep thought process when I do either.  At first it is all mundane reasoning but then an idea will just pop out of nowhere and urge to write it out just takes hold of all judgement.

2) Read or watch something. ¬†To succeed in storytelling often involves taking what you know (and like) from other sources and putting your own stamp on it. ¬†I know this sounds dangerously like plagiarism, doesn’t it? ¬†It is if you take the ideas as they are. Writing is all about what you know and synthesizing something new. ¬†There are only 7 plot types after all. ūüôā

3) Roll a dice. (Or a random number generator) If I’m really stuck for ideas I start making a list of potential options, assign a number to each then let chance decide. ¬†Sometimes the resulting scene is wonderfully new. Othertimes it is hilarious. In either event you end up with fantastic material. (I’m actually considering making a weekly game out of this one for my blog.)

4) Specifically for character design and sometimes house design – The sims. I admit I’ve spent too much time playing this recently. However, it is a great way to visualise what your character looks like if you are artistically challenged, like myself. You can even use it to write character biographies if you are so inclined.

5) Reading through older pieces you have written. We put so much into writing that often re-reading can spin off new ideas.

6) Writing prompts and photo prompts. ¬†Most of my flash fiction and poetry I’ve published here is based off one prompt of another.

7) Historical research. ¬†While fantasy can’t really be completely based off the biography of societies it is a great way to learn how people lived, what social situations were like, how decisions on a national level affected populaces, ect.

Character development and the infamous Mary Sue.

I am having another day of not feeling so creatively inclined. ¬†But as I seem determined to do a little bit of writing everyday I thought I would discuss a pet peeve of mine, the writer’s achilles heel: Mary-Sue/Gary-Stu. ¬†I’m sure many of you have come across these characters before; perhaps have even written them. I know I have!

A Mary-Sue can be typified into three broad categories:

  • The self-insert/Author surrogate: The character is essentially the Author. The pitfalls of this are fairly obvious, but it is not necessarily a disaster. ¬†If you are really in touch with your personal flaws and are sure to write your supporting characters in a fashion that is human, i.e. they react to your characters flaws and mistakes in a fashion that is Real for the character’s personality e.g. not forgiving them for murder, then this can actually work for a plot. ¬†However, no one likes this form of narcissism when it’s clearly a ploy to show people just how fantabulous you think you are. It’s just not classy.
  • The 2D character (Capable wo/man): The character who is OMG Amazing. ¬†They have a wicked array of special skills, no weaknesses and can kick arse in any given situation. ¬†This usually falls dead in the water because it will pollute even the best of plots. ¬†More to the point there is no realism in character development. ¬†Any ‘flaws’ this cool character will have will be resolved with pure acceptance, a pat on the head, or unreasonable understanding from other characters. ¬†This kind of Mary Sue is usually a sign of a writer who wants everything in the plot to work out exactly how they want it regardless of how they have actually expanded their story.
  • The stereotype: We all use stereotypes in our writing. Most novels need innumerable side characters and minor support characters. It is mentally impossible to construct unique characters for each. However, it is one thing for the faceless groom/servant to be stereotype, but it is another thing entirely if the main character or important supporting characters are stereotypes. The larger a role the character has the more unique they should be. ¬†No one wants a stereotypical goody-two-shoes saving the world; sure they can save the world but can you¬†relate¬†to the character? ¬†At the end of the day if your reader can not relate to the character then your novel is dead in the water before it gets going.

Character Development: A case by case example of avoiding the pitfalls

  • The surrogate: Okay this character is me in a different situation/setting. ¬†First step: Defining the differences. ¬†You are who are because of what you have been through in your life. ¬†If you put yourself in a different time or place chances are that setting will have changed major behavioural responses. ¬†This can be as simple as how you react to cars to as complex as how you react to actions of another character e.g. If the parallel you lost their family to a fire at young age but you yourself have not then you really have to start really questioning yourself on how this would realistically affect you and, as a result, how you would have changed as a result. Second step: Real situational responses. This one relies heavily on clear definition in step one. How would this alternate you react in given situation given their altered behavioural responses? ¬†This is a crucial step to realism that will¬†steer you clear of the pitfalls of the self-insert. ¬†If you know that you would react in a specific way but because of your self-insert’s past they would react differently then you really have to go with how they would handle the situation. This is the basis of story realism, even if the idea is that you have popped yourself into the story because you want to do certain things. ¬†If you don’t like the response then you have to do some major character development in the plot to bring about the actions you know you would take.
  • Captain Wonder Wo/man: These are actually so easy to avoid. Just begin asking yourself questions on realism. If my character trains for amazing agility is s/he really going to have the time to become super strong as well? Even if your character somehow manages both, wouldn’t their sheer muscle mass compromise their agility? ¬†If my character acts like a prat and betrays their best friend (even if their¬†intentions¬†were good) is that character really going to forgive them even if they do happen to find out the circumstance in which the betrayal occurred? Of course, my entire line of reasoning here relies on the writer involved treating the characters as real personalities. Where as, these characters often arise because the writer is not seeing them as real individuals. I say that, but sometimes it happens because we have an idea for a really cool character and get so blinded by their prettiness we forget to fill them out. ¬†This is just so sad for the cool character; if they are so fantastic they deserve a real personality rather than nuts and bolts to hold them together.
  • The stereotype: Cured by a quick rule of thumb – the more importance their role plays the more effort you should put into their definition. The stereotype is easily missed because we all use them as a basis for character development. ¬†We think ‘hmm, this kind of character would be good’ and get to the creation of said character. This is reasonable. ¬†The art of using stereotypes for character creation lies in how you construct and define the character too bring them from being 2D stereotypes to 3D characters with realistic components.

That’s enough from me on this subject now. I certainly hope you find it helpful. Ta-ta for now.

Edit: Really got to learn to do a final grammar check… Seems I always discover errors after hitting publish, even if I have done 5 edits before hand.

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