I Control Your Mind!
Writing Tips Guide
I've been wanting to start this thread for a while. This isn't the same as "Writing Help," because in here, I, along any other members willing to share their knowledge, will post helpful advice about writing. It can be about anything: the best types of sentences to get across a certain feeling, when to use the most commas, what words that appeal to the reader, etc, etc. I'm going to start off with some of my own soon. Hopefully, lots of people will share what they know and make the F-F.com writing community a better place!
Excellent idea, Fringified.
I, too, am working on a secret project of my own...
If I have any questions, I will be sure to post them here.
I Control Your Mind!
Sorry I've taken so long with this. I recently got over a long stretch of a lot of work, so I'm eager to try to take up writing again. Lately I've been particularly interested in characters. After all, the characters drive the story. They are the "avatars" of problems, beliefs, and quests. So let me begin.
This is something I typed up in preparation for a Writing Club I'm hoping to start at my school.
· Character is “features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.”
· What does the character want / fear?
· How does the character deal with emotions?
· What are the character’s social and intimate relationships?
· What are the character’s past experiences? How does he / she regard them?
· What does he / she view (or not view) as personal responsibilities?
· What does he / she do for a living?
· What does he / she do for leisure?
· What failures does he / she feel accountable for?
· What biases or prejudice motivate his / her behavior?
· Does the character say a phrase a lot? Catch phrase, verbal quips?
· Doe he / she dream? If so, of what?
· Where does he / she go in daydreams?
· What strikes him / her as humorous / non-humorous?
· What does he / she take seriously / not take seriously?
· The characters is your story are “avatars of causes, pursuits, and quests.”
· Character needs to have good AND bad qualities
- Ex. A noble Knight
+ Sure, a noble, brave, sword-wielding, dragon-battling knight is exciting . . . but what about a knight with a fear of dragons?
· Flat characters are one-dimension, unimaginative, cliché, and only behave along one set of principles.
- Ex. In the show FRINGE, Joshua Jackson plays a character who does not abide by the rules to help the FBI.
· Characters are people, so they do make errors.
· During the course of a story, a character should be significantly different from when they started.
- In Mitch Albom’s For One More Day, Charlie “Chick” Benetto is introduced as a suicidal alcoholic who has made all the wrong choices … but by the end of the book, he is a new man, yearning to reunite with his family, undo all the errors in his life, and savor every moment he has with the people around him.
+ The story is how the character gets from A to B
- Characters either grow or diminish
+ In Mossflower by Brian Jacques, characters who were previously unsure of their bravery and nobility are now confident
+ In Oedipus the King, Oedipus descends from a noble king to a devastated, destroyed blind man
While looking back at a story I started almost two years ago, am still "working on," but haven't had much time in the past few months, I realized my characters are really plain. They want things, they do things, they say things. They're flat and unimaginative. Obviously, I need to use the list above and apply it to my characters. I think I was too often focused on the plot, the action, and the dialogue that I didn't realize my characters were people with feelings, emotions, and human personalities.
I looked my villain and realized he had no motivation for his evil doings. He just did. So I looked at my favorite books/shows and analyzed the villains and their motvations.
For One More Day by Mitch Albom
The villain is greed, jealously, and selfishness. There really is no motivation here.
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The villain is Mr. Ewell, who is driven by racism and prejudice. Already this is interesting, since racism is extremely looked down upon.
The Stand by Stephen King
Randall Flagg is an "imp of Satan" who is driven by evil and the devil.
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
The white men pushing westward into Native American territory are the villains, egged on by their belief that the natives are inferior to them.
Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
The villain is Lord Morgorath, who seeks revenge because he was exiled from his homeland. Why was he exiled? He wanted power to a terrible extent.
Mossflower by Brian Jacques
This is a children's book (as the characters are animals, and the villain is Tsarmina cat), yet I find it as some of the best writing I've ever read. Tsarmina is driven lust for power and greed.
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
The villain is "The Teacher," or Teabing, for those who don't want to be spoiled by his identity. The Teacher is driven by his greed, and lust for power and knowledge.
Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
These three books in the Inheritance Cycle feature the villain King Galbatorix, who insatiable desire for power and his greed made him an interesting villain.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The infamous Lord Voldemort wants nothing more than power and to be in control. His childhood nightmares of teasing and his unappealing family fuel his greed and his jealousy.
I found an interesting "pattern" in these villains. Often times, the villain is a normal person (take King Galbatorix in the Inheritance Cycle for example). King Galbatorix was a part of the noble group called the Dragon Riders. He lost his dragon, was devastated, and demanded another from the Council of Elders. But they denied him one. His greed for another dragon and his jealousy of other Riders who still had their dragons shaped him into the twisted man he is described as in the books.
(Don't read the following if you do not want to be spoiled as to The Teacher's identity in The DaVinci Code) Or, for exampleTeabing as the teacher. He is an acclaimed scholar, an educated, wealthy man. But, when he discovers clues as to the greatest secret in history, he is overwhelmed and his greed for knowledge takes control.
Or, otherwise, the villains are naturally that way. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Ewell was raised in a racist household, and trained to be prejudiced towards African-Americans. Of course it's not his fault, but it sets him and his beliefs against the protagonists.
I'm not going to really go into this now, but character development is a great thing to learn. The reason I bring this up is because one of my favorite characters / villains (it's debatable whether he is a villain) is Sam Cayhall from John Grisham's The Chamber.
In his younger years, Sam was a loyal member to the Ku Klux Klan. In one mission, he planted a bomb in a Jewish lawyer's office. However, the lawyer's children died, and the lawyer only ended up with his legs blown off. The story follows Sam's grandson, Adam, also a lawyer, who discovers his grandfather is about to be put to death via gas chamber. Adam, however, believes Sam deserved another chance. Throughout the trial and the reflection upon his actions, Sam eventually learns that what he did was completely wrong and that people are equal. However, consequences do follow wrongdoings.
There is a significant change in character for Sam. He is introduced a racist murderer who was put away in jail, and the last time we see him, he is a changed man, who understands that his actions were wrong.
That's all I'll write for now. Thanks for reading!