Story Prompt #91

Character prompt:

Think of an odd occupation and setting for a character that might not normally be placed together. Pick an age and gender for the character and then develop them, possibly using the occupation and setting as focuses.

Creating a Fantasy Race

Hello Fiction Lovers!

This week I thought I’d share a post by one of my favorite websites, Fantasy-Faction. The post is about creating a fantasy race and it breaks doing so into five areas: physical characteristics, point of view, civilization, interaction, and purpose. I believe it does a good job to help create unique and fleshed out races which can be helpful if you want to have more than the standard races (humans, elves, dwarves, etc.) in your story. It can also be helpful if you want to think about the standard races in a new way. So I hope you all also find it interesting and beneficial.

Here’s a link to the post: Creating a Fantasy Race

Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to post your thoughts on this topic in the comments below. I hope you all have a great week!

Worst Villains

Hello Fiction Lovers!

First of all I’d like to apologize for posting late this week and I thought I’d share a fun, helpful video by one of my favorite vloggers, Jenna Moreci. In the video she’ll talk about her top 10 villain pet peeves and what makes them so terrible. To mention some of the villains that she talks about and that I definitely agree with her opinion about are: the cartoon villain, villain who doesn’t really do anything, chatty villain, femme fatale, and the bad guy who sucks at being the bad guy.

Here’s the link: 10 Worst Villain Pet Peeves

I hope you all enjoy the video and let me know if you have any questions!

Limits Make a Character Interesting

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Lately, what I’ve been reading seem to have many a character that are Mary Sues–or in other words, a character that can do whatever they want when they want to do it. Mary Sues, to me, are basically walking, talking deus ex machinas. And about as disappointing, because as a reader you expect the characters to struggle in order to achieve their goals and with both of those there is no struggle. They take the impact and thus the meaning out of the story, and most often this is most obvious at the story’s climax. As I’m sure you know and have experienced the climax of a story is when all the tension and questions about what will happen in the story comes to a head and you get to see that tension and those questions get resolved. Often times when you look back on a well written climax it seems as if there was no other way for it to be written–everything in the story was leading up to and hinting at it happening just as it did. Often there is no build up to a deus ex machina. So when a writer takes the easy way out of by implementing deus ex machina–either by using a Mary Sue or some event–the reader often feels cheated and/or disappointed. Please don’t make your readers feel that way.

There is really only one key thing you need to remember to help make sure they don’t feel that way: limits make characters (and stories) interesting. When I talk to other readers and writers the things they seem to remember most about their favorite characters is what they couldn’t do instead of what they could do. Granted, people also seem to remember and the love the moments best when those characters found ways around or overcame their limits, but there is a difference between that and simply bypassing limits or not having any limits in the first place. The former includes struggle and the later does not. The former is defined by the limits the characters face and the later focuses on results. Results are well and good, but depth and how believable the journey was to get those results are also important. Mary Sues and other deus ex machina take away that chance to build depth and believability which is why they so often leave readers feeling disappointed/cheated.

I understand that you can write yourself into a corner, but when that happens just take a step back and try to find the thing that is making a solution impossible without using a godlike character or a random event. Then rewrite that thing so that a solution is still difficult, but no longer impossible. It’ll probably take some editing, but doing so is worth keeping the story believable and interesting and true to the parameters (limits) it’s already established. I also understand that writing a Mary Sue can be tempting. I’ve definitely written one before and it can be fun to have a character who is all powerful, but in the end I found out that the story and the character were a lot more interesting when I gave them limits/weaknesses. I had to come up with creative solutions to problems instead of making it as if they never happened, and that created tension and interest in what was going to happen next.

To put it succinctly: people tend to put more stock into something they worked for rather than something that was handed to them, and that goes for solutions to problems in stories as well.

Thank you for reading and feel free to post your thoughts on this topic in the comments. Please let me know if you have any questions and I hope you all have a great week!

Proper Character Motivation

Hello Fiction Lovers!

So this week I’m going to share a guest blog post that another writer wrote specifically for my blog. James Bee seems like a pretty cool person and you can check out his bio at the bottom of this post. As you’ve probably guessed the blog post is going to be about character motivation and why it’s important. So without further ado here you go:

On the Importance of Proper Character Motivation

Guest blog post by James Bee

Characters are the driving motivation behind the majority of novels. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule but on the whole I think it holds true. Most plots centre around them and the actions that they take. The readers spends the whole book seeing things through their eyes, reading about what they do and the effects that those actions have.

Thus character’s motivations and how they drive them to interact with the plot and the world around them are extremely important for the writer to get right. Making sure your character’s motivations make sense and are logical is vital. Otherwise their actions won’t make sense and everything will fall apart around them. This is something that I struggled with early in the novel I’m currently writing. I knew how the plot would unfold and how the characters would fit into it, but I didn’t know why. And until I knew that, it was impossible to get my head around the book.

Motivations drives action which drives the plot. Characters must have good reasons for doing what they do, or at least logical ones. Their actions must follow from their motivations. Always ask yourself why is a character doing something? Do they have a good reason? These reasons can come from anywhere, backstory, desires, belief systems, they just have to be logical and compelling.

If not, then you can run the risk of breaking the immersion for the reader or having the book start to unravel. Nothing is more frustrating as a reader than when character’s you’ve become invested in start making decisions or doing things that don’t make any sense or aren’t consistent. It can completely ruin the enjoyment of a novel. Therefore, making sure that your character’s motivations are in order is of the utmost importance!

Writer Bio: James Bee is a novelist and blogger working out of Vancouver, Canada. He’s the author of two fantasy novels with more on the way! You can follow him on twitter @jameslikesbooks or follow him on his blog at https://jamesreads.blog/!

Please feel free to post your ideas on this topic in the comments and let me know if you have any questions! I  hope you all have a great week!

Writing Women Characters as Human Beings

Guest Blog by Kate Elliott (Found on Tor.com)

Source: https://www.tor.com/2015/03/04/writing-women-characters-as-human-beings/

Hello Fiction Lovers!

So I’ve been reading more writing advice posts and I came across this one that I thought made some really good points. I think that it won’t only help writers write better female characters, but more well rounded characters overall. It can also help if you feel like you’ve been stuck writing cliches or stereotypes. One thing that she made me realize is that even though I have multiple women characters I don’t often have them talk to each other because they are part of different subplots. And that’s something I should fix because they are all in a single manor and would talk to each other more often than I’m have them do so. She also makes a good point about preconceptions and how there is a difference between choosing to make a character more of a stereotype or two-dimensional, and simply doing so without realizing it.

I strongly encourage you to click on the above link even if you have the most well-rounded female characters because it can help you view writing in a new way and help with other parts of writing as well. Please let me know if you have any questions and feel free to share your thoughts on this topic as well!

Drinking Age in Fiction

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Since I turned 21 today and now am legally allowed to drink, it got me thinking about drinking age in fiction. It’s not a big thing, but I realized in a lot of fiction novels it’s something that never really gets brought up. Either everyone is drinking, just having a beer in a bar, or it’s not even mentioned. Everyone gets treated as an adult or child, it seems like, and if you’re not a child it seems like you’re drinking to some extent without anyone having much to say on the subject.

I just thought it’s be nice having a few quick scenes, either in a bar or character’s home or elsewhere, where the characters talk about the drinking age and how it affected them. How they abstained from drinking alcohol, but have some hilarious stories about what their friends got into while they were drinking, or how they approve/disapprove of the drinking age. How they circumvented the rule or what happened when they got caught. Or even, perhaps, about the fact that they don’t have a drinking age and they feel sorry for the people in the next country over who do. It could also be interesting having a place where no one drinks.

Really, I think, I just want a few more scenes learning about characters as they talk about smaller things that affect them or they grew up with, instead of the high stakes of whatever the story is about. I want to see them as existing outside the current story line and talking about smaller things such as the drinking age that the reader can relate to can help with that. That’s not to say that’s how all your dialogue should be, or talking about the current plot is bad, but sprinkling in comments or small conversations about other things can be nice as well.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions! Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

Conflicting Emotions

Hello Fiction Lovers!

Lately, I’ve been reading the Last Herald-Mage series by Mercedes Lackey (whose interesting books I would recommend by the way) and her writing and characters have reminded me that characters–like real-life people–can have conflicting emotions. Sometimes when I’m writing I’m so focused on what the character is supposed to feel or how they are going to react that I find I forget that they can conflicting emotions. Having conflicting emotions can make them feel more like actual people and tie in other parts of the story to the scene you’re writing. No scene or dialogue is in a vacuum which means the emotions driving that scene or dialogue can’t be located in one either. People feel lots of different things at once about different things and more than likely they will feel those things at the same time.

Having conflicting emotions can also help with character development and motivation. It can help the reader know what is more important to the character based on what they are having conflicting feels about and what emotion they end up acting upon. A character who really wants a book but won’t go get it because they are afraid of the adult standing near it, and a character who really wants a book but doesn’t get it because they are worried about their financial situation are two very different people. The result is the same, but emotional impact and knowledge of the character is very different. Also, if the reader is told the character wants a book but doesn’t end up getting one without another emotional reason as to why the scene feels unfinished, lackluster, or confusing.

You don’t have to use conflicting emotions all the time but making use of them can make your story feel more cohesive and flow better. It can also break up the monotony of a character only being driven by one emotion–something that becomes unrealistic quickly and that becomes boring. Conflicting emotions can also point to internal vs external conflicts and pressures in the story.

I hope this post helped and let me know if you have any questions. Feel free to post your thoughts or anything you think I missed in the comments. I hope you all have a good week!