Static characters. One-dimensional stereotypes are invading! A lot of stories I've been reading have characters based on one trait. There's the funny one, the smart one, the athletic one, the asshole one, etc.
So, what's the problem with such diversity? These characters don't have anything else to their names, and they never actually develop or change. The funny one isn't smart or athletic, and he doesn't ever learn. He's just there to provide comic relief for the main character, nothing more. The smart one isn't allowed to have a life, but instead must spend all his or her time reading or quoting textbooks verbatim. Oh, and the asshole is always sexy. Always.
Try to make dynamic, multi-dimensional characters. Let the smart one learn that book knowledge isn't everything, and give him a little bit more interesting of a backstory. Maybe he has a debilitating fear of pillows? He could be addicted to bad pop music, or he might have some form of mental disorder. Stories aren't just the present - characters are their past, present, and future. Write to reflect that.
Defying conventions is always fun.
I like to read stories that aren't the norm for their genre - I've seen it all before. All romances seem the same to me now, and fantasy just melds together into a mush. It's that rare gem of a story that can manage to stare normal in the face and burst out laughing.
Let's say we're writing a vampire story. I know, they're overdone, but that's what we're about to fix. Angst? Unheard of! Let's make this one a comedy, maybe a parody. The vampire? Give him a fear of needles or something. Get another character in the mix, potential love interest or not. Remember, this is supposted to defy conventions! Let's say the vampire hates Goths/emos/etc., and his favorite color isn't black, but yellow. Then insert emo kid and have a laugh at his expense. Perhaps he is centuries old - and smells like decaying corpse. Or even - get this - he doesn't have a penchant for trapping young ladies (or men, if he swings that way) and calling them "beloved," "betrothed," or "life-mate."
How about a fantasy? Let's ignore heroes for now, and focus on the villain. How about we even make the villian a protagonist? We all know how stupid normal villains are, so let's make this one smart. For tips on this, look at www (dot) evil overlord (dot) com. I've seen one of these at fp already - but there are so many possibilities! If ten people all wrote about the villain, chances are ten different stories would arise. Humor, Fantasy, even SciFi! And what of the hero? He could be the antagonist (since the role of protagonist is already filled by the villain). Heroes can be well-developed, too, you know! How about the hero and villain are really buddies, but they need to keep up public appearances? After all, if you're ruling an empire you need to put on a few shows of strength every now and then.
And how about a romance? Let's start with the tried-and-tired cliché of "Geeky girl likes preppy / athletic / popular boy, he has to go out with her (due to a bet, making an ex jealous, whatever the reason), and he ends up liking her back. Happy Ending." How about... Geeky girl discovers that it's just a crush. He is in love with her, but she's over him and is all over her Male Best Friend. He is jealous of MBF; does something illegal to him (even to the extent of murder, etc.). Story turns into something completely new; even changes genres. Perhaps it turns into horror; Preppy Boy wants her, and does unquestionable things to her, putting her in a mental institution where she falls for Male Nurse. Maybe it goes into Fantasy or Supernatural as she flees to another world to escape. Maybe, just maybe, it mutates into Mystery or Spiritual.
It could go anywhere, really. And that's the point.
"Winter" by Coolchan
Summary: If it wasn't for that eye marking me as a Holy, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be sitting in this chair, staring into this mirror. I wouldn't be waited upon hand and foot. I wouldn't be a prisoner to this Shrine. I would be a normal person... I wish.
Complete - Fantasy - Fiction Rated: M - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 26 - Words: 51,505 - Reviews: 31 - Updated: 1-2-08 - Published: 8-25-07
A good read about another world. Religion is a major theme in this novel, but so is male / male romance. And this all takes place in a detailed fantasy world with its own quirks. First draft is complete, but Coolchan's working on the next version right now, so feel free to criticize constructively. Fantasy, Romance, and a wee bit of angst. But that's all Lui's fault. :)
All right, you guys - I just got a few of the last reviews for this a bit late, and someone asked me to do their story. I'm coming for you guys next.