Gossip Forum
A place where you can get reviews. Get tips on your work, and have fun and chat.
New Follow Forum Follow Topic
Page 1 2 3 .. Last Next »

We have places for introductions, Q&A, asking for reviews, and general off-topic chat. Let's start a thread about what we're here to do (aside from asking introducing ourselves, questions, asking for reviews and chatting :) ). I'll start off:

In your mind, what makes a good story? The characters? The plot? The setting? The theme? The climax?

What do you look for in a story when reviewing? What makes a good review, in your author's eyes?

Do you rewrite? How often? How extensively? Touch-ups, or from-the-ground-up?

Let's get some talk about our shared passion going!

1/7/2010 #1

To answer your questions in order, as best I can...

I have no idea what makes a good story, I'm still chasing after that perfect formula. Writing style, characters, personalities and plot all play a role in me enjoying a story, as well as some or other unfurling romance, even if it is just in the background. I like happy endings, but I also know not every story will end that way.

When it comes to reviews, I just appreciate knowing what someone enjoyed in my story, that they liked a character or scene. Of course constructive critisism is constructive, but I live for the rush I get knowing someone read my work.

If I ever do rewrite, it's mostly touch ups because I find starting all from over a little off-putting, especially if I've gotten somewhere. Not to say I haven't tried starting a concept from scratch again, it's just that I haven't been very successful with that.

Other than that I like getting the stories and characters that develope in my head out onto paper. I write what I feel like reading. Right now I'm addicted to slash, but I'm sure I'll get back to the world of het stories soon enough... maybe. :)

1/7/2010 #2

hmm. the 1st question is difficult.. for me, it just has to be interesting. something good has to be going on. i think characters are important, characters you love and characters you love to hate.

for reviews, i think its good to touch on a little of everything, tell why you liked the story and then offer some tips and criticism to help the author make the story even better.

oh gosh. i rewrite all the time. and the story always ends up longer and sometimes way different. my first drafts are just to get all the ideas out of my head so they stop bothering me lol. rewriting takes a long time and it usually goes in a different direction.

1/7/2010 #3

What makes a good story? Anything that can keep my attention; whether that be a good storyline, characters, theme, climax, style, or voice. All or just one of these things can make or break it for me. I have so many different tastes. I really enjoy classic literature and fun campy series like the Southern Vampire Mysteries. It just depends. I need something to keep me held in. I have no intention of reading War and Peace, because I know it will not(:

What do I look for in a story when reviewing? What makes a good review, in your author's eyes? When I am reviewing a story, I simply just read the story. If something, either good or bad, sticks out at me I will make sure to comment on that. I will try to stay away from commenting on the style or genre. I try not to review stories I know won't interest me. When I write a review I like to pick out at least one thing from the story, a character, setting, sentence, etc, that really stuck out to me and either praise or suggest something different. My main thing when writing a review is to comment on how it reads. Is it choppy? Or does it flow pretty smoothly? Is the author getting stuck on a language that isn't working? How the story reads, I think, is the most important part. If it doesn't read well, you will lose your audience.

Do I rewrite? How often? How extensively? Touch-ups, or from-the-ground-up? I rewrite a lot. In fact, Guerrilla Smoke was a story I wrote as a sophmore in high school. It was a short two page narrative about a girl diagnosed with cancer and shutting everything out of her life so that she could be someone else for her time left. Part of her new life is smoking. For some reason I am fascinated with cigarettes(: I read it again last year and changed it, a lot. I completely took it apart. The story is different, but much of the first few paragraphs are very much the same. Part of the reason I never get my stories done is because of rewrites. I'm my harshist critic and nothing is ever good enough to be read, so I rewrite, reread, rewrite, until I'm sick of it and throw it away. It's a fault I'm trying to fix by being here.

1/7/2010 #4

What makes a good story? For me it would start with a amazing summary, because I normally read them first. They must attract my attention and have a new unique story, and no old plot I'v eread in stories before. I'm a big cliche, but I tend to like the chase in the story, not them getting together so quick.

What do I look for in a story when reviewing? What makes a good review, in your author's eyes? Good understanding of vocabulary, grammar and spelling. A story with a lot going on, that you could write why you enjoyed it, why you didn't enjoy it, and what they could improve on.

Do I rewrite? How often? How extensively? Touch-ups, or from-the-ground-up? I re-write alot. I might write half a chapter, think it's awful then start all over again. I'm the worst for writing a new story and then once I've got it up, I don't know if it to carry on, and if people will like it either.

1/8/2010 #5

What makes a good story?

The good has to outweigh the bad. I don't have a magic formula, but I consider flow, voice, formatting, verisimilitude, plotting, setting, originality, characterization and a slew of other categories. Few stories will excel in all of them. The trick is to satisfy the ones I require most, best.

Flow is critical for me. I want to be swept up in the story and carried away. I want it to lull me and talk to me in a way that is indirect, but clear. It has to be consistent in voice and perspective. It has to read well. I want to enter into the story and forget I'm here.

Formatting affects flow. Formatting isn't just HTML / typography, but also spelling, grammar and punctuation. If I can't read it smoothly, it doesn't flow. If my eye keeps stumbling over "its" instead of "it's" or "discreet" vs. "discrete", then it doesn't flow.

Voice affects flow. Voice is perspective, but it's also how the story speaks. The narration, even a dispassionate third-person story, is a character's voice. All voices have to be consistent, both to themselves, to each other, and to the setting. A sword-and-sandals fantasy where they haggle in dollars? No. An educated and suave heroine dropping the f-bomb (and not trying to pass as another character)? No. Perspective shift? Tense shift? No.

However, the fatal "show, don't tell" also hits here. 'Tell' happens either when the author directly addresses the reader by way of narrative, or when a character says something that is utterly unrelated to the context, but is an essential fact to the story. Yes, all stories have essential facts, but how they're conveyed is actually more important than what they are. Think of the plot as a critical fact - the most effective way to convey it is to simply tell the reader what happens, right? Yes, but that makes for a bad story. The plot is the most critical fact of the story, but all critical facts should be treated the same way - allowed to enter the story when there's a place for it.

For me, flow is the foundation, the cornerstone. If I can't read the story with ease, then I can't judge it as good.

I'm rambling, so I'll stop. BTW - if anyone has any other writing-related topics, feel free to post them!

1/8/2010 . Edited 1/8/2010 #6

I love good well-rounded characters. They've got to seem real to me. And when reviewing, if a story has these real to life characters, that's something I'll comment on. That's not the only thing, but it's something that's always first for me. I've got to believe in the main character before I can go ahead reading whatever it is he or she needs to do.

A good review: It can be one that says the story's awful, but goes on in a constructive way to tell me why they feel this way.

I rewrite an awful lot now. Sometimes it's entire chapters over and over. Sometimes it's the story. I don't know. Sometimes it takes a while to get something right. It will never be perfect, but maybe I can get close if I give it a shot. It can get frustrating though.

1/8/2010 #7
Not Over You

What makes a good story? Personally, I like a caughty type and a well written summary. The summary is everything. If it sucks well you are gonna believe the book is going to use as bad. I'm a sucker for well thought out characters as well and unique and funky names.

What do I look for in a story when reviewing? What makes a good review, in your author's eyes? Pointing out the good and bad. Letting someone know what they can improve on, but also telling them know what is strong in their story.

Do I rewrite? How often? How extensively? Touch-ups, or from-the-ground-up? If an idea comes to be I just write. I don't look for errors at first. After I have finished a chapter, I will print it and look for errors and then I sent it to my two editors for their final overlook on things I might have missed.

1/8/2010 #8

I politely disagree with your comment about summaries. I've known several people, including myself (especially myself), who have a hard time writing them, and indeed at times turn out a crap summary, however, it doesn't neccessarily mean that the story is just as crap.

Now, as for published works, you may be right on that score, as the few that I have picked up that have had horrible summaries weren't worth cracking open to begin with.

1/8/2010 #9

I agree with No over You, because if the summary looks bad, I wouldn't attempt to even read it. It's all on the summaries that make me want to read more. You'll see more reviews on stories with great summaries then ones with no point to it. Thats my opinon though.

1/8/2010 #10

Here's my thought about summaries:

If it's poor, it will put readers off. Admonitions aside, we do judge books by their covers (otherwise, fantasy heroines wouldn't dress in tight leathers or scale-mail bikinis.) Likewise, it's perfectly reasonable to expect FPies to judge stories, or at least the attention-worthiness of said stories, by their summaries. Expected, yes. Valid, not always. However, given the plethora of reading material on FP, the dissuaded reader is not s/he who suffers, the author is.

Thus, I feel it imperative as author to work on the best summary I can. I also offer critiques of summaries when I think they're egregiously lacking.

Case in point - I will violently disagree with any summary (or A/N preface) that says, "I'm sorry this is such a weak story." If the author won't stand behind the story, the average reader won't read it. The author has to exude confidence, otherwise the reader will worry this is a waste of time. As the saying goes, "Fake it 'til you make it."

I feel a good summary has to give the reader a hint of what's inside - the 'driving question', a hint at the plot, a sampling of the character's voice... something that's unique and special about the story. Think of a summary as the back cover of a book. We have the fancy art at the front, but they all blur after a while. The reader picks up the book and looks at the back. Can you sell the story in that small amount of real estate?

To keep the thread vibrant, in your eyes, what makes a good summary?

1/8/2010 #11

In your mind, what makes a good story? The characters? The plot? The setting? The theme? The climax?

To me, the best stories are character-driven. I just have this love of characters. WhenI think them up, I imagine that they're real and sitting in my bedroom with me and I ask, "Hey, what would you do if...?" or "Who's your best friend?" They write the story with me. Characterization helps make a story worth reading to me. But I've also read stories that were plot driven or symbol driven. I like "The Cathedral", which wasn't too foused on characters at all.

What do you look for in a story when reviewing? What makes a good review, in your author's eyes?

I look for really interesting characters and story titles. I look at the summary if it's "I'm crap at summarizes" I won't bothered. Good reviews aren't just "zomg, you're an awesome writer", they tell you what you're awesome at and what you can change without making you feel like you just failed.

Do you rewrite? How often? How extensively? Touch-ups, or from-the-ground-up?

I rewrite often. Usuall when I start writing, I get this spark of an idea. I stand back for a couple days then read it and think in horror "WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?!!?!?!" and completely uproot it, which is why I don't have many stories up ;P

1/8/2010 #12

Well, to answer a few questions off of that sheet. I see three of those five categories absolutely essential for the writing of a good story.

The first and foremost is at least semi-decent character development. I can't tell you how many fanfictions and other assorted stories across the internet with absolutely no character development. One of my peeves is when someone just jumps right into the story, spending no time trying to portray a first impression for the character in focus at the time. It ranks hihg up there on my annoyance chart.

The second most annoying thing on the net is stories with a crappy plot or none whatsoever. Without a half-decent plot, your story is going to suck. It's simple as that. Now, there are acceptions when the main focus is on one small moment, but only with a pre-established plotline or main story-line that people are willing to explain.

Now, this is probably a given, but a story with no climax might as well not be a story written down. Without a climactic, pivotal scene, whether it be the climax of a romance, the discovery of something about the character they didn't realize, the final fight in an action story, or whatever else fits the genre of the story.

As for theme and setting, those have too many controversy over what's good. Some settings work for some people, others don't. Some people get spoken to by certain themes and others they just find stupid. With these it's just all a matter of opinion.

When reviewing, I like to find what the most detailed scene in the story, and then find what I like the most in it, then write that as the positive, however, I tend to refrain from the negatives unless something really sticks out to me. All stories have good potential, they just need a more chiseling from time to time.

I re-write all the time, sometimes it's just a segment I'm working on, and sometimes it's the whole story. I can't tell you how many times I've trashed something and called it stupid, then re-wrote from the ground up.

This is my first post on here, just thought I'd make a nice debute. Looking forwards to getting to know you all.

1/8/2010 #13

What makes a good story....A question of the ages. For me, a character needs to catch my eye. It needs to have some humor, and some stuff that makes me think. It needs to be simple to understand, yet have enough complexity to keep me on my toes, it needs to have a good concept, and excellent characters. A strong finale, and a good resolution. A good story is a hard thing to make, I think we all can agree on that.

I do rewrite a bit, and I ask my reviewers to notify me on my mistakes. That still doesn't seem to get rid of all the typos I sometimes make.

1/9/2010 #14

In your mind, what makes a good story?

To me, the most important thing about making a good story is to see great characters. Well-developed characters are the most important thing. From there, I like a great plot to throw those amazing characters in. I adore quirkiness. And I tend to like stories in alternative realities . . . throw in some fantasy, supernatural, or fairy-tale elements and I'm game!

What do you look for in a story when reviewing? What makes a good review, in your author's eyes?

When I have time to write good reviews, I always like to tell them what they are doing right in a review. Then, if I find something I think they can improve on. I end with more positives, because I figure that something bad doesn't sound so terrible if it's between two nice things. ^_^ I love getting comprehensive reviews the best and it's really REALLY hard to offend me. The only thing that truly annoys me is when somebody puts something rude and then doesn't sign it. I don't care what you write, so long as you sign it.

Do you rewrite?

I often START rewrites . . . and then end up getting caught up in a new story. Heh. ^_^

1/9/2010 #15

What makes a good review?

I had a slight encounter with the Review Game's 'depth' review guidelines for Multi-Chap works. They set forth the some nice categories. I'm not going to plagiarize them, but they do remind me of the better reviews I've seen. Worth clicking on the link, even if you're not going to submit a multi-chapter work.


Okay, new topic (don't let me be the only one who starts them, please!) - please feel free to jump in on the older ones, too. It's not like we can only have one topic at a time here.


I've tried, and I've failed. I'm simply too much the perfectionist to get it working within the constraints. I'm sure others can, and have.

So who here has done NaNoWriMo? Completed it? How post-worthy was your 50K words? And .. to tie it to the previous question - did you rerwrite / touch up / modify the story before posting it?

I tried it. Twice. Failed both times. I did pull off a NaNo-like push once, but it was the wrong month, and I only hit 45K words before self-doubt sandbagged me. No, it's not post-worthy, because the underlying plot was lacking.

1/12/2010 . Edited 1/12/2010 #16

I have done NaNo the last three years. And won each of the three. Although the last two years, I've had 50K, but didn't fully complete the story. This past November, I actually didn't start writing the story until less than two weeks before the end of the month. I type really fast and I tend to have tons of different story ideas running through my mind. To be honest, the hardest part of writing for me is the part where I STOP procrastinating and just write. I mean, I do have the ocassional writer's block on a story. When that happens, I just put it aside and work on one of my other stories. Or I write later scenes and come back and fill in the blanks.

Whether or not they're any good . . . I'll let you be the judge of that! My personal opinion is that each year I do better. All three are posted on here. The first: A Bit Touched in the Mind had a bit of a following. The plotline is pretty good, but there are def. tense changes and the ending is WAY rushed. The second: Fairy Tale Dreams Gone Awry still isn't finished. I ADORE this plot. I don't have much feedback on it, so I'm not sure whether or not it's a solid piece. But I really like it. Shattered Dreams is my favorite thus far. Also not finished, but those who have read it love it. And unlike previous stories I've written, I think this piece has a greater air of reality to it. And I don't just mean the fact that it doesn't have any supernatural/fantasy elements to it like the first two do. The characters are a lot more realistic and considering that I wrote the first 50K in less than two weeks, I tend to believe the writing is pretty freakin' great.

Some advice for people who are thinking about doing NaNo . . . I'd say get a general idea of what you want to write . . . where you want to go . . . but don't overplot. Let the characters lead the plot and keep writing, no matter how bad you think it is. There may be a lot of bad, but mixed in there is good. And besides, that's what rewriting is for. Also! Put some blocks on your Internet . . . the Internet is my greatest means of procrastination. (Well . . . other than writing ABOUT my story, as opposed to my story, and wasting hours finding the perfect character pictures and cover sheet and object that is described in the story. DON'T DO IT!!) And check out this app. Write or Die. It's a lifesaver. (I think I'll go add that to the link page . . .)


1/12/2010 #17

One more topic to talk about, if the spirit moves you: writers and confidence.

As writers, we know our works - we know their weaknesses and how they rate against our betters. There's always room for improvement, and likely for (shudder) rewriting.

Here are my thoughts, presented not as axioms, but as discussion topic fodder.

Keep this in mind: we are also marketing our work. We need to sell it, if only to the reader here who will give us time in exchange for reading and critiquing it. When marketing an investment, confidence is critical. Don't sell yourself short. Don't deprecate your work in the summary or the A/N, either before or after the work.

Also, remember the concept of branding. A username is a brand. If 'taerkitty' puts out a barely legible piece of rubbish, then people who read that will expect similar offal in all other works by this author. If your piece isn't ready for prime time, don't post it. If you're not willing to stand along your piece and say, "Yeah, I wrote it. Got a problem with that?" then don't post it.

Thoughts? Discussion (especially disagreement) welcomed.

1/12/2010 #18

What makes a good review?

A good review gives me, the author, something to work with.

What I Hope For

- It can be a proofread of the current work, finding this basic language error and that bit of clunky phrasing.

- It can be praise of a particular passage, with an explanation of why. "Oh, I love this phrase!" is welcomed - who doesn't enjoy the pat on the back. However, "Oh, I love this phrase - it gives me a real insight into what he's doing and why" tells me to improve this as a strength, at least for this type of story. (What works in one story mightn't work in another.)

- It can be a comment about the overall work, good or bad. "You had a smooth flow until (this part)." Okay, I'll look to reworking it somehow. "His dialogue was great" / "His dialogue really showed the emotion of the scene."

- It can be a blow by blow - "I'm at (this scene) and these are my thoughts." When you think about it, that's what we do for chapter works anyhow. "All right, (author). I'm at the end of Chapter (n), and this is what I think." It's a 'stop-and-speak' point, just on a larger scale than scene-by-scene.

What I Give

My reviewing style is still developing. I'm rusty, having set aside serious workshopping for a year or three.

- I always review the opening sentence and paragraph, be it for the story or the chapter. Does it have the 'hook'? Does it tell me what to expect, but tell me the details? In short, I'm browsing in a bookstore, and select this work out of curiosity. Good cover art. Interesting title. Name recognition. Whatever. I open it up, either to chapter one or some random chapter.

In short, is what I'm reading enough to pull me in?

- If the author puts in author's notes, and I feel it decreases my confidence in the work or author? What I said above for summaries applies for A/Ns as well. Better to not put one in than to say "uh, this really needs work, which is why I'm posting it." Of course it needs work - that's why it's being workshopped instead of being subbed to markets.

- I look for flow. Again, see above. Typos, formatting, grammar errors, internal inconsistencies, perspective shifts, tense changes. These all affect flow. They needn't be textbook-perfect. Some rules of writings make writing very stiff and clunky. I'm sure of those you can think. If the work doesn't flow, I note it down.

- I look for immersion. This is similar to flow, but it's not the same. It's dependent on flow, but it has to feel real. A work can flow wonderfully, but not draw me in. A cliche-ridden story, for example. Or one that takes two thousand words to say nothing.

- I critique the closing paragraph. Does it give me something to chew on? Does it impart a memorable scene, an indelible image? Does it leave me hanging in a way that feels 'natural'? Yes, all cliffhangers are staged, but not all staged cliffhangers are obviously staged.

In short, is what I'm reading enough to get me to go to the next chapter?

What I Ask

When reviewing, don't just toss in a one-liner (or few-liner) to encourage the author, to express thanks. Those that want only that that can or have developed 'fan clubs' of non-authors who read their work and give encouragement. The best kind give encouragement only when earned, but that's a digression. These are authors who just want adulation aren't the kind who post here.

Remember that a good piece takes hours to write, even a good chapter or poem. If you're going to show gratitude, repay it with spending time writing the review. I'm a fast reader. I can blow through a 1.5K word chapter in under five minutes, usually under three. My reviews usually take half an hour because I want to truly thank the author by giving hir my time in response.

Imagine receiving this review you're writing. Does it give you something to work with? Does it give you some areas to improve? Does it point out where you're strong, so you know to keep going?

In short, will it help the author improve?

1/14/2010 #19
Vulpine Ninja

In your mind, what makes a good story?

for me, the thing that makes a good story is the 'impact' effect - either from the beginning, or at the end, or througout the wholse story... or all of them! Something that makes me go... "wow" and makes me 'think' or get inspired after I finished reading (or watching) the story. The factors that should give such impacts are;

1. Character(s) - The set of characters should be unique, not typical. You can use stereotypes, but not typical. A naive hero is boring, and a damsel in distress makes me puke. If you wanna use those stereotypes, give them a lil twist ('the naive hero accidentally did something evil' or 'the damsel is actually a succubus' etc). Especially the hero, heroine or both... they NEED to be the ones who leave us a good impression. They have the capability to change what readers think, they have to be memorable, impactual that you decide to take him as a role model (but not someone you wanna worship). Characters are the medium to deliver author's piece of mind.

2. The moral value, the meaning behind the story and the hidden message. I may be contradicting myself here, but I would certainly love the story if it teaches me something. It doesn't matter how ridiculous the story is or how many errors are in the content (but of course, if it's a written story, I'd never want to continue reading a fic with too many obvious mistakes).

3. The ability to capture the emotions. from what I've noticed, some novels had to describe a lot in order to make the readers really feel what the character is feeling. but there are some which can inflict the similar effect with little description. This depends on how the author writes... there's no specific technique, but you just have to know how.

4. The way the author handles something 'ridiculous'? Like science fiction and fantasy stuff, you can't just do whatever you want. IMO, even magic needs a certain degree of logic. The story would sound better if the author bothers to study about the facts or myths beforehand. And for such themes... even if it's comedy, try not to write like re-summarizing a comic. I've read a fic in fp that made me feel like I'm watching an anime. I liked the idea, but the way it is presented turns me off. Please write more like a novelist than a cartoon scriptwriter.

5. Clean language (or however you call it). Too cussing irks me.

I don't think speaking of spelling/grammar mistakes, or additional stuff is relevant here. My opinion is about 'story' in general (not exclusively about fics in fp, but also novels, anime, comics, drama, games etc).

Actually, I don't mind if the story doesn't have any of these (except for the first factor). An author may just wanna write something to fulfill their fantasies (as do I), I can just read 'em to pass time. but for me to call it a 'good' one, then the stuff above is necessary.

What do you look for in a story when reviewing?

The idea, the writing style, the progress. I will only review properly when something about the story attracts me (I'm hard to please), even if it's a bad idea. I won't review anything (that I read) that screams 'TYPICAL!!!'.

What makes a good review, in your author's eyes?

Pointing out grammar or spelling mistakes isn't my priority. A good review should be polite and encouraging. Point out whataver that's lacking to them (reviewers) and if possible suggest something to improvise the flow of the story/chapter/intro.

Do you rewrite? How often? How extensively?

I almost never rewrite (at least, not yet), but I do revise. I'll just erase the sentence that look funny and replace with another one. Or add something else between sentences, or add a new paragraph. Correcting grammar/spelling mistakes (if any) but I keep overlooking lol.

Touch-ups, or from-the-ground-up?

I mostly do touch-ups.

what makes a good summary?

Again, something that does not scream "Typical!!!". It should be something that makes us wonder what's the point of the story. It'll make us think of the possibilities of the ending. Not something predictable. but don't be too vague or else we won't get the picture. mention something important that is related to the story.

1/18/2010 #20

So, you wanted to talk Character Designing? Let's go!

Some characters are me. Face it, sometimes I want to be in the action. Me. (Look up "Mary Sue" for particulars.)

Most of them are me trying to create someone else entirely, but my pawprints are all over the creation. Most of them are not wish fulfillment, but people I've written with for a while will still recognize parts of me in my character.

I try to create someone else, but I don't know enough about the world to have the confidence writing someone in, say South Africa. I'm in the US and there are already too many demographic regions for me to say I'm comfortable writing a story about any US resident.

1/18/2010 #21
Vulpine Ninja

yea I was about to post questions regarding that XD.

Some characters are me. Face it, sometimes I want to be in the action. Me. (Look up "Mary Sue" for particulars.)

I don't find it wrong if you do that. Just that.. don't make it too obvious that it's you. You merely using a character to represent yourself to deliver what you think, what you'd do if you're in this or that situations... you just wanna show the world that there's no other character in the world that's like you XD. I think I know how it feels. I have an alter-ego of myself too... I think I have several alter-egos but I made turn them into side-characters (just stopping by to help when neccessary). cos it's weird to write about myself lol. And then it's weirder if I have an imaginary love interest or archnemesis XD;;;

My other characters would always have fragments of myself (well duhhh, whatever their opinions are is my opinion too!).

Ok here comes the questions~

How do you design/create a character? What are the steps/procedures that you use to produce one? How long does it take?

What do you consider when designing/creating them?

Give a couple of samples of your original characters (Protagonist and love interest/archrival/villain/sidekick/parent/etc) and explain briefly on how you create them and the pair's relationship with each other.

1/18/2010 #22

How do you design / create a character?

In the beginning was the story, and the author saw the story and said, "This sucks."

This repeats hundreds of times until something passes muster. Now, I'm a pretty concrete sort of kitty. I don't want to write about a mood or a theme. What drives me to write is usually some character dynamic, plot or moment.

Writing to get to a scene is a bad thing, btw. At least in my experience, I get excited about how cool the scene is, and rush it.

A plot is nothing without characters, and, as my non-vamp walking parasite story shows, characters (and plot devices) without a plot are nothing.

If I have a character dynamic, then it's done. I need to flesh out the rest of the character, and much of that happens on the fly. At some point while writing, I ask, "does she have a sister?" and it's done with. If it was significant to the original plot, then it would already have been set in stone.

If I have a plot, then I need to find characters that work with the plot, but aren't going to make me hate writing them. The accidental spy is one. Hate the bumbling idiot that stumbles into the sinister plot and foils it.

Usually, my plots are so simple a few traits are all my character needs to start. I slap those traits on a sheet of imagination, then sketch the rest of a character around them. A few minutes, really.

Give a couple of samples:

Tad Foster is an adult male, 32. Fights Demons in the typical hidden war. First person smartarse narrator.

Angelo is an Angel that gives Tad his missions. Age not specified (not relevant) blond hair. Missing an arm. Stiff and formal, does not understand a lot of popular culture.

Madison Latham is Tad's recently deceased partner in fighting Demons. She provided the raw Power, he used it.

Sebastian Fairchild is Tad's high school friend and Navy mate.

Christine Hooper is a short busybody who is the building manager for the apartment building Tad lives in. Comic relief.

Nathan is an Angel that will work with Tad when he finally gets to where he's going. Also stiff, formal and pop.culture clueless.

Chase Kincaid works with Tad in hunting Demons, working to keep things hush-hush.

Kim Chin is another resident of Tad's building. A reminder of why he does what he does.

Brynn Harper is a 10 yo girl who can generate Power like Madison used to be able to, but doesn't always generate good Power. Tad needs to make sure she's safe.

There are a few more, but those are the ones that are most on my mind right now.

1/18/2010 #23
Vulpine Ninja

How do you design/create a character?

Truth be told, most of my characters are inspired by existing characters in the media. It's like...I took some of them, mix, blend and revamp them so that it becomes my original. I don't mean to rip-off, but it just happens. Others may be inspired by (real life) people I know - including myself.

Consequently, when a new main character appears in my head, a story will develop - along with the creation of other characters. When I develop these, I don't immediately write it down. I daydream. I keep it in my head for months... sometimes for years. As time passes the plot, event, flow may change till I'm satisfied. I may forget some things, but I'd re-do a scene. After that is done, I'll write the story and character description in point form. By then, I've already determine their respective personalities.

As I develop the story, I design the characters' appearences on paper. I draw them out. This would take a long time too, because the costume design may evolve or alter. This is important for me to describe the physical traits and what they're wearing.

As for naming them... sometimes I already have a name but no solid design. Sometimes I design first before naming them. How I name them, I've explained in the Names topic.

When a story is ready for them, it's time to be more specific. The character development, the relationship (with other characters) development. I'd make additions to the character personalities if there are any. I'll also think of their backstories - may not include in the main story but it's for my personal use. At least I have a solid reason why the character grew up to be like that.

What do I consider?

Since most of my characters are inspired by characters that have already exist (both inside and outside), I wouldn't want mine to be too similar to them. Not only changing the physical appearence, but I make minor changes in their personality. I'd also consider the main characters' uniqueness. They might have similarities to someone else's characters, but I want them to be different. I try my best to do so. As a result, my characters

Give a couple of samples (+ design process)

From an already solid story (theme: fantasy), but I haven't written them out propely so it's not published yet.

Drake Grandsword (protagonist) - I gave birth to him after getting charmed by Kyo from Samurai Deeper Kyo. I'm not a big fan of him but I'm impressed by his attitude towards his subordinates despite of his antihero-ness. He may treat them like a servant, but he trust them a lot. And in turn his underlings genuinely wants to fight alongside him and protect him (although he's pretty much strong enough). Drake is pretty much like that, but he's not an anti-hero but more like the cool-guy type... with a pair of glasses. His past is different than that of Kyo's, and the reason why he treats his comrades like servants is due to his spoilt upbringing (but that doesn't mean that his leadership is bad, he's just natural at that). He grew up in a well-to-do family but his very competent in dragon hunting. He's also bisexual, but he's not the type that f*cks everything that moves. he has his own preferences in both men and women, and he has a subtle yet charming way of flirting. What I love about him is that his name contradicts his profession, and I got a bisexual pervert as the leading man 8D

Lady Julyanna (heroine) - I do not want to do another boy-meets-girl fantasy story so I decided to make a heroine whom Drake already know since childhood. And to make it better/worse, Julyanna is his fiancee - arranged by their parents. You might think that the two of them are against this, but no. They actually DO love each other. but the problem is... Drake's tendency to switch his attention (or affection) to other people. Of course Julyanna is jealous, but she doesn't make it obvious. She knows Drake for a long time so she keeps telling herself that she's used to his behaviour. Later in the story she learns to accept the way he is, confident that he does truly love her no matter how many concubines he has. Their love is probably not the romantic kind, more like a mutual bond. So it's gonna be like a happy+sad ending for them. I love this idea because it's just sooooooo uncommon XD. I'm gonna use the 'false protagonist' method to begin the story with her.

Tigris (Villain) - He won't make that much appearence though. He's Drake's blood relative. see where this is going? lol. However, he and Drake never had a history of being close to each other or as rivals. They just hated each other for some reason, but they won't have a clue that they're fated to be archenemies in the future. Whatever's gonna happen between them at the end is verrrryyyyy important for Drake's growth (and the story's future). This relationship is inspired by other family feud ideas, but mine would appear rather vague.

Nico (sidekick) - An accidental sidekick. He didn't sign up for this! He's involunetarily a new member of Drake's travel group and is the only one who doubts and dares to oppose Drake (while the other groupmates are goddamn loyal for some reason that Nico doesn't know yet). he's smart and useful to the protagonist, but he lacks confidence and is a scaredy-cat. Drake does something wily to keep him from running off. Nico on the other hand, will learn something important from his 'master'. Oh yea this one may sound typical but I have my secrets. I don't remember how I came up with him, but his costume design is inspired by an existing character. Later I discovered that his growth (from zero to hero) is something like Gurren Lagann's Simon.

there are others. too many to mention.

1/18/2010 #24
Mizzuz Spock

Some characters are me. Face it, sometimes I want to be in the action. Me. (Look up "Mary Sue" for particulars.)

I write my characters with my voice, not my personality. (If that makes any sense.)

When it comes to Dusk, I'm nothing like Stella. She's the anti-me, as she does some things I know I would never be able to do later on in the story. And some of her views I don't share at all. Not consciously, anyway. I don't write her because I'm all like, "Gee, I wish I could be her." If I did, I certainly wouldn't give her so many flaws. (I'd at least make her able to climb a frickin' wall without needing some help...)

I only see Mary Sues as problems if they're perfect, anyway. Christopher Paolini's Eragon, for example, is a Gary Stu. He learns how to read in, like, two weeks. During that same time, he learns how to master the art of swordplay AND learns how to work and control (The) Magic (Force). Oh, and he's the "last" dragonrider. Besides the fact that it's Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings and rips off Anne McCaffrey, there're just so many things wrong with that story and character, I wonder why it became so popular in the first place.

But I digress... Some people may actually like Eragon and the last thing I want to do is start an argument. :]

How do you design/create a character?

They just happen. I never actually have to sit down and think, "Who is this person? What is his/her purpose? Why are they the way they are?" and things like that. It's already there for me, the minute I even start thinking about my character.

The bad thing is, I'm not willing to change a character or tweak them for the sake of the story. If that needs to happen, I come up with an entirely different character to take the other character's place. My character bank is full of people that I may never use.

What do I consider?

I guess I consider character interaction. I don't like making things easy for my characters. Person A wouldn't just ignore the fact that Person B ate the last piece of cake, and so Person A would attack B. Person C wouldn't own up to the fact that SHE ate the last piece of cake and would sit and watch the whole thing quietly. If I had Person C step forward and take the blame, this would be out of character, and I don't want my character to turn into somebody she's not. The reader will see it and know it was just a thing to push the plot forward...

My biggest problem is personalities and keeping them straight. I think it's because I don't sit down and plan out my characters, so their personalities are still developing as I write. :/

Give a couple of samples:

I'll use examples from a fantasy story of mine that went absolutely nowhere. If you look hard enough, you might be able to still find it on Bebo Authors... but, God, was it terrible. And a perfect example of why sometimes characters "happening" is bad. The cast gets waaaaay too crowded. xD

Kioku: (heroine) A young shepherd girl from a small village in the hills. She wishes for excitement and gets just that when she's almost made a giant spider's dinner. She hates damsels in distress and doesn't see why those stupid girls just couldn't help themselves. When she becomes one, she gets frustrated with herself. Makes herself come off as a tomboy, and pretends not to care what others think. She secretly feels inferior to her sister, who is proclaimed to be the most beautiful girl in the village.

Arikiel: (hero) Arik, for short. A young boy who ends up saving Kioku from the spider. The reluctant love interest. He knows a lot about the world outside of Kioku's village, and also knows a lot about things he shouldn't. Has a weak conscience and gets guilty easily. He and his group of travellers are searching for Paradise, to find the Heartfruit, a fruit that once eaten, will grant any one wish. Arik was created by a gypsy from a piece of wood. In a sense, he's like Pinocchio, except once he became a real boy, he still didn't have a soul, so that's what his reason behind his quest to Paradise. He's also terrified of fire.

Trell: (sidekick one) The older, sensible one. A werewolf. Came from a wealthy family, but ran away from home to join a travelling sideshow. There, he dabbled in some magic, but he's not very good at most spells. He wears an eyepatch just for show. He's a bit of an attention w***. He's looking for Paradise so he can find a cure for his lycanthropy.

Neko: (sidekick two) The young one, always hungry. Worked in the sideshow with Trell. Neko has the power to find anything and contributes this to the demon that supposedly lives inside of him, though there's no proof that he actually is possessed by a demon. Neko accidentally killed his mother in a house fire when he was younger. His motivation for finding Paradise is to bring his mother back from the dead.

Milfred A. Pewterschmidt: (the key) A guy trapped in a portrait by the main villain. A very intelligent and snarky character. He is the map to Paradise.

Adani: (main villain) A batty old witch who hates men. (She turns them into gingerbread men.) When the group of travellers stumbles upon her and steals the map, she gets pissed.

Fraj: (villain) Adani's butler. A very bored-looking fellow, but one that knows a lot more than he lets on. He's an Al, a creature that...I can't really remember a lot about now, except that he was forced into serving Adani. Als feed on babies, I remember that much. And the younger and more innocent their victims, the better. Has a thing against Trell, because he thwarted his dinner.

Aisa and Isso: (villains) Isso is a Keeper of Eyuda's Chamber. A small bug with an old man's face. Long story short, being reincarnated as a beetle and watching over the Death God's statue is basically his eternal punishment. Aisa is his wife, a gynormous spider, who helps him guard the statue. They have a bone to pick with Arik, especially since he tried to kill Aisa.

The Manoctor: (villain) A half-man, half-octopus creature that feeds on women's souls. He lures them to his spring, seduces them with his devilishly good looks, and then bestows the kiss of death. Arik ran into him on his quest for Paradise before and things didn't end well. When he meets up with him again and saves Kioku's life (again), the Manoctor gets pissed.

Abner and Ezrath: (erm...more villains) Abner sold his soul to the God of Death so he could be able to...paint good. Ezrath is the monster that filled the place where his soul used to be. Abner is innocent and doesn't enjoy having Ezrath around. Ezrath feeds on human flesh once every full moon, preferrably women. Abner's personal life sucks because of this. For awhile, Abner became a serious love interest for Kioku, and Arik got jealous. When given the chance to kill Abner (because it was the only way to get rid of Ezrath), Arik couldn't pull himself to do it because he knew Kioku loved him too much. So he pretended to kill the guy, but didn't really. Later, this decision came back to haunt him.

Marvello: (TUH-WIST!) An elf. Used to be a prince, but was unjustly accused of murdering his father, and so was exiled from the Floating Elf Kingdom. He runs a blackmarket of sorts for magical items. He was a good friend of Trell's. Okay, so he's seen throughout the novel as a friend, but, in the end, he's revealed to be the mastermind behind all of the bad guys causing problems for Arik, Kioku, and the crew on their way to Paradise. He's been following the group's quest for years (they were searching for awhile before they actually met up with Kioku) and when they finally got close to getting into Paradise, he jumped at the chance to get in on that action. He's a ruthless character, who's willing to kill a few friends to get what he wants. His reason for finding Paradise and the Heartfruit is so he can have absolute power and to claim his rightful place as King of the elves.

Yeeeeah. My story was very villain-heavy. But they kept popping up!

1/18/2010 . Edited 1/18/2010 #25

Okay, so we've a sampling of our current (or memorably strong) characters. What do you like about hir? What would you think if s/he involved you in a typical escapade for hir setting, background, and genre?

1/18/2010 #26
Mizzuz Spock

I'll just use Stella as my examples from now on, since she is the one I'm working with most of the time... xD

What do you like about hir?

I like that, even though she's pushing eighty years old, she still retains a teenage mindset. She's kind of got a Peter Pan syndrome going on, and it certainly doesn't help that she can't age. She knows when to take things seriously, though. Maybe a little too serious... She's a total whiner, too, which I love. Complaining characters are the most fun to write, in my opinion.

I like how Stella is one sorry excuse for a vampire, as well. No super strength, no super speed, no hypnotic charm. There really are no perks to being a vampire. The diet, the look, the smell... Man, it sucks to be her.

What would you think if s/he involved you in a typical escapade for hir setting, background, and genre?

I would not get along with any of my characters. I design them that way. If I can't get along with them, then there's no fear of them becoming Mary Sues.

Let's just say, for example, we had to work on a school project together: Stella would be the one doing everything without even consulting me or giving me a chance to work on it myself. If I did do something, she'd change it, especially if she didn't agree with my contribution. Then, she'd get upset when we got an A and would complain that I didn't deserve it because I didn't help...even though she didn't give me a chance to help.

If we were thrown into some sort of do-or-die situation, I'd probably die. And Stella would only try to save me so she wouldn't feel guilty later about not helping me, not because she liked me or anything. Once I died, she'd probably drink my blood. Hey, I'm not going to use it anymore, and there is no need to let things go to waste...

1/18/2010 #27
Vulpine Ninja

I'll take Drake then. (I can use other characters but they're slashfic characters so I take someone from a more general genre)

What do you like about him?

What I like about him is how he grew from a spoilt (in the past) brat to someone reliable, but his attitude of wanting things to go his way is still stuck in him, which is essential for his leadership (Honestly I've dealt with this kind of person before, I dislike that dude but I gotta admit that his method is effective). He doesn't seem to care what people think of him. Despite of his sinister appearence, he believes in his subordinates and trusts them with his life. He knows there's a possibility to be betrayed, but during the storyline he knows that his comrades are aware that betraying is not an option. He may be apathetic, but he's the kind of person who'd give a weak character a boost, in a really forceful - but usually for his own benefit. Another thing I like about him is that... he may flirt or sleep with a random people, but he doesn't abandon his responsibilities as a future heir and Julyanna's future husband.

What would you think if s/he involved you in a typical escapade for hir setting, background, and genre?

I'd avoid him lol. Sometimes I picture myself interacting with my OCs (imaginary friends!) but I hate to even start a conversation with Drake. He'd either invite me to bed or condemn me (because I'm not pretty :P). If neither, as I said, I hate dealing with people who wants to go their way, so I might have the urge to assassinate him when he brushes off others' opinion. XD Even if I follow him in his adventures... I dunno what role I would play. A wandering novelist? He'd probably blackmail me to stick around and write about his heroic tale LOL!

1/18/2010 #28
Vulpine Ninja

can anyone explain to me what's the difference between Telling and Showing?

I've never really thought of it and now I'm curious which one is more appealing in your opinion.

1/21/2010 #29
Mizzuz Spock


Janet felt awful. "I'm sorry," she said, upset.

Mark didn't care. "You're sorry?" he demanded, furious. "That's all you have to say? How are we supposed to win the dance competition now? When somebody says 'Break a leg,' they don't mean it literally, you know!"


Janet fiddled with her coat button. "I'm sorry," she said, unable to look him in the eyes.

Mark snorted. "You're sorry?" he demanded, voice rising. "That's all you have to say? How are we supposed to win the dance competition now? When somebody says 'Break a leg,' they don't mean it literally, you know!"


In the first one, everything is told. We know exactly how the characters are feeling because the writer has told us so. Janet is upset that she broke her leg and Mark is not a happy camper. There is no room for interpretation because it says, right there, what's going on.

In the second example, there is more showing. The reader can infer from the characters' actions how they are feeling. Janet can't pull herself to look at Mark, a sign that she's guilty and upset with herself. Mark snorts, showing he doesn't care and when his voice rises, it's an indication that he's getting angrier by the second.

With telling, you can be more direct, but with showing, it allows the reader a chance to get deeper into the story and also helps with believability. At least, I feel it does. xD

There are times when telling works better than showing, but, overall, it's all writer's preference. :]

1/21/2010 . Edited 1/21/2010 #30
Page 1 2 3 .. Last Next »
Forum Moderators: K.M.Simpson Not Over You, taerkitty
  • Forums are not to be used to post stories.
  • All forum posts must be suitable for teens.
  • The owner and moderators of this forum are solely responsible for the content posted within this area.
  • All forum abuse must be reported to the moderators.
Membership Length: 2+ years 1 year 6+ months 1 month 2+ weeks new member