Discussion NSWFF Writer's Support Group - July's Topic: Original Characters

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Mira_Jade, Dec 5, 2012.

Moderators: Mira_Jade, NYCitygurl
  1. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    Discussion

    My most common POVs are First Person and Third Person subjective (usually limited, but sometimes with alternating points of view - I also used first person with alternating points of view, most recently in perseus/andromeda). I've rarely used Second Person... it's not something that makes reading easy. Probably the place I've seen Second Person most commonly used is script-based RPG games from the '90s (before a lot of them got into the whole cutscene shenanigans). One of the games I played a lot during the '90s was the Heroes of Might and Magic series, which used event boxes that popped up every so often in-game to describe what was happening (depending on the scenario). They were always written in second person because the idea was that these events were happening to you directly. Heroes III had some really great character development in its event boxes; it's a shame most players didn't take the time to read them since they really were intriguing plot and character developments and the writing was really quite witty at times.

    I've never used epistolary POV, but I do find it intriguing.

    I think writers have to be very specific when choosing their narrative modes because your style says a lot about the type of story you're writing. If you want something that is very personal and comes directly from the heart of your character, First Person is good to use, though Third Person limited can accomplish things in almost the same way (for example, the Harry Potter series). I think First Person is the most difficult to write because it puts your audience really, really close to the character and you are walking a fine line - poor characterization of the protagonist is more evident in First Person than any other narrative mode. Furthermore, the narration has to read with that specific character's voice, so if you are developing an elaborate new world for audiences to visit, First Person is extremely difficult to pull off and probably doesn't benefit the story, overall. One of my main gripes with the Hunger Games is that it's written in First Person (which was a huge trend at the time of the first book's publication) and Katniss' POV is so limited in terms of her understanding of how the world works that we never fully see the worldbuilding of Panem. That really hurts the story overall because the worldbuilding feels sloppy and weak due to us not seeing enough of it. Collins had the seeds for a very delicate and interesting politcal scene which she could never explore because we were stuck in Katniss' head. The films, as an adaptation, are able to investigate the world beyond Katniss and that brings more depth to the story (which is why I like the films better - also, Katniss in the books has a very grating narrative voice and I felt much, much more compassionate for her through Jennifer Lawrence's interpretation on-screen). HG should have been written in third person, IMO. It needed that distance from the main character to further the scope of the story and the characters.

    I've become very fond of writing in First Person lately, and that's a direct correlation to how much playwriting I've been doing of late. First Person is like writing a gigantic monologue for one character and I personally find that a lot of fun. One of the biggest challenges is making your First Person POV sound like your character's voice and not a generic narrative one. If you find that you're slipping into a generic narrative voice, you might find that it's best to switch to a third person POV instead because third person had the ability to be blank, whereas first person has to be coloured by the character voice of the character narrating the tale.

    I love Third Person because there are different ways of writing it and I love the richness of storytelling you can squeeze out of it. Most of my writing has been done in third person limited with alternative points of view. I think very cinematically when I write, so often I have a set of main characters and I cut between them based on the storytelling needs I have of a particular moment and which character I think the audience needs to connect with for a given scene.

    Exercise

    OK... so this took me most of the evening, but my brain needed some exercising because I'm stuck on the first scene of my current play. These are rough drafts and the writing gets better as you go along because the more I work on a story, the better it gets. My Third Person POV really stinks (especially in terms of character portrayal)... oh well.

    Enjoy some Tangled shenanigans with Rapunzel and Eugene. (This was a lot of fun, BTW, great exercise, Mira :) .)




    “I can’t believe you got us into this!”

    “I got us into this? You’re the one who thought it was a great idea to start climbing on the roof-tops—”

    “And you’re the one who thought it was a great idea to start boasting about all the heists you’ve pulled!”

    “Hey, that’s what you DO in a tavern! You boast! Anyway, if you hadn’t insisted on removing every piece of royal insignia from—”

    “Will you hush for a second? I’m trying to listen.”

    “I am not finished defending my point here—”

    “Eugene!”

    Rapunzel’s hand flew out of nowhere and promptly collided with his shoulder. Eugene teetered backwards – he momentarily hung in mid-air, arms flailing wildly, before he recovered his balance and seized the tree branch above his head, holding on for dear life.

    “Oh no!” Rapunzel shimmied through the tangle of branches and balanced carefully in the crook of the tree. She reached out and tried to steady him. “I am so sorry! Are you all right?”

    Eugene nodded and pressed a finger to his lips before gesturing downwards. Rapunzel squeaked and slapped a hand over her mouth. They stared at each other, eyes wide, breath still, barely daring to move an inch.

    “Quickly! They can’t have gone far!”

    “Search the forest!”

    A stampede of feet rumbled down the path below their tree. The light from the burning torches stabbed at their night-adjusted eyes, but Eugene and Rapunzel did never lost eye contact. They waited, silently counting the seconds until the danger passed.

    This was not how Eugene had imagined spending his honeymoon. Then again, he never imagined he would be on a honeymoon (and with a princess, no less), so really, that only proved his life expectations meant squat to destiny.

    Unfortunately, as kind as destiny had been exceedingly kind of late, providence still had a bone to pick with him… if he believed in that sort of thing. It seemed abundantly clear that fate wanted to get even with him for cheating death multiple times, so he wasn’t surprised that everything was going wrong.

    He was getting a very clear idea of what the phrase “you win some and you lose some” meant.

    “I think they’re gone,” Rapunzel whispered.

    “Ah,” he said. “It’s when you think they’re gone that they’re most likely to appear and arrest you.”

    Rapunzel raised an eyebrow.

    “Fine! I’ll check!”

    Hooking his knees around the tree branch, Eugene let his weight pull him backwards. He swung upside down, supporting his balance by hanging on to the branch with his hands as he dangled just far enough to be able to check the forest path.

    The forest was dark, dank, gloomy and completely empty of humans.

    “Any signs of life, Oh Master Thief?”

    Rapunzel appeared beside him, dangling upside down as naturally as a bat. Somehow the loss of her lengthy magic hair had made her even more prone to being uncannily good with precarious balancing positions.

    “Empty as a cracked egg,” he said.

    Rapunzel tilted her head to one side. “Who uses an expression like that?”

    “People. People use it.” He folded his arms. “Don’t judge – ahhhh!”

    Thud.

    He had slipped free from the tree branch and crashed to the ground. Rubbing the sore shoulder he had landed on, Eugene rose to his feet and glared up at his giggling wife.

    “Somehow unintentional slapstick comedy is a mandatory part of my nature, whether I like it or not!”

    “Talking to the trees, are we, Flynn Rider?”

    Rapunzel pulled herself back up and darted away into the tangled tree branches as Eugene spun around. Out of the darkness, a tall, cloaked figure approached. Illuminated as he was by the dappled silver moonlight, he resembled a demon from a book of children’s stories.

    “The trees are particularly chatty,” Eugene said casually. “Always something new with them. Like… squirrel droppings and… summer breezes. Fascinating stuff—”

    The stranger drew a sword. Eugene stepped back.

    “Oh… hey, do you mind if we put that away? It’s just the trees really don’t like pointy objects, they find them a little offensive—”

    “You have no idea how glad I am to be the one to find you,” the stranger said. He pointed the sword at Eugene.

    Eugene raised his hands and stepped back again. “No need to get hasty, friend. You wouldn’t want to do something you might regret later—”

    “I’ll have no regrets in killing you,” the stranger snarled.

    “Okay, look—” Eugene was speaking quickly now. He kept his eyes firmly on the point of the sword as the stranger advanced on him. “I don’t know who you are, and whatever it was I did, I am sorry. Truly sorry, from the bottom of my heart. I know I’ve done some questionable stuff in the past, but that’s all behind me now. I’m reformed. Flynn Rider doesn’t exist. Trust me, I had a few words with him and he’s very happily retired—”

    The stranger swung the sword. Eugene ducked.

    “Can’t we at least talk about this before you gut me?”

    “I have no words for you!” the stranger hissed, striking again.

    Eugene threw himself on the ground, rolled and sprang back up on his feet. “Well, then, arrest me and put me on trial! Is that too much to ask?”

    His back was to the tree now, the point of the sword only inches from his face.

    “Didn’t anybody tell you that stabbing people is a bad way to resolve an argument?”

    The stranger swung. Eugene ducked.

    A shriek of rage and frustration rung out through the night air. The sword had lodged itself in the tree trunk and the stranger was desperately tugging at it by the hilt. It refused to budge.

    “See?” Eugene said, folding his arms. “This is why we talk about things before we try to stab people.”

    The stranger whirled around. “No matter,” he hissed. “I can kill you with my own hands if I must.”

    “NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!”

    Rapunzel dropped from the tree, her cloak flapping wildly around her as she fell, and landed squarely on the stranger’s shoulders. He shouted in surprise and tried to shake her off, but she held on fiercely. In a blur of motion, she used her weight to knock him to the ground and leapt free before knocking him on the head with a tree branch. The stranger sank into the grass and lay motionless.

    “And that’s the last time you mess with my husband,” she said. She turned around and raised an eyebrow. “What are you staring at?”

    “… remind me not to get on your bad side,” Eugene muttered. “Where did you learn to do that?”

    She grinned. “I think a certain thief has rubbed off on me a teeny, tiny bit.”

    “I don’t remember teaching you to take out thugs twice your height!”

    “I improvised,” Rapunzel said, embracing him. “Unlike some princesses, I’m not afraid of breaking my nails.”

    ***

    When the realization finally hit that you were going to be marrying a princess, you were certain that your dangerous, yet charmingly flamboyant, lifestyle was finally going to retire forever for the comfort of your very own castle.

    Destiny, as usual, had something else in mind. Or maybe dangerous, yet charmingly flamboyant lifestyles were just really, really fond of you.

    You are currently perched awkwardly in a tree several miles from the nearest town on a cold, summer night five days into your wedding. What should have been blissful marriage is turning out to be a cramped and potentially life-endangering scenario. Well… very life-endangering, for that matter. You have just spent the past three hours in your tree shivering in the summer nighttime breezes, crossing your fingers that the people chasing you have given up and gone back to the tavern.

    That blasted tavern. That’s where the trouble started. Well… that’s where you started your half of the trouble. Rapunzel started her half of the trouble when she decided to see what the roof-tops looked like and the city guard mistook her for a thief, or a spy, or possibly both. Neither of you are quite sure because you (a) haven’t been caught yet and (b) have been arguing in hissed whispers whenever you weren’t too busy running away.

    “I can’t believe you got us into this!” she hisses.

    “I got us into this?” you hiss back. “You’re the one who thought it was a great idea to start climbing on the roof-tops—”

    She looks just about ready to smack you in the face with a frying-pan. “And you’re the one who thought it was a great idea to start boasting about all the heists you’ve pulled!”

    If you could cross your arms without losing your balance, you would. “Hey, that’s what you DO in a tavern! You boast! Anyway, if you hadn’t insisted on removing every piece of royal insignia from—”

    “Will you hush for a second? I’m trying to listen.”

    “I am not finished defending my point here—”

    “Eugene!”

    Her hand collides with your shoulder. It was supposed to be a playful punch to show that she’s annoyed with you, but she’s stronger than she thinks she is.

    “Oh no!” Rapunzel squeaks.

    You teeter backwards and then the pit of your stomach nearly drops out as you fall backwards. You catch hold of the branch above your head at the last moment and you swing to a stop long enough to place your feet back on the branch.

    “I am so sorry!” Rapunzel’s face appears as she shimmies through a tangle of branches and carefully balances in the crook of the tree. “Are you all right?”

    You freeze. You think you’ve heard something in the distance… footsteps, maybe? You press a finger to your lips and gesture downwards. Rapunzel falls silent – and then she hears it, too. She slaps a hand over her mouth and stares at you, eyes wide. You both stay still, barely daring to breathe.

    “Quickly! They can’t have gone far!”

    “Search the forest!”

    The horde from the city – guards, merchants and rogues alike – stampede down the forest path, waving their torches. The light spills everywhere and for a fraction of a second you are sure that they will spot you, perched here in your hiding tree. You stare at Rapunzel, refusing to lose eye contact with her, doing your best to help keep her calm until the danger passes.

    Finally, after several agonizing moments, the light from the torches fades and you are left in the darkness… and the moonlight.

    “I think they’re gone,” Rapunzel whispers.

    “Ah,” you say cheekily. “It’s when you think they’re gone that they’re most likely to appear and arrest you.”

    The shadow of a smile crosses her face, but the moment is still too serious for her to break out into full laughter.

    “Fine!” you say. “I’ll check!”

    You lower yourself on to the branch and swing down, hanging by your knees, to take a look. You look left; you look right; there is nothing to be found other than dark, dank, gloomy forest.

    Rapunzel follows you, dangling upside down as naturally as a bat. Even now, when you think you know everything about her, she still surprises you. Her sense of balance is uncanny. You secretly think that even with the loss of her magic hair, there is still some magic that hangs about her.

    “Any signs of life, Oh Master Thief?”

    “Empty as a cracked egg.”

    Again, it seems like she’s about to burst into laughter, but the potential danger is holding her back. “Who uses an expression like that?”

    “People,” you say. “People use it. Don’t judge – ahhhh!”

    Damn it.

    You’ve fallen free and have crashed unceremoniously to the ground. Rapunzel stifles a giggle as you get to your feet.

    “Somehow unintentional slapstick comedy is a mandatory part of my nature,” you say, “whether I like it or not!”

    “Talking to trees, are we, Flynn Rider?”

    You spin around. Out of the darkness, a tall cloaked figure approaches, eerily illuminated by the moonlight. Out of natural instinct, you reach for your sword only to have your fingers swipe meaninglessly at open air.

    Damn it.

    Your sword’s back at the inn.

    Instead, you stand up straight and smile pleasantly at the approaching stranger, praying that Rapunzel has gotten out of the way while wondering how the hell this person – whoever he is – knows your name.

    Then again, that’s not your name any more.

    Then again, you’ve annoyed plenty of people when you were pretending that was your name.

    Then again, it’s been over five years since you’ve radically annoyed someone other than Maximus and Pascal.

    Then again, you know plenty of rogues who are capable of holding a grudge indefinitely.

    You grin widely. Maybe this won’t be so bad…

    “The trees are particularly chatty,” you say casually. “Always something new with them. Like… squirrel droppings and…” You’re really struggling. This used to be easy. “…and summer breezes!” Nope. This is definitely not going your way tonight. “Fascinating stuff—”

    The distinct sound of a sword being drawn from its sheath sends shivers down your spine.

    “Oh…”

    The blade glints in the moonlight. You can just make out its point.

    “Hey, you do mind if we put that away?” you babble as you take a step back. “It’s just the trees really don’t like pointy objects, they find them a little offensive—”

    “You have no idea how glad I am to be the one to find you,” the stranger growls.

    You’re trying desperately to place his voice – you can’t see his face in this darkness – but a name is not coming to you. You raise your hands and step back again. “No need to get hasty, friend. You wouldn’t want to do something you might regret later—”

    “I’ll have no regrets in killing you!”

    Damn. You must have really busted this guy. Maybe you stole an island from him… or something.

    No.

    Stop exaggerating. You haven’t stolen any islands, dimwit. Focus, or you’ll get stuck with the pointy end and you know from experience that’s not much fun.

    And it will be extremely unfair to Rapunzel. This is her honeymoon, too.

    “Okay, look,” you say. “I don’t know who you are, and whatever it was I did, I am sorry. Truly sorry, from the bottom of my heart. I know I’ve done some questionable stuff in the past, but that’s all behind me now. I’m reformed. Flynn Rider doesn’t exist.”

    Except he does exist in a book.

    “Trust me, I had a few words with him and he’s very happily retired—”

    You shouldn’t have used the words “happily retired”.

    You duck just in time. The sword goes over your head.

    “Can’t we at least talk about this before you gut me?” you say, your voice slightly strangled by the first real near-death experience you’ve had in five years.

    “I have no words for you!”

    You narrowly avoid getting stabbed in the stomach by throwing yourself on the ground and rolling out of the way. Slightly dizzy, you get back up, quirky quip ready. “Well, then, arrest me and put me on trial! Is that too much to ask?”

    The stranger’s words have failed him; he is reduced to shouting nonsensical gibberish. He aims another blow at your stomach, which you barely dodge.

    “Didn’t anybody tell you that stabbing people is a bad way to resolve an argument?”

    The sword flashes and you unceremoniously duck down so that you’re crouched at the base of the tree.

    There is a horrendous thud inches away from your head. You look up. The sword is stuck fast in the tree. The stranger is howling with rage and is running towards you at top speed. You throw yourself out of the way and watch as the stranger lunges at the sword hilt and desperately tries to pull it free.

    “See? This is why we talk about things before we try to stab people!”

    And someday you are going to learn to keep your mouth shut. Not everyone needs to hear your wisecracks.

    You swear that if you could see the stranger’s face, his eyes would be glowing red. Like a demon out of a children’s story.

    “No matter,” the stranger hisses, bearing down on you. “I can kill you with my own hands if I must.”

    Options are flicking through your mind and none of them are good enough. You know better than anyone that you’ve only ever gotten away from a slimy situation because you’re a brilliant runner with an uncanny knack of getting over natural obstacles faster than your pursuers. But that was when you were alone. Rapunzel is still in that tree and you can’t leave without her.

    You would much rather be killed by that demonic stranger who holds some bizarre grudge than leave her behind.

    You raise your hands, hoping that you’re not about to get squashed like a bug.

    “NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!”

    Your jaw drops faster than Rapunzel does when she falls, cloak billowing dramatically, and lands precisely on the stranger’s shoulders. He screeches with surprise and tries to throw her off, but she somehow manages to flip around and knock him to the ground with her own bodyweight. Then she leaps free and promptly whacks him on the head with a tree branch.

    The stranger collapses and lies motionless in the grass.

    Rapunzel draws herself up to her full height. “And that’s the last time you mess with my husband!” she says triumphantly.

    You, meanwhile, seem to have forgotten how to… well… function.

    Rapunzel turns and raises an eyebrow. “What are you staring at?”

    “…remind me not to get on your bad side,” you say meekly. Your wife is an acrobat. Who knew?

    She’s shaking her head and laughing quietly to herself now.

    “Where did you learn to do that?” you manage to gulp out.

    You’re not sure if you’ll ever stop feeling astonished.

    “I think a certain thief has rubbed off on me a teeny, tiny bit,” she says.

    You frown. “I don’t remember teaching you to take out thugs twice your height!”

    “I improvised,” Rapunzel says as she worms her way under your arm and embraces you. “Unlike some princesses, I’m not afraid of breaking my nails.”

    Her smile is dazzling.

    You’ve never felt more lucky than in this moment.

    ***

    When one imagines a honey moon, running from a horde of really angry townsfolk who think, for no apparent reason, that you’ve stolen the entire town treasury doesn’t usually come to mind.

    It definitely didn’t come to my mind.

    But then, my life is pretty unusual and destiny likes playing little jokes on me, so I can’t say that I was entirely surprised when I found myself hiding in a tree for three hours with my wife of five days.

    I might also point out that said wife and love of my life is also a princess and that, by that point, I was also a prince and we definitely didn’t expect that going undercover in a foreign country to enjoy a little peace and quiet was going to put us in such a precarious situation.

    For the record, this is the last time that I am ever letting Rapunzel remove the royal insignia. If someone ever accuses you of not being a prince, you better be able to prove that you’re a prince. When you’re a prince.

    Yes, I am very aware that made little to no sense. On with the story, I guess.

    It was nighttime. Rapunzel and I were hiding in a tree (like I said before) and we weren’t too happy about that.

    Mostly we were having our first argument as husband and wife and, like many other things, we never expected to have our first argument as husband and wife while hiding in a tree from dangerous townsfolk in a foreign country when we were supposed to be on our honeymoon.

    “I can’t believe you got us into this!”

    “I got us into this?” I said. “You’re the one who thought it was a great idea to start climbing on the roof-tops—”

    “And you’re the one who thought it was a great idea to start boasting about all the heists you’ve pulled!” Rapunzel hissed.

    She had a point with that one.

    I have trouble knowing when to shut my mouth.

    “Hey, that’s what you DO in a tavern!” I retorted. “You boast! Anyway, if you hadn’t insisted on removing every piece of royal insignia from—”

    “Will you hush for a second? I’m trying to listen.”

    “I am not finished defending my point here—”

    “Eugene!”

    Her tiny fist collided sharply with my shoulder in one of those “I-love-you-but-our-lives-are-in-danger-and-I-need-you-to-stop-talking” ways (I’m sure you know that way). Despite what you may have heard, I am fairly inept when it comes to balance and I promptly found myself teetering backwards while flailing my arms mid-air to try to stay on my (fairly narrow) tree branch.

    “Oh no!” Rapunzel squeaked.

    I managed to grab on to the branch directly above my head, just as Rapunzel reached out and tried to steady me.

    “I am so sorry!” she said. “Are you all right?”

    I nodded and smiled, relieved that I hadn’t fallen.

    But just then, something caught my attention – something in the distance, but coming towards us rapidly. I caught Rapunzel’s eye and pressed a finger to my lips before gesturing to the ground. She got the message immediately and clapped a hand over her mouth.

    We could only hold on to our tree and cross our fingers that the commotion of my near-fall hadn’t caught the eye of the stampede of villagers headed our way.

    “Quickly! They haven’t gone far!”

    “Search the forest!”

    The rumble of many, many feet charging down the path echoed through the forest. Light from their burning torches flooded through the leaves, stabbing at our eyes. Rapunzel and I stared at each other, hardly daring to breathe, our hearts pounding as we waited for the danger to pass. If any of them found us… that would be it. We had no way of proving who we were and the town would either arrest us or kill us on the spot.

    While we didn’t want either of those results for obvious reasons, the unsuspecting murder of a princess and her newly-wed husband in a foreign country wasn’t going to fare well for international relations.

    Basically, we were in quite a pickle and it wasn’t just our lives that were at stake.

    Now you see why I am insisting that we never remove the royal insignia again. Never, ever.

    After what seemed like hours, the footsteps finally faded into the distance and the normal night sounds of nocturnal forest dwellers returned to the forest.

    “I think they’re gone,” Rapunzel whispered.

    “Ah,” I said, leaning in as I supported my balance with two overarching tree branches. “It’s when you think they’re gone that they’re most likely to appear and arrest you.”

    Rapunzel raised an eyebrow.

    I knew exactly what she meant.

    Such is the power of marriage.

    (Mind you, we’ve had our silent methods of communication down for years. Never underestimate the power of the raised eyebrow.)

    “Fine!” I said. “I’ll check!”

    Carefully, I sat down on the branch and hooked my knees around it. Slowly, I let my weight pull me backwards and I swung down in an imitation of a baby bat, keeping myself steading by hanging onto the branch with my hands. I quickly checked the forest path for signs of life.

    It was exceptionally dark, dank, gloomy and empty of humans.

    “Any signs of life, Oh Master Thief?”

    I almost jumped with surprise when Rapunzel swung down after me. Now both of us resembled baby bats. Except hers was much more natural, of course. Somehow she’s just uncannily good with precarious balancing. Maybe it’s an after-effect from her magic hair.

    “Empty as a cracked egg,” I said.

    She snorted and rolled her eyes. “Who uses an expression like that?”

    “People,” I said. “People use it. Don’t judge—”

    And then I was falling unceremoniously to the ground.

    This is why you don’t allow yourself to get distracted when you’re hanging in a tree, imitating a baby bat with your wife.

    The ground was hard and the fall had done something to my shoulder. It wasn’t too bad, but it was fairly sore. I slowly got to my feet and squinted up at Rapunzel, who was shaking with silent giggles at my misfortune.

    “Somehow unintentional slapstick comedy is a mandatory part of my nature, whether I like it or not!” I called.

    “Talking to the trees, are we, Flynn Rider?”

    I nearly jumped out of my boots with surprise. Damn. So my own words of wisdom were right. Right when you think you’re safe, BAM. Some tall, hooded stranger with an obvious grudge appears out of the darkness.

    Rapunzel had disappeared, back up into the tree. Good. She was fast. I folded my arms and assumed a lazy kind of position. Maybe if I looked exceptionally boring, he would leave me alone.

    “The trees are particularly chatty,” I said casually. “Always something new with them. Like… squirrel droppings and…” No, this was not going well. Somehow this stuff sounds better in your head than it does aloud. “…summer breezes. Fascinating stuff—”

    The stranger drew his sword.

    Uh oh.

    I stepped back. “Oh… hey,” I said, “do you mind if we put that away? It’s just the trees really don’t like pointy objects, they find them a little offensive—”

    The stranger loomed in the darkness. “You have no idea how glad I am to be the one to find you,” he growled. He raised his sword.

    I raised my hands (my sword was back at the inn, otherwise you bet I would have engaged him in the most swashbuckling duel of his life) and backed away, trying to put as much distance as possible between us without getting too far from Rapunzel. Normally my trick would be to run off and give him a merry chase, but she was stuck in that tree and there was no way I was abandoning her.

    Maybe if I tried my luck, I could talk this guy of out attacking me.

    “No need to get hasty, friend,” I said calmly. “You wouldn’t want to do something you might regret later—”

    “I’ll have no regrets in killing you,” the stranger hissed.

    So much for that.

    “Okay, look—” I had to think quickly, but, frankly, the ideas just weren’t coming. And when the ideas aren’t coming, the mouth just kind of keeps talking. It’s a stalling technique, okay? Don’t judge me. “I don’t know who you are,” I continued, “and whatever it was I did, I am sorry. Truly sorry, from the bottom of my heart. I know I’ve done some questionable stuff in the past, but that’s all behind me now. I’m reformed. Flynn Rider doesn’t exist. Trust me, I had a few words with him and he’s very happily retired—”

    The sword flew at my head. I did what any sensible person would do and ducked.

    I was starting to really struggle to keep the panic down. I had lived five years of a violence-free life, so this was my first near-death experience in a while. And, as I’m sure you’re aware, my last one didn’t turn out so well.

    In fact, I died in the last one and it was only thanks to some seriously powerful healing magic that I was even here to have my head nearly cut off by some maniac in an overly large cloak in the first place.

    “Can we at least talk about this before you gut me?!”

    “I have no words for you!”

    I saw the sword coming and threw myself on the ground. Thankfully, somersaults seem to be a speciality of mine, so I was back up on my feet in no time. “Well, then, arrest me and put me on trial! Is that too much to ask?”

    The air whistled as the sword swung towards me. I dodged and found myself slamming by back against the tree. I looked up, but Rapunzel was nowhere to be seen in the tangle of leaves and branches.

    I faced the stranger. “Didn’t anybody tell you that stabbing people is a bad way to resolve an argument?”

    Apparently, this fellow was very untalkative. He was much more of the “kill first, ask questions later” variety of rogue than the “suave and intelligent” type. At this point I was frankly annoyed that I had no idea who he was (that blasted hood) and why he wanted me dead (I could place a decent guess, but still… death is a completely undoable punishment in most cases!).

    True to form, he swung the sword.

    Also true to form, I ducked and somersaulted away.

    A guttural shriek of rage and frustration rang out through the night air so loudly I was sure every sleeping family from here to the border would wake up in confusion. When I looked back at the tree, I saw that the sword had been lodged deeply into its trunk and the stranger was desperately tugging at its hilt.

    It refused to budge.

    “See?” I said pleasantly. “This is why we talk about things before we try to stab people.”

    The stranger whirled around. “No matter,” he hissed, looming over me. “I can kill you with my own hands if I must.”

    I’ll be honest – I was shaking in my boots at this point. The guy was pretty big.

    What happened next was something neither of us could have expected.

    “NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!” Rapunzel shrieked as she dropped from the tree, her cloak billowing about her, and landed precisely on the stranger’s shoulders. He shouted and growled, taken completely by surprise, as he tried to fling her off. But Rapunzel dug in fiercely. She knocked him over, kicked herself free and landed a well-aimed blow on his head with a large tree branch.

    The stranger sank to the ground and lay motionless.

    Rapunzel, tiny as she is, towered over him. “And that’s the last time you mess with my husband,” she hissed and dropped the tree branch on his back.

    I think, by this point, my insides had turned to the consistency of jelly. I was staring, somewhat bug-eyed, at my lovely wife, who had suddenly turned herself into an acrobatic wizard.

    “What are you staring at?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “…remind me not to get on your bad side.”

    She giggled, blushing fervently, and looked away.

    “Where did you learn to do that?” I asked, crossing over to her.

    She grinned, taking my hands. “I think a certain thief has rubbed off on me a teeny, tiny bit.”

    “I don’t remember teaching you to take out thugs twice your height!”

    “I improvised,” Rapunzel said, embracing me tightly. She raised herself on her tiptoes and kissed me. “And unlike some princesses,” she added, “I’m not afraid of breaking my nails.”
  2. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    I totally misunderstood the topic. A while back, I had done something similar in which I wrote a scene from two different points of view. However, I kept the POV the same; I just wrote the scene from the view of two different characters. The dialogue remained the same. It was an experiment to see how my style changed with each character and it produced some interesting results.

    Since I generally write third-person omniscient, and will jump into the heads of whatever character the scene needs, then very little would change between that and a first-person narrative. I'm big on internal monologues, so I'd be doing the same thing, only one would use pronouns.

    When you said different points of view, I thought you meant through the eyes of different characters. Each character will experience the world in their own way, and having the same scene viewed through different characters can produce interesting results that may surprise the author.
  3. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Idrelle_Miocovani

    First off - NEW IDRI FIC!! Huzzah! [face_dancing][:D] And it's TANGLED. :D I was just all smiles when I saw this up the other day. All smiles. [:D]

    But first, the discussion!

    I've never used epistolary POV, but I do find it intriguing.
    One of these days I think we may need to have an epistolary POV challenge. It would be an intriguing thing, I think. [face_thinking]

    I think writers have to be very specific when choosing their narrative modes because your style says a lot about the type of story you're writing.

    I agree with this a hundred percent. I've found that First Person works wonderfully for a more intimate telling. But, it is hard to make it work when you have a large world that you want to dive into, because you are limiting yourself to that one person's POV. For example, Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books of all time, and told completely from Jane's POV in First Person. But I never find myself wanting for a more complete narrative. The story is well rounded with just her thoughts and opinions as the plot transpires. Now, if you were to tell a massive story like A Song of Ice and Fire, for example, from first person, it would probably be a mistake. The altering POVs work in Third Person wonderfully there. :)

    I also completely agree with your opinion of The Hunger Games. I had a hard time getting into it because of Katniss' POV, which shows how tricky First Person is - it puts your characterization underneath a microscope. Which is why it is something I don't tend to write with, I just realized. Actually, I think I have written more in Second Person than First Person, even! Which is just . . . lopsided. :p Now, I have to challenge myself - I have never really thought about my preferences before this. [face_thinking]


    I love Third Person because there are different ways of writing it and I love the richness of storytelling you can squeeze out of it. Most of my writing has been done in third person limited with alternative points of view. I think very cinematically when I write, so often I have a set of main characters and I cut between them based on the storytelling needs I have of a particular moment and which character I think the audience needs to connect with for a given scene.

    This I agree with too - I love jumping from character to character in a narrative, both as a reader and a writer. It is the richest way to tell a story IMHO.

    But a style I actually love playing with is Second Person. I think it fits a mood more than anything else, and when I am trying to write something more abstract, or something with a darker tone, Second Person works perfectly. But, I wouldn't use it past a vignette or a shorter piece, I can't see it lasting long enough to sustain you through a novel.

    Now, the fic!!

    The fic in Third Person was excellent. Just excellent. Characters, dialogue, action - everything. :) The first thing I noticed about it in Second Person was that you had to alter the introduction, you couldn't just jump right in with the dialogue. I also found it interesting that with the 'you' there is more emphasis put on actions, things Eugene physically did and thought about doing. It also instantly changed the tone of the piece - it felt slower. The humor was still there, but it wasn't as punctuated as it was with the Third Person. Now, First Person was my favourite for this particular fic. First Person let you get into his head, and the extra insight and commentary made reading this a treat. It made the funny lines that much funnier, and Eugene! You had his voice down, which is the key to making the First Person POV work. =D=

    Thank-you for sharing! It was really, really interesting to see how things changed, and how things stayed the same. [face_thinking]

    Now . . . to go and actually finish mine. :p


    @TrakNar

    I totally misunderstood the topic. A while back, I had done something similar in which I wrote a scene from two different points of view. However, I kept the POV the same; I just wrote the scene from the view of two different characters. The dialogue remained the same. It was an experiment to see how my style changed with each character and it produced some interesting results.

    A misunderstanding with good fruitage though, that is another awesome idea for an exercise!! :D Hold on to the piece you wrote - I think that we can definitely make that a discussion to come. [face_thinking]
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Nov 4, 2013
  4. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    @TrakNar I think it's a really good exercise to play around with which character's eyes the audience sees a scene with. That's a really good point - depending on who is the viewpoint for the scene, the perspective is going to shift. [face_thinking] I've played with that before, when trying to figure out which character's eye a particular scene in question needs to be told from. One of the reasons I'm a fan of third person omniscient is that I, like you, enjoy jumping from character to character. I think it gives the narrative an ability to provide a much larger scope and dynamic. However, some stories are better told from a single character's perspective, in order to hide information from the audience (Harry Potter is a really good example of that, although I'm still sad that the Harry-centric perspective didn't allow us to see anything going on in Hogwarts during Deathly Hallows!).

    Since I generally write third-person omniscient, and will jump into the heads of whatever character the scene needs, then very little would change between that and a first-person narrative. I'm big on internal monologues, so I'd be doing the same thing, only one would use pronouns.

    I... kind of disagree with that. I think a really well-written First Person POV would take the character's voice into account and the entire narrative would sound like it was being told by that character. As opposed to Third Person, where there is distance between the words on the page and the character's head. I don't think it's a matter of simply changing the pronouns - First Person and Third Person make different contracts with the audience. It's a style thing rather than a "this is what the character is thinking/this is how they are perceiving what's going on around them" thing. ... does that make sense? [face_thinking] I know a lot of authors don't go in for that very stylized First Person POV and that many of their narratives could easily switch the pronouns and it would stay very much the same, but I still think they're losing out on something - which is why I get frustrated with a lot of the YA fiction that jumped on the First Person POV bandwagon without considering why their story should be told from First Person.

    @Mira_Jade

    [face_laugh] [face_laugh] You are such a dear. [:D] I promise I'll try to do more fan fiction writing as soon as I'm done the first draft of the new play I'm working on. :)

    I agree with this a hundred percent. I've found that First Person works wonderfully for a more intimate telling. But, it is hard to make it work when you have a large world that you want to dive into, because you are limiting yourself to that one person's POV.

    Yes, and all of the information the reader gets comes directly from the head of that single character. Which can be used to great effect, I think, if you want to keep certain key information from the audience or go the route of the unreliable narrator (say the character is biased against another and the audience spends the entire time thinking that character is a villain and gosh darn it I think I'm talking about Harry Potter again even though that's not a First Person book BUT my point still stands, the unreliable narrator is really interesting to use :p ).

    For example, Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books of all time, and told completely from Jane's POV in First Person. But I never find myself wanting for a more complete narrative. The story is well rounded with just her thoughts and opinions as the plot transpires.

    I think it's easier to use First Person for stories set in the real world where the audience is already familiar with how society/culture functions.

    Just a thought - because Jane Eyre was published in the 19th century, Charlotte Bronte was writing for what was, at that point, her contemporary audience. I wonder if, as we get further and further away from the 19th century and if readers become less and less familiar with the workings of 19th century English society, the First Person POV will become gradually more difficult to understand because of cultural differences. [face_thinking]

    Now, if you were to tell a massive story like A Song of Ice and Fire, for example, from first person, it would probably be a mistake. The altering POVs work in Third Person wonderfully there.

    Especially since the story is so LARGE and has so many different threads. ASOIAF is sometimes more like a gigantic book of history about a specific time period in that world's history, albeit told in a dramatic fashion. :p

    I also completely agree with your opinion of The Hunger Games. I had a hard time getting into it because of Katniss' POV, which shows how tricky First Person is - it puts your characterization underneath a microscope.

    Yes yes, that's a good way of putting it. :) Your characterization has an even greater need for justification behind every single action the character makes because it is so plainly put in front of the reader.

    Which is why it is something I don't tend to write with, I just realized. Actually, I think I have written more in Second Person than First Person, even! Which is just . . . lopsided.

    I've never heard anyone say that before! Way to go, Mira! [face_laugh]

    But a style I actually love playing with is Second Person. I think it fits a mood more than anything else, and when I am trying to write something more abstract, or something with a darker tone, Second Person works perfectly. But, I wouldn't use it past a vignette or a shorter piece, I can't see it lasting long enough to sustain you through a novel.

    Yeah, using Second Person is definitely a very specific style choice. Also, it can be a little intimidating for the reader, because the events are happening specifically to the reader. It essentially takes away audience agency, which is something you don't get to see very often. Second Person is even more immersive than Third or even First Person because the reader is no longer an outside viewer, they're part of the story.

    Reflections on writing the exercise... I enjoyed the First Person the most (you can probably tell :p ). Writing First Person really allows you to become the character, and my acting side loves that. :p I think the one I struggled the most with was Third Person, just because it's been a while since I've written anything in Third Person and I was also tackling the story for the first time. I found the more time I spent with the story, the easier it became to write, so the Second and First Persons were a little bit easier because I'd already spent time in the story's world. The Second Person was surprisingly easy to write, but I didn't like it all that much - second person always seems to shout "eerie" to me, and it was difficult to spin a comedic slapstick adventure when part of my brain was focused on "Eerie! Mood! Atmosphere! Creepy!". I think in terms of the effect I wanted to give the audience, the First Person worked the best. The story is on the outrageous, implausible side and the series of events feel like something that Eugene would exaggerate a little in telling the story to an audience.
  5. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    December's Topic: Tropes


    "Let's have some new clichés." ~ Samuel Goldwyn



    The Discussion


    Tropes are devices and conventions that the writer can use, knowing that their audience will recognize them. They are the writer's tricks of the trade. Clichés, you can call them - but only ten times more interesting. For example - pretty girl meets ugly boy, they fall in love and live happily ever after? This is the Beauty and the Beast trope. (You can find literally hundreds of them at TV Tropes, the wiki for tropes.) When writing, do you use tropes consciously? What are some tropes you like dabbling with? When does a trope become a cliché? Is this your first time hearing of a trope, and now you have wasted hours surfing through the TV Trope site? Discuss now - anything and everything to do with tropes!



    The Exercise

    Pick a piece of writing, any from that piece, pick out and list the tropes you used. Did you do so consciously, or unconsciously? Are any of the tropes those you would use again? Pick your writing apart, and share what you come up with.
  6. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I adore TVTropes--and don't click that link unless you have at least 3 hours free; you'll be there that long!

    I don't tend to use tropes on purpose (outside of a trope challenge ;) ) but I'm definitely going to have fun with this challenge! For the fantasy lovers out there, I also recommend Diana Wynn Jones' A Tough Guide to Fantasyland. It's basically a list of/making fun of tropes used in fantasy novels.
  7. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    I use tropes often. For the most part, the tropes just come naturally, but sometimes when helping others plot a story, I will actively use various tropes and craft a simple plotline for them. It has amazed more than a few people when I would take their bare-bones idea and have a story ready to go for them to write. What I handed them was a gift-wrapped pile of tropes.

    When in a pinch, tropes are wonderful things. Everyone uses them. If you want to keep your tropes fresh, just remember to zig where others have zagged.
  8. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    That's the best way to put it @TrakNar! Zigging where others zag.

    There is some truth to the statement that 'there is nothing new under the sun', Everything has already been written before - and some tropes are tropes for a reason. They work. They are tried and true. While they may grow stale and fall into the category of a 'cliché', it all depends on the way you handle it. I personally love tropes in my writing - I like taking something that's been done a hundred times before and seeing if I can pull it off with a different spin.

    And that's too true @NYCitygurl! [face_laugh] I will have to check out that book - it sounds awesome! :D
  9. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    And while you're at the library, Brandon Sanderson loves putting new spins on tropes!

    A professor once told me that there are only two plots in the entire world (hero goes on an adventure and stranger comes to town). But there are so many different stories, and endless (IMO) amount--I agree that it all depends on how you handle it.
  10. Juliet316 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 27, 2005
    star 7
    I think we all have our favorite tropes that we like to go to in one way or the other. Certainly I have a tendency to use the back from the dead/amnesia tropes often.
  11. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    January 2014's Topic: A Strong Character

    “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus


    The Discussion

    When we are developing our characters, we want more than anything to create a strong character. But what exactly is a strong character? Does strength come from actions? Physical strength? Mental strength? Are strong characters necessarily good? Can a 'weak' character also be a good character? Do strong characters have to fit the warrior mold? What are the differences in writing a strong female character, and a strong male character? All too often, a strong female character is defined by an almost Xena like personality, while a character like Sansa from 'A Song of Ice and Fire' would be viewed as weak for her inner strength. Would you agree with that point of view? Feel free to share your thoughts.


    The Exercise


    Strength comes in different ways. Write three different vignettes around a thousand words, each depicting a different type of strength. What did you find when writing these?



    ---

    Once again, thanks to @Idrelle_Miocovani for the discussion idea. [:D]
  12. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    Hello, there. I hope I'm allowed here. I write but as a rule it's original stuff. I haven't really written anything due to unfavourable personal circumstances for the last nearly 2 1/2 years. I am just barely starting to get my drive back. Writing is my life and my balance. I have literally be torn asunder when my words deserted me. Yet, even as I try to decide what to do: begin afresh, attempt salvaging the universes and 18 years of work destroyed and tainted or salvaging some elements and forging new stories. I am yet very conflicted.
  13. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Cushing's Admirer - This is exactly what this thread is for - and anyone and everyone is allowed here, thank-you for posting your thoughts. [:D]

    From experience, I know that there is nothing worse than coming off of a long dry spell for writing - especially when there have been personal circumstances involved. There are a lot of people here who can sympathize with that. Where to start is a hard choice to make when starting fresh, that's for sure! Personally, I start over more often than not with writing, but that is quite a few years of work to just brush away! I hope that the answer comes to you. :)

    There is nothing better than writing, and I hope that your words return to you. [:D]
  14. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    Mira Jade: Thank you for the assurance and acceptance. [:D] Writing really is my anchor. I am considering trying to do the current writing thing here but am uncertain what a vig is. Can you tell me?
  15. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Cushing's Admirer - It's my pleasure! [:D]

    A vignette is just a relatively short piece of writing - normally one scene, and a complete story in itself. It can be however long or short as you want, and if your muse decides it wants to do more than the vignette, then go for it. This exercise is just to get people started. :D
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Jan 9, 2014
  16. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    Thanks. [:D] If I do them am I allowed to post here even though they are my characters?
  17. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Cushing's Admirer - Unfortunately, the website's policy says that we can't have original fiction here because of legal reasons. :( But! If the exercise gets you going again with your own work, I am more than happy to hear that! If you happen to write fanfiction, then please feel free to share what you come up with. :)
  18. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    Guess I'm where I was before then. I don't like doing ff for legal reasons. Hey, could I PM you?
  19. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Cushing's Admirer - The other side of the coin, I see. :p

    But yes, PM away. I'd be happy to look over anything you've got. :)
  20. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
  21. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Back to the topic...

    "Strong characters" is pretty vague, as strength could really mean anything and come from anywhere. A character could be physically weak, yet mentally strong. A Squishy Wizard, if you will.

    I tend to like to write characters who are unhinged, so they're not very strong, mentally. At some point in the story, they may overcome part of that weakness, but it won't really change their mental stability, as that is part of their character. Also, overcoming mental illness is a years-long journey and not something that can easily be accomplished in fiction, unless it's chronicling the character's life. So, while they may be strong for the story, they may still be "weak" overall.

    I prefer writing "weak" characters, or characters who may be strong in some ways (powers, abilities, etc), but are very weak when it comes to their mental state. I find them to be more interesting to explore.
  22. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Very interesting take, @TrakNar! How do your characters evolve throughout your stories? That's a very interesting exercise, and one that I would like to try.

    I agree with Mira that strong doesn't necessarily mean being able to lift a house. Because I was just thinking about her and this fits so well, I'm going to use Belle from Beauty and the Beast as an example. She's not physically strong--she can't get herself and her father free to go save the Beast, and once she reaches the castle, she can't fight; she doesn't take on Gaston herself. But she has the moral strength not to give into the wishes of physically stronger men (both Gaston and the Beast); she refuses to be intimidated by them, even when she's afraid. I think that's much more impressive than fighting.
    laurethiel1138 likes this.
  23. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    For me, a strong character is a moral one. One that strives to stand for decency even in the face of unfavourable circumstances or scorn. Often, I find that one being disinclined to confrontation and seeking to overcome conflict peacefully--without physical conflict-- is scorned as a weakling. It makes me sad. Desiring redemption and healing likewise takes strength of character and is often looked down upon.
  24. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    February 2014's Topic: Genre

    "I had always wanted to be a writer who confused genre boundaries and who was read in multiple contexts." ~ Jonathan Lethem



    The Discussion


    When you write, what shape do you most often see your stories take? Are you the writer with the epic, the romance, the comedy - or all of the above? Do you find historical fiction drawing your pen, or science fiction, or do crime dramas strike your fancy? If you are the one writing the adventurer's epic, is your epic an apocalyptic tale? A sea story? A lost world tale? Do you keep to one genre, or do you find yourself stepping in more than one category? What about different genres do you enjoy over others?



    The Exercise

    Now that you have figured out what you like to write, lets do something a little different. Take a genre from the list that you have not dabbled in before. (A convenient breakdown on Wikipedia can be found here.) Write a short piece (or long piece, we are not picky ;)) in that genre, and stretch your literary muscles.
  25. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Very interesting topic! I do find myself writing the same thing I like reading--comedies or romances (or occasionally dramas) that have a common theme with ending happily ever after
    8-}

    Do you all tend to write what you read, or do you have different tastes for each?
    Last edited by NYCitygurl, Feb 1, 2014
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