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
    Mira, you always have the best topics. [:D]

    Backtracking a second to January's topic...

    Strong Characters

    For me, a strong character is a well-written character who I could believe is a real person. I tend to veer away from characters that are more archetypal in nature (one of the reasons I've never been too much into DC Comics - most of the characters are archetypes, and while it's all good fun, I don't find most of their stories that compelling). I find it fascinating when a character's weaknesses are more apparent than their strengths. Variety is fantastic. I love Sansa Stark and I will defend her to the end of time because I believe she is one of the most intelligent characters in ASOIAF/GOT because she recognizes how to play the game from her particular position and survive. And her survival is based on how well she lies and how well she invests in her weaknesses and makes sure that the people in power (like Tywin and Cersei) continue to see her as a weak pawn.

    Several years ago, I was working on a Star Wars epic and I had one user get very angry with my portrayal of Anakin, because in the recent chapter I had posted I spent a lot of time exploring how weak he felt in that particular moment. This particular user kept arguing that I was writing Anakin as a "sissie" and a "girl" because he was having "girl emotions". I was really baffled about that, because IMO, a character reflecting on their own weaknesses is actually a moment of character strength. It means they're learning and will continue to grow and change throughout the narrative. I was also a little ticked off, because the masculine/feminine binary is something that really aggravates me and I don't think male and female characters should fit prescribed characteristics and traits based on their gender ("male characters can only be strong and firm and lasting and never check in with any emotion except for anger" and "female characters are the ones who are allowed to cry and be weepy and clingy" :rolleyes: ). That's just... not... good... writing.

    Genre

    Genre is something that is closely linked to style for me, probably because the two are almost one and the same in theatre (a certain genre, like say, a realist drama, like Ibsen's A Doll House, is going to be written one way, whereas an absurdist drama, like Waiting for Godot or Endgame is going to be written in a completely different fashion - not to mention, those examples are also from different eras).

    I love playing around with genre. I love trying to see what a romance would be like if it was written in a style more associated with epics. Almost all of my work is saturated with some form of comedy (I grew up with Monty Python, so that's not really all that surprising :p ). I will read/write just about anything, especially for fan fiction. Genre is my happy place. :D [face_love]

    @NYCitygurl - I write what I have inspiration for, but I also tend to write to fill a gap. There's something that I'm really interested in reading, but if I can't find it, then I'll write something myself, provided that my muse wants to. :p
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  2. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    I tend not to read what I write. Baiting

    Regarding a strong character I agree that what makes them so is that I can credibly consider the possibility of their existence and it's feasible. I likewise consider if I have any knowledge of the performer if the character they are doing seems to suit them or not.

    Regarding genre I do tend to write what I like to see in films or what I desire to read in books I like drama, scifi, fantasy and usually blend the three in my stories but I do take a strong moralistic and religious view which seems to be a buzz kill and usually hated on in stories.
    Last edited by NYCitygurl, Feb 2, 2014
  3. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    I wouldn't say that stories with a strong moralistic or religious standpoint are necessarily hated on. It all depends on how it is written and framed. Audiences don't respond well to being preached at, regardless of the subject matter. People are so complex and come from such a wide variety of background and view points. It's okay to write a work with a certain purpose or message that you want to get out; on the flip side, it's also okay for audiences to disagree with that message or view point. If you're writing from a soapbox, chances are you're going to alienate your audience and they'll walk away from your story.

    The way a work is written - the prose, the plot, how the characters are portrayed and treated within and by the narrative - can say a lot about a writer. You leave traces of yourself all over your work - how can you not, especially if your work is coming from a genuine place? If a religious theme or view is critical to the way an author writes, I think it has a place in the work. The philosophies of my own particular faith pop up now and again in my original work because they are important to me and they play an important role in the way I view the world.

    That being said, I think a really important thing for all writers - be they fan fiction writers, professional authors, or executive head writers for popular television - to keep in mind is openness and staying educated about social and political issues, no matter what religious or social point of view they are coming from. Media of every kind has a huge impact on audiences and definitely plays a role in structuring the way we think. For me, positive representation of minority groups is extremely important, so my original work tends to focus on LGBTQ+ characters, and I wish that was something we got to see more of in mainstream literature, TV and film.
  4. Cushing's Admirer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 6
    Yeah, I know all that. The thing is I chiefly write for myself it's usually how I learn and explore myself as in self-examination. Positive representation is cruital but so is respecting that disagreeing on a topic like what you mention doesn't have to equal hatred or denial and particularly on this issue many act like it does.

    Plus, why do so many consider being strongly moralistic or religious in tone/topic being preached at? It's only a personal stand point. You also sound like you're solely approaching it from the sellable stand point. That's not my aim and never will be. Writing is self-expression for me.
  5. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    I think writing is self-expression for every writer. It absolutely is for me. It's my life's work and a crucial part of who I am.

    But while I write for myself, I also write for an audience, be they readers or people coming in to fill a theatre. From my own experiences, the best kind of storytelling happens when the writer is actively reaching out to the audience (instead of merely presenting something and hoping the audience comes to them). This is why it's important for the material to be relatable to the audience. Now, that could be a very specific audience from a similar background to the writer, or it could be a more general audience. Regardless, it has very little to do with the marketability of the work; for me, it's about the joy I get from writing and presenting a work and the audience enjoying it.

    Works with a moralistic or religious tone/topic are generally viewed as being preachy because they have a tendency of telling the audience how to think, how to act, and how to behave and I think that rubs the majority of people the wrong way. It doesn't mean that they're bad stories. I'd say the Chronicles of Narnia are fairly preachy, but they are great stories. It all depends on how "the moral" is framed within the narrative. Personally, I'd rather have an audience to draw their own conclusions than have the writer tell them outright.
  6. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    I tend to write psychodramas. I really enjoy messing with my characters' minds, and I can make a mystery out of it. I've written some slice-of-life, dabbled in romance, played around in horror, and tried my hand at a whodunit (that stalled completely). What I haven't tried is cosmic horror, and I've been wanting to write some Lovecraftian pastiche. I also want to try my hand at psychohorror, as my last horror attempt was just a straight-up zombie story.

    When writing, I tend to gravitate to darker genres, as I find them to be interesting. Lighter works tend to be unfinished exercises I write for fun, which will also include Seinfeld-esque sitcom-style comedies. Looking over my books, I tend to read action-adventure, yet I write mindscrews. I have a few psychodramas on my bookshelf, but it's predominantly action-adventure and superhero stories.

    Looking over my movie selection, it's dominated by some psychodramas, superheroes, a few horror, comedies, action-adventure, and noir. So, my writing isn't strongly dictated by what I read or what I see. I just write what I like to write.
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  7. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Oooh, great points all. [face_thinking]

    THIS. [face_love]

    I was trying to diagnose my own genres and found myself coming back to the same place. I love a mix of the romance and the adventure, with a dash of epic and a note of comedy. I also love folklore and myths and legends, so they will make their way into my work when I am not looking. (Especially in my original work. 8-}) I tend to find myself drawn to anything with fantasy or science fiction, whether it be superheros in capes to the space opera to the traditional tale with elves and dwarves and trolls. When not dabbling in that realm, I tend to tap into historical fiction. There is enough real life drama in real life, so I tend to stray into the fanciful and make-believe with both what I read, and what I write. [face_love]

    and

    I don't think that was completely fair. ;) Just because you are publishing your work or looking to throw in your views on society in a way that will relate to your audience, does not mean you are only looking for the 'sellable' thing.

    And you are far from alone with using your work to examine your religious and moral values. Tales that deal with strong moral/religious topic, or even shine a spotlight on social topics can always be touching and powerful for the message they are trying to deliver. Part of the writer's job, when not telling a story, is to take a critical look at society as a whole, and a writer can do this with tact and come out with a strong tale. Once again, Jane Eyre is one of my favourite novels, and it has a very strong religious feel to it for Jane's values and morals. But it isn't telling you how you should think or feel, it is simply providing her POV, and allowing you to draw your own conclusions. Another novel that handles that well would be Les Miserables. The entire novel was Victor Hugo's soapbox, in a way, but he handled it with such beautiful characters and well constructed themes that you not only found yourself listening to his voice, but agreeing. Heck, all of Jane Austen's 'romances' are satires, in a way. From Aristophanes to Mark Twain to Robot Chicken, writers have been using their work to present their subtle censures on society as a whole, and their work still resounds. Actually, satire as a genre! There you go, it is another great one - one that I hope to dabble with a little more if I ever get that illusive published novelist thing gone. :p Once again, there is a fine line with presenting and forcing your own views in your work, but one that writers have been walking for centuries. [face_love]

    While writing can be a fantastic tool for self-examination, I do tend to write my stories to share. Actually, sometimes I jump the gun on sharing my stories, just because I am eager for thoughts and feedback. ;) I want to leave my readers - whether they be fan fiction, or the world at large when I get around to (hopefully) publishing a novel - with an emotion. Any emotion. I want you to laugh and cry and take a moment of being slapped in the face when you have to put the book down before reading further. I want to leave you thinking, and maybe even considering something you thought that you already knew in a new light. The feedback I get in return often gets me thinking of the subject in a new way, and that is the wonderful relationship between the reader and the writer. I think that this has been the storyteller's aim since before the written word, though. There is such a power in tales and their telling, and I love that we are able to dabble with that here - in any and every genre. [face_love]

    Wow! That is so very interesting! [face_thinking] I think that the closest I have ever come to the psychodrama is trying to get into the Joker's head a time or two, but that never lasted more than a vignette just for the sheer weight of the writing. 8-} I am really, really interested to see some of your work here once your muse gets going again. [:D]
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Feb 3, 2014
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  8. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    I bolded the last part because I feel the same way. I tend to stay away from realist stories, for the most part (unless they're historical dramas). I love my fantasy/science fiction/mythology.

    I also love how mythology can be adapted and mixed into multiple different kind of genres. For example, you can have your Arthurian legends adaptation, or you can have your story inspired by the Arthurian legends and they are often two very different things. I think that's pretty cool. :)

    Genres a funny thing because you can mix and match so much of it... my latest play has been described as a "dystopia science fiction epic that is part absurdist drama, part tragicomedy, part psychological horror story." My cast is getting a good laugh out of it - "sure you don't have enough genres in there?" :p 8-}

    Mira, you explain things in such an awesome way. :) [:D]

    You've reminded me of "theme". Like how in high school English class (or university), your teachers are always talking to you about finding the theme - what did the author want to express, what is the author trying to say? Sometimes writers go about writing without trying to express a certain theme, but it comes out anyway because how you view the world is tied up in how you write. Someone once told me that everything is political, whether you intend it to be or not, and I think there's a lot of truth to that statement.

    The writer/reader relationship is definitely a two-way avenue, and I love that dynamic. :)

    @TrakNar - out of curiosity, what are some of the challenges of writing psychodramas you've encountered and how did you write your way through them?:)
    Last edited by Idrelle_Miocovani, Feb 3, 2014
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  9. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Making the mind-screwing realistic. For one story, I had a character gradually succumb to madness, but I didn't want to make it ridiculous. So, I wrote it in that things would happen that the character wasn't aware of. Gaps of time would be missing from his memory, and he started suffering frequent and intense headaches. Towards the end, the character overdosed during one of the blackouts, and I wrote him losing consciousness, while a voice in his head became more and more prominent. At the end, the voice was revealed to be an alternate personality that had taken over.

    Some artistic license was used, but in general, I drew from what I've observed. I've been in the mental health system for a long time and have seen many different types of mental illness and how each person is affected by it. Aspects of those people eventually found their way into my writing.

    What I've found to help was to be subtle about it. Just start with things being slightly off, and then gradually work your way to a breakdown. Unless the character's personality includes sudden outbursts, having them fly off the handle right away can be seen as contrived, as they're being forced to be in a place that the writer wants them to be without a natural progression.
    Idrelle_Miocovani likes this.
  10. Padawan Fangirl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2013
    star 3
    Well...I tend to write dramatic love stories. I like the themes of "forbidden love"(I.e., Anakin/Padmé) or secret lovers(Jango/Jessica[my OC]). But I also throw in themes of struggle, heartache(nothing sappy, serious heartache like losing someone you love), and determination. I also try and make my female characters both strong and feminine, because it's more realistic than strictly one or the other. Also my characters tend not to be strictly aligned with one or another group(I.e., strictly pro-Jedi).

    I have been kind of itching to do a Teen Titans fic, but wouldn't mind doing something with Sailor Moon or Hetalia.

    Sent from my stupid little astro droid using TapaTalk 2.
  11. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Welcome, @Padawan Fangirl! You should totally try that :D

    So true! And something I find fascinating about reading is the way different people interpret different things. I was at an author even once and someone asked the author what someone meant. He countered and said, "What did it mean to you?"
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  12. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    Sometimes writers are very open with how their work can be interpreted and encourage various kinds of readings (even if said readings completely contradict each other). Other times they can be very insistent that their work be interpreted in one specific way. :p Both are fine, IMO! Such is the nature of art. ;)

    I was at a discussion panel a couple years ago with members of the Wooster Group, which is an experimental theatre company based in NYC. (Fun fact: Willem Dafoe is one of the founding members). Their work is subject to theatrical analysis all the time because it tends to be thematically heavy, with multiple possible interpretations, partially because their work is very, very bizarre and out-of-the-ordinary. Anyway, one of my profs was leading the panel - she's a theatre intellect and critic and she was asking all these meaningful questions that investigated the depths of their material... and then Elizabeth LeCompte (the director) just burst out: "Yeah, we have no idea what any of our stuff means!"

    It ended up being a pretty weird Q&A session. :p
  13. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    star 9
    [face_laugh] That sounds like an awesome panel :D
  14. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Welcome to the thread, @Padawan Fangirl! I would love to see a few of those fandoms pop up in here, that's for sure! [:D]

    [face_laugh][face_laugh]

    Best. Answer. Ever.

    I know writing some things for experimenting with style and what not can get very . . . disjointed, I guess you would say, and very hard to tag with an exact meaning. Like abstract art made from words, really. It's impossible to say who is going to take what from pieces like that, it's true. That sounds like an awesome Q&A. :p
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  15. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    Well, this is the group that staged text from Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights and interlaced it with footage from a B-list grindhouse movie called Olga's House of Shame. And then there's their version of Hamlet, which basically had a filmed version of Richard Burton's 1964 staging up on a gigantic screen with the actors performing/mimicking the filmed version's action onstage and occasionally fast-forwarding/re-winding. They called it "channeling the ghost of the legendary performance".

    So... tagging an exact meaning to their work is kind of difficult. :p Mostly you just sit there and go: "I have no idea what I'm watching and if I question it, my brain is going to implode." :p

    The funniest thing about the Q&A is that it had gone on for about an hour before LeCompte made her remark. The group had just been nodding and smiling and playing along up until that point. Bunch of jokers. :p
  16. Padawan Fangirl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2013
    star 3
    Well, I've gotten inspiration to do a tragic oneshot with Blackfire and Starfire. A writers' group on deviantART has chosen rain for its theme of the week and I think I'm gonna run with that. I'll post either later tonight or tomorrow, depending on what my internet does. :p
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  17. Padawan Fangirl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2013
    star 3
    Dumb question: when I want to post my fic, do I make a new thread or post it here? :confused:
  18. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    @Padawan Fangirl

    If your story is for the exercise, then you can post it right here! If it is a long piece, and you would rather post it in its own thread and link it here, that works too. We are not picky on that score. :p I look forward to seeing what you came up with. [face_dancing]
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  19. Padawan Fangirl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2013
    star 3
    Downpour

    Starfire swallowed hard. "I cannot believe I did it."

    The heavy rain darkened the night sky, so that the stars and the moon were obscured. It was also nearly impossible to see one's surroundings.

    "Sister..."

    She had threatened to join an enemy alien army. They would rule over Tamaran, bringing terror to its people. But why?

    "You know quite well, little sister, that I am the lawful ruler of our planet. Now, with my new allies, I shall take my rightful place over our people!"

    "You seem to have forgotten, Blackfire, that our parents gave your birthright to me, because our people turned against you. Nothing can be changed. Surrender now, leave your allies, and you will not be hurt."

    "I will never surrender to you, troq!"

    "Then you have left me with no choice." And the battle began.


    She had been given specific orders from Tamaran's leaders to arrest her and bring her to trial. Do not kill her unless she tortures you.

    She had not tortured Starfire, nor had she taken any extreme measures to fight her. Blackfire had always had the upper hand in strength, until tonight.

    They had matched each other blow-for-blow until the last moments. Starfire fought to keep her people free. Blackfire fought to take the throne.

    "You have impressed me, little sister. Perhaps you would serve me well."

    "I will not join your empire, Blackfire!"

    "If not you...I know someone who might."

    "Robin will never join you! He stands for justice, not power!" And with that, she launched her final attack.

    The impact had sent Blackfire flying backward, slamming her against a tree. There was a sickening crack, and her body slumped to the ground.

    Starfire's heart stopped for a moment, and panic ran through her mind. "No...I could not have..."

    She flew over to her sister's body, and knelt down beside her. A trickle of blood ran from her mouth, and her hair was sticky from blood in the back.

    "No..."

    Blackfire managed to open her eyes just enough to see. "Little sister, you have defeated me. Was...it...worth..." Her eyes closed, and her jaw slackened.

    And then there was silence.


    Starfire's comlink beeped. She answered, "Yes, Robin?"

    "Starfire, did you complete your mission?"

    The rain started to come down even harder. "Yes...but I went too far."

    "Is Blackfire..."

    "Yes. I did it in anger, and I should not have."

    "Anger is a natural emotion, Star."

    "But I disobeyed my leaders."

    "At least Tamaran is no longer under any threat from her."

    "No, Robin...you do not understand. I will return to the Tower in a bit." With that she hung up.

    As she flew home, she was grateful for the downpour. After all, rain is a great disguise for tears.
  20. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Aww, poor Starfire. That definitely was an emotional punch of a ficlet. :( It has been ages since I have read anything for Teen Titans, so this just brought back so many old feelings for me. [face_love]

    Well, there is certainly drama and romance here aplenty, along with your science fiction. All are genres I heartily enjoy reading, and writing. :)

    (I could not tell if your viggie was for the exercise or not. For just posting NSW fan fiction in general, you can post in its own thread rather than here. I am sorry if I was confusing on that point earlier. :))
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  21. Padawan Fangirl Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2013
    star 3

    Ah, that was my exercise. :p

    If you want, I could delete it from here and repost it as a thread.

    Sent from my stupid little astro droid using TapaTalk 2.
  22. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    star 4
    @Padawan Fangirl - Oh no! The exercises are more than welcome here in the thread. I was just making sure that I was not giving bad directions. :p :oops:

    Thank-you for sharing with us. [:D]
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Feb 6, 2014
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  23. Idrelle_Miocovani Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 5, 2005
    star 6
    @Mira_Jade, I need to get out of my creative funk and I really want to do this month's challenge, but I feel like I've done every genre. Can you give me one? Pretty please? [face_batting] (Also, in case it helps, since I just watched Catching Fire, the end result will probably be a HG fan fic centered around my favourite tragic, extremely gorgeous victor from District 4 :p ).
  24. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    You and me both, for getting out of creative funks. I'll attempt to help.

    Have you written cosmic horror, yet? Lovecraftian pastiche? If not, there's an option.
  25. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Ooooh, now that is a challenge! (I feel like I have read a little bit of everything from you, which makes this tricky, because you write the genres I enjoy reading. :p)

    When going over the genre list on wikipedia, the thing I came back to again and again was the occupational genres. So, how about a spy story from you? Or a legal thriller? Or lets set everything on the water - I could use some high seas adventures in my life. ;)

    If not, I must admit that the cosmic horror above fascinates me. [face_thinking]
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