Discussion NSWFF Writer's Support Group - September's Topic: Writing Characters of Various Ages

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

Moderators: Mira_Jade, NYCitygurl
  1. lazykbys_left Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2005
    star 4
    Crossovers with SW go in SW Fan Fiction. Trust me, there's tons of them over there. :)
  2. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Yep, as Lazy said, all crossovers involving SW go on the SW side.
  3. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    That is something that I completely understand. To make matters worse, I like to tackle angst ridden anti-heroes more often than not when I write, or characters with serious flaws and complicated backstories – so it would be OOC for me to write them 'perfect', even when I really, really want to. Multidimensional is always that trick with a well written character – and one I think we will all be wrestling with until we write our final words. :p


    And it has certainty worked out well for you! :cool: I would never have guessed that you struggled with a female character – you do well with the strong lady types. :) Audrey is one of the OCs I thoroughly enjoy – and I see the contribution of the characters you have mentioned in her personality. :)


    I don't think that that could have been said better, and I agree with you one hundred percent! :)




    I am the same way when I write. :) There are some fantastic authors who can make some really interesting OCs, but fandoms are already so rich with characters that my interest is already being pulled this way and that without having to resort to making characters of my own – unless they are added into the plot dealing with an already established character.

    And I can't wait to see that HP oneshot you mentioned. I'm chipping away at your long story, so I would love to have something like that to read in the meantime. :D
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Jan 6, 2013
  4. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    It's the eternal battle not to turn canon characters into Mary Sues. I know that's a term more often used for OCs, but I think it can apply. A canon character who is too perfect and gets everything too easily--and defeats a bad guy with no depth other than as a person to be defeated--can become a Mary Sue, IMO.


    And, related to last month's discussion, I'm slowly but surely turning that writer's block around! I don't know whether it's the new start for a new year, my resolutions, or some awesome ongoing challenges (50 Sentences and Dear Diary), but I sat down and wrote about 3,000 words in the last day!

    My goal is 120,000 for the year. It's a lot easier for me to have a specific goal, instead of just "write more." It gives me something quantifiable to achieve (and forcing myself to keep track makes me more motivated to write ... and gives me something fun to look back on at the end of the year. I made it to my 2012 goal of 100k, but my 120k last year fell really short. I'm really enjoying this "motivated to write" feeling :D
  5. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Oh how awesome! [face_dancing] [:D]

    That is a really, really good idea with the word count goal for the year. The goal 'write more' is such a flimsy idea, but that has substance behind it, and I can't wait to see it met. There's nothing better than that broke-through-writer's-block feeling. :D
  6. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    It's definitely pretty good :D Even when my motivation to write is based on avoiding something else ... :p

    I sat down and cracked open some of my favorite characters from a cartoon, a fantasy book, a sitcom, and dramedy, and another fantasy book, respectively. I noticed that I used the term "loyal" for all five; apparently, I have a type :p These aren't necessarily my favorite characters or my favorite fandoms; they're characters I've recently written about, so I've gotten various level of "used to mucking about in their lives" :p



    Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

    Aang is funny and sweet and kind. He has moments of wisdom born of being the Avatar and having grown up with the monks, but he is still 12 and often acts like it. He is both too young and too old for his age. He is loyal and patient. He always strives to do the right thing, even if it goes against everyone else’s advice. He has moments of maturity and immaturity, and bounces between the two often enough to give his friends whiplash. He is strong, not just physically but emotionally. He is friendly, and he is courageous

    Harry Potter (Harry Potter)

    Harry is brave. He is loved, which defines so much of what happens to him, but he also loves, and that’s what really defines him, even in the moments he is so angry he shouts at those who love him most. He is intelligent, though not particularly book-smart. He is incredibly resourceful. He can get angry, but he can also be kind. He is awkward with girls, and he good at sports. He never gives up, even when it would be easier. He is loyal to his friends, even when they fight. He learns along the way how to forgive.

    Lorelei Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

    Lorelei is resourceful. He is something of a cloudcookoolander at times, but she has her head on her shoulders when it counts. She loves her daughter. She wants to be successful in her own right and on her own terms. She is strong enough to hold herself and Rory up. She is willing to take any challenge, humiliating or not, to meet her goals. She’s loyal to her friends. She always does her best. She makes the best of situations. She is a strong leader. She is welcoming, but she can also be a mama bear. She’s a coffee addict.

    Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)

    Barney is a ladies’ man with a very hidden heart of gold. He is loyal to his friends at all costs, even if he sometimes needs a little nudging, and he is willing to do anything for them. He loves a good scotch and cigar. He is willing to take on absolutely any challenge in the world. He loves, even though he has a hard time admitting it. He has a tie obsession. He grows, and he is eventually willing to accept that he’s changed and fight for the future he wants. He never gives up. He’s a bit mysterious.

    Rand al’Thor (Wheel of Time)

    Rand wants a taste of adventure, but even though he finds it not to his liking and tries to give up and run away, he stands and faces his destiny and his enemies when he has no other choice. He is a fiercely loyal friend. His wants love (romantic and familial). He is easily confused by women. He fights for the right to make up his own mind and run his life and his battles the way he wants. He cares, even when he’s too insane for most people to see it. He goes willingly to the mouth of hell.
  7. lazykbys_left Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 17, 2005
    star 4
    Re: Writer's Block

    I've made it my goal to keep writing the Mitty diary on a daily basis. I remember reading somewhere that the important thing is to write something - anything - regularly, just to build up the writing muscles. The diary also makes me take note of what's going on around me and think How can I use this in a story? which is always good.


    Re: Characterization

    For me, using OCs is a necessity because a) the established characters I know about don't fit all the roles I need filled out and b) I don't have the time or the patience to go searching for ones that might. One of my first fics used an EC as the protagonist and half a dozen supporting OCs, which should give you an idea of how my brain works.

    One question just popped into my head: how much characterization is "just right", as Goldilocks would say?

    Obviously no characterization at all is too little. And detailing every random thought that passes through their mind is too much. How do you decide how much characterization to include in a scene? I usually leave it to my subconscious, trusting it to tell me enough is enough.
  8. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Lazy, I've heard that, too!

    I prefer the "show, don't tell" method of characterization. I don't see to say "Samantha had a coffee addiction," I just have her running to Starbucks a lot. Or instead of describing her outfit, I make a note when she rips her jeans.

    I think if it doesn't give us insight into the character that will help us understand her actions better, it's not necessary. I think the going by your gut (and practising a lot--and better yet, reading a lot) is the best way to see what's right for your characters.
  9. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    I think that that is the best way to put it. And the 'show, not tell' talent definitely comes over time with patience and repetition. Like you said, Lazy- the writing a little bit every day is the perfect way to flex more than one writing muscle. That's a great goal to have.

    And then, Nat! Your character drabbles:

    Aang: I think the best part of that was him being 'both too young and too old at the same time', there is really no better way to say that.
    Harry: I like how you thought to include 'he is loved' to that drabble. It really is at the core of who he is and the events that have come to define him. The 'learning to forgive' is another great character insight. It's the character's growth and metamorphosis that makes them so adored in the end.
    Lorelai: I think you could have summed her up at coffee addict. [face_love] How I adore that woman. :p The rest - you have her down pat, as well. [face_love]
    Barney: That was just legend-ary. :p Spot on. =D=
    Rand: Is a character I have not had the pleasure to read about, but sounds awesome. :)
  10. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I think Harry being loved is really the only reason he's alive to star in a series--Lily's love saved him (on several occasions :p ).

    And Barney is legen ... wait for it ... dary. I totally should have included that :p

    Rand is very interesting and very complicated.

    Show Spoiler
    He's a reborn savior of the world, and because the men's half of the magic was tainted when he past life closed the Dark One away from the world, he goes insane.

    Show Spoiler
    He gets better :p


    The last book in the Wheel of Time series was just released, and I'm trying to re-read the others and get to that one (#14 8-} ).
  11. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I think my intense writing enthusiasm has slowed down a little 8-} The bunnies are still biting, but I'm trying to not push it and get burned out.
  12. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    (LOL at how it's late February, but I'm still responding to January's topic. :p)

    There's something I forgot to add to my post approximately a month ago when we were talking about OCs and how I generally tend to avoid using them. In universes like Harry Potter and the Star Wars EU (the two franchises where I tend to exercise the bulk of my imagination), there are so many little-used characters given so little page/screen time in canon that we don't even know who they are or what they're like. So focusing on them, for me, is like creating my own OCs, just with a bit of context and the audience isn't completely unfamiliar with them, since they're a recognizable face, if nothing else.

    In my recent major HP project, for instance, previously no-name characters like Padma and Parvati Patil, Katie Bell, Romilda Vane, and Hannah Abbott all ended up taking on much larger roles than was possible for them to have in the books/movies, which enabled me to flesh them out a lot more, create backstories for them, and see where little glimpses of their personality in canon allowed me to take them in my own storyline. I'm only just dabbling into the SW EU writing-wise, but the extent of little-used characters there is even more vast, which is exciting.

    Kat: Nice drabble about Harry, particularly the detail about him shouting only at those he loves the most. (I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the other four franchises.) I hope you can regain your writing enthusiasm because I always look forward to your HP fics!

    Also, Kat and Mira will both be pleased that I posted my HP-SW crossover fic in the appropriate SW fanfic section earlier tonight. :p
    Last edited by Rew, Feb 19, 2013
    NYCitygurl likes this.
  13. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I really like this!! And I totally agree. I have this feeling sometimes, too. And I'll have to check that fic out! PM me a link? [face_batting] (Also, it's Nat ;) )

    I think my new-years high has just kinda worn off as I get back to real life--which means working and watching kiddos and going out with my friends ... and by the time I have a day off, I'm too lazy to move :p And part of it is that I'm trying to motivate myself to post for most of my stories at least once a week, which is quite the project--and maybe a little too intense 8-}
  14. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    I understand about getting burned out on ideas - that's my biggest problem with writing, as a whole, actially. I get an idea, I obsess over it, devote all of my time and energy to writing a couple thousand words, and then completely loose interest when something new and shinny comes by. I have so many ideas in my head that deciding what to write seriously tugs on my muse - It is awful when writing becomes an obligation so that you can move on to the 'next big thing' in your mind. :p I have to be well into writing a story before I post chaptered fics now, just to be fair to my readers and not have them suffer with my muse's fickleness. :oops:

    Aaaaand I have been remiss in not updating this thread this month. [face_blush] Expect a brand new discussion and exercise starting in March. If anyone has an aspect of writing you would like to see tackled in the next few months, feel free to drop me a line and let me know. :D
  15. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Exactly! Sometimes the need to post another chapter keeps me going and excited; other times, stories are best left abandoned on my hard drive after I run out of excitement for them :(
  16. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Yeah, as soon as work ot crazy for a few weeks, I basically stopped writing 8-} I have trouble just opening a story with the intention to just write for a few minutes. Either I have the energy to sit down and write for a while or I don't; there's no in between.
  17. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Going off what Nat was just saying (and a snazzy topic suggestion from @Rew – thank-you [:D]), we have for March . . .





    March's Topic: Finding the Time To Write

    “The future is something everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” ~ C.S. Lewis


    The Discussion

    So, you have your ideas. Your mind is bursting with characters, places and ideas. You just . . . can't seem to find a moment to sit down and get all of those thoughts out into words. What do you do to find time in your schedule to write? How do you maintain your focus when you do find that precious time? What are the things that really get your muse going when writing – a certain type of music, a beverage of choice? What are the secrets to your craft? Tell all and listen to others tell theirs!



    The Exercise

    There is no exercise for this month. Just pay attention to your writing habits over the next few weeks, and feel free to share if you notice any interesting quirks or trends. :)
  18. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    That's an awesome quote :D

    If I'm really buzzing with an idea, I make time, haha. Otherwise, as the mood strikes--and it tends to not strike when I'm stressed.

    I don't usually drink and write :p I used to listen to music when I wrote--fanfic, term paper, whatever--but in the last few years, that slowly went away.
  19. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    The quote just jumped! I tried looking past that, but I kept on coming back to that one. It's too true! :)

    And I agree with the making time when an idea is hot! There have been instances of four in the morning writing when I wake up and can't get back to sleep for the urge to write. I tend to write the best early - when my mind is fresh and there is coffee to be consume. Lots of coffee. Coffee feeds my muse like absinthe fed Hemingway's. ;) Music also is constantly playing when I write - often there is a direct correlation between phrases an 'feelings' in my music and my finished pieces. I have more playlists for writing than anything else. :p
  20. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Do you like different music for different fandoms of genres?
  21. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    My music is so eclectic that it gets hard to break it down what I like for where 8-}, but there are definitely some fandom specific bands for my muse . . . For instance, when writing Star Trek I love to listen to a lot of Philip Glass and Yann Tierson . . . for Avengers (and Natasha fics in particular) I live on Florence Welsh, Regina Spektor, and Vitas (even though, for some reason, every single Mumford and Sons song screams Loki to my muse :p), while for LoTR/Thor I have a collection of Celtic tunes, Germanic and Norse folklore, and Viking metal bands to tide my muse along. I am a soundtrack addict - so those can be applied to the corresponding fandom as well. Hans ZImmer and Howard Shore are beautiful, beautiful men, and their work never fails to spark the urge to write. :D
    Last edited by Mira_Jade, Mar 10, 2013
  22. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    For me, I do have plenty of time to write. While I do have a full-time job, it's a straight 8:30-5 M-F deal, which gives me most evenings and weekends free. So for me, it's more a matter of sitting myself down to write rather than play Zelda or check Facebook/Twitter every 30 seconds. :p

    As part of that 8:30-5 job, much of my writing inspiration comes to me when I'm in the car, as I spend copious amounts of time stuck in rush hour traffic (particularly in the evenings) and play my favorite music to compensate for the boredom of just sitting there. I also find that stirring rock songs tend to fuel the creative juices the best, but that being said, sometimes it's the instrumentals or piano solos that really bring to mind certain tear-jerking or touching scenes in stories that I'm mentally working on. If you're particularly curious, I find the most inspirational music groups for my writing are Evanescence, Within Temptation, Amethystium, Breaking Benjamin, Philip Wesley, Michele McLaughlin, among others.


    Anyway, I know January is long past, but I wanted to revisit the subject of characterization. Specifically, a point I made above about using characters who were underutilized in canon in place of OCs (not that well-constructed OCs are bad, of course!). So, with some prompting from others, I'm going to do January's exercise here, choosing several minor characters from the Harry Potter series, who get very little screen time in either the books or movies, but taking what little bit we do know and extrapolating from there to show how they're portrayed in a major fic I've been working on. I choose the HP universe because my current writing project has focused on such characters, so it's like a sneak peek. And it's also what I'm most familiar with at present!

    Padma & Parvati Patil
    Best known in the books for being twins sorted into different Houses (Ravenclaw and Gryffindor respectively, though the movies stupidly put them both in Gryffindor, grr) and whose primary function were being the unwanted dates of Ron and Harry for the Yule Ball in HP4. In my view, they were Sorted differently based on different temperaments and approaches to solving problems, but their differentiation has nothing to do with distance from each other, for the two love each other fully and are every bit as close as Fred and George are. They've both been involved in DA and have some measure of bravery, but neither consider themselves warriors. They'd prefer to live quietly and learn interesting things like Divination. When put to it, though, in the wizarding war, they shine brilliantly. They're terrified all the way through, to be sure, but they stick with the rebellion in spite of their fear and dread. Given their Houses, it is true that Parvati tends to be the brave one and Padma the intellectual one, but the more interesting moments happen when they switch those roles unexpectedly. It never ceases to amaze Parvati when her twin becomes the one to take action while she'd prefer to wait and think things through more.

    Katie Bell
    We know her in the books/movies as Harry's teammate on the Quidditch team, and her most (in)famous moment came with the opal necklace cursing in HP6. In the storyline I'm creating, this cultivates an interest in the healing arts for her; Katie aspires to be a Healer one day. At any rate, if you read her bio on the HP Wiki, she seems curiously prone to bad luck--stuck with a wizarding sickness in the HP2 video game, frequently injured from Quidditch (like when Fred accidentally gave her a nosebleed nougat at practice in HP5). So she struggles with feelings of inadequacy, despite her otherwise boundless courage and strong sense of justice. In my fic, she is in a relationship with her former captain Oliver Wood, but it's clear that while she cares deeply for him, that relationship comes second to playing her part in the rebellion against Voldemort. There's a line in the HP6 film where Harry says of her, "Off the Quidditch field she wouldn't hurt a fly." I extrapolated from this that in addition to her usual kind and compassionate nature, she has a very competitive edge while playing Quidditch--and could also become particularly fierce when it comes to a fight/battle. So it's kind of an inward balance she struggles to find in the midst of the war, straddling the line between her usually kind and loving demeanor on the one hand and her sense of justice and need to prove herself by taking on Death Eaters and save the innocent on the other hand.

    Hannah Abbott
    A true Hufflepuff, she could think of a thousand things she'd rather do, such as sitting down to a nice butterbeer with friends, rather than fighting in a war. But also true to her Hufflepuff traits, she is loyal to the end, in particular to her new boyfriend, Neville Longbottom. (Hannah's only real claim to fame in canon is eventually becoming his wife and owning the Leaky Cauldron, none of which even happens in the books/movies--only revealed via author interview!) Yet that loyalty extends much further than just to her newfound love. She also feels a need to prove herself to herself. There is a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in the sixth book when it's mentioned that Hannah's mother was killed and she took the rest of that year off school. In my fic, we learn a bit more about her mother's murder and how it's affected Hannah. The demise of a parent is also part of what brings her and Neville together, as it's a shared pain they have in common. They also have a love of Herbology in common (it's what will make her such a well-respected barmaid in the future, the ingredients she's able to concoct), and Hannah uses this little-known strength to surprisingly good effect against Death Eaters who found the subject beneath their notice, preferring instead the allure of Dark Arts and more flashy magic. Neville does the same, making the duo an impressive team--all the more so given how badly their enemies tend to underestimate them.

    That's enough for now. I may add some more later.

    EDIT:
    Oh, and you're welcome, Mira! [:D] Thanks for choosing one of my suggestions. :)
    Last edited by Rew, Mar 10, 2013
  23. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Yay, Rew! I love your insights into the characters :D

    Mira--quick eclectic! But it all sounds v=fun (particularly the Celtic music :D ).
  24. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Do you guys ever have the problem of trying to write for one story but being completely motivated to write for another? Right now, I'm like, "Well, this is nice, but I really needed to write for another story." But I'm having too much fun to try to switch 8-}
  25. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    Yes--just this past week actually!

    This week, I was determined to finish that sequel to "Dark Encounter" I kept saying I would post. I think I had gotten half of it down before taking a break from it. During that hiatus, I got a bunch of ideas for an entirely new story series (HP prequel--basically a Tom Riddle origin story, with the Grendelwald war as a backdrop). With all my mind on that, and with so many ideas coming forth, it was hard to focus on that sequel I kept trying to write.

    However, I finally sat down and forced myself to finish it this weekend (the one-shot sequel, that is)--and actually just posted it earlier tonight. :)
    Random Comments likes this.
Moderators: Mira_Jade, NYCitygurl