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Ahh, thanks. Sometimes people just get stereotyped because of their age, its annoying.


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I think one of the hardest things to remember is that while generalisations can often be useful, no single individual will ever fit neatly into one. People will always surprise you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


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I think I can think of a few people who fit into some



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WF:
The degree of importance many teens will place on themselves and their petty, illusory concerns is quite astounding. Thus, I have no patience for any literature dealing with them and therefore stay far, far away from them.

Lucky you - as our adult section starts at 14+ - so, it's part of our clientel, and as I'm in charge of novels => no choice on my behalf. But there's still a section I like to read => youth fantasy books. They have no adolescent probs as the main goal (and not this predictable heroic combat stuff or love, yarch.) This bores me a lot in adult novels, and I develop no patience then, but simply skim through the first 20-30, the middle 20 and the last 20-30 pages. Mostly sufficient to write a summary. If a novel survives this procedure, then I read the whole.
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Elliot Kane said:

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So my rule is always to explain anything that the reader must understand if they are to follow the plot and enjoy the story. That way, they will understand what is going on, even if I have slipped up and given them insoluble riddles on the minor stuff <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Nicely put EK. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

As a reader I don't expect to understand every piece of information in a story, so long as the key points are rendered clearly. Much of it can successfully do its job as 'colour' without my fully understanding the details.

It's also one of the most common ways we learn new words - simply by being exposed to them in context. We might not know that 'riparian' means living on a river bank but we'll probably get the sense of the word from its setting. The same can apply to new information.

I thoroughly enjoy being exposed to new things when I read. Sometimes it will provoke a flurry of research, but not always. I can read a book on science or music for instance and not grasp half of what is being said yet thoroughly enjoy just slipping into another world and basking in the light of a different sun for a while.

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I'm important! Mummy said so! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/puppyeyes.gif" alt="" /> Though most teenagers in my class are so pathetic, with their 'love' problems. Oh no, somebody broke up with them, and they had gotten to the point that they had actually held hands on the bus! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" /> Lets all cry and force the person to eat french fries!



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Thanks, Kris <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


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I recently found some of my "poems" I wrote as a Teenager and as a Twenty-something. Looking at some, I was kind of shocked how much pain and aggression and what's German "Wut" they contained ! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif" alt="" />



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Alrik...

MY teenage poems were just pretentious twaddle <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />


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Wait, let me go get one from a year or so ago.


Hear Hear?
Drink me cheer!
Of course I can hear!
Unless you cheer!
I made a ryhme!
with only one set of words
and one beat of time!
like picking thyme
garden!
its not, uh, harden?

Er, let me get a better one.

Hmm, a 2 verse one.


...comming from his house
we better save him
I know! I'll sing a hymn!

halleulia
halleulia
ha;;eulia halleuilai


stupic classical
I have no clue
what he was taking about
when he stuck that glue

onto the music page
making the words from "galls of Julia"
to Halleullia!

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!


This classical
I have no clue
what is going on
its like that movie tron!

the one with the guys running around?
on the little bikes, with those cool sounds!
no classical in that
not Mozzart or anyone
not even a bat

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!

I thionk we better keep going on
cause even like the move tron
this has to end
even if I've turned the bend

so I say once more
in that nice voice
from the door

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!

Praise those galls!
why the glue?
I have no clue!
Im very
confused!


----


I was told I cheated on it, so....

----

so sorry
I am
so sorry
I wish

so sorry
maybe
so sorry
yeah right!


I said I was sorry
I guess that was mean
for I have no reason to be
except that was not nice

I love to eat mice
but they say be nice
so I guess I should be like a mouse
living in someone elses house


I'm sorry dear guild
I didn't know
what rymes with guild!
huild, auild, juild, killed!

I didn't want to hurt you
but I had a story to tell

of a gall name Julia, who was in that songs
that group of them
long ones and short ones

Galls of Julia!
Galls of Julia!
Of Julia
Halleulia!
Praise, the Galls!


Praise those galls!
why the glue?
I have no clue!
Im very
confused!


sorry, what did I do!


--------


I think I was worse when I was young! Mine was of galls!



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How do I develop such complicated plots, like in the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, or the Discworld books, with "twists" and turns ?


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How do I develop such complicated plots, like in the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, or the Discworld books, with "twists" and turns ?


Er, I don't think there's any clear-cut formula for such a thing (that'd defeat the whole purpose, wouldn't it?). But my advice is this: if you want a complicated plot and do not want to lose sight of plot threads yourself, learn to be a good planner. Write down an outline and stick with it.

Of course, I and much more interested in characterization, and I let my characters -- sometimes -- write themselves, so I'd be more concerned with how to develop interesting characters (the rest pretty much flow on their own). Inter-character conflicts, sub-plots -- all of these add to the complexity of the general story arc.

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Alrik...

Here is an edited version of my Plot Guide (I've stripped out the superhero references as usual <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />). It still reads a little oddly at points for a general guide, but the principles are basically the same. Hopefully it will be useful to you <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Constructing The Plot

These are the questions I ask myself when I am constructing a plot:

1) What Is The Point Of Contention?

What is the prize? What are the protagonists seeking to achieve? This might be anything from 'a quiet night' to 'acquiring a mystic artifact'. Or anything else, really... What are the basic motivations that actuate the plot? Who or what is the prime mover?

This is the basic concept of the arc, and can usually be expressed as a short phrase, such as 'Earthquake in Brazil' or 'Out on a date' or 'Invasion of Earth'.

2) Is there a villain? What are they after?

If so, what are his motives? What does he hope to achieve? Are his goals the same as the heroes, or different? If the villain is not the motivator behind the arc, how does he come into it? Is there more than one villain? If so, are they working together or against each other?

3) Who is the Villain?

Are they interesting? Will they be a challenge to the heroes? Are they an ideological challenge as well as a physical one? Can they be portrayed as a realistic threat? Are they too powerful? If so, is there any way to even the odds that will work naturally within the context of the story?

4) Why is the villain there?

Far more important than who the villain is, is why they are active within the particular story you are writing. What do they hope to gain? Why are they risking their life and/or freedom? Many stories fail simply because the writer has not considered this question.

5) Why are the heroes there?

What draws them into this adventure in the first place? Heroes are generally more reactive than villains, so this one is usually easier, but should not be taken for granted regardless. Coincidence should be avoided wherever possible...

6) Does the villain know about the heroes?

If so, how has s/he allowed for them? If not, how will s/he react on encountering them? Does the villain have any past history with the heroes, or other sources of knowledge? How well will s/he know the heroes?

7) Do the heroes know about the villain?

As above, but opposite perspective.

8) How do the heroes win?

Vital to know before you even begin. If this one isn't plausible, your whole story is dead. Note that the heroes do not have to win every time. Simply surviving can sometimes be accounted a great victory.

9) How badly is the villain beaten?

A heavy defeat lowers credibility for the future. This is bad. A good villain should always salvage something, if only the knowledge that the heroes took a right beating in order to stop him.

A villain that is nowhere near the heroes' class, and is only being beaten up for information or equipment may be beaten as easily as desired.

10) Does the internal logic of the whole plot hang together?

Will the characters logically react in the way that you need them to? Will the villain? A good plot is always driven by the characters, not by the requirements of the plot. If the heroes are to be captured, why? Why does the villain not kill them?

If any part of the logic fails to convince when tested from all angles, the story must be either amended or thrown away, and a new beginning made.

11) What is the point of this story?

Why am I telling this story with these characters? What, if anything, will the characters gain? Will the reader learn anything new about them? Is this a new story, or just a rehash of something else? Is the story sufficiently challenging for the characters? Will it be entertaining for any readers?

12) Actions Have Consequences

Always remember, if you intend to tell more stories with the same characters, that what you have written will impact their world.

If one of your characters makes an enemy, that enemy may later seek revenge. If your cast quarrel badly, they should not magically become friends again between stories.

Always consider the ramifications of your plot upon all the subplots you are developing and the direction of your overall story.

Failure to do so will damage not only the integrity of your world, but also the credibility of your characters.

***

When you have answered all of those questions, you can then create a basic framework, laying out each chapter in terms of the things you need to cover with it. The real trick here is creating something your characters can move about in without wanting to move outside of. A good character will change some things as you write them, but a good plotter allows sufficient wiggle room for the character to do that <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Hope this helps <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

If you are interested, I will post one of my completed plot synopses as a general example of how this process actually looks when it is put into practice...


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Of course, I and much more interested in characterization, and I let my characters -- sometimes -- write themselves, so I'd be more concerned with how to develop interesting characters (the rest pretty much flow on their own). Inter-character conflicts, sub-plots -- all of these add to the complexity of the general story arc.


And, naturally, I don't have a guide for the really hard one yet <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I'll try my best on the fly, though <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Interesting Characters

Basically have clear motivations/goals and are unique in at least one respect, be it in personality, skill set, or anything else. If a reader sees a character who is clearly heading somewhere, they will want to go along just to see what happens. A drifter character with no basic goals and no idea of where they are headed will only sustain short term interest as the story will ramble pointlessly - all stories being a reflection of the character(s) they revolve around.

Interesting characters can also be created by taking a stereotype from one genre and throwing it into another where it is forced to adapt to a situation it would not normally encounter, though this works better for secondary (Supporting cast) characters than for primary ones.

As an example of the latter, I once put the stock 'Love Interest' character for a swashbuckler into a story with my favourite Sorceress. As a result, the poor girl turned into rather an interesting foil for my lead, though she hated both the situation and the 'Evil Witch' <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

(That story is here if anyone is interested.)

Inter-Character Conflicts

Conflict must arise naturally from who the characters are, and preferably from either ideological or goal-related differences of opinion. People do not 'just' dislike each other - there is always a reason, and most of the time it begins with a deep difference in perspective.

For example, a character who believes in the sanctity of life would obviously dislike anyone who thinks nothing of casually killing a foe, yet the two characters may be forced to work together by an over-riding necessity. Neither one of them is going to like it though.

At other times, characters will dislike each other because they see qualities in others that they dislike in themselves, or that run counter to their definition of 'correct' behaviour. A fastidious Elf may deeply object to a Barbarian on grounds of his personal hygiene, table manners, or habit of groping waitresses in the taverns they visit.

Note that such dislikes are not always a two-way street. Assuming our Elf is female, our Barbarian may admire her immensely and try to win her heart, seeing her as a kind of goddess. He may love the way she always smells of wild flowers, admire her grace and beauty, and not really understand why she doesn't like him. After all, according to HIS culture, he is doing nothing wrong...

Sub-Plots

A good sub-plot involves one or more characters pursuing a goal that is significant only to them, and not to the rest of the cast. The warrior seeking his father's sword; the mage seeking news of her missing fiance; the arch-villain seeking to find his missing (And well loved) brother.

Whereas a good main plot arises out of current motivation, a good (Non-romantic - different rules there!) sub-plot usually arises out of a character's past. So I guess the rule here is simple - work out something of the past of each character, and see what it might offer in terms of sub-plots.

Romance is a whole other kingdom, and really needs a guide unto itself, so I won't touch on that here <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> Suffice to say the difference between a contrived relationship and a realistic one is very great indeed...


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I actually stay away from guidelines/essays on how to create interesting characters -- not scorning what you've posted here, Elliot, but personal preferences. Again, like what I said about creating complex plots, applying formulae to this could be detrimental. Some people will suggest that you create a character profile: list the likes, dislikes, personality traits, skills, flaws -- but that doesn't work for me, either, since I'm a horrible plotter and planner.

So yes, I do think creating interesting characters can be hard, but if you let them hop around in your head a bit -- even run along with the story -- I think developing good ones shouldn't be too hard. I know that my characters are a lot more solid to me by, say, the fifth chapter than they were when I started planning the story.

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So yes, I do think creating interesting characters can be hard, but if you let them hop around in your head a bit -- even run along with the story -- I think developing good ones shouldn't be too hard. I know that my characters are a lot more solid to me by, say, the fifth chapter than they were when I started planning the story.


I think that's true however much thought a writer puts into a character before they start. I know it's true for me <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I tend to write test scenes for important characters - just to get the hang of them, before I write my actual stories - for this very reason. Helps run them in a bit <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

And you're right - no formula for character creation is perfect, nor will it work for every writer and every character. But it MIGHT give a starting point, which, I hope, is not unuseful <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


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And you're right - no formula for character creation is perfect, nor will it work for every writer and every character. But it MIGHT give a starting point, which, I hope, is not unuseful <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


Oh, I certainly think it's useful, especially for someone who's working in the sketchy, beginning phase.

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Angst rant:

Angst doesn't stand for character development. Angst doesn't even stand for characterization. If anything, angst will sometimes hinder development and freeze your character in time, keeping him/her from moving on and changing. I have very little patience for people who moan and wail and groan in online posts how miserable, how wretched, how pained, or how depressed they are -- so I don't go near them and refrain from making a comment, because these people generally crave attention and pats on the back. It's childish and pitiful; I've seen a woman who does it in spite of being over twenty (and should, really, know better). The minute I see a similar exercise from a fictional character, I snap and either stop reading or hurl the book across the room.

I've said it before in a different situation, and I'll say it again: nobody bloody cares. Especially in fantasy/sci-fi/adventure novels. Who really gives a damn about the heroine's self-esteem issues when there's a world to be saved, or there's a tyrant to be overthrown? Who would have the time? There's no way for the heroine to spend chapter after chapter moaning about the crush who spurned her ten years ago and not grate on a sane person's nerves. Now, angst can be done well, but excessive angst is never good. It makes me -- and a good many people -- want to slap the character upside the head and snarl, "Get over it already, you little brat!" Because, quite simply, misplaced priorities of characters lead to them angsting over every tiny little thing when they should have been able to come to grips with it and moved on long ago. Or at least seen the local equivalent of psychiatrist about it. Having another character yell at the bundle of angst to snap out of it is probably a good idea, too.

Worse still, many authors seem to think that it will garner sympathy and therefore attachment for the characters. Clue: it doesn't, not until you've made the reader care about the character first. Then the angst can have dramatic impact; if you're good, it'll tug at the reader's heartstrings. If you aren't, well, it'll just come off as cheap, gratuitous, and shallow. This brings me to the next point -- excessive angst lacks subtlety. Spare me the 4,000 words of stream-of-consciousness where the character just sits there does nothing but wallow in self-pity/guilt/pain, please. Good angst should be subtle and inserted between the lines, hidden under an ongoing, ever-moving story, not shoved down the reader's throat in a massive block paragraph. See R.A. Salvatore for an example of hideous, juvenile angst in the journal entries of his drow ranger.

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Well, dealing with the word "Angst" in English language is for a German quite difficult : It's the same word, but slight differences in meaning in both languages.

Angst in German is a kind of very strong fear, well, Angst. If you are scared to death because a truck is driving exactly into your direction and you're nailed town to the ground (and therefore cn't move), you'll surely feel Angst. Angst is what keeps a person from running across a motorhighway simply because of the high risk to lose live.

Angst in English seems to be a bit stronger to me, sometimes; I still have to figure out what it *exactly* means there. It's not only fear, but also seems to have to do with the word anger, but I'm not sure about that.

Anyway, it's one of the examples of German words wandered into the English language (like Pollen, for example). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/delight.gif" alt="" />

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From Dictionary.com:

Quote
angst

n : an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom [syn: Angst]


Example:

Quote
Why is life so painful?

I realize just how much life really does suck. Yeah. There is always all this talk of how things will always get better. How if you just hold onto a little faith, that change is inevitable. And considering that I have been so haplessly trying to believe that, it seems that faith has undeniably eluded me.

Sometimes I just want to sit back and cry. To just in a blink, release all my pain. I envision a life of just being happy. To be free of this prison I've been slung into. But, despite all my efforts, I cannot seem to break the chains. And I know of the one thing that will, but there is uncertainty if that is even going to happen.

At times, I just feel like I am drowning. Faltering to dark side life's true onslaughts and slowly becoming part of the statistics. Throughout the years, I've lived in denial and veiled the truth to praise my own fantasies. But I have actually come to realization that is nothing but a substitute for what my heart has desired all this time. And now, as much as I try to fulfill the life I had so desperately tried to push back, it seems that even in this aspect, I am succeeding at only opening empty hands.

There are even times I cannot breathe. My depression is so great, I even begin to believe that hope has become completely lost. I've even begun to notice that only things of a dark nature seem to bring me the slightest comfort. Even the once wanted comfort given by friends as an always welcomed commodity, is now just but a meaningless attempt by endearing friends that does not help ease the pain. I've regressed so far in just a short time, the thought of leaning on a endless path has begun to swell in my mind. I even contemplate if there is even a future at all.

There are times... I just want to give up all hope. To just succumb to the shadows creeping into my heart and come to an understanding that the future I so desperately want to grasp, is just too far out of my reach. As young as I am, I don't want to live the rest of my life in such a pitiful existence. But, if it cannot be accompanied by the very aspect of what my heart is seeking. What is there even a point to even continuing?


Ahem; that brings back the horror -- excuse me while I go fetch a bucket into which I will forthwith empty the contents of my stomach. Then I'll come back, re-read this and giggle myself silly. Can you believe it was an adult woman who wrote this?

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No, you're on the right track : Angst is always seen in horror movies, for example.

I was almost thinking the same : Angst *can* drive towards horror ... Edgar Allan Poe is a good example for that.


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