July 25, 2011

Other Stuff You Shouldn't Do (As a Writer) part 2

Part 1 here. These are things not normally highlighted in Do and Don't lists, which I learned in fandom. These last two are less about craft, and more about not being a douchebag.

Other Stuff You Shouldn't Do As a Writer

Don't use real life tragedy as atmosphere for your story.

Or if you must use real life tragedies--such as the earthquake+tsunami in Japan or 9/11--as your novel's setting, it must be done very, very carefully because chances are high you're going to end up hurting a whole lot of people.

A fanfic writer once prefaced her story, in her own words, "The Haiti earthquake was still in the news and the more I saw about it, the more I wanted to use it until it seemed like the best idea ever." She proceeded to use Haiti post-earthquake as the backdrop for two privileged white characters falling in love.

Predictably, the backlash was extreme and the story was taken down.

If you're going to do this as a writer, research research research and make sure there is an infallible plot or character-related reason that is NOT simply to provide an ~exotic backdrop~ or ~create atmosphere~ for the characters.

Mind your ego.

Once, a friend of mine pointed out (politely) how she felt something was out of character in a fanfic. Writer of said fanfic and a bunch of her friends then dogpiled her for daring to voice her opinion. Said fanfic writer went on to say "I don't think someone who has only written 1 story and got 30 reviews should tell someone like me, who was written over 100 stories and gotten reviews in the high hundreds on several, and over a thousand on one, that my writing is OOC. I know it isn't exactly IN character, but it's FANFICTION. It is damn impossible to get the characters exactly in character. But I make a damn good effort and I do a hell of a lot better than you do."

Do. Not. Do this.

Having over a thousand reviews on a story (or let's say, being a NYT Bestseller) means you wrote a story that a lot of people enjoyed for any number of reasons. What it does NOT guarantee is quality and, in terms of fandom, IC (in character) characters. And it certainly doesn't give anyone the right to treat someone without the same "credentials" as beneath her just because she gave it negative feedback.

In short, be awesome. Anything else you guys want to add?

Have a great week!

July 18, 2011

Other Stuff You Shouldn't Do (As a Writer) part 1

There are a lot lists about the Dos and Don'ts of writing, but here are a couple that don't normally get spotlighted.

These are things I learned in fandom. In fact, I'm guilty of that first one myself (b/c I was a n00b lol). In fandom, the worst that can happen is that fellow fans get annoyed and don't read your fanfiction. But in publishing, people not reading your books can cost you considerably more.

Careful with epithets.

In fandom, epithets are both profuse and diverse. This is not exactly a good thing. The most common was writers using either a character's hair color or nationality as a stand-in for their name--you know, to "vary" things up a bit since saying that person's name over and over again is apparently no good.

As a result, writers "creatively" used epithets such as "the pinkette" and "the silverette" to describe characters with pink or silver hair, which happens often in anime fandoms. Weirder yet was when a person with black hair got turned into a bird. Rather than saying "the raven-haired bloke" (which I'd still advise against), it was just "the raven." You have no idea how strange (and hilarious) it was to read lines like "The raven nodded and walked away" or "He kissed the raven."

Likewise, nationalities: "Toma liked tea well enough, but it wasn't the Japanese man's favorite drink."

This is fine if you're telling the reader for the first time that Toma is Japanese. Not so fine if "the Japanese man" becomes his second name continuously throughout the entire story. Or if Toma is the narrator.

Keep characters IN character.

What I've noticed a lot of writers do is they come up with this exciting scenario in their heads and then proceed to write it without any regard to how the actual characters would react given that situation. The author is so enamored of her "great idea" that she fails to realize the characters would never actually behave the way she wants them to.

This can happen just as much in original fiction as fanfiction. We create our own characters, but then we have to stay true to how we portray them. Readers will pick up on inconsistencies. And if the inconsistency is deliberate, then there has to be a reason why.

Part 2 next Monday. Have a great week, all!

July 11, 2011

Villains Who Switch Sides

I realized there was yet another villain I had yet to discuss--the ones who, after undergoing a character arc, end up on the hero's side.

These antagonists are rarely the Big Bad. Main villains who "turn over a new leaf" and join the hero at the end usually only happens in media for very young audiences (while hitting us over the head with a ~moral~). No, these guys are usually either the villain sidekicks or the red herring villains.

What reasons might a villain switch sides?

• an acceptance of moral responsibility
• to spite the main antagonist
• for love (family or romantic)

The only character who comes to mind immediately is Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He was the main antagonist in season one, although, even then, he displayed some moral integrity, choosing to save his Uncle instead of pursuing the Avatar and there was a lot of focus on his complicated past. But for season two and half of season three, the main antagonist switches to his sister Azula (and father the Fire Lord) while Zuko struggles between the destiny he thinks he should have and the destiny that's truly awaiting him. He's my favorite character in Avatar :D

I think the Malfoys might also fall into this category. They oppose Harry the entire series until the end when Narcissa lies to Voldemort in order to get back to her son. Harry even saves Draco at one point, and I'm pretty sure that was a symbolic olive branch.

What do you guys think about these antagonists? Love them? Hate them?

Have a great Monday! ♥

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