Poll: Genre you never see in the Mario section that you think would be *awesome* for a story? Based on genres I've personally never seen, excluding my own stories. Vote Now!
Author has written 21 stories for Mario, and Final Fantasy IX.
So, I recently finished watching the entire first (and so far, only) season of "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic." Before you go and judge me for being a 20-year-old guy watching a show about a pony-centric line of toys, I will defend myself by saying that the show is legitimately very good, much better than I expected. Honestly, when I think "children's show" nowadays, I think of annoying characters, random and unfunny events happening for no reason other than to make an attempt at being funny, no sense of depth in plotlines, etc. I found MLP to be very good at managing a universal appeal for watchers though. There are jokes in there that children would like and adults would appreciate, the animation quality is amazing, the stories are always lighthearted and have a positive theme acting as an undertone, and I find that it takes a rather mature approach at a kids' show while still succeeding at keeping the elements that many kids' shows have. And after learning that the creator was also the person behind "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends," I quickly understood why this one was so likable; Foster's is a great cartoon as well, and a lot of what makes it so good shines through in My Little Pony. So, if you're looking for a way to kill some time, I'd suggest watching some MLP. All 26 episodes are uploaded on Youtube, so it wouldn't be a laborious task to find them at all.
Exactly five months later, and I just now remembered that I might explain the difference between character- and plot-based stories. Hopefully, I can still remember everything my teacher imparted to me about them.
Here's the difference in a nutshell: plot-based stories, as the name implies, are based on the plot, whereas character-based are based on, you guessed it, the characters. That really needed to be explained, right? But here are the finer details.
Plot-based stories, all in all, tend to not be quite as interesting. They're stories where, if something must happen, it will happen, and nothing will get in the way. This basically means that it's a story whose events are out of the hands of the characters themselves, and they're simply around to witness everything that's going on and try to do something about it as the story goes on. Not all plot-based stories are uninteresting, but the tendency is that the writer doesn't care so much about characters themselves as they do about what's going on around them. While writers can make you care about the characters, the fact that they control pretty much nothing that's going on around them tends to put them on a backburner, and writers have a knack for making the characters completely interchangeable. Examples of plot-based stories (that may or may not be plot-based, but I believe they are) show up in movies like "Transformers" (Sam Whitwickey has pretty much nothing to do with everything that's going on with the actual Transformers, but he's sucked into the proceedings anyway), and video games like "Final Fantasy XII" (the main character, Vaan, has almost nothing at all to do with everything that's going on in the world, but he gets whisked away into saving his kingdom in the end). These two examples aren't bad, I actually quite enjoyed them, but the fact remains, those stories were largely based solely on the plot.
On the flip side, a character-based story is a story where everything that happens in the plot is brought about entirely by the actions of the characters. Unlike a story with a plot base, the characters themselves are the deciding factors in the story. This means that things like character personalities, quirks, likes, dislikes, everything about the character plays into the ultimate course of the story. Instead of things simply happening all around them, they make things happen. Without them, a story wouldn't exist. These stories tend to be more interesting because the observer is learning about these separate characters in-depth. Of course, this type of story is often more difficult to create. It's not as easy to give a cast of characters enough depth to have them control the plot themselves, but it's a challenge that may very well be worth it in the end. Another movie and video game example of character-based stories: "Up" (Carl wants to live the dream that he and his late wife planned with each other, so he flies his house to South America in order to carry it out) and "The World Ends With You" (Neku finds himself trapped in a deadly competition, and needs to make a choice between saving himself or saving the lives of the people who have become his only friends). While the second one is, admittedly, pretty plot-based to begin with, the fact that the story slowly turns from being uncontrollable to being entirely in Neku's and crew's hands makes it feel more character-based to me.
I tried to pick examples that I know and that some of you may know, but I do enjoy both movies and games that I listed above. They're all pretty exceptional if you ask me. But that's neither here nor there. If I remember correctly, those are the differences between character- and plot-based stories. And, well, that's that.
Woohoo! Happy nineteenth birthday to me right!? I understand if you feel excited today, because I only get to celebrate my birth once a year!
How am I gonna celebrate exactly? ...Uh. I'm gonna do my laundry! Whoo, right!? Heck yeah, now that's fun! Anyway, hope you all have a great July 27th!
Added Edit: Well, the votes are in. Of the eleven choices I put up in my latest poll, the top three least liked/most overused story ideas are:
Tied for 1st: Stories where an OC is the main character! Seriously, people don't exactly read fanfiction to read about some dude/dudette they've never heard of before. Even if they are interacting with characters that actually belong in whatever universe they occupy. I can see how this story idea can be incredibly hard to pull off successfully, and I strongly advise against making a story at all where an OC is the main character. (Though...I must admit, I did do that one time. Not to mention that, on top of that, said character was female and she had to seduce Peach. Yeah, not immediately the most approachable idea in the world. But hey, if you wanna check it out, it's the one entitled "Cherry" way down on my list of stories. It actually focuses more on Peach than the OC, but, eh, whatever.) Anyway, if you think having an OC main character is a good idea...think again!! Or create an absolutely perfect story which has such greatness that nobody can deny it. Then you might have something to work with.
Tied for 1st: Truth or Dare stories! Seriously, what's the point of them at all. They're useless, they have no plot, no character development, nothing. It's just a bunch of people sitting around either telling a truth that may or may not really be true (it's up to the author to fabricate whatever they think is the "truth"), or putting up with some kind of dare that, at best, doesn't affect anyone or anything at all. We read fanfictions to be immersed in an interesting story involving characters we're familiar with and have grown to love. Not so we can sit in and watch them play some stupid slumber party game. Would you want to read a novel wherein the characters do nothing but ask "Truth or Dare?" over and over again? I think not. So, unless you can fabricate an actual story (you know, like a thing with a plot, that generates actual interest) out of a truth or dare game, stay away from this idea!!
3rd place: Self-insertion! (Okay, I'll get this out of the way. I have a self-insertion fanfiction myself, but it's not at all serious.) Pretty much in the same vein as having an OC as the main character, only not quite as bad considering people know you as the author of the story itself. That being said, if the self-inserted author is the main character of the story, then it's not much better than just having an OC as the main character. And I figure it's probably not so much the fact that the author decided to put themselves into their own story as a character, but rather the ego that seems to come along with the action. Pretty much any self-insertion story I've read is almost the same: the author seems to idolize themself and makes themselves the most interesting, the most comedic, the most powerful, etc. etc. In short, authors tend to make themselves gods and Mary Sues, giving themselves few or no flaws and a plethora of likeable traits that are meant to make people fall in love with them. But, really, all it does is make people feel that you're arrogant and idolize yourself just a bit too much. Authors must remember that, though they do have ultimate power, that power is only applicable on the other side of the computer monitor! Giving yourself that ultimate power as a flawless character in your story is not a good idea!! However, all that being said, self-insertion may not be such a bad thing, if you are humble enough to make yourself like every human being on the planet and give yourself a few flaws and a real personality, not one that's totally artificial and meant to be loved by all. If you make yourself realistic, people may actually respect that and not mind so much that you put yourself into your own story.
Well, it's certainly been a while since I last updated my profile hasn't it? I figure it could use a fresh coat of text, and one that didn't attempt to teach for once. Instead, I wanna focus on my dear, loyal readers and my birthday that's right around the corner (July 27th, I'll be 19! Woo-to-the-hoo right!?)
Anyway, I decided to check my story stats for the first time in a fair while and imagine my shock when I see what pops up. I looked directly at one story in particular and discovered that, as of today, it's received 5,764 hits, 170 reviews, has been added to the favorites list of 33 readers, and the alert list of 22 readers. Those number feel exponentially huge to me, and I never imagined I'd ever see stats like that, let alone on a singular story!
When I first started writing here just a bit over a year ago, I never believed that (some of) my stories would become as popular as they are now. And it seems that one story in particular was the gateway that led to such fame (that I assume I've obtained by now, to some level). "Not Another Love Story" started out as just your typical high school angst routine that I found myself having quite a bit of fun with. It was my first time really experimenting with a story that focused on romance (a genre I rarely ever touched in the past) and I honestly never expected it to stand out all that much. Little did I know that my version of a high school romance/drama between Luigi and Daisy to actually be my crowning achievement of writing thus far, and my most challenging story yet.
I'll admit that it started out pretty messily. In the beginning, I had so many different ideas that I wanted to get out in the story that I clumped them all in together without really ironing where they would lead to in the end. Toad and Tess started off as a pretty strong idea, but it quickly became obscure, as did the appearance of Pauline and several other characters I set up to actually have an impact on the story at some point. However, with all those experiments put into the story, only one idea really stuck: Wario and Waluigi, the "Super Miscreant Brothers". But, even through those messy trials, my readers still held fast and continued to praise the story. And now, I'm finally feeling that it's getting better and better the more I work on it. And I have my faithful readers to thank for that. Which I will do as of right now. (Deep breath)
Wimpzilla (joint projects ftw), Mr Wang 330, Michaiah (I still have the song), SugarBullet, MarioLuigi25 (how'd you know my name!?), Fyras14, Rereishere
Thank all of you so much for your support! Without all of you, this story wouldn't be what it is today! I hope you all continue to enjoy reading the story as much as I continue to enjoy writing it.
Ugh...something I hate about this site. I just typed all of this information up over the course of roughly an hour (I tend to go pretty slowly) right after logging on and I went to save the changes, only to have the site prompt me to log in again... So, instead of bringing me right back to the profile edit page and leaving up all the text I just typed, it decided to erase everything and force me to start all over again. This really sucks...
Anyway, disregarding my severe hatred for retyping several paragraphs I just wrote, the following four steps are a sure-fire way to make a character quite multi-dimensional. And thanks to my hatred of retyping, I'm just going to put everything in a list and make a summary of what they all mean. Blah.
Note: The following steps were learned from another teacher of mine and are intended for character-based stories. I'll probably write something about the difference between character- and plot-based stories in a future post.
Give Your Character A Goal: This is pretty rudimentary. Every interesting character has a goal. That's Writers 101 information. Otherwise, without a goal, well, what's the character's purpose for even being there? It'd be awfully boring to read about someone that's not striving to get anything done. Goals don't always have to be huge though, and characters don't always have to focus on a single goal at once; it's very easy to give characters multiple goals that can be worked through all at once. Anything from saving a kingdom from an evil, malicious being to cooking scrambled eggs without burning them. Goals can be absolutely anything.
Give Them At Least One Flaw: I'm pretty sure a fair amount of us have heard of "Mary-Sue"s by now. Those are characters that are absolutely perfect. They have no flaws. Nothing ever goes wrong for them. They always come out on top. And they're thoroughly dull and uninteresting to read about. People read stories in order to experience some kind of serious conflict. When you have a flawless character though, there's no such thing as a conflict that can be taken seriously because we already know that, in the end, that character is going to be victorious. Flawlessness saps any and all intrigue a person might have in a story right out because it's just predictable. Oh, Sally's hanging over a pit of spikes and sheer death with only minutes to live? Ah, Flawless McPerfect is on his way? Well, we know how this is going to end already. It's also easier to relate to a character that has flaws, because everyone has them. There's no such thing as a perfect human being, so there should be no such thing as a perfect character.
Make Them Have An Unconscious Behavior: Unconscious behavior is anything that a character does without realizing that they do it. Everyone has unconscious behavior and giving a few unconscious actions to a character can really help make them feel realistic. Ah, a very easy example that just popped into mind: Wario absent-mindedly scratching his posterior. he just does it without thinking twice about it. That's unconscious behavior. And really, you don't need this in your story to be honest, but having it is certainly a nice addition to making your characters feel real. Also, unconscious behavior doesn't have to be a flaw. While flaws can serve to impede a character on their way to their goal, an unconscious behavior can be very easily unrelated to anything; it's just something that happens in certain occasions. Don't get me wrong, they can work against the character, but they're not on the same story-altering caliber as a flaw.
Give Them An Internal Conflict: An internal conflict can not only make a character more multi-dimensional, it could also add a whole new layer of intrigue to the story. While internal conflicts can be the main conflict of the story, it serves to delve into a character's head and hear their own personal thoughts on a situation, expressing their values, their fears, their worries, anything. It helps the readers truly relate to a character on a new level and feel for them and their plight. While flaws and unconscious behaviors are rather small (yet powerful) additions to a multi-dimensional character, internal conflicts are the big factor to help make a character feel real. Internal conflicts can be created by conflicting a character's goal and a flaw (Joe wants to manage a little league team, but he gets frustrated at the smallest of mistakes), conflicting a goal and an unconscious behavior (Wendy needs to study for a test, but her minds wanders easily), or conflicting a flaw and an unconscious behavior (Warren hates giving speeches, but once he starts talking he can't seem to get himself to stop).
Pretty simple right? Or maybe not so much? Just keep these things in mind (but don't overthink them) and you'll be creating multi-dimensional characters like there's no tomorrow. It may be difficult to think about all of these things at first, but it becomes second nature over time. Practice makes perfect.
And that, as they say, is that.
As I was sitting in class today, my teacher got onto the subject of "explaining" during the course of a story. His message at the end of the lecture was, quite simply, don't do it.
It's all about context. Context is the silent language or the implied language that does the explaining for you. For instance, take a scenario where a character is supposed to be angry that his little brother erased all the save files of the character's favorite video game. You don't simply type "Generic Joe was angry at his brother for erasing all the save files." Not only is it bland to say that outright, it's also redundant because you know that Generic Joe would naturally be angry about something like that. Instead, try something like:
"Turning on his favorite video game, Generic Joe discovered that all of his save files were gone. Wondering how in the world that could have happened, the image of his little brother playing that same game the previous day popped into his mind. He had to have been the culprit! Ooh, once Generic Joe got a hold of that little rascal..."
See? Isn't that a fair bit better than outright telling the reader that Generic Joe was mad at his brother? This way, you get a little bit more into the character's head, going so far as to hear his thoughts, and, at the same time, it becomes clear that he's obviously angry without ever having to say it. Sure, it's a bit harder and more lengthy to type all of that out, but, in the end, you get a more emotional response out of the reader because the context is speaking through the words, and arousing emotion in a story is always important in any good story. Honestly, you can have the most unoriginal, been-done-before story there ever was (coughNotAnotherLoveStorycough) and still have it be successful if you know how to properly arouse emotion in the reader, and using context instead of flat out explanation can help take you one step further towards that goal.
Oh, another thing. Dialogue (or die-alogue as one dear reader cleverly referred to it). Yes, dialogue, when used too often and too unnecessarily, can actually ruin a story. Sure, it's the main way for characters to openly communicate with one another and it can bring a level of charm and humor and emotion, etc., if used well, but too much dialogue makes your characters quickly feel shallow and, ultimately, uninteresting (even if you feed them some truly fantastic lines). When writing stories, people aren't looking for an excess amount of chattering between two or more characters. Readers want to get inside the characters' heads and hear what they think, understand how they feel, truly connect with them on a deeper level. When you spend all your time making your characters gab on and on throughout whole chapters though, it's hard to feel much of anything for them because you aren't allowing enough space for them to emotionally and mentally develop outside of conversations with other characters; conversations during which characters will very likely hide their true thoughts and feelings to tailor whatever situation they're in. And readers, being curious, want to know the truth, and they can handle it, so give it to them.
I realize I'm ranting on like I'm a writing guru or something. I'm not claiming to be a master at the art of literature, but I do feel that these tips can help out with the development of some writers so they may further improve their storytelling skills. These are just my opinions though, so they could also not be worth a grain of salt. It really just depends on you whether or not you find it valuable.
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