Author has written 12 stories for Ice Age, and Transformers/Beast Wars.
Dear beloved readers!
For those of you following The Dark Horizon: I've assembled some kind of soundtrack, I think the tracks fit rather well. The music isn't mine of course, but feel free to listen to it ;)
(By the way: I won't be posting tracks ahead of the published chapters so as not to spoil your fun.)
01 Mogwai - Take Me Somewhere Nice (Intro)
02 Avenged Sevenfold - Hail To The King (Optimus Prime)
03 Nine Inch Nails - Something I Can Never Have (Ratchet)
04 Nymer - Messouda (I Am Alpha!)
05 Two Steps From Hell - Army Of Drummers (The Hunt)
06 Linkin Park - Roads Untravelled (New Life)
07 Tool - Right In Two (Megatron)
08 The Presets - My People(Life In Space)
09 Marilyn Manson - The Beautiful People (Barricade)
10 Stone Sour - Made Of Scars (Alpha The Decepticon)
Also, here's a soundtrack for Mistakes Made:
01 Awolnation- Sail (Silica)
02 Five For Fighting - Superman (Optimus)
03 Angel – Sarah Mclachlan (Sparklings)
04 Richi’s Escape - Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil (Captured)
So, since I’ve noticed quite a few writers (not only hobby writers, professionals as well) seem to be having trouble with writing, I thought I’d share a little collection of tips on how to create a good piece of fiction. Have fun ;)
a) existing characters
Well, that’s easy, some might say, I’m planning to write fanfiction so I’ll just take a character that already exists. Easy? Not quite.
If you’re using a character that already exists, be sure to really get them. Know their motivations, their habits, the way they speak (very important), their fears and hopes. Try to have them act according to their background. A wise leader won’t behave like a twelve year old, just as a kid won’t be way more skilled and smarter than every adult in the story (I know this is often done in kid’s stories to desperately make the main characters appear cool, but it is way better to actually let those characters grow in time and earn their skills).
Try to stay in character. If you don’t know enough about someone to know how they would act in pretty much any situation, you’re probably not ready to write about them.
The only time you can sway from any original characterization is when you’re taking a different spin on a character, but then you’ll need to be very consequent about that. Decide beforehand how you want to alter a character and stick to that. Make it very clear you’re not trying to portrait the original character, but that you’re rather creating your own adaptation of them.
b) own characters
Maybe you are familiar with the term “Mary Sue”. A Mary Sue is a character who is just so awesome and witty and knows it all, who is loved by everyone in the story and is very often an overly improved version of the author. Don’t ever create a Mary Sue. Just don’t. It might be fun to dwell in childish fantasies, but it isn’t fun to read, it isn’t realistic and it usually ruins pretty much every half- decent plot you might have had.
Real people have flaws, whether they admit it or not. They make mistakes. And making mistakes (but maybe learning from them) makes your character easier to identify with. Your readers need to be able to believe that these characters in the story actually exist, even if it’s just in their head, but a good character will become emotional reality. This is how you get the reader to care for what happens to the people in your stories.
Have you ever watched a movie without any proper characterization/ character development? If yes, you probably couldn’t really bring yourself to care about the outcome of the story. Oh well, the main character just died, well people die every day, who cares (yawn). What would you call such a movie? Boring. Which is probably the worst thing one can say about anything meant to entertain.
If you do decide to give your story a villain, I would suggest saying goodbye to classic black- and- white thinking. Who does evil things because they just like to be evil? Pretty much nobody. Except for very idiotic sadists, but those very rarely make good villains. People usually do bad things because they believe they’re doing the right thing, because it’s their right to do whatever it is they’re doing or that it isn’t a bad thing altogether. Which kind of twisted morality/logic they use to justify their actions is up to your imagination, but just being evil is pretty much never a good motif for doing things.
A good villain is a formidable opponent for your protagonist. Don’t let them be defeated too easily, or the reader will not register them as an actual threat.
Also, give them a proper goal. Which usually doesn’t mean something like destroying the universe intentionally, because what would they have to gain here?
Where and when do you want your story to take place? If it’s a real place, do proper research. E.g. not all of Africa is desert. Is there a historic context? You need to think of those things beforehand. Which doesn’t mean you need to tell your readers all that before the actual story starts. Sometimes it’s better to drop hints along the way, let them put the pieces together.
Remember to use the right amount of detail. You do not need to intricately describe every single room, but do give enough information to set the right mood and give the reader an idea of what the surroundings might look like while leaving enough room for imagination.
If a scene takes place outside in the sunshine, it feels completely different from something happening in an abandoned warehouse.
Next to the characters, this is probably the most important point. A story stands or falls with the plot. Now sometimes you’ll have an idea for a whole story, sometimes it might just be a certain scene you want to write and sometimes you just want to convey a specific mood.
What’s important now is to ask yourself: Is the plot original? Does it fit the characters? Does it really have to include this or that? Is there enough potential for a longer story, or would a short story/oneshot be the better alternative?
Sometimes it’s important to change or even completely let go even of very central ideas for the sake of the story. Making up gap- fillers which are just there to form something like a bridge between two initially incompatible scenarios will not make for a good story, so you may have to alter the course of events to make it believable. You’re the author. What’s going to happen is in your hands.
Do not create artificial drama. It’s often used in typical romantic comedy movies (you know, when she thinks he’s cheating on her because she saw him talking to another woman but instead of asking him to introduce them she’ll run off crying only to find out in the end that it was just his sister), but it’s just some flat excuse to create a mockery of a plot. Thinking of an actual problem that can’t be solved by a short explanation is harder, yes. But it will reward you with a lot of potential for character development and a great plot.
Remember, there are coincidences in life. There’s not always a reason things happen and you can use that for unexpected plot twists. Mind the dosage though, because if those things happen all the time, it will just be confusing.
Also, you should contemplate whether or not you want to convey a certain message with your story and if so, what it’s supposed to be and how you achieve it.
a) Keeping track
If you’re working on a longer story, it will become difficult to keep track of the characters, locations, time spans or even plot elements. I would recommend creating some kind of system (taking notes or creating a timeline, for bigger stories preferably both) to keep track to avoid continuity errors.
First person? Third person? Omniscent or limited?
What kind of narrative you use for your story will be crucial to your storytelling.
A first person narrator usually tells the story from the point of view of the protagonist and they will not be omniscient (except you’re writing about, I don’t know, a deity or something). That in itself possesses a certain charm and serves to take the plot closer to the reader.
The reader only knows what the character knows, knows what’s going on in their head but sees the world only through their eyes. It is rather difficult to make a good story using a first person narrator, but it’s definitely manageable.
Example: “I ate a carrot.”
The third person narrator is usually not someone involved in the plot, referring to the characters via he/she/it. Now there’s the limited narrator and the omniscient narrator.
The limited third person narrator sort of watches and tells the story from the outside, but doesn’t know everything that’s going on. That can make for a more spontaneous and surprising storytelling. Also, this is probably the most common narrator.
Example: “He ate a carrot.”
The omniscient third person narrator is basically like the limited one, with the difference being that they do know everything.
Example: “He ate a carrot, but couldn’t have known he would soon after choke on it.”
Remember that, no matter which of those you pick, stick with it. It will do your story no good if you don’t.
You should pick a style you’re comfortable with and which matches your skills concerning that language, but which is also appropriate for the plot and the audience your story is aimed at. If you’re writing a complicated social-political thriller, you’d use a different style than when writing a kid’s story.
Also, don’t post “fresh off the press”. When you’ve finished writing something, let it sit overnight, read it again, then post it. Better yet, have someone else read it for you. That will make it easier to avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Another important part of storytelling is whether it’s present or past tense.
Personally, I don’t recommend using present tense (example: “He eats a carrot.”). It can make sense for some stories, but it usually only makes you sound like a seven year old writing their diary.
The more elegant solution usually is to use past tense (example: “He ate a carrot.”), which will grant your writing a better flow and make it appear more professional and eloquent.
Now this might sound a little weird, but try acting out your scenes. This can help you to actually visualize movements, emotions or processes. Try to be the character you’re writing about, put yourself in their situation, try to physically recreate some of the things they do in important scenes. That could be pacing a room while talking to an imagined counterpart or treating your pillow like it’s your new baby or pretending to die or whatever.
Take caution though, especially when writing darker stories, for this practice can actually make things uncomfortably real for you (if you’ve read “The Dark Horizon” you can probably imagine what I’m talking about).
If you want to write believable stories, research the topics you would like to write about. You’re planning to let your character travel somewhere you’ve never been to? You want to write a good fight scene or describe someone’s experience of something that has never happened to you? You want to include scientific ideas in your work? Research.
Your readers will greatly appreciate feeling like you know what you’re talking about. And this way, you can learn a lot, too.
Now I hope this is helpful to some extent ;)