Author has written 45 stories for Legend of Zelda, Rurouni Kenshin, Tenchi Muyo, Valkyrie Profile, Evangelion, Teknoman, Final Fantasy I-VI, Oh My Goddess!, Soul Calibur, Castlevania, Serial Experiments Lain, Warcraft, Guilty Gear, Sailor Moon, Twelve Kingdoms, Shadow Hearts, Naruto, Mai HiME, Fire Emblem, Mass Effect, Portal, Valis, Tron, and League of Legends.
A writer that may not know how to write good stories, but he sure knows a bad story when he sees one. Nearly twenty years of fanfiction and Mystery Science Theater 3000 gives you a unique perspective for writing and stories in general.
I'm always up for a chat. If you want to talk, by all means, send me a PM and we'll work something out through Skype/IM/whatever. I also have a Tumblr where I post shorter stories: http:// paladincomplex. tumblr. com/
I'm often on Skype: IliyaMoroumetz and if you want to speak via googlechat, PM me. We'll talk. :)
Current Project: a Prequel to Ubi Venenum, Ibi Evaqua
Character Creation Treatise:
I know, it's another Mass Effect treatise, but it's such a fertile ground for ideas and story creation.
So, you've made your character.
You want your Shepard to be unique and something you can take some pride in, regardless of if people can appreciate it or not. So, where to start?
Well, Mass Effect has three choices on where your Shepard can start. A farm kid on Midnoir, a Spacer Military Brat, or an Earthborn street rat that once ran with the Reds. Ok. We got that as a basis. Let's take it one step further with each example. Let's try being just a bit more detailed on one level.
What kind of family did each of these Shepards have? (specifically, the colonist family.) What kind of people was Shepard's family like? Simple hard working people? People wanting a better life on off-world colonies? Perhaps, for example, a preacher woman mother and a farmer father, like E.W. Shepard's was in PMC65's 'A Thessian's Whisper'. What kind of relationship did she have with her parents to color her perception of them as she grew up? Did she have any friends?
See? So many background questions you can keep in the back of your mind or jotted down on a note or a wordpad to give your Shepard a bit more character. And you needn't go into excruciating detail either. Just make an off-hand remark, like, 'This reminds me of my parents' cooking back on Midnoir.' It shows that Shepard still thinks about her family fondly, even though they're not there anymore.
Now, another thing to note in crafting characters is a balance of what kind of person your character is. You have to make sure that the kind of person Commander Shepard is, is mentally stable enough to be an N7 Marine and a Commander. While bad events can help shape character, just focusing on those alone put the emotional stability of the character into question. You don't need to 'beat the rat', as PMC65 once told me in one of our many conversations, to make a character interesting. Honestly, from what I've been told, the kind of dark and brooding individuals that permeate comic books, video games, and some fanfiction would never, EVER, become N7 Marines, let alone officers. They'd either be mercenaries, locked up, or lower ranked grunts.
If you must give your Shepard a dark past, balance it out with good things. Case in point, in Melaradark's 'Dark Energy' trilogy, Delilah Shepard is a hard-lined, foul-mouthed, easily angered, neanderthal. However, she had her source of light, Nan, a volunteer worker, to show her that everything's not all bad and give her hope. It'll give her something to strive for. Use that as an example. Let there be something to balance the light and the dark in someone's life. Going to extremes is neither realistic, nor exciting.
Endings and Closure Treatise:
(MASS EFFECT 3 SPOILER WARNINGS APPLY!)
Objectively, and creatively, Mass Effect 3's ending is bad.
First off and something you should be aware of; endings in stories are never an easy thing to write.
On paper, it's easy.
You wrap up the threads of a story, give closure to the characters, and conclude.
However, in these simple steps, there are so many variables in which things can easily, and quickly, go wrong. One of the mistakes made in the end of Mass Effect 3 was the sudden, and inexplicable, inclusion of the Catalyst AI.
What could they have done? I don't know.
However, to suddenly have this ancient AI, one older than the Reapers themselves, to come out of nowhere and present a choice that pretty much unravels everything you have done from the previous two games is poor story-telling in its worst form. You do not introduce something so potentially pivotal so close to the end.
It's another version of the Architect from the second Matrix movie. There was so much time spent on exposition, a bad move so close to the end, that it grinds the pacing to a complete halt. That is something you never want to do when you're in the middle of an intergalactic war between the native races and Space Cthulu monsters.
As a side note; the fact that the Catalyst admits that it is the source of the Reapers themselves, takes away the mystery of the Reapers themselves. Sovereign's speech from Mass Effect 1 was enough backstory we needed on the Reapers. Nothing more. If you need to explain what makes something terrifying, then it's no longer dangerous and terrifying.
And so, the agency that the player enjoyed for most of the entire series is taken away in a trio of non-choices that more or less unravels everything you have done.
You want to know what a good ending is?
Yes, 'that' Old Yeller.
The defining moment of the story is when the dog sadly contracts rabies and since this is post-Civil War Texas, there isn't much change for treatment. So, to the sorrow of Arliss, he is forced to shoot his now rabid dog. Yes, the ending is dark, but there is closure. There is continuity. There is a sense of completing a journey and the reader is not left feeling robbed of a conclusion.
Want a less downer of an ending?
Read the last Calvin and Hobbes comic.
It's Calvin and Hobbes, walking through a snow covered meadow, with Calvin saying, “Let's go on another adventure.” From there, no more comics were ever made.
These, my friends, are good endings.
Ask questions on what it means.
(Partial credit given to Malaradark for her assistance)
Original Character Treatise:
In fanfiction we place original characters that add our own original flavor to the overall story, and possible theme. However, whenever original characters (OCs) are introduced, a great amount of care must be taken into consideration. The reason why I say this is because far too many times I have seen 'original' characters that have come out of nowhere and have not only usurped an already established character, but the purpose as well.
The one great pearl of wisdom when it comes to original characters is to make sure that their involvement is not intrinsically linked to the main story.
The fact is, people read fanfiction stories to read about characters from that particular franchise. Not your 'original' characters. While they do have their place, their importance should never override the importance of established characters. Granted, there are outliers; like World of Warcraft, where many characters write their own stories that can exist in parallel to the overall written story (as poor as it is, but I digress).
Case in point; in Malaradark's story Dark Energy, there is a character by the name of Gellian Osco. (Used with author's permission) Mentally unbalanced and sick, but unbelievably intelligent. However, her involvement in the overall story is all behind the scenes. Here are a few facts about her; (Spoilers for ME1 apply)
She was taken under Benezia's wing and considers her a friend, if not the only friend she has.
She was there on Therum when Shepard and Co. saved Liara.
She was there on Noveria when Benezia was killed and tried to kill Shepard for it (but failed, obviously) and is still trying to do so, indirectly.
Her presence was instrumental on Virmire when Saren was trying to clone Krogan without the Genophage, however, it still ended up being destroyed.
See the pattern?
It's all in the background and doesn't change the established canon of a story. As Malaradark and I spoke, she noted that had Osco's presence been on Virmire and both Kaidan and Ashley could have been saved because of it, it would have turned Dark Energy into an Alternate Universe; which was not the author's intention.
OCs can add some interesting flavor and in universes such as Mass Effect, there's so much potential. However, take care. Remember, OCs are icing on the cake of the adventures of canon characters. Eating nothing but icing is not only bad for your tummy and teeth, there's not much substance.
Anti-Self Insertion Treatise:
If you or someone you love writes Self-Insertions into your favorite fandom. Here's a word of advice:
Or stop them.
I'm serious. Stop.
I'm talking to you. Yes, you. The one with the hair. You know whom you are.
Why should you stop? Well, ask yourself the single most important question that any and all SI authors should ask themselves before the embark on this madness:
What makes you, John or Jane Q. Public, more interesting than the characters in the fandom you are writing in? And be honest. Really.
The answer, for all intents and purposes, is nothing. And that's not a searing indictment of your person. You, like I, am a regular person, with problems and strengths that do not, and will not, fit in a world of fiction, ever. Unless you are one of the screaming masses that runs helplessly as the giant monster attacks the city.
The franchises that you insert yourself into, regardless of how little or much events are changed by your presence, would murder you dead in your sleep. And for a normal person like you or I, to insert themselves into a story, such as Mass Effect (A fandom littered with SIs), and pretend that you would have an effect on events or, Heaven Help Us, be able to romance any of these*FICTIONAL* characters is egotism and wankery of the worst kind.
Again, this is not meant as a criticism of you as a person. No. This is a criticism of the *idea* that you are more interesting than Commander Shepard, or Link, or Harry Potter, or Bella-whatsername.
It's ok. You can join a support group when you come to the realization of the horrible, horrible thing you did. Then, you can pick yourself up, analyze yourself, and get to writing new stories involving your favorite characters either saving the world, getting it on, or just being friends. Never give up, folks. You can do it! And if you ever feel depressed about your ability to write, just take some advice from Destructoid's own Jonathan Holmes.