Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tera Sanmalari

Tera Sanmalari is the protagonist of Sanmalari and the oldest character of mine.

Tera was created June 15th, 2007. Though her character and purpose were vastly different. Tera was a young human child who was being abused by her family. She was quite smart for her upbringing and for just being six (she spent nearly all her life locked in a closet).

She had a photographic memory in an attempt to justify her intelligence. After a few failed attempts to write Tera's story, her evolution was eventually influenced by Avatar: The Last Airbender and Charmed.

Around 2009-2010 Tera became an Elf with mutated grass hair named T.T. the way she is today.

Tera was born June 15th, 1680 in an unknown location. She turned up in a forest on May 23rd of 1686 on the day of black sun. Having bee placing grass in her hair, it mutated into T.T. and she was later found by the Elves and mistaken for the reincarnation of the Sanmalari.

This is why Tera believes herself to be 6 years younger than she actually is. (On another note, 6 years old is still a baby). Tera was shipped to the Isle of Mantralla to live with the Larpei's under the name of Tera Larpei.

Tera was neglected by Lorro and Sifer, her 'father' and 'mother' respectively. The neglect only increased after they had a daughter, Razzure.

Her life at school was no better, as she was bullied and ridiculed for her hair, someone that Tera frequently talks to, though T.T. is able to answer her telepathically (as is Tera, though she likes talking to her out loud) it looks as though Tera is talking to herself.

The other children call her a gorgon and Medusa, throw rocks at her and refuse to play with her. Though she has the very diminutive height of 2'10", no one has ever teased her about it.

Tera battled a bout of depression and is very lonely, even with the constant companionship of T.T. her "second mind" is often critical of her, impolite and can emotionally distant. Tera has a massive temper that T.T. usually keeps under control for her.

Tera's loneliness drives her to try to find friends and her willingness to accept anyone as a friend makes her a horrible judge of character. Tera will do anything for her friends and to keep them. She is naive, gullible and easily manipulated.

Tera is very dutiful and hates letting people down. She has an empathetic relationship with plants, allowing her Earth and Air magic to come easy to her. This is also the reason why she is a carnivore by choice, as she feels like eating plants is cannibalism.

1. Tera no longer has a photographic memory and her intelligence is average.

2. Tera is left-handed.

3. Tera has many illnesses due to malnutrition. She is malnourished due to the parasitic nature of T.T. (that's also why she's 2'10")

4. Tera has a beautiful singing voice.

5. T.T. is 12-feet tall, meaning together they can reach heights of nearly 15 feet from the ground.

6. Tera and her past incarnation has spawned at least 5 others characters.

Author's comment
I always find it difficult to describe Tera's personality because of how much it changes over the course of the story/series (Yes, I still haven't decided how long Sanmalari will be.). As my oldest character, Tera has a special place in my heart, along with Stella Nakamoto, who was created some uncertain days after her.

Any questions or comments? Leave one below or email me at emanation63@gmail.com

Want to see pictures of Tera? Check out my gallery on deviantART: http://tal63.deviantart.com/gallery/46281648/Sanmalari

If you would like more information on Tera, particularly of spoilerish nature, you know where you can contact me. If I don't know you, I won't give you any spoilers. I'm sorry.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How to write tragic backstories

A staple of fiction is the suffering of characters. One of the all-time favorites of authors is the tragic backstory.

What is a tragic backstory?
The childhood and past of characters contains tragedy to some extent, what qualifies it as being tragic is subjective, but generally it's when the backstory is mostly sad rather than happy.

Tragedy can come in many forms. It can be caused by other characters, by the character herself or by external circumstances. The first one is obvious, but you may also include things such as a mother getting ill or dying.

A character can cause her own suffering by misinterpreting her surroundings and believing things that are false. Or maybe she blames herself for something that isn't her fault, or perhaps simply she was too shy to ask out her high school sweetheart and he wound up marrying her sister.

External circumstances can be anything. Being the chosen one has been known to cause characters to lead tragic lives. Simply being born too late or too early. Something like getting sick or getting snowed in. Anything really.

Purpose of tragic backstories
The primary purpose is because it's fun to torture your character. It's okay to admit that you like doing this, we authors are a sadistic bunch.

In seriousness, there are two reasons for tragic backstories. To explain a characters behavior or to generate sympathy for them.

Trying to generate sympathy for characters can be a double edged sword. If the character is unlikable in the present, no such tragic upbringing will make your audience like her. It may even make them like the people who are causing her misfortune or more likely, they just won't care and see it as a poor attempt to make us like the character.

Trying to explain the behavior tends to work better, though it depends on what they're doing. If your character is someone who doesn't like people because her mother abused her, this explanation will work better than if your character is trying to take over the world because her mother spanked her once for breaking a window. Unless you're writing a comedy, that last one is not a good reason for taking over the world.

The do's and don'ts of tragic backstories
A tragic backstory like any other story element, needs to be handled with care. Maybe more so than others, as tragic backstories have a tendency to be overdone.

- Don't overdo it. Your character can have an abusive mother and father. Maybe the only person in the world who likes her is her dog, who gets hit by a car. There's no need for everything in her life to go wrong.

- Don't underdo it. Say your character's mother is abusive, or so you claim. All she ever did was ground her for a month for eating a cookie. Yes, that's extreme, but it's hardly abusive.

- Don't have your character obsess over her tragic life. No one expects her to just get over it, but if she constantly whines about it people will just get annoyed with her. I'll talk more about the effects of tragic backstories in my next post.

- Do make it realistic. This applies to stories as a whole, but you're usually only allowed a contrived coincide to kick off the plot.

- Do make your character feel the negative effects of the tragic backstory

- Don't just make your character feel the positive effects of the tragic backstory.

Remember, tragic backstories are just backstories at the end of the day. You'll want to be mindful of regular rules of backstories. Such as, though you'll need to know everything that happened, you're reader doesn't need to nor should they see everything.

Any questions or comments? Leave one below or email me at emanation63@gmail.com 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kami Renaldin

A guest post by Naomi M-B. A wonderful author whose stuff can be read here.

A particularly adorable main character in the ‘Destiny’s Joke’ series. He was selected by the lovely admin.
 Kami’s origins are rather disputed as different elements of him were created at different times. However, the original spark of his character was created in 2009 for a completely different (now abandoned) series called the ‘Sisters Saga’. Back then, he was a quiet an affable young man whose all-seeing eyes gave him an uncomfortably intimate relationship with a person’s mind.

Around 2011 most of my stories fell into abandonment. I salvaged only a handful of my favourite characters, Kami was among them. For a quite a while, he just floated around as one of my characters. This changed June 2012 with the start of a new story Those That Are Silent (which would mark the start of the Destiny’s Joke series). For this, his overall character was entirely reworked. Drawing inspiration from the lead singer of Antic Café, Kami became cute, happy, hyper and overall bubbly with hidden depths of Empathy and a dark past.

Kami was conceived using IVF treatment. His parents were both affiliated with a Genetic Engineering company called GenTricks. They were offered the treatment free of charge on two conditions, first that they name him ‘Kamitra’ and second that he be a subject in a study on the development of New Borns. They both agreed as they had already used up their free IVF cycles supplied by the NHS to have his older brother, Darren.
Unbeknownst to them, GenTricks manipulated Kami’s DNA, splicing it with a strain of Supernatural DNA (Beings with supernatural powers). This lead to him gaining the ability to first read a person with startling accuracy and then, later, to peer into their pasts and discover the events that shaped them.
Born January 3rd in a GenTricks research institute near central London, under the pretence of the study, he was whipped away from his parents just hours later. For the next three years, he lived in a laboratory filled with hundreds of other children and twenty GenTricks scientists. They were subjects of a near infamous experiment, among those in the know, called the ‘King Project’. During that time, he was tested, had an organic chip placed inside his brain and was psychically linked to three children a little older than him. The first initials of their names spell out the initials of their ‘Squad’: KSRT (Kami, Satra, Ren, Terone) King Subterfuge Reconnaissance Team.
They were the only four fully ‘completed’ as just days after, the Project was shut down. It was ordered that the subjects be disposed of and the Scientists executed. What they exactly meant by ‘Disposed of’ is unknown, the Scientists took this to mean destroyed. So, they deactivated the chips (rendering their powers to near uselessness) and hid all completed or partially completed experiments.
Kami was given to back to his parents and who were informed that the study was completed. However, at age five for some unknown reason his chip temporarily reactivated. With his power reawakened, he naïvely chattered about his parents’ private lives at the meal table (his mother’s secret drinking problem and his father’s two affairs). When asked how he knew, he stared at his mother and told her that their ‘strings’ told him, gesturing behind her. (He was in fact seeing her fate line). He then pointed at his father and recited his exact actions from getting up this morning which included going to see both his mistresses. Two days later, the chip deactivated again, removing the memories of these events from his mind.
The family was torn apart. His mother walked out and his father became convinced that Kami was a monster that had replaced his son. While Darren attempted to protect Kami at first, he was drawn away by other responsibilities and he partially blamed Kami for the tearing apart of his home life. So when he was accepted to join the army, he left with barely a second glance.
Alone with nothing but his father’s constant emotional abuse, Kami grew into a quiet, timid little boy that got overly flustered at the prospect of human interaction. Ashamed and disgusted with himself, he followed his father’s every command without question or hesitation. When ordered to eat of the floor he would do so. When ordered to stay in his room, he would stay, even if the door was open and he was starving.
Life changed slightly when he entered secondary school. First, he was reunited with Ren and Satra, though none of them had any memory of knowing each other before hand. Their chips, which were more on standby than complete deactivation, recognised each other. As such, Kami began to gain a little of Ren’s bravery and Satra’s cunning, he used them to find ways to avoid being at home. This only worked for a little while as his father quickly cottoned on and ordered him to always come straight home.
When he was twelve, Terone transferred into the school and Kami became slightly better at talking to people. By slightly better, I do of course mean, he gained the ability to actually talk to people without turning into a complete nervous wreck.
When he was thirteen, his father lost his job. Enraged, he blamed the entire incident on Kami. So, upon arriving home, he quickly found something to fault the boy on. It just so happened to be the dinner Kami had cooked. He threw the food on the ground, trampled it with his muddy boots and then ordered Kami to eat it. When Kami vomited, he ordered Kami to stay in his room till he was told to come out. Kami’s father then just walked out. For four days, Kami was left without food or water in a freezing room in January. By the time the authorities finally found him, he was barely responding.
Upon recovery, he was sent to live in a Children’s home where he formed a firm friendship with Satra. After that, with the exception of a small kidnapping incident involving Ren’s gang, the only way was up. His Mother’s sister Beatrice was found as legal custodian and he became friends with both Ren and Terone. Over the next two years he comes out of his shell, developing into a bright and bubbly, immature child, leading his friends from one mad cap adventure to the next.
Now aged 15, he volunteers himself and his friends to help out at the Mental institute his Aunt works at. There they meet Uta who marks the start of their journey to save the world.

Kami is incredibly cheerful and bright. Nearly always hyperactive, he rarely upset. Usually, negative emotions are displayed in a childish yet endearing sulk, like when he can’t get a puppy or something silly like that. Very occasionally, he will show himself to be mature and to be able to take rational decisions to help people.

The immaturity expresses a deep set longing for the childhood he never got to have. In a slightly similar way, the near constant happiness hides how empty he feels inside. At some point, he shut off his feelings so as to save his mind. Turning them back on is a lot more difficult and he has yet to learn how to do so.

1. Kami loves bright colours
2. He constantly draws, writes and paints on his walls. Sections of it are repainted every couple of months to give him more space
3. His favourite word is Shiny
4. He wriggles around a lot in his sleep so has been banned from sleeping near the other during sleep overs after kicking them all awake so many times.
5. Unsurprisingly he has a massive sweet tooth

Author’s Comment
What can I say? Kami is freaking adorable.

Unlike a lot of characters, he is purposely flanderised a good deal of the time. This is because his main characters are subconsciously an act he puts on to fulfil his desires at child hood. As his surroundings grow more and more serious and depressing, he goes out of his way to become more bright, bubbly and childish. As soon as he has to be serious however, his true depths are shown and I love him for that.

He is my oldest character in terms of being around and he delights me by how far he has come.

Any questions or comments? Leave one below or email me (the admin not Naomi) at emanation63@gmail.com 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pitfalls to avoid when writing a series

Not having to hit deadlines can be helpful and harmful. It's harmful for all of the obvious reason, if the deadlines mean nothing, you'll take them lightly and they'll ultimately have no meaning. However, not having to make deadlines is helpful in it's own way.

You don't have rush, you can make everything perfect. I'll give you an example, say that you're writing a series and that you have a deadline to write each installment. You might have, maybe, five saved up and you have a good general outline, but as you write things you notice that you could have foreshadowed something better or you notice a continuity error or character flaw.

Basically, you can fix errors in and strengthen your story before it's time to release it. Maybe it's because I'm a perfectionist but I love finishing the entire series before sending things out so that I can edit everything and keep the continuity straight.

Keeping the continuity straight is an important part of a series and so is keeping your characters straight. Here is a list of common pitfall and how to avoid them.

1. Flanderization
Maybe you've heard the term before, maybe you haven't. Flanderization is when a character devolves into a caricature of their former selves. They had depth, they were a fully fleshed character but for some reason they become one-dimensional and lose all of their depth.

For example, imagine Jane Smith is an animal rights activist who works as a doctor and enjoys taking long vacation with her friends. There's a reason she loved animals, because she was saved by rescue dog when she was child.

By season three, Jane's entire life revolves around her protesting for animals and everything she does is about animals. There's no mention of her being a doctor anymore or taking long vacations with her friends. Everything in her past is about animal and it goes beyond all rhyme and reason.

A very good way to avoid this is simply to be aware of the problem. If you notice that your character is starting to become one dimensional than take a look back on how they acted before and make sure to keep it in mind as you portray them.

2. Plot holes
Plot holes are a common problem of long running series and of series that use more than one writer. If you do create the entire series before publishing it like I do, you can check for plot holes fairly easily, but I'm certain that most people don't do that.

Here are a few tips to avoid plot holes:

- Revist old installments. If you're not sure about something, look it up and keep the continuity straight.
- Don't break the rules of the story. Whatever you established earlier is the law, no exception.
- Keep your characters in character.
- Be mindful of what is going on elsewhere in the story. They're not doing the last thing since they were since they were on the screen and might intersect with what is happening on screen.
- Have other people look over your series. Having a fresh set of eyes will catch things that you might've missed and things that made sense to you as the author but what a reader needs more information for.

3. Pacing
Pacing can be an enormous problem in a non-episodic series. Though there can be pacing problems in anything, but I'll just talk about series with an overarching plot.

You're going to have one main plot for the entire series that has to last for the entire series. In order for it not to be resolved immediately, you'll have major plots in each individual season, but how do you know if it's not just being derailed or not?

I'm not sure if there's a sure way to know, but try to pay attention to the season plots. Are they just being pulled out of thin air, or do they advance the overarching plot? If they're just pulled out of thin air, it's probably just plot derailment.

Of course, going too fast is also a problem. The characters need to overcome obstacles on their way to resolving the main plot, not just learn about it, waltz in and solve the problem.

Some other pacing problems to avoid.

- Presenting the series problem too late. People want to know what the series is about early on, while mystery is allowable and red herrings, try not to keep your audience in the dark for too long.
- Long, drawn out fight scenes. Other than the climatic battle, fight scenes shouldn't run too long and they shouldn't be bogged down by too much dialogue.
- Action is far and few between. If your characters go to the coffee shop, they shouldn't spend half the episode there talking about the plot.

Any questions or comments? Leave one below or email me at emanation63@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rei Akatsuka

Rei Akatsuka is a major supporting characters from the series Maho no Hogosha! Another one of my friends selected her for the subject of this blog post.

Rei was first created circa August 30th, 2012. She was created to be the younger twin sister of Ran, who like most of my characters were vastly different at inception.

Ran was named after Ran from Urusei Yatsura (I've never seen the anime, so why I named one of my characters after Ran is beyond me). Ran was created to be a future ally of the Earth Protector and to help populate the series.

While naming Japanese characters using 2000-names, I decided to see what Ran's name meant. (It means "Lilly" or "Orchid" for those of you who were curious.) The name directly below Ran, was Rei, a name which means "nothing, zero".

I thought, who names their kid that? I thought it sounded like a name you would give to a kid you didn't like.

And thus Rei was created.

Rei was born on July 16th, 2003 in Capitol City, Akatsuka, Nekomimia. The sixth and youngest daughter of Gina and Keiko Akatsuka. She was born 27 minutes after Ran, twins being exceptionally rare, Rei was a complete surprise. Her full name is, depending on who you ask, either, Null Rei Akatsuka the Prime, First order of Nothing or Zeta Rei Akatsuka the Prime of the First order. First heir to the Boruda Crown.

Only two people use the second one (Herself and Usagi), the title she should have inherited. The first one, as you've probably guess, is just an ignorant title that doesn't actually even exist. (But then again, neither does Zeta)

Now seems as good a time as any to explain the titles.

The Akatsukas are the royal family of Nekomima and also the protectors, as such, they have magical crowns which they inherit at the age of 10, if they are eligible to do so. I won't delve too much into eligibility, but basically you have to be one of the five oldest daughter of the Nekomimi crown to be guaranteed a crown. If you're just a niece, you'll only inherit it if someone meets their untimely demise.

The important part here, is that while for the daughters of the lesser four crowns are allowed to inherit if they're the eldest living daughter of the highest crown, the Nekomimi crown specifically mentions that the eldest five daughters shall inherit the crown.

Since Rei is the sixth child, she isn't in the line of succession. Still following? Good.

Rei's sisters and their titles are as follows (in birth order)

Alpha Manami Akatsuka the Prime, First Order of the Nekomimi Crown.
Beta Nori Akatsuka the Prime, First Order of the Vulkaveine Crown.
Gamma Suzume Akatsuka the Prime, First Order of the Earth Crown.
Delta Usagai Akatsuka the Prime, First Order of the Kawaii Crown.
Epsilon Ran Akatsuka the Prime of the First Order. Heir to the Boruda Crown.

Ran is only 9, while the others are aged 11 to 17.

The first part of the title (Alpha to Epsilon) designates the order in which they were born.
"the Prime" refers to the crown which they were born to or are ceding. All of them, sans Manami, will have to change their title once ceding their crowns to "the SecundoTertiusQuartus, or Quintus". (That is assuming they all live to cede their crowns)
"First Order" refers to the crown which they were born to and will be with them for life.
"Heir to" means they will inherit the crown upon reaching the age of 10.
"First heir, second heir, etc. to the Boruda Crown" is your place in the line of succession should a crown protector die. In the event that a crown protector does die, the crowns cycle upwards. Highest blood purity.

Now that I have gone off on a tangent, I will return to talking about Rei. Like all unpainted Akatsukas (Akatsuka's without crowns) she has white hair, eyes and fur, because she is considered a disgrace to the Akatsuka name and is thus poorly treated.

Rei spent much of her time confined to her bedroom and often went several days without being fed. Her mother Gina, her primary abuser, often beat and clawed her, leaving her with many scars along her body.

Though her family in general despised her, mistreats her and refers to her as a thing, she got along well with her twin sister when they were young and she enjoys a healthy relationship with Usagi.

Rei is somewhat emotionally disturbed. In general, she doesn't really like people and doesn't befriend them. Rei is quiet unless she knows and likes you, in which case she will be a lot opener and warmer.

Rei sleeps a lot, out of necessite and boredom. When she's not sleeping she likes to play with her puzzle or read her comic, The Masked Nekomimi. Though those are her only two possessions, she tries to solve it and read it different ways in an attempt to keep it fresh.

In addition to comics and puzzles, Rei enjoys roughhousing and hunting. She is also very imaginative and possesses an alter ego, a superhero named Kiyoko Koneko, the prodigious princess.

1. Rei is only permitted to wear black and grays, colors more often associated with the black hair, eyes and fur of the common Nekomimi.

2. Nekomimi are a one-gender species.

3. Rei's favorite things to eat are, shrimp, double fudge chocolate cake and raw milk.

4. Another thing Rei likes to do is leap onto and ride on Usagi's head.

5. Rei enjoys biting ears. Mainly just Usagi's, but this doesn't seem to bother her at all.

Author's comment
Rei is one of my favorite characters. As I mentioned in my previous posts, Rei isn't one of the characters who 'evolved' purposelessly. When she was first created, Rei was a lot grumpier and downtrodden, which made her similar to another character of mine, Tera Sanmalari.

What helps set them apart is their resilience. Rei is made of much sterner stuff than Tera, allowing them to go into completely different directions.

Any questions or comments? Leave one below or email me at emanation63@gmail.com

Want to see pictures of Rei? Check out my gallery on deviantART: http://tal63.deviantart.com/gallery/46281645/Maho-no-Hogosha

If you would like more information on Rei, particularly of spoilerish nature, you know where you can contact me. If I don't know you, I won't give you any spoilers. I'm sorry.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Alex Aquique

So I was talking to my good friend again and she suggested that I make posts about my favorite protagonists and villains and what not.

So why this one is on a Sunday, I will make posts such as this in the future on Tuesdays.

Since it was her idea, I let her pick the inaugural character, who will be Alex Aquique! A major supporting character from Mahō no Hogosha!

Alex was originally created in mid to late 2012, though her existence was purely accidental. I was making another character in anime face maker but she didn't turn out looking exactly like herself and I decided that I would make her into a new character.

So I changed the hairstyle to pigtails and named her Alex. At the time, the main characters of Mahō no Hogosha! were only 12 and since Alex looked quite young, she was younger than them and a backup player on the soccer team which most of the main characters (Eri, Amy and Hannah) played on.

So for a short while Alex was just a face and a name. I decided that all of Amy's friends shouldn't be magical like her, so Alex became her non-magical friend. I decided to make all the main characters 14 at some point.

Alex was born on June 22nd, 1998 in Carabobo, Valencia, Venezuela. Her full name is Alejandra Aquique Temprano and she moved to the United States around age 7, the same age in which her father died of an aneurysm.

Alex lives with her mother, Mirany, in an apartment in Anaheim, California. Alex has very little respect for her mother, as she has a career as a stripper, often comes home drunk and is very neglectful of Alex and their apartment in general.

Alex is incredibly impulsive and obnoxious. Though she does have a conscious, she often only thinks about her behavior in retrospect. Alex hosts a wealth of insecurities about herself, namely being flat-chested.

To help with her insecurities, she will attempt to project it onto someone else (i.e. calling Eri, someone half of an inch shorter than her, Shortstack.) or joke about. Though this is effective for shortness, it was unhelpful against being flat-chested and mistaken for a boy.

Alex wears her hair in a pigtail, which according to her, is "the girliest hairstyle known to mankind."

Alex enjoys playing soccer, a game taught to her by her late father. She's a defender and is very good at what she does. Though she is arguably the best player on the team, her behavior is detrimental to the team as she often gets carded (and subsequently suspended) her team has never won a game in her absence.

Along with playing soccer, Alex enjoys watch boxing, wrestling and blowing things up. Other things that Alex enjoys are adorable things and eating popcorn when she is feeling sad.

Alex is also a hopeless romantic, though she believes that she will never find love. As a result she plays matchmaker and usually becomes more invested in the relationship than the actual participants.

1. English is Alex's second language. As such she has an interesting way of speaking. By smashing together contractions. So she says things such as: "I'mn't going to eat that." and "I'ven't seen you ages. How've you been, man?"

2. Alex sticks her tongue out whenever she takes a picture.

3. Alex always wears a blue cap. There's no real reason for this except that the character she was originally supposed to be a picture of always wore a hat.

Author's comments
Alex is one of the most complex characters I have created and also one of my favorites. Though most characters "evolve" to some extent or another, Alex is one of the characters who has undergone radical, slow and purposeless evolution, similar to real life. The other three such characters, are Tera, Stella and Kagami.

Not surprisingly, those are four of my five best and favorite characters (the fifth is Rei). Though the end results is a very good character, as I said, the process is long and seemingly unending. Which could pose a problem during writing.

Alex, in her first incarnation, appears in the first draft as she was created in 2012. Now though she is vastly different making her scenes irrelevant. Thought the first draft as a whole is horrible, I think you get my point.

Any questions or comments? Leave one below or email me at emanation63@gmail.com

Want to see pictures of Alex? Check out my gallery on deviantART: http://tal63.deviantart.com/gallery/46281645/Maho-no-Hogosha

If you would like more information on Alex, particularly of spoilerish nature, you know where you can contact me. If I don't know you, I won't give you any spoilers. I'm sorry.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Character beliefs

Sorry this post is a bit late today, but there's a really good reason for that. I was playing Arcanum this morning. Yeah, that old RPG game where you pick a character and give them stats and such. The reason I'm telling you all this is because I like to use my characters whenever I'm playing Arcanum.

This time I'm playing as Kagami Amaya, one of the antagonists of Mahō no Hogosha! and as I'm playing I feel like she's a bit OOC. That's partly because I like to take every quest, even when she wouldn't care to and they way that she talks to people... isn't exactly ideal for game play, as when people get too mad at you they'll attack and I don't want to go around killing everybody.

But I digress.

What is it that your characters believe in? Do they believe in God? Do they believe they are God? How do they think the world works, the people in it?

Belief is a very strong thing, sometimes people believe in things so strongly that they just know it's true. Even when they're presented with compelling evidence to the contrary.

Developing these views
Where do these world view come from? Usually it will come from someone else or from an experience in the world. Religious views are often handed to children by their parents and some views, such as optimism and pessimism can be bred by early life experience.

Someone who's had nothing but bad things happen to them all their lives might tend towards pessimism. Or maybe they chose to be optimistic to help get themselves through the hard times.

Singular conscious
A singular conscious is how human beings observe the world. This limits their ability to be empathic and objective. I'll just talk about objectiveness and subjectiveness. When a character sees something happen with their very own eyes as opposed to being told it by a third party, they're far more likely to believe it.

Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is when someone remembers, or interprets information in a way that confirms what they believe. I'll give you an example, Stella Nakamoto is one of the main characters from my series Sanmalari and she believes herself to be a God and immortal.

Stella got infected with an oft fatal parasite called a desert worm. Everyone who knew her was quite certain that she was going to die and Stella was convinced that she wouldn't die because she couldn't. Stella didn't die and she took this as proof that she was immortal.

Now, Stella isn't immortal (nor a God) she just suffers from delusions of grandeur.

Cherry picking
Cherry picking is selecting specific bits of information about things to fit what you believe. Matthew Berry does a wonderful job of illustrating cherry picking in his fantasy posts. What he does is this, he selects two players and calls them player A and player B.

He talks up player A by telling you all the good things about him and talks down player B by telling you all the bad things about him. Everything he says about both players is 100% true.

Then he tells you that they're the exact same person.

Cherry picking is a great way to make characters argue. People don't often consider the validity of the other side because they're convinced that they're right and they're just trying to show everyone else the right way to do things.

Belief is a powerful thing, characters need to hold strong and firm to their beliefs. They must follow them as if they are right even if they are 100% wrong. After all, people thought witches were the causes of ills despite the fact that this is 100% wrong, they still burned people.

Don't be afraid to make your characters be witch-hunters.

One final word. Beliefs, no matter how twisted and seemingly incorrect likely have some grain of truth to them. You probably want to aim for the middle, make something a character believes to be both equal parts right and equal parts wrong.

Any questions or comments? Leave a comment below or email me at emanation63@gmail.com

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How to write dialogue

I was talking to my friend yesterday, the wonderful author I told you about in last weeks post. She was giving advice to another one of her friend about writing dialogue and I thought that I would do the same here.

The purpose of dialogue is not simply for characters to talk. They can't talk about the weather, unless it just so happens that imminent rain is plot relevant.

Conversations that your characters should:

1. Tell something about the characters talking
2. Convey information about the plot (The trick is to also do this without the characters sounding like

I'm sure there's more a conversation could accomplish, but let's focus on just these two.

Ways that you can use dialogue to convey information about characters talking is by the way they speak. Human beings have vast variety of vocabulary and they often have ungrammatical ways of stringing sentences together. When we talk we often just start talking without much thought to sentence structure.

We also say lots of ums and include lots of pauses. We're also incapable of spontaneously launching into a speech riddled with meaning. Though in fiction launching into a perfectly prepared speech is acceptable and saying um and pausing doesn't convey normalcy in fiction, it conveys hesitation.

Read these two sentences.

"I, um, went to the park with... Sarah and uh, Jay." Jane said.

"I went to the park with Sarah and Jay." Jane said.

In reality, the first sentence sounds like Jane is thinking. However, in fiction it sounds like Jane is making things up.

Take a look at these three other sentences.

"If you ever come near my sister again, I will kill you." Jay said.

"If I catch you sniffing around my sister again, I'll be the last thing you ever see." Jane said.

"If you're ever in the same proximity as my sister again, you will cease to the exist by my doing." Sarah said.

They're three different people saying exactly the same thing in three different ways. The way that Jay is speaking is more direct and blunt, while Jane speaks with more colorful language. Sarah is simply verbose.

The way a character talks can convey information about them, such as educational background and we're they're from if they speak with an accent or regional dialect.

Now onto the second part of how to use dialogue. To convey information about the plot and advance the plot. Here's how not to have a conversation about what's going on.

"Now, Jay, as you know someone's been stalking our baby sister." Jane says.

"Yeah, that Stan guy. You know we need to prepare our plan to kill him." Jay says.

"Of course."

Alright, that was really bad and everybody knows better than to write like that, but I hope you get the point. Jay should know that Stan is stalking his baby sister already, there's no reason for Jane to mention it to him.

An easy way to avoid this is to ask yourself why is this conversation happening? If the answer is to explain information to the audience than a red flag should go up in your head. Conversations like this are usually forced and unnatural.

A good way to get around this is to have the characters not all know this information so that when one character launches into an explanation about why time travel is possible, not only will she be explaining this to the audience she'll also be explaining this to her uninformed friend. The audience gets their information and there was no forced conversation.

Of course, this isn't always possible. What if your core group of characters are all time travelers? Ideally, you'd like to tell your audience how time travel works and the fact that all the time travelers know how it works means they won't really talk about it.

If you've ever watched a game of football with people you're going to talk about football, because it's something that you all have an interest in and understand. So that's what your time travelers would do, in a perfectly natural way.

I hope that you found this to be helpful and not confusion. If you have any questions or comments, you can leave one below in the comment section or send me an e-mail at emanation63@gmail.com