Hoppla, skipped yesterday’s post. I asked about fairytales in WIPs and I just had nothing to say to that. None of my original fiction WIP is far enough to have developed that kind of lore inside the lore.
Today’s post is about prophecies and superstitions. Do you have prophecies and superstitions as part of the worldbuilding in your WIP? Could you add some?
Now I have the same problem I had with the fairytales, no WIP is far enough for that but here’s an idea I might tackle soon. I want to write a story about a prophecy and instead of the usual teenage character, it will be a mature woman, who’ll take up the job and gets it done. Friends and her children will help her because I’m living for the Heroine’s Journey. No lone Hero’s Journey in this house.
So, even if the story is not quite there yet, this is already a thing in the idea file. and it will come to life soon. (For various amounts and lengths of ‘soon’ 😀 )
Today, in the tumblr post, I asked for creatures of folklore in the WIP and I think people misunderstood what I meant. Most answers were about folklore from our world, but I meant lore inside of the lore, folklore in the fictional world. I’m gonna ask for that again, tomorrow.
I have to admit that I haven’t gotten that far in any of my original fics. I think the closest to lore inside of lore is the arsonist Cinder Ella in the fairytale adaption in the New Tales From Old Yarn anthology, because she becomes a sort of mythical figure for the people in the story.
But this is definitely something that I want to keep in mind for the next, longer, original fiction.
I’m a bit late today, sorry about that, I don’t know why this day had to start out so busy. I think I saw most of your posts for yesterday’s prompt, I’m getting to the rest of them in a minute but I wanted to get this post out first.
So one thing I got sort of like an undercurrent from your responses is, that for many of you the characters just appear on the page and take over and somehow you think that isn’t the correct way of doing this. As if a real writer always starts with at least one page of a character profile.
First of all, there’s not one right or wrong way to write, ever, so jot that down.
If your are a pantser and not a plotter, this is your way of writing. And even if you plot, you can still discovery write parts of your story. Even someone like Brandon Sanderson, who is a dedicated outliner, says that he discovery writes his characters. Meaning, he gets to know the characters as the story develops.
So for today, lets do some discovery writing. I give you a prompt, and you write at least three paragraphs of a character reacting to it. Let’s see who you discover.
The prompt: Unfortunately, things never go according to plan around here.
I wanted to talk about discovery writing because I realized that we often easily assume that everyone knows the same things. But back when I started, having barely an idea of how stories work, I remember what kind of a revelation it was to learn that there are different ways of writing and all were valid!
Hearing and reading about discovery writing, or pantsing, made me feel like I sort of knew what I’m doing. At least I wasn’t on the wrong path. And sometimes we forget that everyone starts somewhere and everyone has to go through these learning processes.
Well, let’s get to the prompt.
Of course it didn’t work. Of course. It had been such a good plan. But unfortunately, things never go according to plan around here.
“Agent Lassiter calling base MX4. Base MX4, do you read?” She listens intently into the silence of the communication system but all she can hear is the rushing of her own blood.
“Base MX4, I’m really fucked, I’d appreciate some sort of new plan.” A dry laugh leaves her throat. “After the other worked so well.” She checks her oxygen levels. The suit displays the number already in warning orange, telling her that she’ll run out in under two hours.
“For fuck’s sake,” she growls as she tries to roll onto her side as gracious as one can be in a bulky spacesuit, but her left foot is stuck under a broken stabilisator. “Why is does this always happen to me?”
A crowbar floats past her and she grabs it before it gets away. She angles it under the stabilisator and manages to lift it enough to pull out her foot. She looks at the crowbar and grins. “I guess this is a start. Wouldn’t be the first hero with a crowbar.” She kicks off the bulkhead and floats straight to the broken access port.
How do you create your characters? Do you make a profile of them? Do you know your character before you start writing the story?
I asked this question out of curiosity because I’m always interested how other people do this. For me, my characters are usually just there, often representing one part of me or an idealized version of me.
I can never fill out character profiles because I know nothing about them. I discover the characters as I write them. If I’m smart, which I’m not often, I’ll fill a second document, my scraps file, with the information I come up with on the fly as I write. If I don’t have a scraps file, I’ll probably start one by the third time of searching through all I have written to find the place where I described the character’s hair color.
What I’ve also done is using characters from media I know well. They change of course as I write them, but a Varric and a Hawke from Dragon Age are a nice base to start a character on. I did that for the fairy tale I wrote for the anthology. I don’t know how obvious it is for the reader but for me, basing the characters on these games characters, gave me a starting form for them to work with.
All in all, I don’t feel like I’m creating characters, I rather feel like the characters just appear and force me to deal with all their antics.
Tell us about ideas you have floating around. Worldbuilding snippets, or ideas for new stories. Just a few bullet points.
And you know what happened? As I was thinking about all my floating ideas, I had another idea, started writing it and now I have 1780 words of some kind of erotica story. Honestly, I don’t quite know myself what happened there…
And that statement read so weird to me that I formulated it into today’s question on tumblr:
Structure as offense and characterization as defense, or the other way around. Is this something you think about? Do you have other metaphors when you think about your stories and how they work?
After a while the first responses began to trickle in and I was relieved to read that other people couldn’t wrap their heads around this statement either. Sports metaphors are not my thing anyway, this is a no-sports zone!
I liked how some used the metaphor of cooking, adding ingredients and roughly following a recipe. Another metaphor spoke of the plot as the journey and the characters as the drivers. I think my favorite metaphor is that of a machine, where the different parts of a story, the plot, the characters, their motivations, their agency, play into each other like cogs of differing sizes.
For me, structure is a scaffolding for the story to cling to, while the characters do what ever the fuck they want. I usually come up with characters first, maybe a little hook or a theme, and then I sit there, stumped at what the story could possibly be. Maybe I should just write the characters having sex all the time, I’m fairly good at smut.
I had to skip over the weekend, the weekend is always way too busy. Today, I asked on tumblr:
What is your favorite trope to write and/or read? And is there a difference between reading and writing the trope?
What’s your favorite trope and why is it Found Family? 😀
Ok ok, maybe there’s more tropes to like. Friends to Lovers, Enemies to Lovers, Fake Dating, Idiots in Love, Soulmates, One True Love.
I could go on and on. Writing and reading is equal here, I love to read these tropes just as much as writing them. Enemies to Lovers can be a bit tricky though, I can’t see an evil, morally corrupt enemy to ever become a lover so the trope should probably be called Adversary to Lover, at least for me.
In other news, I finished an exchange fic on Sunday, posting it two hours before the deadline. Lucky for me, it stays hidden for a few more days, so I could add some descriptions and pretty words to the story today. I have to add descriptions quite often, if you let me, I’ll be writing blank people in front of an empty green screen, just talking to each other. Just talking heads in white rooms. Even the smut was over in three lines!
I think it’s pretty good now, but I can’t think about it too much or I start doubting myself again and will convince myself that it is bland, boring, and ugly. My recipient is such a great writer themself, that fact alone had me blocked for days! Now, if I could just scrape my motivation together for the short story I want to submit in two weeks…
What’s a worldbuilding detail in your WIP that you really like?
I could ramble about this for days!! But I’m already late and I have a fic to finish today for an exchange and so many posts to look at on tumblr for this event…
I love to include tails on aliens in my scifi stories. I love thinking how they would be included in everything, being a normal extremity for grabbing and holding on and also for showing emotions, like a cat.
I also love to play around with gender and gender representation. Choosing gender, adapting gender, protagonists that are more non-gender instead of clearly one side of the binary. I haven’t quite dared to explore this fully but I’m closing in on it.
You’re probably all fed up with this motivation stuff and I promise that we’ll switch to a new subject tomorrow, but I have one more thing. You see, I’m trying to sneak in a little trick here and there to give you some tools you can add to your toolbox, if you want.
Thinking back to the motivation(s) you defined yesterday, what is your character’s goal (or goals) and what conflict(s) prevents them from getting to that? In short: Define the GMC for your characters.
I wanted to introduce this tool because I think it’s super helpful.
I did this for many characters now, writing down several internal and external sets of GMC. I had them adapt as the story developed, I went back to them and tried to think how they differed now and how much was still connecting the character to their core goal. I’m now at a point where I think that I have to check and recheck the goals and motivations of my characters for every scene, at least for every tent pole scene I’m writing. Because I think my problem is meandering plot and losing track of the core of the story.
This is closely related to the “wouldn’t it be cool” syndrome that I tend to suffer from, by putting everything in the story that I can think of. It’s important for me to get back to the original points in the GMC because otherwise the story goes in a way that isn’t true to the characters. The characters should happen to the story, not the other way around.