1. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    Cliché to Cataclysm through my Character

    Discussion in 'Research' started by AlgaeNymph, Sep 15, 2010.

    I'm trying to write a particular kinda story, but I don't know where to get started beyond describing what I want.

    •*Character: That I have figured out, her name's Janet and she's a jill-of-all-trades. She's an eccentric libertine who, while doing rather well in a cushy industrial nation environment, would also do well in a crisis situation. Personal power is the key term with her.

    •*Cliché: By this I mean a setting full of simpletons who can't think beyond their very limited social environment. High schoolers and their petty dramas for example.

    •*Cataclysm: WHAM! The entire environment changes. Military invasion, alien contact, the emergence of the paranormal, and so forth. Guess who everyone turns to for help?

    So, what're the concept's flaws? What can make it work? What have I left out or left unclear? What similar things could I write about instead?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Start writing let Janet who she is then you will find out. Until you know your characters your story will remain a concept and not a story. As you don;t know highschool very well written cliche maybe your best way to go for that.
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like you're setting up a pretty poor story. If I read you right, you have a heroine who's powerful and brilliant and has all the answers, and a whole bunch of "simpletons". That's automatically an unrealistic, sitcom-style world. High schoolers, and members of all other groups, are not simpletons. There's a wide variety of personality types and talents in any group. When a crisis hits, you'll usually find that many of your "simpletons" turn out to be intelligent, capable and resourceful, and well able to cope with, or assist in coping with, the crisis.

    If you start painting everybody with the same brush, and especially a broad brush, readers won't buy into the story.
     
  4. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    It might be interesting if you made Janet so full of herself in her smartness that she forgot to think of really obvious things. So the people she perceive as "simpletons" keep trying to tell her something or solve a problem, but, to her detriment, she keeps brushing them aside.

    But all in all, I have to agree with minstrel. It seems shallow and somewhat phony unless there's more to it than what you have. At high school, I assure you that there are some very bright people, because there is always the Harvard-bound-AP/IB students who are taking 8 classes a year and enrolled in 62 extracurricular activities/week. There are the "dumb" kids too, but on close examination, you usually find that they fit one of three categories:

    1) They have a learning disability, like dyslexia, that has gone unnoticed by the school, or that has been noticed but ignored

    2) English is their second language that they learned fairly late in life

    3) They are going through difficult experiences at home, they work after school to pay for everything and don't have time to do homework, and/or they come from backgrounds that do not place a high emphasis on education.

    There are people who are just plain "dumb", but you'll find that they're rare exceptions. I would say that unless the purpose of your story is to show that there are no "simpletons" and no geniuses, i.e. to question labels, then you should probably rethink it.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't try to write by committee... if you want to be a writer, you'll have to come up with your own story/plot ideas...
     
  6. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    I figured as much, that's why I have people look over my ideas before I throw my effort into them.
    Oh, I do, I just keep changing them.

    Now that I've gotten my foot into some writing communities, maybe I should try inserting Janet into so writing prompts/challenges.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you don't stop changing them and asking everyone else for ideas and start writing, you'll never become a writer...
     
  8. wavodavo
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    wavodavo Member

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    AlgaeNymph, no story idea is bad one, unless you write it badly. I'm trying to decide what your story theme is for Janet the Jill-of-all-trades. That is, what do you want the reader to feel about Janet?

    Heroine worship?--like watching Lara Croft take down entire criminal enterprises?

    Hope/Despair?--Janet is confronted with the one thing she can't do and try as she might she fails utterly at it until (American ending: She tries one last time and succeeds beyond her wildest expectation. Irish ending: She dies. Russian ending: She suffers and then dies, alone, in the snow. French ending: She falls passionately in love with the antagonist and since they are enemies they cannot live together and cannot live without each other so they both die, together, languidly in each others arms. Italian ending: A rhinoceros runs by.)
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Maybe she can let all the power get to her head and become self-righteous with no concern for others' individuality and competence and no regard for their rights? (if she thinks they can't handle anything so tries to take them into her hands herself, sending people into horrible situations due to her own judgment lapses?)
     
  10. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would suggest, you visit the review room and look at other peoples work constructively.
    See what works and what doesn't. Look for the strengths and weakness in the writings.
    Learn how to give 'constructive critique' that is the intention of the review room. Then you should be able to look at your own writing with a critical eye.
    Try to depend on your own judgement. We are all individuals with our own likes and dislikes.


    Start writing your story let your characters develope at their own rate and if your story is weak in places go back and edit it, change it, rearange it, rewrite it. That is what we have to do, it is all part writing.

    Good luck with your story.
     
  11. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    I know... -_-;

    Yes. :)
     
  12. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    You says this is "heroine worship". My next question is why? What's interesting about heroine worship? What is this story meant to convey?
     
  13. AlgaeNymph
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    AlgaeNymph New Member

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    It pleases me to see what an ideal person can accomplish. Do note that I plan for both heroine and accomplishments to be plausible, no gun-bunnying through airport security in high heels. I have a fetish for verisimilitude, and I want to the accomplishments to feel possible.

    Truthfully, self-expression. I remember hearing both that self-expression motivates art and that writing is itself an art. It's hopefully a valid syllogism that self-expression is a good motivation for art. G. K. Chesterson would disagree but then he'd also disagree with my politics in general. ;)
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd advise you to be careful when writing about ideal people. There are two major problems:

    1) Ideal characters tend to be boring. Kids may enjoy reading about truly heroic heroes, but most adults find them dull. And if they're not dull, they're often annoying.

    2) It is extraordinarily difficult to write a character who is a genius (you've referred to your character as a prodigy in another thread) without being one yourself. If you are one, go ahead and try, but if you're anything like the rest of us, you're probably not, and you'll likely wind up writing a character who only looks brilliant because you've written everybody else as idiots. You've already referred to everybody else in your story as "simpletons", so I'm concerned that you'll fall into this trap. I think of it as the Doc Savage problem: Doc Savage was a pulp magazine hero from the 1930s who was supposed to be a genius, and had assembled a team of the "five greatest minds ever assembled in one group". But in order for Doc Savage to outclass all of them, the writer wrote these great minds as though they were morons. I think you'll have to be very careful in your story to avoid having it read like a pulp magazine story.
     
  15. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    Writing an ideal character might be an interesting challenge for you personally, but it doesn't seem all that interesting as a reader. First off, there is no such thing as "perfect"--it's always subjective. It sounds like you want to communicate your view of perfect to the audience. The thing is, reading is all about finding oneself in the characters--we are all narcissists. So we'll only like reading your story if we can visualize ourselves either as a genius with no flaws or a simpleton, which nobody is (or wants to believe they are). Sorry, but I learned from reading Nancy Drew when I was 10 years old that a flawless character is boring. Very boring.

    Self-expression is all fine and good, but if you're writing for others, you must take their opinions into account for your book to be in any way successful.
     

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