1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Ellements You Don't Consider Useful or Important in Story Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cacian, Dec 30, 2011.

    For me with regards to my characters
    1) Looks (wether they are handsome/unattractive..)
    2) Sex/sexuality
    3) Specific endings( expect the unexpected is usually what I would go for)
    4) the life span of my characters
     
  2. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    I don't agree.

    1) Looks can determine a lot about a character - attractive people are often treated better in general than unattractive people. And striving to overcome the prejudice associated with the appearance can be a story in itself
    2) Sex/sexuality - although it's probably 'politically incorrect', the relationship between a man and a woman, two lesbians, or two homosexual males will have different dynamics.
    3) Specific endings( expect the unexpected is usually what I would go for) If the unexpected is really unexpected, it will be to the readers like deus ex machina - foreshadowing is necessary.
    4) the life span of my characters Lifespan equals story-attention - if you give as much attention to a character that will survive three books as to the character who will die at the end of his introductory chapter, you will confuse the reader.
     
  3. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Me neither.

    Well done, Cacian. Another post that actually doesn't go anywhere.
     
  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    why don't you agree?
    You have to give me reasons because remember every writer is different.
     
  5. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    I don't have to give you anything, especially if your statement doesn't warrant elaboration, but I elaborated in my original post.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Stories. The one thing I don't want to be is a storyteller.
     
  7. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    sure I should have elaborated indeed.
    1) looks because it is kind of tricky to get right because beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
    Instead of me elaborating on how they looks which I might never get right, I will spend more time and effort in working in makine their personalities likeable.
    what if a reader is not so attractive or has been told they were not handsome, they will feel let down and upset the same apply to the opposite.
    2) Sexuality is tricky again. There is no point in me spending hours working what they are going to be, just in case one reader happen to be none of the sexuality I have described. I must include all readers and would not want to leave anyone out or left out.
    In order for ALL my readers to feel included in my stories I will skip sexuality as a whole and make it neutral.
    3) By specific I meant predictable..after reading so many books and watching so many films, there is only so many endigns on can tackle,
    happy ending/sad ending/tragic ending/...I will concentrate on havign an open ending where by all characters or one or two will be reappereaing in other new stories in various ways I wish or plan to write in the near futur.
    4) life span of my characters means there will be no time limit of on their faith
    All my characters , without a doubt, represent infinity.
    All my characters, one by one, are created to last.

    See this is me and my style.
    You are however to see your style different from mine.
    I hope this helped a bit.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see much [if any] sense in all of that... to set arbitrary rules for what you would not include in all of your fiction is to limit your creativity/imagination... and good fiction writers do not set limits on what they will or will include before they even start writing, since each story will have it's own needs that must be met...
     
  9. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    That's just silly. People don't need to have a character just like them in order to not feel excluded. The vast majority of books I read have no major autistic characters, but I don't feel left out. I do appreciate finding books that portray autism well, but most of my favorite series have no autistic characters I can think of.

    Besides, if you don't specify a character's sexuality, most people will assume they're heterosexual.

    I'd say if their sexuality is relevant, mention it. Don't feel compelled to shoe-horn a romance into every story like most writers seem to, but if they end up in circumstances where their sexuality matters, don't hide it. For example, one of my characters (a 14 year old) is gay. This will be plot-relevant in that he's working alongside an ancient Roman child vampire to hunt pedophiles, and he's going to be figuring out his sexuality, and having some interesting conversations about the social construction of sexuality. (Sexual identities didn't exist in Roman times, people just had different preferences without using those to define themselves.) Similarly, one of my characters in another story is raped by an incubus - if she wasn't interested in guys, his powers wouldn't have worked on her, so the fact that she's heterosexual is relevant to the plot. (I suppose she could've been bisexual, but she's not.) In the case of the gay teen, I could easily have written the story without mentioning his sexuality, but it opens up some interesting angles to look at the cultural differences between him and his vampire teammate. In the case of the woman raped by an incubus, there's no way I could write the story without making it explicit that she's attracted to guys, because if she was lesbian or asexual he'd have had no power over her.
     
  10. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Simple solution: don't tell, show. If my character thinks someone is attractive the reader will know about it whether or not they agree with his opinion. My current MC is attracted to an obese, middle-aged Hispanic man who speaks with a southern American accent. My mental image of him isn't too pleasant but my character likes him, so I see it as my job to find out what it is that makes this man attractive to my character and then show that side of him to the reader. It doesn't matter whether or not they find the character attractive as long as they're able to understand why the MC does.


    I completely disagree with your final statement. Not every aspect of your characters needs to be relatable to the reader. I don't write heterosexual characters and I don't write female protagonists. Ever. However, many of the readers who've contacted me are straight (or) women. Doesn't that show that people don't always want to read someone who is just like them? Fiction gives the reader a chance to see life from another POV that they may not want to live yet may still be interested in.
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    #s 1, 2, and 4 I don't bother with unless they're specifically relevant to the story. I'm not sure yet what you mean by #3, but then I never know what the ending will be until I get there anyway.
     
  12. AmyS
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    A agree with Yoshiko on the sexuality subject discussed. I very much enjoy reading about characters whose lives greatly differ from my own. Brain food!
     
  13. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    1: Everyone has different standards of beauty, so going into detail when describing someone as beautiful or handsome will have mixed results. Luckily, there are adjectives neutral enough to allow the reader to project their own definition of beauty on to a character. This is fortunate, because a character's looks can greatly change the way others react to him or her.

    2: Sexuality is very important if you want any kind of romance in a story.

    3: I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this.

    4: Life span could be very important if a book takes place over the course of a character's life, or a long period in their life.

    It's impossible to please everyone, and ridiculous to try. Don't write to make everyone happy- there are vast amounts of idiots who would be offended at literally anything your characters can do. Write to tell the story that you want to tell. Cutting important parts of human nature like sexuality (and thus romance) for the sake of keeping everyone happy seems like it would make for a very bland story.
     
  14. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Isn't that distracting from the story itself?
     
  15. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    What do you mean? That mentioning a character's sexuality is distracting from the story? Well, perhaps sexuality is irrelevant in your stories (I imagine you don't write romance) but if it is integral to the plot then how can it be distracting?
     
  16. Cacian
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    I meant if you are to think too much of their sexuality then maybe you would have forgotten to concentrate on what the story is actually about.

    Romance for me is not sex.
    It is more to do with understanding.communication. synchronisation of two minds and caring for each other.
    Sex is secondary for me hence why I would skip it.
     
  17. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    I look at it like this: sexuality is not distracting from the story, or characters' personalities. The issue of sexuality adds depth, emotion, new levels to relationships, and realism to the story.

    Of course, sex actually isn't required if for some reason a person is very averse to it, but it's the mental connections related to sex and a loving relationship (no matter if its homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual) which add depth to the story.
     
  18. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I think you are confusing 'sex' and 'sexuality' - one is the physical act, which is not necessary to a romance but often forms part of it. The other is about sexual prefernce and gender, which is integral to a romance even if it doesn't actually involve sex. For instance, your romantic heroine may suffer a mis-start to her romantic endeavours by falling for a character who isn't interested in women, but this isn't revealed until later. That is a more common trope than you think
     
  19. AmyS
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    Not to me.
     
  20. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    Who are you replying to? In case it's me, I'm going to clarify my thoughts. . .

    When I answered the question, I did it while thinking that sexuality meant a combination of mental attraction and the act of sex. I can see how writing about sex between certain people could distract people from the story. However, I don't think that a loving relationship with implied physical attraction and implied sex would distract people from the story.
     
  21. wallomrslug
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    1) Appearance is of great importance, not just so the reader can visualise the characters, but aspects of appearance can go far to contributing to how personalities are portrayed. Characters may have insecurities about their appearance, may form relationships through physical attraction, may be treated unkindly due to appearance flaws or may be arrogant because they have a misplaced sense of their own physical beauty. None of these things could be effectively portrayed without the reader knowing what the character looks like. It shouldn't necessarily be the defining characteristics of a character but it definitely has it's place in good narrative. Also, you say that you concentrate on making characters' personalities likeable...what about unlikeable characters? Do you tend to find it more comfortable describing their appearance?

    2) Sex/Sexuality. The sexuality issue is an obvious one. Of course it's important to declare/imply/refer to/whatever your character's sexuality in many cases. Like it or not, there are still many differences between heterosexual and gay relationships as well as the attitudes towards them. Not sure what you mean by sex. Do you mean you never refer to sex in your stories?

    3) The writer should go with whatever ending feels apt and fits their story. It should never be chosen just to shock/surprise but nor should it be done just to avoid that effect too.

    4) This makes no sense to me. You would develop main characters in a different way to secondary or tertiary characters.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But surely you do decide whether your characters are men or women. Given that, then when you write romance between two characters, then they're going to be a man and a woman, or two men, or two women. This would then communicate the characters' sexual preference.
     
  23. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    yes that I do.
    The reader will know wether they are a man or a woman sometimes not always.
    Sometimes their names will siffuce to tell the reader of their genders or not.
    I make up names which are nothing to do with real people's names.
    Like cacian is a madeup name and lots of members did not know wether it is a he or she.
    However in a book/story, the pronouns of He or She are a give way.
    I wish for a pronouns that can mean either.
    I would use it to let my reader guess and make their mind up wether my character, say I call, nabila, is a He or a She or both.
    This how I would use 'suspense' in my stories.
     
  24. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I think that these things are very important:

    Looks: I (and so far as I know, most readers.) like to create a mental image in their head of the story. Obviously knowing what the character looks like is very important for this. Also appearance can tell you a lot about a character. if you see a disheveled, unwashed man sitting on a street corner you can probably assume they're a homeless person. If instead this man is cavorting about in silk and gemstones then you can assume he's rich. A scar across the face denotes a history of battle perhaps, but if they're plastic surgery scars they could instead be a sign of vanity. And if other characters consider someone to be beautiful/ugly it can effect how they react to this person.

    Sex/sexuality: Again very important. People have sex, and people have sexual preferences. So it seems to me that if you're trying to get a deep three dimensional character sex/sexuality is very important. How someone is in bed can tell you a lot about them. Perhaps a character is dominating in bed. This could match up with a generally dominating personality or be a hidden depth you wouldn't expect them to have. It's all adding characterization. And as for sexuality, well every time you mention sex you mention sexuality, even if the only one you mention is heterosexual. And there's all manner of plots and subplots that can be made around homophobia and such.

    Predictable endings: Here I kind of agree with you. I do like a good twist in my story, or a cliffhanger or a mystery; something to hook me into a sequel. However it has to be logical. The ending can't just be a giant pineapple coming out of nowhere to squash the cast to death. There should be hints sown throughout the story so that when you look back over it the ending makes perfect sense even though you didn't see it coming. And of course, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Straight, un-mysterious endings don't hurt now and then.

    Life spans: Unless your story takes place in some sort of time vortex, characters are going to be older by story's end even if only by a very small amount. And with large fantasy epics, such as what I read and aspire to write, years can pass by the end of the story. Children might have grown into adulthood, the wise old man might have passed away from old age. Because yes, people die. I know that you seem to be of the belief that characters should never be killed off Cacian but in truth that's the best way to make suspense. If the readers know that the characters can't die there is no motivation to find out what happens. But that is diverging somewhat.
     
  25. huskies
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    I have read a few of your posts now and I would love to know what kind of stories you are trying to write?

    You don’t seem to think anything descriptive is relevant you don’t want to offend or alienate people you seem to want to appeal to the masses but I don’t think this is possible.

    Surely you need to go into depth with some parts of your stories for it to be a story.

    I think the sexuality of a character is important you don’t have to write about sex to discuss their sexuality. Also there looks I think you need to have some description you don’t have to go into depth but something.

    I feel that a book should end and have an ending I would never write a book with the thought that it was going to have a sequel my characters may not want that and the story may not need it so to say all your stories must have an open ending I think is hard.
     

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