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  1. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    What do you guys think of this creature?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Pythonforger, Sep 3, 2011.

    This is pretty random, but I just want feedback on a creature I've come up with. Some people say that when they read about my creatures, they end up chuckling instead of shuddering, or vice versa. Or they give me a long lecture about evolution and how it should affect my creature but doesn't, and point out physical impossibilities.

    ~
    Name:Nekoling
    Desccription:The best word to use would be "layered". The Nekoling is comprised entirely of white, thin layers that seem to flicker when looked at directly, like an optical illusion. The Nekoling has limited shapeshifting abilities. Its layers can shift around. For example, if it wants to speak, the layers around its face simply shift to form a hollow gap. Its voice is raspy, "like an old recording of a old recording of fingernails screeching down a blackboard", and when it laughs, it's as though "those fingernails were cracking and snapping". It often speaks in riddles, philosophical thoughts, or quotes a famous thinker or poet, including Shakespeare and Aristotle.
    Habitat:It has no habitat, instead wandering around. However, because of its strange layers, it can walk through walls, and usually makes an appearance that way.
    Faction:None. Having been trapped in the human realm for reasons it refuses to disclose, its sole purpose is wandering around until it finds a way to get back to its own realm, manipulating humans as entertaining puppets in the meantime.
    Diet:It is unknown what it actually feeds on, but when it feeds, it goes very close to a living thing. Said living thing will then proceed to shiver uncontrollably then gets absorbed by the layers.
    Size:About two and a half meters tall, but thin, ensuring it towers over any human.
    Abilities:Other than its limited shapeshifting and its ability to walk through walls, it can also make itself temporarily invisible, though it seems to require a lot of concentration for an extended period. Its greatest ability is its seeming invincibility. Conventional weapons simply go through it. The only thing that can actually hit it seems to be burning wood, but though it does not go through it, it doesn't do any damage either. The Nekoling does not know the reason for this anomaly in its invincibility.
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Notes in red. I'm pretty close to saying, "You spelled Nidoking wrong."
    From a logical, pseudo-scientific point of view (I'm only applying what I know to be logical about particles) some of this stuff doesn't work. There's no reason for burning wood to hit it.
    The only way it could become truly invisible is if every particle of its being possessed the gene to change its phenotype; the pigment of every cell in its body would have to take on a colour outside the spectrum of human visibility.
    All of its cells would need to be something like muscles as well, if it were to be able to pass through walls and still retain its form. That is, of course, unless it were made of something like tachyons, which could explain why it seems to have very little physical form, and would also give it reaction times that were simply superb.
     
  3. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Didn't read it because I didn't have to. If readers aren't responding to your creatures, it's not because of anything wrong with the creature, but instead probably something wrong with the way you're writing your characters.

    Think of all the creatures or characters we've been afraid of in fiction (or movies, plays, etc). Most of them weren't inherently scary if simply standing their scratching their bums. The way to make them scary is to demonstrate exactly how scared characters are of it.

    Also consider some very scary movies dealt with monsters that weren't even present, and much of the fear came from the idea 'something' was out there. Why can this work? Because an outline of your creature isn't what matters. Even having your creature do horrible things isn't what matters. It's all in making the reader feel the fear and terror of the characters who are scared.

    So, don't worry so much about whether your creature is right or not. If your readers aren't responding to your characters it's probably got nothing to do with the creature itself.

    My guess is you're presenting your creature as it's own importance and probably describing the creature in an expository way, giving the reader time to analyze the scientific merits of the creature, since it's just standing there being described.

    Try giving descriptions through the senses, experiences and perception of a character terrified and, if done well, you'll probably find a much different reaction of the reader because we'll be empathetically experiencing what the character is, not standing by safely able to criticize the creature's scientific merit.

    This is also a good way to help revise creatures into then actually being scary. As instead of coming up with a creature sketch and sticking to it, you'll be revising a scene, actual interaction with the character. You'll find points where you're trying to write a scared character, but the character simply isn't scared of a creature reciting philosophical quotes, as that isn't scary, so, hrm, hard to write a character that's scared of something they aren't scared of... pro-tip: remove the thing that seems contrived, that the character isn't scared of, and figure out something the character is or would be scared of instead.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How does speaking in philosophical riddles make anyone scary? Yes, I had to chuckle at that. No one's gonna scream running upon seeing some random sparkling creature reciting Shakespeare. In fact if there was a strange small creature reciting Shakespeare, people are more likely to giggle and surround it thinking of it as being rather awesome.

    The way you phrase things - it's very methodical, to the point of sounding like dry sarcasm. When you wrote "The Nekoling does not know the reason for this anomaly in its invincibility" - that made me chuckle too. It's like a "scratch my head" kind of scenario, like the Nekoling is really confused and going "Huuuuuh??" - perhaps it's just my imagination, but your creature sounds far from scary.

    It sounds like it's an isolated, quiet, bumbling creature who just, well, as you said yourself, wanders around. How on earth would a creature whose sole purpose was mind its own business and wander around be scary?
     
  5. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see any mention in Python's post saying that it was supposed to be scary at all, and your post - yes, popsicledeath, yours - is inherently useless because you didn't even read the post.

    Python stated that people say they find themselves chuckling instead of shuddering or vice versa. That "or vice versa" part is important. Perhaps this creature is supposed to be normal, but some people find it scary or funny, when it's supposed to just be ordinary.
    You're not helping by assuming it's supposed to be scary, you're only confirming that it isn't.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Hi, Dr. Semantics.

    My post is useless because I used one example to prove my point, or because you're choosing to not learn anything from that example and instead use semantics to argue against me?

    The point, that I'm sure people looking to learn something form this discussion and not trying to win an argument, is that if you create a creature that is supposed to have one reaction, and a reader reacts in an opposite way, then it's probably not anything wrong with the creature, but wrong with the reaction of characters to the creature, since those empathetic clues are how people engage in fiction.

    And yes, it didn't require me to read about the creature at all, because the creature only mattered if my intent was to give simply provide advice for this one creature (read as: write something for someone, at which point they learn nothing for the future and just come back in a few weeks asking the same basic question about something slightly different). I apologize for attempting to get the the heart of the matter and trying to engage the greater issue this poster and others may be facing, instead of just provide isolated advice every single time someone asks the same basic question.

    I also apologize that in my example I wasn't clear that one could learn from it and apply the ideas in general. In the future I'll be sure to provide an infinite number of examples covering every conceivable instance for the benefit of the finite thinkers among us.

    If we want to stalk semantics, I'd argue the OP isn't the one helping by providing a creature sketch and not providing any context to that sketch, not saying what effect the creature is supposed to have, not even asking if it makes scientific sense.... basically just saying that sometimes people react wrongly to a creature or say it isn't logical... hey, what about this creature? What about what? How are we supposed to respond to it? What are you wanting us to evaluate?

    And, hilariously, despite this lack of context by the OP, I still provide an answer to that by stating the tangible aspects of a creature aren't even what's important, but how it's presented. If you describe the creature out of context, out of action, out of the perspective of how a character sees the creature (thus, what the creature MEANS to the character), then it simply gives the reader their own chance to bring up doubts or questions, to react in a way that is possibly unintended. Whether this creature is inherently supposed to be scary or not isn't the issue, and isn't one I was addressing, but instead the important aspect is controlling the creature not by allowing a scientific examination by the reader, but instead by building the meaning and effect of the creature through context of interaction and perception of the characters perceiving and interacting with it, as that's what ultimately matters anyway.

    So, my point wasn't that reciting philosophical quotes isn't scary, but that if it is intended to be scary, it doesn't depend on the creature sketch, but how the characters react to that creature, and if the character doesn't think this is scary, then it's not, plain and simple. Likewise, if the character DOES think it's scary, then it can be, even if on paper it doesn't seem to be.

    I fear I've lost you again with my use of 'if,' so let me explain I wasn't making an assumption the creature in question was supposed to be scary, but instead using hypotheticals and examples to hopefully help the OP learn something about writing, not just about creating character or creature sketches.

    It's the same way someone can say 'hey, is this plot good' and how telling the person yes or no probably isn't going to help them learn as much as pointing out plot points are only as good as they're written, and then giving a perspective on how to write plot points well and write them in a way that leads to success. Because we all know it's not the concept that matters, but how it's presented.

    Now, had you not tried to single me out, I would agree. Mckk's post, for instance, seems to assume the creature was supposed to be scary, and thus isn't really helpful. Though I don't blame Mckk, and really we have to go back to the OP that isn't at all clear in what exactly we're supposed to be evaluating about this creature sketch. You can't really dismiss or sneer at answers when your questions weren't very clear in the first place.

    But, singling me out, assuming I assumed things, and based on your own false assumptions saying my post is inherently useless. My response that engages the greater issue of how to write a creature effectively, that I wrote precisely because the OP is unclear exactly what evaluation was wanted regarding a creature sketch I knew I didn't need to read anyway to provide a better answer. I'm not sure what your point was in calling me out, but consider yourself served.
     
  7. Talitha
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    Talitha Member

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    Pythonforger, I didn't understand what the creature looked like based on your description here. I think you need to make it quite concise what someone who saw it would literally be seeing. You say 'layered', but layers of what? Light? Mist? Crystal? Feathers? And what is it's base form? Long and thin like a humanoid? Bulbous like a flying hippo?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If people are chuckling at your creature, either you are soliciting feedback on a summary (like here!), or your writing is not conveying terror.

    The creature's attributes are not the important thing. How you write the creature in the story is what will induce terror - or fits of giggling.
     
  9. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    Out of any kind of meaningful context, there is nothing of value to say about this creature. I don't know how I am supposed to be feeling about it. Scared? Reverent? Do I want to take it home to feed it to my dog?
     
  10. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    I think something you may be looking for, is validation of this creatures originality.

    In that case, yes, I believe it's original. However, for any other feedback, I would refer to Cogito's post.

    Good luck! Happy writing :)
     
  11. TSC
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    TSC Member

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    Making up creatures in detail is just fine, but try to not make them completely ridiculous unless you're writing amusing childrens' stories akin to Roald Dahl's.
     
  12. DBTate
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    DBTate Senior Member

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    LOL :p

    This made my day.
     
  13. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're very welcome. I aim to please.
     
  14. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    Instead of worrying about how your readers are taking it use that reaction to build a story with. If indeed the description is comical, go with the flow.

    Before starting the description you might introduce a law enforcement officer about to lecture his subordinates about a creature they are being assigned to hunt. Introduce your main characters by having them interact with the lecturer. Then have the lecturer go into the description.

    Below is a quick example I slapped together hastily to illustrate.


    Example:


    The scene might now shift to the creature itself being portrayed behaving as you described it. Maybe reciting some poetry on some street corner to the horror and dismay of humans who run in panic. Or else as being appreciated for its artistic abilities? You as the author decide and take it through its paces.


    In short, if the creature is perceived as comical you have the option of going along with it. Maybe by having the characters take the creature too seriously or have the creature's motives and actions misunderstood can lead to comical situations. In short, this material is good for a comedy if not a horror story and comedy has its definite value in the SCI Fi genre. For a horror story the advice given already by other posters is good.
     

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