Writing Exercises

Today I came up with random character descriptions to see if I could make main characters (MC) who weren’t too passive in their own story.

Let’s see:

  • Broke, drunk ho who needs to pay off gambling debts over having a good time.
  • Slacker who hates his job of preventing the apocalypse from starting.
  • Witless, vain romantic who causes drama and heartbreak everywhere they travel.
  • Shameless social climber not afraid to stab friends in the back for personal gain.
  • Reckless blabbermouth who feels satisfied spreading gossip and lies.

As I said, these are random character ideas, just to get me in the mind of making characters less passive and more active in their own stories.

If I had to modify these, I would add some goofiness to them, really because I like goofy things, and have a hyper imagination. By goofy I also mean weird and fun to me.

So:

  • Broke, drunk ho is desperate to pay off gambling debts to slug gangsters and vicious loan roaches who want their money, or they’re gonna feed the MC to the angry ants.

Mind you, I find this totally gross, however, I wonder if I can make that work.  It’s not on my “to do” list of stories, but it’s funny to keep my mind to work. It’s all super random and needs a lot more work, but this is part of the learning process.

Happy creative endeavors.

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Stage One

Yesterday, before doing any gaming, I made sure to get some writing done. I needed to type up my ideas to keep on my schedule. This was done while being mildly distracted by family activities, but I got done what I set out to do.

Ultimately I picked out four ideas, and two additional ones as alternate selections (more on this later), and wrote down what I needed to look at for inspiration as a start for getting into the project.   I also typed out the ideas, knowing I’d think over them overnight, revise them today, and develop the premises.

One thing that happened, late last night, was that two of my story ideas were too similar. They were both fantasy-based stories. While one was in an urban setting and had a horror-supernatural vibe, the other was in a fantasy world, and that was really the only main difference.

Both MC’s were investigators, solved crimes, and had contentious relationships with their bosses. I’m not sure these ideas are different enough to warrant being written at the same time.

I may give this a day to mull over, but I’m sure I can merge these two, and pick one of the alternate choices (also urban fantasy). I feel the alternate idea is vastly different from either previous screenplays.

I also looked over genres of the chose screenplays. It’s mainly a variation of fantasy, actions/adventure, or supernatural, so I need each of them to stand up on their own without blending into each other.

To keep each story distinct, I need to add strong themes to each story, and hold to them. This will come from the MC’s personal conflict, and will likely evolve as the story is written.

This is getting complicated already. I like that.

Happy creative endeavors.

Know Better, Do Better

One of my talents, as a writer, is to have a sense of humor in my stories. I tend to mock behaviors, attitudes, culture, and whatever subject crosses my imagination.  Humor engages my imagination, and it can be entertaining to poke fun at such topics.

I noticed when writing, a notion–which never fully left me–is the notion that humor isn’t the route to take with my writing. That said, I often fail hard at trying to be seen as a “serious” writer.

By “serious,” I mean writing in a sterilized, boring style, stripped of humor, and intolerant to anything that has aspects of entertainment or enjoyment.  I do this while being so ridiculously ineffective in storylines that in part, end up drying out.

I sorta mocked myself in this moment. I don’t mind self-deprecating humor, but a brother needed to be in on his own joke.

I wrote, in previous posts, how I was bad a creating protagonists/main characters because I made them safe, or they lived in a bubble. Part of making better characters, for me, is seeing where I undercut them—and myself. I wasn’t doing them, or myself a favor.

Creativity is a learning process, and if one develops a strength, then one should see the skill, acknowledge it, and explore it without killing your own asset. Self-sabotage is a beast, but in this case, learning and growing from these mistakes will help me improve my craft.

Writing will always be rewriting for me, however, I’d like the idea, premise, research, outline, and first draft of my stories—in all mediums—to start off with the authentic vision and voice this artist allows his talents to shine through without killing the creativity.

Frankly I can and will do better from this experience.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

Damaged II

After the previous post, I looked at each of my characters to see the direction I steered them towards. A lot of my characters stated as an extremely passive. They didn’t act or react to their situations, nor did they reach for a goal, which is bad for story and character progression.

I also previously wrote that it seemed like “damaged” characters (manly from soap operas I used to watch) made things happen in storylines. Those characters with passion seemed to have the freedom to act. When some of these cats got knocked down, they got back on their feet, and tried a different approach.

The above actions are typically what I see with villains in many stories. They could be earnest, aggressive, and assertive. They didn’t simply react, they acted, they had goals, and no one was getting in their way. If you did get in their way, well, you were bound for trouble.

Heroes should be this way as well, and this may have been a blinding factor for me.

In soaps, many heroes (not all) can be passive, unsuspecting, and clueless to the world around them. The hero defined the genre of melodrama, which is, bad things happen to good people. To me, a soap opera hero didn’t have to do much in the story other than be the constant victim of a damaged character.

It’s only when the hero’s caught onto what was going on in the world around them, was he or she able to react, but it’s always at a late, late moment. By then the villain has made attempts to get their goals, got thwarted, and took a different routes to get what they want. The villain has had far more time to for character development and growth. The villain pushes the narrative with great urgency and strength.

Some villains typically do what the hero should be doing in a given story, which is make things happen.  It also suggests to me that the narrative theory is that those only who have desire act in a devious manner.  If you are bubbled and pure you will persevere though simply being good.  Total rubbish.

I believe characters must be active in their own story or they will be supplanted by another more engaging characters.  This may also explain the appeal of villains as secret MCs in storylines.  Think of how flat some storylines are when the hero and/or villains are cardboard. It’s what I’m doing right now.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

Damaged

This is something I’ve been mulling over since the time I’ve said in a previous blog that my melodramatic characters seem to have more action and reaction than the blank slates that are their counterparts in my other stories.  This still seems odd to me. Why does the melodrama story have more life than my other stories?

This is coming from a guy who has watched soaps for years. Back in the day, my Mom watched soaps and we weren’t allowed to change the channel while her soaps were on.  She watched primarily CBS shows, but from time to time, My Aunt and she mentioned liking Dark Shadows—which is odd cause my Mom does not do the supernatural—yet there she was watching it.

That said, I see a little of what my other characters were missing—Many of the characters are damaged in some way, and they play that pain out in their actions (most of the time).

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some sorry-ass storylines/resolutions, but I’ve seen some compelling ones too.  What I’m getting at is the characters are who they are, and they try to work with what they have.

Outside of the melodrama story, most of my characters have more flat performances, and never leave their stoic bubble, which I have to admit has been a problem for me as a writer. My creative energy gets sapped when the “bubble” characters stop causing things to happen, and are passive in their own story.

With the melodrama story, I made characters selfish, self-absorbed, secretive, self-righteous, hateful, and scornful. They never apologized for their actions or behavior unless it got them something they wanted.

These are also attributes I give to villains in the other stories, and they have the freedom to act.  SO I need to take a long, hard look at my main characters, and as opposed to torturing them, allow them to be dirty, damaged, and make things happen as opposed to staying in a bubble. I still can torute them. I just want them to be better.

Happy creative endeavors.

The Weekend

Hey,

Today looks promising, and it is. I have to set some committed goals and deadlines for myself, otherwise I may never get anything done. Pretty much like this weekend, where I mostly gamed ALL DARN DAY except for when I was cooking (spaghetti), and I have to take some time to make it taste good, otherwise my family will hate on my cooking skills. Can’t have that.

What annoyed me, and I need to break away from, is too much gaming. So, I need to set aside one hour minimum to get writing done, then I can game.  Also I need to play a few different games. I’ve been maxing out my time on three games that I really need to step back from–if only for a week or two—to put energy towards learning new things.

Also I’d like to see my writing output on a consistent level. I did, before going to bed, jot down some of what I wanted to see from myself, and here it is:

  • I’d like to watch more movies and TV shows. Do something other than gaming.
  • I need to pick three of my writing projects and get them to completion. This means:
  1. Idea (defined)
  2. Premise (refined Idea)
  3. Research
  4. Outline
  5. Writing
  6. Cool off
  7. Revise
  • Gaming in moderation—it’s for fun, relaxing, and a bit of escapism.  Also I can post more gaming vids on a frequent basis.

Reading more. Sometimes it pays to read a novel or two.  Something for enjoyment,

My ultimate goal is to get myself into a healthy frequency of writing with a balance of materials such as entertainment, and keeping up with my blog.  If I can get at least two posts this week, then I’m doing well.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

 

 

My Precioussss

I don’t quite nuance that title as well as Gollum does in the Lord of the Rings films, but that was the aim.

As I continue to research, write, and learn, I noticed a lot of my characters are very much blank slates to a point that things happen to them, as opposed to them making things happen.  My characters can and should be active and not passive in their respective worlds.

That said, some of my characters are all inadvertently in melodramas (bad things happen to good people).  For example, in my novel, the MC (main character) is a dancer, but really doesn’t do much—other people cause the trouble. He just happens to be in nearby, and gets dumped on. No fighting back, and barely even a snappy line or insult.

The one time he was active is when he was placed in a situation where he had the option to run or fight. He chose to fight. I LOVED that scene. Totally my fault for the lack of an active role, though.

The MC was too precious to me to be active, OR to have true flaws to address and explore within the story. This is killing my stories from the inside. It plays a part in why I sometimes stall time after time on projects.

Let’s face it, I can procrastinate with the best of them—I’d clean my room before I spent the day writing (my personal flaw).

Ironically, the one melodrama story I worked on, has a very active character doing bad things while struggling to maintain the façade of an upstanding man of the town.  His actions cause problems as opposed to waiting, and he reacted to events. Dude has so many flaws, I was like this is good.  I have to know more (my nosy self).

Perhaps I should view my other stories as melodramas, and then I will dare to break them away from their precious, protected blank slate. I’d like to move forward in writing. A bother has to evolve creatively.

As always, happy creative endeavors, and don’t get stuck like I did.