Can anyone help me with my story ideas?

MemoryTale

Good with a stick
Joined
Sep 27, 2011
Messages
711
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Gainsborough
#61
Since you have such an ensemble cast of characters planned, one thing I was wondering is how you plan to avoid the Marvel vs Capcom problem, where people like Chris Redfield (a normal guy who uses guns for those who don't know their Resident Evil) can fight on equal terms with people like Doctor Strange or Iron Man? It's fine in M v C because the answer is "Because it makes the gameplay fair", but that wouldn't work in a book.
 

Joshua Jones

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2017
Messages
1,069
Location
Maryland, USA
#62
I was thinking the same thing as @MemoryTale above. There seems to be a pretty uneven power balance between the beings you mentioned, so one would presume an elder god/divine being would be the clear cut winner. You know, the whole "seeing his face will drive a man insane/cause him to burst into flames/[insert gruesome death here]" thing...

I do want to reinforce a couple points made earlier. First, setting is very important, but it won't sell books or pull in readers. Books don’t have a visual component, so you cannot rely on great special effects and fancy locations to cover for a lackluster story (*cough* Avatar *cough*).

A book is something like a person. You have background information and setting are the clothing your story wears, but it is the characters who make up the core of the story. Imagine X-Men without Professor X, Jean Grey, Wolverine, and Cyclops, or Deadpool without Deadpool, or Star Wars without Vader. It is hard to do, isn't it? If you can, you may not enjoy the results very much. This is because characters and their actions are what drives the story, and the setting is more or less just a context for their actions.

That is not to say, though, that a well developed setting isn't important. Far from it! Who doesn't remember the X-Wing, the Death Star, or Tatooine? But, if you changed out the X-Wing for, say, a Viper from Battlestar Galactica, you haven't really changed the story that much. Same for the Death Star; you could swap it out for any number of world ending cataclysmic creations and not change the story around much. But, if you sub out Darth Vader with Cylon #6 or Luke with Apollo, you have an entirely different story.

Also, glad to see you posted for the Writing Challenge! I actually joined this site specifically for the Writing Challenges, because I knew I needed to improve but didn't have any local avenues to do so. I can say that I have improved immensely as a writer through doing so, and when I write complete feces, I have a group of people and a place to ask what made it feces and how it could stink less. And, at 75 or 300 words, it isn't so painful when the product is feces.

Which is another point I want to reinforce. You will write garbage. We all have and do more often than we really want to admit. What I submit to the challenges is often garbage enough, leaving aside the rejected ideas and early drafts which aren't suitable for public viewing. And even when you strike gold, it probably won't be recognizable at first with all the dross that needs to be refined out through editing. The only real question is how much garbage will you write until you start finding some gold (and perhaps making some gold as well...). Seriously; if you saw some of my early attempts three versions of my universe back, you would tell me to step away from the keyboard before someone got hurt. So, you will fail. You will make mistakes. You will write things that threaten to summon eldritch abominations should they not be purged immediately from your computer (ok, maybe that one is just me...). You will get ripped apart by critiques and have people not like your work, and when you come back with an edit, find more faults. What of it? Being able to preservere through the challenges of writing and editing (and editing and editing and editing and...) is what separates aspirational writers from published ones.

But, you needn't worry about all that right now, as you have two key advantages to develop your skill; the community of this forum which includes many published authors, and the writing challenges. The former gives you the ability to have charitable (well, mostly charitable; I can be a bit of a jerk at times) individuals filet your story exerpts and give expert opinions on them. There are some (myself surely exempted) whose opinions are worth their weight in gold, and you will quickly learn who they are. The challenges will give you the chance to play around with new things while refining your editing skills. If people don't vote for it, don't get mad; the best thing to do is put it in the improving thread and see what people say.

The two things I would add to the advice you have been given thus far is to define your ideal reader and decide what you are trying to write. The former is important because you are going to focus on different things depending on your audience. For example, as man in his 30s with two young kids, the situations I would resonate with are entirely different than the ones I would have resonated with in my teens. Depending on what you are planning to do with your story, this may have some effects, but there is some wisdom in keeping your prospective reader in mind as you write.

For the latter, you need to determine if you are interested in exploring a theme, a character type, a storyline, or are just looking for an action packed book. It sounds to me like you are going for a cross of Street Fighter and Supernatural. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but your execution would be completely different if you are looking to explore the futility of resisting destiny or looking to explore divine uppercuts and roundhouses, both of which would be different from corporate satire.

So, I would start with identifying what sort of story you want to write to whom. Then, build the universe, characters, and storyline to serve that purpose. In all likelihood, the rest of the details will follow from that. But, in the meantime, don't be in a rush to come to all your answers; enjoy the discovery and invention process.

Oh, and welcome to the Chrons! Only a handful of us bite regularly, so feel free to ask if you have questions.
 

Arette

New Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
3
Location
Finland
#63
Bee22: You are starting with a really big and ambitious idea for your first project. That’s not a bad thing, it just takes a lot of work and learning the many different aspects of story and story building… while also doing it at the same time. It can be frustrating but also so damn fun. Makes you view every movie you’ve seen and every book you’ve read through a new lense. And the learning never stops, no matter how experienced writer you are.

You’ve gotten a lot of good advice already. Don’t be disheartened by the honest truth that first projects always aren’t the ones that get published. The best things in life aren’t easy. You need to learn to walk first before you can run. Think of writing as a marathon of months, years and decades, not a sprint. Although one project can be a sprint (like NaNoWriMo where you write 50k words during 30 days).

Keep in mind that this is your first practice lap and adjust your expectations accordingly. And now, go! Start writing already even though you don’t know much about your story yet. The story will unfold as you write it. Start somewhere, anywhere.

First drafts often are crap and that’s ok. That won’t be the final version of the story. Because when you are done, you will be revising and editing the story and making it the best it can be (with your current skills). And you don’t have to do it alone. You can ask for critique and advice in these forums, for example. And there are even editors for hire who will help you to whip up the story in shape.

Now, as for your story, I really like your idea of your main character fighting against a childhood friend. That brings personal stakes into it.

Joshua Jones made a really good point about choosing the type of story you are writing

Blake Snyder has developed 10 story types (Save the Cat site). You can find a summary by googling ten movie plots or save the cat story types. (I would have posted links but can't yet)

I also highly recommend studying plot structures aka Story Beats / Beat Sheets. Save the Cat site has great examples, like how the plot beats work out in the Princess Bride movie (and many others).

Basically, choose any movie you really liked and google that movie and words story analysis or script analysis and you will find illuminating plot examples.

Beat sheet concept originates from scriptwriting but movies and novels have a lot of similarities. The basic story beats / plot structure are similar in both.

Think about your favourite movies, books or TV series. Is anything like the book you want to write? Even remotely? Great, now watch that movie and break it apart using the Beat sheet structure. You can do this for any story. And should. Frequently. If this feels difficult at first, read other people's analyses.

When you learn to recognize the story beats/common plot structure in other people’s work, you learn how to utilize it in your own story too. A very important skill to learn.

Some movie suggestions for you: Rocky movies, Creed movies (Rocky sequels), any other boxing movies where there is a tournament and a big boss fight. Thor Ragnarok (how to make gladiator fight a spectacle, personal and bloody fun)

And then on to your world building:

“I really need to make sense of why martial artists, cyber cops, witches, robots and dragons would be competing and fighting each other.”

Cyber cops and robots could come from the future so you could have a time travel element.

There is a roleplaying game called Feng Shui which runs like Hong Kong action movies and features every creature and archetype you’ve ever seen in the movies. In the game world another dimension called Nexus exists that connects all timelines and time periods. Early history, 1800s, current time and future all have one entry point to one specific year. All gates from Nexus to specific timelines lead to a specific location around the world during that one year.

Everyone tries to control important leyline junctions because they control the magic of the world, feng shui. When you control enough power points, you can change the timeline and control the past and the future.

There are lots of different factions who come from the past and the future and they have different goals regarding the general magic level of the world. Sorcerers want to increase it, most normal humans and transformed animals (including dragons) want to keep it low. Transformed animals need low magic or they turn permanently into their animal forms and can’t wear human form anymore.

But no matter how many different critters and organizations you have, your story should focus on one or two main characters and what they want. Everything else (the whole worldbuilding) is just backdrop and helps to creates and drive the conflict and acts as a setting for your story.

Start from the question: who is my main character and why are they participating this tournament.

After you have figured out even vaguely your point of view character, you could look up some basic world building questions online and start building from there.

Or just take one thing, like one faction/species (e.g. dragons) or the tournament itself, and start asking the 5 W questions: Who, what, where, when, why. (And how)

Who started the tournament?
Who keeps the contestants from breaking the rules?
What challenges does the tournament entail?
Do you compete solo or in teams?
What is the tournament reward?
What are the risks of attending?
What are the rules?
What happens if you break the rules?
Where is it held?
When is the tournament? (is it historical, futuristic, held in contemporary time, held in another dimension where time is fuzzy or…. Is the timing itself somehow significant?)
Why was the tournament created?
Why would someone want to participate it?
How could someone win the tournament?
If the tournament has been held before, how did the previous winners win it?
Is there a hall of fame?

If you need more inspiration for world building, Google is your friend again. There are lots of resources and question lists out there.
 
Joined
Mar 22, 2018
Messages
278
Location
Number 6, The Moors
#64
Apologies @Bee22 I'm not hijacking - just had to respond.

ou will write garbage. We all have and do more often than we really want to admit.
Well exqueeze me!!! Each word is like a rare flower to me. Nurtured, tended lovingly until hand picked before being arranged in a dazzling display of ... oh okay then possibly verging on the very periphery of a bit garbagey-ish and anyway you should be in the ministery of slappy sticklebakcs ( I have a devilish secret awaits thee there)

Mwahhahaha hear Sid James.

but only for 19 seconds
 
Last edited:

Bee22

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Messages
52
#65
Thank you so much guys!! This really helps me so much. I'm going to try and look into the things you all told me. Sorry for my late response. I want to get back and try and answer the questions you guys gave me soon.

@Arette there is one thing I would like to answer one of your questions for now. About who starts the tournament and who's responsible. I was thinking of having a Chinese martial art group like organization/corporation that became very powerful and strong and their head corp happens to have some fallen angel heritage from his ancestors centuries ago. And the main protagonist would be related to them and doesn't know it yet. Is their any type of power corporation or martial arts I can look into for a head Chinese corporate leader? Or some type of demon/evil/angel mythology?

Have you ever played Tekken before? That story unlike Marvel vs Capcom actually revolves around a plot consisting of all sorts of humans and creatures and is about a Zaibatsu power organization from Japan run by a human/devil guy. Is there any equivalent I can research of an organization like this that's Chinese? Or even Nepalese? Thanks!
 

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