I have two stories and two MC's I'm working on, but they are too similar. I need advice on how to make them different

UltimateUniverse900

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One MC was born to a Japanese father and mother, who both were apart of this fictional well known and respected organization clan, that also specializes in a fictional martial arts. Set sometime in the near-future, supernatural beings start to cause havoc across the globe and the MC's father's family members on his side of the family fell victims due to them. He then finds out his wife is a supernatural as well when their new born MC shows some spider-like features. Then it's revealed the mother was a spider demon, so the father then has the mother and new born son killed in a fire, which the mother sacrifices her powers so her MC son can survive. The father then sets up a tournament of all different fighters from around the world to compete for a prize money and to inherit his organizations technology that will help combat the supernatural. The MC son is one of the participants.

This MC was born to both American parents. It starts the father was this powerful and rich man that had traveled the world, learning various martial arts and had various masters that would teach him at his private home. One day he stumbled upon this unique cult near Thailand which he became a member of, which he later on developed this bloodthirsty mindset. He had a son with a woman cult member, which he had no idea about and doesn't learn until years later. When he returns home to the US he ends up meeting a woman who he settles down with and has a son, the MC. But by age 6, the father notices something about his son that he's a demon, which makeshim more bloodthirsty and abusive. The mother then confesses and reveals that she's a a demon and was a member of a Phoenix clan, which the father was implanted with the mindset of the Phoenix clan at war with his cult. The father and mother battle, with the mother then escaping with the MC son. They are later tracked by the father's organization members and presumed killed, but the mother sacrificed herself to save her MC son who survives. Then the father officially takes over the cult, brings his power back to the US, takes over a well respected fighting competition tournament held every few years and turns it into a death match blood sport, where only the most ruthless survive and he meets the first son he had with the cult woman member who joins him as his right hand man. The father and evil son work together in charge of the tournament, having taken souls from the fighters they've beaten in the past. The MC son will enter the tournament to get revenge on his father and face his half-brother.

They sound like two similar stories. What can I do to make them not too much the same?
 
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msstice

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Are these novel length? How far along are you? I have not even finished my first novel, but at draft 2 it is dramatically different from the outline I started with. From my experience I would suggest finishing one of the stories. The story might change or you might get new ideas for the other story.
 

Wayne Mack

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For me, I would have a hard time switching between stories as I write and prevent details from one bleeding over to the other. Consider completing one then revisiting the other. Allow the first story to evolve following its natural course and when returning to the other, I'm sure you'll find that there are now a lot of 'road not taken' options available for use in the second.
 

Margaret Note Spelling

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The attitudes and personalities of the two different main characters can make a drastic difference, if you want them to. To take just one example, one main character could take everything deathly seriously and turn the story's focus into a grim drama, while the other could be sort of goofy and always look at the funnier side of things and make it a rollicking adventure with (and here's another option for you) a varied ensemble of sidekicks. The supporting characters often affect the tone of the story just as much as the main characters.

Overall, the main differences will lie in the focus of the two stories. If the highlight of the first story is the tournament/competition thing, then you can make the second center more around the family drama. Or the focus of one can be the lead-up to the tournament, with the tournament itself coming after the climax. Also, the family drama in your first example sounds more like a part of the story than the second, in which it could easily be primarily backstory.

You might also add a secondary plotline to one of the two, major enough that the storyline you've already described will need to share space. That will change the tone a lot. It could be anything--a romance, a mystery, an alien invasion, anything to complicate the matter further and insert its own tone to the story.

One more thing I can think of:

It might not be too much of a problem if they're similar, unless it's hindering the writing process of either of them. If it's the sort of story you like, there's no shame in writing different variations on it as many times as you feel like. Brian Jacques wrote pretty much the same book over and over once he was well into his Redwall series, with very similar main characters and villains and plot devices, but when I was reading those kinds of books, I read and liked them all. He's a very successful author. And people who enjoy one of those books will probably enjoy the other.

(If You Liked This Book, You May Also Enjoy....)
 

UltimateUniverse900

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Are these novel length
They're actually shorter novels. They give a more visual sense.

Allow the first story to evolve following its natural course and when returning to the other, I'm sure you'll find that there are now a lot of 'road not taken' options available for use in the second.
It's hard to say cause I have both down the way I want them. It's just that the whole tournament arc that both their father's run, the MC sons with the whole conflict with their father is what makes it difficult cause they are essentially the same.
The attitudes and personalities of the two different main characters can make a drastic difference, if you want them to. To take just one example, one main character could take everything deathly seriously and turn the story's focus into a grim drama, while the other could be sort of goofy and always look at the funnier side of things and make it a rollicking adventure with (and here's another option for you) a varied ensemble of sidekicks. The supporting characters often affect the tone of the story just as much as the main characters.

Overall, the main differences will lie in the focus of the two stories. If the highlight of the first story is the tournament/competition thing, then you can make the second center more around the family drama. Or the focus of one can be the lead-up to the tournament, with the tournament itself coming after the climax. Also, the family drama in your first example sounds more like a part of the story than the second, in which it could easily be primarily backstory.

You might also add a secondary plotline to one of the two, major enough that the storyline you've already described will need to share space. That will change the tone a lot. It could be anything--a romance, a mystery, an alien invasion, anything to complicate the matter further and insert its own tone to the story.

One more thing I can think of:

It might not be too much of a problem if they're similar, unless it's hindering the writing process of either of them. If it's the sort of story you like, there's no shame in writing different variations on it as many times as you feel like. Brian Jacques wrote pretty much the same book over and over once he was well into his Redwall series, with very similar main characters and villains and plot devices, but when I was reading those kinds of books, I read and liked them all. He's a very successful author. And people who enjoy one of those books will probably enjoy the other.

(If You Liked This Book, You May Also Enjoy....)
I was thinking this. For the Japanese MC, he would have more sidekicks but have a very disciplinary type of attitude, whereas the other MC would have a more brutal approach but that's because he experienced the actual physical abuse with his father. Japanese MC never met his father as a child.
 

Devin

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I toyed with the idea of getting three very different people help me edit one POV character's chapters each, helping the voices of the POV characters to grow in different directions, but they were all too busy, because 'grad school,' so I can't say how well it would of worked.
 

sknox

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I don't see characters. I see a plot, but I have no sense of who these people are.

That's why they feel similar to you. There's no personality, no sense of wants and needs, fears and regrets. It's all just a list of things done or relations to monsters. All that is necessary--can't have a story without plot--but none of it speaks to character.

So job 1 is to create some characters.
 

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