Some Youtuber just made me feel called-out.

Bramandin

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They were talking about why Steven Universe was bad and the main criticism was that it focused on filler instead of the main plot. Hey, there's an evil empire that wants to conquer or destroy the Earth, let's spend entire episodes on the people who run the donut shop.

I'm not trying to write a publishable story right now, just improve my skill, but I'm doing a similar thing. I'm almost completely ignoring the guy who is trying to kill a god to focus on sorcerers and the normal people in their families who are living comparatively mundane lives.
 

alexvss

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They were talking about why Steven Universe was bad and the main criticism was that it focused on filler instead of the main plot. Hey, there's an evil empire that wants to conquer or destroy the Earth, let's spend entire episodes on the people who run the donut shop.

I'm not trying to write a publishable story right now, just improve my skill, but I'm doing a similar thing. I'm almost completely ignoring the guy who is trying to kill a god to focus on sorcerers and the normal people in their families who are living comparatively mundane lives.
That's a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes the characters and worldbuilding more believable, and it has the potential to make the ending much more effective when you wrap it all up. On the other, it slows the pace and makes the story much harder to follow, requiring a lot of patience and attention from the reader. You have to find a balance there.

A successful example is the Monster manga/anime by Naoki Urasawa. Full chapters are used just to show how the secondary characters are doing. The thing is, all these characters will have a major role afterwards. They will end up stumbling with the protagonist and twist the plot.

That put, I wouldn’t show the mundane lives of, say, extras in my story, at least not for more than a few pages. That would be a part of worldbuilding, but I wouldn’t start developing a character just to forget about him/her immediately afterwards.

PS: you didn't name the Youtuber so I tried to google him. I couldn't find exactly who you were talking about because many people hate Steven Universe!
 

AnyaKimlin

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Do you agree with the YouTuber?

Do you want to include the side stories?

If you do, you can keep doing what you are doing or look at different ways to present the stories. Something like Cloud Atlas or a slice of life series would change it and allow you to include multiple stories in one story. There are lots of ways of making things work and breaking the rules.
 

Bramandin

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PS: you didn't name the Youtuber so I tried to google him. I couldn't find exactly who you were talking about because many people hate Steven Universe!

Here's the vid:

I would be wasting my time if I had something better to do and wasn't having fun. Like I said this is improvement writing instead of something publishable. Who knows, if I actually wanted to recycle those characters and the worldbuilding, the guy who's killing a god would probably be turned into a villain.

There's also Anne McCaffrey books where there's a big threat and people fighting it, but it focuses on some musicians instead.
 
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Swank

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If you think your writing reads like "filler", you should feel motivated to write something better.

However, stories about characters at the periphery of some dramatic event aren't secondary unless you write them to be.
 

Astro Pen

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If you think your writing reads like "filler", you should feel motivated to write something better.

However, stories about characters at the periphery of some dramatic event aren't secondary unless you write them to be.
Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Came to mind as a great example
 

Bramandin

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Do you agree with the YouTuber?

Do you want to include the side stories?

If you do, you can keep doing what you are doing or look at different ways to present the stories. Something like Cloud Atlas or a slice of life series would change it and allow you to include multiple stories in one story. There are lots of ways of making things work and breaking the rules.

I didn't watch Steven Universe in order so I pretty much didn't notice. However, I think that it actually works to have that juxtaposition. He's a human/gem hybrid so having the epic space battles and then slice-of-life normal stuff seems to work. If I had to point out what I didn't like, it would be stuff like that time he turned his fingers into cats.

I'm reminded of a criticism of Neil Gaiman that I watched recently. This guy was reading American Gods and complaining about how much time it spends on a household of Egyptian gods. Then there's Sandman where it spends more time on people who don't matter to the Endless than on the Endless.

If I get serious about writing an actual story, I have to decide if it's about ordinary people doing ordinary things or if it's about a hero doing epic things. For now, writing about the sorcerers' families is more fun.
 

Bramandin

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If you think your writing reads like "filler", you should feel motivated to write something better.

However, stories about characters at the periphery of some dramatic event aren't secondary unless you write them to be.
Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Came to mind as a great example

Everyone is the hero of their own story. I've read entire books where it feels like setup but then they never find a magical portal or be approached by an alien.

Even rereading my stuff, I prefer the stories where they're serving the worldbuilding instead of something "exciting" happening.
 

Harun Abu-Qasas

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They were talking about why Steven Universe was bad and the main criticism was that it focused on filler instead of the main plot. Hey, there's an evil empire that wants to conquer or destroy the Earth, let's spend entire episodes on the people who run the donut shop.

I'm not trying to write a publishable story right now, just improve my skill, but I'm doing a similar thing. I'm almost completely ignoring the guy who is trying to kill a god to focus on sorcerers and the normal people in their families who are living comparatively mundane lives.
Shouldn't a so-called god be able to defend themselves?
 

Bramandin

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Shouldn't a so-called god be able to defend themselves?

I knew that I should have specified that it's a false god. Also, misotheism has become the dominant religion and it doesn't have any followers.

There's also a new deity that they're having trouble with, but in-universe it could be that false god's new form or a few other explanations besides her actually existing. I don't do battle-boarding, but they might both be outmatched by the Flying Spaghetti Monster or MCU Thor.
 

Swank

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Everyone is the hero of their own story. I've read entire books where it feels like setup but then they never find a magical portal or be approached by an alien.

Even rereading my stuff, I prefer the stories where they're serving the worldbuilding instead of something "exciting" happening.
I'm sure there are all different perspectives and ways to enjoy stories, but stories are essentially plot. Plots have arcs and generally need to hit all those (6?) classic points along the way or it really isn't a story.

Writers talk about their characters, world, themes, etc. so much that it is easy to forget that all of that discussion is in the context of a plot. The plot is what makes it possible to enjoy all that exposition about people, technology, philosophy, etc.
 

The Big Peat

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Obvious counterpoints: Pern is at around 18m copies sold. Gaiman did 30m copies of Sandman and 10m books. I don't think those numbers are up to date either.

So the argument on whether you can do this or not is

Some rando on YouTube vs 10m+ sales

Which one you gonna side with?


Further to this -

The volume of writing advice available out there on the internet is greater than can ever be consumed in one lifetime, hugely variable in quality, and is in support of just about every possible position out there. If you follow every piece of writing advice you see you'll believe all characters must be likeable and that dislikeable characters are the most interesting, that plot is king and that plot is boring, that description should be minimal and description should be extensive, that exposition is evil and that exposition is necessary...

... and you'll probably also come to believe that you are a stark staring raving schizophrenic.

The point of writing advice is to take what works for you and to ignore the rest. Some advice is more dangerous to ignore than others but there is almost no piece of writing advice that hasn't been ignored somewhere by a successful author. Good spelling and punctuation? Geoffrey Willans and Cormac McCarthy laugh in its general direction.

Every writer must learn to figure out what works for them themselves, but a good foundation point is to remember no piece of art is universally adored and no piece of advice universally applicable.
 

Bramandin

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I'm sure there are all different perspectives and ways to enjoy stories, but stories are essentially plot. Plots have arcs and generally need to hit all those (6?) classic points along the way or it really isn't a story.

Writers talk about their characters, world, themes, etc. so much that it is easy to forget that all of that discussion is in the context of a plot. The plot is what makes it possible to enjoy all that exposition about people, technology, philosophy, etc.

Search results for 6 classic plot points: said:
(exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, denouement)

I did just make a bit of a jab at stories about normal people, but it looks like I'm writing a coming-of-age story. (bildungsroman) It seems like those are all exposition, or the rising action is just as world-shaking as getting frantic over a missing shoe.

Or I'll come up with something "exciting" before the exposition gets too long. The value of this story is in writing it, not the story itself. It probably will be a case of when I think I'm good enough, taking these characters and seeing who has the most interesting or workable story.
 

Swank

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I did just make a bit of a jab at stories about normal people, but it looks like I'm writing a coming-of-age story. (bildungsroman) It seems like those are all exposition, or the rising action is just as world-shaking as getting frantic over a missing shoe.

Or I'll come up with something "exciting" before the exposition gets too long. The value of this story is in writing it, not the story itself. It probably will be a case of when I think I'm good enough, taking these characters and seeing who has the most interesting or workable story.
A missing shoe and it's recovery can be a story. It isn't how big an event the story is crafted around, but the relative highs and lows inside the story.
 

Bramandin

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Obvious counterpoints: Pern is at around 18m copies sold. Gaiman did 30m copies of Sandman and 10m books. I don't think those numbers are up to date either.

So the argument on whether you can do this or not is

Some rando on YouTube vs 10m+ sales

Which one you gonna side with?


Further to this -

The volume of writing advice available out there on the internet is greater than can ever be consumed in one lifetime, hugely variable in quality, and is in support of just about every possible position out there. If you follow every piece of writing advice you see you'll believe all characters must be likeable and that dislikeable characters are the most interesting, that plot is king and that plot is boring, that description should be minimal and description should be extensive, that exposition is evil and that exposition is necessary...

... and you'll probably also come to believe that you are a stark staring raving schizophrenic.

The point of writing advice is to take what works for you and to ignore the rest. Some advice is more dangerous to ignore than others but there is almost no piece of writing advice that hasn't been ignored somewhere by a successful author. Good spelling and punctuation? Geoffrey Willans and Cormac McCarthy laugh in its general direction.

Every writer must learn to figure out what works for them themselves, but a good foundation point is to remember no piece of art is universally adored and no piece of advice universally applicable.

Considering that not only did I justify what that person hated about Steven Universe, but I encountered a vid by someone who was more balanced about criticising Neil for the same thing... Yes, there are exceptions and times when you can break "the rules." If I'm linking the right video, it's talking about characters wants versus their needs, and she said it's okay to find it as I go along instead of knowing at the beginning or even spend some time with the character being passive.


Her talk about passivity reminded me about Perfect Blue, an anime movie where the character is passive and her conflict comes from going along with things instead of having self-agency and figuring out what she wants. It looks like she made a choice, but her choice was which person gets to make the decision for her.

I think the reason I can't figure out what Tanya wants is because she's in a phase of her life where she pretty much has it for the time being and can be passive until something happens. It's like Elsa between Frozen 1 & 2 where from her perspective, things were hunky-dory for a bit.
 

Bramandin

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A missing shoe and it's recovery can be a story. It isn't how big an event the story is crafted around, but the relative highs and lows inside the story.

Yes, a missing shoe can be a story, but can it be a good fantasy story? (Maybe for children, unless the shoe is a MacGuffin.) It does go back to the urge to make things epic. If a character needs a trauma, we tend to think about things that would give anyone horrible PTSD, not some child losing their favorite toy.

Though relative to the highs and lows of the story, a story about someone getting frantic over an ordinary lost shoe seems pathetic to things like one character getting into a duel to the death with another one over a woman.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Yes, a missing shoe can be a story, but can it be a good fantasy story?
I don't know, but Cinderella (and several hundred variants) has been around for a long, long time.

But "a missing shoe" is neither a plot nor a story. It's just the beginnings of an idea. What you do to develop that idea may turn into an interesting story ... or not.

Whether a particular "rule" applies to your story, for good or ill, depends on how your ideas are executed. You can break just about any rule and get away with it, but doing so may turn out to be more trouble than it is worth. Or, in a particular story, told in a particular way, it may be the very thing that makes the whole thing work.
 

Bramandin

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I don't know, but Cinderella (and several hundred variants) has been around for a long, long time.

But "a missing shoe" is neither a plot nor a story. It's just the beginnings of an idea. What you do to develop that idea may turn into an interesting story ... or not.

Whether a particular "rule" applies to your story, for good or ill, depends on how your ideas are executed. You can break just about any rule and get away with it, but doing so may turn out to be more trouble than it is worth. Or, in a particular story, told in a particular way, it may be the very thing that makes the whole thing work.

HAhah, I was going to say "car keys" but I figured shoe was dumber because it's a kid thing and most modern adult people can easily do something about it or go without. I have a feeling that this sort of thing would have happened no matter what I named because there is nothing new under the sun.

But yeah, you're right about the missing shoe not being much of a plot unless it somehow works. Rules are for people who are afraid to make messes and fall on their face along the way. I might fail, or I might hit something good.
 

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