Maybe a simple prompt will help? (Orphan Meets a Monster)

Bramandin

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
576
I think part of my problem is that I lost confidence in addition to not knowing what to do next. I'm not sure that I understand emotional connection to MC enough, or I'm not up to the task because CPTSD makes both his and mine emotions really blunted. I'm thinking if I take a break to do a character study on a simple scene I'll be able to figure out if I can even do it, but I can't think of one.

If someone could please help me out with ideas, MC is ten and most generic fantasy medieval stasis prompts should fit in the setting. They also have pizza so some modern prompts might fit as long as it doesn't involve cell phones.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
25,643
Location
UK
Did you notice that? You wrote that post from a POV with an emotional connection. You didn't describe any physical actions or fill it with dialogue to make your point - you just went straight for it.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for aspiring writers is their inability to connect emotionally with their characters. I think a big part of the problem is writers trying to be writerly, rather than simply writing. :)
 

Bramandin

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
576
Did you notice that? You wrote that post from a POV with an emotional connection. You didn't describe any physical actions or fill it with dialogue to make your point - you just went straight for it.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for aspiring writers is their inability to connect emotionally with their characters. I think a big part of the problem is writers trying to be writerly, rather than simply writing. :)

Now I'm really confused because I don't see any emotion there at all when I could in the sample where people complained about the lack of emotions.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
Joined
Dec 10, 2012
Messages
5,317
Location
x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
The character in my novels is a prime candidate for C-PTSD so I have researched it somewhat and from that I'd have to say that the answer to your question or dilemma might best come from someone who specializes in the disorder and that's not me.

What I find in my writing is that I try to put myself into the character's position from their personality, which is difficult enough without other issues because everyone has their own baggage that tries to insert itself into every character. I try to push all that aside and get into the characters head by looking at people around me and trying to empathize with even those people I disagree with.

One problem with that is to separate how they might really feel with what I might be projecting on them. However, even projection can be useful in creating the driving characteristics of your characters. Bottom line, observing other people is helpful both in picking up body language and facial expression and in some cases dialogue.

The complaint about the lack of emotion might even be fostered by characters that lack dimension rather than real emotional issues. This is something that an author responding to critique has to sort out to figure out what the real problem is because often the critic is not expressing himself well enough because he's unaware of what the real problem is and just knows that there is a problem.
 

THX1138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Messages
409
Location
Land Locked Ocean Dream
One thing you might try is to base your MC on aspects on 2-3 characters from other movies or anime's you have seen. That way when you have trouble figuring out how the MC will behave, you have a reference to go by and it will help separate you from the MC.

Something like this for an example:
Behaves like Alphonse Elric from Full Metal Alchemist.
Handles stressful situations like Luke Skywalker in New Hope.
Creative like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 1.

Now you have an audio/visual guide to help you while keeping your story in mind.
Just an idea for something for you to try out when you get stuck.
 

DLCroix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
339
This problem is not yours alone. It's a real syndrome that happens with new writers: they rush to tell a story so much that they forget that what they're doing for some reason has been called literature for several centuries now, but in the end what they write ends up looking more like a script movie than a novel. The bad thing is that there is no recipe to make it faster either, dear friend. In fact, it's not just about giving the characters an emotionality that can make the reader feel involved in the story. Actually there are a lot of other things. But how are these elements discovered? Let's ground the matter a bit.

To begin with, for a writer has what Harold Bloom calls "the anxiety of influence", that writer must first do a job as intense as writing and that consists of READING. I've said 200 times that reading is the other oar in the boat and to row you need both. That is why, in my opinion, you are bouncing against the wall, because you do not have a reading background that makes you think about literature itself. You won't learn that on this forum. Otherwise, the recommendations you have received from other colleagues about Save the Cat and On Writing are excellent and it will not take you more than a couple of days to read both. I have been writing for more than two decades now and I still consult from time to time especially the book by S. King. Because, I repeat, there is no other way to go faster.

Now, if the MC of your novel is an rascal orphan, the first book you should be an really expert is obviously Oliver Twist, and not the movie, don't cheat. Read the damn book. At least that one. Analyze how Dickens organized things in that novel. I advise you to locate the tropes and subvert them, give them a twist. This has nothing to do with you having an emotional problem; your characters should have them. Otherhand, I find you as capable as anyone. But you are losing confidence because something inside you is telling you that you are not ready (because you have not read enough, so what can you have analyzed), which is a very valuable sign of maturation.

Very simple observations that can demolish your plot:
And that goddess? What is she in your story for? Goddess of what is she? Of fertility, of war, of the arts? What rituals does she associate with, what are her fields of action, the religion or cult of which she is patron? And how does that link to tech elves? What should I expect as a reader? Or am I just going to read pure scenery?
And the most important: what is the premise of your story? If you can't boil it down to one idea, it means you need to think about it until you are able to. :ninja:
 

THX1138

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2022
Messages
409
Location
Land Locked Ocean Dream
This problem is not yours alone. It's a real syndrome that happens with new writers: they rush to tell a story so much that they forget that what they're doing for some reason has been called literature for several centuries now, but in the end what they write ends up looking more like a script movie than a novel. The bad thing is that there is no recipe to make it faster either, dear friend. In fact, it's not just about giving the characters an emotionality that can make the reader feel involved in the story. Actually there are a lot of other things. But how are these elements discovered? Let's ground the matter a bit.

To begin with, for a writer has what Harold Bloom calls "the anxiety of influence", that writer must first do a job as intense as writing and that consists of READING. I've said 200 times that reading is the other oar in the boat and to row you need both. That is why, in my opinion, you are bouncing against the wall, because you do not have a reading background that makes you think about literature itself. You won't learn that on this forum. Otherwise, the recommendations you have received from other colleagues about Save the Cat and On Writing are excellent and it will not take you more than a couple of days to read both. I have been writing for more than two decades now and I still consult from time to time especially the book by S. King. Because, I repeat, there is no other way to go faster.

Now, if the MC of your novel is an rascal orphan, the first book you should be an really expert is obviously Oliver Twist, and not the movie, don't cheat. Read the damn book. At least that one. Analyze how Dickens organized things in that novel. I advise you to locate the tropes and subvert them, give them a twist. This has nothing to do with you having an emotional problem; your characters should have them. Otherhand, I find you as capable as anyone. But you are losing confidence because something inside you is telling you that you are not ready (because you have not read enough, so what can you have analyzed), which is a very valuable sign of maturation.

Very simple observations that can demolish your plot:
And that goddess? What is she in your story for? Goddess of what is she? Of fertility, of war, of the arts? What rituals does she associate with, what are her fields of action, the religion or cult of which she is patron? And how does that link to tech elves? What should I expect as a reader? Or am I just going to read pure scenery?
And the most important: what is the premise of your story? If you can't boil it down to one idea, it means you need to think about it until you are able to. :ninja:
I agree about the first-time writer statement. I'm one of them and did just that and now I'm learning how to rewrite it into a novel.
And like you also say, the more you read the better you'll write. As well as see how other writers approached and solved a similar situation that you may be working on too.
 

DLCroix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
339
I would say that for those who are taking their first steps as writers, their archenemy is impatience. Interestingly, I fell in love with words, or became aware of the power of words, a long time ago (I was 10 years old or something like that) reading a comic based on Moby Dick. I said to myself, "God, one day I want to write as the writer of that comic." Which is why I obviously got the book and read it out within a week. The second book I voluntarily read was Jaws, by Peter Benchley, if I remember correctly (read in one day), and the third was Star Wars, the novel adaptation by Richard Dean Anderson, which I read before seeing the movie, too in a day. I was a very, very precocious reader; but, as you say, everything you read gives you ingredients for your writing.
But patience is essential. :ninja:
 

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
1,147
Location
Chantilly, Virginia, US
If someone could please help me out with ideas, MC is ten and most generic fantasy medieval stasis prompts should fit in the setting. They also have pizza so some modern prompts might fit as long as it doesn't involve cell phones.
One thing that I do when stuck or I am unsure about consistency is to write a backstory, something that will not be part of the actual story, but will provide some details to build on. Consider writing a day in the life description of the MC before the start of the story. Just start from when the character wakes up in the morning until the character goes to bed at night. This can help to flesh out the details of the starting state of the character as well as defining the character's environment.

Note: Pizza has a log history. It would not necessarily be out of place in medieval times. This may confine the location to Italy or a section of a city housing Italian emigrants. History of pizza - Wikipedia
 

Bramandin

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
576
The complaint about the lack of emotion might even be fostered by characters that lack dimension rather than real emotional issues. This is something that an author responding to critique has to sort out to figure out what the real problem is because often the critic is not expressing himself well enough because he's unaware of what the real problem is and just knows that there is a problem.

I think my own experience plus reading other's experiences should allow me to get into the character's head.

Though you might have a point about the readers not being able to articulate what the real problem is. I should be slow to decide that a reader is wrong but not consider it impossible, and err more towards there is a problem even if it's not the one they named.

I did just find a Star Wars erotica that seems to be really showing how to write from the emotions.

One thing you might try is to base your MC on aspects on 2-3 characters from other movies or anime's you have seen. That way when you have trouble figuring out how the MC will behave, you have a reference to go by and it will help separate you from the MC.

I haven't found who his actor is yet, but that's good advice for when appropriate ones are available. He is a bit like Anakin and Alphonse Elric, a bit like Harry before he goes to Hogwarts. I also can't remember enough about the movie to look it up, but it has a poor girl chosen to make a cookie commercial and she says "I'm from Brooklyn, you're lucky I speak English."

Consider writing a day in the life description of the MC before the start of the story. Just start from when the character wakes up in the morning until the character goes to bed at night. This can help to flesh out the details of the starting state of the character as well as defining the character's environment.

Before the start of the story is a bit intimidating because I think the worldbuilding in that area is going to fall apart if I look at it funny. I don't know if you saw City of Ember, but that's the sort of situation. Pretty much they don't generate any waste that would be useful for an orphan to live off of so he'd pretty much be wandering around in a daze instead of digging through garbage cans.

However, I decided that my next scene is a time-skip of a few weeks and it begins with him waking up and having a typical day in his new environment. I don't know yet if it's a good way to tell a story, but the easiest way to ask about if it would work is just to show what I'm doing.
 

Bramandin

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
576
To begin with, for a writer has what Harold Bloom calls "the anxiety of influence", that writer must first do a job as intense as writing and that consists of READING.

Granted a lot of my entertainment recently has been script-based, but I have read a lot and either I was doing it wrong or that's not the whole answer because I should have been good years ago instead of just above a standard fanficcer if reading was all it took. The lack of patience is because of the lack of progress. I started To Kill a Mockingbird but decided to stop because it's written in a strong dialect. Hey, Oliver Twist is a Bildungsroman, I needed one of those and had also decided against Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret because the reviews said it was unrealistic trash.

Very simple observations that can demolish your plot:
And that goddess? What is she in your story for? Goddess of what is she? Of fertility, of war, of the arts? What rituals does she associate with, what are her fields of action, the religion or cult of which she is patron? And how does that link to tech elves? What should I expect as a reader? Or am I just going to read pure scenery?
And the most important: what is the premise of your story? If you can't boil it down to one idea, it means you need to think about it until you are able to.

She's a goddess of luck. There aren't really proper rituals, more of a superstition like leaving a dish of cream out for the house elves. (Okay, I need to look into Japanese ancestor-worship because it feels a bit like in anime where I've seen them light incense or offer food to a shrine with a loved-one's picture.) The organized religion is based on a god that I haven't introduced yet and Fortuna is getting overshadowed until later. (Does it count as maltheism if the worshippers didn't know that the god is evil?) The techno-elves are misotheists because of that god and have nothing to do with Fortuna.

I don't plan on answering the question of if Fortuna is real. It just seems less jarring to pull a deus ex machina when there's an idea that gods will actually intervene if it suits them. Gandalf rang up some eagles for a favor in two Hobbit adaptations that I saw and it doesn't feel lazy.

I'm not sure I'd ever be able to articulate the one idea my story is about. Is Harry Potter a story about the prophesied Chosen One taking down the Dark Lord, or is it a High School drama? Two things that I intend to be strongly in my story is nature vs nurture and how religion can be bad.

You did give me the idea that maybe the religion based around Fortuna could become stronger over the years, but making it into a control cult seems redundant in a dystopian tyranny.

As for reader expectations, I think I need to get a bit more into it before it firms up. It's a dark setting that make me want to put in trigger warnings, (not sure if I can list any of them but the fantastic racism) but I'm not intending for the story itself to be that dark. I also seem to have a talent for finding video games that do things I wasn't expecting. Unravel looks like a cute little puzzle-platformer and I didn't expect things to get so awful that I'm feeling bad for the sprite as he's cringing away from what's in front of him.
 

Bramandin

Science fiction fantasy
Joined
May 5, 2022
Messages
576
@DLCroix

I must decline to read further into Oliver Twist for I fear that it may render my speech incomprehensible to a contemporary person.
 

Top