Jul 03 2008

Superhero Nation’s Exam for Novelists

Like The Fantasy Novelist’s Exam, we’ve written a list of questions to help you identify problems with your writing.

UPDATE: We’ve created an interactive, abridged version of this quiz. Try it here!

  1. Are there more than two point-of-view characters?
  2. Do you ever switch POV mid-chapter?
  3. Does any character gaze at his own reflection? (Publishers hate that).
  4. Do you frequently use vague and meaningless words (good, well, fine, nice, alright, etc)?
  5. Does the book start with a character waking up or doing his morning routine? If so, why?
  6. Do you waste time describing actions that are not relevant to the plot?
  7. Do any of your scenes show characters eating? If so, please check your answer to the previous question. How does eating advance the plot? Why would readers find it interesting?
  8. Are any of the characters secretly family members? (Courtesy of TFNE.)
  9. By the end of page 1, do we know what the main character’s name is? If not, why are you holding out on us?
  10. Do each of your recurring characters have at least one interesting character trait? Do you consider “strong/weak,” “attractive/ugly,” “young/old,” or “brave” to be interesting character traits? (They aren’t).
  11. In dialogue, do your characters repeatedly refer to each other by name? (“I love you, Dan.” “I love you too, Martha.” “I know, Dan.”)
  12. Does the narrator or POV character hide critical information from readers just to “surprise” them? If so, why aren’t you being forthright with us? Is there an in-story reason, or are you just trying to screw with us?
  13. Are there any pronouns in the first sentence? If so, double-check your answer to the previous question. For example: “until it happened, I had no idea how badly they had screwed me.” This narrator is obviously hiding what “it” and “they” are.
  14. Do you start any sentences with empty interjections? Some common offenders are well, you know, like, yeah, oh, umm, OK, I mean, and seriously. If you can remove them, please do so.
  15. On any given page, do you use more than five synonyms for “said?”
  16. Does your novel ever confuse the word its with it’s? If you are not sure what the difference is, please see this.
  17. Does your story capitalize words that are not normally capitalized?
  18. Does your book about a character that works in your profession or industry? If so, be careful. Readers rarely care as much about your work as you do.
  19. Did you notice the mechanical error in the previous question?  (“Does your book about…”) If so, subtract a point for reading closely.
  20. Do your conversations feature niceties and other polite filler? (“Can I get you anything to drink?”) If so, do we really need to know how polite the character is, or do you think you’d like to skip to the part where something actually happens?
  21. Do any characters have names that have dashes, apostrophes, more than one word, or more than eight letters? Are any names hard to pronounce?
  22. Are any characters cryptic? (For example, do they hide information from another character for no good reason except that you want the story to keep going?) Is this character also mysterious, enigmatic, “cool” and/or a stranger? If so, you’ve already gotten rejected.
  23. Are any of your characters Mary Sues (super-powered and idealized versions of yourself)? One warning sign is that the main character goes through the story without making any mistakes or doing anything the audience is meant to disapprove of.
  24. Is it possible for any character to oppose your hero without coming off as stupid, evil or an ass? If not, please check again for Mary Sues.
  25. Are any characters primarily included to beat home a political message? If so, check again for Mary Sues.
  26. Does the piece have a political message? If so, do you caricature your detractors as stupid, evil jerks? Please make a good-faith attempt to represent your detractors– you will come off as more credible if readers think you’re being fair to them.
  27. Does your narrator feel the need to explain everything the character is doing as he does it?
  28. If there is a main love interest, list three traits that describe him or her. Did you have to use words that described his physical appearance? If so, try the exercise again, but this time use traits that will interest readers. Were you forced to use generic traits like “nice” or “sweet?” If so, the character is probably so bland that readers won’t care about the romance. In fact, you may be stumbling into a George Lucas Love Story.
  29. Why does the main character fall in love with the main love interest? If you answered “because she is beautiful,” “because she is the most important female character in the story,” or (especially!) “because she is a beautiful princess,” please get back to the drawing board.
  30. Do you ever tell us a character’s eye-color? If so, why? (Does it show anything interesting about the character?) Do you ever compare a character’s eyes to gems or other precious objects?
  31. Do you ever tell us a character’s hair-color without telling us how the character wears his or her hair? If so, why do you think the character’s hair-color tells us more about the character than his hairstyle? (It probably doesn’t).
  32. Do you overuse italics or bolded letters?
  33. Are your sentence structures monotonous? For example, do you write many sentences that start with a noun followed by a verb? Is it the same noun? “I like writing. I think writing is cool. I am pretty good at writing…”
  34. Do you ever jerk readers around by revealing that some shocking development “was all a dream” or a hallucination or otherwise disconnected from reality? I’m sorry, but that is wholly unacceptable.
  35. Do any of the characters have an unclear, mysterious or glorious lineage? (Courtesy of TFNE.)
  36. Is there a great prophecy at the center of the story? If so, does it involve the main character saving the world and/or getting the girl?
  37. Do you use any invented or foreign words when English equivalents are available? If so, why? If you said “because it’s dramatic to call Elven soldiers sjweu’pas,” please fix it.
  38. Are you writing this book with a sequel in mind? Is this the first book in a planned trilogy? Please remember that readers expect a satisfying conclusion at the end of this story. Do you think that “to be continued” is a satisfying conclusion? If so, I really recommend thinking about doing a standalone novel. If the book sells fairly well, your publisher will agree to publish a sequel later.
  39. Do any chapters end with a whimper? If so, why are readers going to want to keep reading?
  40. Do you use adverbs often?
  41. Does any character have the ability to change species? (Groan). Does he change from a human to dragon (or vice versa)? Gah! Please change that before submitting the manuscript.
  42. Does your story use real-world brand names? If so, will people from outside your region understand the references? Will the brands date your story?
  43. Does your story use stream of consciousness?
  44. Do characters sigh more than 10 times in the course of the book? Or furl their eyebrows? Do you ever use the word “furtively”? Paging Dan Brown…
  45. Does your story use a made-up word or phrase (like Hogwarts, Edarotag, the Thanagarian Liberation Front) in the title or first paragraph? Does it use more than 3 in the first page? Will readers actually understand what these words mean in context? If readers don’t know what the words mean, they probably feel confused. A confused reader is probably going to put the book down.
  46. Do you insert characters just so you can kill them? Do you ever kill a character because you can’t think of any other reason to wrap up his role in the story?
  47. Do your fight scenes ever last longer than five pages? If so, why?
  48. Is your story set in your real-life hometown or birthplace? If so, do you ever make geographic allusions that will confuse outsiders?
  49. Have you named any characters to pay homage to your favorite authors or stories, like naming a superhero Clark? Unfortunately, readers will think “plagiarism” before “homage.”
  50. Have you done any research for your story? If so, does the research actually advance the story or are you just inserting it to remind readers how much you know about the material? (Paging Tom Clancy).
  51. Did you forget to read through for spelling and grammar? Have a frend read thorough it, to!  It woudl surprise you how many readers notice these thigns.
  52. Did you notice the spelling mistake in the previous question?
  53. At any point, does a character choose to work with someone who is far below her stature, like a dragon picking a nobody teenager as her rider? Why does the more powerful character pick him instead of a more useful partner? If your answer relies on “destiny,” “just because” or some cryptic reason the more powerful character doesn’t want to explain at this point, please go back to the drawing board.
  54. Do any characters benefit from great luck, fate or destiny? It’s more impressive if the characters earn their spots as heroes.
  55. Does your book ever quote Shakespeare? Or any song lyrics? It’s rarely as profound as you think it is.
  56. Do you start your chapters with an epitaph (a quote from someone famous)? If so, do those quotes actually add something, or are they just pretentious?
  57. When you try to make a joke, do you have a character laugh or otherwise signal that you just made a joke? Laugh-tracks insult our intelligence.
  58. Does your story take place over a span of 20+ years? If so, why do you need that much time to wrap up the story?
  59. Does a side-character steal the show by saving everyone else at a crucial moment? If so, is he a Mary Sue? Why isn’t the story about him if he’s saving the day?
  60. Do all of your characters have first and last names? “That gets annoying pretty fast,” John Marbury told Jacob Mallow.
  61. Do you ever attempt to develop a character by having a loved one killed or raped?
  62. Do your characters spend a lot of time musing about things that have already happened? Readers usually tune out when characters ponder idly. It’s usually more interesting when characters investigate mysteries instead of pondering aimlessly about them.
  63. Is one of your characters a mentor that serves as a uniformly friendly surrogate-father? Does he selflessly prepare the character for a destined struggle? If you answered yes to either, please make the mentor’s relationship a bit more complex.  More conflict might help.  For example: He doesn’t want to train this kid or he thinks the kid is going to fail anyway or he thinks he’s a better choice for the job.
  64. Does your plot essentially amount to “gotta catch ’em all?” For example, your characters have to collect the four elemental crystals or the pieces of a lost treasure map, or some other assortment of plot coupons? Sorry, but unless you have actually been licensed to write a Pokemon book, a “gotta catch ’em all” plot is inexcusable.
  65. Do any of your scenes seem to take place in a vacuum? Give us scenery! Show us characters interacting with their environment. (This applies to action scenes, too… if you can’t figure out a way to work in a prop as a weapon, move the fight to a different room!)
  66. Do your conversations read like transcripts? Please work in elements like body language, atmospherics, nonverbal cues, props, scenery, etc.
  67. Do you end many sentences with exclamation marks? That can aggravate readers very quickly. Do you end any sentences with more than one exclamation mark? If so, please fix it!!!
  68. Do you overuse obscenities? If you ever use two in the same sentence, the answer is probably yes.
  69. Do you misuse the word “literally” or “ironic?”
  70. Do you confuse “affect” with “effect?” If so, please read this article.
  71. Is your title one word long? If so, it’s probably formulaic and cheesy. When was the last time you read a book with a one-word title?
  72. Does your title have an invented character or place-name in it? Why will prospective readers care about your invented words?
  73. Does your title fail to identify the kind of story you’re writing? Could your title work just as easily for a book in a different genre? If you answered yes to either, you’re probably not being specific enough.
  74. Does your title have curb appeal? If someone were browsing through the bookshelf and found it, would he want to start reading?
  75. Does your title have an acronym, place-name or character-name in it? If so, please check your answer to the previous question.
  76. Do any of your non-human characters use phrases like “on the other claw” instead of “on the other hand”? If you answered yes, please do yourself a favor and remove them.
  77. Does your villain kill people for no good reason except to prove how eeeeevil he is? Or cackle?
  78. Does your villain imprison his enemies? (Stupid mistake #1). Does your villain imprison the heroes in the same cell?
  79. If your villain captures the heroes, why doesn’t he kill them immediately?
  80. Does your villain have some bizarre fascination with taking the hero alive?
  81. Have you ever responded to a negative review by claiming that the reviewer isn’t “reading it right”? If you answered yes, you are more screwed than you could possibly understand. If reviewers aren’t reading it “right,” why do you think a publisher and customers will?
  82. Have you justified your answer to any question on this test by saying that “it worked for Shakespeare” or James Joyce or some other classic author? Shakespeare wrote for sixteenth-century audiences and you do not. Also, Shakespeare and other renowned authors were unusually gifted in a way you probably are not.
  83. When you were writing your book, did you use a thesaurus? If so, did you ever write anything that came out like “John sashayed to the refrigerator to get some sustenance”? If you don’t understand why that sentence is so awful, you have lost the right to use a thesaurus and will write better without one.
  84. Have you given any of your characters an accent that is meant to sound funny? If so, please watch Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. You may think your character sounds funny, but in fact he sounds like Jar-Jar Binks.
  85. Are you writing a book for readers younger than 18? If so, what qualifies you to do so? If you answered “because I used to be one,” please slap yourself in the face and try again. If you work with kids, are a parent, or are extensively well-read in children’s and young adult literature, you may have what it takes. If not, you will probably find it useful to prepare by reading books and articles on the subject.
  86. Is your book more like a series of loosely-linked episodes than a coherent narrative? If so, I’d recommend asking a friend or two to help you organize it better.
  87. Do you think that “sleep on it” is good advice for someone struggling from writer’s block? It’s not. Writers write and everybody else makes excuses. Doing something else– particularly sleeping– in the hopes that you’ll write later is just frittering away your time.
  88. Do you like to name-drop? Please try to keep the amount of named characters to a minimum.
  89. Does your writing ever refer to itself? For example, does your narrator ever refer to “this story” or anything similar? Although it’s possible to write excellent self-references (The Princess Bride), it’s very tricky. I don’t recommend it for first-timers.
  90. Does your book include any historical cameos so that Abe Lincoln (or whoever) can say how impressive your heroes are?
  91. Is the last line of your book the same as the first line? If so, please fix it.
  92. Is the last line of your book identical (or almost identical) to the title? If so, make sure that your title is going to work for prospective readers browsing through the bookshelf. If you’ve written a title so that you can end a story with it, it may lack curb appeal.
  93. Does your book consciously use symbols or motifs? If so, would a casual reader find them entertaining and informative or tiring and pretentious? Does your book use phoenixes as a symbol? If so, please fix that.
  94. When you describe how something looks, do you spend more time describing the object’s color than anything else? If so, your characters are probably wandering through a bland landscape of green bushes and red cars and white clouds. Remember: color is the weakest kind of visualization.
  95. Have you ever responded to a negative review by demanding to see something the reviewer has written? Stay focused. Even if the reviewer were the worst author in the world, that doesn’t change whether his review is accurate or not.
  96. Do you have a self-diagnosed case of Asperger’s Syndrome? (Sigh). If so, have you ever used your alleged condition as an excuse for writing stilted and lifeless dialogue? If you have, you must talk with a member of the opposite sex for at least ten minutes tomorrow. You will feel better and your writing will improve. Also, schedule an appointment with a counselor.

For the Authors of Fantasy Novels

  1. Do characters use insufferably stilted language like “Is it not?” This is probably the most serious single problem in this list. This sort of writing is pervasive and hard to fix and, worst of all, it takes a lot of time to fix.
  2. Do any scenes happen in a tavern? Does this tavern scene involve a drunken brawl? If so, you’ve already gotten yourself rejected.
  3. Do any characters have names that feature real-world words that are not normally used as a name? (Debra Moondrinker!)
  4. Do any characters have names that feature animals? Or colors?
  5. Do all of your recurring characters have at least one interesting trait? Do you consider being elven, dragon, dwarven, or magical to be interesting traits? Sorry. Try again.
  6. Are any characters elves, dwarves, or dragons? Are these characters interesting and well-thought out people, or are they just collections of cliches? In-story, why do they act the way they do?
  7. “Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?” Courtesy of TFNE.
  8. Do you start your story with a dry narration that’s essentially a geography lesson? That will usually earn you an instant rejection. You should establish that any part of your world is worth reading about before you ask us to read about all of it.
  9. Do your characters spend most of the story traveling? (Paging Eragon…)
  10. Is any one of the protagonists the subject of widespread admiration and adulation?
  11. Do you ever forget to make it clear when you’re describing something magical? (If someone waves his hands and something happens, readers might get confused rather than intuit that the character is a wizard, particularly if you haven’t introduced readers to magic yet).
  12. “Are any of the characters a god in disguise?” Courtesy of TFNE.
  13. Is the darkest member of a species usually the evil one, such as night elves and black dragons? Sigh. You may imagine that making the token black dragon not evil would be a surrender to political correctness. In fact, it would be a surrender to good writing.
  14. Is your book hard to distinguish from LOTR/Eragon or Harry Potter?
  15. Are all of the characters talking animals that are like humans in every other way but being animals, a la Redwall? If so, why not just make them humans? (I’m not intimately familiar with children’s publishers, but I’ve heard that they’re mostly sick of talking-animal stories).

For the Authors of Superhero Novels

  1. Does your villain feel the need to leave clues for the heroes, like Carmen Sandiego or the Riddler? Why?
  2. Does anyone say “But before I kill you, there’s just one thing I want to know?”
  3. Do any characters have any of the following in his name: man, woman, boy, lad, girl or a military rank? If so, are you consciously attempting to make fun of cliche superhero names? If not, I highly recommend changing the name. (If you need help with names, this article might help).
  4. Does the security guard ignore an apparently malfunctioning security camera?
  5. Is time-travel involved? If so, is the destination year between 1939-1945? If so, are you using Germany rather than Japan or Italy (or even the USSR!) as the enemy? If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, your story urgently needs a tweak or revision. For example, maybe the “villain” is someone who’s gone back in time to kill Hitler, and the heroes have to keep Hitler alive to make sure that the Nazis lose the war.
  6. Is there a walkway above a vat of chemicals?  Could you make it a bit less obvious that somebody is going to get thrown into the vat?
  7. Do your “undercover” characters have barcode tattoos or other insignia clearly identifying them?
  8. Are the force-field generators within their own force-fields?
  9. If your supervillain is (supposedly) a genius, does he actually make intelligent plans that anticipate what the heroes will attempt and surprise them? Or is he the sort of idiot that builds force-field generators that aren’t within the force-field?
  10. Do you describe why your supervillain decided to be evil in a paragraph or less? If so, you’re probably shortchanging him.
  11. Why is the supervillain evil? If you answered some variation of “he was born that way,” or “he’s greedy!”, I’d recommend developing him a bit more.
  12. Is the supervillain a Nazi or some other manner of racial supremacist? When was the last time you read such a character that wasn’t a two-dimensional cardboard cutout?  Is the supervillain a greedy businessman? That could work, but you will have to distinguish the character from MANY similar characters.
  13. Pick a popular superhero that is similar to yours (usually Superman, Spiderman, Wolverine and/or Batman). Why would someone want to read your story and not a story from the similar hero? In what way(s) is your story better?
  14. Is your character an alien that looks exactly like a human? Worse yet, is he an alien that can transform into a human at will? If you answered yes to either of these, why not just make him human? If you really want an alien character, why not make him actually alien?
  15. Are your alien characters superior to humans in every way? When humans don’t even have an advantage at seeming human, it’s pretty obvious that something is messed up.
  16. Is The Watchmen one of your sources of inspiration?
  17. Are the characters from either Washington, DC or (worse) New York City? Is there some justification for these cliched cities?
  18. Is any character meant to represent a nation or ethnic group? If so, please check out this article on Captain Ethnics.
  19. Are there more than four characters in any one fight? If so, please read this article on fight scenes.
  20. Do you have a flair for drama and/or comedy and/or suspense? If not, I’m going to delicately say that building a book around action sequences is very difficult.
  21. What do your characters do when they’re not engaged in epic brawls?  Anything interesting enough that we’d want to read about?
  22. Does your plot revolve around any combination of time-travel, shrinking, body-swapping, or a character getting turned into a child or baby? Tread very carefully through these cliches.

238 responses so far

238 Responses to “Superhero Nation’s Exam for Novelists”

  1. Elisaon 05 Sep 2008 at 2:12 pm

    They are really useful except they are REALLY long!

  2. Jacobon 05 Sep 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for your feedback, Elisa. I’ll look into splitting this article. At the very least, I can separate the fantasy-specific and superhero-specific questions from the general-interest questions.

  3. Anonymouson 27 Sep 2008 at 6:47 pm

    If you answered yes to more than fifty of these questions, I advise you to please go down to your local hardware store, find the the THICKEST wooden dowel you can get your hands on, buy it, and then procede to shove it up your…

  4. B. Macon 27 Sep 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Making 50 would be an impressively bad achievement. By my count, Eragon breaks only 32 (8 of which were somehow related to his elves and dragons), and it’s hard to imagine a book any worse than Eragon. (Except for Atlanta Nights, which was specifically written to be bad).

    But some of these are so serious that you’d only need a few to get rejected. For example: stilted fantasy language (“is it not?”), secret family members, self-gazing, Chosen Ones, cryptic characters, Mary Sues and using invented language either unnecessarily or too quickly.

  5. Bretton 29 Sep 2008 at 7:15 am

    How do you determine whether a character is a generic “chosen one” or if he is actually an in depth character (complete with flaws), who just so happens to have been given a powerful gift so that he can or cannot choose to protect the world from evil? (Incidentally, my hero actually does have that choice and at one point, teeters toward it.)

  6. Bretton 29 Sep 2008 at 7:39 am

    Oh, and how can you tell if you’re using invented words too quickly? And are you counting place names or just objects, languages, etc?

    Example: My first fictional location, Haphaor (roughly analogous to Egypt), is metioned in the second paragraph first chapter. However, it is not truly key to the story, except that it establishes ancestry that becomes important later. My first fictional place that is important is Apollos City (roughly analogous to your average American city), where the hero grow up in its suburbs. It appears in paragraph 3. By contrast, first fictional object name (a weapon called a Hydrospehere assault cannon) appears around paragraph 5, and my first elvish word (Pirta-Jianai, half-elves) appears around paragraph 41. YOur Comments?

    (Note: all paragraphs were counted by the computer and may include lines of single dialogue, although for the most part these are well-formed chapters.)

  7. B. Macon 29 Sep 2008 at 12:10 pm

    That is a good question, Brett. When it comes to being a superhero, I think there’s a difference between getting an opportunity and a gift. An opportunity might entail some luck, but it’s mostly the result of the hero’s skills and abilities. For example, one of the Green Lanterns (Hal Jordan, I think) became a superhero because he impressed an alien with his integrity and competence. Diana became Wonder-Woman because she won the Amazon trials. There was some luck involved here– the alien happened to see Hal Jordan, and Diana was an Amazon to begin with– but mostly these characters shaped their own destinies.

    In contrast, a Chosen One is born into an extremely lucky position. For example, Superman was born super, better than human in every way. Eragon is born into a position where he will have a dragon ally, the ability to use magic and tremendous respect because of his birth rather than anything he has done.

    I think that what you have in mind might be a middle ground between these two ends of the spectrum. For example, Peter Parker wasn’t born super, but he was sort of Chosen for greatness because he was in just the right spot at the right time to get bitten by a radioactive spider. His story mitigates the chosen-one element because Peter Parker is generally quite unlucky. Even after he becomes Spiderman, not much goes well for him– he lets his uncle get killed, he struggles to hold down a job, and his efforts to be a hero have dire consequences for his loved ones. Even though he didn’t really choose to be super, his choice to be a superhero has proven an unusually difficult one.

  8. Bretton 29 Sep 2008 at 12:52 pm

    You say not to introduce fictional words/languages, etc. too quickly. What exactly do you mean by “fictional words”, and what is “too quickly”?

    Example:

    My first fictional place name (Haphaor, roughly analogous to Egypt) appears Chap. 1, paragraph 3, and my first fictional weapon (a hydrosphere assault cannon) appears chapter 1, paragraph 6. By contrast, my first elvish word doesn’t appear until paragraph 41, (Pirta-Jianai, half-elves). What do you think? Also, a friend of mine has told me that i might be describing the action scenes with too much detail. How do I keep from drowning the audience?

  9. Bretton 29 Sep 2008 at 5:28 pm

    And the fictional word issue. Please and thank you!

  10. Bretton 29 Sep 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Oh, and when I said chapters here-

    quote: “(Note: all paragraphs were counted by the computer and may include lines of single dialogue, although for the most part these are well-formed chapters.)”

    I actually meant paragraphs.

  11. B. Macon 29 Sep 2008 at 5:35 pm

    A fictional word is any that you invented for the book. For example, Aslan and Narnia and hydrosphere assault cannons are fictional words. My initial impression is that introducing the country’s name in the third paragraph might be too soon. It’s hard for me to gauge without reading the first three paragraphs. I suspect that it would probably be worthwhile to spend more time building up a character or scene before introducing big-picture details like the country’s name.

    But that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Some authors– particularly Terry Pratchett– have extraordinarily interesting countries. If you’re confident that your country is an effective focal point, naming it early on should work. If your first page only mentions the country in passing, I’d really recommend moving it back.

    I don’t have any problem with “hydrosphere assault cannon” in paragraph 6. The phrase is evocative enough that 100% of readers will be able to deduce that it’s a weapon. In contrast, the next time you mention Haphaor, your readers might not be sure whether it’s a name or a country or something else entirely.

    As for 41 paragraphs, that’s probably deep enough so that you can safely introduce the race. However, I would caution that readers might not remember what a Pirta-Jianai is. I suspect they might get confused as you add more races into the mix.

    As for pacing fight scenes, I’d recommend looking at this article and this one. Generally, I’d recommend focusing on writing fight scenes as the climax of an action chapter rather than the meat of the chapter. Otherwise the fight will probably feel like a list of hits the hero is landing on the villain and vice versa. I’d also recommend cutting out unnecessary extras. Beating on henchmen is rarely dramatic.

  12. Bretton 29 Sep 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Actually, it was more of a series of fights between Alex and his rival cousin (which have become dramatic because of their recent empowerment.) No henchmen or real villains get involved until later. Also, I might move back the mentioning of Alcastria (country where Apollos city is) because its only there so you know where they live. I can afford to move it. As for Haphaor, I have it there to establish where Alex’s human relatives are from. Do you think it needs moving? It’s not terribly important where his dad is from until MUCH later, and I already have it mentioned somewhere else.

  13. Bretton 29 Sep 2008 at 6:53 pm

    What my friends literally said was something like:

    “You’re describing stuff that you’d have to be director of the movie to get done. Its not easy to describe, or read, in words. Leave room for the imagination.”

  14. Brett Lon 24 Oct 2008 at 11:45 am

    My story is similiar to other superhero stories but it has a MAJOR twist. Is this ok?

  15. B. Macon 24 Oct 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Possibly. What’s the twist? There are some that are undeniably intriguing, like the supervillain being the main character. On the other hand, although it would be definitely unconventional for all the characters to be squirrels or psychotic garbagemen, I think either story would be difficult to sell.

    If you feel uncomfortable giving away the twist in a public setting, you might feel safer mailing it to superheronation–at–gmail–dot–com and we can handle this through emails.

  16. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 24 Oct 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Number one on the superhero questions list is just like saying:

    “Come to my secret underground lair, where you will get past my carnivorous moles and survive the swinging axes. Then you shall proceed to kick the hell out of me and slam me into jail!”

  17. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 24 Oct 2008 at 5:04 pm

    My supervillains don’t do anything that’s on the list. If they even came CLOSE to number two, they’d say:

    “But before I kill you, I want you to watch me burn the planet!” THAT is evil. Saying “I am your father”, or “You were a robot all along” is just helping them. At least they know, so they can go get counseling after they kick the marbles out of the villain. And if it’s something like: “The magic serum that made you super is just sugar water”, well then, how the heck did the hero learn how to turn invisible?

    14 sort of applies to my character, but he has a lot of trouble seeming human, despite being raised in a human society.

    For 21, I like to think I have a bit of both. For 19, mutants have no part in my book. The closest thing is the girl whose vision was enhanced because of a muckup in surgery. For 22, he has his family, school and work, with very few epic brawls. I don’t even plan on one at the climax, just a one on one with a lot of tension. Probably more about wits or intimidation than smacking eachother around.

    For 23, the answer to each one is “nope”! It’d make it way too wacky for my setting.

  18. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 24 Oct 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Oh, you know what you should do? Make an interactive version or this, like the Mary Sue test but for books. Then it gives out a number to be compared to a list, so people can see whether they need to fix it up or not.

  19. B. Macon 24 Oct 2008 at 5:13 pm

    That’d be really interesting, if I could get together someone technically skilled enough to code it.

  20. B. Macon 24 Oct 2008 at 8:45 pm

    I have a rudimentary version up. Please see it here.

  21. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 24 Oct 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Awesome! I took it and got 76%. I don’t think that’s too shabby, compared to the first thing I tried to write. Don’t even ask. It was chock full of Mary Sues and I was too attached to let them die. Eventually I got sick of them all so blew them up with a rogue dynamite stick. Now I haven’t opened the file in upwards of four years.

  22. B. Macon 25 Oct 2008 at 7:24 am

    One thing I don’t like about the quiz-creator I’m using now is that it can’t code for answers that worth different amounts of points. In actuality, using a character’s reflection in a mirror is an instant-rejection regardless of anything else, but we can only give people 0 out of 1 point or 1 out of 1 point for it. Also, I’ve had some trouble with questions where I allowed for multiple correct answers.

  23. Ragged Boyon 25 Oct 2008 at 11:49 am

    Yay, I got a ninety-three but the question about the lineage of a main character is wierd to me. My book isn’t of the fantasy genre so I’m not as cliche. In addition, the character does not get to live the fancy life, he is forced by his parents to work as a castle servant and keep his royal blood secret to his siblings. I think it’s different and it works better for him when he later rebels against his family and spills the beans.

  24. Cadet Davison 25 Oct 2008 at 2:09 pm

    We tried to stay pretty broad in the quiz (at 46 questions, it’s already laborious). However, if we had tried to be more comprehensive, we might have noted that having abusively strict parents is a symptom of Mary Sue characters. It may help to try to develop the parents’ perspective a bit more so that it feels like they’re less mindlessly evil. Is there a good reason they have it in for their son? Readers don’t necessarily need to sympathize with the reason, but it will probably make the family feel more three-dimensional if there’s at least some pretense for their nastiness. (Ironically, giving them a reason to dislike their son will also make the son more likable).

    For example, I think Harry Potter handled this pretty well; Harry’s adopted parents hated him because he was a wizard and part of a significantly weirder way of life than theirs was. The Dursleys still came off as nasty, but in a slightly more believable way.

  25. Ragged Boyon 25 Oct 2008 at 2:27 pm

    They don’t do it becuase they hate him, they do it to keep a scandal a secret. If news got out that that the Queen of Emeralice had a child with anyone other than the king they would be denounced from the throne and ridiculed for the rest of their lives. That’s why he’s a secret, but becuase his mother loves him she keeps him close by having him work in the castle where she lives. Nice twist?

  26. Cadet Davison 25 Oct 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Being an illegitimate child is also a symptom of Mary Sue characters. However, I think the illegitimacy angle is a step in the right direction.

  27. Bretton 25 Oct 2008 at 5:05 pm

    The flaw in one of your questions (the second love-interest question) is that my character first falls in love with her because she’s hot (he’s a guy after all), but overall, he stays in love with her because of her personality. Your question doesn’t account for this.

  28. Bretton 25 Oct 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Also for this question:

    “If you’re writing your book with a sequel in mind, will your conclusion for this book be satisfying?”

    No matter what i pick, it says it’s wrong.

  29. Bretton 25 Oct 2008 at 5:16 pm

    despite all this, i got an 83. Oh Yeah!

  30. B. Macon 25 Oct 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Yeah, see my comment at 7:24 AM. Originally, I had coded two correct answers for the question about sequels. I had meant a testtaker to get a right answer if he said either that he wasn’t doing a sequel or that his sequel would have a satisfying ending. But unbeknownst to me, when a question has more than one correct answer, the test will only code for a correct answer if the answerer picks ALL of them. Erk. I’ve since rewritten most of the questions to have only one correct answer.

  31. Bretton 26 Oct 2008 at 4:41 am

    What do you think about this situation:

    “main character first falls in love with girl because she’s hot (he’s a guy after all), but overall, he stays in love with her because of her personality.”

  32. B. Macon 26 Oct 2008 at 5:02 am

    Ack, I’m so bad at romances. … I’m leaning towards saying that she is too dependent on her attactiveness. Your main character has probably met many beautiful women in his life, and probably some even more beautiful than her. So why does he fall in love with her? That’s where I think personality and her capabilities come into play. If she has something going in both of those areas, then it probably won’t matter that she’s attractive.

  33. Ragged Boyon 26 Oct 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Aaw, you know when there is a group of hot girls and then there is that one that stands out to you, it’s all about personal opinions on what you think is beautiful is a girl. I know i’m a big fan of that weird beauty, where there is something that is slighty off but it works, like the big forehead of Rihanna. Alex probably felt that she was more approachable than other girls, becuase you know when girls are surrounded by their friends making it hard to talk to her.

  34. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 29 Oct 2008 at 3:39 am

    My main character isn’t like James Bond with all the girlfriends, but I am a little concerned about something similar.

    In the first book Isaac gets a girlfriend, but finds that he isn’t that attracted to her. At the same time, she sees him as a trophy boyfriend. Their relationship will end by the middle or end of the book.

    Isaac has a mild crush on his friend Rachel, but has stepped down because his friend James called “dibs” on her when they were seven, and (being an honourable guy) he sees it as binding forever. Rachel’s feelings are more sisterly than romantic, and James has long since forgotten about the “dibs”. I was thinking of adding a bit of tension by him believing that Isaac called dibs, so he doesn’t make a move either. Meanwhile, Rachel is frustrated because neither of them seem to be interested.

    In the second book, another girl comes along, who he gets more deep feelings for. After the day is saved, they get into an argument and don’t see eachother until the next book. I’m also considering that the two hide their identities from eachother so that they don’t risk giving away the other’s identity if captured and tortured. (I think it also helps remove the whole “he loves her because she’s pretty” thing, and give her some proper traits like common sense and a love of her life). They meet up as members of NINE in the warehouse, and see what the other really looks like. She gets somewhat distrusting of him, though, as he had told her he was twenty when he was really sixteen. (It was to draw suspicion away from his age group so that he wouldn’t be suspected if evidence began to point to him). Isaac gets similar distrust for her, in that she’d said she came from a poor family of thieves when her dad was really a executive for an entertainment company.

    So, altogether, his relationships with girls are: one who he isn’t overly fond of but dates for a short while, one who he has mild feelings for but refuses to make a move on, and one who he feels quite close to but argues with. Of these three, he only kisses the first, and (maybe) the third.

    Does it seem like he’s being a bit of a 007, or should it be mostly okay? Thanks!

  35. B. Macon 29 Oct 2008 at 4:52 am

    “In the first book Isaac gets a girlfriend, but finds that he isn’t that attracted to her. At the same time, she sees him as a trophy boyfriend. Their relationship will end by the middle or end of the book.”

    That sounds interesting. I like the twist that it’s the main character that’s being treated as the trophy.

    “Isaac has a mild crush on his friend Rachel, but has stepped down because his friend James called “dibs” on her when they were seven, and (being an honourable guy) he sees it as binding forever. Rachel’s feelings are more sisterly than romantic, and James has long since forgotten about the “dibs”. I was thinking of adding a bit of tension by him believing that Isaac called dibs, so he doesn’t make a move either. Meanwhile, Rachel is frustrated because neither of them seem to be interested.”

    If I could draw a perhaps fanciful comparison, this feels a lot like a telekinetic character that has the ability to rearrange the villain’s organs. When the villain is two minutes away from destroying the world, why doesn’t the hero instantly win the battle by crushing his windpipe? At that point, relying on something internal like “he’s too moral to do that” is pretty flimsy. Here, relying on something internal like Isaac’s attempt to live up to a request his friend made when they were seven, that his friend doesn’t even remember, is also going to feel flimsy. (It may even feel like he’s making excuses to avoid asking her out). If James’ relationship with Rachel were more significant and recent, I suspect that Isaac’s feelings for her would be more dramatic.

    In the second book, I think it will be OK to introduce another potential love-interest, particularly if the first two girls have disappeared from the story. In real life, people move on all the time.

  36. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 30 Oct 2008 at 12:55 am

    Thanks for your suggestions!

    I thought that too many female characters were treated as trophies, so I made her highly fashionable with a mother who was a model. Then when Isaac pops up and starts doing heroic things, her first thought is “A superhero boyfriend would be the ultimate accessory”. It doesn’t matter to her if she can never tell anyone else (not even him) that she knows, it’s the awesomeness of having something so extremely rare to take out. Basically, he holds no more value to her than a pair of shoes or a bag.

    The first girl is gone by the second book, but Rachel is still there, just not as much as the new girl is. I’m always changing character names and appearances, so tomorrow Rachel could be Tina or Sammie. Let us now call them Girlfriend, Friend and Potential GF.

    Girlfriend leaves (Not sure how yet, probably a modeling gig), Friend stays and Potential GF comes to Isaac for help. He helps her, they argue, she leaves. Then Isaac meets her in the warehouse when they both join NINE.

    Your thoughts?

  37. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Nov 2008 at 1:28 am

    Could I get away with neglecting grammar if the characters were using instant messaging? Instead of “How are you today?”, “hw r u 2dae”. I don’t want to get rejected because my characters are grammar-hating teens. Haha.

    Also, I want to cut to something one of my characters writes, a short story that’s no more than nine hundred words long. Seeing as Isaac is getting a rapidly increasing fanbase, there are websites popping up that are dedicated to him, such as fanart, fanfic, photos, archives etc. I want to show one of each at some point in the series.

  38. B. Macon 02 Nov 2008 at 8:03 pm

    TRW, that’s a good question. Let’s say you’re writing a chapter in the frame of an e-mail or text message. I think it would be OK if the characters took linguistic liberties that a narrator (or maybe even a speaker) couldn’t. But the trick would be taking liberties without making it look painful. For example, “hw r u 2dae” would probably be too hard to read. But something like “Sup?” would have the same casual air without looking too jarring. I’d recommend erring on the side of readability.

    I’m very pleased that your story has a growing fanbase! Please let me know if you ever need beta-reviewing assistance in a more protracted manner.

  39. Ragged Boyon 02 Nov 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Yo TRW how did you get your story out for people to see?

  40. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Nov 2008 at 11:54 pm

    No, you’re mistaken. I meant that within the story he has a rapidly increasing fanbase. Even though it’s not mentioned in Spider-Man, he’s bound to have a few websites about him by the people who he has saved. Only one of my friends knows that I’m writing a book. But I’ve written about 34000 words now, and soon enough I’ll need a beta reviewer.

    There is actually one way to get your story out. It’s called fictionpress.com, and you could use it, but I don’t. I keep my stuff to myself for as long as I can before letting anyone even know the title. I don’t even have a workable title at the moment.

  41. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 02 Nov 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Actually, two of them know now. They’re very excited though, so my book has a mini-fanbase. I’m excited about my friend’s ideas, too. She has an outline which she would like me to turn into a story for her, about her characters. I’m hoping for my other friend to be my artist.

  42. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Nov 2008 at 12:02 am

    Then again, I guess the fanbase IS rapidly increasing. It DID increase by fifty percent today! Haha!

    I’m not writing to get fans or fame or anything like that. It was a goal I set as a child, to write and get a book published, and I want to follow through. I will not quit until my last breath.

  43. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 06 Nov 2008 at 3:38 am

    Does the “secretly family members” question count if it is immediately, completely obvious that two characters are related? I’m talking “Wow, you’re my dad/mum/sister/brother”, the second they meet, not at the end when they’ve known eachother for a considerable amount of time and one just says “Luke, I am your father”. Also if the second character to be introduced is only brought in when they meet their relative, not giving a full book or chapter to introduce them.

    “Hi, I’m Barry, and I’m your brother.”

    “Nice to meet you, I’m Fiona, your sister.”

  44. B. Macon 06 Nov 2008 at 7:07 am

    If they find out they’re related almost immediately after meeting each other, I don’t think they’re secretly related. So that shouldn’t be a problem.

  45. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Nov 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Oh, good. I have something like that, and I know it’s cliche, but it has to happen for the story to work.

  46. B. Macon 07 Nov 2008 at 5:31 pm

    OK then. I agree that it’s kind of cliche, but I suspect it’s not so cliche that an editor would put a gun to your head and say “change this or the contract gets it.”

  47. Bretton 09 Nov 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve been working on a way to make my character distinct from “The Chosen One”. As I was doing this I noticed that with most Chosen Ones, we aren’t told WHY they were chosen. So I came up with a reason for Alex to be chosen, as well as reasons why some of his seemingly more competent friends were NOT chosen. Here’s what I’ve got:

    Alex was chosen because it was foreseen that his particular lineage, virtue, and powers would make him the best fit to bond with the phoenixes, as well as the most likely to succeed as Emissary.
    Amorelia was not chosen because of her non-combative nature.
    Whit was not chosen because she was too unstable.
    Edmond was not chosen because he was fully human, and thus his corruption potential was greater than Alex’s.

    What do you think?

  48. Ragged Boyon 09 Nov 2008 at 2:59 pm

    It seems like he still a Chosen One, in my opinion. Probably because it is foreseen that he is the best choice, instead of Alex having to make himself the best choice. Does that make sense? Maybe if you had some others students, besides his friends, who were also possible candidates for phoenix-ship, that would give Alex a chance to prove himself. Thus, it wouldn’t be like everything was just lined up for him, he would have to work for it, if that is his dream.

  49. B. Macon 09 Nov 2008 at 3:24 pm

    I think Ragged Boy has this dead-on. Alex’s lineage and powers are beyond his control (you’re either born with them or you weren’t).

    I agree that the element of competition could give him a chance to prove himself. Even more effective than the administrators telling Alex why he was chosen would being us see why he was chosen (for his demonstrated virtue).

    For example, in an intense moment, Alex might act more purely than the more corruptible Edmond.

  50. Bretton 09 Nov 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Who could I offer as prospective competition? Should I invent another character or modify one of my more flexible ones? What if I made his cousin Karen the “back-up”? Her powers and lineage are similar, so she might also be a good fit if Alex fails. Also, an element in the story is that a kid named Freddy could possibly fill the position, but is too much of a goofball. Your thoughts?

    I have the following down-
    In any given situation Alex will act:

    more aggressive than Amorelia

    more stable than Whit

    more focused and intense than Edmond. I won’t neccessarily say “purer” because Edmond is the “White Knight” of the group and Alex is the “Dark Knight”. But because of his intensity, Alex would be harder to decieve. Think of it his way: If you’ve seen Justice League Batman is darker than Superman, but in the Justice Lords universe Superman was actually corrupted first. Also Batman was the one who stopped Superman from killing Darkseid.

  51. Ragged Boyon 09 Nov 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I think you could modify one of your characters to be in competition as well as add an “ideal” rival. That one asocial cool guy, who all the girls love but he’s too focused on being the best to realize. Like Sasuke with a twist. I think at least three “mentionable” competitiors is a good number.

  52. Bretton 09 Nov 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Interesting. Do you think the above statements will work?

  53. Ragged Boyon 09 Nov 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I think it could work, but if you did you’d have to make sure the character is a likely candidate, not just some person who barely got by. Karen would be a good rival, but they might ruin the truce she and Alex made earlier. If you didn’t want to use her, I think your story could handle one more new character. I also think Amorelia would be a good candidate, I think her lack of aggressiveness would be more beneficial to her. Wouldn’t they want a phoenix that has more refinement as opposed to one who gets angry all the time. Making her one would also add to the dramatic potential between Alex and Amorelia, he doesn’t want to hurt the girl he likes (or loves), but he want to be a phoenix

  54. B. Macon 09 Nov 2008 at 5:59 pm

    A few random thoughts, Brett…

    –I think Freddy could possibly work as competition. I’m not familiar with an antagonist/competitor whose defining characteristic is goofiness. But I think that it could work if we had some reason to believe that it would be wrong for him to win. That will raise the stakes for Alex to win. If readers don’t mind too much that Freddie wins, he probably wouldn’t be an effective competitor character, I think.

    –I would recommend merging Edmond and Freddy.

    –I think that having a backup character like Karen would probably reduce the stakes. Even if Alex fails or dies, there is someone else to take over for him. (It would also make Alex seem less important). If there is a backup, I would make it a competitor like Freddie, so that Alex has to worry about whether the team is actually cohesive. The reason I don’t like Karen is that I expect that (post-truce) she will essentially just be another assistant to Alex. But Whit and Amorelia already sort of fit into that role.

    Let’s say Alex is selected to be the leader and you want to give him a subordinate. A uniformly friendly leader-sidekick relationship is not very interesting. One twist you could use is that the sidekick disputes the fairness of the selection process. For example, perhaps he thinks he’s the victim of something like racism because he gets passed over because the teachers think that humans would be too easily corrupted. I’d be angry, especially if there were some way in which I were demonstrably better than Alex. Over the course of the story, Alex would have to demonstrate to his doubting sidekick why it was he that was chosen. Alternately, he may fail to convince the sidekick, which might either get the sidekick killed or corrupted to the dark side. (The dark side option is a little cliche, but not too bad).

  55. Bretton 09 Nov 2008 at 8:55 pm

    I see your point. In that case, I will stick to my original plan for Karen’s character. That being after the truce she doesn’t show up again until Alex’s coronation where she does two important things:

    a. She becomes Alex’s regent. Alex can’t take care of the day to day business of ruling personally because he has school. Karen has a private mentor, so her schedule is more accommodating and Alex finds her trustworthy.

    b. She initiates a conflict with Amorelia that will not be fully played out until later. (You broke my cousin’s heart!)

    Your thoughts on her character arc?

    As for merging Edmond and Freddy, I’ll see what I can do, but it may be difficult to reconcile Edmond’s nobility of name and character (Seriously, he’s got a name like Edmond Labelle du Bonhomme) with Freddy’s goofiness. Maybe if I played Edmond as Alex’s potential replacement/successor and made Freddy a lesser character. This would also give more potential to their White Knight/Dark Knight relationship. Also, it might get problematic because Edmond’s only powers are the ability to change his appearance (mimic people) and the ability to change objects into weapons. You couldn’t get any farther away from Alex. If a lack of stronger powers could be a stumbling block, making Edmond Alex’s competition could be fruitful.
    Your thoughts? How would I introduce such competition? Should it just be mentioned to Alex “By the way if you fail, Edmond picks up the slack but he might not be as good”?

  56. Bretton 09 Nov 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Also, I was originally going to include a Redwallish poem in the prologue that specifically (though not explicitly) refers to Alex. Would recommend removing this? I am considering it.

    I also have other things that were “left behind” for Alex (divine weapons) that he has to look for. Should these things be “coded”, for lack of a better word, for him because he was the first choice or should they be more general so others could potentially solve the riddles?

  57. B. Macon 10 Nov 2008 at 1:22 am

    I haven’t read the poem you have in mind, so please take this with an appropriate grain of salt. Poetry is generally very different than prose and appeals to a different (and probably smaller) group of people than your action-oriented novel probably will. If you think that you can write poetry that appeals to your core audience as well as the rest of your story does, it may work. More likely, I think it would be safer and easier to abandon the poem and perhaps the prologue altogether. Prologues can be very tricky because it’s very easy to get bogged down in backstory. (Also, prologues tend to use a more heavy-handed narratorial voice).

    You’ve probably already explained this a few times, but I’ll ask just to clarify. When Alex goes off to school, what happens to Karen? It might be efficient to keep Karen as a character at the school (given that the book spends time introducing her in the first few chapters), probably in place of one of the less important of Alex’s friends (like Whit?) If she is there when Amorelia breaks Alex’s heart, Karen’s outrage will probably be more immediate and dramatic.

    Also, I think that Karen’s character arc is fertile because she adds something to the Amorelia-Alex relationship.

    As for Alex and his competition… if Edmond is Alex’s competition, I would recommend pumping up Edmond’s powers considerably. I think it would reflect best on Alex if he were less powerful than his competition. That will give Alex more opportunities to prove that he’s impressively cunning/tenacious/wily/etc.

    I’d recommend leaving the weapons open to anyone who solves the riddles. That way, if you wanted to mix things up, you could give Alex different obstacles. Instead of having to solve a riddle to obtain one of the weapons, he might have to win it from someone who solved the riddle first.

  58. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 4:33 am

    Actually, the prologue and the book blurb you helped me edit are one and the same. I’m now thinking that it might be redundant to have it in two places, so I may well abandon the prologue. It accomplished nothing except massive foreshadowing and was actually a more helpful reference to me than the reader. It’ll probably go away in revising. As for Karen, she also goes to the Academy, but is assigned to a mentor (think jedi master/padawan relationship here) because she has “special” powers. That’s why we don’t se her until later.

    Whit is actually important in a later character arc involving a bunch of other people. It’s really like three interlocking stories. During this story, Edmond gains new powers. I must now go to breakfast, but I’ll explain more in a second post.

  59. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 6:15 am

    Ok. I’m back. So let me explain this plot web that will be a centerpiece during Volume Two. (For perspective, I am now writing books 1-3 of volume one.) It will involve Alex, Edmond, Whit, Felisha, Lupus Cane, Sara Martius (sister of Agent Enigma), Lisa Rattler (friend of Sara’s), and a kid called Shirai Vipera. If this sounds like a ridiculous amount of characters for one subplot (not to mention that Alex is still dealing with Amorelia’s rejection), it’s because this is actually the intermingling of the 3 separate, yet intertwined subplots: for authorial purposes I have named them the Traitor sublot, the Shadru subplot, and the Lupicanth subplot.

    First, let me explain what Shadru and Lupicanth are. They have quite an origin story but the short version is that the Shadru are my take on vampires and the Lupicanth are my take on Lycanthropes. Now, since these three subplots are all intertwined I will attempt to explain them all at once. Stay with me, this could get a little confusing since I don’t have the time or space of a book to explain it. I will use markers- (T), (S), (L), when something belongs to one of the 3.

  60. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 6:19 am

    Oh, Shadru and Lupicanths hate each other.

  61. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 6:49 am

    (T)- Shirai Vipera is a kid who befriends Alex, but some of Alex’s friends (Whit, Sara, Lisa) think he’s creepy and don’t trust him. Alex thinks that Shirai is cool and defends him to his friends. Alex then notices that Shirai is slightly morally ambiguous. He also notices that Shirai has something in common with his friend Felisha: pointed canine teeth. He thinks nothing of this at first. When he mentions his teeth in front of Felisha however, she gets nervous and slightly pale.

    (L) Lupus Cane, the Second Master from earlier, is a Lupicanth, one of the last if not THE last. His people were massacred in a genocide by the Shadru under their leader Ducal Valdar, and Lupus’s wife and child were killed before his eyes. This deepened his hatred of the Shadru into an unrelenting loathing. Whit factors into this because she is half elf and half Volpnik. Volpnik are a subset of Lupicanth that are not like wolves, but foxes. Whit’s father survived the genocide but was murdered. He was shot by two arrows: one from an elf who despised racial mixing, and one from a Shadru. That is why Whit hates purebreds. Because of their mutual losses, Lupus sees Whit as a sort of foster child. Lupus is also slightly unsure of Alex, and doesn’t think he has waht it takes to fulfill his coming duties.

    (T/S/L) Edmond and Freddy are looking around for Shirai and find him in his dorm room. The door is closed and locked, so they go to the window. There they see something that shocks them (Shirai has no reflection?). They run and tell Alex, who now knows what his “friend” really is, having been told about the Shadru by either Lupus or Gabriel. Alex confronts Shirai, who reveals that not only is he a Shadru, he is Ducal Valdar himself! He offers Alex the chance to join him, but Alex refuses. They then fight, and Alex begins to lose until Whit arrives and helps him. Valdar then flees the Academy, stealing a boat. Lupus is enraged to find out that his sworn enemy was able to infiltrate the Academy so easily, and is slightly angry that Gabriel’s divinity did not allow him clairvoyance. Although he is disappointed that Alex could not defeat Valdar, he is understanding and begins to be convinced of Alex’s competence. He begins to see Alex as another foster child.

    (S) Later, a dark stranger arrives at the Academy and demands to see whoever is in charge. He is shown in to the presence of Gabriel and Lupus Cane, who allows Alex and Whit to sit in, treating them with slight favoritism. The stranger reveals himself as a Shadru and Lupus nearly loses it until Gabriel calms him down. The Shadru gives his name as Dorian Darksnatcher. He is the leader of a sect of Shadru who do not follow Valdar. He came to warn them of Shirai’s treachery…too late. He then says that Valdar will return. Two of the Academy’s students (Alex and Karen during their training) killed the fire demon that the evil Shadru once worshipped, and their blood is required to revive it. Dorian and his troops will gladly stay to help repel the invasion, but Lupus does not trust him. It is then revealed that Dorian is Felisha’s father. Felisha’s true name is Ninelives and she kept her Shadru lineage a secret to prevent suspicion and distrust. This causes tension in her best-friendship with Whit.

    I must stop here for now to go to class. I SHALL RETURN!

  62. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 9:05 am

    Ok. I’m back.

    (S) Dorian’s Shadru troops arrive the next night and hide throughout the city. (Shadru skin is sensitive to sunlight. It will kill infants and make small children sick but will not harm older Shadru beyond an allergic reaction.) The Knights are given orders not to harm any of the shadowy strangers, but are not told what they are. Dorian strategizes with Gabriel and Lupus, again with Alex and Whit sitting in. They decide that an attack on the Academy will most likely come at night because that is when Shadru are most active. That is also when Dorian’s troops will be most effective. Any attack during the day must be repelled by the Knights’ forces. The next day, Alex is walking around doing his normal schedule, when he keeps noticing heavily robed figures dashing about the city and the Academy. At first he believes them to be Dorian’s men, but then he remembers that Dorian’s men are never out in sunlight. He, Whit, and Edmond lay a trap for two of these figures, who are revealed to be an elite group of Shadru who can move in sunlight when heavily robed, under the command of Ducal Valdar, who is once more within the city. The two are taken to Gabriel, Lupus and Dorian.

    An order is sent out for knights to apprehend all heavily robed figures. They find four more, making six altogether. Dorian recognizes them all: Katblack, Demnas, Hallespon, Jaklan, Krystallia, and Caligula. Caligula especially remembers Alex from the night he killed Gehennite because Alex stole his deerskin to make a sword sheath (Alex did not know it belonged to him at the time). Only two are missing: Ducal Valdar, and Jaklan’s pet ghast-jackal Alucard. This makes Dorian nervous. That night, Valdar opens the gates of the city and prepares the way for a Shadru invasion. The Elite silp away from their guards and join him. This was expected however, and Lupus and Dorian engage Valdar. The two do not fare well as Lupus is past his prime and Dorian is not as powerful as Valdar. Eventually, Lupus is gravely wounded and Dorian must fight alone until Alex and Edmond show up and help turn the tide. During the battle, Valdar reveals that even though the other Shadru fight to avenge Gehennite, he has a greater purpose (to serve Valigroth) and renews his offer for Alex, as well as Edmond, to join him. They refuse again. Soon the Shadru invasion is foiled and Valdar must retreat. (I am considering also showing what happens to Karen during the invasion, since the Shadru are also searching for her.) Lupus is sent to the infirmary to recover from his wound, and Dorian is impressed with Alex’s bravery, and is especially impressed with Edmond. So impressed that he offers to confer his powers upon Edmond. They perform a short ceremony and Edmond gains a Shadru power upgrade. The extent of his powers may go beyond ordinary Shadru abilities because he is already exceptional.

    [Would you reccommend that this boost make him equal or greater than Alex in power?]

    (L/S) In the next volume, Lupus is near death. He calls ofr Whit and Alex to say goodbye. He now has gained complete faith in Alex, and is confident in him. So that the Lupicanth bloodline will not die, he clasps his right hand in Alex’s and says a short prayer. When he releases Ale’s hand, there is a small wolf-paw mark. Lupus has now ensured that the Lupicanth bloodline will be continued in Alex, and dies in peace.

    [This proposes two problems: 1. Lupus’s last words implied that he wanted Alex to marry Whit. That’s a problem obviously. 2. Alex is now a lycanthrope.]

    (L/S) Alex and Edmond discover their new Shadru/Lupicanth abilities. Edmond thoroughly enjoys his new powers. Due to his human blood, he can switch them on and off and use them in the daytime with no more adverse affect than a headache afterwards. Alex’s new abilities cause him trouble. He cannot control the switch. His new powers cannot be used during the daytime, and at night, the Lupicanth in him completely takes over, causing dramatic physical changes, mood swings, and the complete inability to use his fire powers. Whit loves this and is even attracted to Alex in his wolf form, but Alex is frustrated that he cannot control himself. This problem will not be resolved until MUCH later.

    (L/S) Alex and Edmond are later sent with a task force chosen to perform duties that are related to a completely different sublot. While there, they meet Valdar again, and engage him in combat once more, with Alex seeking to avenge Lupus. The battle goes fairly evenly until the sun sets and the moon rises, and Alex turns into a savage Lupicanth. The tide then turns against Valdar. (Whit may enter here, revealing that she has a comparable “fox form”.) The two (or three) then corner Valdar, but cannot agree on whether or not to end his life because that is one of the Knights’ universal rules: “only kill when necessary”. They argue over what “necessary” is. Whit wants to kill him, Edmond wants to capture him, and Alex is in the middle. They will then probably inadvertantly (or purposely) cause the ambiguous death of Valdar (a la Ra’s Al Ghul from Batman Begins- “I’m not going to kill you, but I don’t have to save you.”). They then leave. Valdar is assumed dead, Katblack takes charge of the Shadru (he was watching the battle from a distance, but didn’t help because he wanted Valdar to die), and Krystallia turns to the “light side” because she was never at peace with Shadru “virtues”.

    In summary: Valdar is dead, Lupus is avenged, Dorian and Krystallia are allied with the Knights, Edmond is more powerful, and Alex has MORE issues. Edmonds powers are advantageous over Alex’s because he can control himself, while Alex is now something of a Jekyll/Hyde, albeit still good. Oh, and Whit is attracted to Alex-wolf.

    Your thoughts? I welcome them.

  63. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 9:06 am

    Please dont be scared by my long list of comments. You can take them in pieces if you like.

  64. Ragged Boyon 10 Nov 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I read the whole thing and I have to say that I’m impressed. At first, I thought it was a little Harry Potterish but, upon further reading I realized it was quite distinct. It seems like you’ve really accomplished alot.

    How long have you been working on this?

    Personally, I don’t know what their powers are besides Alex’s fire. What are they?

  65. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Nov 2008 at 8:35 pm

    R.B, I recommend looking at this:

    http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_(Term)

    It has full information on RPG style magic used in Final Fantasy games. If you can get ahold of it, I also would suggest playing Final Fantasy X on PS2. I regularly look at characters on the website for costume inspiration. Search Zack Fair, Yuffie Kisaragi, Cloud Strife, Ashe, Yuna, Rikku, Tidus, Auron, Vincent Valentine and Sephiroth. http://kingdomhearts.wikia.com is a sister site, and you should look up Sora, Riku, Kairi, Roxas, Namine and Organization XIII on it. They all have pretty cool costume designs. You should play Kingdom Hearts as well. It may seem a bit kiddie, having Disney characters in it, but I swear to you that the first game is extremely difficult.

  66. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Nov 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I think that telling the reader the colour of a character’s eyes is often unneccesary, but I find that it can sometime be used to dress up a line:

    “Who exactly are you?” she asked.

    She looked into his jade eyes, as though she may find an answer to her question there.

    He shook his head, letting his gaze slip from her to the sparkling lights of the city that sat eighty stories below.

    “I don’t know.”

    I have something similar written for my next book.

  67. Bretton 10 Nov 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Why thank you. Could you explain what reminded you of Harry Potter? I haven’t read it so I wouldn’t know. I have been working on this entire series for something like 2 and a half years maybe? I’m not sure. Some of this stuff isn’t that old though. This entire plot started by me saying, “hmmm, could I take the idea from that cool movie my science teacher told me about (underworld) and modify it for my book?” It’s evolved greatly from there. Some stuff I make up while I post it. Sometimes I know point A and point B, but I have to build the bridge while I type.

    As for their powers, here’s the breakdown. I’m assuming you want Whit’s as well. (Ask if you also want any additional characters.)

    Alex: creation/manipulation of fire and the obvious flight component.
    Lupicanth “Upgrade”: takes over at night and nullifies Alex’s fire. He then gains animal instinct, enhanced senses (especially hearing and smell, night vision), enhanced agility, strength, speed, stamina healing factor, sharp claws and teeth, prone to savagery.

    Edmond: Ability to mimic the appearance of others, camouflage, and the ability to morph objects into weapons.
    Shadru “Upgrade”: Enhanced vision, enhanced agility, strength, speed, stamina healing factor, the ability to sense and track someone through their blood, mental domination over the weak minded?, now near-unlimited shapeshifting.

    Whit: super strength, agility, speed, titanium claws, heightened hearing, smell, and vision.

  68. Ragged Boyon 10 Nov 2008 at 9:16 pm

    TRW, what’s funny is that I’ve played and beaten both Final Fantasy X and both Kingdom Hearts (KH is not hard, it’s easy on Hard). Final Fantasy X on the other hand was a little difficult. You make a really good point their use of magic is awesome, but I need to expand it, I think. What I have to do is give the magic a more stand alone thing, instead of coupling it with advanced combat. I do want combat, but I want the magic to rule over the fighting.

    Brett, Your story isn’t all that Harry Potterish, but there are some aspects that are. A werewolf teacher that dies, An evil villian posing as a student (as a teacher in HP), cloaked figures (but I’ll probably have those too) that’s about it. I hardly think readers will think of HP when they read your story.

    Haha, I know that movie Underworld and I can definitely see the impact on your story.

    Wow, that’s a long time to be writing a story, I wish I could have stay focused on one project long enough, but I think I will on this one. I like this story I’m doing now even though I just started it.

    They have nice powers (I would spice up Whit a bit though). I would like to know Amorelia’s powers too. As long as there is alot of diversity in powers in a story I like them.

  69. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Nov 2008 at 11:23 pm

    I find KH1 harder than KH2, but I’m not that big a player of games. It’s KH and Final Fantasy for me most of the time, but sometimes I play other things. I haven’t even touched the PS2 since beginning this writing project! Haha.

  70. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 4:41 am

    Oh, I left out Whit’s fox form. It advances her normal abilities, gives her a faster healing factor, increases her height, strength, etc.; and gives her the ability to sense the location of Shadru and other Lupicanth/Volpnik within a certain radius. For Whit, I was aiming for a female take on Wolverine with a completely different personality. I may add to her powers, but I’d have to find something that fits with her motif.

    Amorelia:
    She can communicate with all animal life, she can transform into any animal (especially mythical creatures), She can choose to adopt the attributes of an animal without shapeshifting, she is extremely skilled in Jioniskor (Elvish martial art that allows the user limited manipulation of the 3 primal elements: force, matter, and energy), she fights with heart-shaped blades and swords (not really a power but hey), as royalty of the Adamari tribe she has a strong spiritual connection, and finally, her bloodline is bound to a stone that gives her the ability to transform into a lesser phoenix (purple).

    Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

  71. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 5:31 am

    TRW, I have a stupid X-Box (I hate swhooting games and war games) and I miss my RPG’s. PS2 why did you desert me? WHHYYYYY?

    Amorelia sounds really cool. And with the her kuni (fox) form Whit also sounds interesting. It’s about time I went into major development, I’ve got alot of work to do. Well it’s just me and the compostion book, time for “Laying out the story”

    You probably want B.Mac to review your stuff. B. Mac, where are you? Brett posted some stuff.

    WHOOOOO, smoke signal, flare gun, fireworks, naked woman. That got your attention didn’t it.

  72. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 6:08 am

    LOL! Thanks, but I appreciate your help too.

  73. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:54 am

    Kingdom Hearts has one of the most beautiful stories ever. Everything about it is just so perfect. The Heartless, Organization XIII, the Keyblade every aspects is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever cried over a video game, but I did at the end of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. Bravo, Square Enix.

    I hope soMeday I can channel my creativity into something so great. Then again Square Enix has a large group of creative minds plus tons of experience.

    Darnit, now I’m thinking of changing my story. I think I will. I am such a flip-flop.

    Damn you, changing interest you strike yet another blow of inspiration.

  74. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 8:26 am

    I suggest you write down your multiple ideas and work them all at once. If you get writers block on one, you can switch stories, and then come back.

  75. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 8:56 am

    I think B.Mac’s been kidnapped. lol

  76. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 11:40 am

    He’s probably with family for Veteran’s Day. Eating some tortured animal sandwich with tortured animal sauce.

  77. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 2:57 pm

    You speak like a vegetarian.

  78. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Are you? Because I am, and it would be kinda funny if two black vegetarian writers happened across the same website.

  79. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Yes I am a vegetarian. What a coincidence! I don’t think I can be one for much longer though, my mom is very opposed to it. All my friends are vegian’s (as I call them), but me and another friend are being force to give it up.

    I don’t really talk like a crazy vegan activist, I became a vegetarian because I think it’s a cool lifestyle and it’s healthy, torturing animals is horribly bad but that’s not the main reason I became one.

    Your black? I thought you were some kind of foreign kid, like indian or asian.

    Are you classified as an “oreo” like I am?

  80. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 3:33 pm

    How can you be “forced”? If you don’t want to eat it, dont let the mamke you! Fight the power! : ) I’ve been a vegian since birth pretty much.

    Yeah actually, I am black, and yes some would call me “oreo”, but it doesn’t bother me. I know what my ethnicity is.

  81. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 3:37 pm

    “The Day Superhero Nation Stood Still”

    we were the bad ones and thusly we were “left behind”

  82. B. Macon 11 Nov 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Veteran’s Day on Tuesday, the USMC Birthday on Monday (which is an intensely big deal), and National Novel Writing Month all month long… yeah. That, and I haven’t felt the compelling urge to write any articles or many comments over the past few days.

  83. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 4:03 pm

    My mom says vegetarianism goes against God, because he made meat for us to eat and refusing it is bad. But she’s not going to buy anymore vegetarian stuff and cook a bunch of meat, so I’ll have to eat. I’ll hold out for as long as I can but it’s pretty inevitable. It’s okay though, I’ve only been a vegian for like five months, so I think my body can still accept meat, if not I’ll just have to throw up a few times.

    I’m cool with being an oreo, blacks cast me out of the race a long time ago. Now they wonder why I act so “white” and psychotic.

    I hate Rap, R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul all that. I NEED guitars in my music and screaming doesn’t hurt either. Also being a model and actor(not to sound superficial or conceited), I’m not into trendy fashion i.e Coogi, Miskeen I prefer Brad Butter and Miami Ink that explains the white.

  84. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Oh, crap B.Mac’s back

  85. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Yay

  86. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Ok. You’re starting to sound like the TDK Joker now. But anyway, vegetarianism is NOT against God. He never intended for his creatures to be eaten. Carnivorism is a result of sin. Have your mom read Genesis 2:16 and/or Genesis 1: 29:

    “And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.(A) You shall have them for food.”

    SEE?

    Oh, and Yay B.Mac has returned! *celebration ensues* Let’s have an Elvish banquet! Oh wait, that’s a story-killer. Nevermind.

    If you would please, could you read, or skim, what I wrote above? Much appreciated.

  87. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 4:15 pm

    That’s ok, I hope you feel better.

    We were just having idle chit-chat

    Brett, did some posts above though. And I’m thinking of changing my story again.

  88. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Come on, Brett

    “Why So Serious?”

  89. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 4:22 pm

    “I have one rule!”

  90. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 4:25 pm

    “What’s that Batty?”

  91. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 4:25 pm

    You’ll probably be amused to know that some of my friends call me Batman.

  92. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 4:47 pm

    “Oh come on, the pendulum of doom? So cliche.”

    *Throws batarang and slices off pendulum blade as it reaches the end of its arc, thus causing it to fly across the room due to its own inertia leaving the poor innocent unharmed. Then entangles Joker in projectile net.*

    “That was too easy.” *hauls Joker up to fire escape* “Where are the other victims?”

  93. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 5:10 pm

    “You’re such a killjoy, you think I’d be that crude, Batty you are too predictable, when you destroy my pendulum, you activated the joker venom is that young ladies blood, in one minute she’ll laugh her self to death”

    ” As for the rest of your little friends, their on that blimp across town, See”

    *Points with a loos finger at a huge blimp across the city*

    “I think a modern Hindennburg explosion would be enough to send any Bat over the edge, HAHAHAHAHAAA”

    “Desicions, desicions Batbrain, the girl or the people? Either way I’m satisfied HAHAHAHA”

  94. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 5:30 pm

    *reaches into utility belt* “Joker venom antidote. Never leave home without it!” *administers syringe* Now, you’re going to tell me where the detonator is, or I’m going to drop you off of this fire escape!”

    (Btw, I love how whenever we get bored we turn Superheronation.com into one huge RPG.)

  95. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 5:40 pm

    “Batsy, I’m shocked, you’r turning more psychotic by the minute, and here I thought the Bat never killed HAHAHA, you’re already looking as pale as me”

    “The detonator is on the blimp, of course better hurry, all those people and no air-conditioning, once the temperature in that blimp hits a certain degrees”

    “Blammo, bye bye Gotham’s elite HAHAHA, Get moving those people are a little HOT-headed when they have to wait HAHAHHAHA!”

  96. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 6:01 pm

    “Don’t worry. From up here the fall won’t kill you. I’m counting on it!”

    *Drops Joker*

    “I’m coming back for you brokenlegs. Don’t go anywhere.” *Calls batwing and flies over to blimp*

    “The blimp is filled with highly flammable Hydrogen gas! If I attack a cable to the cabin and secure it to the ground, I can then begin slowly releasing air from the balloon. Unless there’s poisonous gas mixed with the hydrogen! Ok, new plan!”

    *fires grappling hook and anchor. Engages winch and lowers balloon to the ground. Calls batcave.*

    “Alfred, load the batmobile with compressed oxygen. Lots of it! I don’t thing the batwing’s life support systems will be enough!”

    “Very good, sir. I suppose you shall explain this madness after you save countless lives. Compressed oxygen ready sir.”

    “Excellent Alfred.” * calls batmobile. Attaches pump to balloon, filling it with compressed oxygen which reacts with the hydrogen gas to form… harmless H2O.*

    “Alfred, tell Wayne Aerospace I want that thing on a one-way deep space ticket.”

    “Excellent, sir.”

    “Now to get back to the Joker.” *gets in batmobile and drives away.*

    “Well, It looks like you’ve failed again Joker. You’re going back to Arkham.”

  97. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I’m a vegetarian too! Haha! And I agree that Kingdom Hearts is beautiful, I absolutely love it!

    Sora: “I’ll come back to you! I promise!”

    Kairi: “I know you will!”

    And when Sora mocks Leon: ” ‘We may never meet again, but we’ll never forget each other’.”

    Yuffie: “Is that supposed to be Leon?”

    Haha. I love those games! KICKAR*E!

  98. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Wow. a bumpercrop of vegetarians.

  99. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 6:19 pm

    “What Joker? No comeback? No punchline? Usually you’re not this quiet.”

  100. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:21 pm

    *dummy lays on the ground with twisted legs*

    *Tape Recoder*Oh Batty, you’ve stopped yet again. Don’t think this the end. Look up”

    *Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, Ragdoll, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, and Bain stand on the fire exits above Batman*

    “I’ve put together quite the party haven’t I Batman, and I be delighted if you joined the festivities HAHAHA!!”

    All the villians jump down poised for attack

    “This little party oughtta knock you dead for sure HAHAHAHA!!!

  101. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:25 pm

    the ending theme, tear jerker:

    “When you walk away”
    You don’t hear me say
    Please, Oh baby
    Don’t Go

    Simple and Clean is the way ,
    that you’re making me feel tonight
    It’s hard to let it go

    And Kingdom Hearts Two was even better with”Sanctuary”

  102. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Yeah! I have that on my iPod, along with Passion (Couldn’t get the English version of Sanctuary, so I got the Japanese one) along with Utada Hikaru’s “Flavor of Life” and “Heart Station”. On top of that, I have the orchestrated theme which plays after Simple and Clean finishes. Yup, I’m a total KH junkie! I also have “Otherworld” and the “Hymn of the Fayth” from FFX on my phone, along with “Real Emotion” and “1000 Words” from FFX2 (In English and Japanese), “One Winged Angel” from FF7 and the victory theme from all the games. Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dundunah!

  103. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Geez, talk about a fanatic.

    I wonder how did they come up with such a perfect game.

    “A scattered dream that’s like a far-off memory”
    “A far-off memory that’s like a scattered dream”
    “I want to put the pieces together”
    “Your’s and Mine”

    I Love that so much, I’m going to watch it on Youtube right now!”

  104. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:40 pm

    That last part was meant to be the victory theme. Haha, I wish I could fix an audio link. Another thing is that I know all the lyrics to every one of the listed songs!

    One Winged Angel is the creepiest battle music ever!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM4SWWumZdU

    The way he puts his hand on the handle of his sword in Kingdom Hearts makes me nervous because he could pull it out at any second and attack.

  105. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:41 pm

    I know! I’m a total fan! Haha, Sora and Kairi FOREVER!

  106. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Sephiroth was easy as hell to beat when I got to level 93.

    One Winged Angel is kind of lame. But I love all the other music of FFX (my fav FF game) and KH.

  107. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 7:15 pm

    “Ok. seriously. No one’s head explodes like that. I didn’t even slam it that hard. And there was no laughter. There’s only one explanation…the reality warping powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk!”

  108. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Man, Beyonce is so hot!

  109. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 7:37 pm

    B.Mac, welcome back!

    *And the world of Superhero Nation continued its normal orbit around the Internet Sun*

  110. B. Macon 11 Nov 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I liked Kingdom Hearts, but if you’re not adverse to heavy profanity, check this out.

  111. B. Macon 11 Nov 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Hey, Brett.

    One of my main impressions was that some of the new names are not quite clicking with me. In contrast, I really liked Whit, Alex, Sara, Lisa, Felisha, etc. They are strong and short, and use combinations of letters and sounds that are mostly familiar and easy to read.

    In contrast, I’m not a huge fan of Shirai Vipera, Lupicanth, Ducal Valdar, Shadru, Volpnik, Dorian Darksnatcher, Katblack, Demnas, Hallespon, Jaklan and Krystallia. My initial impression is that these names will be hard to remember. I like the name Alucard, but it’s already been used by a few vampire stories (possibly because it’s Dracula backwards?)

    Having not read your story, this is again just an impression, but I suspect that it will be difficult to tie the Shadru vs. Lupicanth conflict into Alex’s story. (This may be because I’m not exactly sure what’s going on in each volume. I think that’s one of the reasons that reviewers will often wince at the prospect of a potential sequel). I also feel that the Lupus Cane figure has a few striking similarities with Remus Lupin from Harry Potter, such as being a werewolf and a teacher at a highy fantastical academy. The element of death also factors heavily; pretty much everyone in Remus’ family dies (including him and his wife), which might feel similar to Lupus Cane being one of the last survivors. The concept of werewolves having a grudge against vampires has also been used before, though not by HP.

    I would recommend cutting the group of six knights down to 4-5.

    The Shadru invasion seems like a pretty removed tangent.

    Making the main character into a lycanthrope is something that seems kind of out of the blue and is a major change for the character, I would imagine. I suspect that it would be more dramatic if Alex knew what he was getting into and volunteered to help continue their bloodline.

  112. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Okay I’m trying to describe a weapon that I made up, but it’s really hard. It’s funny because the weapon is very simple in appearance, but that makes it extremely hard to describe.

    Ok, imagine a lightsaber, now get rid of the hilt and just keeps the glowing blade. Make the color orange. Now imagine the blade stretching width-wise to the width of a sheet of paper plus a little bit more, but keep the regular length of the lightsaber. now imagine a small gray cylinder big enough for a hand to hold it. Now go to the middle of the side of the blade and move the cylinder down until the blade so that it is clost to, but not at the bottom. insert the cylinder here and leave a rectangular space for the hand to hole the hilt. Now this blade has no cutting edges and the ends are rounded. I doubt you’re imagining it right but there you have it, I call it an Emotion Blade, this one (orange) is Joy.

    Don’t worry. I’ll draw it up and post it.

  113. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Oh my God that is freaking hilarious

    “It’s all anime bulls**t, with their hands on their hips” That is soo funny. My mom is eyeing crazy from laughing so loud.

  114. Ragged Boyon 11 Nov 2008 at 8:10 pm

    I agree though, I hate the first part of KH2 it takes forever to get past that stupid part, even though Roxas is awesome.

  115. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Thank you B. Mac. Let me explain. Lupus Cane is not a werewolf because he is always in his lycanthrope form whereas werewolves switch back and forth. That’s sort of a major difference.

    As for Lupicanth, and Volpnik, those are species names, and not too crucial to remember because the reader will be constantly reminded of them. I wanted names that would suggest wolf and fox respectively, without being hackneyed. Shadru was meant to imply shady, dark, and evil. It evolved from the word Shade –> Shadar–> Shadru. Suggestions are welcome here.

    As for Shirai, his name started as Vipera Berus (scientific name for a snake) then a friend suggested the name Shirai. I may keep just Berus. My reason for choosing a serpentine name was to imply that he was a traitor. Suggestions on traitorous names? Nothing too obvious though, like Judas for example.

    As for the following: Ducal Valdar, Dorian Darksnatcher, Katblack, Demnas, Hallespon, Jaklan and Krystallia, let me explain myself.

    Ducal Valdar = anagram of Vlad Dracula. Also subliminally brings to mind Darth Vader.

    Dorian Darksnatcher may be over the top. What if I changed his name to Dorian Gray, or Dorian Shade?

    Katblack- I needed something treacherous again. Treachery–>Bad luck–> black cat–> Katblack

    Demnas- I gotta admit. It just sounds cool. I might need to change it. Suggestions?

    Hallespon- evolved from the word Hellspawn. COuld you suggest another name to imply evil and sadistic?

    Jaklan- evolved from the word jackal, as in his PET ghost jackal, Alucard. I think you missed that Alucard is a pet, not a person. I purposely chose the name Alucard here as another subtle nod to Dracula.

    Krystallia- let’s just say her name evolved from that of a girl I know and leave it at that. This is probably the most flexible name and the one that may need the most change. She does carry a weapon named the Crystal Spear however.

    As for the Traitor/Shadru/Lupicanth subplot being a tangent, I think it is a very useful one. It develops Alex, Whit, Lupus Cane, and Edmond, and expands on their relationships. It could potentially reintroduce Karen, and it does actually have a connection to the overarching plot. While DV (Ducal Valdar) leads the Shadru with the pretense of resurrecting the fire demon they worshiped, his true allegiance is with Valigroth. He has one great objective: to turn Alex to “the dark side” by any means necessary. He follows the powers of darkness without question or remorse. He also has a touch of Hitler in him if you compare the Lupicanth genocide to the Holocaust. I would welcome suggestions on how to bind this “tangent” closer to the main plot.

    Your thoughts?

  116. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Also, this plot resolves Lupus Cane’s doubts that Alex is the correct choice.

  117. Bretton 11 Nov 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Oh, and those six aren’t knights, they’re the elite Shadru. If you’re worried about name-throwing, They don’t have too many speaking parts. However, If you believe it is absolutely necessary to pare down the group, I can get rid of Jaklan and make Alucard someone else’s pet.

  118. B. Macon 11 Nov 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Lupus Cane is always in his lycanthrophic form? Hmm. So he’s a walking, talking wolf? I vaguely remember we took a question about something kind of similar before on our part-time dragons page. Ah, here it is. You may find that discussion applicable to your work, even though the character isn’t a part-time wolf.

    In place of Shadru, what would you think about calling them Shades or wights? I feel that Shadru (and Lupicanth and Volpnik) are slightly overwrought. I’ll demur on a suggestion for Lupicanth and Volpnik because I’m not exactly sure what they are. If a Lupicanth is a wolf that walks and talks (like Inuyasha), I’d recommend calling them lupines.

    I like Berus a lot. I think it’s a lot easier on the eyes than Shirai. You might want to spell it Berrus, but the difference is very slight.

    Since there are many characters here, I’d recommend keeping all of them to one name to reduce the memory strain for readers.

    One of my concerns about Ducal Valdar was that it sounded a lot like Darth Vader. The anagram with “Vlad Dracula” is neat, but I suspect it’s not something that would add to the reading experience for most readers. If you’d really like a name that combines V and D, I’d recommend Devin or Voldo.

    As for Dorian Darksnatcher, I agree that may be over the top. However, if you’re OK with giving him just one name, I think Dorian or Darian would work.

    As for Katblack, I think the black cat reference is maybe a bit too obvious. When you say this character is treacherous, do you mean more like a Wormtongue or someone likely to stab a dagger in the back or something else entirely? If you like mythological references, you might appreciate the two-faced Janus here (but if you use Janus, I would recommend tweaking Berus so that it doesn’t end with ‘us’ as well).

    I’m having trouble articulating why Demnas is not clicking with me. I like Desnid or Estin a bit better, but that’s still a strange combination of letters/sounds in the middle.

    For evil and sadistic, what would you think about Nake or Prawn?

    Alucard is maybe not the most effective name available. I don’t know if that’s different for a pet, but generally speaking I think that naming characters to make an homage generally doesn’t work out very well (see #4 at the bottom of this article).

    Instead of Krystallia, what would you think about something more direct like Pierce? That’s a bit striking for a female warrior, but that might be mood-appropriate.

    To tie the tangent closer to the main plot, I’d recommend adding a common link at the villain level. For example, you might try something like this. (Adjust details as necessary to adjust for my incorrect understanding of the plot). DV drops the pretense of the fire demon and is openly there to make a hard, hard sell to Alex. Something like this: “we have your teachers, loved ones and other innocents hostage. If you join us, we will let them go (eventually).”

    I’d recommend losing the fire demon pretense because it seems more removed from Alex, who is the center of the book. Making Alex the objective of this plot will make the plot coherent, I suspect. The fire demon pretense also adds a layer of deceit and deception that is unnecessarily confusing, I think.

  119. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 4:30 am

    Ok, for Katblack. When I say treacherous, I mean Starscream “I wanna be leader but I can’t kill this guy” treacherous. At the point in the book where DV dies, Katblack does absolutely nothing to save him. He even checks to ensure he is dead, and then declares himself the new Shade leader. (I think I’ll go with shade. I just hope I don’t get clobbered ’cause of Eragon. That’s not quite the same type of Shade.) But yeah, his name could stand a change. Since DV is a Dracula spin, could I perhaps rename Katblack as Orlock (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlock)? Or for a HUGE twist, how about Helsing? And as long as we’re going on the vampire theme, Why not rename Krystallia as Mina?

    And as for “dropping the pretense”, DV does just that at one point.
    “During the battle, Valdar reveals that even though the other Shadru fight to avenge Gehennite, he has a greater purpose (to serve Valigroth) and renews his offer for Alex, as well as Edmond, to join him. They refuse once more. ” See? If you think he should drop the pretense earlier, I have a reason he would not. You see, the Shades were made what they are because of Valigroth. That being said, despite them being evil, they would be none too excited about serving him.

    Also, the “fire demon” pretense is not to removed from Alex. He and Karen are the ones who killed it during their training. Remember from chapter 3?

    “Alex and Karen fight, then later learn to work together to defeat the pyron Gehennite. ” Gehennite IS the fire demon. After defeating it, Alex was cocky and carved the symbol of the Knights on its head. They were seen by DV and the Shades. The Shades wanted revenge and DV saw an excuse to infiltrate the Academy with hopes of turning Alex, while leading the other Shades on with the promise of using his blood and Karen’s to revive Gehennite.

    Alucard is not copyrighted, per se. It’s been used by several people. If you could come up with another name to suit a ghost-jackal, I’d be grateful.

    Your thoughts?

  120. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 4:43 am

    Also, how about the name Daevil for Hallespon?

    Also, at one point I felt the urge to reveal that DV is Dorian’s father. You’ll most likely be glad to know I resisted that. lol

  121. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 5:17 am

    Or maybe I could recycle the names of some of the dragons I axed?

  122. Ragged Boyon 12 Nov 2008 at 3:41 pm

    OK I’m working on another story. It’s not so much a new story as it is my magic story with some major changes. As a matter of fact, I won’t be doing that many changes but I am changing the magic tone in the story.

  123. Ragged Boyon 12 Nov 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I’ll be adding some factors that I’ve actually had stored in my head for a long time now. Emotion (I’ll explain later), The Fakes, ……Uum……ummm…..

    Well the I can’t think of the stuff right now, but it’ll come back to me later and I’ll write it down.

  124. Jacobon 12 Nov 2008 at 4:32 pm

    In the Max Ride trailer, the special effects look a little bit cheesy. Those buildings look fake and the pacing didn’t help. And I think that the Max Payne trailer used wings more effectively. They created a mood.

  125. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 4:33 pm

    The Fakes wouldn’t happen to be thinly disguised Heartless, would they? Cause that would be a BAD idea.

  126. Ragged Boyon 12 Nov 2008 at 4:34 pm

    No because the fakes are actual people.

  127. Ragged Boyon 12 Nov 2008 at 4:45 pm

    I thought it was for a cheesy movie-based video game. MBV’s almost always fail to live up to the movie itself.

  128. Jacobon 12 Nov 2008 at 4:46 pm

    This movie stuff seems kind of tangential to novel-writing stuff, though. I’ll create a new forum for movie-related comments.

  129. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Also, when you return B. Mac, please see my comments above. Anyone else is also welcome.

  130. B. Macon 12 Nov 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I kind of recommend against appropriating names that have been used by books/works that are similar to yours. I think Alucard and Hellsing are too recognizable as a name used by someone else. Even outside of legal considerations, it might be problematic because it will taint your character with what the readers knows about the other characters. If your character is not like Alucard (ahem, he’s a pet) or Hellsing, the reader might get disorientated. The worst case scenario is that readers assume that the character named Hellsing is actually the Hellsing, which would be confusing as hell.

    Having not read the Eragon series (except a speed-run through the first book), I’m not familiar with the Shades. Eragon is pretty well-known, so if they use Shades that are remotely similar to yours, a better name is probably available.

    I’m kind of struggling to sort my way through the names here. Would I be correct to translate your sentence as “During the battle, the leader of the vampires reveals that even though the other vampires are fighting to avenge the fire golem, he has a greater purpose (to serve the great villain). So he renews his offer for the main hero as well as a minor hero to join him.” ?

    OK, Alex and Karen kill the fire demon in chapter 3, before they go to the academy. Around what chapter were you thinking about having the vampires come back to avenge him? Moreover, what’s the connection between the vampires and the fire golem? How did the vampires see them? Etc.

    What do you think about “Snarl” or “Ripper” for the Jackal? I’m kind of drawing a blank here. My head hurts considerably.

  131. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Actually, there is only one shade in Eragon and he’s completely different (a wicked sorcerer possessed by evil spirits). So there will be no confusion there. I have gotten over my concerns.

    What do you think of Katblack –> Orlock and Krystallia –> Mina?

    “During the battle, the leader of the vampires reveals that even though the other vampires are fighting to avenge the fire golem, he has a greater purpose (to serve the great villain). So he renews his offer for the main hero as well as a minor hero to join him.” This is a correct interpretation.

    The vampires return to avenge the fire golem in Volume two. this is to allow time for DV to infiltrate the academy, get entrenched, etc. The vampires waited this long because DV promised to deliver them both Alex and Karen to use their blood in a revival ceremony, which may or may not actually be doable. DV has another purpose altogether.

    The vampires worshiped the golem as a false god. They saw Alex and Karen kill it while watching from the trees. The reason they did not interfere was because it was something of a spectacle (let’s watch our god devour them!) After Alex and Karen won. many of the vampires were enraged, but nonetheless scared of a being with such powers (fire is very damaging and slightly scary to Shades, thus they worship something made of fire.)

    I will now insert a quote from chapter 4:

    [Alex and Karen landed, taking in the full scene of their victory. The volcano had ceased to erupt, it had no fire left. The earth had ceased to quake with the roar of explosions. The mountain had ceased to glow, and now they stood in front of the largest fragment of their defeated adversary– the gargantuan, disembodied head. There was still a faint red glow in those eyes that had teased Karen beneath the lava, but soon that too faded. Alex drew his sword ceremoniously. “Even though we’re not Knights yet, it seems only right,” he said. He walked up to the stone that was once part of the great monster, and used his sword to carve the Telessar Glyph into its forehead– The Sign of the Phoenix, and the Mark of the Knights. “There!” Alex said triumphantly. “Now our work is done.”

    Alex and Karen left Mount Chaelfjir with a sense of pride and accomplishment, but as they celebrated their triumph, not all were happy in Vilearbor (name of the forest). Some had been watching silently from the shadows as the entire confrontation had unfolded, and they were none two pleased with the outcome. One of the shady figures walked over the Gehennite’s head and gazed upon the symbol etched in it.
    “What is it my lord?” A voice called from the shadows.
    “I fear, my dear Hallespon, that the Dark Flame has been slain. But we shall have revenge my brethren. We know who is responsible. The Knights shall pay dearly for our god’s destruction. They shall pay in blood, young and old, male and female, until all are dead!” There were hisses of agreement among the trees. “And then, once we have had vengeance, we shall retrieve those two, and use their blood to revive the great Shadowblaze!” More hisses of agreement.
    “And one of them took my deerskin to boot!”
    “Silence Caligula! You might be my younger brother, but I may yet add your hide to my collection of pelts!”]

    Do you understand now?

    As for the Jackal’s name, I will change it. Anubis maybe? I’ll find something. Snarl has been used by transformers over and over and over and…
    And Ripper, idk, it just conjures thoughts of Steve Irwin.

    Your thoughts?

  132. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Remind-a-post! : )

  133. Bretton 12 Nov 2008 at 7:31 pm

    With all the things you guys have to keep track of, I figure some stuff must get lost in the shuffle. So I’ll put up reminders once in a while. No rush, I just dont want you to forget.

  134. Ragged Boyon 12 Nov 2008 at 8:58 pm

    I designed this weapon and its upgrade. I need a little help describing it verbally, and any suggestions on improving it would be welcomed. Of course ,the actual blade of the sword is a little longer than illustrated.

    http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=93096544&albumID=2013827&imageID=36506028

    Hmm, I need a phrase. How about…
    Whatcha’ think?

  135. Ragged Boyon 12 Nov 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Feel free to look through my work, it’s a little outdated.

  136. B. Macon 12 Nov 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I think Orlock and Mina are better (ie more obscure), but they’re still not yours. I’d recommend using a name that fits your style rather than trying to draw on past vampire stories.

    Also, I tend to have trouble following the sequences of novels and volumes. It’d probably be easiest for me (and perhaps more productive for you, depending on your writing habits) to work on the first book, finish that, and then work on a sequel. Ironically, it’s frequently easier to write a good sequel to a work that was more-or-less meant as a standalone novel than to write a sequel simultaneously with the original. A novel only needs to leave a minor thread or two– and something not even that much– to launch a sequel. The problem with writing several books simultaneously is most authors tend to leave far too much in the air, figuring they’ll resolve it in the later books. Ick. Villains get left hanging, romances are not concluded, quests are not completed, etc. It’s very rare for a book with a sequel in the works to resolve enough (obviously, “enough” is very subjective, so take that with a grain of salt).

    Readers may find the explanation about the vampires lurking in the trees and not helping as their golem/god gets destroyed a bit unsatisfying. Leaving aside the question of why they did nothing despite being enraged, I think I’d feel kind of puzzled why they’d be worshiping the golem.

    1. A worshipper is always weaker than what he worships.
    2. Therefore, if Alex and Karen beat the golem, they’re also stronger than the vampires that idolized the golem.
    3. Alex and Karen are at the start of their journeys and will surely develop their skills and powers. It seems unlikely that the vampires will become powerful enough to actually challenge either one of them.

    The only easy way I can think of to resolve that is that the vampires were actually worshipping a golem that was weaker than them. That’s kind of unsatisfying.

    Also, I’d suggest making the shades afraid of something other than fire, if Alex controls fire.

    I’m not very fond of the names Mount Chaelfjir or Vilearbor. As readers read through sentences with those words, I feel they will stumble. How do you pronounce Chaelfjir? I feel that Vilearbor has a lot of potential, but the first six letters create a very strange set of pronounciation possibilities. (“Villy” arbor? Vie leer arbor? Vile arbor? Etc.) And, yeah, I notice the “vile arbor” word origin. It might be smoother just to call it the Vile Arbor, even though that adds an extra word and capital letter. Or the Wretched Woods or the Twisted Forest or whatever.

    I like Anubis.

  137. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Nov 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I feel sorry for his daughter. It seems like she’s being exploited ever since her dad died. Plus she’s named after a spiky ball-like weed found in grass which often sticks to clothes on the line.

  138. B. Macon 12 Nov 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Agent Orange approves of this spontaneous spate of gator-wrestling!

  139. Bretton 13 Nov 2008 at 4:45 am

    Oh, you clever little…

    Ok, you caught me. I think I will space the words out (Looks like I’m redrawing my map again…NAHH! I’ll just use white-out. hehe.)

    I think I’ll change my explanation on why they did nothing. Instead of just watching from a distance, they heard the noise and ran toward the volcano, but didn’t get there in time to stop it. As for how Alex and Karen can defeat such a powerful entity, I’m still struggling to explain this. It’s been a pain in my plot for a while now. Obviously they can’t LOSE, or I won’t have a main character anymore! lol Not to mention that all the work I’ve done would be kaput. Need some help here. Well, let me explain how they defeat it. It’s not really a matter of “stronger than”, so much as it is a matter of “smarter than”, if that makes sense. Alex finds out he can not only produce heat, but absorb and redirect it. He then absorbs the beast’s energy and expels it out his other hand, kinda like what Zuko does here: ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztqvLaGE8l4 ). Once he draws away all the energy, it becomes weak and Karen can deliver the final blow. I can send you the paragraph where that happens if you want.

    I actually intended Chaelfjir to be pronounced CHAEL-fyeer or CHAELF-yeer. Maybe I’ll remove the j.

    I intended Vilearbor to be pronounced VILL-lay-ARE-bore.

    Your thoughts?

  140. B. Macon 13 Nov 2008 at 10:40 am

    Well, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the heroes faced the golem early on and lost. When heroes face a major villain early on, they usually lose. You could explain how they survive as a function of the timely intervention of an uncanny escape plan, a contrivance like the timely intervention of a third fighter (which will reflect poorly on the heroes), or the villain lets them go (also not recommended).

    For example, in Superhero Nation the first encounter between Berkeley and the villain features Berkeley getting thrown into a vat of acid. If Berkeley beat the villain at that point, I think his journey wouldn’t be as satisfying. So how does Berkeley survive the loss? Well, we anticipated that readers would want to know why the villain doesn’t check to make sure he’s dead, so we concocted a fairly contrived explanation featuring a chemical explosion related to the vat of acid.

    As for pronunciations, I think the word Chaelfjir might be worth simplifying into something like “Chalenir.” I think that has a similar feel and is a bit easier to read. What do you think?

  141. Bretton 13 Nov 2008 at 11:03 am

    I will use Chaelnir.

    However, I did not mean to imply that it was EASY for them to defeat “it”. It is actually quite hard and they are unsuccessful until Alex discovers this:
    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztqvLaGE8l4 )

    Now what you are suggesting is that they lose the first time, flee, regroup come up with this plan : ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztqvLaGE8l4 ), then fight again and win. Am I correct? If this occurs, will this explanation (and the plot that ensues) still work?

    Quote: “Instead of just watching from a distance, they heard the noise and ran toward the volcano, but didn’t get there in time to stop it.”

    Also, I may add running water to the list of Shade fears. But that might create a problem because the school they’re attacking is on an island. Maybe if I make them fearful of Skanith metal (strongest metal in my known world) because of its properties. It could be a replacement for silver. Or should I just go with silver?

    Your thoughts?

  142. Bretton 13 Nov 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Why is my comment “awaiting moderation”?

  143. B. Macon 13 Nov 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Our spam filters automatically make any post with 2+ links wait for moderation.

  144. B. Macon 13 Nov 2008 at 7:35 pm

    My concern with the fire-redirection scenario is that it’s anticlimactic for Alex/Karen to win at this point. It’s probably too soon for them to be defeating villains.

  145. Bretton 13 Nov 2008 at 7:52 pm

    What are you suggesting I do in that case? If they lose, where do they go from there? Alex’s father is a really hardcore “failure is not an option” type of person. Also, how would I introduce the Shades after this?

  146. Bretton 13 Nov 2008 at 7:57 pm

    not trying to be difficult, I just want to know how I can restructure this if necessary

  147. B. Macon 13 Nov 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Well, Alex’s father would probably get quite upset. He might send them to the academy in exasperation/resignation, perhaps as punishment for their failure. (Or maybe the mother pushes for them to get sent to the academy because the father is on the verge of going apoplectic and she thinks that the kids would be better-served by a less emotional coach).

    As for the Shades, I think that the Shades-golem connection is more tenuous and less dramatic than the shades-main villain connection. If you wanted to make the Shades be largely motivated by their connection to the golem, I’d really recommend introducing them before Alex/Karen fight with the golem. (Perhaps the shades try to pursue the fleeing kids but fail).

    To fix that, I’d recommend putting the main villain’s objectives front-and-center when the shades show up at the academy. The more they’re representing his interests, the more coherent I suspect it will be.

    What do you think?

  148. Bretton 14 Nov 2008 at 5:16 am

    Ah. That will also remove a superfluous deception layer! Thank you. Now, about this “resolving enough in the first book” business. It is true that I leave some threads unresolved, but I do it in a way that’s not obstructive. Furthermore, I feel that the material I DO resolve outweighs what I do not. Also, my book structure is a bit different. There are three books in each published work, so the “book” published is actually a 3-book volume. That being said, If something is unresolved in book 1 and is picked up in book 2, its not a big deal because VOLUME two is the sequel. Here are the plot threads of Volume One in question for your consideration:

    By the end of Volume One-

    Resolved:
    Alex’s conflict with Karen
    Alex’s conflict with The Nuisance
    Alex’s conflict with the Axe Grinders (might be some trouble after, but that’s fine)
    Alex’s mentoring under Maesirturon
    Derivesham the Dragon is dead.
    First run-in with Indarel Valerius (He comes back though)
    Alex fails with Amorelia
    The Triplets see Alex crowned their ruler. May come back…as his secret service! (IRONY)
    Indarel competes with Alex for the throne, loses, he and Alex respect each other.
    Alex is an elf ruler
    Corrupt Politician is caught
    Neverstars are stopped

    Unresolved:
    Alex’s friendship with Berus (set-up for shades)
    Alex is now depressed & emotionally unbalanced because of his failure with Amorelia
    Alex’s status as Emissary remains unclear (They have not chosen him yet. It appears he may not be chosen at all because of his emotional problems.)
    We know the Big Baddie (Valigroth) exists, but his is not named.
    A stranger arrives who sets up the another plot-piece of Volume two

    What do you think?

    Vol. One has four main pieces: Alex vs Karen, Alex at School, Alex & Amorelia, and Royal Alex (Not counting the phoenix-dragon thing b/c the phoenix mentoring falls under “School”, and the dragon dies quickly.)

    Vol. 2 will have three main pieces: Alex vs. Shades, Alex meets the Ptyn-Korians, and Alex & Enigma stop a villain (either a vigilante menace or an evil sorcerer. Help?). The last one may be discarded because my villain keeps changing and it’s kind of a tangent. Im trying to connect it though.

    Your thoughts?

  149. B. Macon 14 Nov 2008 at 10:12 am

    Ah, that may have confused me a bit. If you’re publishing a volume of three books at a time, then maybe you could use a different word in place of the word “books” there so that an editor knows what you’re proposing. (Like acts or perhaps novellas or stories?)

    An editor would obviously be a better person to talk about this than us, of course. However, my impression is that editors may have reservations over how much is left for the second published book (the sequel volume). My main concern would be that the resolutions seem relatively minor to what’s left hanging. For example, in your back cover blurb, when you’re describing what this book is about, would you say that the main quest is Alex realizing his royal destiny? My impression is that becoming the ruler of the elves is secondary to becoming the emissary. If becoming the emissary is the primary quest, it would probably be unsatisfying if readers got to the end of the first volume and hadn’t yet reached a definitive yes-or-no answer on whether he had finally achieved it.

    With a moderately involved rewrite, you could probably shift the focus of the story so that the royal accession quest is more important than becoming the emissary. For example, you could rewrite the battle with the golem into a test of his royalty or authority, his powers might be derived from his royal lineage, he might get sent to a school to prepare him to be royal rather than compete for the emissary spot, etc. I also kind of imagine that the triplets and competing heir would play a more central role.

    Another potential problem is the role of the villain. By the end of the first book, we don’t even know the villain’s name. There is some danger that the readers will look back on the antagonists that he’s bested (The Nuisance, Axe Grinders, Derivesham the dragon, etc.) and feel somehow cheated that he hasn’t really done enough against the main villain. Derivesham is a pretty minor part of the villain’s organization, right? If you planning on having a series with two parts, one way you could possibly this issue is by presenting someone as the main villain that is really Voligroth’s trusted lieutenant. Alex resolves the plot by vanquishing him, but learns only at the end that someone else (Voligroth) was pulling the strings all along. Fade to sequel/TO BE CONTINUED.

  150. Bretton 14 Nov 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Suppose I made the Neverstars out to be the main villain (have Derivesham subservient to them) and then have Torrent reveal that she serves Valigroth? That way, the entire plot would look like the villains were trying to stop Alex’s coronation and gain control of the elves, when in reality Valigroth has a greater purpose.

    Also, how do you think the Neverstars should meet their end? What is your opinion for Torrent specifically? Capture? Escape? Death? Suicide?

    If #1, she’d probably either vanish forever or there would be a jailbreak, which leads us to…

    If #2, She could return
    a. to dog Alex again, but more for personal reasons
    b. go back to serving Valigroth
    c. become a Knight to atone/make up/become Allies with Alex in which case she becomes another love interest beside Amorelia and Whit (see above). This may be a “WHAT THE HECK?” moment for readers though. Unless she turns out to be a spy…cliche.

    If #3, She’s gone for good and Alex either feels justified or has guilt.

    If #4, Alex has exponentially more guilt. It’s a guilt fest. But guilt and depression at once may be too much for him (and the reader) to take. Torrent’s suicide would be dramatic though.

    Your thoughts?

  151. Bretton 14 Nov 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Oh, I forgot, she could still die if 2c occurs.

  152. B. Macon 14 Nov 2008 at 3:04 pm

    If she appears to be the main antagonist for most of the first book/volume, I think it will add very much if she dies or otherwise gets permanently neutralized. I’d recommend against suicide. If you’d like her to die in a way that would make Alex look as innocent as possible, you could have her die as she attempts to escape. People on the run frequently attempt risky, desperate things.

    I’d recommend against a guilt-ridden ending, particularly if the rest of the book is not very angsty. Ending on a lighter note will probably encourage readers to check out the sequel. Also, please keep in mind that pretty much no one will blame Alex, whether he kills her or she commits suicide. If he blames himself heavily for something that the audience feels is morally insignificant, it will feel very Mary Sue-ish.

  153. Ragged Boyon 14 Nov 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Wow, I’ve been gone for a a while. Miss me?

    Ok, after some serious thinking I want to take the overwhelming aspects of magic out of my story. I want combat to be, moreso, weapon-based powers. Like lots of fighting games when each character has a distinct weapon. And, NO!, Brett this isn’t all based off my inspiration from Kingdom Hearts, haha. Each weapon is distinct and gives the user an ability. Although for the most part, I am keeping the story I was working with, modification will be necessary. The thing is I thought of the skeleton of this story a long time ago. I wanted each weapon to be named after an emotion and I still want to keep my dark atmosphere. If you didn’t look at the picture above, good, because I’m changing the main character’s weapon to something unique, any ideas? Glaives, ring blade, boomerang, yo-yo? Whatever it is, I want it to be unique… preferably a weapon not seen very often.

    Suggestions? Opinions?

  154. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 14 Nov 2008 at 5:37 pm

    How about a pike?

    This one has a pointy part at the top, perfect for stabbing. The curved part on the right could possibly be used as an axe, and imagine the part on the left coming down on someone’s head.

    Medieval armies had a bunch of men who had pikes in front of the archers and crossbow operators. They would stick their pikes out at an angle so that no foot soldiers could get near them. This was called a pike-wall. The enemy archers would have to shoot over them or at them to kill someone. But they often had massive reserves of people with pikes, so it was more productive to shoot over them and hit the archers, which was very hard. (I bet I sound like a history teacher, haha. Nah, I read this in a book I’ve got.)

    Or how about a morning star mace?

    I’m having Owlie use a chain whip as a weapon in battle, to supplement her powers.

    On a show I watched, a guy used a chain with two T shaped appendages at the ends. He hit a woman in the side of the head with one, then wrapped his fingers around the edges and used it to strangle her to death. I can’t find a picture, sorry, but it’s easy to visualize.

    What do you think?

  155. Ragged Boyon 14 Nov 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I appreciate your suggestions and I will probably use those weapons, with a glowy, futuristic upgrade, for other characters in my story, but I want the main character to have a short and/or smaller, hand held weapon for more creative use and closer combat. I didn’t know a glaive was big when I typed it, I thought it was the weapon Axel used from KH, a chakram. Well the actual name is a “Wind and Fire Wheel”, but I think Chakram is better, I think I’ll go with that as his weapon, its different

  156. Ragged Boyon 14 Nov 2008 at 8:08 pm

    I like the Chakram. haha

  157. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 14 Nov 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I love Axel’s chakram, that weapon kicks so much ar*e. I want one!

  158. B. Macon 14 Nov 2008 at 9:21 pm

    A chakram sounds interesting and workable. I’m also fond of staffs. An extendable staff is fairly easy to conceal, adjusts to PG and PG-13 fight scenes better than sharp weapons, and is more useful outside of combat than most other weapons. You can’t pole-vault with an AK-47 (unless you’re Abraham Lincoln). Staffs are also more credible than most nonlethal weapons (I like tasers and yo-yos as much as anyone, but no one’s ever going to say that a taser fightscene was incredible).

    I don’t particularly recommend using a weapon because it is exotic and hasn’t been used before, but a belt could be a seriously nasty kind of improvised whip/lasso. In one fight-scene I was toying around with, a fighter who’s horribly afraid of blood is attacked in a kitchen. Surrounded by cleavers and other stabby weapons, he goes first for a rolling pin and uses a pie tin as a makeshift shield and eventually a discus.

  159. Ragged Boyon 15 Nov 2008 at 5:48 am

    I love poles and staffs, but I’ve used those so many time before. I will give one to someone who is very important though. A chakram although not as useful as a staff could come in handy, It was priginally a projectile weapon before with was updated for melee, so it can be thrown to cut things down or, if you want to get creative, make a set of makeshift stairs. I also think it’s a good weapon to represent joy, being circular.

  160. Ragged Boyon 15 Nov 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Yo B.Mac, I’m eager to know when we can expect the next installment of the beta review.

    No rush, I’m just excited.

  161. B. Macon 15 Nov 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Good question. I’m not sure. I anticipate that this project may be spread out over a few months, if that’s alright.

  162. Bretton 15 Nov 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Quote: “Also, please keep in mind that pretty much no one will blame Alex, whether he kills her or she commits suicide.”

    I slightly disagree. Remember, she turned evil because Alex spurned her (and Valigroth murdered her parents). So if Alex doesn’t care if she dies he might come off as callous and not too heroic. Unless I want him to. Hmm…

    Also, how would I introduce Torrent’s backstory? Obviously there’s the mask removal moment, but I’m not sure that’s enough. It’s not like they’ll be chatting in the dungeon right?
    “So, how’ve you been doing?”

    “I’ve been ok. Discovered some powers, obviously. So how did you become evil?”
    “Well, it’s the darndest thing, you see my parents were murdered…”

    Yeah…no.

    If she gets captured, after the fact she and Alex could have a conversation in prison where she tell him her story, as well as reveals Valigroth’s existence. Kinda like the moment at the end of Avatar when Zuko goes to see Ozai. Se the beginning of this video: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00YjNtjHN08 ).

    Your thoughts?

  163. B. Macon 15 Nov 2008 at 5:58 pm

    She may have turned evil because Alex spurned her (in middle-school, right?) but I doubt that many readers will blame Alex for that. First, anyone that reacts that severely to being rejected in middle school was probably messed up before Alex came around. If she later commits suicide, that will probably confirm that she’s a prima donna par excellence (which would further shift the blame for her death from Alex to her). Also, the death of her parents means that the villain is more to blame than Alex.

    Unless Alex was really nasty when he spurned her (like deliberately toying with her), I suspect that readers won’t make much of what he did in middle school.

  164. B. Macon 15 Nov 2008 at 6:04 pm

    As for introducing Torrent’s backstory, if she’s trying to get romantic revenge, it would be fitting if Torrent used her original identity to flirt with Alex in an attempt to break his heart. If he is dating someone else at that point, she could try to get revenge by making it look like he’s cheating on his actual girlfriend. Over the same chapters that plot is unfolding, Torrent would probably be on the scene doing other things that are sort-of-connected to what her alternate identity is doing. As Alex investigates, he may figure out that the alternate identity and Torrent are related (and perhaps he might even realize that they’re the same person). The more he discovers on his own, the better… it’s sort of cliche and unsatisfying when the hero uncovers what is going on when the villain confesses out of the blue.

    At some point, they might have a final confrontation where she reveals what it was all about. However, she’d probably have to think that the conversation will end with him dead (otherwise opening up to him would kind of defeat the purpose of using two identities).

  165. Bretton 15 Nov 2008 at 6:21 pm

    I didn’t think she would be using two identities. How would that work? I thought she would just be in league with Corrupt Politician and kidnap Alex, revealing her identity to him. I hadn’t thought of giving her anything more involved (like deception). How did you see this working?

  166. B. Macon 15 Nov 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Hmm. Let’s say they’re at the academy. She’s there as one of the students in her alternate-identity. (That will allow you to draw on her backstory with Alex and her murdered parents pretty easily). Alex also learns that someone is committing illegal acts in a mask (possibly to frame him), but he doesn’t know at first that it’s also her.

    That would involve deception, but I think it would be easier for readers to comprehend because it puts the scorned lover front-and-center. Then the revelation that she’s really a villain won’t be out of the blue. I suspect that readers will more easily think of a scorned lover as the masked antagonist than that a masked antagonist is secretly a scorned lover.

    What do you think?

  167. Bretton 15 Nov 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Also, I was planning to use the “mole/traitor/impostor” thing with Berus. Doing it twice might make Alex look stupid or gullible. I was going to play Torrent as more of a straight-up villain. Maybe like a female Darth Vader (now that’s scary! No offense to you girl readers) with a twist of Shego.

    Your thoughts?

  168. Bretton 15 Nov 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Oh, and in your idea, how do Alex’s royalty problems (rival, corrupt politician, the kidnapping, the OTHER Neverstars) factor in?

  169. Ragged Boyon 15 Nov 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’m thinking about making my story in first person. I know it would be a fresh look at an action/fantasy story. I could more easily describe a fight, I think. I keep forgetting what I’m going to type haha. Basically, I think it would be an interesting perspective and it is taking a risk.

    I need your help what are some cons and pros of first-person narration, that would probably make a good forum, talking about different perspectives. And what is second person perspective, like someone close to the protaganist telling the story?

  170. Ragged Boyon 15 Nov 2008 at 8:10 pm

    It’s funny how Superhero Nation wakes up at 9:00 p.m.

  171. B. Macon 15 Nov 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Second-person perspective is addressed by one character to another using “you” and “your.” For example, this is how Half-Asleep in Frog Pajamas started.

    The day the stock market falls out of bed and breaks its back is the worst day of your life. Or so you think. It isn’t the worst day of your life, but you think it is.

    Writing (and reading) second-person narration is very difficult, which is probably why it’s used so rarely.

    As for the difference between first and third-person narrations, I think that’s probably worth writing about more extensively. Here, I’ve written an article about it.

    My take is that first-person narration is typically trickier (particularly for beginning authors), but neither type of narration is innately superior.

  172. Bretton 16 Nov 2008 at 5:44 am

    Repost:

    I was planning to use the “mole/traitor/impostor” thing with Berus. Doing it twice might make Alex look stupid or gullible. I was going to play Torrent as more of a straight-up villain. Maybe like a female Darth Vader (now that’s scary! No offense to you girl readers) with a twist of Shego.

    Oh, and in your idea, how do Alex’s royalty problems (rival, corrupt politician, the kidnapping, the OTHER Neverstars) factor in?

    Your thoughts?

  173. B. Macon 16 Nov 2008 at 5:51 am

    Erm, could you remind me who Berus is again?

    I think Torrent could work as a straight-up villain a la Darth Vader or Shego, but if that’s the case, I’d recommend taking out the disguise element and having Alex know exactly who she is and why she’s gunning for him. (Well, he probably wouldn’t know that her parents have been murdered right away. That’s not part of the Alex-Torrent backstory).

    I’m not really sure how the royalty problems fit in. Right now, I’m not sure how his royalty issues and his quest to become an emissary are related.

  174. Bretton 16 Nov 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Berus is the vampire-in-disguise kid.

    Actually, she’s not so much disguised as she is in a different persona. (Kallisto is to Torrent as Anakin is to Vader). As soon as she captures Alex, she removes the mask. Here I have potential for something comedic. The reader will be expecting a standard “I am your… GASP!” reveal scene. But suppose Alex doesn’t recognize her immediately. Sample conversation:

    Torrent: ” Now behold the face of your undoing!” *removes mask*

    Alex: “Um…I’m sorry, am I supposed know you?”

    T: “Yeah, I’m Kallisto. You know, from middle school. Markheim Middle School.”

    A: “Not ringing any bells.”

    T: “Are you sure? Fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade? You must remember me.”

    A: “No, I don’t recognize you at all actually. Oh, wait…were you that creepy girl who was always following me around?”

    T: *sigh* “Yeah, that was me.”

    A: “Wow. From creepy to…creepier.”

    T: “What? That’s it? You’re not going to freak out? Cower in fear? Or at the very least tell me how pretty I look in this form fitting armor that took me a month to make just for you?”

    A: “No.”

    T: “Great. Thanks for ruining our dramatic reunion. I engraved your name on left side of the breastplate by the way. It’s just over the heart, see?”

    A: *looks disturbed* “That’s wierd. And probably unhealthy.”

    T: “So, now that you’ve finally noticed my existence and you know I’m totally obsessed with you, you wanna go out with me?”

    A: “You’ve got to be kidding.”

    T: *sigh* “It hurts just as much the 54th time. On the positive side, I do have you tied up…”

    A: “I think I’ll pass on whatever twisted thoughts you’re thinking. Bye now!” *Burns constraints and runs for life*

    It was a bit long, and Alex would be recaptured, but the point is made.

    Originally, the royalty thing was a prerequisite to his becoming the Emissary. Maybe in order for someone to qualify, they must have royal blood! Edmond does not though, so making him a choice would mean the authorities would have to bend the rules. But hey, they’re more like “guidelines” anyway right? ; ) Of course, Amorelia would still be a valid choice. And so would Whit if you consider that her status as Last Vulpine technically makes her something akin to royalty.

    Your thoughts?

  175. B. Macon 16 Nov 2008 at 5:28 pm

    The first two thirds or so are decidedly funny. It has a decidedly Herculean feel about it. However, as soon as Torrent says “So, now that you’ve finally noticed my existence and you know I’m totally obsessed with you, you wanna go out with me?”, it kind of feels like she knows that she’s a comic caricature.

    I suspect that when he says “No” you may have an opportunity to insert a funny retort or observation.

    I’d recommend taking out the guidelines for royalty if they can be bent away. Setting up rules or parameters that can be arbitrarily ignored is usually not very satisfying. (Also, it may diminish Alex relative to Edmond; it will make Alex’s royal heritage seem like a particularly lucky break).

  176. Bretton 16 Nov 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Haha. Right before I wrote “So, now that you’ve finally noticed my existence and you know I’m totally obsessed with you, you wanna go out with me?” I thought, “Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead.” Obviously, I didn’t. Okay, so when I do this scene, I will make sure it doesn’t break the fourth wall quite as much.

    Perhaps I’ll add a bit to his “No”:

    “No. Maybe I’d be in a more amiable mood if you would offer me some food, maybe something to drink. Oh, and if you don’t mind, could you please be a dear and FREAKIN’ UNCHAIN ME!” Haha. As you can tell, I am fond of sarcasm.

    So royalty is no longer a requirement. Hmm. I will need some other way to link…Wait a moment! Suppose Alex’s original goal isn’t to become emissary because he doesn’t know what/who the emissary is. He starts out as going to school to learn to use his powers, then gets wrapped up in the royalty thing and the villain conflict. As far as he knows, his “destiny” is to become elf-prince. The only people who are giving a thought to Emissaryship right now are the ever-watchful authorities.

    Your thoughts?

  177. B. Macon 16 Nov 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I like your addition to “No.” However, the phrase “and if you don’t mind, could you please be a dear,” sounds very aristocratic (particularly compared to the word freakin’). I’d recommend tweaking the retort to something like…

    “No. I have a rule against dating freaks with chains. It’s never failed me before.”

    I think that starting out with one goal (learning his powers) and switching it with the real goal (becoming the elven prince or the emissary or beating the villain) would work pretty easily. For example, in Harry Potter, the protagonist starts the plot thinking that his quest is just to become a wizard. That’s sort of true, but really he has to learn how to become a wizard so he can defeat the sorcerer that killed his parents.

    So I think your idea– making the hero gradually realize that more is at stake than he thought– is eminently doable. However… for the purposes of plot coherence and clarity, I feel that it would really help to pick between the royalty subplot and the emissary subplot, or somehow tie them together so tightly that they’re essentially the same plot.

    For example, I have this very rough idea that maybe the emissary position is somehow critically important to determining who becomes King, or vice versa. For example, maybe the emissary is the only person that can coronate the king, or maybe the king has an important role in the selection of the emissary. For simplicity’s sake, I would recommend having one of these positions of secondary importance to the plot. For example, if the plot is all about whether the emissary can stop Voligroth, then the subplot would be whether Voligroth can slip in his own king to decide who the emissary will be. Likewise, if the plot is all about who will be king of the elves, then the emissary position should diminish in importance.

    One particular way I might use this outline– and of course there are bajillions of others– is something like this. Feel free to use any/all/none of this as you see fit.
    1. Alex/Karen go to school, ostensibly to learn about controlling their powers.
    2. They gradually learn that it’s important for them to learn to control their powersbecause Alex could be the next King and will likely have to do battle with some impending threat (Voligroth, probably).
    3. The emissary position is a sort of “check” on the monarchy, a way to ensure that disputed successions do not result in civil war. For whatever reason, the emissary has traditionally been very young (because the young have less moral baggage, and are less afraid of making enemies, or whatever). The school is holding a competition to pick the next emissary.
    4. One of Voligroth’s agents offers Alex a bargain: in exchange for some crucial benefit from King Alex, the benefactor will throw his support behind Alex’s bid for the throne. Alex refuses (wouldn’t he?).
    5. After Alex’s refusal, Alex’s antagonists attempt to kill him. When that fails, they attempt to control the competition to name the next emissary so that they can be sure that a more amenable king will take power.
    6. Alex quickly realizes that very few of the emissary candidates are really on his side. (Perhaps the others are elves that look down on half-elves, like the Triplets, or they are tempted by what Voligroth is offering in exchange for their support).
    7. He turns to Edmond, who has a few quirks but is mostly honest and competent.
    8. Alex gets Edmond named emissary. This will probably trigger an assassination attempt on Edmond’s life.
    9. They both survive. Edmond names him King, in spite of the fact that many elves are uneasy about having a half-elf ruler with possibly divided loyalties.
    10. Some obstacle emerges! Either King Alex has to convince his competitor to accept his claim to the throne, or Alex has to defeat the villain, or whatever.
    11. The story ends with Alex defeating Voligroth’s lackey. Only at the end does Alex learn what sort of grave peril faces the Elven nation. Fade to sequel.

    Alternately, you could use Karen in place of Edmond. That would guarantee that she’s relevant, but I don’t think she would be as interesting because she’s related to Alex. Edmond, on the other hand, has nothing but his morals tying him to Alex. That would make their relationship more interesting– why does Edmond stay with Alex even as Voligroth attempts to seduce/kill him? That could be a really interesting question.

  178. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 5:22 am

    Hmmm. Interesting *files away for future use*. But here’s an idea I came up with. Suppose The royal thrones of each race are important to the existence of the Knights as a whole. Think about this. The Knights exist with permission from the rulers of each race. Furthermore, all three elf-rulers must agree on a decision that affects the entire race. If Valigroth gained control of one elf-king, he could potentially stymie the elven legislative system for years, slowing it to a crawl so that they would be forced to revoke the permissions granted to the knights in their territory. This would also provide a link to other subplots where the sovereignty of the giants and dwarves are likewise threatened. It could also explain why Alex and Enigma are searching for some guy in the human lands. He’s threatening human sovereignty, and by proxy the Knights themselves. Also, If all races must agree on the selection of the Emissary, his position would be likewise threatened.

    Your thoughts?

  179. B. Macon 17 Nov 2008 at 5:31 am

    “If Valigroth gained control of one elf-king, he could potentially stymie the elven legislative system for years…” I don’t mean to squash your stories of elven legislative intrigue– ahem, I’m in political science– but such a story might feel very niche. For example, I remember being quite surprised by the “sinister trade federation pushing for higher tariffs” angle in Phantom Menace. It just seemed so removed from the rest of the Star Wars universe.

    In the context of your story, it would probably also be complicated to explain the infighting between three elven kings. I suspect that throwing in the other species (giants, dwarves, humans, etc) and their desires would push a plot that’s already kind of complex over the top.

    I suspect an editor would ask you what the giants and dwarves bring to the story. It already feels like there is a lot going on. Removing non-essential elements may help you focus on the aspects that are most relevant to the story.

  180. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 6:01 am

    Well, it’s not like he’s going to succeed. I was planning on just having a character say that he could stymie the system for years. It doesn’t actually happen. Does that make a difference?

    Also, I had planned subplots involving the giants and dwarves (which would not be in this volume, but perhaps the sequel(s). *crosses fingers* I guess I should have made that clear.) because I thought it would be confusing to have characters from those races exist without validating their culture. Also, the infighting between three elven rulers (two of them are female for a reason that is explained in-plot) wouldn’t be too hard to explain because, I remind you, Amorelia is one of them. That saves me from inventing another character. Amorelia’s friend Kira is the daughter of the other.

    Also, I am considering not fully introducing the Emissary plot yet, and focusing on the royalty plot. In this case, when Alex later finds out about the Emissary position that his phoenix guide has been preparing him for, he will realize that his position as elf-ruler disqualifies him for obvious reasons. He has two choices: leave the throne to someone trustworthy and rule be proxy, or have Edmond become Emissary. He decidedly dislikes the second option because, despite being his friend, he thinks Edmond will be too weak. (White Knight/Dark Knight). Could this revision work?

    Your thoughts?

  181. B. Macon 17 Nov 2008 at 6:12 am

    Well, in Phantom Menace, the trade union never actually succeeded, either. I suspect that it may work better for your plot if, instead of attempting to cause legislative gridlock by installing a king, the villain is actually plotting to gain access to something that only the king can provide. For example, perhaps the king owns some artifact or is responsible for maintaining some magical barrier that are critical to the villain’s plot. Or perhaps the king is important because he commands his nation’s armies (and knights?) Then the villain would have an interest in ensuring that the person that is commanding the armies against him is ineffective and/or corruptible.

    I suspect* that those plots fit in better than the one about legislative gridlock because it feels more closely connected to elven warriors doing battle in a quasi-feudal society.

    *Have you noticed that I do a lot of suspecting? I am apparently pretty wary.

    What do you think?

  182. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 8:18 am

    I like this. I already had a loose end that you have helped me tie down: the resurgence of the dragons. You see, when Valigroth fought Auringel the first time, his dragons were bound and imprisoned on the Forbidden Isle. The only 2 ways to get there are:
    1. TRY to cross the Sea of Treachery. This is certain death.
    2. Use a Crossgate (natural doors between locations in my world).
    The problem is that the crossgate leading to the Forbidden Isle was disabled. Perhaps the elven monarchs alone have access to the artifact that can reopen the crossgate. When Alex is kidnapped, Torrent also steals the Key and sends it to Valigroth. When Alex returns he finds it missing, and that’s why the kids are later sent to the Forbidden Isle to stop the return of the Ravagers!

    Also, another issue I’m wondering about. In my book a mystical barrier separates the human part of the world from the (for lack of a better word) “magical” part. Long story short, it was created to stop the spread of human corruption. Should the humans know of the “magical” world’s existence but be physically separated from it (only the Knights can travel between the worlds)? Or should they be both physically separated and ignorant of its existence? If they are ignorant, the “all races must approve the Emissary” thing gets more difficult.

    Your thoughts?

  183. B. Macon 17 Nov 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I like the transition from the key getting stolen to the kids getting sent to the Forbidden Isle. It’s a strong plot-hook.

    You may also want to a throwaway line about why the nation doesn’t send a flotilla/army instead of sending a small group of young adventurers, including at least one VIP (the king). However, it’s a book about young adventurers more than armies, so I don’t think readers will give you too much trouble.

    I’m not sure I get what you mean by the difference between the human part of the world and the magical part. Do you mean that the magical world is secret and removed from humans? (For example, in Jake Long and Harry Potter, there are wizards and magical creatures in the US and UK, but most humans are neither aware of (or affected by) them. Or do you mean that there are realistic countries without magic and that there are geographically distinct places where magic does happen? (If so, would be these be on the same realm of existence or would you have to use magical means to get to the places where magic is used?)

  184. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Quote: “Or do you mean that there are realistic countries without magic and that there are geographically distinct places where magic does happen?”

    You’re very close. The reason the humans are separated from the Elderworld (magical realm) goes back to the origin of the world. Stay with me here. I’m going to quickly run you through the timeline, attempting to compress info that would be revealed throughout the book into a few paragraphs. This could get a little confusing.

    In the beginning, the Powers Above created the world and appointed the phoenixes to watch over it. One of them became Valigroth. Valigroth waged war against Auringel and the powers of heaven.

    At that time there were only two mortal sentient races: the gryphons and The Originals. When it came time to chose sides, the gryphons sided with Auringel, but all except three of the Originals followed Valigroth. Corrupted by evil, the became the Shades. To counter their betrayal, the Powers Above chose wolves and foxes and made them into the Lupines and Vulpines.

    At one battle, known as the Battle of the Splitting, The force was so great that it split the world into two shards: Terrasos (Man’s Earth) and the Elderworld (or should I call it Zicaron? Which name is better or can I get away with both?).

    After the war, the Powers above made 4 new races: Elves, Giants, Dwarves, and Men. While the other races minded their own business, Men achieved 2 great feats: they invented the glider, and they hunted out the remainders of Valigroth’s army. For their valor, they were given Terrasos. They left and lived there without incident, and could even travel back and forth to visit the other races.

    Later, when Valigroth was finally able to escape the void enough to manifest a physical form, the subliminal wave of evil released affected humanity, causing the disastrous fall of Man in an even known as the Dark Day. Its aftershocks were even felt in the Elderworld. The Seers of the Adamarí elves witnessed in vision the fall of Man, and warned that the corruption of mankind must not be allowed to infect the Elderworld. In response to this, the Giants, Sons of the Mountains, Dwarves, Lords of the Deep, and Elves, Guardians of the Forest, decided together to act. The dwarves mined, forged, and crafted great amounts of Skanith metal, knowing its special properties. The giants wrought great stone pillars and grafted the metal to them. The elves, with the knowledge of their people, engraved symbols and glyphs into the pillars, and used their power to erect The Barrier, an unseen force that would prevent the spread of humanity and its corruption. So Man was disconnected from his past, and began to forget the Elderworld, which lives in his memory now only as myths, legends, and fairy tales.

    The Elderworld is NOT like, for example, Narnia. It is in the same world, but the barrier keeps humans from entering it. The Knights have knowledge of the crossgates however, and can thwart the Barrier. However, it is physically impossible to pass the barrier by mundane means. If you sailed for a thousand years, you would get nowhere.

    Your thoughts?

  185. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Also, I could make the human nations ignorant not only of the Elderworld, but also of the Emissary’s role and the greater conflict.

    Your thoughts on this?

  186. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Hello?

  187. B. Macon 17 Nov 2008 at 6:10 pm

    So the world’s creation story goes something like this. I’m going to bold each concept that I think a reader would have to remember to understand what’s going on.

    • Divine powers created the world and named the phoenixes to watch over it. One of them (Valigroth) went corrupt and waged war against the pro-heaven phoenixes and Auringel.
    • The gryphons were one of the first two sentient races. They sided with Auringel as well. The Originals, who became the Shades, mostly sided with Valigroth.
    • Heaven turned wolves and foxes into Lupines and Vulpines.
    • The Battle of the Splitting split the world into two shards: Terrasos and the Elderworld (which is possibly also Zicaron).
    • After the war, heaven made four new races. For inventing a glider and hunting out the remnants of Voligroth’s army, humans were given Terrasos but had the ability to meet the other races in the Elderworld.
    • Valigroth escaped the void and subliminally infected humanity with a wave of evil. The Seers of the Adamari convinced the other magical races to act by using Skanith metal to form a Barrier between the two worlds. By now, humans have mostly forgotten about the Elderworld.
    • The Knights know how to use crossgates to thwart the barrier.

    –At the macro level, this is a really complicated backstory. What seems to matter most is that the humans and magical species are now physically separated (except for a few gates). The description of the fight between Valigroth and Auringel could probably be simplified considerably.

    — For example, the gryphons could probably be removed.

    –The Lupines and Vulpines seem to overlap considerably and one of them could probably be removed.

    –The four races are not actually part of the initial fight between good and evil, and it seems like the giants and dwarves do not have much of a unique role. I’d recommend replacing the gryphons by using the races there instead. I’d also recommend considering replacing the dwarves and giants as well. You have three kinds of elves, right? You could probably say that one of the kinds of elves is very metal-happy, which would explain where the Skanith metal comes from.

    –I’d recommend calling Terrasos just Terra. I think we’ll understand that it’s not really Earth, but just where the humans live.

    –There are a few words that are capitalized that could probably be lower-case. For example, species names (like Lupines and Vulpines) could probably be lower-case because human is generally not a proper noun. Skanith could probably also be lower-case (like steel or adamantium). The barrier could probably be lower-case.

    –The Knights move across the barriers. So why do they? Isn’t that a risk of bringing back the corruption? Furthermore, why would the people in the Elderworld care about what happens on the other side?

    –I don’t know why the glider is so important.

  188. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 6:36 pm

    The gryphons are a revered part of Giantish culture because of their role in that battle. They are treated not as pets, but as family members and can roam the mountains without interference. Anyone who kills a gryphon (good luck with that) is immediately executed. (It’s kinda like cows in India, but they are sentient). I was going to touch on this later. Hmmm..

    Also, the gryphons are just a part of Auringel’s army, just as the dragons and shades are just a part of Valigroth’s army. Here is the full listing:

    Valigroth-
    The Ravagers
    lesser dragons
    shades
    gargoyles
    pyrons (fire golems, e.g. Gehennite)
    aquaths (water golems).

    Auringel-
    the Faithful Guardians (phoenixes)
    gryphons
    the Daughters of the Sun
    the Silver Sons of Maesura (the moon)
    select star spirits. (Among these were two brothers named Orion and Scorpius.)

    Lupines and Vulpines are essentially the same in that one is a subset of the other. The wolf/fox distinction is important though, because it is part of Whit’s characterization. I cant see her as anything BUT a fox. Likewise, Lupus couldn’t be anything BUT a wolf. But I’ll see what I can do.

    Quote: “I’d also recommend considering replacing the dwarves and giants as well. You have three kinds of elves, right?”
    This is alot like the Lupine/Vulpine issue. Certain characters just scream certain races. Livir and Volund couldn’t be anything but giants. Neish couldn’t be anything but a dwarf. I’ll see what I can do, but removing them altogether may not be possible.

    Ironically, it was Terra originally until I changed it to sound cooler. Now I’m changing it back. Haha.

    The Knights can traverse the barriers because they have been proven pure and trustworthy. Also, usually only elvish, dwarvish & giantish Knights operate in the Elderworld, with humans operating in Terra. There are exceptions. (e.g. hybrids).

    A glider is important because the power of flight is VERY VERY rare. Also, it is only attributed to humans. This is big because I show that the humans have fallen because they have forgotten how to make gliders. Likewise I show that Alex, Auringel, the phoenixes, dragons, etc. are powerful by having them fly. It’s a neat demonstration device. If flying is big, then the reader knows that a character who can truly fly is very powerful.

    Bear in mind that much of the info concerning the world origin will be in a timeline that will be published in the book’s appendix along with a world guide (the geography lesson that WAS the opening *wink*) and a map.

    Your thoughts?

  189. B. Macon 17 Nov 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Well, I was thinking that the story treats flying like it’s very important, but it might not actually come off that way to readers (particularly if pretty much everyone in the academy has a superpower, is a sort-of-god or both). Will readers feel a sense of loss there?

    If you’re really attached to the idea of having several fantasy races and don’t want to make new names for the characters that fit a different race, then maybe merging the elven races would work? The story feels kind of crowded. OK, really crowded. Admittedly, my ability to comprehend details is atypically poor, but I’m thinking a synopsis for this book might lose the editor in the details, particularly if you go into the backstory a lot.

    Also, I’d like to refer you to a quip from the Paperback Writer, who said that “if your backstory is more interesting than your current era, you’re writing the wrong story.” One thing you could consider– particularly if this volume is a collection of stories rather than a purely single novel– is starting the book with the original war between Auringel and Voligroth. I suspect that would make the backstory fit into the Alex arc more smoothly.

  190. Bretton 17 Nov 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Do you think showing the reader the backstory before hand will ruin the gradual reveal? (They will already know who Headmaster Gabriel is before I wnat them to.) Or will that be ok?

  191. B. Macon 18 Nov 2008 at 2:10 am

    Well, as it is Gabriel’s history is a secret origin story. I don’t think that the surprise of finding out that he’s Auringel will add very much. I’d have issues with his immortality, with his secret immortality, and that this seems to fall in the cliche of the Mysterious Old Man suddenly turning out to be the Lost Hero. Using Auringel as the first main character would not necessarily remove these problematic elements from your story, but it would freshen up your use of Gabriel/Auringel compared to similar works, such as The Belgariad.

    For example, the first book in the Belgariad series features
    –the story begins with the creation of the world and a conflict amongst the gods. One of the gods is corrupted and goes rogue.
    –The artifact that the evil god seeks is eventually recovered by Belgarath the Sorcerer, who conveniently enough has no evil in his family line and is therefore Chosen by heavenly poweres to guard the artifact (with his descendants) forever.
    –The front-story begins with the story of a teen that knows a Mysterious Storyteller who’s actually Belgarath (I kid you not, in this part of the book he’s called The Storyteller). Everyone with an IQ higher than 50 can tell that The Storyteller is actually Belgarath. The kid is oblivious to many clues that the mysterious storyteller is actually thousands of years old.
    –The story incorrectly assumes that the “surprise” of the boy finding out what the audience almost certainly knows is dramatic. Ick, no. The story dances around this rather obvious point. Unfortunately, there was really no reason for the secret to be a secret in the first place. At least when Superman reveals to Lois Lane that he’s really Clark Kent, that’s remotely dramatic because there was a reason to keep that secret. The result is that Superman’s revelation demonstrates that his relationship with Lois Lane has changed: he can now trust her enough to know his deepest secret.
    –Because of his favorable heritage, the teen is picked to rescue the artifact when it is stolen. He’s 100% a chosen one.

    Anyway, one of the ways in which I think that using Gabriel/Auringel as front-story would help is that it would probably lead to Auringel being a more interesting character. Belgarath relied far too heavily on his mysteriousness.

    I suspect that readers might get interested as to how the Auringel story and the Alex story tie together. This wouldn’t hinge on the surprise of Alex learning that Auringel is really thousands of years old, though. Readers already know that Alex will figure it out and they already know what that scene will look like. However, we don’t necessarily know how their relationship will be shaped by the revelation. That is more interesting, then, than the question of when/how Alex will learn the secret.

  192. Bretton 18 Nov 2008 at 5:11 am

    Hmm. You’ve given me an idea. Thanks.

    Oh, I would like to request two things from you. The first is a list of every article on this website that I have commented on. I hope this doesn’t sound too unreasonable. I just want to compile all the information I have created/changed into one place. If I searched through your archives, that could take a while.

    The second thing is, I would like you to read this and tell me if it’s worth keeping:

    In the coming years, years that may even now be at hand,
    One shall rise to bring order to the chaos of his homeland.
    He shall be great upon the earth, and among men shall be glorified,
    He shall be of royal blood, a Prince of the Zhudai Elf Tribe.
    He will have many difficulties, trials of body, of heart, of mind,
    He will overcome them all, though to his potential he may at first be blind.
    To him is left the task of learning the Supreme One’s true name,
    With this secret laid bare he will be prepared the victory to claim.
    For in this name is found power beyond reckoning,
    And now to his servant the Omnipotence is beckoning.
    Beware: If our champion sides with evil then soon,
    Therva may be condemned to eternal doom.
    His path for good or evil he alone can choose,
    Whichever side he fights against, it is hard for him to lose.

    A riddle to enlighten the truly wise,
    That they may recognize him with discerning eyes:
    A Cross stands within: THE ADAMANT FATIRA LEADER

    I considering trashing it because it’s starting to chafe ME now. Goodness knows what it’ll do to readers. Also, because of the dead giveaways and massive foreshadowing to the point of prophecy, it makes Alex a Chosen One. Without it, Alex would feel less Chosen. Case and point: “THE ADAMANT FATIRA LEADER” is actually an anagram for Matadeth Alexander Tafari (you must add the “x”. It’s the “cross” referenced earlier). This feels cheesy to me. The poem was really more for my benefit than the readers because I used it as a plot guide (crutch), but I no longer need it. Will I lose anything be scrapping it?

    Your thoughts?

  193. B. Macon 18 Nov 2008 at 5:36 am

    Searching my IP records, I found 270 comments from you, totaling 23,000 words. That’s a pretty outlandish amount of writing. By my rough count, I’ve only done twice that much and I spend 40-50 hours a week on this site.

    I’ve compiled your comments into a Word document here. Please let me know if you have any problems opening it.

  194. Bretton 18 Nov 2008 at 6:09 am

    Thanks! What do you think about the poem issue?

  195. B. Macon 18 Nov 2008 at 6:16 am

    First, I’m not a fan of poetry, so please take this accordingly.

    I think rhyming couplets, where the rhyme scheme goes AABBCCDD…, may seem a little bit cheesy and stilted. My knowledge of poetry is limited to modern music. A well-written song could probably be delivered as an a capella poem (although the choruses might get tedious).

    So, looking at my playlist, I found a few songs that seek to tell a narrative story. For example, here are the first few stanzas of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (Song here).

    The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down (12 syllables)
    Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee (10)
    The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead (12, and an internal rhyme on said/dead)
    When the skies of November turn gloomy. [10, and gloomy/Gumee rhyme]

    With a load of iron ore – 26,000 tons more (13 syllables, ore/more rhyme)
    Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty (10)
    That good ship [rest] and true was a bone to be chewed (12 syllables, true/chewed)
    When the gales of November came early (10)

    The ship was the pride of the American side (11 syllables, pride/side)
    Comin’ back from some mill in Wisconsin (10)
    As the big freighters go it was bigger than most (12 syllables, go/most is a loose rhyme)
    With a crew and the Captain well seasoned. (10)

    Concluding some terms with a couple steel firms (11 syllables, terms/firms)
    When they left fully loaded for Cleveland (9 syllables)
    And later that night when the ships bell rang (10 syllables)
    Could it be the North Wind they’d been feeling (9 syllables)

    Even though this song isn’t rhyming every line, it carefully creates a rhythm by using parallel syllable counts, typically alternating long/short/long/short lines. I think your poem could probably make better use of syllable counts.

    In the coming years, years that may even now be at hand, [14]
    One shall rise to bring order to the chaos of his homeland. [15]
    He shall be great upon the earth, and among men shall be glorified, [16]
    He shall be of royal blood, a Prince of the Zhudai Elf Tribe. [15]
    He will have many difficulties, trials of body, of heart, of mind, [14]
    He will overcome them all, though to his potential he may at first be blind. [16]
    To him is left the task of learning the Supreme One’s true name, [12]
    With this secret laid bare he will be prepared the victory to claim. [14]
    For in this name is found power beyond reckoning, [13]
    And now to his servant the Omnipotence is beckoning. [14]
    Beware: If our champion sides with evil then soon, [13]
    Therva may be condemned to eternal doom. [11]
    His path for good or evil he alone can choose, [11]
    Whichever side he fights against, it is hard for him to lose. [14]

    Syllable-wise, I think it’s kind of all over the place. Stylistically, I’d recommend using more diverse sentence structures. Pretty much every line used “he” as the subject, and many started with “he will” or “he shall.”

    I generally recommend against prologues. Here, the material will probably overlap with the back-blurb, where it will probably feel less stilted. (I agree with your Chosen One concerns, also).

  196. B. Macon 18 Nov 2008 at 6:19 am

    Also, I reposted your comment compilation. Hopefully it should work now.

  197. Bretton 18 Nov 2008 at 7:01 am

    Ok, the poem is now history. Victory for good writing!

  198. Bretton 18 Nov 2008 at 8:14 am

    I’m no poetry fan either.

  199. Bretton 18 Nov 2008 at 8:15 am

    To be honest, I was imitating Redwall.

  200. B. Macon 18 Nov 2008 at 10:24 am

    For the right audience, I think a prologue (even a poem!) could be very effective. Right now I’m trying to articulate the principles of what makes a prologue effective.

  201. Bretton 05 Jan 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I have made yet another change to my races. In order to further differentiate my races from Tolkien’s, I have not only made them different in temperament (giants are intellectual, but violent and dwarves are jolly, talkative, and argumentative) but I have also decided to base them on different cultures. Tell me what you think:

    Dwarves- Tolkien’s dwarves were Norse. My Dwarves will be based more closely on Medieval/Pre-Brittanical Scotland. They will even wear kilts. Their language will have pronunciations based on what I know of the Scottish accent and German. (Lots of “eish” & “ach” sounds, etc.)

    Giants- These will be based on Norse culture, with a pinch of Roman Empire. I find this fitting, especially since their capital is called Mount Asgard. There are other references as well, such as names (Maktathor Torvin, Freya, King Odin I the Great, etc.)

    Elves- here I will fervently apply my most original ideas because so often elves are hackneyed. SO, rather than Tolkien’s celtic, “sprite-ish” elves, my elves will be based on (are you ready for this?) Native Americans. I know, you’re probably thinking “what the heck?”. But think about it. Both are cultures that value connections with nature. Also, my elves will wear the customary elegant, elven finery when in public intermingling with other races, but when they are to themselves in the forest, they will wear clothes much closer to NA tradition, and some of the males will even go bare-chested. (This is a source of dismay for Alex because he realizes that Amorelia is unlikely to fall for him because he is scrawny by elf standards. lol) Also, elf-women are very empowered and can hunt and fight along with and sometimes better than the males. (Alex is shocked to discover that his friend Kira, who he pegged as “innocent” and “harmless” can chase down a deer and kill it with her bare hands. And this is before she even THINKS about picking up the bow and arrow, or using her powers!)

    Thoughts?
    —————————–
    Another, unrelated query. I got to thinking about Ducal Valdar. I am thinking, that rather than play him as a brooding, menacing, Darth Vader type (that’ll be Apollyon’s thing), I’ll play him as more of a *suppresses laugh* Darth Joker. I was watching Heath Ledger’s performance, and I thought “hmm. He’s kinda like the guy I based Ducal on. What would joker be like as a vampire?” Of course, Ducal will be alot more focused and goal-driven. But he will have the same dark, sadistic sense of humor that made TDK’s Joker, combined with Vader’s presence and fury. Think about these lines for Ducal:

    -*Chuckles darkly* “I love this job.”

    – Edmond: What are you?

    DV: *laughs* I’m an agent of chaos.

    Alex: When I finish with you, blood-drinker, even the Dark One won’t recognize the remains!

    DV: Ha! Never make threats you can’t follow through on, Alex. Besides, killing me won’t free that cute elven chick you both like so much. What was her name again? Allie, Amy, Amanda?

    Edmond: Where is she, you slithering son of a c*ckroach? (precaution against filters)

    DV: What’s the time?

    Alex: What does that matter?

    DV: Well, depending on the time, she could be in one place or several. How are you at jigsaw puzzles?

    Edmond: What do you want?

    DV: Join me, and she goes free. Resist, and her elven body will endure many painful things before it…expires.

    I think you get what I’m going for.
    ——————————

    Thoughts on these two points?

  202. B. Macon 05 Jan 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Great pickup on cockroach! That was the word that had set off our filters.

    OK, some thoughts and observations…

    I don’t know whether basing races on particular cultures will work well. The half-giants in Harry Potter had very strong accents and it made them really hard to read through. (Yah’ah wizahd, ‘arry!)

    Additionally, I feel that there’s a lot going on already. Are half-giants and dwarves going to add much to the story? If not, I would recommend thinking about cutting one, the other or both. The story would probably benefit from having the space elsewhere.

    Some thoughts on DV…

    DV: What’s the time?
    Alex: What does that matter?
    DV: Well, depending on the time, she could be in one place or several. How are you at jigsaw puzzles?

    This exchange is stylish, but it feels very familiar. Was there something like it in The Dark Knight?

    Edmond: What are you?
    DV: *laughs* I’m an agent of chaos.

    This also feels familiar, like how Alfred described the Joker. Also, I’d kind of like to see more of DV’s personality here. Saying that he’s an agent of chaos is probably “telling.” There’s probably a way to show that this character is a sociopath (ie a chaotic personality).

    Additionally, is his goal really all that chaotic? He just wants Alex and Edmond onboard. And he’s kind of working for an established hierarchy, right?

  203. Bretton 05 Jan 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Yes, it is an established hierarchy, but he has a reasonable amount of cart blanch, ie to do whatever it takes to accomplish the goal. Also, this organization is pure evil and pretty much headed by the devil himself (or this world’s equivalent), so stating that he’s an agent of chaos isn’t all that far off.

    Yes, some of these lines were Dark Knight inspired (read “lifted” here).

    As for his goal, yes he wants Alex and Edmond, but the best way for him to get them is to break them first. If they are only with him because a loved one is threatened, and they retain their morality, they are likely to turn on him. Instead, he attacks them 2 ways: lust for power, and pushing them to their moral limits. Ergo, Darth Joker.

  204. Bretton 06 Jan 2009 at 9:02 am

    Also:

    “but when they are to themselves in the forest, … some of the male [elves] will even go bare-chested. (This is a source of dismay for Alex because he realizes that Amorelia is unlikely to fall for him because he is scrawny by elf standards.)”

    What do you think of this detail? I threw this in just to establish how far out of his league Amorelia really is. I think it creates tension because

    1. It establishes that Amorelia has several other, stronger, better-looking choices than Alex.

    2. It establishes that Edmond actually might have a better chance because he is much more built than Alex is.

    Of course, Alex overlooks the fact that Amorelia isn’t shallow, but the reader isn’t sure of that yet. Thoughts?

    —————-
    And this:

    “Alex is shocked to discover that his friend Kira, who he pegged as “innocent” and “harmless” can chase down a deer and kill it with her bare hands. And this is before she even THINKS about picking up the bow and arrow, or using her powers!”

    thoughts?

  205. Holliequon 06 Jan 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t like that idea (about Amorelia and more muscular guys). Even though WE don’t know her, it suggests Alex is chasing after somebody shallow. It’s hard to sympathise with a character’s ill-fortunes in romance when we know it’s not going to work. Also, your readers might get confused if you portray Amorelia as potentially shallow and then she isn’t. There are other ways to show that Edmond is a strong contender for Amorelia’s affections.

    I don’t have much of an opinion on this revelation about Kira. Does it really add anything?

  206. Ragged Boyon 06 Jan 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Pushing people to their limits using loved ones, is very classic Joker. It’s actually Jokers main plan in The Killing Joke to make Commisioner Gordon go insane by attacking his loved ones. It’s almost too classic joker, be sure that readers don’t pick up on that.

  207. Bretton 06 Jan 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I just thought it would be a fun bit of irony if during one of the battles the sweet, innocent friend is revealed to be a savage warrior. Just my sense of humor really.

  208. Bretton 06 Jan 2009 at 2:28 pm

    See Numbuh 3 of the Kids Next Door. Except, Kira isn’t anywhere near that air-headed.

  209. Bretton 06 Jan 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks RB. I’ll be careful.

  210. B. Macon 06 Jan 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I think the irony might be more surprising if it were a character that were more central. For example, I’m thinking Amorelia looks like a ditzy elven princess and then turns out to be a _______.

  211. Bretton 06 Jan 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Intelligent, mature, slightly quirky, and a kick-butt fighter. Thanks, I see your point.

  212. C. S. Marloweon 08 May 2009 at 1:23 pm

    The section on fantasy is a godsend. One day, I would like to write a fantasy story set in another world, but I really don’t want it to have a McGuffin plot, any Chosen Ones, standard LOTR tropes, or any names like ‘Raven Moonsinger.’ That was the sort of thing I was writing three or four years ago when I was a newbie, but unfortunately, I remember those stories with such a colossal flinch of horror that it always makes me veer away from medieval fantasy settings completely. Eh… mebbe one day.

  213. Holliequon 08 May 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Superhero Question #2, “Does anyone say “But before I kill you, there’s just one thing I want to know?” ” inspired the following exchange in my head.

    Villain: (holding a gun to the hero’s head) But before I kill you, there’s just one thing I want to know.
    Hero: (starts reaching for a gadget/weapon) What’s that?
    (The villain shoots the hero.)
    Villain: How gullible you are.

    On second thoughts, gullible doesn’t really work, does it? Perhaps stupid would fit . . .

  214. B. Macon 08 May 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I’d replace “how gullible you are” with “how easy it is to get your hopes up.” Funny concept, though.

  215. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Aug 2009 at 6:53 pm

    “Do characters use insufferably stilted language like “Is it not?” This may be the most serious single problem in this list.”

    So, by extension, is it okay to use modern language in a book that’s set partially in the past? I want to write a book that flashes back to the time of Henry VIII’s reign, but I’m not sure if I should have the characters saying “whatever” and “get over it”. Butte on the other hande, I’m notte welle versede in Shakespeare speake. Haha. E.

    Would it be better to use modern language and just explain it away as a rough translation of their actual words, or to learn me some Olde Englishe? Thanks!

  216. B. Macon 12 Aug 2009 at 7:16 pm

    If your audience is mostly younger than 18, I would recommend against making them sound like characters in a Shakespearean play.

    You can add some Elizabethan flourishes, but generally I’d recommend making them sound formal and easy to understand. If you’re writing for teens and pre-teens, comprehensibility is particularly critical. How many teens and pre-teens do you know that have willingly read a Shakespearean play for fun?

    I would highly recommend against making them sound very modern and informal (“get over it,” for example). I suspect that it would raise questions among publishers about the author’s grasp of language. Also, if the characters sound and act as though they are living in the 21st century, what’s the point in going back to the 16th century?

  217. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 12 Aug 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks! Yeah, this particular idea is more aimed at girls between thirteen and seventeen, but I guess guys would like it too for the fighting and stuff. 😛 You men with your violence. Haha, kidding.

    I wrote one line which the main guy says:

    “It’s not in your best interest to be so direct.”

    Is that the kind of language I should be using?

    “How many teens and pre-teens do you know that have willingly read a Shakespearean play for fun?”

    One of my friends does, but other than him, no one. Haha.

    Thanks!

  218. YonTroperon 05 Apr 2010 at 8:37 am

    I was wondering about questions 1 and 2.

    See, I was thinking of doing my book as an epistolary novel; i.e. told as a series of documents such as diary entries, newspaper reports, letters, etc. (Think Carrie or The Colour Purple for an example.) Since the book is about a journalist ghostwriting the autobiography of a recently dead superhero, I thought doing it like this might add a sort of investigative-journalism feel (not the best way to put it, but there you go), and show different points of view without having to do a complete switch in POV every time. What do you think about this?

  219. B. Macon 05 Apr 2010 at 11:56 am

    Hmm. I think that an unusual framing device (like using a series of letters or e-mails or whatever) would help alleviate the issues raised by having many POVs. I think there’d still be some concern that it’s difficult to do many POVs well, and that if some of the characters are less interesting, it will distract the story from the ones that the readers want to learn more about.

    If the chapter starts out as a diary entry by Susan, I’d recommend closing it out that way unless there’s a good reason to compile multiple entries by different people into a single chapter. (For example, if there’s a point where many eyewitnesses saw a criminal pull out a gun, you might use excerpts from their statements to police to help readers see the discrepancies).

  220. FVE-Manon 11 Mar 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Long time blog-reader, first time commenter. First of all, please accept my generic praise for how much this site has helped improve my writing over the past few years. Now, onto the bulk of my message (sorry for the bulk, by the way); I’m working on a comedy/adventure novel, and I think the protagonist falls short of being a Chosen One, but I’d like some feedback.

    “Protag” is a fifteen-year-old living in a dilapidated house of his own. One day he encounters a ghost beside his house, but when no one believes his ghost story, he gets thrown into a mental hospital. He is soon freed from the asylum by a magic-wielding “Guru” (potentially a cryptic/enigmatic mentor who withholds information, but that’s an issue for another day). However, Protag doesn’t get far before he’s captured by a government “Agency” specialising in the supernatural. The Agency believe his story and question him further about the ghosts, and promise to clear his record of insanity so that he can return home. But Protag soon discovers that the Agency plans to erase his memory of their encounter once they’ve questioned him, meaning he’ll be thrown back into the asylum, possibly forever.

    The Guru helps the Protag escape the facility before explaining his own motives. The Guru’s psychic prophecy states that from having seen the ghost, Protag has altered his own destiny in a way that affects the planet’s. It’s here that Guru gives Protag a dangerous mission to retrieve “plot coupons” (once again, another issue for another day), in exchange for refuge from the Agency. Protag chooses to accept the mission for the sake of keeping his memories and staying out of the asylum.

    Eventually, Protag discovers that there are more coupons than those he is tasked with collecting, and that his place in the Guru’s prophecy is shared by many other civilians. He also discovers, after spending half the novel wondering who to blame for his circumstances, that it was his own fault; he chose to live alone in that decrepit house since his anger issues were making life with his parents unbearable. If he’d stayed living with his parents, he’d never have seen the ghost.

    Upon completing his mission, the Guru tells him that the ghosts are planning to attack the planet, but that Protag has done his part in the story, and that the prophecy only suggested that he should collect the coupons. Protag chooses to fight the ghosts, though, since his journey has taught him compassion for others on the planet. This leads to the climax.

    So… thoughts? I think Protag avoids being a Chosen One since he goes along with the prophecy for selfish reasons – and in the end, ignores the prophecy for noble ones. If you’d care to discuss this with me, I’d be eternally grateful. But this site’s already helped me a lot, so take some time off for yourself. Also, please, please forgive me for the bulk.

    Regards,
    FVE-Man

    (P.S. The protagonist is a talking hamburger.)

  221. B. McKenzieon 11 Mar 2012 at 11:32 pm

    –The plot itself sounds functional, but I think the characters (especially the lead) could come across as more distinct. I think it’d help to show how the character’s most important qualities affect his actions (in particular, I would recommend covering any major decisions he makes that most other characters in his genre wouldn’t make).

    –It’s hard to tell from this summary, but I suspect that it would help to smooth out why the guru is asking the main character to gather plot coupons rather than, say, do it himself. What’s so special about this main character? (PS: I do like the twist that other characters have been given similar tasks).

    “the ghosts are planning to attack the planet… Protag chooses to fight the ghosts, though, since his journey has taught him compassion for others on the planet. This leads to the climax.” If the main element of his development arc is selfishness -> compassion, it might help to tweak the climax to make his choice more clearly altruistic. (I would imagine that even the most selfish bastard would choose to fight, because the ghosts would otherwise ravage his planet, right?) A more precise test of compassion might be how he responds when only other people are endangered. Maybe he has some conflict with the victims in question (e.g. maybe the agency bit off more than it could chew and now needs his help). Alternately, maybe he’s he’s very far-removed culturally and/or geographically from the victims.

    “(P.S. The protagonist is a talking hamburger.)” 15 year old hamburger is pretty nasty, particularly if it has started talking. No wonder this mysterious agency wants to get rid of him–they must be health inspectors.

  222. FVE-Manon 12 Mar 2012 at 10:32 pm

    “I think it’d help to show how the character’s most important qualities affect his actions”

    Shortly after his mission begins, the Protag sees one plot coupon being guarded by ghosts. He waits in the shadows while listening in on them, but rushes out to grab the coupon the second he thinks they’ve left. One of his flaws is impatience, and this leads to him almost getting caught. (The general idea is that the process of retrieving each coupon forces him to come to terms with one of his flaws.) In another case, he accidentally lets his gathered coupons fall into the ghosts’ hands. He would’ve had time to gather them back up, but doesn’t take the risk due to self-preservation fears. When he makes it to safety, he curses himself for failing and starts attacking some trees in the region (he’s a very angry burger, after all). This causes an Elemental girl, the guardian of the forest, to ensnare him. He tries to persuade her to help him, but she refuses until he admits he’s sorry and begs her for help (Protag never apologises and is mostly too stubborn to ask anyone for help). So in some cases, his personality shapes the plot (his outburst caused the Elemental to appear), and in other cases, the plot shapes his personality (he needed to overcome some flaws to recover the coupons).

    “I suspect that it would help to smooth out why the guru is asking the main character to gather plot coupons rather than, say, do it himself. What’s so special about this main character?”

    The nature of the Guru’s prophecies is that with each “candidate”, three good things will come to pass when they collect the coupons: something to benefit the candidate, something to benefit the Guru, and something to benefit the world. At first the Protag assumes that his prize for finding the coupons will be getting his old life back – as the Guru promised – but in the end, his personal development is the true reward. The Guru’s prize is that having his candidate safely complete a mission might put him back in the Agency’s good books (the Guru once worked alongside the Agency, but they branded him as a terrorist when several of his civilian candidates died on their missions). As for how the world will benefit, this is unclear. However, the Guru is focused on the “greater picture” of making the world a better place.

    “If the main element of his development arc is selfishness -> compassion, it might help to tweak the climax to make his choice more clearly altruistic.”

    The first area to be attacked by the ghosts will be a city half-an-hour away from the Protag’s hometown. This city is where he goes to school. While he doesn’t consider anyone there as a friend, in the end, he doesn’t want them to die either. If the city or even the whole planet were attacked, he would have the option of staying with the Guru in a hut out in the wilderness, ensuring his survival.

    The Guru sent a different candidate specifically to fight the ghosts, with a prophesised 70% chance of success. Protag doesn’t like these odds so much, and volunteers to fight the ghosts if only to help. And of course, when Protag enters the ghosts’ base, he finds that the original candidate has failed, meaning it’s up to him to save the world.

    “15 year old hamburger is pretty nasty, particularly if it has started talking. No wonder this mysterious agency wants to get rid of him–they must be health inspectors.”

    Nah, Protag is caked full of so many preservatives that he remains fairly edible at 15. It’s the Agency I’d be worried about, considering the agents are mostly all eggs in their 30s and 40s. That’s rotten.

  223. FVE-Manon 30 Mar 2012 at 4:44 am

    Okay, my next question is regarding the use of plot coupons. What exactly is wrong with plot coupons, and more importantly, what would be the correct way for a story to include them?

    In my novel, the first 20,000 or so words are spent introducing/developing the Protag and other important characters, identifying the main conflicts and dangers and setting up for the body of the story. At the end, the Guru gives the Protag the task of collecting a number of gems, and the Protag decides to go along to suit his own needs. The next 42,000 words (give or take) make up the story’s body, where the Protag travels the world collecting the gems. This sends him to different locations, forcing him to overcome obstacles. But the bulk of this section is spent forcing him to identify his flaws and interact with sub-characters, developing him into a more likeable character. In the last 30,000 words, he delivers the gems to the Guru and is hit with some revelations before deciding that he owes it to society to help save the planet.

    Does this sound workable? If I were to write the back-page blurb myself, I wouldn’t even mention the gems, explaining only that the Protag is forced to comply with the Guru. Also, does this word count sound reasonable for a comedy-adventure novel?

  224. B. McKenzieon 30 Mar 2012 at 6:10 pm

    “Okay, my next question is regarding the use of plot coupons. What exactly is wrong with plot coupons, and more importantly, what would be the correct way for a story to include them?” If you tell your readers ahead of time what your formula is like, they’ll be able to predict too much of the plot. For example, if your characters need to collect 6 magical items to perform a ritual to beat the villain, they will almost assuredly collect the first 5, which makes the vast majority of the book mostly predictable. It’s sort of acceptable for a video game or a cartoon show (e.g. Pokemon badges), but I’d generally hope for a less obviously linear plot in a novel.

    When you use formulas, I recommend against telling the reader what the formula is upfront. For example, let’s say a supervillain breaks out of prison and kidnaps 2 seemingly random people (let’s say a marine biologist and a government clerk in the Department of Wildlife Conservation). There IS a formula at work (what the supervillain is attempting to accomplish), but it’s much more interesting because we don’t know what it is and whether the heroes can figure it out in time. For another example, the protagonist of Silence of the Lambs has to figure out the common threads linking the victims and is eventually able to figure out what the villain is trying to do and that he must be an expert tailor.

  225. FVE-Manon 02 Apr 2012 at 5:43 am

    So basically, I need to keep the reader from figuring out that the Protag is collecting coupons until he already has most of them. Hmm… I have some ideas regarding this, all of which involve massive changes to the plot. I’ll have to search around for additional opinions regarding plot coupons before making such drastic revisions.

    Just for a second, let’s take the gems out of the plot altogether and say that the Protag’s only orders are to reach Point B on the map. Would the plot still feel too linear? Would it matter that the reader knows from the start that he’ll make it there, even if they have no idea what’ll happen in-between?

    “It’s sort of acceptable for a video game or a cartoon show” Actually, this book will be full of nods to video game culture. I think gamers may be the niche audience that this story appeals to the most. Despite the level of self-parody, though, I don’t want to use lampshade-hanging to patch up a plot that doesn’t work.

  226. NatureWitchon 26 Oct 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I have a story going, but I think that the main plot is a chase for plot coupons.

    A princess has ben kidnapped by a dragon because it thought her to be pretty enough to be a part of its hoard. The main character tries to save her, but is very bad at fighting actually, so he can’t defeat the dragon. The dragons goes basicily: “Hahano, stop trying, I have beaten stronger opponets than you. But hey, in exchange of that pretty sword of yours I give you three chances to get me something pretty enough for exchange for the princess.”

    The main character agrees, because what else could he do, and most of the book would be a search for “something pretty”. The first time he fails finding something pretty enough, but he gets to exchange it for atleast meet and talk with the princess. With the princess having seen the insides of the dragons cave she gives the main character an idea of what the dragon would have wanted.

    Then it shall be a betrayal and such, but the most obvious plot is going to be about the dragon and such. Do anyone have an idea how to make it less of a plot with plot coupons. Should I change it completly? I hope that I don’t, but it’s managable.

  227. Nature Witchon 06 Nov 2013 at 3:08 am

    It has gone more then a week so I feel I have to bump this up. Do anyone have any idea?

  228. Kevin Holsingeron 06 Nov 2013 at 4:29 am

    Good morning, Nature Witch.

    1. First thing I assumed when reading about the dragon wanting the sword is that it’s the key to defeating the dragon, but the dragon doesn’t want you to know that.
    2. Depending on how grim you’re willing to go here, the story could be about the hero’s compromising his values by giving the dragon what it wants, rather than accepting that the hero just can’t have the princess.
    3. The journey can be about changing the combat variables between hero and dragon. Either the hero is chasing after some means of becoming a stronger fighter, or some means of making the dragon a weaker fighter.

    Enjoy your day.

  229. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2013 at 8:29 am

    “Just for a second, let’s take the gems out of the plot altogether and say that the Protag’s only orders are to reach Point B on the map. Would the plot still feel too linear? Would it matter that the reader knows from the start that he’ll make it there, even if they have no idea what’ll happen in-between?” His orders are to make it to a particular point, but we don’t know what will happen when he gets there? It does not sound terribly predictable. I think it’s a major improvement.



    PS: 72,000 words is on-target for most novels (including action & comedy).

  230. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2013 at 8:33 am

    Hello, Nature Witch. “But hey, in exchange of that pretty sword of yours I give you three chances to get me something pretty enough for exchange for the princess.” Giving the hero three chances makes the first two very low-stakes (and makes it pretty predictable that the first two will end unsuccessfully). My suggestion would be to make it just one chance, and perhaps if the hero takes the chance and misses, perhaps he does something unusual which causes the dragon to give him another (presumably at some extra cost / risk — the extra opportunity will be more interesting if it’s not a freebie).

    Another possibility would be that the dragon directs him to bring in a particular item or person by [insert unreasonable date].



    You may also be able to develop the plot by giving the dragon a more urgent motivation than just accumulating pretty things. For example, perhaps the dragon desperately needs a great gift for some high-profile event (e.g. a coronation or wedding) and something ordinary would NOT be acceptable.

  231. Nature Witchon 08 Nov 2013 at 10:02 am

    Thanks for the suggestions 😀

    The reason why I thouht of giving the main character three chances was that I had a theme of using number 3 (which is one magic number), but let only him give three objects, but taking away the chances would make the whole thing a bit less obvious.

    Given that the uncercurrent plot is about a betrayal I think about the sword being something that could kill the dragon is kind of fitting, like a taste of whats to come. The main character is quite naive so even if he doesn’t trust the dragon, he doesn’t belive he is decived by it.

    Then the dragon uses the main character to get (2) other swords that could kill him. Which is heavily guarded.

    But really, very much betrayal that the main character doesn’t notice because he is kind of clueless like that.

  232. B. McKenzieon 08 Nov 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Hmm. I think the sword that can kill the dragon is okay, but I’d recommend using two separate items for #2 and #3. Making it a bit harder for readers and the character to figure out what the formula is linking the items (e.g. that all of the items make the dragon harder to kill and may suggest nefarious intent on the dragon’s part) would probably make it more interesting.

    Alternately, if you have to repeat something, I’d try to vary it as much as possible. E.g. a genie might give a character three wishes, but I’d recommend against using the same wish more than once.

  233. Nature Witchon 09 Nov 2013 at 7:50 am

    That sounds good actually.

    I don’t know exactly what the objects are going to be, but I have a beginning of an idea.

  234. Kevin Holsingeron 09 Nov 2013 at 8:01 am

    Good morning, Nature Witch.

    I’d recommend making sure the dragon isn’t too obvious about the real reason it wants the sword. It could offer the hero an immediate meeting with the princess, and when the hero asks what the dragon wants it return, the dragon “doesn’t know.” Either by “thinking about it a while”, or by subtly leading the hero to offer the sword up, the dragon finally accepts the sword as payment.

    You might also be able to get around the 3-items problem if they’re three pieces of the same item. When I was a kid, there was a videogame called “Wizards and Warriors 2: Ironsword” where the game was about finding a magical sword that’d been broken in four pieces.

    Or you could go with pieces of a set. The sword is the fourth piece, but that isn’t revealed until much later. That can leave you with things like a shield, helmet, gauntlet, or chest-plate, all of which belonged to a great…and long-dead…warrior. Alone, each item might be useless, or just no more useful than normal items of these types. But together the items might allow victory over the dragon.

    Enjoy your day.

  235. B. McKenzieon 09 Nov 2013 at 9:18 am

    If the pieces are useless (or ordinary) separately, the dragon wouldn’t need the entire set, would he? (If your only goal is to stop someone else from completing the set, you only need one piece). Perhaps they’re collectively part of some magical ritual that the dragon wants to pull off for some presumably nefarious purpose.



    If the dragon needs all 3 pieces, though, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the character will retrieve the first 2… The plot would probably break otherwise.

  236. Kevin Holsingeron 09 Nov 2013 at 10:28 am

    Good afternoon, Mr. McKenzie.

    “If the pieces are useless (or ordinary) separately, the dragon wouldn’t need the entire set, would he?”

    Hmm. Good point.

    Enjoy your day.

  237. Yochananon 20 Feb 2015 at 11:26 am

    Does this dialogue sound stilted? It is after Siegfried went insane.

    SIEGFRIED [talking to self]: “If you saw Atlas knees buckling on shoulders of shrug and bloody chesting be sweat buckle don’t even know? If you saw Atlas giant who wolds whorld up and bees knuckling and sweating running down his chest and bloody tell him don’t know?”

    LANDLORD [entering]: I heard yelling, what’s the- [sees Siegfried, footless, sitting in pool of silver liquid] What the hell happened!

    SIEGFRIED [grabbing landlord]: “If saw Atlas, buckling up the world with his knees, and shrugging, what tell him!”

    LANDLORD [frightened]: “What the hell is the matter with you!”

    SIEGFRIED [crazed]: “The answer is ‘I don’t know’! I don’t know what to tell Atlas, and Atlas has stopped holding my motor!” [curbstomps landlord].

    Don’t worry, the landlord survives. He moves further south to where Italy used to be and ignores his troubles.

  238. B. McKenzieon 22 Feb 2015 at 7:16 am

    “Does this dialogue sound stilted?

    SIEGFRIED [talking to self]: “If you saw Atlas knees buckling on shoulders of shrug and bloody chesting be sweat buckle don’t even know? If you saw Atlas giant who wolds whorld up and bees knuckling and sweating running down his chest and bloody tell him don’t know?””

    Yes. It may help to make him more articulate (perhaps a la Sylar in Heroes — he’s definitely crazy, but more threatening and better able to contribute to interesting dialogue because he’s intelligent).

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