Hello! I’m Trolli, and thanks for checking out the review forum for my second story, Candy Land. My sister and I are working on this together, and though it’s in developmental stages, I would love some feedback and suggestions on the characters and plotline.
What are you writing?
Candy Land is the story of five middle-schoolers who find themselves whisked away to a land made entirely of delicious sweets. But things aren’t exactly sugar-dandy when they get there. These merry lands are rotting away with a mysterious and lethal darkness known as the Rotting. If they ever want to return home again, Holly and her friends must deliver a magical flying cupcake to the cursed King Kandy. But with the Rotting on their heels and their own troubles getting along as a team, it could be a dangerous journey indeed.
Wait… That almost sounds familiar…
Yup, the storyline is based on the game board, “Candy Land”, with Mr. Mint, Plumpy, Queen Frostine, and all them. Haha, I know it’s ridiculous. We won’t be publishing this story due to copyright issues, of course, but if we change our minds in the future, we’ll need to take all the board game references out of the storyline. But we’re still hoping to write something fun here, even if it’s just a “hobby story”. I’m would love to develop this into a “twisted wonderland” kind of story.
Probably between 11 and 18-year-olds. It’s tough to fit it to a target audience because the cast of characters are young, and the “Candy Land” idea will be somewhat kiddish, but I want to make the story a little creepy (if I can figure out how to do it right), so I’m not sure.
Reception to Criticism?
I love constructive criticism. It’s incredibly valuable to any author, so I’m willing to listen and consider any ideas or suggestions you guys might have, even if I can’t ultimately act upon the advice. As long as you’re polite, I’m perfectly happy to listen!
Anything Else to Say, Trolli?
+Please excuse my long-windedness. I write a lot, even when I try to be brief!
+This story is majorly in developmental stages
+Thank you for taking the time to come help me!
I guess I’d like to start with the characters! We spent a lot of time trying to make the characters interesting to watch. We actually wrote a few chapters of the original story, and it fell flat because the heroes were just plain boring and good-two-shoesy. So here’s our current version of the characters! Please let me know what you think about them. They’re all 13-year-old kids and sort of share spotlight, though Holly is probably the main character.
Holly is the pretty, popular, and confident captain of the girls’ soccer team at her middle-school. Her talent stems from long hours of practice and hard work, and she’s a good team player. She encourages her teammates to try harder, and enthusiastically tries to get everyone involved. It bothers her to see another person being picked on, so she’ll often storm to the defense of someone in trouble. She’s upbeat, positive, and spunky.
But she’s not perfect. She’s got a habit of thinking everyone really needs her help and can’t get along without her. Often while leaping to the defense of someone, she unwittingly embarrasses them more by saying some questionable things. “I know he smells like a horse, you jerk! It’s a free country. He can smell however he wants!”
She also seems to think she knows more than she does, and she offers advice on subjects she doesn’t even know about. “Well, you know, if I was an actual fighter pilot, I would do it this way!” She’s friendly enough, but she thinks a little too highly of herself and her abilities. She’s brave, but overestimates the abilities of herself and her team. This often leads them into serious trouble that she’s unable to get them out of on her own. Sometimes she’s too busy competing with her rival, Roy, to think about the group’s best interest, or reasons too emotionally.
I’m not sure yet what Holly’s “Candy Land” power is going to be. The kids get helpful little powers after assisting each of the original Candy Land board game characters.
Roy is the daring and charming captain of the boys’ soccer team at Holly’s school, and thus, her mortal rival. The two teams often argue and play pranks on each other with Roy and Holly right at the front lines! These two are in constant competition with each other, but it’s a friendly rivalry. Roy likes to flirt with Holly when he can get away with it, and it makes Holly mad that he tries to swindle her with his charm. They’ve been in the same class since kindergarten, so they’re actually surprisingly close in spite of what their rivalry and arguments might suggest.
Though he is charming when he wants to be, Roy is also arrogant and a bully. Because he’s naturally gifted in soccer and seems to learn things quickly, he acts like he’s better qualified to do almost everything. He likes to tease people for fun, but if they’re a push-over and won’t push back, he practically destroys them! Though Roy can be funny and a jokester, many people resent how cruel he can be.
As a leader, it scares Roy when he’s not in control of the situation, so he tries very hard to handle everything on his own. He’s worried that asking for help will make people dislike him for being weaker than they thought… He and Holly fight over leadership responsibilities, which causes a lot of chaos for the team in Candy Land.
Roy’s skill-power comes from a flute given to him by the peppermint lumberjack, Mr. Mint. When played right, the flute brings upon a minty fog that covers Roy’s immediate area. This can be helpful for escaping, though Roy wishes he’d gotten a cooler power. He’s not naturally gifted with instruments, so he actually has to work at it and it’s embarrassing.
Lydia is Holly’s best friend, and Roy’s cousin, so she’s very close to both of them. While Holly is considered a “fearless adventurer”, Lydia would be the “curious investigator”. If something piques her interest, she’s more than willing to spend some time researching, and then go investigate with her friends. Although she likes to be outside, she doesn’t play any sports. Instead, she concentrates on being a reporter for the school newspaper and refereeing Holly and Roy’s “soccer team treaties”. She gets annoyed when the two are too busy fighting instead of looking for real answers, but she’s usually upbeat and in a good mood.
Some of Lydia’s plans and ideas are incredibly long-winded or complicated, so she’s often prompted by her cousin for a summary, or dragged into the adventure prematurely by Holly. If something doesn’t turn out right, she can become defensive and blame other people for making her rush it, even if they didn’t. She’s prone to inventing reasons why her plan didn’t work instead of admitting she messed up. She gets very stressed out when she’s scared, and needs help calming down before she can think clearly again.
Her skill-power comes along when she steals a gauntlet from the villainous Lord Licorice. It projects a licorice whip that she can use as a rope, or with practice, a lasso. It’s helpful for tripping enemies, or snapping something down from a high shelf.
You would never guess how shy Edward was if you only saw him on stage. In theater, he is very enthusiastic and energetic, makes jokes, and has fun. He even enjoys working on screenplays, though he’s not so sure he’s good enough to write anything for real yet. He thoroughly enjoys stepping into the shoes of a new character so he doesn’t have to be himself for a little while. Plus, it’s so much easier to say something witty or meaningful when you’ve got a script! Edward is strong on stage and memorizes things quickly, but in spite of his enthusiasm for acting and singing, he’s gloomily convinced that he’ll never get the role of a “hero” onstage due to his weight.
Off stage, his weight is a constant antagonist. He tried to like the sports in gym class, but he’s slower and less agile than his peers and has been constantly ridiculed for it. Annoyed by Edward’s performance in intramural sports, Roy has made a new sport out of picking on the poor kid. He’s always calling him “Ed-Lardo” and making gym class a curse. Edward is kind-hearted, polite, and likes to help people when he can, but he lacks the confidence to believe he’s good at anything but theater. Holly is always defending Edward from Roy’s cruel jokes, and she’s really nice, and pretty, so Edward has developed a bit of a crush on her. But how can he move boldly forward when he thinks Roy might like her, too?
I’m not sure what kind of Candy Land skill Edward should get, but I did sort of want him to work on a big script for himself. He wants to ask Holly to the end-of-the-year dance, but he knows outright that he’s competing with Roy, and he doesn’t know how to ask her without making a fool of himself.
★Nick, a.k.a. “Death” ★
His full, self-appointed title is “Cynical Death”, but everyone shortens it to “Death”, and his parents refuse to call him anything but “Nick, honey” and “Nick, sweetie”. Gloomy, quiet, and sarcastic, Death spends most of his time alone or working at the family bakery. His unfriendly demeanor and skeleton-printed apron make people think he absolutely hates working there, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Death has been baking cakes and pastries for the bakery since he was little, and he puts all his energy into doing a kickass job.
When Death was little, he hated going out to play with other kids because he was shy, embarrassed, and easily upset. He liked spiders and reading about poisonous things, so girls thought he was gross, and boys who discovered his shyness and offbeat humor would simply torment him for him and call him a weirdo.
Soon enough, Death found peace in avoiding other people, and courage in his cynicism. His parents forced him to go to school dances to help him socialize, but it never quite clicked. He’s satisfied being left alone by everyone, but his shyness remains a disgrace for him, so he’s grumpy and sarcastic to chase it away. He has at least one friend, though, which is the nonjudgmental Edward.
Death has the power-skill of healing, which comes from a pendant given to him by a little green troll named Plumpy. Because the healing energy runs on sugar, it overwhelms Death and whoever he’s healing with an absurd amount of “warm-fuzzy feelings”. Because this can last for almost five minutes (depending on the amount of energy used), it’s incredibly embarrassing for Death to use, and he gets mad when somebody gets themselves hurt. The power basically incapacitates Death and his patient in a “sugary cloud of moronity”, so it can’t be used in the middle of a dangerous situation. Imagine half the team smiling like idiots while a bunch of mutant, cavity-ridden swines go after them with clubs and maces!
Okay, that’s all I’ve got for these five. Could you please give me some feedback and suggestions on them? Are their flaws enough to make well-rounded characters? Are they interesting? Does anything sound weird about them, or give you the wrong idea about them, etc? Thank you so much, and sorry for the HUGE post. I swear, I spent hours trying to shorten this thing!
–I anticipate a few problems with a target audience of 11-18. As you mentioned, the characters are in middle-school. (Generally, the protagonist is a few years older than the reader). Also, the plot is based on a children’s boardgame. From the brief description I’ve seen so far, going higher than 12 feels like a stretch. Even with creepiness. For example, Roald Dahl had a lot of books for kids and young adults that sometimes got a bit dark and creepy. Even so, his books don’t have a ton of appeal to the 13+ crowd.
–If you’re interested in writing a book mostly aimed at teens, what’s the hook that will connect them to a middle-school cast? For example, I think teens could enjoy a parody of Candy Land or something else they did when they were really young. Referring back to Roald Dahl, the audience for the cinematic remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sort of worked for teens because most of the characters were obnoxious stereotypes of tweens. (The overachiever, the text-addict, the TV junkie, etc).
–In particular, I think a romance among middle-schoolers will feel really, umm, kiddie to older readers. Characters are generally older than the readers because older characters are usually feel a bit more impressive, cool, and relevant. In contrast, I think a middle school romance would not feel particularly impressive, cool or relevant to readers that are older than middle school.
Aw, man. I waited all day for some kind of feedback, and I knew it’d be a little awkward because on the content I was going with, but it seems like the response was pretty bad! Eek. I’m sorry!
Okay, I can easily change the names of the fanfiction characters. Mostly, I’m looking for help with character development and plot, and the actual character names from the board-game aren’t important to that.
I picked that game because we were just trying to think of something random and silly to do, mostly just for practice with character development. I wanted to work out a sort of parody-plot so we could try out some of the advice I already got from Superhero Nation about character development.
LOL, I wish I could edit my post to not really mention the boardgame at all, but make the plot “generic food-based world” sounding instead, to avoid the copyright issues. I didn’t realize you needed to worry about copyright things here, B. Mac! Is it because you’re an actual author? I’m sorry for the trouble! Yikes!
I really don’t wanna trouble you to do the editing, ’cause it sounds like a hassle… Would it be possible for me to “start over”? ^_^;; I’ve got all the information we wrote here so far (my descriptions and your response) in a document, so maybe we could delete all the posts in here so far, and I’ll edit the opening to eliminate copyright issues before trying this again? I’m really sorry for the trouble! I’ll fix it, I swear!
“I didn’t realize you needed to worry about copyright things here, B. Mac! Is it because you’re an actual author? I’m sorry for the trouble! Yikes!” No worries! I know it’s a bit weird that I have to think like a lawye, but I do make money from my website. (Whether or not I’m an “actual author” is less clear). I’d like to keep the people that own Candyland from deciding that they deserve a piece of my revenues… that’s my food money! Youtube got sued over something similar.
However, if you’d like to try a parody, I’d be excited to help. Parody is very hard to sue for copyright infringement.
That makes sense. I went and read the link you added to your last post, so I got to read a bit about the revenue thing. Heh-heh, I’m really sorry!
You know, I’ve never really thought about how to do a “parody” properly, you know, where it’s not liable to be sued right off the bat. I’m really copyright-infringement aware when working on completely original works, but I’ve never really thought about how to do a parody legally, though I love making that sort of thing.
What would you suggest for how to do parody correctly, B. Mac? I’m really interested. Is it partially of a matter of changing names and character designs enough to be remnicient of the original subject matter, but not actually the same?
I definitely know our CL story involves a lot more actual plotline than the board game did, haha. So there’s no real storyline issue, I think. In the game, the only “plot” was to race to the end of the game and “meet” the King.
Why’s that, Tom? ^_^ Does Superhero Nation count as a parody?
I suppose, for now, I’ll try to answer the other questions you asked, B. Mac. I had trouble thinking up a “target audience” for this story, especially ’cause it’s mostly just practice for character building. I think I went with 11 – 18 because I do make sort of kiddy, young parody movies that have mostly appeales to those age groups.
Originally, the main characters were all aged 16, but we brought their ages down to middle school because I couldn’t figure out why high-school kids would’ve been picked out for a Candy Land adventure… Do you think I should make them high-schoolers again, and play it up for comedy? I guess it could be itneresting trying to explain why high schoolers ended up on this adventure.
The romance element in this story is kind of downplayed… I don’t think any of them come full-circle, but the characters do get closer over time. Would the “love elements” work better in a slightly older cast, or should I consider keeping it as a background element?
And for why I picked Candy Land, it’s a nostalgia thing, and I loved the idea of making food-based powers and theming everything. Since we’re just working on this story for fun/practice and don’t have big ambitions for publishing or anything, I just went with the crazy idea and started making into something for fun.
I do love making parodies, but like I said before, I never considered making a legally proper parody. I’d love some input about that, to see if I could do it right. That, too, would be great practice.
Oh, sorry, I forgot to explain the joke! The reason I said that is one of the currently unposted guest writer articles is one by yours truly on the subject of how to do spoof and parody, so it’s funny that this situation should arise!
As far as parody goes, I think that I have some funny concepts, but rarely bring them to fruition. Parody is a very hard kind of comedy. For example, there have been many, many hilarious movies over the past 50 years, but only a few have been parodies. (Movies like Austin Powers 1 and 2, Airplane!, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead vs. reams of farces like Zoolander and situational comedies like Harold and Kumar).
I think Tom’s parody is pretty good. For one thing, he’s more focused than I am. That’s why I asked him to do an article on how to do parodies! (You can read it here). Now, if only I had posted the article earlier in my wedding schedule. Ack.
Generally, I’m better at farce (where the comedy comes from general wackiness) than parody (which pokes fun at the conventions and style and assumptions of a particular genre or movement). Focus helps!
Actually, if it’s mocking an entire genre, it’s called a pastiche. A parody is when you mock a particluar work. For example, the Family Guy episode ‘Blue Harvest’ is a parody of Star Wars. On the other hand, Freakazoid is a pastiche of the superhero genre. Shaun of the Dead and Austin Powers are hard to pin down, since they’re both parodies of a particular work, but the works they parody are both the most iconic examples of their genre (zombies and spies respectively), so they are a parody and a pastiche.
I only discovered the word ‘pastiche’ after I wrote that article, by the way.
Trollitrade, I think that changing the names is the first step. But– and I’ll do an article on this later today because I think it’s a big point– a parody needs an angle. What about Candyland are you trying to make fun of?
For example, let’s say I’m doing a parody of something like Pokemon. If I only changed the name, it wouldn’t be very funny because I don’t have an angle yet. But there are a lot of potential angles. For example, you can usually reimagine the relationships in a humorous way. Take Pokemon, for example. The premise of Pokemon is that you can capture your friends in battle, enslave them, and then have them knock each other unconscious for your career advancement. (And this is a series aimed at children!) Also. I wouldn’t trust a 10 year old out of the house overnight, let alone traveling across the world with some chick he met at a gym. God, aren’t there schools in Pallet Town? So, if I were doing a parody of Pokemon, I might try something like Ash-as-villain, Pikachu-as-victim, and Ash’s mom as a negligent sack of useless.
In a superhero story, we might get a more sympathetic look at the villain. He’s struggling to make ends meet and he does his best to rob a bank and then Captain Awesome bursts in and starts punching everyone… or we could look at how angsty the antiheroes of the 1990s are (“it was a murder-rape-suicide! *SOB!*”) or that superheroes are fairly loathe to solve problems in any way but violence… or that superheroes are almost always New Yorkers (which bothers conservatives) of the white/male/good-looking/heterosexual variety (which bothers liberals)… or how superheroes try so hard to look badass. For example, Agent Orange refuses to take his license picture with his glasses off because he doesn’t think anyone will recognize him.
About your idea for a Pokemon parody: you should see the Pokemon page for ‘Wild Mass Guessing’ on TV Tropes. There’s ike 50 different explanations for each of those inconsistencies in Pokemon.
“In a superhero story, we might get a more sympathetic look at the villain. He’s struggling to make ends meet and he does his best to rob a bank and then Captain Awesome bursts in and starts punching everyone…”
This is Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. He meets the girl of his dreams in a laundromats. Was that deliberate?
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