Archive for January 2nd, 2012

Jan 02 2012

Damzo’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Please see the comments below. Thanks.

2 responses so far

Jan 02 2012

How to Make a Boring Character Interesting

Here are some possibilities for making boring characters interesting–feel free to mix and match.

 

Problem 1: The character doesn’t have a distinct personality.

 

A) Make sure the character has distinct traits.  Can you name 3-4 adjectives that fit your character really well but not most other protagonists in your genre?  If not, please see this list of character traits for some possibilities and this article about how to use traits to develop characters.

 

B) Give him at least one flaw, a trait that makes it harder for him to achieve his goals and preferably leads to some conflict with sympathetic characters.   Some authors back into rarely-interesting “flaws” like being overly modest or “caring too much.”  If you can use those flaw(s) to create conflict or obstacles, that’s fine.  For example, maybe he wants to succeed in a job where modesty is an obstacle (e.g. marketing, sales or politics).  If you can’t use the flaw to create conflict, I’d recommend trying a different flaw instead or possibly rewriting the plot to accommodate the character.  For example, if you were really dead-set on a character whose signature flaw was his total inability to play the didgeridoo, maybe he’s growing up in a culture where mastering the didgeridoo is a critical rite of passage and/or the main way to pick up ladies.  For more on flaws and challenging characters, please see this article.

 

C) If all else fails, play up traits to the extreme.  Anything is better than having your character do and say “whatever the author feels like today,” and unfortunately I see many WTAFLT characters.  It’s generally easier to rewrite a character whose traits are too strong than one whose traits are too bland/unclear.

 

D) Make sure your plot gives your protagonists chances to make unusual choices. If 99% of protagonists from your genre would act the same way if they were in your plot, you’re not giving your protagonist a chance to distinguish himself.  If there’s a goal, a principle or a possession your character values much more than most other protagonists would, your character might make an unusual decision to protect/advance it.  For example, the fugitive protagonist of Point of Impact breaks into an FBI-guarded morgue to reclaim and properly bury his dead dog. It’s a memorable scene because the character is putting himself on the line for a goal that wouldn’t matter to most action protagonists–almost every protagonist would just skip to getting revenge or clearing his name.

 

E) Flesh out his perspective–what are some things he would notice or comment on that most other people wouldn’t?  What are some things he would draw connections between that most people wouldn’t?  For example, in a superhero-style world where people like Lois Lane or Mary Jane get kidnapped repeatedly, a veteran superhero (or investigator) might guess that anyone that’s been kidnapped by a supervillain for no readily obvious reason is probably very close to a superhero.

 

F) Force your main character to do or say at least one thing per page that he would do but you wouldn’t.  Don’t let your character get hemmed in by what you would do–most authors aren’t interesting or honest/circumspect enough to make an autobiography work.  Also, if at all possible, please force your main character(s) to do/say at least one thing per page that your other characters wouldn’t.  That will really help the main character feel distinct.  If that’s not possible, I would recommend reevaluating whether the character has distinct traits and whether the plot is giving him opportunities to show those traits.

 

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43 responses so far

Jan 02 2012

Please Don’t Write a Story *About* Superpowers

Published by under Superpowers

Instead of a story about superpowers, please write a story about characters who have them. The superpowers are just a means to an end (a dramatic plot and interesting characters).  Rather than worrying too much about the superpowers themselves, which I think is usually a waste of time, please worry more about the characters and the plotting, which ultimately matter a lot more.  Specifically:

  • The characters’ personalities and key traits.  (Red flag: the synopsis for the book spends more time covering the character’s superpowers than their personalities).
  • Their goals.
  • Their unusual decisions.  What are some things the protagonists do that most other protagonists wouldn’t do in the same situation?
  • Their voices.
  • The scenes the characters use the superpowers in.
  • Secondarily, any unique touches on your superpowers and how you portray them.

One response so far