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  1. #1
    Supreme Pantless Commander SpikeOtacon's Avatar
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    Default The Art of Fiction - a guide to assist your writing

    Delivered to the desk of one PSO-World.com, a most mysterious package wrapped in slightly damp and damaged brown paper. An unusual sight among the photon weaponry and outlandish anime garments adorning the walls, like Victorian curtains and fixtures placed in a night club filled with glow sticks and drugs unspeakable. The librarians of PSO-World open the parcel, tearing the paper and unleashing the musky smell of an aged book that lie within. Upon flipping the book over to the front cover, the words on the front cover heat pressed into the fine leather:

    "The Art of Fiction" a how-to by SpikeOtacon

    The contents of which shall follow.

    A Forward by the author:
    Spoiler!


    I.) The Plot, and how to not lose it.

    The plot is the soil from which your story will grow. Your characters, locations, dialog, it all exists because of this. It is the reason you are writing. You have something you want to tell so make sure you know exactly what you want to say! Plots can be done in many fashions and genres. Some genres fit together better with certain styles than others. One thing to keep in mind as you begin writing is Narration.

    Ia.) The narrator is the voice with which you give every detail. These come in two major flavors: First Person and Third Person. No, those aren't just kinds of shooting game camera styles!

    A "First Person" narrator has the story being written and described by a character in the story. Perhaps not even the main character! The language used in first person narration includes using very personal descriptors for events and actions within the story world. "I", "Me", & "Mine". Everything is being told through the sensory details of that character you choose to write from, so they are limited to only telling what they know of or have personally experienced in the story. You must imagine yourself as that character and write everything from their perspective.

    A "Third Person" narrator has the story being written and described outside of the characters in the story. You're telling the story "through the looking glass", watching and describing events like a camera in a movie. You can easily jump around to different characters and locations in third person compared to first person, which may require more work to help indicate just which character is taking command of the story at that point. "He/She", "They", & other such descriptors are used for every character, there is no "I" in Third Person (Ok so there is in the phrase but still) narration! Remember, you aren't telling the story through a character, or an outsider of the characters, but more like a camera peeking through a window into the world.'

    To Illustrate:
    First Person - "As I sit here on this cool autumn day writing this guide, I can smell the spice of decaying tree leaves in the air as it filters through my open window."

    Third Person - "As Spike sat at his desk to add further to his guide, he could smell the spice of the decaying tree leaves in the air as it filtered through his open window."

    I chose to use similar wording for both phrases to give a basic approximation of each style compared to each other. However, the perspective for third person is not just a replacement of descriptive words. It can mean using entirely different language and detailing!

    Ib.) Plot style is also chosen and described by how it approaches the events that make up the story. You can have twisting plot paths that cross different locations and events together to present the story. You can also have a straight plot line, following a single character or group from beginning to end. Something to keep in mind about complexity and plot twisting/changes. Readers can only take so much when it comes to changing the plot twist.

    To explain a "Plot Twist", this is when you take the story and all of the information it has given the reader up to this point, and flipped a particular expectation or detail to reveal another truth to the story than what you previously had them believe. A basic example would be like the main character's best friend backstabbing them and taking the team's intel to the enemy base. A bigger twist may involve a character finding out that the company they work for is actually a front for the Illuminati, a job that they never asked for.

    A good rule of thumb is to keep the twists to as little as you need to play with your reader. Take any given episode of Scooby Doo for an example. It's a show geared towards a younger audience, however the writing does have a lesson we can apply to plot twists. They only apply one or two twists per 30 minute mystery. Thus, avoiding overkill and having to think too much because there were so many twits that scooby resembled a pretzel by the end of the episode. For more advanced writers, I point you to heist and thriller stories/movies. There can be a lot of small twists fired in rapid succession, however the execution for each twist must be polished to a mirror shine and every twist needs to make some sort of sense by the end of the story (unless you're going for the open-ended route of unanswered questions which is another can of worms entirely) but usually offer some sort of pay-off for the reader as they occur.

    So to wrap up this section, a Plot is the Who, What and Why in its most concentrated form. Without this, you have nothing. Keep in mind that these are just some basic examples, I have left out lesser used literary forms like unreliable narration because they require a particularly strong grasp to pull together successfully. If your story is there to spell out a mystery full of intrigue or pulls a "Lebewski" and ends as it began and essentially got nothing done you will find that they can all be done while using those guidelines above.

    II.) Characterizing your Characters.

    Your characters are the humans/animals/other living organisms within the story that perform actions relevant to the plot. They are extremely important to design properly unless you are just writing about paint drying. Your characters need to be believable. They cannot be absolutely perfect without any flaws or quirks about them. That's not how a person, even a humanoid animal or other creature, would operate. You must also make sure that their personality is consistent with who they are. They cannot change drastically and be a completely different personality in one page turn and then another personality in another page. We call that Multiple Personality Syndrome, and they may want to see a psychiatrist about that.

    IIa.) Character Progression has two very basic templates. "Static" and "Dynamic".

    A Static character never changes through the entire story. They will maintain the same personality and world views from the first page to the last. Secondary characters are almost always like this, unless the plot in particular calls for a character to change that will affect the plot or main character directly. This is also perfectly fitting for main characters, though depending on what kind of story you are telling they may come off as "One-Note" characters and can clash with the voice and tone of the story.

    A Dynamic character changes during the story and can become a very different person from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. They will change their opinions and views, and may even use some different language in their dialog to reflect their changing. This usually happens progressively as the story goes on, and is less commonly done as an instant change unless said character undergoes a lobotomy or traumatic experience. Using a dynamic character requires careful consideration into the mind of the character and the changes must be done as a reflection of their experience during the story. A popular example of a dynamic character change would be Alex from the novel "A Clockwork Orange", who undergoes treatment to be forced to become a "normal" person after living the criminal life of a hoodlum during the beginning of the novel. I'm not saying you should force change down your character's throat, as good of a David Bowie song as it is.

    IIb.) Every person has their opinions of other people and emotions that they feel during certain times. Something that you'll want to do to establish a baseline for your characters is to keep a list of dominant emotions and attitudes they have. Make it short, 3-5 at most. If the character changes, these will also change. So make a new list for them and mark when that is relevant to them in the plotline. For example, is your character broody, contemplative, and disdainful? Or are they jolly, positive and priestly? While this step isn't exactly required, it can help you keep your thoughts and consistency with characters organized. You'll use these feelings and emotions to define how they act, how they speak, and separate them from every other character in the story.

    For more ideas on specific character attitudes, do some reading on Archetypes. A great place to start is to check out Carl Jung's Archetypes.

    III.) The Voice and The Vision.

    In order to allow your reader to make sense of your story and everything going on within it you need to pick how you want to describe people, places and actions. You can choose a style that gives very basic details of locations, concise phrases to illustrate action and motion, and broad terminology to create a portrait of a character. This fashion is very common, especially in fanfictions as they tend to concentrate on action more often than not and feel that they don't wish to weigh their audience down with detail after detail after detail. This way usually makes the reader have to use their imagination to fill in the gaps and make the world feel real, which depending on how well you've executed it can be a good thing.

    The other style used is what I refer to as "Tolkienesque". This style involves very lengthy detailed passages to describe a new locale, paragraphs that rival an entire season of Dragonball Z in terms of how much action is stuffed in there, and microscopic detail in describing a character. This fashion is often used inappropriately and often interrupts the flow of a story. Many also find that much attention to detail too much, especially if you take an entire chapter to tell everyone what color the treetops are. But if done in proper moderation, this style can produce stunning results that assist the imagination.

    Whichever of these two styles (or mixes of) you choose, you'll also have to remember word choice during different scenes of the tale. Just like with different characters, a different scene may be an entirely different attitude from the one previous. Action scenes for instance will use dramatic words with a certain bite to them to emphasise the violent nature of each attack, or the swiftness with which every move must be made with. Romantic scenes will use more lush, descriptive words to highlight the passion in the scene and the slower pace and tone. It is important to note that the voice of the scene cannot drown out and overpower the voice of your character and cause them to become a different person "just because". They all work as layers, building blocks with which the foundation of the scene is built. Use the voice of the scene to display the mood and tension, but also imagine how your character(s) will act when in the different situations each voice is applied to.

    As you write out each scene, don't forget to keep the writing with your heart and soul. Don't just add a bunch of words for the sake of adding words, people will notice when you are trying too hard. Vice versa, they will tell when you aren't trying hard enough. Don't lose sight of your own touches. Pay attention to what you've already wrote, and try to avoid repetition. You don't want to use the same word 100 times in the same paragraph as this blurs the sentences together and will cause the reader some frustration and possibly bore them. This is especially important during scenes of action, too much repetition can absolutely slaughter the flow. Keeping the reader happy and paying attention will equal a real page-turner.

    IV.) Farewell to my Arms.

    I hope that this guide will help you polish up your ideas and strengthen your bond to your writing. There are plenty of things this guide hasn't covered, and I may come back and add further to it I believe I have covered some of the most basic and important sections that you'll need to start with. If there's something in particular you want me to add to the guide then let me know and I might write up a new section for it or add it to a relevant section above. Good luck and good writing!

    She's a summer love in the spring, fall and winter

  2. #2
    Supreme Pantless Commander SpikeOtacon's Avatar
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    Space reserved in case it is needed in the future.

    She's a summer love in the spring, fall and winter

  3. #3
    The James Franco of PSO2 NoiseHERO's Avatar
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    Pretty cool guide I'm sure it'll help a lot of beginning writers.

    One problem I see with a lot of people is that they don't really put a lot of planning or timelines into their story and write from the top of their head with no real direction other than their present idea.

    AYY. All you nillas days is numbered.

  4. #4

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    This guide will help me for future fan fictions. Thank you very much, from the center of my heart, Spike.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michaeru View Post
    Pretty cool guide I'm sure it'll help a lot of beginning writers.
    Definitely agreed. There's a wealth of great information here, and I believe we'll likely see an influx of PSO2 fan fiction in the nearish future, so this is perfect timing.

    One problem I see with a lot of people is that they don't really put a lot of planning or timelines into their story and write from the top of their head with no real direction other than their present idea.
    I agree with this, but a lack of planning isn't always a bad thing for all writers. Some people are able to plan every detail out beforehand and make their story stick to the outline, but other people turn out better results "writing from the hip," especially when the story's more about the characters than what the characters do or did. That said, you're perfectly right in that most people who aren't yet masters of the art would benefit from planning and figuring out as many things as they can before the first word hits the screen (or the legal pad, if you're old school and have fingers of steel).

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by CupOfCoffee View Post
    I agree with this, but a lack of planning isn't always a bad thing for all writers. Some people are able to plan every detail out beforehand and make their story stick to the outline, but other people turn out better results "writing from the hip," especially when the story's more about the characters than what the characters do or did. That said, you're perfectly right in that most people who aren't yet masters of the art would benefit from planning and figuring out as many things as they can before the first word hits the screen (or the legal pad, if you're old school and have fingers of steel).
    Generally my first drafts come out in fits and spurts just as ideas come into my head. That's generally what works for me.

    But just like any writing I'm going to take seriously, I go back to rewrite and iterate on the first draft. I used to hate it when I was a kid in school, but writing additional drafts is like the best thing ever for the quality of a story.

  7. #7

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    Totally agreed there. I could never find much to change in my essays and other academic writings, but for fiction with descriptive prose and characters and a plot, further drafts and rewrites are beyond necessary.

  8. #8
    The James Franco of PSO2 NoiseHERO's Avatar
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    Anyone can write anyway they want, but if they want an audience to like it they have to make sure it's good! I definitely prefer to plan every little detail from the multiple things I've scraped up in my imagination.

    As for my writing, I think I'm re-writing the whole thing for like the 6th or 7th time until every major event and backstory is to my true liking, @[email protected]

    Personally I like to set up over detailed timelines with all the major events for a chapter listed.so I can set up a long term plan without forgetting some good or specific stuff. But even as I've begun to do that I realized how under developed some of my characters actually were @[email protected]

    Seems like the more time I spend the more complicated things get.

    AYY. All you nillas days is numbered.

  9. #9

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    I've been writing for quite some time, and while I agree it is good to plan an overall aspect to the story arc first, I found out one lesson. The bigger the story is, the more likely it will not end up exactly how you plan it. Thing is, characters eventually become living personalities in your head. They develop eventually into something that you can no longer truly control to move at your will. Even for short fan fiction, some things may actually quickly alter themselves within the writing (like I had to do a bit for one of our role-play topics).

    The idea is, you are likely going to approach a situation where you thought something was going to happen this way; but by then, your characters are established to do something completely different in that situation, often enough to affect the whole scene (and anything afterwards). That's the point where you begin to throw your hands up, ride to where your *now constricted* thoughts will carry you, and hope for the best. Of course, if you do your story in layers (like have an outline wide enough in scope) your alterations may not affect major events that high up the chain.

    To phrase a self example, that I did. Someone might write a story with the intention of writing several of them to cover the story of a planet itself (for thematic reasons), but each story is a character-driven story which paints its own part in the planetary story arc. This is an example of layered content for which character-based event changes in each individual story may likely not be strong enough to affect the bigger picture told through the collection.

    Another example is with good Phantasy Star Fanfiction that is based on the events of a particular game's story-arc. With those, you already have that upper layer of story-writing to work off of. In that case, your brand of continuity is to not disturb it so that your Fan-fiction could fit like a glove (or for a better example. That hand within the glove) within that universe. The trick is to make it seem that either the established characters feel like you are looking at a new believable scene not previously covered; and that new characters feel both significant enough to feel like they are making the difference of those situations without changing the outcomes that do happen in the main timeline. You can even create new technologies that don't feel too far fetched from the current tech. Maybe something just in use by a few people at the time. It's then when you may get lucky, too. SEGA might just end up putting your tech idea, in story form, into the games later because your idea was close enough to something they were already considering behind closed doors.
    Last edited by Akaimizu; Jun 4, 2012 at 11:27 PM.

  10. #10

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    aww man this is just like high school all over again. all jokes aside tho this dose help. iv read over this and its crazy how you can forget the basics so easily. I'm going back over some of my story's now and making some changes to them. i find it very helpful to have a timeline like rock said and most of my time lines are based off of real life events with me so that really helps me keep in mind where im wanting to go with the story and how it should go to get to this said event and so forth and so on. anyway thanks for this
    who am i....? *tosses card to* find out.

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