Storywriting course: follow along


#41

WOW, Matsman you have really put a lot of work in this thread and no wonder this thread is exponentially being read. Because, it is really interesting. I’m up to the quick tips and now I have to go eat, darn!!
I’m probably going to jump the gun now, since I didn’t finish all the other post, but anyways, if we post some initial layout of our story, are you going to help us or give us some food for thoughts? (I’m not english either, so are going to give us some guidance for structuring our story?) I’m trying to create a short animation synopsis, then to a script, to storyboard and finally to computer animation!!!

I will come back later :slight_smile:
Cheers and keep on pooring the good stuff :slight_smile:


#42

wow, lots of replies (if I hadn’t already seen :D)

thanks people good to have you on board.

since I typed german…

Babylonia: Dank je wel… I enjoy knowing you learned and will go out and use this! (I try to keep this in english… for all the world to read!)

Helsing: Tack for besok! Have been having vacations in denmark, sweden and norway all through my childhood… fantastic beautiful country with brilliant people… so very social and free in their thoughts… are you looking forward to the dark winterdays or not?

Brayon: No problem, as long as it isn’t work I am always glad to give advise… Parlez vous Francaise? Bienvennue et grace pour represaille. (this is probably not correct… I am afraid my french is worse then my german… I completely made it through the school lessons purely on all the french words I knew in english :sad: )


#43

Hi all and welcome to lesson 9: Introduction to characters

I hadn’t planned this lesson until after writing the lesson about writing the start of your story… But since we are already talking acting and emotions here… and even have touched on putting yourself in someone else’s shoes… I thought it would be better to include this lesson right here, right now! :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ll be doing a more advanced and in-depth lesson later because this is such an amazing deep topic, covering fields of psychology, inter human relationships, behaviour study, some biology, etc… you could even say that whole libraries are written about characters (pun intended :stuck_out_tongue: )

Well… that said we can begin and first I’ll confess something to you people…

I am a big RPG fan

Well, shocked? Possibly not… I love Rpg’s and especially the pen and paper type. (you know the old dungeons and dragons being the most known… but there are others, some I consider to be better than DnD)
In my opinion pen and paper rpg’s are probably the most advanced game systems around, this is because they not only try to emulate a certain “game mechanic” but a whole world including the freedom of creating vast amounts of content while you are playing. And since there is no automatic system (meaning your pc) players (and the game master) have complete freedom to do anything they only dreamed of… which means the game system should almost incorporate everything we know on this earth.

Lets get back on topic… the reason I brought this up is because every RPG needs a character (or characters) for the game to work and that is were the fun starts…

Unfortunately most RPG game systems only have a character building engine (rule set with parameters) that supports the physical characteristics and expect players to fill in the psychological background and personality. (I am actually working on a RPG system which has an engine to also create a personality… thus pushing players harder to actually “role-play”, but all this on a side note)
The thing I am getting at is that RPG’s have the ability to simplify the world until only two rulebooks remain (sometimes even one… other times ten… but that means a lot more detail and complexity) But these simplification means you can create stories and characters within a couple of hours just by playing around (always very inspiring, I find)
Well this simplification is very important in writing as well… usually the most detailed character is the main character… and the complexity decreases until you have characters that are used only once and then just say their line and go off again… or are just around to make a point or create a contrast.

Usually the layers of complexity are referred to a 1d, 2d and 3d characters.

1d characters being the ones without a name, who have very little or no text and only serve one purpose within the story. Extras also fall into this category although I am more likely to put those into the décor group…

2d characters are much more interesting already, they have a name, a history and a motive. In Rpg’s these characters are recurring NonPlayerCharacters (NPC’s) who provide the player with quests during a complete storyline… In movies these characters are usually in a relationship not escapable by the main character (spiderman’s J. jonah jameson, Harry Potters minister of magic or Filch the caretaker)

3d characters are mostly main characters in a story and have beside all the above mentioned stuff also an inner dialogue/life… meaning you can literally read their thoughts. These characters are experienced by the audience from behind their eyes. In films this option isn’t really available, it might be used but not for a whole film. So in movies the characters inner life has to come from the actor/ actress and to have time to show those and to get the same kind of bond, we follow the main character almost during every part of his or her day… even to the toilet if possible.

I have to make a note here that these three categories are just generalisations and that you have to see this more as a grey scale… in which we have agreed on boundaries between white, grey and black.

BTW if writing a bad guy in your story… be sure to make him as deep as you can… 3d bad guys are preferred because if the bad guy is deeper the main character also gets deeper… just because of the relationship between the two…and if the bad guy is far less deep than the main character then he is no menace at all… because he seems stupid.

A few other points I have to include is that 1d and 2d characters are usually very stereotyped and can only survive because people have that stereotype seen before, and know how the rest of the character should work. This makes stereotyping a very powerful tool because just like emotions and memories you can now also use their brains to flesh out your characters a little more… But it is also a very dangerous thing to use… because stereotypes aren’t interesting… a skinhead isn’t interesting in its own… it is a stereotype but if he work in an elderly home on weekends it suddenly gets interesting because it is not part of the stereotype… and people want to know why he does it and how the people in the home respond…etc.

This brings us to making a character. I always find it important to first set boundaries… think about status and position, age, relations. Then when I have those I usually throw in something way unexpected, a strange hobby, some weird fear, a huge secret, those kind of things. This gives immediate interest like discussed above and provides some drama to the background story. Another thing you must remember is to MAKE OUR CHARACTER NORMAL! (teehee :slight_smile: )
We all have our faults and shortcomings and you should build them into your characters from the very start. Because when a character has no limitations you have essentially created a “god” and everything you throw at it will be resolved immediately… there would be no danger, no climax, no drama… it would be boring! So build in shortcomings, be it physical, fear or love induced, or simply because your character has views and opinions about his life and behaviour.

Well… I am sorry but I will call this the end of part one… since I am really tired and have a big deadline coming up… retyping is really boring and very stupid work… so I am nearing zombie status now… Will be continued tomorrow after a good nights sleep and a hard days work. I am almost at the middle so expect the second half tomorrow.

And now the intermission…

taaaadada tadadada dada, taaaadada tadadada dada
tiiiididi tididi didi, tiiiididi tididi didi

(loop until next post :p)


#44

Hi all and welcome to lesson 9: Introduction to characters PART TWO

I hope you all enjoyed out intermission music… and now we will go on to more view and ideas concerning the aforementioned subject.

I wanted to put some things in perspective by talking about the ancient Greek, james bond and the bourne identity:

The ancient Greek civilisation was one of great might and prosperity but also a very advanced scientific one. Most of today theory is based upon their heritage… and alike most of our knowledge about drama is considered to come from the Greek… I will go into a more practical case here… namely Heracles.

Heracles was not just a hero… his first fault was being the bastard child of upper god Zeus and an earthly woman. This brought upon him the wrath of Zeus his “wife” Hera (she is considered his wife, probably just a long term relationship). Hera is fighting heracles during his whole life to get back on her husbands cheating.
Heracles’s second fault derives from the same given, he is a demi-god… meaning he is no human nor god… shunned by both he is lonely and very driven to be part of something… this leads him to do his labours which would grant him accreditation among the gods.

In this little overview of heracles you can see a couple of things… first of all heracles is not almighty… strong as he may be. Second there is a lot going on in the background… the main character is heracles… but those god’s aren’t exactly what you expect them to be.
The Greek realised their gods couldn’t be perfect and had rows among them just as the Greek themselves had… this makes the Greek mythology very rich and all the characters very recognizable. And it explained why there could be such things as war, defeat, sickness and poverty… simply because the gods weren’t perfect and had fights among each other. The third reason for these stories about the gods was to warn people against big mistakes like adultery or not trusting someone.
As an end to this part I would like to suggest you find a modern translation (a library is good for these kind of things… since you usually read them only once) of the Greek mythology, it doesn’t only make for some good reading but has some great characters, dramatic scenes and you can learn a lot about relationships as well.

next up james bond movies… don’t get me wrong, I am a bond fan and can almost be awaken in the middle of the night to watch one (BTW this is only figure of speech… you would not like to wake me in the middle of the night believe me.) First I might point your attention towards the gadgetry in these movies… especially the older ones… bond was the first with an on-board navigation system in his car… The future is now!!
But the main reason I am bringing up Bond is because from a critics point of view it is pretty bad… this is because most characters inhabiting the films are only 1d characters… with the exceptions being bond and the main evil character, and sometimes the main girl, those characters being 2d.
Luckily modern times brings us new science and lesson we have learned in the past. The makers saw their mistakes and tried to do better. First noticeable in the nineties bond films starring pierce brosnan… M became a 2d character and some more personality was given to side characters as well, although not enough to lift them above 1d.
The latest rendition in the franchise was kind of an eye opener since they actually tried (and succeeded in my view, barely, but nonetheless) to up the main badguy and bond to 3d characters making the story a lot more “real” and gritty. I am looking forward to the next in the hope they also succeed in bringing the girl or love interest up to that point of being 3d.

Last in this part is m view of the character set up of the bourne Identity. This concept being from a far more modern writer then Bond, would suggest a better insight into building the characters but surprisingly it has the same basic problems Bond does… only they do a little better because the line between main character and side character are more blurred thus creating the impression of being better build. It is the same as enjoying the old space invaders as a shooter game and UT3. The lack of funky stuff in space invader isn’t that noticeable because everything is in the same limited style.
In the bourne movies this way of storytelling is thereby enhanced because they switch viewpoints almost constantly. So while 1 character never reaches 3d, the combination of viewpoints involving 2d characters brings the overall depth up. This is also an important technique in writing.

Lets talk a little psychology. All people suffer from “primal instincts” this is a leftover from our animal ancestry. Most important from these “instincts” are lust, fear and anger. which according to the Freudian movement lie at the bottom of all human behaviour. While I personally do not believe that I am using it as a tool to give my characters motivation and reasoning behind their actions. Since everything a character does should have a reason and motivation using one of the three “primal instincts” as a starting point is very convenient and since most of the time you already know what is going to happen but just need to make it personal to a character that sets it in motion… reverse engineering the reason is also much easier when knowing where to finish. BTW lack of reasoning (usually luck plays a huge part then) is a sign that you are reading/ viewing something bad… And lack of construction as well (yes starship troopers 2 is really as bad as everyone says it is… I was completely lost at everything after only 10 min.)

A quick note on names then:
I really hate to have to think up names since usually you don’t get time to think about it because you need the name to make the writing easier… (I actually tried once to avoid giving my main character a name but I ran in all kind of trouble with that… not in the least the amount of text needed to not say the name… :smiley: ) There are 2 reasons I find naming so very difficult… 1 is that I am very keen on originality So I would never go with simple names as joe or paul or maria or jennifer. And 2 I want the name to have a good sound without being silly in any way. ( I once had a game character named an my friend laughed when i told them the name… I still have no idea why although I asked them. So believe me when I say the next day the guy was named differently.)

Luckily I have found a way of doing this… and it involves cross-referencing the personality treats with different languages, sayings and terminology of all kinds of professions. To finally arrive at a mix of the best sounding or most original and then bending those words into a name by cutting and pasting. Besides not having to have the biggest imagination ever to come up with names this technique has another huge advantage and that is that in the name, which is usually just a tool and obsolete data in the sense that it adds nothing, I have now put a description of the personality of the character thus giving the name a purpose. And as one of the first lessons stated… or should at least… nothing should be in a story unless it adds to it.

Conclusion:
It is possible to make a fun story without 3d characters. An emotional bond is easier when the audience sees through the eyes of a character and can follow their logic and reasoning. Perfect characters have no right of existence unless the story involves only two lines ( Ah, a problem. Fixed!!) You should use the appropriate amount of detail at the appropriate place and save yourself a lot of work. (a bell boy in a hotel shouldn’t be a 3d character… unless he has a love affair with the main character, a homicidal grudge against the main character or is the main character himself). Showing events from multiple viewpoints adds depth, drama and interest, even it is only one character contemplating different modes of action. And finally when you find naming a problem try to be creative with a translation tool or google!

see you next time when we are going to cover writing the beginning… I am very glad this thing is digital now and I will not do this again…

PS. My greetings to lightwave7871…thanks for replying and congrats on posting three times and gaining the freedom of not being moderated constantly any more… And I am very curious where those numbers stand for?


#45

hi matsman.
i now read all your posts (read them in austria in the alps while regenerating my legs :wink: ). thank you and your friend for that. will you go on with the course? i am curious to read more.
regards,
Janosch


#46

Great going :applause:


#47

Hi everybody! just wanted to show my face again.

It has been a little quiet… I have had a crunch week (pre-deadline time) so was really late and couldn’t put myself to do anything else than just sit eat and play a few songs… (frets on fire) before going to bed. And I am working towards a new portfolio (and hope to keep it updated this time). But I have planned to do a new lesson this week… So don’t despair! You can write a start to your story very soon!!!

aqua9: Thanks! -takes a bow-

gerrycg: does that mean you have broken a leg during skiing… or just that you were very tired once you conquered those hillsides? To answer your question… yes I will go on beyond what I did now… I don’t know how long I can keep the information fresh… so it has to end somewhere… but not in the immediate future (like say before the end of the year). So I hope you can spare some time reading in a busy life. :smiley:

And if anyone has some comments to make on points I have mentioned, some eye-openers to share… feel free to do so… It will enhance the coming lessons… because I know what works and what not… and where people are struggling to follow my lead… or where I have cocked up and was to vague!


#48

don’t worry. i was just relaxing my tired muscles.
with the thought, that it is worth to wait, i like to wait. thx for going on!


#49

Here we are… lesson 10 already!

Gerry- good to hear there is nothing wrong with the legs :thumbsup: i was already afraid I had to write quicker to keep you busy, sitting quiet the whole day nothing to do but letting the bod heal itself… but fortunately that is not necessary :wise:

Lesson 10: Writing: the start!!

Well, well, well! We have all come this far… only to see how we start :slight_smile:

let me quickly refresh your memory about what I have said about the start all that time ago:

I stated that lots of writers struggle with the start… which is also why they almost never begin writing the beginning of the story. This is because the start has to draw in your audience… or else they might not buy the book… since many people read the first sentence (or page) before buying. I also mentioned that what should be your goal when writing the start is, to introduce the images/ atmosphere/ setting and the characters you are going to use in your story.

Do you still remember these points? If not it doesn’t matter since we will be refining the above statements… and I just recapped the points :stuck_out_tongue:

The first sentence:

Now this is a very strange thing but the first sentence is, according to a lot of people, the most important thing in the book. I myself am not at all agreeing with this, since I think it is a very commercial (in a bad, shallow, whoring way) thought. I do agree about it being important though but I think everything in a story is important! A story is the same as a portfolio… everything that seems rushed or slightly less important (beautiful in a portfolio) should be thrown out or repaired so it at least matches the same standard as the rest.
But leaving the above conversation… The first sentence still is the first thing anyone reads in your book (besides the title… which is an altogether other point) And is therefore a very good tool to pull your audience right inside.
The way in which you utilize this first introduction is up to personal preference or sometimes a story dictates what should be there. You, the writer, have a few options available, but you should always keep in mind that you are setting a mood, style and genre. (you don’t want people to expect sweet western drama and end up with a dark scifi horror story)

So without giving away what you are going to do, be certain to explicitly use the mood, genre and style that you will use throughout the story… that way people can also use the technique of reading the first page to see if they like it, and you won’t end up with the wrong kind of audience.

There are a few ways to build up your introduction in the first paragraph or page ( I don’t believe in first sentences, that should be the job of the title) And I will list a few stereotypical beginnings:

The imaginary beginningone of my favourites. The imaginary beginning tries to lure people inside by setting a mood… and I am very big on moods and atmosphere. It starts like you would start a movie, it describes what you see/ hear/ smell/ experience, almost on a poetic level. this way the audience is completely enveloped within an atmosphere and will be entranced to stay within the story to keep that warm blanket shielding them in the cold heartless outside world . Very good examples are the beginnings of books from one of my favourite writers, william gibson. In virtual light for instance, there is a sentence that neatly shows this: “But here the mirrored ziggurats down Lazaro Cardenas flow with the luminous flesh of giants, shunting out the night barrage of dreams to the waiting avenidas- business as usual, world without end.”
It may not mean a thing on its own but it sounds so beautiful and it also has a whole set of images connected with it which immediately set the mood.
The deep dive I would have liked to call this one the deep end… but that is confusing. This deals with throwing your audience directly in the action. It has the same effect as the first scene in a bond film, in which you have no idea why everything is happening… only that it is amazingly cool and you want to sit it out to see who wins or what happens next. A good example is a book about racing and the first sentence lets the main character nearly hit a passer by during a street race… that scene should have you immediately bonded with the main character… because you felt the fear and the speed and his guild about nearly killing someone.
the mystery Well this one is about putting your audiences immediately within the story as well but this time there is an overflow of information. Most beginnings in this kind focus on a conversation but no names or subjects are given, until you cannot pull out again. One of the most difficult beginnings to pull off in my opinion because you have to be very good in withholding information. Audiences should be reading on just to know what happened before and why everyone is doing what they do. Good examples are the film noir movies and most of the novels as well… since the whole genre is build on the notion that you don’t know what it is all about until the very end.
the question I wasn’t quite sure as to this needed a separate mentioning… since this keeps your audience waiting for answers as well. The main difference is that you start not by letting your audience in the dark and wanting answers to their questions, but you state the question yourself. This way you can direct the thinking process of your audience. While better suited for a journalism or scientific piece, this way of forcing your audience to think on a certain path can work fairly well in fictional work as well.
the facts also used often in journalism and scientific writing, but when done right it can be a very direct and powerful beginning. most seen example would be the quote from a dictionary at the beginning of a paper trying to explain a search for the real phenomenon of (just to pick anything) faith within a certain entity. I find that when utilising this kind of start you can best explain a certain event or character like this example: “my name is Rupert Murdock, some people mock me for my name but I am accustomed to that now. I work in the city state police force and right now I am standing with my feet in a puddle of blood and am bothered by the press for answers.”

As you can see in the last little example, I was mixing some of the other possible beginnings into it to make it stronger. I give all the facts… only to bring up questions like in the “mystery”, and I was also subtly trying to make you think of the question the press is asking without stating it directly… which is “what the hell has been happening here?!”

Well that should do it for the first few paragraphs. but how to continue next? And… when is the beginning over?

After starting the start:

It is very hard to draw a hard line between the place the start stops and the middle takes over. But mostly the start only lasts for about 2 or 3 scenes. Introducing characters and settings on the way. If I would to continue with the story of officer Rupert Murdock… The start would at least have to include his partner (You need to have a partner (could even be the bartender at his regular club) because the character needs to state his thoughts to someone) a more in-depth look at the city he works in, his current marrietial (English?) state (single, dating, married, children, affair or any combination) his position in society (rank, wealth, friends, family other than love related) and a look in his immediate surroundings. Possibly the murder scene but probably the office or car if he is a lot on the road, like many of the television detectives, that would be his “place” or habitat.

When all that information is known, only then can you start to play with it… see how you can jumble up his life and the things he knows to be true and real. which should be done in the middle part.

Not every start has to give a complete coverage like what I mentioned above… different events and characters need a different introduction. If the story above was romance orientated (“romance among corpses” it would be called) then I would more likely introduce the possible love interests in his surroundings quite early in the story. But if it where action orientated, I would probably set the second scene in a hideout with all the bad guys, Since the other side of the argument ( or war) is more important to the story than any girlfriends, unless the girlfriend is the enemy of course, but there is always a way to break every rule in the book.

An important point to remember (during the whole writing process but now is the time to actively start working with it) is (I believe my friend mentioned it before, in his part on acting) that your story (at least the character) has to be different in the beginning and end. During the storyline things should have changed around, characters should have learned things. Pain and happiness should have ensued and at the other end things need to seem somehow different, because of the journey the audience has made with the storyteller. I am bringing it up because since we have all written our endings, we know how the story is going to end. So it is very easy to write our beginning with that ending in mind and lose the travelling you should be doing in the middle. So think about the journey you are making, keep your layout at hand as well, because that holds your initial ideas about the beginning and then write your start. A quick note on looping stories (you could begin anew when finished and the story would seem to go on) is that there should still be a change… so you can’t finish with the same givens as that you started, you’ll have to twist the end around and then fit it in.

Also the real magic in writing a good start is not revealing all information. It should be just enough to keep people interested but to little to let them make valued guesses at what will happen next. Of course you expect the bad guy to be caught (this is also an originality rant) and your guess that the final bomb won’t blow away half the town should also be not far of the mark, But how about not letting anyone in on the fact there is going to be a bomb before it is already to late to predict the out coming, because the pure action takes over. Or even more drastic let the main guy change sides halfway letting the good guys become the bad guys and all the main character stood for be blown to smithereens… by him!
Sometimes it can be a good idea to write down the pieces of information your audience should be getting and then dividing them into chapters, and then write them into the story. You should have a very good idea about what you are going to write when using this technique but an extended lay out like that can be invaluable when you are writing an Agatha Christie like detective story for instance.

Finally a quick recap: try to hook your audience by using one (or even better, a combination) of the above stated first paragraph/page techniques. When that is done try to build a bonding with the main asset by introducing the surroundings and personal status of that asset. In the mean time let the audience get used to your style and to the imagery you use. Finally remember to keep most of your information to yourself because you’ll want to reveal most of it later in the story and remember that your audience reads the first stuff rather early on and you don’t want them to be discouraged if there are changes. Even if you are writing a war story in which the war breaks out halfway… It could be a good idea to start with foreshadowing (the future version of back flash) so people know there is going to be a war… that way they can brace themselves creating a whole array of tension points you can use during the middle part.

Next time:
I am going to write my own start to the vampire story… and give you a breakdown like I did with the ending and the layout.
And during the coming week I will post the second instalment of quick writing tips… I hope I can still remember all the things unrelated to big subjects I have thought about since the last tips.

So see you then… and if you feel like it join in with writing your beginning (or end). As said earlier… this is a learning opportunity and posting some of your work will get you personalised advise on which points could be worked on to make it better. I will also accept stories in German, French and Dutch, I am afraid that those are the only languages (along with English of course) I have enough knowledge of to actually understand
what is going on without having to revert to a translation tool which is a bad idea because you lose so much.

Anyway thanks for your continued interest and see you next time!


#50

Wow… here we are again. This time with more writing tips. More stuff to think about when actually writing your beginning.
Enjoy!

Quick Writing Tips Continued

-8- Using layers

And I am not meaning the Ogre layers (reference to shrek(1) where shrek states that ogres are like onions because both have layers, meaning a deep personality) I actually am talking about detail layers. You can describe a room like this “it is a white room with basic furniture you find in a bedroom” but it ain’t much good. However it will do for a first draft because that is all that is necessary. But when you work on your story longer you might want to rewrite this part and then you can apply a “layer” like in photoshop and add more detail. I usually copy the story or the paragraph and then delete the sentence and rewrite it: “the room was painted white and we can see a kitchen chair, unmade bed and a closed closet”
It is still not very good so I might do it again adding still more atmosphere, personality and detail until I finally arrive at something like this: “the room had a white finish on he walls and that made the room very light, however that is quite a drawback since the floor is littered ankle deep. There is a bed with once white linen, unmade and a chair, barely noticeable for all the stuff lying on top of it. The closet is still regularly opened because in front the rubbish was swept away by the doors, but the closet is closed now and we only notice a broken handle.”
The cool thing is that you only have to think about one part of the whole because you can copy the stuff around it. The same is true for emotions and thoughts… you can start by letting a character think “I don’t like cake” and then later expand it to include the reason and maybe narrow it down to a special kind of cake. It is also great for when you are writing screenplays and dialogue… try it!

-9- Like in life subtle is far often better…

I live in a town where cursing has become an art form and people who lived in the Hague all their life will use it, including all diseases known and some fictional or extinct, to express their uncomfort when someone puts one hair in their way (really it aint that bad… just very exaggerated and stereotype to make this sound more interesting) But you get really strange results when someone from the Hague, who is used to this, moves to another town, more rural and peaceful. Because people find that he is overreacting about everything, will feel intimidated and scared because of the lack of subtlety the new guy has.
Even stranger, in games, if you put a different colour on a door it is still easier to find then when you got a sign that says “here you need to be”.
Besides people don’t like it to actually being led around by the hand, they will however quite like to comply to very subtle gestures that have the same effect. Use this in your story and don’t tell everything… people think for themselves and will figure most things out for themselves. You see it quite often within the Hollywood films, at the end there is a scene that actually fill the metaphor of the giant arrow sign with flashing lights that points to the sea and says “This is Water!!” So don’t fall into that trap!

-10- A banana

Using non related stuff to actually make a point. Remember what I said about the naming of my characters… that I usually have a jumble of words that together and in their own languages are descriptive of my characters personality? Well this kind of thing is going on all the time. everything in a story should have a purpose, even if everything in life has not. So use stuff you have to enforce idea’s or climax. When your story about war between Russia and America (why not, its done all the time) requires a weapon to be wielded by a Russian soldier try to make a point by giving him an American weapon and a preference for wearing nike’s when not fighting. just to enforce the climax between the normal man and the government. And the stupidity of war in the first place. Of course you can also turn it around and let him sleep underneath the flag because his blanket got burned when he escaped the camp. (scorched earth being a Russian strategy as well)

-11- silence before a storm

you remember the bit about punctuation… well you have to take care how to use action sequences and slow moving episodes together like the horror movies and when playing games. just before the scary moment there is a funny moment or a sweet moment and you can’t throw your player right onto the WW2 beach after he has had to fight of the Germans from his ship (remember most Germans are nice people), the player needs to restock his supplies, get some health kits and catch his or her breath…
The same is true for stories… you can’t just go and go and go without having a silent moment in there… and the other way around is true as well, only silent moments won’t get you anywhere… and make for a very dull book (remember your school books :stuck_out_tongue: ) This might be very natural and logical when you think about it but actually when you plan your contrast points before hand (especially when writing a short story, since you only have so few to use) it gets easier to write something that is compelling, interesting, emotional and natural. Try to think about it sometimes!

-12- them and us

Sometimes you want to add drama, you want to play out the fact that someone is alone, not necessarily lonely but that is also possible. In these circumstances You can use mobs as one character if you want. it is long known that people are herding animals. We already spoke about even when you are not part of groups you probably still are, and being part of a group has a special way of communicating with other members. Well its true. If you are standing in a completely empty bus, chances are that even when there are lots of seats there are still people going to stand, just because they figured unconsciously they are part of your group, the standing group. You can use this to bring extra drama to a scene, because you can make a whole group of people act the same, for all purposes be one character, but still have the overpowering effect of we against you, or even we with you.

-13- I wonder why they did that?

Every time you see a movie or read a story… try to focus once in a while (you should will be having fun and if becomes work if you do this to often) and ask yourself: Why have the done that?.. why the plate of soup, had to be tomato soup? why did they say that in that conversation? How is possible that someone wrote that piece of dialogue? Because it just isn’t natural!
Terry Pratchett calls it second thoughts (the ones that think about what you thought) and I think it is a good name, because they are still active, even when your first thoughts are watching a movie, or having a conversation. So try and expand this line of thought and dissect the storytelling you perceive everyday… you’ll get better very quickly, because you can learn from others their mistakes as well as their triumphs.

-14- I see what you don’t see!

Interest wavers quickly and it is sometimes easy to drift into shallow waters, losing believability and getting stereotypical views and characters. When you notice that this happens (and believe me sometimes you will not, which is possibly disastrous to the storyline) try to insert some different viewpoints. Let some other character attack the guy that was making the remark, introduce some kind of opposite to keep things balanced. For instance a character that is very homophobic, can only exist in a world where he gets strengthened in his views by others But those people can only be homophobes when they know and see homosexuality in their neighbourhood. So consider it real and creating interest that if when a homophobic shouts around his opinion that you should mention at least the pair of shocked gentleman sitting together in the corner and the rather aggravated bartender because he loses clients. It keeps people interested and your world real to use this now and then.

At the moment I am compiling an epic story for my upcoming Dungeons and dragons quest so that need to be finished before I start at my ending… That means my start will not be written before next week at the earliest (next Tuesday I need to have my first chapter ready for play :slight_smile: )

And I need to make some plans about the lessons after that… any points you desperately want to know about?

I will be including a lot more character work and some exercises you can do with your friends to get better at storytelling (I love to think up games) and I will try to toggle the build-up towards climax you need to have in the middle bit. Anyway I hope you will be tuning your pc towards this site in the future and until next time!


#51

Been reading tru some of your texts and I gotta say that im really finding them useful!
Great stuff for anyone seeking tips and pointers on writing. Thx! :slight_smile:


#52

Well sorry people for the lack on updates… I am rather busy at the moment… I am compiling my new portfolio you see. Since i hear there is a studio near me that has need of modellers… and because it is nearly a new year which means that I need to clean out my files and reorganise the lot into bin and keep :slight_smile:

But there is also good news! I have gotten a laptop as a present recently So I can finally write stuff in the train… without having to retype the whole thing. And since I have at least 6 hour travelling to do coming weekend I am sure to have enough time to write the start of my story.

So I will set a hard deadline for myself to post a new chapter next Monday.

BTW…

Helsing: sorry for the late reply but… Thanks again! I really appreciate it!

Oh and I wanted to ask again:

I still need to do some planning for the lessons until we write the middle… so if you are interested in something specific feel free to say so and I will include it into the coming lessons/ posts.

I have already decided to tackle some more character work and also zoom in on relationships and the way they can change. I will also go into the music behind a good buildup quite early on. And I am quite sure I will include a text on world building. However if there is anything you have trouble with or want to know please say so!

see you all monday!


#53

nice updates … :slight_smile:


#54

Great work!
-R


#55

Just needed to say thanks!

Thanks Roberto… nice to see you here :wavey:

And I think also thanks aqua9… but i am not sure if you found the latest updates nice or if you were rather satirical commenting the fact that I set a deadline for myself and that there was a lack of updates the last month. But I will assume the best :slight_smile:

Great Friday and a swell weekend to you all… see you on monday!!


#56

I appreciate the effort that has gone into this thread! Story writing is always a monumental task, and having a great guide to go by helps change the task into a fun and pleasant journey.

Bravo!

Mac


#57

My story start:


"Ah, yes… I recall that my story starts in the dark of night… It was a moonless sky littered with clouds. I had chosen this night to make the escape once again, out of the occupied country and into the free world. I had delivered the people who had paid me to get them to safety and was just about to cross my way back across the border when…
“Gesicht im erde!!”
Well with me having almost everything to lose I dropped immediately. And I felt almost directly the heel of a boot on the small of my back.
Questions started to form in my head: How did they find me out? Was I about to get executed? Had they followed me to the pick-up point?
But those thoughts seized when I felt the heel lift and someone straddled me. With the muddy ground making me wet and cold from underneath… the warmth of the body on top should be apparent… but it was not.
Then a hand crept up my neck and seemed to stroke my hair. At that time the cold shivers went right up my spine.

The weight stirred and I got swept up by my neck. I craned to see my assaulter… but had no luck. The strength now and the voice earlier let me to believe it was a very burly man that had caught up with me. With my neck still firmly in his grasp I got partly dragged and partly marched towards a farm house I knew was very close, but had always believed to deserted during earlier departure runs.

Anyway… when we arrived at the farmhouse I was manhandled into what once was a living chamber but had already deteriorated into less then a prison cell, with the wallpaper torn down at places, furniture that had fungus on it and a fireplace that was even colder then its surroundings. In the corner there was a backpack and a bedroll, much like what I had supplied my customers with.

I got thrown into the corner with the basic supplies and then it was I could see the full figure of who had captured me.
It was a man I had just set off over the border. The leader of a group of refugees who came from Bulgaria and had fled ever since the war had broken out in their country. They had paid me well and I was more then happy to give them my services. But now, being ambushed and abducted by this man made me feel like I had done something very stupid.

During every departure run you have to be absolutely sure the people you take are willing to do anything you say and follow every order you give. They have paid you to take them, yes. And they have paid you a lot to make sure the danger is being compensated, but still it is vital that there is a certain level of trust between you and your troupe for that night. It wouldn’t be the first time some departaire had been captured with his entire troupe because some stupid refugee woman couldn’t hold herself when faced with the cold and dark waters of the moor. Or because a man fell down and sprained his ankle, falling into the water with a loud splash. You need to be sure you can trust these people. Even before you take them on. And the less able they seem the more I charge. It’s as easy as that.

And when this man and his group had contacted me I had a nagging feeling it was going to be trouble. Even though they seemed very resolute and steadfast… very efficient in their movements as well, I had charged them the highest fee. They somehow knew I was the best and would take no other.

Well… I was ready for pay back time. I had no money on me but if he was going to kill me I had some nasty surprise right in my pocket.

“please do not move one muscle, mister I had already felt your little gun when I picked you up earlier. The reason I have not taken it away is because it is not going to do you any good. I would even advise you not to use it because you might anger me. We, my group and I are very thankful for your help in bringing us into a new country. We have debated on the payment. And even though we have already paid your highest fee, we feel you still are not compensated enough, besides we feel a certain bond with you. And that is why we want to give you an even greater gift. a gift that can not be bought with money, only with effort and services.”

I was perplexed by this statement, but as always I was on my guard. “Why couldn’t you give me that gift before, when we were at the drop off point?” I asked.

“Well, I would be lying if I said it couldn’t be done, but then again, it would also feel slightly out of place to have the rest of those refugees there. See it as protecting your safety that I brought you here to receive the gift.”

“Hmmm… It sound quite al right but I still feel very awkward when you say something like that. Lets get it over with then, we can both go our ways when you give it to me. What is it?”

“Ah… yes please stand up then, lets do this official. Could I persuade you to turn your back until I have the gift? No? Ah, I thought so… well then we just have to do it the hard way…” And he rushed at me, not simply running or jumping, he flew right at me. The speed with which he hit me with threw both of us against the wall and then I felt a pain at my neck. My eyeballs strained to get a look at the man who embraced me, he had me pinned down against the wall, and seemed to kiss my neck.
Then I the real world came in on me. I struggled. I tried to bite him, I tried to kick him. But nothing would hurt him it seemed. He kept embracing me and kissing me.
I thought about the gun and my hand crept to my pocket. The room that was needed to take it out and properly aim a shot was not there so I had to fire it right from my pocket through my pants. The hand crept nearer. I got high headed. It had been a long day and I hadn’t eaten much, and then this strain on my muscles and the stress… it all took its toll. And just now. I found it getting harder and harder to breathe, to think… I was convinced the guy was trying to crush the life out of me. Now or Never I thought and plunged my hand into my pocket, found the trigger and shot.
Then all went black and I felt my legs getting weak and I slid towards the ground.

When I woke up I was still in the farmhouse. There was a lot of blood around, I could smell it. That meant I had shot my opponent and severely wounded him. So much he couldn’t finish his job killing me. But had dragged himself away so I couldn’t finish him off either.
I looked where the blood trail went, but it vanished right outside the room in the hallway. So, there had to be an accomplish then. Someone who picked him up and bound the wound. If that was so then why was I still alive. Maybe they had only been looking for their money. I went back inside the room wanting to eat and drink something. I opened the backpack in the corner thinking it to contain some of the bare necessities needed when going on a week long hike to disappear. I rummaged around but could not find anything to eat. I thought it had to be that they had stupidly ignored my command to each pack their own food and drink, so as to be self supplied when you got separated. This bag contained only drinking flasks, some clothing and some books. Which irritated me because books are dead weight. And even if you can’t let them behind, you are better off burning them then to carry them around on your back instead of some much needed food!
Well… then I would just drink. I took a flask and put it to my mouth. The taste was… arghhh! It was blood! I dropped the bottle, adding to the bloody mess already on the floor. Who the hell would stuff a backpack full of drinking flasks full of blood? Wait! wasn’t one of those books not a diary?
I retrieved it from the backpack. And opened it up. To find the first page being addressed to me.

"My dear fellow,

It was our sincere wish to share with you the blessing we all possess. And even though you have to take some parts for granted we are sure that you will be as amazed and thankful as we are to be one of the darkwalkers.

We are also very sorry for no one being here with you to drag you through the first few days of agony, unwillingness and adaptation, but we know you will pull through on your own. The farmhouse we took you too is desolated and safe. So please stay there for about a week to let your body adapt and your mind be willing to receive the gift of power.

You have already found this diary and guide within the contents of the backpack and maybe have seen some of the other stuff that sits in there. The blood is enough to get you through the whole week. And the other two books contain the wisdom of the elders and history of our… of your heritage.

When you have read all these books you know everything needed to thrive in you new existence. We wanted to thank you once again for your services and hope to meet you later in time.

With sincere apologies,

Adam Grushman and his group"


This is about it I think… I actually have written some more but I find that the beginning ends here… I am already on my way to make this small tale longer and bigger than foreseen. So I cut this short and the rest you can read when I have written then rest of the middle part.

I started just like last time by pasting the lines in the layout I wanted to use for the beginning… those were:

He tells about his history.
I actually found that with my new gained powers I am better at my job. I immediately see the advantage I have against my competitors and use it to make enough money so I can go live the quiet life when the market dries up.

And I ended up by writing none of these. I really wanted to tell the embrace part of this character into the world of darkness… how he became a vampire before anything else. So I started there and ended before I could even begin to try and explain why his business is getting better and what competitors he has and what he did in those days. Those sentences I have copied are telling a story that includes about 30 years of life as a vampire and I really have no idea as how that would be inserted into a short story, like the one I am telling. So I have a problem on my hands but… like a true optimist and lazy bastard I am not going to think about a solution but I keep on going and we will do some editing at the end.
I have already mentioned several times that editing and revising is one of the most important aspects of writing a good story and I think you need to do that at the end, when you have all available material at hand. Just like editing a life action movie (animation is a little different with the story board taking the place of the footage) first you want to have all the scenes from the script, they may be edited or not, and then you want to play around and even delete some scenes.

That being said, a quick run through of what I have written. I wanted it to be apparent that we are listening to a speaker or teller of tales. therefore I do almost the same you see when a character in a movie tells a story… It starts with him telling and fades back to the past when you suddenly find yourself in the middle of the real deal. I also start with some mystery and ambience setting as to give the reader something to occupy him or herself with, the hints for the logical part of the mind and the imagery for the imagination of said person(s)
After that I pull my audience in with some action and more mystery. As an afterthought I would like to put some more landscape detail in there but I hadn’t so that is for the revision stage.
Also we already know it is a vampire story but the reader does not (this is the beginning you remember) Which means I also give some hints the vampire lovers will pick up on but hopefully just subtle enough to get some shocks out of some of the readers.
For me vampires are smart, strong, sexy (always) and that is why I have tried to give a sexual undertone to both action sequences, the capture in the mud and the part were Adam bites our hero. Finally, the whole scene comprises out of 2 characters, our hero, the one that thinks and Adam the barely 2 dimensional mysterious vampire. Note that he is two dimensional because he has needs, and we get a peek at his history and status. And the wants and needs of both characters drive this story (BTW you remember I give all my characters names with actually mean something… well Adam is the oldest (ad therefore first vampire in the story, just like Adam was the first human in popular belief… Grushman is a name that actually comes from a well known comedian in my country (only one letter difference) but fits very nice in the story and gives Adam a background in the east of Europe (maybe even middle eastern) and because of that more reason for him to flee the German Soldiers… and yes this part plays in WW2.

I am still not that happy about how this ends because when I place myself in his shoes, I find that the hero is too quick in actually taking for granted what just happened to him.

So to finish this off I really hope you people do a better job at writing your beginnings. I hope you like mine (feel free to comment on anything you may find interesting/ distracting and plain boring) And next time I will talk about Word Choice. Which I think will be a nice distraction from what we have done until now. ( I use notepad BTW for almost all my writing :slight_smile: )

Cheers!

PS- thanks Mac if you ever use this to make a film, please let me know! :slight_smile:

BTW I would be interested in hearing what everyone found most interesting until now or if something opened up a new perspective for you. Or if you have used some of this information to write something or to draw a storyboard. Post a link to blog or your site or maybe start a thread and let me know!


#58

Hi,

I am a Newbi here. Just a brift intro. I am a prolicic writer, i write articles, short stories, books and screenplays. I hav written a feature lenght animation script and wish to get into a lot more animation writing.

This thread is a great thread about writing across the board not just for animation.

Thanks for all the effort and time you have freely given.

Kev


#59

Hi Kevin!

Welcome to the forum! I hope you’ll stick around! Its swell here :slight_smile:

Praise coming from a professional writer is a first for me so thanks for the kind words.
Yes i wanted to tackle overal writing or even broader, storytelling, because I am of the opinion that it makes little difference in what medium you tell your story. As long as the story is good people will pick up on that. And not only audiences but also the people that work to bring that story to life.

A good script makes for good acting, if you have a bad script even great actors will perform badly. And the same is true for animators, publishers, game designers, etc.

But I will stop ranting. If you have any comments at all feel free to share. The same is true for ideas or points I haven’t (yet) touched upon.

See you around! :wavey:

Oh and by the way… HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY! ! ! :slight_smile:


#60

Hi everybody… I was on sorta of a holiday and now I am back so I can do my own things again. But I wanted to show off my merry christmas and happy new year product of the past weeks.

I learned some new tricks with scripting for the tree and got more insight in rigging with the character. So that’s why it took me so long.

BTW I want to post the new lesson tomorrow so stick around!