Tag Archive | Writing Tips

Buckling down on first drafts

The idea of finishing the first draft – or any draft, honestly – of your novel can be daunting sometimes.

Writing a novel isn’t ‘easy’. You have to go through a lot to make the best you can – several drafts, maybe some outlining, re-reading and editing, and so forth. When it comes down to really getting started on the first steps you’re taking other than thinking about it to getting it done – which could either be outlining or starting the first draft – it can be hard to get yourself motivated to begin.

I like to start off with a first draft that’s sort of just ‘winging it’. Pouring out the ideas and developments I’ve got in mind without really outlining it or following any sort of map for it – this will serve as that map later on. I won’t get my best work done in a first draft, anyways, and I’m much better at getting things down for the first time, I’ve found, if I’m not constricting myself to the limitations of an outline just yet. I like to get the story down and figure out the little things as I go, let myself and my characters lead the way through the story first, so instead of taking the time to create the outline before even starting the first draft, I like to reserve some time to create my mess of a first draft to get everything down beforehand as quickly and enjoyably as I can before going into the rest of the process.

Lately, I’ve been using events like NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy, and things of that nature to motivate myself to get the first draft done – I’ve only been participating for a short time, but thus far it’s helped me get down the first draft of a script for part of a graphic novel I’m working on developing the story for and the first draft of the first novel in a series I’ve been trying (and failing) to motivate myself to get a good first draft down for almost three years. Putting aside a month or so to get the first draft done helps me do just what I intend with the first draft – just get everything down, every development and idea I have for it, no matter how horrible it may seem, and not let myself go back and fix things as I go.

My several other attempts to start the first draft for this story didn’t work out because I kept distracting myself with editing and making every last thing perfect, second-guessing myself and stressing over making it perfect. That just doesn’t work for me, though – I need to be able to have fun with a first draft. I need to give myself a sort of playground to mess around with and figure out the nooks and crannies of my story in with my first draft. I use my first drafts of things to explore my imagination and my story, to just put down my ideas and give myself something to work from that isn’t an outline. My first draft is an attempt to let myself go wild and get every idea I have that I can get down on the story, well, down on paper (or in a document).

It helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t, and discover new things and ideas about my story that I hadn’t had before. Only then, after I’ve gotten them down in one big document with me and my ideas poured out onto it, will I go through and write an outline for the story, adding, subtracting, and changing what I need to that I can use for my next draft, one that I’ll take more time and thought for. My outlining and rewriting process are things that I will be writing posts on eventually as I tackle those things with my current projects.

The first draft definitely won’t be perfect, and I need an opportunity to let the story go wild on it’s own, to wing it and explore my ‘playground’ before I go into the rest of the process and take the time to put down a comprehensive outline. While I try to make it the best I can, I also try to make it as enjoyable and close to the ideas I have in my head as I go along with it as possible.

To get my first draft done, I remind myself frequently that it will not be perfect and is my way to get things down and have something to work from – you can’t edit a blank page, but that doesn’t mean that the page you edit has to be perfect – it just means you need to get everything down first. 

How I benefit from ‘Word-sprinting’

Yesterday, I logged about 1,000 more words than my usual daily goal for Camp NaNoWriMo (getting around 3,000 words done in all the day). I didn’t work any extra time on it, and I didn’t really labor over it, either – those are things that I usually end up doing to finish an entry in my novel per day, and sometimes just to hit my day’s word goal. I got these words through wordsprints.

I don’t usually do them – I tend to prefer to stick to just having a good ol’ writing session twice a day to log my daily 2,000. But I’ve been following people who are doing wordsprints for JuNoWriMo, and they seemed like a lot of fun. Yesterday, I wasn’t able to have my first writing session because my 2-year old nephew came over and was hell-bent on watching Thomas the Train, making me play with giant dinosaur toys, and punching me in the face, so I didn’t really have the time to get the writing in. My mother, who was also being forced into the torture of watching the terrifying Thomas the Train and punched in the gut, asked if I wanted to go to Starbucks later, after supper (and after my precious, vicious nephew was back at home), and of course, I took the high opportunity – I seem to write best in a Starbucks. I decided to take a chance and try to do some wordsprints instead of write straight through my Starbucks time.

I was able to do two sprints at Starbucks, and got 1,280 words there in all. Not bad – I got interrupted a few times and still managed to get a pretty good count. When I got home, I did a few more sprints (around three) and logged the rest of my words then (aside from about a hundred outside of it, but that’s not too much compared to the rest that I got down). While I do still want to keep going through with my two writing sessions with my lovie on weekdays, there’s no doubt that when I’m a bit behind on my schedule or having something the next day that might hinder my count a little, I’ll turn to wordsprints.

How I was able to get so many more words so much quicker through sprints I don’t exactly know, but I think it has something to do with the fact that it was narrowing down my time to get some words in, sort of like a race, and that there were other people doing it that I could share my success and problems with in-between sprints. I could talk about how many words I was able to get, how I got interrupted or distracted and by what, and there were the occasional silly prompts for things to put into our work that sprint (the only one I went through with, though, was mentioning a donut. No one can resist that one, though). I had a lot of fun doing the actual wordsprints, and the mini-breaks in-between.

If you’re behind on your word-count or need to write with little reward breaks in-between, I think wordsprints are the way to go. I’m not sure where else people run them, but I’ve found the ones I participate in on twitter (I personally follow the JuNoWriMo account and have been doing sprints from there, but there are people in the hashtag who run them, and during November, there’s an account that runs NaNoWriMo wordsprints, as well). If you’re a little iffy about it, I suggest you at least give it a chance when you have some time on your hands – it may just give you a hand in boosting that word-count.

How has June been going for you all? If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo or JuNoWriMo, what’s your word-count and how have you been managing it?

Aero’s Tips For Writing Action Scenes

(A quickie post from my pretty little lovie, who’s writing you can get a little taste of at his writing blog and his last guest post here.)

Hello, all. I have returned to grace thee with another guest post. This time, I’ll be giving some pointers on writing action scenes.

1) Keep it quick.

Personally, I’m not a fan of slow motion shots, but for those who are, it’s unfortunate that we can’t use them in writing. Since we cant slow it down, out only choice is to speed it up. Action is intense when it has a fast pace. That doesn’t necessarily mean less words, but maybe shorter sentences. It’s best to save long, visual descriptions for either before or after it begins. It would also help to avoid long speeches or conversations, though dots of witty banter  may be more suitable.

2) Give it purpose.

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear ‘action’ is bloody, grotesque, seemingly purposeless, over-the-top, senseless violence probably involving ninjas and impossible aerial maneuvers. Personally, I hate that. It’s the general consensus that action scenes should make sense. They should play a purpose in advancing the plot.  I’m sure no one wants to waste time reading something that has no relevance to the plot. The best action scenes or ones that advance the plot.

3) Septuple-jump gound-shatter kick-smash combo-breaker of doom

Tying into the last one is the matter of realism. Make sure that what happens within the realm of possibility in whichever setting and characters you have. One can do that rather simply, in most cases, by keeping ninjas out of 15th century England or by not allowing a ninety-pound librarian to wield a forty-ton warhammer without any aid, or what have you.

That’s really all I have for now.

(A little note from Cynical/the blog owner!:

Action is something I really see mishandled a lot in fiction, so I really wanted to see if I could get something up that handles that topic – but alas, I’ve not practiced my action scenes quite enough yet and probably won’t too soon, so instead of just asking someone who has some experience with it right off the bat, I decided to ask him to post about it instead.

I’m really curious as to what you guys think about action scenes. What are your opinions on them, and how do you go about them if/when you write them?)

Rewriting and Revising: Different editing species of the same genus

Horrible titling, I know, but it’s better than just ‘Rewriting and Revising’.

Rewriting and revising are often talked about together, I’ve noticed, but really, they’re very different creatures. Yes, they do have things in common at times – you may be working from one of your drafts, you may try to think about more details than you do when getting the first draft down that you tend to pay more attention to while revising, etc – but they are still quite different.

To revise is, to me, to modify something, to go in and correct or condense, to fix up the material which may involve some rewriting, but for the most part, you’re just, well, fixing up the material. Rewriting can be a part of revising, but it really depends on what stage you’re at in the revising and the material you’re working on – the idea of rewriting is different than just revising. To rewrite is to completely write it again – some things about it may come out similar or even the exact same as the original, but essentially, you’re recreating the material and probably altering it quite a bit in rewriting, being it in the word choice or the material aside from that, and you could technically edit it as you do this in some departments depending on what you personally consider revising (when rewriting, I do tend to pay more attention to my word choice and edit the plot as I go).

For me, rewriting is more enjoyable than just plain revising, but at the same time, harder. Changing scenes, ‘killing my darlings’ as it’s so often called, trying to even it out and fix it, and trying to use my editorial mind at the same time as trying to change things that need changing to my liking – they’re things I’ve not gotten used to quite yet. I’m trying to revise and rewrite at the same time, but still give myself the freedom of not trapping myself within what I’ve already got set out, to give myself the freedom of making what happens still what I like, even if I don’t like it as much as what I had originally planned. Revising is something I like to think I’m fairly good at when I feel up to it, to go through and find misspellings, odd word choices, choppy sentences, bad grammar, etc, that’s something I can do when I look over something a few times, sure, but changing the overall material to the degree I do when I tend to rewrite can be a little bit hard for me.

But I have to sit down and do it – I have dreams for these projects that I’m working on, and I have to remember that to achieve what I dream of for these things, I need to sit my ass down and work on them, even if some parts of the process feel a little slow and unenjoyable – to get the finished product that I want, I have to get through the parts that aren’t so fun. If it’s not worth getting through the tough parts of the process, then it really isn’t worth working on at all, is how I see it.

I’m not too sure on whether my rewriting and editing process is normal or not – I will admit that I don’t read posts on that often, which I really should, especially while trying to motivate myself to rewrite and revise my current project, so I don’t know much about the process that other’s use. I complete the material to edit – in this case, it’s my script from Script Frenzy, which is for the first chapter of a graphic novel I am working on. I wrote it out in a large notebook I’ve had for years in pen, so it’s a mess of scribbles and chicken scratch, and I rewrite each scene individually. Each scene has it’s own separate file, which I rewrite the material in and when the scene is done – usually between 3 to 7 pages, I believe – I go back and revise it to make sure I didn’t misspell something or make any mistakes, to fix up the scene, before I move on to rewriting and revising the next.

I like getting each scene edited before working on the next one, and while working on this, I’ve been sending each scene to someone to have them read over it and give me their feedback to ponder and fix up the scene some more if I feel necessary afterwards before I move on to another scene. I usually send every other scene to a different person, so all of the work of reading the entire thing isn’t just on the shoulders of one person. It helps me get the feedback of two different people rather quickly, giving them little bits and pieces of the story without giving them the whole thing, again, which can help see if each scene is engaging enough on it’s own and other bits and bobs of information of that manner.

It helps me to both rewrite and revise at the same time, editing like this. Having a sort of mini-audience, or beta readers, to it while you’re editing seems to help quite a bit, at least for me, especially since the two people I have looking at it are pretty big influences and inspirations for my work as of now. I think I’ll have yet another person look at the completed product as is to get an opinion on the whole story and fix it all up yet again before handing it out to the two current readers to get their final opinions before I buckle down and complete it to work on the other chapters/transfer it to art.

I’m sure my editing process will change over the course of working on this entire series (it will be rather long, if it goes as I’m currently planning), but dipping my toes into this way of editing tells me that the water here is rather comfortable and I may well stay in it for a while.

What are you guys up to? When it comes to editing as a whole, how do you get it done, and what do you think of using beta readers?

Character Creation: Physical Build and Facial Features

In my last post on writing tips, I wrote about creating characters. I gave a lot of tips and general guidelines that I personally use when it comes to making my characters, with the exception of anything on character appearance and design. The reason I left out that bit is because, when it comes to what I think and take into consideration with character appearance, I would’ve wound up writing an entire post within the already large-by-my-standards main post, and since this is taking long enough to post already, it will be broken up into parts as I write them. You can read the original post on character creation here.

This post will be detailing my tips on deciding the build and facial features of a character, reasoning behind them, and my general approach of it.

  • Body shape/build

A character’s build can change the effect an appearance gives over-all. A simple change of a character’s body type could change the way someone interprets them by their appearance at first glance, and is a factor that can be used to make your characters unique to each other. It can show things about their everyday life, such as their eating habits, whether they have physically active hobbies/jobs, and other general parts of their lifestyle. Whether or not you’re going to give your character the build of a body-builder, the exact opposite, or anywhere in between, you should have a reason for it, be it a factor to their health, an exercise routine, an active job or hobby or anything else you can possibly think of that would cause that.

A character’s build is more or less defined by their size, shape, and the reasons why they are those sizes and shapes instead of different ones, and can say a lot about them as a person and their health. Looking at a character’s build, you can assume different things about their eating habits, the amount of exercise they get, whether or not they work out or do something that makes up for that, their general physical health, metabolism, and any other thing that effects weight, body shape, etc, and these are the factors that tend to determine someone’s build. For example, an agile character who relies more on their speed for their hobbies/work/whatever they do would probably be, scaling on the higher ends of the spectrum, closer to being a fairly lithe person, as opposed to someone with obvious, large muscles and a larger build.

Because of these reasons, and the usual sticking to have-a-reason-for-everything-you-can thing I’ve got going on in my head, I suggest thinking about more than just your character’s appearance for this. Think about their lifestyle and the factors that determine their build listed above, since I encourage you to make your character’s appearances make sense when put together with the character aside from their looks. If you’re putting together a character’s appearance before you work on their personality and life, I recommend keeping your character’s appearance in mind and to try to create a sensible character in relation to the appearance.

  • Facial Features

Figuring out unique facial features for a character can be a little hard at first if you aren’t used to deciding on them, but it’s very effective for, at the very least, identifying a character visually, and I find it fun myself. Using facial features, you can make a character’s face unique with more than just blemishes, makeup, and different eye colours. While I’m not against using those things to add to a character’s look, I often see different facial features overlooked, and I suggest using both in moderation.

It’s okay to reference real people for their features – mixing and matching different types of facial features you know or have seen before, fitting them together to create a unique face for the character. Looking at and learning to describe real faces and their features can help you figure out what kind of features give the effects you’re looking to portray in your character’s appearance – there are tons of different types of facial features and degrees to which they’re expressed, and they can give even more different possibilities for the effect and mental image of a character.

You can describe and depict the different features in so many ways, combining different ones can give characters more ways to be different from each other appearance-wise. Even when characters have the same core facial features, putting them to different degrees and adding a little bit of another one can change things completely. I like to look at real people’s facial features and the effect that they have on me – be they celebrities, historical figures, my family, my friends, or random people – and figure out how different combinations would change that, to mix and match them and see what they entail. There are plenty of people in the world, plenty of photographs of them on the internet and in books to look at and observe facial features on and there’s even a handy dandy category on Wikipedia containing what makes up the face and some different types of features.

When it comes to describing faces and their features, you can make things sound different to give off different effects, as well – using different description techniques and words to describe these things, you can make a face sound the way you want even more. You can describe the same features in different ways to give off different effects, and with experimentation, it may even be fun for you, too.

Build and facial features are things that I’ve struggled with even taking time to describe in the past, or give characters different ones unique to each other, and I’m glad I realized this. Whether or not I’m displaying a character visually or describing them in words, these features help bring them to life in a more fluid manner, as well as help keep me from eventually sounding like a broken record in describing all of my characters. One little feature of the face or build can distinguish a character and often helps bring the idea of who they are without an appearance to life. I like to use a combination of physical features and the other things that make a character who they are without it to make them stick out among my others.

Do you like to give your characters distinguishing physical features, or do you prefer to rely more on other things that make them who they are? How do you go about choosing these features for your characters, if you do?

Fiction Writing: Tips on creating your characters!

Hello, reader! Today, I’m going to give my tips on creating a character from personal experience – keep in mind, like all other tips posts I’ve made, these are only tips and by no means at all am I telling you what you have to do. These are simply suggestions and explanations to how I have come to create my characters, a compilation of tips on creating them when people need help doing so. If you have a different opinion than I do on these topics and go about it differently, that is perfectly fine and I don’t intend to offend anyone with the ways I go about character creation.

Keep in mind that I will probably be editing this in the future to fix it up, or maybe even making an entire new post about it if I see fit. I will not be posting about appearance and designs today, as that is a post I have planned to make an entire post on it’s own in the near future. Now, onward, to the real content of this post!

In my time writing and creating characters, I’ve found three important things that have helped me greatly in creating my characters. While you do not have to take them into consideration, I suggest it strongly.

  1. Try not to go overboard on anything and definitely do not be overly outrageous with it.
  2. Characters who some people can relate to tend to be more ‘realistic’/’believable’, even in fantasy settings, and this can help in making a character people will like or dislike and gain some sort of emotion towards, including yourself.
  3. Almost everything about a character should have reason behind it if it, with the exception of some details that could have come about without reason.

The following bullet points are what I personally take into consideration when making a character, with my insight in the paragraphs that come with them. Things I feel the need to stress are italicized in the case of not wanting to read through long passages.

  • What is this character’s purpose in your work?

This is something very important to know about your character – be they made for a role-play, a personal story for a piece of writing or a fan fiction. Are they the main character, or are they minor? How are they related to the story itself? Are they to be a protagonist or antagonist? What is their point in the story?

  • Character name

Naming a character can be fun, but complicated at times – there are so many names out there, how could you choose just one? It can be so overwhelming at times, but it’s one of the simplest and easiest ways to recognize a character, along with an important one, so it is necessary. It depends on what kind of name you want – do you just want a name you like, or a name relevant to the story, maybe both? Is your character, or the audience reading/watching, unaware of the name? Are they referred to as a real name, or a code of some sort (numbers, letter combinations)?

If you want to take a character’s name’s meaning into play, I would suggest looking at websites or books that list meanings and origins of names with the name. While a minor detail, it means something and has a way of making us feel clever sometimes – why would someone look up your character’s name’s meaning? It’s a little meaningful nugget that people may not see, and if they do, it could give someone a little smile out of figuring it out. Along side this, a lot of people like to have as many details, no matter how minor or unnoticed, meaningful to the ‘story’ they are viewing and/or creating (visual, text-based or not).

Whether you want it to have a meaning related to the story or not, it’d be a good idea to at least give your characters names that fit in to their ‘story’. If your character is of a nationality or race that tend to use certain types of names, you should have a good reason for giving them a name that doesn’t fit that if you do. Were their parents or whomever gave them their name from a different race/nationality or simply fascinated by that name? If so, why – what reason is it that they have a name different than what most customs of their race/society would have given them? I’d not advise giving your characters outrageous real names (nicknames are fine, most of the time) that wouldn’t quite fit (I.E someone with an Asian name while they are from or in a society that tends to have different types of names, such as European, American, etc) without a good reason.

If your character has some sort of code as a name, such as letters, numbers, or words, make sure it has a reason behind it and isn’t too complicated for the audience to remember. Why is this character referred to as something like XY003, #69, or some random word? Is it a reason that has to do with their past, if so, what reason is that? If they have a name aside from this, what is it and why aren’t they referred to by that?

When I have trouble picking a name for a particular character, I try to find something that I know will fit them and I personally like. I tend to go through list after list of names online, putting together a personal list of names I like and names I think would be good for the character, then give the personal list a second look and keep narrowing it down until I find the name that character eventually gets.

In  all, my biggest tip here is don’t be too outrageous with it. It’s okay to be unique, but still be sensible in the world the character belongs in, whatever it may be. Try not to give them names that are hard to remember, be it because of it’s over-simplicity or because it’s too long or complicated. Lastly, it’s a name, don’t get stressed out over it.

  • Personality

A character’s personality is one of their most notable qualities. It’s something that tends to make or break a character. Personalities tend to be fluid, something that people can’t be too unsure of, and if you want it to change, I would suggest doing it gradually and with reason, unless called for by other traits of the character, such as having multiple personalities. Keep in mind that this is different than a character’s mood, that can, with reason, change very suddenly or stay the same for long periods of time, depending on the character’s situations and personality.

Giving a character a full personality can be a bit complex at times, and it’s a tad hard to explain straight-out – I’ll set this up with questions to ask yourself about the character (or the character themself, if they’re developed to the point where they’re doing things and changing on their own before you realize it! ;P) with tips and pointers instead of just giving tips.

  1. Is your character’s personality generally positive, negative, or in-between? In other words, are you planning on making them a positive (such as optimistic, peppy, cheery), negative (such as pessimistic, irritable, grumpy, sad), or a combination of both?
  2. Do you want your character’s personality to be static or dynamic throughout the course of their story? Do you plan on making your character’s personality stay the same throughout, or do you want it to change? If so, how does it change and why? If not, why doesn’t it change?
  3. What are some positive traits to their personality, and what are some negative ones? Less in terms of happy/unhappy, and more in terms of things a real person would like about this character and things they wouldn’t, kind of like reasons someone would or wouldn’t want to befriend your character, personality-wise. (Using my own protagonist as an example, some of his good personality traits are being a loyal friend who likes to help those they care about when they can, while some negative ones are being very negative and showing a rude personality to most people, making it hard to like and befriend them, and some traits that can be both good and bad that I’ve given him are a certain stubbornness and a bit of an ego)
  4. Is their personality one expected of someone their age, and if not, are they more mature than most people their age, or more immature? This is more along the lines of whether or not your character acts their age or not, and something usually very simple to answer and understand, so I don’t really have much to say here. If you’re going to make a character more or less mature than expected of their age, however, keep in mind how your other characters/other people would respond to this part of their personality.
  5. Why is your character’s personality the way it is? Take into consideration as to why your character acts the way they do. Is it because they were brought up that way, or did something in their life change them to the point where they act differently after/because of it? If they’re hiding a different personality beneath the one they show to other or certain people, why is this? An important thing about personalities is why they are this way, and it’s another thing that makes a character’s personality more interesting.
  6. How does the character respond to stress? Everyone has stressful times in life sometimes, and everyone responds to it differently. How does your character respond to it, and why? Some examples of this that I have seen in both real-life and fiction would be: pretending to be happy or joyous or trying to make it seem like they aren’t stressed, breaking down (crying, panicking, having panic/anxiety attacks, emotionally shutting themselves down, it d depend on the stress of the situation), getting irritable or violent, letting walls of a fake personality fall down and reverting to normal, even overreacting to the degree of the situation in one of these ways, perhaps even combinations or variations of any of them, the degrees of which all depending on how much stress the person is under. Keep in mind that you probably want their reaction to be realistic and not too overdone without reasoning, depending on the character’s personality, the amount of stress, the situation, and other traits such as anxiety/stress disorders and the like.
  • Quirks

Most people tend to have at least tiny quirks. Some examples of quirks are things like twirling your hair, bouncing your leg, chewing/biting your nails, sucking your thumb, and the like, sometimes in certain situations. Quirks can be small and unnoticeable, or they can stand out heavily, being something people may notice often, or something people don’t notice at all. They can range from being things that are simple and normal, or things that are very extreme and people may find odd. You can find many lists of quirks online if you’d like some better ideas of them, or need help coming up with quirks for your characters. Try not to go overboard here, as well – there’s a difference between a quirky character and just too much.

  • Hobbies

Almost anyone has hobbies, whether they get to do them often or not. Reading, writing, drawing, painting, singing, sports – things like these are hobbies when they are done in free time, while they can also be professions. Anything people do in their free time for entertainment can be considered a hobby, be it something like the ones listed above or something like fencing, different types of fighting, etc. There are so many different hobbies a character could have in many different worlds or alternate universes, ranging from hobbies that require physical participation to others that require mental participation, and even both, it feels like it would be impossible to list them all. They can be things that you can come up with off the top of your head, or things you can find in other people, on lists, in other characters… the possibilities are simply endless!

  • Lifestyle

Overall, how does your character live their life? It’s not very hard to understand and probably isn’t something I need to go into a lot of depth about. This ranges from professions and schools to things like sexual orientation, their views of life and how they implement them, how they live their lives. This should effect your character somehow, be it a negative impact or a positive one, depending on whether they enjoy their current lifestyle or not, and while two characters can like or dislike their current lifestyle, it will probably effect them differently depending on their personality.

  • History

Your character’s past – this can be something normal or shocking, perhaps enviable or pitiable. My suggestions here is, to give your character an interesting past, try to make it a combination of normal and… not-so-normal, something that the audience can be curious about, IF you want to go into the character’s past eventually. If you don’t, I would suggest having their past be normal for someone like them or something not important to go back to and explain in their story (while things may become less average as the story goes on). Try not to make them have a perfect life, however, as everyone has problems – but don’t give them a sad past for the sake of getting people to pity them.

A past has an effect on a personality, and making it too much of one side of the balance would probably cause that with a personality, and making something too perfect or too traumatic may be the start of creating a mary-sue, especially without reason. This isn’t to say don’t make them have a good or bad past, but to say do it carefully and with reason when it comes to things. Major points in their past, such as traumatic or satisfying events, should have an effect on the character’s personality and a lot of the time, involved with the plot of a story. In example, a family member’s death may effect them or their family, which would effect their personality to some degree if it were to effect them, which in turn would effect the way they react to things in the plot. This death itself may even be a part of the plot, but it does not have to be. Other things, negative and positive, in their past, especially if they’re major, should have some effect on the character or other characters and perhaps even the plot.

That’s all I have on character creation today. I hope this has helped, be it a little, a lot, or anywhere in between – thanks for reading!

Aero’s General Guidelines for Apocalyptic Fiction

Hello, everyone. I’m Aero, and I seem to be a tad late in posting this. Sorry it took so long for me to figure out just what I want to write about. I’ve finally decided to give tips on writing Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction, since that seems to be my area of expertise. I feel science fiction is too broad a genre for me to describe, and I’ve been working on a story of this sub-genre for quite some time, so I think it’s just my cup o’ tea. So, here it goes.
  • Know your apocalypse.
One of the most important factors of a broken world is what broke it. There are a number things that could lead to national or even global societal collapse, be it war, famine, plague, or other disasters natural or man-made. While there are similarities between all situations, the type of apocalypse determines many of the challenges characters might have to face. And while one may mix disasters (ex: the game, Fallen Earth mixes disease and nuclear) there are some factors that may not cross over. In a nuclear situation, for example, there would likely be few survivors walking the surface. It’s probable that many would be hiding beneath the ground, while in the case of a contagion, many people would be dispersed over large areas rather than concentrated in an underground bunker. The scenario takes careful consideration and planning to make as realistic as possible, but in the end, your apocalypse is yours.
  • The end of the world sucks.
While a chaotic world can seem like a playground at times, the magnitude of death and destruction nearly every survivor bears witness to is bound to have some mental effect. These effects may surface often or very rarely depending on the person and situations. Most survivors will have to or may have had to take a life for their own, and very few people can walk away from that unscathed. Tragic scenes and the smell of decay are bound to be wherever people once lived. Everyone reacts to these things differently, and coping with them is another major factor in the broken world.
  • Why is there a bazooka in this trash can?

While there may be some items left in unusual places, it’s important to remember where your characters are and how they obtained what they have. It would be very unlikely for every member of a group to be outfitted with the latest military rifles unless there’s a place they can access and get them from, and some things might not be so easy to take. Food and water will be hard to come by, and will likely be fought over by survivors who come into contact with each other. If they are under the care of some type of governing force, they will likely not be allowed to have many personal possessions, especially weapons.

  • The world keeps spinning.

Even without humans, the world does not sit still. Nature moves rapidly to reclaim what was taken. Of course, some factors change, speed up, or slow nature’s course, and disasters which solely effect humans will leave natures advance at its normal rate. For a reference of how fast this advance is, I would suggest watching a TV documentary that aired on the History Channel called Life After People. It can be found very easily on YouTube. Keep in mind just how long it has been since the initial collapse and the events that occurred after. These can greatly effect the environment.

All in all there are a million possibilities, and it’s up to you, the writer, to make the apocalypse your own and the story unique. Happy writing.