Character = victim
Plot = bad things happening to said victim
Maybe this sounds harsh. It's not if you understand that is ALL there is to these stories. They take any character, hurl them into a tragedy and that's it.
Let's get this straight: We do not know your character well enough to care about them yet. No matter how bloody and gutty their injuries are, no matter how many of their family members are deceased, no matter what their boyfriend did to them, no matter what kind of disease they have, WE. DO. NOT. CARE!!!!!
These kind of things are sad in themselves, but WHO is this person we're supposed to feel so horrible for? Establish THAT. It should be your absolute FIRST priority: no exceptions.
No more pasting faces onto the same cardboard-cut-out sob story protagonist.
If you want readers to care, you must FIRST GIVE THEM A HUMAN BEING TO CARE FOR.
If you don't, yes of course you are still going to get comments from emotional people who find your story intriguing. That is not the point.
The absolute WORST thing you can do is (I hate saying this), taking comments from people on the internet seriously (about your writing, that is).
People who have no CLUE about literature will post comments on the most unprofessional writings and say things like, "This made me cry. You are like the next J.K Rowling."
DO NOT LISTEN TO THESE PEOPLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE THINGS LIKE TWILIGHT AND 50 SHADES OF GREY POSSIBLE.
All I'm saying is that if you think things like Twilight are insults to literature, I beg you to take the advice given above. If not, what can I say but: carry on. Let the age of Mary Sue begin.
We need to remember: a rich story is made up of so much more than only one element; it can't rely only on being "dark," or "tragic" or "romantic." These things are for bringing out emotion. It's ESSENTIAL that there is something worth being emotional ABOUT.
That is how you tell a beautiful story.
And even then, if you give us something we truly care about, you'll realize "I can make something even less tragic happen and it will have a much greater effect now."
Sometimes you'll even realize that being subtle is even more disturbing and "dark" than going all out.
I said it before, I'll say it again: drama is the anti-suspense. Drama needs something to feed on or else it is dead.
It's up to you to make casual, every-day scenes interesting too.
Humor is a particularly wonderful tool for making characters appealing. The more appealing the character, the more the audience will care when they suffer.
Think of your favorite cartoon character. Now imagine if they died. Not a funny, cartoon-ish death where we know that they'll be all right again in three seconds.
Pretend they came to a permanent end that was actually portrayed very tragically and non-sarcastically.
Kind of leaves you with a disturbed feeling, doesn't it? If this is the way you want your audience to feel about your characters, then follow this example. It doesn't mean your character has to be as silly as a cartoon character, it just means we should feel like we know them in such a way that we can feel their pain.
In short: don't give us another card-board soap opera. Give us something to love.
No more "I'm going to drench this character in blood and my story will automatically be deep!" If that's as deep as you can get, you must be very shallow indeed.
I'm saying that introducing the character should be first *priority,* not necessarily the first thing in the story. The point being, don't write a story that you worry about the character second to the soap opera.
Of course many stories (Harry Potter included) start off with bad things happening. This is because they're crucial to setting up the entire story. The point is not to expect your audience to be scandalized yet.
Also, when you read this guide, assume I'm talking about writing seriously. I'm not picking on those of you writing for practice/fun/etc.
This is a concern because things like this are being published these days. If this isn't your goal, carry on by all means.
I posted this because it's getting to the point where there is no unique style. This is the style that most beginners (and therefore most people) tend to use. I'm not picking on beginners, just pointing out not to settle with the first, most obvious style of writing that no one encourages them to grow beyond.
Are there people who enjoy this kind of writing? Of course. But why is it all we should be content with?
The attitude should be something like this: make the character deep enough for whatever you're writing.
If it's a short deviation, naturally less so than in a novel.
Same if it's not the point of the thing you're writing (say you're just trying to bring out a moral or something).
However, if you expect to write a sob story this is highly important.
I wrote about a little six years old girl that killed a toad by accident.
I wonder if this means anything
Congratulations on the Daily Deviation, by the way.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't like to write the angsty/emo characters *shot*
On another note though, I don't think that it's JUST the fact that they write characters with tragedy and emo-ness surrounding them so much as HOW they write them. Most often, I find that people write them as nothing more than an excuse for the character to be "rescued" by the story's love interest, and after a few hugs and cuddles and kisses, all their angst and troubles magically vanish, or the troubles and drama that occure are more melodrama than actual tragedy or what-have-you.
No PTSD, no official counseling or therapy needed, and they get over it rather quickly without even one relapse or without their angsty troubles causing any REAL relationship strain(i.e. having to work on their own bad behaviors or habits which might be destructive as a result of abuse they suffered, or if they do, it's treated as "cute" or "no big deal", but never actually addressed in a manner to solve it, or losing relationships because of it, or needing serious interventions, et cetera).
I love a well-written tragedy/angst story that addresses those problems, which would be issues one would have to tackle in real life or suffer consequences to their relationships and such, but it's really hard to find those well-written ones under all the ones that are total crap.
Amen to that.
If you haven't read her work before, though it's fanfiction(mainly Fullmetal Alchemist), Sevlow on FF.net does an awesome job of very gritty, realistic, believable portrayals of dark fiction and angst. Honestly I don't know anyone who does it better.
It sounds like an interesting story, I could see it really becoming something great if you stick with it and develop it. I say go for it.
Even so, I can't say that I've read a particular amount of works that pretty much just start of with "OMFG I'm covered in blood I shall now be tragic!" Care to give me any pointers? After all, a great way to learn is to look at some things one should not do
Thanks again for the great articles, would love to read some more from you. Have a watch good sir!
Ps. Do people still /do/ the random thing? Thought that went out of fashion when I was 14...
Sadly, when it comes to fan fiction based writing, I have noticed that the fanpoodle type tales with the similarities mentioned here will always win once the more rabid fan girls and boys get involved in the reading process. Such individuals do not care one whit for a well developed, good reading, and thought provoking story. Pushing their fanatical adoration for a certain pairing, or situation down every other reader's throats to the best of their abilities seem to be their only agenda in some instances.
Yes, I often find myself wanting to type that comment in all capitals when I read some stories. Quite frustrating.
Every writer should read this.
As for feedback on stories, I tend not to shun commenters who like or even dislike the things I post. Instead I ask, "Why do you like it? What about it stuck out to you? Were there things you thought didn't work? If so, where and why did they not work for you?" Feedback is one thing; good feedback is something else entirely, and it's what I hope for when people comment on my work.
When I write, whether it be just for fun, for school, for ideas, or even for RPs, my characters and plot have to be as original and unique as I can make them. It saddens me to read, hear, watch, etc. of all these big titles, whether it be for a movie or book or game, or anything, that they all have cliches, Mary/Gary Sue/Stues, and perfect everything. And by perfect (sometimes), I mean huge, melodramatic sob stories. I despise characters that have just had tradedy after tragedy after tragedy thrown at them, for the sole purpose of being 'that badass character', or for sympathy.
Twilight is one of the biggest literature blunders, in my perspective. You can't just throw vampires and tragedy and war, and forbidden romance around just for the sake of it. The has to be more in it to actually captivate and meet the expectations it has set for itself. I will give it some props for a few big twists, at least that added to the plot, but other than that it ws terribly disappointing.
Things I strive to put in my writing, and I love to see in other writing (or movies), is something you don't see. A whole different perspective, a different way of writing/telling the story (as demonstrated in Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close. The book was brilliant, although I never saw the movie), or something new and fresh. One thing I like to do is have a seemingly regular person- not someone choosing by any prophecy, not someone hand picked by another being- supernatural or not- but someone who doesn't need a sob story, doesn't need a life crisis, doesn't need any already-decided fate or destiny to make them a hero or whatever. I think it should be the person they are themselves that makes them extraordinary. Of course, family, backstory, other beings, etc. will always be factors in shaping them, but I believe it should be any ordinary person's extra strength, determination, and personality to make any story just a little bit better.
Hope you don't feel bothered, and I really felt from your comment that you would be a pretty active writer, but I was saddened to see you have nothing uploaded! Not of the writing persuasion, or just putting stuff out elsewhere?