The Art of Storytelling - a paper on becoming a writer

The Art of Storytelling
By T.D. McIntosh

Becoming a writer, especially a professional one, can be the Hardest thing to do...

Let's face it: motivation is waning in today's world. People desire to be great and they want to do awesome things, but they won't take that first step. Everything in life requires some sort of risk; winning the lottery, becoming a singer, talking to that one hot person...

Because if you don't take that initial step, if you don't just go like “all or nothing”, you'll never know if that ticket you buy is the winning number; if you don't go to that audition and give it your all, you won't know if you'll win the audition; and if you don't muster up all your courage, the person that could become your mate will walk out of your life...

Everything in some way, shape, or form is relative; becoming a writer can be one of the hardest things you can do due to the fears of commitment and failure. You can't commit enough time and you're afraid that what you write can't beat the likes of J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin, or you won't be the next Tolkien. Pertaining to this, your first mistake if you decide to be a writer is wanting to be the next something.

Don't set out to be the next great Fantasy author; when you become a writer, go out and be the first You. Develop your own style and go at it the way you want to see fiction progress or evolve. Develop your own voice so when people read your work, they'll instantly know it's you.

Another thing that scares some of the most talented creative minds away from making that commitment is a second fear that can quite easily take precedence over the first – the Fear of Failure. We're all afraid of messing up, to fall, to die trying. In the case of someone who works himself to the bone, they'd feel that in spite of everything they've done for people, eventually they will get passed over for their due rewards. Failure, either physically or psychologically, can prove to be a horrid feeling and it’ll sap the motivation from you to continue.

But you must steel yourself and be willing to make that commitment; if you can spend minutes to send a text, a Tweet, or a Facebook post, you can sit down and write a piece going towards a story. It is all up to you.

Getting Yourself Started as a Writer

Have you ever gone to a bookstore and read one novel from your favorite genre? Did you memorize everything he or she has done with this novel, the cover art, the characters, the series itself? You want to achieve the same thing?

Then you need to prepare yourself for a long journey, like a hitchhiking trip across America. You can't just saunter in off of the street like any regular Joe and declare that you want to write a Fantasy or Spy Thriller series, and then you're not prepared for the heartache, frustration, and exhaustion that comes along with being a Writer. You need Dedication.

This draws back to my previous statement – the Fear of Committing to something like this can shy others away, and we'll never know – they might've been one of this generation's greatest scribes. You can't be finicky when approaching something like becoming a Novelist.

We can run down the most important details with a simple list:
1.     Set aside time each day to plan, write, and think. Thinking is one thing in the Career of a Writer that matters the most. This builds up your discipline and develops a mindset for Writing everyday. Having this discipline is a lot more substantial than trying to force yourself to put words down on paper, computer screen, phone handset, etc.
2.     Give yourself a spot for Writing. Create your own little alcove, your stronghold to craft your tales. Take a picture of it and look at it everyday so you can look forward to returning and continuing that tale. When you make your writing space, don't pretend to write. You could inadvertently train yourself to use this time to respond to personal messages, read something other than your story, and try to write at the same time, which could serve to increase the time it takes to write a chapter. Challenge yourself – don't leave that space until you write a page or even three pages.
3.     Organize your work. Be it a notebook, a manila envelope, a portfolio, or a file on your computer, make sure all of your works and notes are in a safe place where you can return every time you decide to write.
4.     Tell your friends and family that you're writing a story, a novel, a screenplay, etc. If they care enough about you and reaching your goal, they'll be on you every day about putting in work on your project. They'll keep you on your toes.

The Act of Writing – Tackling the Blank Page

The blank page can be intimidating to even the most experienced of scribes, but let's clear the air about something – there's no hidden mystery, no secret kung-fu scrolls about writing. It's a skill, a technique that can be taught to anyone willing to learn. And the blank page is something that every writer faces, even the most proficient ones..

If you look at it another way, though, there is nothing I feel that is more liberating than a blank page. It offers so many possibilities, and it presents a freedom to say whatsoever is on your mind. This brings us to one of the biggest points in good writing: making the decision on what it is that you want to say. This is where preparing oneself can help influence the decision. Storytelling, hell, the act of writing itself is a process, and being prepared would require that you exercise the following steps:

·       Deciding what your goal is: Successful writing requires deep thought on the end product. Getting there could set you on a road that provides several paths to travel, and they can be vague and imprecise. If that be the case, a beginning writer will have to decide what their goal is going to be. Pick which you feel is the easiest type of writing, which will make you the most comfortable.
·      Choosing Your Topic: After you've picked the type of writing you are going to do, the next step is choosing a topic. The freedom of choice belongs to you, but that freedom does not come without a price. In fact, many writers find that choosing what to write about is harder than the actual writing process.

TIPS FOR SURVIVAL #1: The Concept of Developing Your Topic

Now coming up with a topic to write about is hard, but do not fret – here are some things you can do to help pick what you feel is an appropriate topic.
·       Freewriting: I've learned from Peter Elbow, an expert who changed the teaching of writing itself, that one of the reasons why beginners find writing so hard is that people put up a set of censors inside of their heads. We all do it – you become your own critic, you feel that what you do will be trash. Sure enough, as soon as the pen touches the paper, a voice in the back of your head blurts out, “You know that sucks!” Once again, do not fret – you can use a technique called Freewriting. Just let yourself flow continuously for a fixed period of time – give yourself five to ten minutes. Write and keep going without stopping. Don't worry if the final look is crappy. The only doctrine is that you're getting something, anything, on paper. Try it and you'll see how liberating freewriting can be.
·       Brainstorming: Considered the spoken equivalent of freewriting, brainstorming is a concept I'm sure that many writers are familiar with. When you brainstorm, you speak out loud about as many ideas and concepts you can come up with in a fixed period of time. A belief is that brainstorming is best done in a group of people, but many writers won't have this luxury. Writers tend to be solitary, so when a withdrawn writer brainstorms, it may be through a tape recorder, a video playback, or through their own memory. This is one of the only times when talking to yourself has benefits. Initially, the goal is simply to produce as many ideas as possible, no matter how implausible, crazy, or nonsensical. Be sure to write down the ideas that peak your interest as they spring up.

Continuing the list, we have:
1.      Decide on Who Your Audience Is: Some people think their audience are their friends, family, or the general public. Those might be the most obvious choices for what you write, but think of your audience in terms of the ultimate purpose of your writing project. The answer to this question can influence in how and what you decide to write. It's crucial to know and keep in your mind the persons to whom you are writing to. What would you like them to take away after reading your work? Knowing your audience also creates another purpose: it personalizes your writing. Rather than aiming for some random group of people who could give a rip about what you're talking about, you narrow down your audience. Picture your audience as people you know and think of how they'd feel after reading your work. The hardest part of this is convincing them to become fans of your career.

Writing Your Work: What is your Story About?

You've gotten over the stage fright of writing. You're fully invested in writing a book. You have the guts and gall to call yourself a writer, and damn it, it feels great. The next thing down this path to finishing your first draft is to remind people you're writing a book.

You're over-bounding with confidence. You feel amazing! You're ready to take a shot at the title!

Some people will be generally pleased, surprised, and happy that you decided to take the plunge. Once you announce that a book, screenplay, or story is on the way, you'll undoubtedly be asked a question that could define your project's future.  It's nowhere near a trick question, even though you'll feel like you're being tricked after the eightieth time hearing it:

“What's your story about?” Sounds like a simple question, doesn't it? It's your story, correct?

You should know the story inside and out. You've outlined the ever living hell out of it, or at least have some chapters written out. You could be already half-way there.

So why should that single question be so difficult?
If you can't articulate, summarize, or in some way put across what your story is about in three sentences, then guess what:

You don't know your story, period.

Give it a try – it's a good exercise. If you find yourself needing to explain your story off the top of your head in detail, mainly because people aren't getting it, ask yourself: what AREN'T they getting?

Could it be possible that you yourself haven't figured out something about the story?

A writer needs to know where they are going in order to fully convey the essence of any story. It's like wanting to take a grand journey, an epic adventure, but you don't know where you're going. What you're doing by concentrating your tale's story into three sentences or less is creating a summary that serves as a platform for your Premise, your Concept, and most importantly, your Plot.

What the project is about, what you tell the world your book is about, is about the strongest platform you can construct to build your potential bestseller.

So how can you fix this problem? You can easily solve it with three single questions:
1.      Who is my protagonist, or main character, and what does he or she want? If the protagonist doesn't have a desire that drives him, why should a reader be invested in the character?
2.      Who's the antagonist or what is the obstacle that is standing in the way of the protagonist? Without a clear opposition, the protagonist wouldn't go through an arc of transformation, i.e. the story would be boring.
3.      What is it that makes your story unique?
1.      You can use another, well-known story to help someone visualize a plot. But beware of this: people have the habit of accusing a story of bearing too many similarities, so make sure your story is different.

In order to convey a great story concept and answer the question of what your story is about, you need to learn the following components:

·       The Character – he must have his own flaws and possess a visceral goal that'll be achieved during the story.
·       The situation – it must be the lynchpin that sets up the plot and gets it rolling.
·       The objective – it sets up the goal and keeps the characters moving.
·       The opponent – who is the antagonist or what serves to stand as the opposition.
·        Disaster – this is the hook that keeps the audience's interest peaked. It could spur on the situation as well as spawn the objective, so really, the Disaster is integral to the plot itself.

Honing the idea is the first step into making your story a reality. An idea is not enough for a novel, a story, a screenplay, etc. It has to be capable of carrying over 300-400 pages minimum as well as keep the reader's interest long enough for a cover-to-cover read.

To bring you closer to getting yourself started in a more precise manner, as well as set yourself up with confidence boosters, you can:

1.      Pitch your premise to friends. Their feedback can be invaluable and it can help you decide whether or not you should continue that idea.
2.      Construct a list of ten “What-if” scenarios based on your story. Those what ifs are for just in case you find yourself stuck in the middle of an act in your story, and these can help you move things along.
3.      Write words that can describe the thread running through the story. Also known as Arc Words, it can be a word or phrase that appears throughout the story as a motif. The Arc words can be a way to hint at the theme of the story, often in the form of a question the characters must uncover the answer to. This can also be used as Foreshadowing.
4.      Define the theme of your story. Also known as the Authorial Intent, to define the theme of the story is to find the central topic a text treats. Themes can be divided into two categories: a work's thematic concept (what readers think the work is about), and its thematic statement (what the work says about the subject). A common understanding of theme is an idea or point that is central to a story, which can often be summed in a single word (death, betrayal, love, the pursuit of happiness). More typical examples of themes of this type are usually conflict between an individual and society; the coming of age story; humans in conflict with technology, i.e. the rise of machines; the feeling of nostalgia; and the dangers of one's unchecked ambition. The theme could be exemplified by the actions, utterances, or thoughts of a character in a novel.
5.      Make a list of obstacles that arise. A character's murder, their spiritual journey, their court date – these are all obstacles that can help or hinder them down the path to their goal, which should be the climax of the tale.
6.      Give yourself a timeline to finish your story. A deadline can help to spark a fire under your rear end and get your fingers working.

More Questions to ask when you plan:

1.      Is the idea too close to a personal story? Using a personal experience can be good for creating a story, as writers are always encouraged to “write what you know”, but it can serve to be a double-edged sword; it can dredge up bad memories, so one must be careful of this while writing.
2.      Is the idea flexible enough for good fiction? Does your idea make good fiction? Is it believable enough to be taken seriously but just teetering on the line of falsehood that you know its a fictitious tale?
3.      Do you know your genre, or type of story? Fantasy, Drama, Action-Adventure; these are all genres, and a writer should immediately know which they are writing for.
4.      Do you know your reader? As mentioned before, knowing your reader can make or break your story and its future.

Alright, now it's time to get into the real meat of Storytelling.

Now storytelling finds its foundation in Dramatic Structure, the build of dramatic work such as a play, a novel, or a film. An interesting fact – the dramatic structure comes from the analysis of ancient Greek and Shakespearean drama from German Novelist Gustav Freytag. From his analysis, a story's drama is divided into five parts, or acts, which can be called a Dramatic Arc: the Exposition, the Rising action, the climax, the falling action, and denouement.

Although Freytag's research is based on five-act plays, ideas change with the times, and writers can apply dramatic structure to short stories and novels, effectively making it a literary element.
·       Exposition: The portion of the story that serves to introduce important background information to your audience, ie. Info about the setting, lore that occurs before the main plot gets underway, the back stories of important characters, and so on. Exposition can be conveyed through simple dialogue (which can be bland), or through more compelling means such as flashbacks, character's thoughts, background details that causes a reader to infer the information, or the classic method of the narrator telling of the back story.
   Information Dumping: This comes about when background info isn't interwoven with the narrative. A more common use of this is at the beginning of a serial TV drama when they catch the audience up in a brief montage of scenes from earlier episodes, i.e. “Previously on [Name of Series]”.
   Incluing: A technique of world building, in which the reader is gradually exposed to background information concerning the current situation or about the world in which the story is set. The main idea of Info dumping is to gently clue your readers into the world that the author is building without showing your hand; it is highly opposed to Infodumping, where a concentrated amount of background material is dropped all at once in the story, often in a spiel of dialogue between two characters, both of whom should be aware of the material under discussion. Both techniques are used frequently in Science Fiction and Fantasy, as you, the author, is tasked with making the reader believe in a fictional realm of your conception. Other genres have lesser uses of these techniques as they primarily depend on the real world for familiarity.
·       Rising Action: In this, there are a series of related incidents build toward the point of a great interest, such as a Bank Heist, an Assassination, or someone's wedding. The rising action of a tale serves as the series of events that begin immediately after the exposition, or the introduction, of the story and it begins the build up to your climax. These events are the most important parts of the story since the entire plot depends on their set up for the climax, and ultimately contributes to the satisfactory resolution of the story itself.
·     The Climax, or the Crisis:  As known as the Turning Point of your narrative work, the Climax comes at the highest point of tension or drama; from here, the action begins in which the solution is provided.
   The Dreaded Anti-Climax: An anti-climax is where something that would be difficult, contextually speaking, to solve a conflict, is resolved through a very trivial solution. A famous example of an anti-climatic ending is H.G. Wells “The War of the Worlds”, where, despite all of the carnage, chaos, mass hysteria, and destruction caused by the Martians' assault on Planet Earth, the antagonists are then the Common Cold. Another example could've involved the protagonist faced with insurmountable odds and the end result is his death without his goal achieved. This would've made the entire plot entirely pointless; it would've been as if the protagonist chose to do nothing – the result would've remained the same sans his direct death from his interfering within the plot.
·       Falling Action: Occurring after the climax and serving as the lull between it and the resolution, the falling action has the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist unraveled. Either the protagonist or the antagonist wins, and we as an audience may witness a moment of final suspense, in which the complete outcome of the conflict is in doubt.
·       Resolution (Denouement, Revelation, or Catastrophe): Comprised of events from the end of the falling action to the actual ending scene of the story. All conflicts are resolved or set up to be encountered in another story (Cliffhangers), and normality is created for the characters. You, as the reader, feel a sense of Catharsis, the release of tension and anxiety, as you reach the conclusion.

And now comes one of the biggest parts of Storytelling...

The Monomyth, aka The Hero's Journey

One of the widest patterns of storytelling, the Monomyth has proponents that is found in many narratives from around the world. Discussed by Joseph Campbell, he claimed that numerous myths from various times and regions share fundamental structures and stages. A hero, or the protagonist, would make a grand leap from his common setting into a realm of wonder and new experiences. Amazing forces are encountered and a great victory of some sort would be won, and the protagonist returns to the common world, wiser and stronger, and capable of changing that world in some aspect.

To go more in-depth of the Monomyth, the protagonist would begin in a place deemed as ordinary, and he receives a call to venture into an unknown world of strange powers and events. The protagonist, should he choose to accept this call, would face tasks and trials, either by himself or with allies. If you want to make it more intense and emotionally invested, the protagonist needs to survive a severe challenge, often with assistance; if they emerge victorious, he may get a great gift. They are offered a choice to decide whether or not they should return to the world of the mundane with their newfound power. If they choose to go back, they can face challenges on their returning journey. Upon their successful trip, the power can be used to improve their world. Prometheus, Osiris, Moses – their legends follow the structure closely once you take a closer look at it. A writer can use ancient legend and myth and learn from it.

It can be boiled down to three stages:
·         The Departure: the Hero leaves the familiar world behind.
·         Initiation: the Hero learns to navigate the unfamiliar world of adventure.
·         Return: the Hero returns to the familiar world.
More elaborate details usually includes the following stages, but this isn't a prerequisite:
·      A Miraculous or strange circumstances around the Protagonist's conception or birth. In other words, a prophecy. Not so common in modern stories, which emphasizes the role in personal choice in defining a hero.
·      Starts off in the ordinary world of the Protagonist's conception, often done in one of two styles:
   Peaceful Realm – where a hero must save the world from an impending doom
   The Wasteland – for a tale in which the hero must restore the world to its former glory.
·      The protagonist may be dissatisfied with their world and want more out of life. Made ever so famous by Disney films and their heroes singing a song that sums up their desires.

·      A Herald brings a Call to Adventure. The protagonist's wish is granted as something happens and they must leave the world they know behind and travel into the land of adventure. Now the hero must decide on how to answer said call:
   Refusal of the Call – a detail used in more common stories. The call will often keep ringing the proverbial phone because it knows where the protagonist live.
   Jumping at the Call – sometimes even knowing that it could result in harm and danger. The hero could accept only because he feels it would be pointless to resist.
·       Often than not, the first major step on the Hero's Journey is receiving some sort of magical item or weapon, or some other sort of Supernatural Aid. For example, Luke Skywalker receiving a Lightsaber from Obi-Wan Kenobi.
·       Crossing the First Threshold – The protagonist must make a conscious and willing decision to embark on the adventure and leave their safe zone behind. The Hero may have to take down Threshold Guardians, who may not be antagonistic but they will serve to test his resolve. It pushes the hero into a choice where he can either go back home or choose to press forth into adventure. If you look closer at it, it'll reveal the initial character trait of your hero – will they buckle under pressure or stand strong in the face of adversity?
·       The Land of Adventure – this could be a big thing in your tale as the hero emerges into a strange, dreamlike realm, where logic is thrown to the wind and the understanding is drastically different.
·       The Belly of the Whale – this is the Hero's first major defeat. He's soon ready to get back onto his feet and take another shot at the title. It's the conclusion of the first act of the Monomyth: “The hero, instead of conquering or claiming the power of the Threshold, is consumed into the unknown and appears to be dead.” This is truly the point of no return, where the protagonist resigns himself to the difficult task ahead. It is the moment of greatest personal danger to the hero. Now the Hero can move forward in two ways – defeating the threshold guardians or by being destroyed by said guardians.

·       Road of Trials: the trek out of the Belly of the Whale. This delves into the meat of the story, as different types of tests could contain deadly terrain, monsters, temptations, deadly opposites, and a journey to the underworld. Some stops could also include:
   The Shapeshifter: someone untrustworthy but is needed for his help or information
   The Hero's Muse: The motivation for pursuing the quest, and it derives from the regard for some sort of idealized woman. Not uncommon, as the woman can be the hero's love interest and he is taking painstaking steps in order to become her life partner. The lady can be the one who gives the hero his quest; he then departs to complete it before his return to her. Alternatively, she comes in and out of the hero's path, steeling his heart and keeping her presence near but staying out of reach. In some instances, she is at his side all along, serving as a reminder of what he is striving for and becoming the inspiration for him to persevere. An example is found in the Disney film “Mulan”, where the supporting cast and Mulan herself sings a song that discusses this notion called “A Girl Worth Fighting For”.
   The Temptress: A character who is a beauty, who uses her feminine wiles to undermine a moral and upright man for dark and evil purposes. She tends to be evil, sexy, spouts lies constantly and performs underhanded deeds, and uses the protagonist's sympathy (if any) against him, often with a tale of woe and pretending to be weak and downtrodden. She'll never be swayed by love; you can't fill this dark soul with light! Prime examples of Temptresses are Biblical figures Delilah and Jezebel; Delilah turned God-fearing Strongman Samson from his godly ways, bringing about his subsequent downfall and emasculation, and Jezebel was an evil woman clear from redemption who kept convincing her husband, Israel's king at the time, to keep his eyes away from God.
   Atonement with the Father: The protagonist must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in their life. In many myths this is the father, or a father figure who has life and death power. This serves as the center point of the journey – everything moves into this place and all else will move out from it.
   Leave Your Quest Test: Usually after meeting the Muse or Temptress. Something can cause the protagonist to want more than life itself to leave his journey behind and forget it all happened. He'll be presented with a chance to lay down his weapon and leave the fight. Sometimes, all it takes is finding a love interest, providing enough temptation to abandon the journey. Being a hero, they'll refuse the temptation. Sometimes they give in; in these cases, they receive a vision warning them to leave, see an injustice and choose not to stand idly by, etc.
   The Night Sea Voyage: The protagonist must sneak into the antagonist's hideout and retrieve something or someone. In myths, these runs of stealth were usually at night and involved bodies of water, hence the name. The best known example is the infiltration of the Death Star by Luke Skywalker to rescue Princess Leia.
   Time out before the Big Battle: The Quiet Drama Scene in an Action tale, what sets the bar of how good the myth or the story is how good the film is at its quietest drama. Two characters talk about what they believe in, what they care about, or what causes their deepest pain. In these scenes, the audience can understand the plot, grasp ahold of its theme, or develop a rapport with the characters to make the bigger action set pieces more emotionally investing. In the Monomyth, the heroes would gather around a campfire (or whatever you will) and prepare for an imminent battle, tell stories, confess their feelings, and so on. It gives them a reminder of what's at stake, and serves as down time after all of the action within the Road of Trials.
   The Apotheosis, or the Fight against the Big Bad: The protagonist comes to view the world in a new and radically different way, either because of a critical breakthrough he's made or some crucial information he's uncovered. A factor that could be used is if the discovery that is made has something to do with the protagonist, this would be a good time to ask whether or not the hero is really special.
   The protagonist confronts the antagonist – he is usually called upon to sacrifice himself or something or someone important to him. Keep in mind that “asked/called upon” is the key word/term here – it's usually enough that the protagonist be willing to sacrifice something without actually having to do it. Someone else will sacrifice himself in the Hero's stead, or the Hero will served to have outwitted the Villain somehow.
   Ultimate Boon: Receiving the goal of the quest, plain and simple.
The Return
·       Refusal of the Return: Having found bliss and enlightenment, or whatever the protagonist desired out of their life, they may not wish to return to the ordinary realm to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.
·       The Magic Flight: In some cases, the protagonist must escape with the boon, if it is an object of great jealousy. It can be an adventure in itself and just as dangerous returning from the journey.
·       Rescue from Without: Just as the protagonist may need guides and help to set out on the quest, they must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if someone had been wounded or weakened by the experience.
·       The Crossing of the Return Threshold: There is a trick to this – the protagonist must retain their wisdom and maturity gained on the quest, and integrate the wisdom into a normal life. From there, they can figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world. They must return to common day and accept it as the real.
·       The Master of Two Worlds: Achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The protagonist has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
·       Freedom to Live: This Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn becomes the freedom to live. Referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past, or as the common phrase “You only live once.”

To finish this section off, here is a quick checklist to serve as reminder to include in your story:
1.      Believe your hero can win.
2.      Allow your hero to have doubts.
3.      Give your hero weaknesses and flaws. This makes him human.
4.      Allow your hero to make mistakes.
5.      Your hero has to make Karmic choices; some good, some bad.
6.      Show your readers everything, even what the hero doesn't know.
7.      Invest the reader early in the hero's thoughts.
8.      Give the hero a moral dilemma to unravel.
9.      Include the hero's “wound” in the backstory. The wound could be his flaw or what makes him who he is and why he doesn't like something or someone.
1.      Tie the wound to the hero's identity.
10.   Give the hero a guest that surpasses identity.
11.   Show what your hero can be; his true self.
12.   Let the hero dream. A boy has the right to dream; there are endless possibilities stretched out before him.
13.   Give the hero a great villain and many obstacles, as well as allies and friends.
14.   Let the hero experience betrayal.
15.   Give the hero love (i.e. Mario to Princess Peach, Link to Princess Zelda, Sora to Kairi)
16.   Let the hero fail before winning.
17.   The hero must transform into their true self.

Okay, the next and final bit is the notes about Character. This, like above, will be done as a list.
·      Write a character profile for the protagonist. You need to know EVERY SINGLE THING about the hero of your story. What makes your hero human (or superhuman)?
·      Profile your antagonist. Like the hero, know EVERYTHING about your villain, especially WHY he became a villain and his ideology that forces him to commit villainous acts. For example, Magneto from X-Men is a Jewish Holocaust survivor, Darth Vader was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force, Younger Toguro from the anime Yu Yu Hakusho feared his own human weakness and became an Apparition as a result.
·      Profile all of the supporting characters. Not as detailed as the hero and villain but enough to make the audience care.
·       Write dialogue for every character. Learn how they talk, what they'd say to certain characters.
·       Make the characters believable physically. Don't over sexualize them or give them physiques like Superheroes without any prior reason or rationality for it.
·       Make characters relevant to the history of your world.
·       Give each character a flaw.
·       Make them believable mentally, emotionally, and socially. This ties into the dialogue bit; it'll show the audience what they think about, how they act, and why they act the way they do.
·       Don't base characters too closely on people you know. People you know want or do not enjoy the embellishment you bestow on characters based on your idea of them. That character could be a pure jerk or a slut depending on your take of that person you know.
·      Allow characters to have their own past. Show who they were before their point in the story.
·      Give characters consistent opinions. Don't show them being tough one moment, then a mewling quim the next. Their opinion on the situation has just been thrown out of the window.
·       Allow characters to make mistakes. People mess up. To err is human; we learn from mistakes and develop strategies on how not to screw up again.
·       Allow characters to miss the obvious while blinded by their emotion.
·       Give characters secrets.
·       Let them have bad habits and quirks.
·       Take a LOT of time on Names and watch out for alliteration.

And Lastly, love your characters.


  1. I don't think the background is doing the text any justice. On a good computer or a big screen, yes, the text is easy to read and all, but on a computer with lower specs / a phone, the colors they can display lessens, and they need to squint their eyes hard to read that text.

    Try changing your text to a more distinct color your background doesn't have - You can consider lavender, light pink, light blue, teal or green, generally lighter colors that stand out from the BG would work better.

    Or, consider putting a border of some sort in the middle so the text can be read without the background's interference.


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