Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Coming up next on Problematic Reviews

Saturday, September 21, 2013

(Q&A) Let's Talk About Writing: The Nuts and Bolts of Anything! [Season 1 - Episode 1]

Okay fellas. Let me bring you up to speed on things: writing is confusing. There are characters and dialogue and dramatic irony and scene visualization... you get it: the list goes on and on. Even the professionals don't know where to begin. Now that's where I come in. Critics help authors improve and reach out to their readers with brand spanking new stories. Tonight (Friday the 20th of September). I will be answering any and all question coming my way on writing on this forum. Head below the break for the first episode of our newest endeavor: Let's Talk About Writing!

Answer: Great question! 
It's definitely one we all struggle with. The first step is to really find what is stopping you. It could be that you're too busy or have some writer's block or even a case of procrastination. Then work from there. 
Writer's Block: Every Writer's Worst Fear 
If you have it, find your inspiration. If it is music, listen to more music. If it is art, find more art to inspire you. (Of course, I'm speaking from personal experience)

Tomification asks: What do you consider to be the most important aspect of a story on fimfic in terms of attracting new readers?
Answer: Ah! That's a tough one. 
A lot goes into a story but if I had to choose one (just kidding: three): the first ones to come to mind are plot development, characters, and dialogue.

DiZ-037 asks: What do you do when you're at a point in a story where you have a multitude of options to follow, but don't know which one to choose?
Reply: Options? You might want to be more specific. Do you mean paths to take when developing plot and characters?
DiZ-037 says: I mean plot options. Like character A can do either action X Y or Z and it will slightly alter the story, without actually completely changing the ending.

Like how some video games have different options to choose, which all lead to a different ending, but the story usually still has the same basic shape. (Same enemies, same boss, same levels, just a different ending cutscene)
Answer: I see now. I'm not an avid gamer but I'm glad you brought that up: 
I'm sure in the RPG video game industry they do something every writer should try at one point. They sit down while writing the script and consider a very simple school of thought: cause and effect. Layout your consequences, find the best way to carry it out and do it.

AA-12Ducky asks: 1. How do I properly evoke cuteness? I need a young adult character to be puppy tier cute for a fic.

2. Would a cohesive and effective team that can solve most problems with some planning, annoy or scare readers in any way? I can still smell the Mary Sue paranoia up to these days.
1. How do I properly evoke cuteness? I need a young adult character to be puppy tier cute for a fic.
First thing to know is that every reader is not going to be as excited to see Derpy sad when she doesn't get muffins. If the story is already published, you might want to consider seeing what your audience likes and stick with it. Get to know your readers!  
Writing wise, use a lot of mood and visualization to paint "adorable" all of that scene. Don't go overboard (because that could upset the exposition's balance), but just let the reader know that this is suppose to be cute as hell.
2. Would a cohesive and effective team that can solve most problems with some planning, annoy or scare readers in any way? I can still smell the Mary Sue paranoia up to these days.
You see: that's the problem. Characters don't need to be deep but need to have two elements: a.)diversity: every character is unique and a character is not 100% of one trait and b.) responsive: make sure the character is affect on an emotional level by events and other characters.
Templar22 asks: How would you go about writing an abused filly? Specifically how would you show she's traumatized without slipping into angst.
Answer: You see, many people like to put a past trauma behind a character but forget to really put it behind a character. Make sure he/she is truly effected by it. Don't make it the center of their universe, but make it noticeable the character is struggling to get over it. Let it effect her/his decisions and reactions but never mind it blatantly obvious either.
Note: My mother is actually is a counselor for rape and domestic violence victims and this actually does fit the underlying profile of a victim's case. So there you have it! From a professional!  
AA-12Ducky asks: One more question if you don't mind.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about those times when during a story an incredibly effective method to solve problems is introduced and for some reason never done again. That one image with advice from Pixar says that you should come up with different ways to solve problems but at times it just doesn't seem reasonable to go fight a monster head-on when you had a muffled sniping bazooka introduced on the last chapter.

Is this really an encouraged practice on fiction to keep readers surprised and interested or just some authors forgetting everything after it loses its first moment of relevance?

And, should a really practical method be re-used as long as it's the most logical thing to do or it's better to try to throw it away for novelty's sake?
Answer: To be honest, a "one size fits all" solution should never be introduced. For one reason: the next issue is easily resolved and if you don't use it, the reader will ask "Well, why the hell didn't use the ultimate weapon thingy?" 
In other words, if you want to stay away from things that halt the development of your story.

Rocinante asks: Within the first 500 words, what turns you off the most? Also, what draws you in the most?
Answer: The first 500 words are one of the most important parts of a story. It's the exposition! It's the dough of the story to the reader.
What turns me off the most: When a writer makes me swallow the massive pill marked "HISTORY LESSON." The author is introducing a whole new world to me and he just threw an amazing opportunity away by simply telling me the back story.

What draw me in the most: When a writer shows me a new character that feels well built and knows his motor. I just love that. It shows that the author has planned his story, knows his characters and where he is going to take them.

wYvern asks: How do you make readers empathize with unlikable characters?
Answer: The best way is to bounce them of other characters. Show readers that the cast is diverse but still get along. Also break down their walls a bit. Let he/she be unlikable, not untouchable. Show what really makes them tick. Tell readers how they became bitter, selfish, etc. 
In the process you will change them and give them a character arc: letting the reader cheer on the conflict and the character!
Borderline Valley asks: Do you have any advice on writing good tragedy? Or, at least avoiding bad tragedy?
Answer: I don't have too much experience with them, but from what I know, you have to be skilled in writing characters to sympathize with the reader so the reader can invest in the outcome; promoting an emotional connection: sadness.

Closing Statements!

That pretty much wraps it up! All in all, the forum got about seventy replies so I can't list of them but if you wish to look at the unedited goodness: click here. One more thing: my good friend Luminary joined me during the Q&A to give some fantastic advice and help out! Don't forget to read some of the things he had to say and give him a wave next time you see him! Thanks to everyone who participated and I hope to see you next time! This has been Admujica and Luminary, have a great weekend everypony!

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