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Original Fiction Discussion/Feedback

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Pixileanin

Hey guys!  I'm looking for some line editing and general beta comments for this OF one-shot that I finished converting from FF.  If anyone has time to do this, please have at it.  I'd be up for a beta trade if someone needs a beta for a one-shot or a chapter.  It doesn't have to be OF. I'll beta whatever. Also, I need a firm, ruthless crit of the total piece as well, talking about character, flow and catching repetitive concepts that shouldn't be there.

Thanks!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/18FZD8Xxfc84AOfIdVD5dKS75-RzpNtGsFi5ceS_Ewy4/edit?usp=sharing

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Noelle Zingarella

@Pixileanin I’d love to do some beta trading, depending on how soon you want this back. I would probably want a few days to go over it. Let me know!

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Pixileanin

@Noelle Zingarella That's great! I'm in no rush. In fact it'd be nice if I had a week to get your back to you too. Pm me and we can discuss. :)

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Noelle Zingarella
Posted (edited)

@Pixileanin Great! Will do.

Edited by Noelle Zingarella

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crowsb4bros

SOME OF MY CHARACTERS ARE BLEEDING TOGETHER. 

As they become closer and closer in their friendship it's really hard for me to keep their voices their own even though they are vastly different characters. Any tips on how to keep them true to themselves? Does anyone else struggle with this? I never had this problem with fan fiction so I think part of my issue might be that because they aren't established characters they aren't as fleshed out as I think they are? 

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Pixileanin

@crowsb4bros Hi there!  And yes, you just answered your own question.  The characters have to feel rounded in your head or they'll tend to do exactly what you are describing.  I tend not to have this issue in fanfiction either, because I KNOW the characters and the expectations that everyone else has about them.  So yeah, it's much easier with a character whose arc we've seen and understand.

Have you tried plotting your individual character arcs yet?  I've done this on a spreadsheet a few times.  It takes each character (minor characters too) and plots their personal story throughout your larger one.  For me, I'm able to see (and in some cases readjust) the individuality in each of my characters more clearly.  It also helps me to figure out if  I have two or more characters that serve the same function in the story and who can be merged.  Sometimes, I found that two of my characters were really just one character.  I combined them, and my individuality issues went away.  

For dialogue, and I'm sure you've done this one already, I tend to think of where each character is coming from in a situation.  For example, if Harry and Hermione were talking about the Triwizard Tournament, they'd think about it differently.  Harry would be thinking something like, "Oh god, that's gonna be ME in there!" while Hermione would probably be all, "My best friend is possibly going to die and I can't do anything to help him once it starts!"  So, that would drive their thoughts a bit differently.

 

Good luck.  You've got this!

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just.a.willow.tree

I'm writing an OF right now themed around Chinese foods and a water curse of sorts, and I guess one thing I'm wondering constantly is, how do you make sure your story is entertaining to people other than yourself? :P Is there any real way to be aware of this as I write, as opposed to actually getting outside readers to look it over? I don't know, has anyone else worried about or struggled with this when writing OF?

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Pixileanin

@just.a.willow.tree  I wonder that myself all the time. Most of my stories are quite entertaining to me, and then they don't often get read.  It's probably something to do with my awful summaries and that I don't have cool banners... haha!  I tend to write off-the wall concepts and my muse runs away from mainstream "already done that" things.  In fact, even when I'm writing new things, if it's a scene or a location or a situation that I think I've written before, I sometimes can't even bring myself to write it and change it up. It makes figuring out my personal style quite difficult, but anyway...

Most of the answer you're looking for is probably going to be in the way that the readers attach themselves to your characters.  Characterization is a weakness of mine.  I usually don't get serious about it until the story is mostly written. Maybe that's a backwards way of doing it, but it's how I work.  I find that the stories of mine that people like the most are the ones where they have strong feelings towards the characters, good or otherwise.  Characters have to feel real, but they also have to want things, need things, and people in general have to see something of themselves or others they know mirrored back to them. I'm not great with it, but I've been reading up on it and trying to get better.  Usually, the more personal you can get with your characters, and here, I'm talking about getting into their deepest fears and insecurities and showing them off in some way...  to be clear, I'm not suggesting that every story means dragging your own personal skeletons out of the closet, unless that's your bag or you're writing therapeutic stuff, in which case, more power to you...  the more readers with react to them.  That's probably why characters that I write who have a bit of what I usually hide to the world infused in them are the ones that stand out the most to other people. 

And yeah, the only real way to know if you've got it right is by having someone else tell you that the connection is there.  We NEED our beta readers.

I had a very honest friend tell me once that I couldn't just have a story about cool magical demons and a curse.  They said very adamantly that the characters needed to have something to say, and the story needed to mean something to someone (y'know, like  a character or something, haha!).  It made my poor little muse sad, because I loved my magical concepts, but on a storytelling level, they were absolutely right.  I only had half the ingredients of an actual story.  In a story, something has to HAPPEN.  Typically, it usually happens to SOMEONE, and means SOMETHING BIG in their life CHANGES.  Mostly, I'm asking myself things like, "when THIS happens, how does it change my character?"  if the answer is, "My character doesn't care," or "my character doesn't change,"  I know that I've got a problem.  Man, I'm still working on that. 

Anyone else got stuff to say about characters?

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Noelle Zingarella

@Pixileanin I love your stories! They are so creative and fresh :D

You make some very good points here about the importance of characterization. I think you're totally right that you can have the coolest concept in the world but, if it doesn't affect a character that the reader cares about, then it can fall kind of flat.

I don't really think that it is backwards to think about characterization at the end of a story. I feel that I get to know my characters the longer I write them. I think, as long as we're willing to go back and rewrite earlier parts of a story with the knowledge we've gained through the experience of writing the characters, that's totally fine. 

For myself, I usually begin creating a character by thinking of him or her pretty generally: e.g. Miranda Rose is an extrovert, Severus Snape is an introvert; Miranda is positive and sanguine, Severus is negative and melancholic; Aaron and Rachel Lee are like two of my friends in RL; Conor Rose is like Miranda; Finn Rose is like Severus; etc. Once I have the broad strokes in mind, I have a place to start from and I find that the character grows naturally as I add elements from myself, or my friends/family, or characters I've read about. And then I try to get into the character's head and see things/create dialogue from their perspective. 

@just.a.willow.tree your story sounds really interesting to me! And I think it's important to write stories that are interesting to yourself--if they aren't interesting to you, nobody else will care about them either. I have to agree with Pix too, beta readers, reviews, and other feedback from readers is the only way to see the story how a reader sees it. Although putting it away for a while and then reading it as though you've never seen it before can help.

 

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sibilant

@just.a.willow.tree I just want to say that I had a lot of these doubts when I was writing reorienting and untranslatable but then I was listening to a podcast and the host described how stories that are super personal actually become more universal. And going back to stories that I’ve read in the past that seen so insanely personal, I find the specificness of the experience does actually make it somehow more relatable? It’s a paradox haha, but I hope it’s comforting to you :) 

@Pixileanin gosh, I have so much to say about characterization and you’re totally right! The characters are really why the reader cares about the story. Like @Noelle Zingarella I usually start off with the character having just one “thing”, and then I try to dive deeper into that specific thing and really pick it apart. For example, in the brightest pearl (which isn’t OF but could really conceivably be called OF, with a few minor changes), I crafted my main character by first identifying that I wanted her to represent freedom. But then I wanted to think about some the nuances around freedom, especially around forces that strip away freedom, and to think of Mingzhu as the type of person who would resist those forces at all cost. I played with hose threads until her personality and character emerged and became more fully formed.

One thing I would encourage is reading more fic and books and watching shows and movies and analyzing the characters. I’ve learned so much about characterization simply from reading fics/books that do it well! I think generally being a perceptive and analytical reader is the most important skill for a writer.

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