Have you ever made a Family Tree for your characters?
I was juggling a couple of jobs today, and in the downtime I decided to play around with making a Family Tree for one of my upcoming projects.
If you want to try it out, I used FamilyEcho, though really any sort of Mind-Mapping software should work too c;
I’m not saying its the most useful thing to do, as it really kind of doesn’t matter for modern-era stories— but if you’re writing a Feudal, or Middle Ages story (or really, fantasy at all) this may prove a little useful~
Otherwise, you should get back to writing ;p
What the title says. Do not delete anything. Any notes you’ve written, odd names scribbled on random sheets, documents, don’t throw it out. You might have great ideas on those sheets that you miss as soon as you toss them, and then you might just not be able to get them back anymore.
The reason I’m writing this is because, a few days ago, I was an idiot. I saw that (for some reason) I had two copies of notes I’d taken. I decided I’d delete one of those copies, only to discover that the one I deleted had notes I needed. So that wasn’t too lovely. I then searched for the supposed-to-be-backup of that note, and found out that that also wasn’t present. There was no backup.
Luckily I was able to remember (I hope) what I’d written for the notes. They were pretty similar, but the differences between them were important things I needed to know and record.
So…don’t delete anything. If you’ve a million documents/sticky notes crowding your computer/iphone/electronic device, and want to minimize how many there are, just compile them into one. That way, also, you won’t have to look through a hundred documents to see the note that you’re looking for. You could even title the document (if you can title it) something fun.
Or if you handwrite all your notes: gather them in a folder, a binder. Somewhere that you can keep track of all the notes.
Even if you’re editing out pieces of your story that don’t seem important…don’t delete them. Put them in a file marked ‘Notes’ or ‘Dead Scenes,’ something of the like. Because maybe that scene you just deleted is actually great for your story. This way, by saving it, you don’t lose the work, and don’t gain the possibility of having to write it all over again.
Secondly, if you’re just writing and you don’t like what you wrote in the last few hundred words, take it out, but still don’t delete it. It can go into that document of discarded words.
Besides, though you may never take a scene from that document of discarded things, you can look back, whether as you edit, write, or just to see how you’ve changed, maybe as a writer, maybe how you remained the same (and that’s okay; you don’t need to change).
If you do happen to accidentally delete a file (and I believe this works only with computers/laptops, but I may not be right. But it also seems to be just for windows computers), there’s a program called Recuva. Once you delete something and realize this, download Recuva. It’s not a virus. It’s used by writers. It will help you recover your file(s) that weren’t supposed to be deleted.
Website for Recuva: http://www.piriform.com/recuva
This appears to be a website for Macs with recovery software: http://www.cleverfiles.com/
Don’t delete anything. There are few agonies greater than that of losing a story.
"Likeable villains" - it almost sounds like an oxymoron. After all, shouldn’t we find villains despicable? Even irrevocably evil? Yet somehow there are antagonists, villains, and bad guys that we just adore. The Internet lost its mind over Loki and there’s a huge community of devoted Lannister stans. For some, that’s shocking. How can people love Loki when he tries to enslave the human race? How can anyone love a guy who shoves children out of towers?
It boils down to three things: backstory, morality, and personality.
Backstory: A huge factor in how an audience receives a villain is their backstory. Creating sympathetic circumstances surrounding pre-villainous actions allows the audience to see where the character is coming from. Thor's Loki is a good example. Many people like him because they can see how he went wrong. Outcast as a child, denied the throne because of his lineage, and having a good relationship with his mother allows the audience to trace his path and see how he got to where he is today. Of course, this doesn't excuse current behavior, but it allows the audience to feel some pangs of sympathy and see him as human (or, you know, Frost Giant).
Morality: A villain with ambiguous morality can also garner audience affections. Sometimes what the villain is doing isn’t necessarily evil, it just goes against what the hero or protagonist wants. In fact, a villain’s motivations might not even be evil. She may have very good reasons for wanting to destroy the world. After all, Marvel’s Galactus devours worlds because it’s how he has to survive. He needs to eat in order to live, and it’s not so much different from humans eating other animals. So while we may not agree that eating earth is A-OK, we still understand why he’s doing this, which makes it a lot harder to hate him.
Personality: Despite all of this, the thing that really makes an audience go from understanding to love is a great personality. There are even some villains that can have no redeeming morality or backstory, but they’re so much fun to have in the story that you have to love them. Compare the different Lannisters from A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, who can be considered villains if we call the Starks the story’s heroes. There’s a reason no one likes Joffrey - not even his mom. It’s because he’s a giant shit lord. He has zero redeeming qualities, he’s entitled, he’s murderous, and he’s no fun to be around. Jaime, on the other hand? Or Cersei or Tywin? (I’m leaving Tyrion out of it because many argue him to be a heroic character) People enjoy these characters because of the wicked things they do, their history, their relationships - and ultimately their snark. Who didn’t feel a little giddy when Tywin told Joffrey to go to bed? Or what about Jaime’s sharp quips? We enjoy these as an audience, and it creates an atmosphere that may be tense but is also enjoyable.
The bottom line is that likeable villains aren’t ones who necessarily do good things. What really makes or breaks whether your audience loves your villain is if they’re fun to read about. Characters that we enjoy - no matter how evil - we want to keep around. If you’re looking to make a villain like that, then focus on their morality and backstory, but most of all, give them a damn fun personality.
Scenario 1: Jane is a 16-year-old trans woman who has only come out to her parents, but no one else. Her parents are against her being trans. They do not let her change her appearance. Because of this, she is perceived as male. This story is written in third person point of view.
She/her/herself should be used in the narration.
He/him/himself would be used by her parents and everyone else.
Scenario 2: John is a 14-year-old trans man who is out to his family, his friends, and his classmates. He only passes as male about 1/2 of the time. The point of view in this story is irrelevant.
He/him/himself would be used by anyone who perceives John as male or anyone who respects him and accepts him.
She/her/herself would be used by anyone who perceives John as female or anyone who does not respect or accept him.
She/her/herself would be used by people who respect and accept John, but who slip up every now and then. This is not offensive. This is normal. This is realistic.
Scenario 3: Jane is a 15-year-old trans woman who does not realize she is trans until halfway through the story. Prior to that she is known as John. This story has a third person point of view.
He/him/himself would be used by everyone prior to Jane coming out.
He/him/himself should be used in narration until Jane is aware that she is trans. Using she/her/herself would only cause confusion and it wouldn’t make any sense.
She/her/herself should be used in narration once Jane comes out.
She/her/herself would be used by anyone who accepts and respects Jane if she comes out to them.
She/her/herself would be used by anyone who perceives Jane as female.
He/him/herself would be used by anyone who perceives Jane as male.
She/her/herself should be used in summaries and query letters.
I’ve always been a fan of writing the story until it’s done, rather than aiming for a particular word count — until I found myself needing to get somewhere around 80,000 words.
After floundering around, chopping out 4000 words here, adding 2000 words there, and so on, I realized I needed something like a plan. So, I started a very simple spreadsheet to track number of words per chapter, total words written, and words remaining to write and edit (out of 80,000).
Now, as I finish editing each chapter, whether I’m adding or deleting words, I update that chapter’s word count and get a running total of what’s left to review. I can see my progress. I’m hitting milestones. I have a good feel for pace.
And while the rain has slowed me down somewhat*, I’m encouraged by the tangible view of progress that I’ve made.
Give it a try, and let me know if it works for you. I’m curious.
(* And take LOTS of breaks from typing. Trust me. For many years, I ignored ergonomic health and didn’t take breaks, and now I’m paying the price.)