Tips, tricks & discussions: How to make your story better

Bump!

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Thanks for bump :smiley:

Happy New Year everyone.
As I’m still recovering from celebrations, this post will be short.

I accidentally found one comment by @JemU776 that I think makes total sense and can be very helpful to remember.

What is the best way to make readers emotionally attached to characters?

:cookie: for u @JemU776


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@fcukforcookies
I’m not sure if someone asked this before, but what’s the best way to portray a character’s flaw?

For example, in my story (upcoming story, still working on the first episode :sweat_smile:)
my main character’s biggest flaw is her failure to open up to people, I have another character notice this, her love interest, but I don’t bring it up otherwise with the character.

What are other ways to portray a character’s flaw?

(This is kind off topic but I love your review thread, and your reviews! :sweat_smile: I’d love for you to review this story when I finally publish it :smile:)

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I will write post in a few hours. Thanks for ur input :slight_smile:

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Character’s flaws - what, why and how.


“Perfection has one grave defect: it is apt to be dull.”W. Somerset Maugham

Why flaws are important?

It is actually very often we’ve got to meet “sterile” characters in stories. They are just perfect… Well, not necessarily for the reader, but definitely for the writer.

Why is it very important to incorporate inner (not physical) flaws not only for main characters but for secondary as well?

The flaw is one of the main things that make human…well, human.
Flaws add depth and conflict, make the character more real and memorable.

If a character is perfect, then all the conflict in the story is someone else’s fault. The character is the victim of circumstances and just goes with the flow, too often relying on other people help. So many stories with “perfect” characters, that experience drama and bad treatment not because of their own decisions, but just because, for the sake of drama. The character becomes just a static thing in the story, that is being affected by other characters decisions.

Flaws also serve as a sub-plot for the story, that allows creating character development. How can character progress through the story without inner conflict, something to overcome? Flaws lead characters towards degradation and destruction or overcoming these flaws, and becoming a better person. Readers relate to the struggle, and they get an emotional connection with the character, especially if the character succeeds.

Why am I saying that physical imperfections are not flaws?

Because it’s not the physical imperfection that defines character’s actions and emotions. It is how it feels about them. Shame for disability? The regret of some past decisions that led to them? Pride for being different?

Now, this leads us to the thought, that when you choose a flaw, keep in mind that there has to be a reason behind it. Beliefs, traumatic past…
Now. IMO it is better to show the reason behind character’s major flaws because it will make the reader more sympathetic towards MC. The reason grounds the flaw and gives the reader a basis on which to judge it less harshly. It allows the reader to understand why the character is the way he/she is.

You don’t have to explain secondary characters flaws (while it is necessary to give them these flaws), but it’s better than you have this explanation in your head. When you know the reason behind the flaw - you will incorporate these flaws more successful, meaning that character won’t contradict himself, and there will be more logic in his actions/words/emotions. But you also should remember not to make the character be overwhelmed by these flaws.

How to better portray character’s flows

So first of all, don’t just label characters. Use the specifics to show the flaw, dialogues, reactions of other characters and MC own reactions and emotions to display these flaws.
Have him make a different mistake each time because you don’t want to get caught in the loop of similar scenes. It is extremely annoying.
I remember reviewing some story, where the character was positioned as a very independent bad-ass woman. Like, literally positioned, as writers described her precisely in the narration, which is the first thing to turn me off personally because I really enjoy getting to know the character at a reasonable pace. Now, there were put a lot of scenes, where MC interacts with other characters. And every conversation, although was happening with different characters, was written by the exact same scenario - someone scolds MC for being alone (sister, mother, best friends, the waitress in the restaurant (not kidding), and MC yelling at them that she is independent, and don’t need anyone. It was extremely annoying and basically looked silly. Don’t be too blunt when you show these flaws. Put the character in different situations where the flaw can be shown.

What else is important?

Flaw doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t have any consequences.

In my story, MC has some unresolved problems with the past, that results in a few flaws. She doesn’t like to open up to anyone. While it drives away some people from her because it takes time to get through this shell, this is the thing she can work on, by trying slowly to build the trust, at least for some people. Also, because of the traumatic past, and her inability to open up, she was forced to find a way to deal with her feelings. I decided to go with the drinking problem, as it is kinda common, plus I can portray this problem realistically, because I incorporate my own past into this character, while raising awareness of the consequences this will lead to. I often see how writers portray drinking as a very fun thing to do, but in reality, it can be very ugly, and hard to deal with.

Punish your character for the actions and decisions, that were caused by their flaws. And let them deal with this punishment, either by overcoming them or by sinking even deeper until there’s no point of return.

I suggest adding these questions below, for your major character questionnaire. And remember, that there can easily be more than one flow.


What is the general flaw?

What are the specifics?

What is the cause of this flaw?

What makes it seem reasonable to the character?

What mistakes can the character make because of this flaw?

Do the consequences have an effect on the storyline?

Is the character aware or unaware of the flaw?

What form does the arc take in relation to the flaw?


Thanks @Stargazer54 for the very interesting topic :slight_smile: Enjoyed writing it,


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I decided to re-organize thread a bit, by taking all long comments/monologues into comments, so it is easier for me to manage the thread. OP has all the links to main posts so that you don’t have to scroll thread.


Author’s introductions

Whyyyy? Just why do you do them?
Most of the author’s introductions aren’t even necessary.
First of all, the writer’s introductions break the 4th wall. The fewer distractions you have in your story, the more invested reader will be. It’s like watching a movie or reading a book - reader/viewer wants to forget about reality and get into this amazing story for some time.
Secondly, what is so important you want to tell, that is worth doing it?
That you will let the reader customize a character? Well, tell it at the customization part?
That your first chapters suck, but it will get better? If you know that they suck, why would you publish them?
That your first language isn’t English and you apologize? If you feel such guilt, maybe it’s worth finding a proofreader? Or at least run your script through grammarly.com or smthg? Don’t apologize just because you’re not perfect in something. Just do it the best that you can.
That your story used sound or contains explicit language? Make a splash! Or ask someone to do it.

If the reader will be interested in something about your story, he/she will write you a fanmail!


Customization through Avatar Creator
Why?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you included customization, but … Avatar creation option is limited. It doesn’t have new hairstyles, lips etc. Get a nicely done customization template! There are so many available! Check @Dara.Amarie thread.


Low-quality backgrounds

I know how hard it is sometimes to find the perfect background.
But I see it so often, that author’s use backgrounds with such a low-quality, that when you zoom on them, they become all blurry and pixely.
What I can suggest?
Well. First of all, use better quality images. :woman_shrugging:
Second. If I need to zoom on background very closely (like above 400-500%) I upload this background part as an overlay. I’m not sure why it is like that, but when you upload images as backgrounds, Episode reset them to some standard quality or something. It doesn’t happen with overlays.


Music and sounds use
There is nothing wrong with NOT using music and sounds in your story. Maybe they aren’t needed.
But if you do. Don not overuse music. I saw a couple of times when authors put music in every scene. Music should complement the scene, not just be there. Constant music all the time is kinda distracting and annoying.
Believe me, there are a lot of readers who read stories with the sound on.


Outfit names
Not that often, but it happens, that I see outfit game in story, and choices are named like “One” or “Outfit 1”. Why I dislike it?
Let’s imagine, you have 4 or 6 or 10 choices. I’m one of those people (and the majority is just like me) who likes to try em all. But when I’m at the 4th/6th/10th option, and I sorta decide what I want to wear, I can’t remember where was the one I liked. So I suggest naming these options the way they would be recognizable like “Denim shorts” or whatever, not just “One”.
Small detail, but easily done, and makes your story a bit more appealing.


Non-talking animations used with dialogue lines
I see it in almost every story!
I get it, sometimes it is hard to find the perfect animation for the specific line.
But when you use wink animations, admire, eyeroll animations with the dialogue lines - a character says something with its mouth basically closed. I donnow about you, but it seriously buggers me. Maybe I’m just too attentive to details, but I surely know I’m not the only one.


Spot commands for background (and main) characters
Yep. It requires some attention and work.
I won’t explain why it is important, because the reason is just the same.
I will post @Dara.Amarie IG post’s screenshot that I find really helpful.

BC positioning


Looped animations
This is a common mistake. which can happen to anyone.
Just remember. If you use looped animation, don’t forget to add @CHARACTER starts some_idle_animation after its dialogue lines, so that when other character starts talking, the first one doesn’t stand with his mouth open.


Frozen faces

Check character faces after all animations. Sometimes they are stuck with a weird face, like after the callout or greet animations. You can always put idle_shiftweight animation after their lines.


Speechbubble positions
Maybe you don’t use them. That’s fine!
But if you started once, you either continue putting speechbubble spot everywhere, or you reset it (@speechbubble reset)


Animation before every dialogue line
This is a basis. Put animations before every dialogue line! It is a must (well, except if you use loop animations).


Use zoom
Use zoom in your stories, especially for conversations that are longer than a few phrases. Zooming on talking character will make the scene more alive and dynamic. If you are not sure how to do it well - check sitcoms or something, and pay attention to camera work. it is just the same.


Exit/enter commands vs. spot commands
I personally stopped using enters and exits commands a long time ago. Spot commands are simply better :woman_shrugging:

Okay, I will explain why.
First of all, well they provide better varriety of spots O_o Simple as that.
Second thing, that is just as important, especially if you place more than 3 characters. Entering and exit commands mess with the layer your character is supposed to be on.

Once I had a problem, where I had a lot of background characters, and MC was walking down the isle. I put her on her place with a spot command, layered her, everything is cool. But when she was running from the isle and I used exit command, her layer changed, and suddenly she appeared to be behind background characters.
Spot commands rule other ones suck ^^


Art scenes
God bless Mette Peleikis, who in my opinion made this art scene thing trendy.
Don’t get me wrong - I love art scenes.
If first, they fit the story, and second - they are decently done.

What I mean by fit the story?
If you want to put art scene in your story bEcAuSe iT’s pReTtY for a couple of seconds - bad news - YOU DON’T NEED IT
Where I think it is appropriate to put art scene?
When there is some kind of intense moment, that doesn’t require a lot of animations but has quite some narration. Got it? Examples… A moment before the kiss? First dance? Someone dying in MC’s arms?
Now about the quality.
I know, I know. A lot of writers sooner or later start doing art. Nothing wrong with that.
And I get it, you made something, you want to share it. But let’s be real honest here - most of the first, and second, and maybe third art things anyone does - kinda suck (mine sucked hard as well). What’s the point of putting the art scene into the story if it looks like a drawing made by 5 yo?


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Nice ^^ I agree vehemently with the instant zoom thing!! I get it sometimes for some kind of effect, but like…the slow pan over here in 1 second…pan over there…pan back. Pan again, pan, pan. I’m just like UGH!! CRINGE LOL

I’d also like to add about character strengths and flaws. Having a “strong” character does not make a character strong in itself. A character needs to have weakness for the character to actually be strong. A character needs to have more personality than “strong character” “good role-model” and that jazz that gets spouted out. The point is to add humanity.

So you can have two characters, one is kind, caring, forgiving, and the other is hardened, cold, etc. If both of them were wronged by someone and they received an apology from someone AND ACCEPTED, the hardened character’s flaws in this situation, the things that we consider not always such good things, makes this character strong. A hell of a lot stronger than the person that you expect will forgive. For that character, forgiveness is easy.

It is much more impressive, likable, and relatable to see this from a character that has to work for their forgiveness.

One of the single most important thing for every character to have is a type of motivation. All characters have goals or an endgame. Sometimes we the authors know, but the character doesn’t. The character has to have drive and motivation, reasons for doing things. If characters are doing things simply because we need them to to progress the plot, it’s a problem ^^

Sometimes, tbh, I like characters that seemingly do things for no other reason than that we make them. The only archetype for these are the “evil for evil’s sake” characters. It depends on you, the writer, if you want to write this character and also depends on the reader if they like the character. It’s all opinion ^^

I’m not much help coding, but I went to college for storytelling, this is my forte ^^

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That’s a very good point. I didn’t mention it, but this trick works very well on readers)
I won’t bring any Marvel examples, as I am so lonely in this here :joy:, but it could be Spike or Faith from BTVS. Good actions feel more satisfactory coming from, well let’s say not bad, but complicated characters, than from a classical protagonist.

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I’ve never seen this screenshot before, and I somewhat agree with it. This is true kind of, but I wouldn’t line them up by heads. I’d line them up closer to a human’s center mass. Their…um…like below the belly and above the crotch area kinda ^^’ This is because if you want characters to be shorter than other characters, this line changes where you want characters to be. Also if they’re sitting (which is obvious, don’t know why I’d put it there, lol) >.> The only time lining up by heads works is when all the characters are the same height.

But yeah, you’ll be more…eh, just aesthetically pleasing in this way if you line them up closer to their centers . When you have characters that are supposed to be standing side by side to each other, adjust where they are standing BY THEIR FEET because shoes make a difference, too.

So in this screenshot ^ the two girls are the same size, but the one on the right appears taller because of her shoes. That’s only because they’re side by side, so if she was in the background or foreground, then you’d want her center mass to be more even with the other one’s hip area because doing it by their heads would be wrong.

XD!

Complicated characters are the best. ^^

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Agreed on everything.

I don’t like to struggle much with the background characters, like making some taller and others shorter. But I do this with the main cast :slight_smile:

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Man. I plan every character down to everything. In my downtime, I’m fleshing out EVERYBODY! Like…eerybody. I’m answering the silly, pointless questions in my head LOL So I always have it in my head who the characters are, how they interact with other characters, where they interact with other characters…like idk. I feel its important ^^’

I was almost a character modeler once…

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huh? What’s dis?

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3D character organic modeling and also props and stuff. In 3DS Max, Maya, and Zbrush type programs. Sigh…good times…kinda. >.>

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Hey there guys.
Today I want to discuss the Holy Grail of Episode Stories - Love Triangles.

Love Triangles - how to NOT make your MC a cheap slut ^^

Well, I’m gonna cover more than that, but wanted a catchy title.

What is important when making love triangles?

  • Create equally well-developed characters.
    It is so often to see, how the author obviously has a specific preference between two love interests, so he focuses a lot more on the one he likes more.
    If you want to create a real love triangle, not a love story with a sloppy side character you just call a second love interest, take your time in developing all of them.
    All of them should have their advantages and flaws. Their own problems, dreams, secrets, likes, and dislikes. Don’t make love interests lie rotting in a pool of cliche characterization.
    What makes it a real love triangle, is that you really like both of them, otherwise it’s an obvious choice right from the start.

  • There is more than one way to display the love triangle.
    Who says that MC has to like both of them? MC might be not interested in one of them, or even both of them. It may be a drama where MC is playing with both love interests, with a purpose or just for fun. She might like one but date another, for financial reasons. I remember watching one interesting Mexican or Brazilian TV novella, where MC was a beautiful, charismatic woman, but kinda greedy. She was always fighting her greed and romantic feelings. That was very interesting to watch, and makes you wonder, what will she choose in the end. MC doesn’t have to be good to be loved. She might be a manipulative bitch, but she will be very entertaining to watch. MC might be happy in relationships, but some other guy gets jealous of their happiness, and try to sabotage it. So many directions, that might be executed not only in Romance but in Thriller, Drama, Comedy genres.

  • While it may work, to build an entire plot depending only on the love triangle, it will become flat really fast. The love triangle is a nice drama addition, but I think that there’s gotta be more than this. Some major plotline. Two examples - Twilight (gosh, why I am putting it as an example so often) and Hunger Games. If in the first example the main plot was the love triangle, surrounded by sub-lines, the second had a major plotline, with the minor plotline of a love-triangle. And I donnow about you, but HG was faaar more interesting to watch, than TS, where they were talking for a good half of the movie. Same with Buffy, or True Blood. If the story would contain only relationships, it wouldn’t be half as interesting to watch.
    Love life is not the only thing that defines a person. If that’s the only thing your MC’s life revolves around then here’s the news - your MC is a basic flat bish.

  • Lastly. One thing I noticed and that made me quit reading one story after like 20 episode when I was really invested.
    When MC goes back and forth between two characters for a long time saying she loves/likes them both, and maybe also having a sexual relationship with both of them.
    I have a few problems with this approach.
    First of all, if MC does this, and love interests are aware, and they still fight over her, my only thought is “what a pair of pathetic miserable losers”. That girl is basically playing with you both, and neither of you has any drop of dignity. It makes me dislike love interests immediately, and what’s the point to read further?
    Now the MC. I gotta tell, I don’t have problems with slutty behavior (I call it slutty, because it is a very descriptive word, not because I wanna shame someone). I’m all for girls/boys sleeping around, as long as they are honest about it with their partners and use protection. But if she is a selfish bitch, who wants to have it all, and covers it all with love or whatever bullshit she can think of (well, whatever bullshit author can make up to excuse her behavior), then I start hating her.

It’s okay to like more than one guy/girl. It’s fine in taking your time to get to know them, to decide who you really want. It’s fine to have second thoughts about your choice. But why would I want to read a story about one major selfish slut and two losers with no pride whatsoever?


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@CrazyCaliope u keep liking my posts, but do u even read them? :rofl::rofl:

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HAHAHAHAHA! Of course, I just don’t reply because I don’t wanna clog your thread. I don’t like anything that I don’t read and agree with! :wink:

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I mean, it’s just u liked in 10 seconds after I posted it, that’s why I asked :DDDD

And I don’t mind a discussion, or other opinions.

Lately I feel a bit lonely in this thread.

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Oh yeah, I admit that I was a bit premature this one. I read the first couple of sentences and liked it, then went back up and read the rest. Okay, give me a bit and I’ll give you a discussion. Just writing up something that I’m trying to avoid but need to do. :confounded::confounded::confounded:

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Good luck lol :smiley:

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Okay, so you wanted a discussion… here goes my attempt.

To start off with, I saw the title and thought OH NO! But then I realised that you were giving advice and would like to start by giving you this… :clap::clap::clap:
The reason I thought ‘OH NO’ is because I hate love triangles. They’re just tacky, overdone, and very rarely offer a new angle on them. In saying that, there are a few that are well-made.

“Don’t make love interests lie rotting in a pool of cliche characterization.” This description was just beautiful.

HELL YES! There IS more than one way to portray a love triangle. I mean, my first love triangle story was when I was in high school in Drama class. I was maybe 14? It was my first devised drama piece (create your own script) that two of my friends and I created. I was the dude (if you know me as an RPer then this makes sense) and the other two were girls (BFFs). One like my dude, who liked the other friend, and she liked her friend. My favourite part of this is that it ended with us all finding and have a freezeframe ending, where we took turns sharing our thoughts with the audience. My dude was last to (think) speak, “The girl I like is a lesbian, that’s just… just… COOL. Girl on girl action!” HA. New Zealand, we’re open and have no shame. :wink:
Anyway, it really isn’t that hard to come up with a semi-original story, but people just want that “perfect love story”.

“Love life is not the only thing that defines a person.” Totally agree, sex is way more interesting! :wink:

Your last point is the one I don’t agree with. I mean, yeah, sure, it can get annoying if they’re okay with it and there’s character development or inside turmoil. But I know quite a few people who have done just this because they have strong feelings for the person. For instance, one of my exes still felt so strongly for me that they wanted to start something, despite me being in a relationship. You’d be surprised how many people turn into pathetic, miserable losers when their heart is involved.


Okay, hope that’s enough of a discussion for you. :wink:

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