Character Development #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,

I’m trying to come up with characters for my book. I was hoping you could maybe provide a little insight into how you came up with yours. I specifically liked Xaphine, could you use her as an example?

Thanks,
Rich.



Hi Rich,

General Xaphine seems to be a recurrent theme in character discussions… perhaps I should write her into another story.

You may be disappointed on this one, given that her development wasn’t a natural flow like you hear about people taking the personality of someone they met, or someone they like/admire, and create a character around that. General Xaphine didn’t start out that way.

Let me go back in time a little ways to when I was in college. Back then, I was writing stories for my buddies who were playing RPG games, including a Star Wars game. It was at this point that I came up with an awesome nemesis; Darth Malys.
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I forget the name of whom I modeled her after, but that’s unimportant at the moment. This character was a fairly young Dark Jedi, born of the force, influenced by the dark side, and possessing powers that are as out of her control as her own emotions. Despite that, she’s a capable warrior and effective leader. She nearly brought the galaxy to its knees by bringing together the imperial remnant and reactivating the old droid factories. Her one weakness was that she was unable to kill the boy she grew up with. No matter how far down the dark path she went, something inside of her refused to allow her to do it.

I was encouraged to write an actual story around her by my friends and that’s where the fan fiction: Star Wars: The Face of Evil.
(And in case you’re wondering, no I don’t have a copy I can post. My last copy was lost years ago.)

Though badly flawed and put further and further away from canon as new books… and now the new movie came out.
Obviously, my story was never going to get published. I held no illusions about that. So I let the story fall to the back burner and moved onto Divinity and Magnifica. As I was working on getting Divinity published, I was asked about writing a sequel to the book. It was at this point that I started formulating a new story. I created new characters, but didn’t really have a good premise. At this point, I went back to The Face of Evil and rewrote it, replacing the Republic with the Republic of Florence, the Imperial Remnant with the Holy Roman Empire, Jedi with angels, and Sith with demons. 

Okay… so now I had essentially transformed The Face of Evil into Damnation… however Darth Malys didn’t fit the bill as the chief antagonist. My main villain in this case was going to be a fallen angel who worked as Lucifer’s general during the Celestial Wars. Her seizing power, being a newcomer to a scene that had existed for eons didn’t make sense.

So I took the parts of the character that did work; her viciousness, her fighting abilities, her attitude, and her tactical brilliance, and started working on a new character. I really wanted this character to be a demon that people would recognize, given how important she was going to be. So I looked for demons with feminine or androgynous names that were well-known. That’s when I came across ‘Xaphan’ from the Dictionnaire Infernal. Xaphan, a male per that story, was an inventive demon who orchestrated setting fire to Heaven. Perfect!

So I took Xaphan’s back story and name and tweaked them. Instead of setting fire to all of Heaven, Xaphan simply set fire to the Celestial Temple where the Choirs of Angels congregated. It was more of a symbolic gesture in the declaration of revolution by Lucifer and his legions of angels. Against Lucifer’s wishes, she warned the inhabitants of the attack, giving them just enough time to get out. She viewed the spilling of angel blood as an unforgivable waste.

After her success, she was to take command of Lucifer’s forces and lead them in a war that would stalemate for an uncountable amount of time. So now I had a name, a back story, and MOST of her personality. I then added a very strict code of honor to her as a warrior as well. Now I had my character!
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So that’s where the ground work of this character came up. She was essentially a combination of another character I created, as well as some legend and folklore. The result was General Xaphan/Xaphine Lorenzi. Granted her appearance changes over time:
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Then later, I met a very talented model who matched the look I was going for,
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and she became the model and template for the character;
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So that’s how I came up with General Xaphan, and she remains my favorite character to this very day:
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So sometimes it comes right down to combining various ideas and previously created characters to create the final product. The best advice I could give you is simple. Create your character. Build them up from the ground, then expose them to different situations in your writing. Bend them, mold them… heck, torture them. Yes, I’m advocating torturing your character, especially if you’re going to expose them to tense situations later on. Get a feel for them and see how they’ll hold up, if they’ll hold up, and if they’re the right character to take on a lead. If not, then keep that character for later or relegate them to a back roll and its back to the drawing board, if so, then keep up with the development.

Anyway, I hope this helps.
Readers, how do you create characters, what draws you to a character vs. another? What attributes do you feel make a strong character? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks!

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have multiple published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

STOP Blaming the Audience #Writing #Author #Advice #Movies #BirdsofPrey

So this is going to be an op-ed more than an advice piece, so feel free to skip if you’re not up for that.

Recently in Hollywood, the Comic Book world, and even the literary world, we’ve seen a trend where a new piece of material is put out and bombs. Instead of going back to writer’s table to figure out what went wrong, doing any sort of soul searching, or asking the question why, we see the creators do one of two things… either A, throw a temper tantrum online, or B, Insult/Blame/Slander their audience.

I cannot say this enough, STOP IT! This is not going to solve anything except push people away form you and your work!

We first really started to see this trend with Ghostbusters 2016 where literally anyone who said the film wasn’t good, myself included, was slandered as woman-hating. You literally had Melissa McCarthy go on TV and mock people who took issue with the trailer of Ghostbusters as basement dwelling man-babies.

This trend has continued with everything from DC and Marvel, to various Hollywood titles, even to video games.

Full disclosure, all I said about Ghostbuster 2016 was that the CGI looked like something out of Eddie Murphy’s haunted mansion and I didn’t care for Melissa McCarthy’s brand of comedy as she always seemed to play the same loud, crass, woman in every role. If that’s sexism… people pushing for traditional gender roles must make heads explode.

Anyway, I recently came across an article talking about one of the new Punisher’s creators doing exactly what I said above…

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Okay, for the record, I’m sure that there are some people who are guilty of what they’re saying, lord knows there were a some during the GB2016 controversy too, but is that really the majority? That strains credulity at best. This is coming from someone who writes strong female leads in most of his stories, get’s fan mail from predominantly male readers, and even get’s angry responses from said males when I kill off one of those characters…

(Seriously people, I loved Qira too, but it was her time to go!)

Look, I understand if these are passion projects for you that you take personally, but if that’s the case, you need to understand that few people hold the exact same values as you do, not everyone is going to like what you do, and most importantly not everyone has the same goals. While you might want to send a political message, many people just go to the movies to see something they enjoy and experience a good story FOR PLEASURE! If they didn’t get what they wanted from your work, that doesn’t make them hateful people in general.

I actually get questions from readers on this subject from time to time as well asking me why their audience wouldn’t accept or like a character, why they were a bunch of sexists, etc.

I refuse to post those here because I don’t feel it’s appropriate, nor will I shame anyone who emails me asking for help. Instead, my response to them is always the same thing…

If you get comments from people that are hateful, do one of two things;

  1. Report them.
  2. Ignore them.

You should not engage with them or let them know that they bothered you because all that does is give them power to continue doing it. You won’t help your cause that way or take the intellectual high ground by wasting brainpower on those types of people.

The other thing you should ABSOLUTELY never ever do is assume that this is the majority of your base (it’s not) and make blanket statements about them. You want to lose your reader base? Call them all sexist/racist/homophobic or whatever else is in your playbook. That is a sure fire way to keep not only people who aren’t in your ideological camp away, but the majority of people in general.

Somewhere out there, I guarantee you that there are people out there who read what Gerry wrote and thought, “Well… I don’t think I want to look through any of this guy’s work. He sounds kind of angry and I don’t want to be called something that could badly damage my reputation and career if I don’t like his work.”

That’s certainly my attitude when it comes to any medium, but I try to stay out of whatever this culture war is that we currently have going on.

Look, I don’t want to spend too much time on this, so I’ll just put it plainly. If you are unable to handle criticism or failure, and/or convince yourself that you are never wrong, perhaps the writing world isn’t the place for you. We all have our flops and some critics who don’t like what we write or how we write it and that’s fine. It doesn’t give us the high ground to go around erroneous and irresponsible accusations like that. We take the criticism, learn from it, grow from it, or ignore it. That’s called being an adult and wanting to keep an audience who enjoys the things we write.

Anyway, that’s just my two cents. People, don’t insult your audience. It will only hurt YOU in the end and it’s really a childish way of handling things. I personally hope people like this and those that have emailed me learn that before it’s too late and I mean that genuinely. I hate to see talent get overshadowed by this kind of thing.

YOU CANNOT SHAME PEOPLE INTO LIKING YOUR PROJECT!!!

Please share this around, there are too many people who need to read this…



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Fall of Channel Awesome…

I wasn’t sure I wanted to say anything about this… Honestly I don’t like getting involved in online controversies and drama. #ChangeTheChannel tends to fall in that category. So I may or may not leave this piece up, I haven’t decided yet. Enjoy it while it’s there.

So full disclosure, my post about this is strictly my own opinions based on what I’ve heard from creators who left the platform, as well as the official releases from the company themselves… and my own take on events. Much of this is hearsay and unconfirmed. I’ll do my best to point it out where I can, so remember that this is an OPINION piece based on what information is out there. If you discover something that’s incorrect, feel free to shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to change it.

One thing I want to get out of the way really quickly is the controversy surrounding the late Justin Carmical aka JewWario. There’s been a lot of back and forth regarding him and who knew what. Apparently there is a lot of talk surrounding him potentially being a sexual predator. Though none of this has ever been confirmed due to no charges being filed during his life. I’m not going to speak ill of the dead, especially given the fact that most of this is… well not necessarily confirmed, but I’m also not going to link to any of his stuff either. I will say that a few people I know did meet him at various social events and commented that, while nice, he could be a little sketchy towards women… so take that as you will.

Now, that having been said, there’s recently been some heat thrown at creators who worked with him over whether they should keep their videos with him in them up… former long-time content producer for Channel Awesome Kaylyn Saucedo, aka MarzGurl addressed this:

Okay… so should she take down her videos? IMO… No. We shouldn’t. Just like period pieces with things that are no longer politically correct should remain available in their original presentation, just like we don’t edit… most other movies when an actor goes awry. If we had to do that for every movie/book where a bad seed or something with a dark chapter in their life, we’d have nothing left, quite literally. To me, that would be a disservice to everyone else who worked hard and gave up their time to bring something to life. That is, however, my take on it. I’m honestly on the side of the creators who have left their collaborations with him intact. They shouldn’t be punished if they didn’t know.

All right… with that out of the way, let’s talk about Channel Awesome. There’s been a lot of reporting online that the Channel itself is dead. While the website is still up… I was able to confirm that most of the producers, are gone. Literally all that’s left is Guru Larry and Brad Jones…

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Rumor has it, even Brad Jones removed the Channel Awesome logo from his site. Though I can’t confirm this at the moment. This is a pretty serious hit. Literally all the people I used to watch save the Nostalgia Critic, are gone; Linkara, Nash, Todd In The Shadows, Phelous, Bennet the Sage, Film Brain… heck even Angry Joe, a guy I literally saw last week at Pax and was saying nothing but nice things about the people at Channel Awesome, appears to have jumped ship.

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So where do they go from here? Well if that wasn’t enough…  Rob Walker appears to have deleted his Facebook page and Doug’s primary FB account now lists him as having been previously employed by Channel Awesome…

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So what does all of this mean for people who loved the personalities that are or were on the site? Well… for the most part, nothing. A lot of the personalities that have jumped ship still have their own YouTube accounts or their own websites you can visit.

Please see this spreadsheet to find the ones you want to watch.

The problem rests with the fans of the Nostalgia Critic. Again, this is an unsubstantiated rumor, but apparently the Walkers are considering legal action against Channel Awesome, specifically their CEO Michael Michaud. If the rumors are true and the evidence I posted above means what many people believe it does… the Nostalgia Critic may be done for good. The current CEO owns more than 50% of the company, and that includes the Nostalgia Critic personality. Which means that Doug likely wouldn’t be able to continue as the character on his own.

We will have to see how that plays it.

So, how did all of this happen? Well for that… I’m going to refer you to the video put out by Allison Pregler, AKA Obscurus Lupa:

She details a lot of the problems that have been going on there.

I’m also going to provide a link to the ‘Not so Awesome’ document, here.

So, what’s my take on all of this? Well… I’m someone who usually defended Channel Awesome. Every company has it’s bad side, but as long as the good outweighs the bad, I’m not going to start boycotting. That being said, my patronage of the site has been close to nil since the producers have made their way back to YouTube. If the site goes down, it really doesn’t affect me as much as it may have in the past.

A lot of what’s being posted in the document, as well as some other claims online, is extremely troubling and something that I think the leaders at Channel Awesome need to start answering questions on. However, some of it is complaining from many years ago that, even back then, came off as vindictive.

They’ve certainly done themselves no favors in the response they’ve given. Ironically, it comes off as extremely vindictive and mean spirited. This is definitely a lack of professionalism that no company wants in their senior leadership. Now granted, I haven’t looked through the entire document, but the central problems seem to have around their CEO, as well as other officials including Ellis.

Doug Walker, based on the general consensus of the reports… (and this is from what I read of the summary, I haven’t had time to go through the entire document), is kind of the figurehead who’s been kind of oblivious to what’s been going on… until now. I hope this is true, given my fandom. If not… that’s going to hurt. Though, given what a lot of Allison said, at the very least, he may have just ignored the problems as they’ve been coming up.

So it seems like this will be the end for Channel Awesome. For whatever they are, and whatever they’ve become… they had a lot of influence, not only on YouTube, but also on the internet in general. It is sad to see them go, but this appears to be a long time coming, if it does happen.

So… readers, what do you think? Do you have any experiences with cast members or officials from Channel Awesome? Do you follow any of their videos? Let me know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Sea of Thieves… A Shining Example of Why I Avoid MMOs.

You ever want something to be good so badly that you pretty much know you’re setting yourself up for failure? That was me with Sea of Thieves. So full disclosure, part of my disappointment may be my own fault, but I think most people will agree that the majority of it is warranted.

When I heard that there was a game coming out that was one of the most immersive pirate adventures ever, I was super excited. I got my friends together, we all bought the game and agreed that we’d be on a crew together. We decided on a name for our ship, and were good to go. I even bought a new headset just to be optimally ready for the occasion.

So we all downloaded the game. Let me start off on what we liked… This game is on the Unreal engine. The graphics are beautiful. The design of the game is excellent, everything from the mechanics of sailing, to the way storms work, to having to maintain your ship. On the surface, it really looks and feels awesome. I like how you can pick up jobs and the ship to ship combat is pretty good… at first. When you open fire on another ship, the music changes to something more fast paced, and really get’s you in the mood to fight. They even have a brig for players who misbehave!

So my initial impression was that this game was a winner… sadly a week of running around doing the same missions over and over for no apparent reason, and quickly seeing the problems with the combat system… as well as the brig system… soured my experience. So let’s go through the problems…

  1. Ship Battles: 
    I could probably forgive most of the other issues if the battles were fun. See initially, you prep your cannons and are ready to get in and put up a fight. Then as you’re training your guns on an enemy ship… you die. You never even got a chance to fire. So what happened? Well apparently, someone either jumped off their ship, swam over and boarded your ship because you can’t retract the ladder… or they loaded themselves into a cannon and shot themselves over to your deck, where they then take out half your crew with a blunderbuss. This completely kills ship to ship battles because once someone boards and kills a few people… battle over.
    I get that real pirates used to board ships in order to steal them, but they didn’t do it like this, and it certainly wasn’t this easy. This completely ruined the ship to ship combat system for me.
  2. The Brig: 
    Okay, I get it. We all hate trolls, and we don’t want to deal with them. Unfortunately, the problem has become so bad that most teams just lock up random people who join right away, not even giving them a chance. Out of spite, I’ll often just stay in the brig and earn the rewards of the mission for no reason. It also keeps these people from inviting anyone else. This is a broken system and really just invites even more problems than it fixes. I hear there’s even talk of removing it.
  3. Single Players Disadvantaged:
    Let’s say you just want to sail your ship and not deal with a crew. It’s extremely difficult to do because the two ship options are fairly big and need more than one person to function properly. I get that this game is supposed to be for groups, but sometimes you just don’t want to deal with that, for obvious reasons.
  4. The Game is Horribly buggy:
    Need to minimize the screen for a second to check your sound settings? Heh, good luck staying connected. A lot of people have been suffering through having their connections dropped for the screen being minimized. The ingame sound system doesn’t always work, forcing players onto team chats and other services to interact vocally.
  5.  Lack of Ships: 
    Like ship battles? Enjoy them where you can. There are only 6 ships (MAX) on each map. So at most, you’ll encounter an enemy ship once an hour. For some people that may be enough, but for those of us there who like raiding and pillaging… it’s severely lacking.
  6. Minimal Content Upon Release:
    This… is why I avoid MMOs like the plague. The game comes out to get players hooked… and they blow through what little there is in no time. You do your missions, fight your battles, and… that’s it. You sit there shrugging going, “Okay, I’ve done the skull missions, gold missions, and the merchant missions. I’ve killed the Kracken, defeated Skull Island, and even sunken enemy ships… so now what?”

The truth is… that’s literally all there is to this game. It’s literally a set of repetitive misisons and ship battles. There is no story, no narrative, no nothing that I’ve seen. There is no sense of accomplishment for completing anything. All the upgrades are superficial and it’s like you’re grinding… for the sake of grinding.
The developers have promised more content in the near future, but that’s the problem with these games. They release and sell an incomplete product for $60 and, in some of the less scrupulous cases, force you to purchase the addition features to just make the game worth the original money you spent on it.
Yes, single player games have this problem too, but it’s nowhere near as bad. Often the DLC packages are either just cosmetic or additional side stories that you can play without and still have a good experience. That is not the case with many MMOs and… sadly this game seems to be one of them.
The other problem with doing this is that by the time the problems are fixed and more content is released, the audience will be greatly reduced as many will have gone on to better things.

So in the end, my apologies to everyone who spent the money on this game. You purchased something that had (and still has) a lot of potential, but the fact remains that you purchased an incomplete product. I haven’t attempted to get a refund as so many others have… personally… I am holding out a (admittedly dwindling) hope that this will eventually turn out to be a good game.

So take it for what it’s worth. Hopefully this review will help quell some expectations and maybe help some people avoid making a bad purchase.
Please keep in mind though, this is my own personal experience with the game. Others may view it differently, and that’s fine. What about all of you out there? Have you played it? Did you enjoy it? Am I right on or way off on my opinion of it? Let me know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The Reality of Child Sex Trafficking Rings…

In the wake of what’s been going on in Hollywood recently… I felt the need to repost this…

James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing

… I don’t want to post this. I REALLY don’t want to post this. As all of you know, a lot of my writing advice and posts lately have been about the realities and forms of evil.

Well if you remember yesterday, I posted about just how rare true evil actually was, and how sometimes even the most evil people believe that what they’re doing is for the greater good…

This isn’t one of those times. This is one of the other times I referred to, a complete and utter breach of everything moral and ethical, a violation of taboo, and… I really can’t say anything else.

To anyone who knows who he is, Sargon of Akkad is a fairly prolific Youtuber who does a great deal of political/social commentary. He’s far from unbiased, I’ll admit, but he does a fairly good job of going after both sides of the…

View original post 459 more words

Character Development

Hi Jim,

I’m trying to come up with characters for my book. I was hoping you could maybe provide a little insight into how you came up with yours. I specifically liked Xaphine, could you use her as an example?

Thanks,
Rich.



Hi Rich,

General Xaphine seems to be a recurrent theme in character discussions… perhaps I should write her into another story.

You may be disappointed on this one, given that her development wasn’t a natural flow like you hear about people taking the personality of someone they met, or someone they like/admire, and create a character around that. General Xaphine didn’t start out that way.

Let me go back in time a little ways to when I was in college. Back then, I was writing stories for my buddies who were playing RPG games, including a Star Wars game. It was at this point that I came up with an awesome nemesis; Darth Malys.
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I forget the name of whom I modeled her after, but that’s unimportant at the moment. This character was a fairly young Dark Jedi, born of the force, influenced by the dark side, and possessing powers that are as out of her control as her own emotions. Despite that, she’s a capable warrior and effective leader. She nearly brought the galaxy to its knees by bringing together the imperial remnant and reactivating the old droid factories. Her one weakness was that she was unable to kill the boy she grew up with. No matter how far down the dark path she went, something inside of her refused to allow her to do it.

I was encouraged to write an actual story around her by my friends and that’s where the fan fiction: Star Wars: The Face of Evil.
(And in case you’re wondering, no I don’t have a copy I can post. My last copy was lost years ago.)

Though badly flawed and put further and further away from canon as new books… and now the new movie came out.
Obviously, my story was never going to get published. I held no illusions about that. So I let the story fall to the back burner and moved onto Divinity and Magnifica. As I was working on getting Divinity published, I was asked about writing a sequel to the book. It was at this point that I started formulating a new story. I created new characters, but didn’t really have a good premise. At this point, I went back to The Face of Evil and rewrote it, replacing the Republic with the Republic of Florence, the Imperial Remnant with the Holy Roman Empire, Jedi with angels, and Sith with demons. 

Okay… so now I had essentially transformed The Face of Evil into Damnation… however Darth Malys didn’t fit the bill as the chief antagonist. My main villain in this case was going to be a fallen angel who worked as Lucifer’s general during the Celestial Wars. Her seizing power, being a newcomer to a scene that had existed for eons didn’t make sense.

So I took the parts of the character that did work; her viciousness, her fighting abilities, her attitude, and her tactical brilliance, and started working on a new character. I really wanted this character to be a demon that people would recognize, given how important she was going to be. So I looked for demons with feminine or androgynous names that were well-known. That’s when I came across ‘Xaphan’ from the Dictionnaire Infernal. Xaphan, a male per that story, was an inventive demon who orchestrated setting fire to Heaven. Perfect!

So I took Xaphan’s back story and name and tweaked them. Instead of setting fire to all of Heaven, Xaphan simply set fire to the Celestial Temple where the Choirs of Angels congregated. It was more of a symbolic gesture in the declaration of revolution by Lucifer and his legions of angels. Against Lucifer’s wishes, she warned the inhabitants of the attack, giving them just enough time to get out. She viewed the spilling of angel blood as an unforgivable waste.

After her success, she was to take command of Lucifer’s forces and lead them in a war that would stalemate for an uncountable amount of time. So now I had a name, a back story, and MOST of her personality. I then added a very strict code of honor to her as a warrior as well. Now I had my character!
test.png

So that’s where the ground work of this character came up. She was essentially a combination of another character I created, as well as some legend and folklore. The result was General Xaphan/Xaphine Lorenzi. Granted her appearance changes over time:
test.png

Then later, I met a very talented model who matched the look I was going for,
10930029_10153139974100972_336858882189135656_n
and she became the model and template for the character;
DSC06376

So that’s how I came up with General Xaphan, and she remains my favorite character to this very day:
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So sometimes it comes right down to combining various ideas and previously created characters to create the final product. The best advice I could give you is simple. Create your character. Build them up from the ground, then expose them to different situations in your writing. Bend them, mold them… heck, torture them. Yes, I’m advocating torturing your character, especially if you’re going to expose them to tense situations later on. Get a feel for them and see how they’ll hold up, if they’ll hold up, and if they’re the right character to take on a lead. If not, then keep that character for later or relegate them to a back roll and its back to the drawing board, if so, then keep up with the development.

Anyway, I hope this helps.
Readers, how do you create characters, what draws you to a character vs. another? What attributes do you feel make a strong character? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks!

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

WTF… Tim Burton…

So now it’s been announced that there will be a Beetlejuice 2, and thus there is now even more evidence, that Hollywood has lost it’s touch. I don’t know about this… I’ll wait and see on this one. However, I’ve had some time to reflect on many movies recently and I have reached one inescapable conclusion…

I CAN’T STAND Tim Burton!

Honestly, to me, he is one of the most overrated directors in Hollywood. His films are extremely linear and seem to only cater to the hipster/hot topic crowd. It’s always the same dark, dismal, atmosphere that only someone who was puffing a peace pipe would come up with. He always seem to cast the same people in every freaken movie. It’s always Helena Bowman Carter and Johnny Depp, in heavy white makeup, playing the same roles they’ve played over and over. I will give him credit, he did give Johnny Depp his start, but that’s really where the fairy tale ends.

You can only make so many sequels to Edward Scissor hands before it gets old… how many are there now?
Edward Scissorhands
Edward Scissorhands 2: Headless in the Hollow
Edward Scissorhands 3:  Edward and the Chocolate Factory
Edward Scissorhands 4: Edward Becomes Barber (again)
Edward Scissorhands 5: Edward Takes on Wonderland
Edward Scissorhands 6: The Vampire Strikes Back

Also, I know people love the whole Nightmare Before Christmas movie. Yes it has a big following… but you… you really don’t know any better people, you don’t. Just because a movie pioneers a new type of animation and takes on a much more adult tone, DOESN’T MAKE IT GOOD BY DEFAULT! It’s not about who did it first, it’s about who did it best. The story is stupid, the sets dreary and the characters are just unpleasant to look at, very often disgusting, and next to impossible to empathize with.
The main problem I have with this is that it’s Tim Burton’s staple for animation.

Finally… HOW MANY MOVIE ADAPTATIONS HAS THIS MAN RUINED? Sleepy Hollow was boring and pointless, and the story wasn’t even close to the classic tale.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… okay I will acknowledge that it was closer to the source material, but Johnny Depp’s Michael Jackson/Marilyn Manson hybrid Wonka is the stuff of nightmares.

The Planet of the Apes remake was a bad movie based on a bad movie, and was dead on arrival. I can’t really fault Burton too much on this one, but it is what it is.

James and the Giant Peach… I loved the book and read it before seeing the movie, and while Tim Burton may not have directed it, his fingerprints as a producer are all over it. The movie was grotesque and downright offensive to the eyes to the point where I can’t even read the book anymore! They might as well have called it The Nightmare Before Christmas 2!

Many before me have said that what he did to Alice and Wonderland is both completely inexcusable and unforgivable.

But what about classics like Batman, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and Big Fish!?

Yes okay… he did have a few good movies… but I’d like to make a few points here. The ONLY real standout that Burton can claim credit for is Beetlejuice, and by the looks of things, he’s about to ruin that.

Batman back in the 1980s was a massive hit, no denying that.. but can we give Burton credit for that? I think not. Burton considered the film to be a really rough experience with almost obtrusive interference from the studio and producers. Meaning that he was kept on a tight leash when he made this movie. In fact the only way they could get him back for a sequel was by offering him complete creative control over the movie. This resulted in a mean-spirited and dark film that really had fans and critics going back and forth on whether or not it was any good. In fact, it was considered so bad that it lost it’s McDonald’s Happy Meal deal in the process.

As for Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish… Edward Scissorhands was stupid and boring. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but seriously, re-watch it if you haven’t in a while. As for Big Fish… I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched it. Thanks, but I’ve spent enough money on Burton’s movies. If it shows up on Netflix or TV, I’ll give it a whirl, but I’m not giving him any more $$.

So readers, what do you think? Do you agree? Am I dead on or way off? Let me know!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Are Narrative Stories Out of Date

So a few days ago I was reading a the original ‘Little Mermaid’ by Hans Christian Anderson. I was curious about the story after my boys took a liking to the Disney version. I won’t spoil anything for anyone, but I highly recommend reading the original. It is superior in every way to the lax character development of the Disney version.

Anyway, more on topic, the reason I bring it up is because the story is written in a very old form of storytelling. This is a narrative story. What does that mean exactly? Well it’s a story where the reader tells, instead of shows in many cases. Where in more modern times, things are shown through dialogue and action, these stories were loaded with much more description and close to no dialogue at all. The best example I could give would be a campfire story. When you’re around the campfire speaking your adventure, are you going to load it down with dialogue? Of course not, that’d just look silly. You’re going to talk out everything, including descriptions and character actions.

In modern literature, the golden rule is now ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’ To keep an audience engaged, you need to allow them to draw their own conclusions as to what’s going on, what characters are thinking, and much of the who/what/where. Narrative stories essentially deny the audience that, which is why they are often frowned upon in today’s market.

Does that mean that they are out of date and should no longer be used?
Well… yes, to a point. In more simplistic children’s literature where a child is only beginning to think  outside the box, a narrative story is exactly what you want… unless you want your kid asking you a million questions during the story.

However in terms of adult stories… I’m afraid it’s something we rarely see any more. Would I say that they’re out of date? No… more like out of style. Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of narrative stories that keep my attention and keep me engaged, but they are often far in between. The best thing to do is enjoy them as you would any other antique. Though they may not be what they were, often they are still great stories worthy of remembrance. I just wouldn’t recommend writing a new story in this style.