Suspending Suspension of Disbelief!

Hi Jim,

I have a little problem that I was hoping you could assist me with. I’ve had quite a few people read my story and the overall criticism is that one of the characters isn’t believable. They keep saying that the way the character behaves and the things she does, don’t fit in with the story. This really bothers me as this is a story that takes place in a completely made up environment that has nothing to do with reality. Like okay, you can believe an entire planet could be a live and have a consciousness, but not believe one character because of their actions and choices they make?

If only one person had said it, that would be one thing, but a few have so now I’m starting to worry. Do you think I should change the character or leave it as is? Should I take this criticism seriously?

Thanks,
Elyssa H.


Hello Elyssa,

Awesome name, by the way. I may wind up using that for one of my characters. I actually try to take most criticism seriously. The obvious exceptions are trolls who simply say that ‘this sucks’ or ‘I think you’re stupid’. Things that have no substance are basically best left ignored.

However that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I would definitely take what they say into consideration, but not let that be the be all, end all of what you do with the character. Outside criticism is vital, especially if you plan to have your work published. You want someone who’s going to rip it apart. However the final say is yours, you need to take a step back and look at the character and see if everything fits.

Now that that’s out of the way…  I want to address your other comments. “Like okay, you can believe an entire planet could be a live and have a consciousness, but not believe one character because of their actions and choices they make? ”

Actually, yes. This is what’s called a suspension of disbelief. Like it or not, readers are always going to apply some level of real-world logic, even in the most fantastical of environments. We’ve all done it, and we’re all going to do it. Like it or not, this is something that all writers have to contend with.

So what’s the best way to combat this problem? Well… I’d say the first thing to do is create a set of rules early on in your writing. If there are any real world attributes, make them known through the story, cultural differences that could explain, and by default, make your character’s behaviors more believable, explore them. Most readers are really good at following a path with little guidance, but you still need to leave some bread crumbs for them to pick up on.

This is the folly of your comparison. A reader could actually take issue with a character’s choices and development in a story where an actual planet is a character because maybe you explained the planet better. Maybe the back story you put in place actually explains better how something like that can exist. I think this is an area that you may want to really go back and re-examine, but let’s open it up.

Readers, what do you think? Is this an area that Elyssa should look at a little more closely? Is the criticisms of her readers something she should worry about, or should she simply disregard them because its her story? 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

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Dimensional, One Dimensional Characters

I’ve heard, and said a lot of negative things about the writing of characters that are too one-dimensional. I don’t want it to seem like I’m against such a character, I’m not. There are a lot of great characters out there that are lacking in dimension.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples would be the character Javert from Les Miserables. In fact, it is his one dimensional personality that lands him the position of the villain, while a far more dynamic thief, fugitive, and fraudster becomes the hero.

He’s not so much the villain because he’s a bad person. It is more so because he comes off as indifferent. However I don’t necessarily think that this is necessarily his own fault. What little we know of his life and background has left him with a very rudimentary view of right and wrong. He has a very strict adherence to the law, giving no leeway for interpretation, leniency, or apathy…. He has an extremely unwavering faith in the morality and overall ‘correctness’ of the law.

And we’ve seen where such staunch adherence to it leads to…

(How mad must the officer have been after the judge turned the case into a comedy routine.)

Now this is an example of a one-dimensional character. He has a basic view of right and wrong which, like iron is solid, but when you apply enough pressure, it becomes brittle and breaks. That’s what happens with Javert his interpretation of right and wrong was challenge where he was put into the position of having to do wrong to do right. This is something that, in his world view, shouldn’t be possible. Unable to cope with his reality being shattered and either unable or unwilling to change with it, he kills himself.

This is an example of a one dimensional character done correctly. We not only see the dangers of having such a view of the world and/or personality, but we also what can happen when they are so rigid. It’s actually a fascinating character study to do.

So is there a place for one-dimensional characters? Absolutely there is and they can be written very well. The problem is when a character is put on screen for one purpose and isn’t really given any justification as to why they exist the way they do or how it came to be that way. There’s no issue with characters being one-dimensional, as long as there is something in them that we can understand and view as really happening.



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

Opinion: Rinoa Should Have Been A Kingdom Hearts Princess!

Most of my friends from when I was in college would probably roll their eyes at this one… because I’ve said a lot about it. For everyone who’s played Kingdom Hearts, you know the basic gist of the game.

To beat the game and stop the darkness, you need the power of the 7 princesses… I know, I know, but trust me, it’s a lot more bad assed than it sounds. This isn’t My Little Pony Fanfic.

When you bring these princesses together, they use their combined power to put a stop to the enemy known as the Heartless… again, I SWEAR this isn’t MLP or Care Bears fan fic!!! Trust me, go play the game! It really is good!

Anyway… Let’s take a look at the 7 Princesses.

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As I said, there are seven of them. Six are Disney characters, one is an original character from the game’s own cast.

One thing I would to note, Kingdom Hearts is the marriage of Final Fantasy and Disney. There are several Final Fantasy characters (mostly from 7-10) in the game that play pretty major parts. They have their own worlds, though we only see one, as well as back stories as to how they got there. However none of them are among the princesses and that I do not agree with. If you wanted to go with seven princesses, I get why, and I think there was a space for one. One of the characters, in my opinion does not qualify as a princess. Let’s go through the seven one by one, shall we?

I’ll go through them in order of status, in other words the ones that most qualify as a princess vs. the ones that don’t.

Snow White: This one is a pretty obvious choice. She is a princess. Not only that, but she was the first of the Disney princesses. So I really don’t need to go into much here. She’s kind and innocent. So we’ll just leave it at that, an obvious choice.

Sleeping Beauty: Again, another obvious choice. She was an early princess in the Disney scope. She doesn’t really play that huge of a role I’d argue vs. the faeries and the prince, but that’s my opinion. She’s a princess, another beloved one in the realm of Disney, so no arguments here.

Jasmine: I was going to put her above Sleeping Beauty because honestly she’s a stronger character than Sleeping Beauty and honestly far more likable, but Sleeping Beauty is far more iconic and well-known, IMO. So take that as you will, maybe it’s a tie, maybe not, but that’s where we are, moving on.

Cinderella: Okay… I know she’s iconic, I know she’s beloved in Disney’s circles and her story is beyond legend, but she falls lower than White, Sleepy, and Jaz because well… she wasn’t a princess. I’m not kidding, at what point in the story was she a princess? We never see her get married in the movie, she’s nobility, but treated as a servant until the end of the movie. I guess she qualifies because the prince said he’d marry the owner of the slipper, so until the King dies, that makes her a princess by marriage, but that’s arguable.

Belle: Same as Cinderella, albeit arguably less so. She’s not a princess… heck she’s not even a daughter of nobility. She marries a prince by the end of the movie but… is he a prince? I mean we never see his parents, where are they? In another castle? (Insert Mario Joke) It’s never fully explored, so… I guess we’ll just take it on faith, maybe he’s not next in line to the throne. So again, princess by marriage.

Kairi: Honestly, we don’t know much about her in the first game. Is she a princess? It’s not really explored. However I guess it makes sense that she’s on there as it gives the main hero something to fight for.

Alice: I have no idea why they chose her. Why not Ariel from the Little Mermaid? That might have made more sense here. Though you could argue that she’s in Mermaid form in the game, but there are always ways around that. Alice is not a princess. She’s a girl who daydreams and goes to wonderland. So really… I don’t know why she’s counted as one of the princesses. She could have easily been switched out with literally any other Disney character… or perhaps a Final Fantasy princess?

Enter Rinoa… Now why do I say Rinoa over say… Garnet (Dagger), Tifa, Aeris, Yuna, etc.

Well… Garnet is a true princess, but to be honest… I never found her particularly likable. There really are no other FF9 characters in the first Kingdom Hearts, and honestly, she ends the game as the Queen.

Tifa and Aeris have no real connection to any form of nobility, it doesn’t even really exist in her world other than the nepotism within Shinra. Aeris is the last descendant of the Ancients, but… I mean she’s already a contributing character, so I think that really goes far enough.

So why Rinoa?

Well… Rinoa for one is a very well-liked character. She’s had her own following, multiple figures made, her friends call her a princess, and honestly, you could argue that she’s Gabaldian nobility, being the daughter of a well-respected, wealthy, general in the nation’s army. She’s not royalty, but honestly she fits in about as much as Belle or Cinderella when you think about it. Plus Squall is in the game. Cloud and Aeris are there, why not bring Rinoa in as well for Squall?

If it were me, I would have brought her in instead of Alice as I think she’s definitely a better choice than Alice. IMO it seems like Disney chose Alice because of a lack of princesses to choose from at that point that could fit into the game. However that is my opinion.

What does everyone think? Am I dead on? Not so much? Do you think Alice belongs there? Would you rather a different Final Fantasy character? 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.

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

Unpopular Opinion: Final Fantasy 7 isn’t as good as you remember

 

Oh I just know I’m going to piss off a lot of people with this one…

Keeping in mind, I’m just focusing on the main title, not the sequels or prequel here.

Final Fantasy 7 came out roughly a year after I got my first PlayStation. I was in either 6th or 7th grade at the time… I don’t really remember. The gamer magazines all gave it  outstanding reviews. Many said that the game was edgy in that it portrayed murder, rape, and prostitution among other themes in the story.

The public reception though… at the time and from my perspective, was mixed. A lot of people loved it, saying it had a great story, great graphics, and so on. Other balked at the turn-based system and how the game designers had seemingly focused on good graphics and offered little else. Keep in mind, I can’t gauge a universal fan response at the time. Public use of the internet was still in it’s infancy (You old 56K users know what I’m talking about), so the reception I speak of is strictly anecdotal. Take that as you will.

For years, I was in the first camp. I loved the game.

I saw a commercial for it and asked for the game for Christmas. Upon opening it and playing the first disc… I was hooked. I played the game straight through. I struggled through President Rufus’s inauguration scenes, I teared up when Aeris was stabbed through the back, my jaw dropped when Cloud was revealed to be a clone, and relieved when it turned out he wasn’t one, and chills ran down my spine as ‘One Winged Angel’ echoed through my ears during the final fight.

I cannot tell you how many hours I wasted on this game as I played through it several times. So when I heard that Final Fantasy 7 was being remade, like everyone else, I was excited. So much so that I downloaded the original on my handheld PlayStation to relive the glory days.

I kind of wish I hadn’t… The nostalgia goggles fooled me once again. It was like turning on Thunder Cats or the original Transformers and realizing that these shows were a lot cheesier then I remembered.

The graphics and, by today’s standard, laughable polygons didn’t bother me. I knew that was coming, so I give the game a pass on that. I am also aware of how endearing the turn based system is and how it’s come a long way. So again, not an issue.

So what’s the problem?

Well I think part of the problem is the gamer, yes the problem is us. You see, we’ve all grown and matured and as such, we can now see glaring issues with the game that we didn’t see, or didn’t care about when we were younger.

For starters, let’s look at Cloud. He’s moody, doesn’t talk much, doesn’t seem to care about anything or anyone, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and yet somehow people gravitate to him. Maybe it’s because of his supposed awesome power or something? I can’t really be certain. The thing is, there’s not much to him. He’s a moody character trope that seems to show up in most, if not all, modern Final Fantasies. Granted, not always the main character, but he’s in there somewhere.

Honestly, Final Fantasy 8’s main character was very similar, in fact I think Square was aware of this as they pared the two characters up and hand them basically taunting each other during the Battle of Hollow Bastion in Kingdom Hearts 2. However, Squall was slightly different. For him, there was a lot more reason given to his moodiness and quiet. He grew up in an orphanage, and the big sister he loved so much, eventually left him behind. Though his memory of all this was gone, the imprint remained, so it made sense.

With Cloud… he was a failure and didn’t want to deal with that or something? Granted the idea of a character concocting a lie about his past and having it consume him to the point where he believed it himself, only to have that backfire, is interesting enough… except there’s a bit of a problem there…

You have everyone’s favorite waifu, (Tifa) who was there for all of the previous events and can easily debunk everything! She doesn’t though because… she’s afraid of what it might do to Cloud? I don’t know, the reason isn’t very well given and honestly makes the whole plot line hard to believe. When Sephiroth reveals that Cloud’s past is a lie and due to his mental insecurities, is able to convince Cloud that he’s a clone because of it. The story started to fall apart, especially with Tifa knowing the truth.

But they explained that too! Sephiroth said that she also had her memory altered. 

Yeah I don’t know, that’s a bit of a stretch. She’s also a little too accepting of the idea. I mean maybe I could believe that Cloud’s true memories didn’t kick in because his mind was scrambled due to Mako exposure, but the rest is really pushing the suspension of disbelief.

Second issue with the story… Vincent. Vincent knows about Sephiroth. He knows about his past and where he comes from. So… why doesn’t he speak up? When Sephiroth is on screen spouting off about his destiny and his mother, why doesn’t Vincent tell him about Lucrecia? I mean yeah you could make the argument that Sephiroth probably wouldn’t believe him, but why wouldn’t you try? At the very least, it may give him pause.

Some people didn’t use Vincent. Others just didn’t have him in the party at the right time. 

True, but the official story has Vincent there so that doesn’t really hold water. Also, there are a few opportunities when the entire party is on screen where he could say something, despite not being in the party.

Third issue, the love interests. Tifa and Aeris (Aerith? Aeries? Aries??? WHATEVER!!)… what can I say about them?

Honestly, Tifa was the preferable character… and I’m not saying that because her cleavage was bigger than her head… no I’m not kidding…

11

 

(I hope Cloud knows a good chiropractor!)

She honestly, despite her flaws was a very energetic and loyal character. Even when Aeris came into the picture, she still stuck by Cloud. Despite everything, she was still there to care for him and comfort him when he needed it. However she did let her emotions run wild and honestly… well let’s just say I didn’t have her in the party all that much.

Then why is she the better of the two?

Because the other option is Aeris.

I actually liked this character when I was younger and now for the life of me, I can’t remember why. Take almost any of her lines of dialogue in the game and try saying those things to people in real life. ‘Hey that’s Cloud’s thing to say, blah, blah, blah.’
‘Let’s ride the airship together, promise? PROMISE ME!’

They’re either going to think you’re a little kid or have serious mental issues. Granted, she’s not the only character with this problem… “Dr. Hojo has named me Red XIII, call me whatever you wish.”

… or you could just tell us your damn name! We’re likely to find out sooner or later anyway! Seriously, what’s your problem?

This actually was revealed a lot more in the game Crisis Core where people started to theorize that Aeris may have had some kind of mental deficiency. I remember message boards going so far as to ask if she was mentally retarded. Granted her character wasn’t done any favors in Final Fantasy Crisis Core, but we’re not really addressing that game here.

On top of that, Aeris is just annoying. She constantly laughing about something or acting like a little kid. On top of all of that, she was kind of the White Mage of this Final Fantasy despite this game not really needing one. Not only that, but her character is really in question. She barely even addresses the nature of Cloud’s relationship with Tifa during her time with the party and at some points seems to either try to sneak around behind it. Even if Cloud expressly says that Tifa is his girlfriend.

Thankfully you have the option of not being nice to her, at which point Tifa shows up for your date at the Golden Saucer and you don’t really have to deal with Aeris past the first act. So that’s a plus.

Let’s move on to the story… I’ve already stated what I take issue with in terms of the main character, but let’s look at the side quests. First of all, too many of them go nowhere. Who is the Kalm Traveler? What was his mission? Who was the man in the pipe in Sector 6? What’s his backstory? What is Aeris doing back in the church after she dies, only to disappear when you turn your back? A lot of these things go nowhere and it feels like there is an incomplete chapter in the game that was supposed to tie these things together.

Also when you leave Cait Sith in the temple and he’s destroyed, it’s written in a way that makes it a sad scene. Cait Sith was a likable character… despite having a bit of a forced introduction. So saying goodbye to him was actually a moving scene… too bad it was ruined two seconds later by a second model showing up. Also not helping things is when Cloud gives the black material to Sephiroth while your party… just kind of stands there. Yeah, they don’t make any effort to stop him… only a spectral figure of Cloud as a child… again not really explained, makes any effort.

When the inevitable happens, Aeris tries to comfort Cloud, only to have him jump on her and start beating the crap out of her… our hero everyone. When he’s not lying about his past to hide the shame of his personal failures, he’s beating up on women.

This is the major problem with Final Fantasy 7. It is edgy and it’s plot lines are interesting, but it never seems to follow through on them. Too little is explained and is up to the audience to figure out, and the whole thing just kind of becomes a muddled mess.

I will say that I was not a fan of the ending, but that may be more because of my personal bias against open endings.

So that’s pretty much my feelings on Final Fantasy 7. The characters are incredibly flawed to the point of unbelievably, the story is a mess and… really that’s all I can say about it. However I am someone who was a much bigger fan of Final Fantasy 8, so take that as you will. Of the Final Fantasies, 6(US) and 8 were the two best in my opinion. I never played any after X-2 due to 11 being an MMO and as I got older, I really didn’t have the time to put into them. So if you’re going to judge my taste, judge it on that.

Wait, wait, why did you like Final Fantasy 8 better?

Well honestly because despite being rushed into production thanks to FF7’s success, Final Fantasy 8 had a much more dynamic story, even more impressive graphics, and several twists and turns that made the game far more addictive. The characters were still pretty childish, but I had an easier time believing that these were teenagers… immature teenagers in some cases, but teens never the less.

The only major complaint I had was that its left up to the audience to figure out, despite being fairly obvious, who Squall’s parents were. (Hint: He shows up on the Ragnarok at the end of the game.) Also, up until X-2 came out, it had the best ending out of any Final Fantasy.

You actually liked X-2?

Haha… not really. The characters were annoying and the job system was flawed at best. I actually had to use a gameshark to get the 100% ending, but honestly… if you combine X and X-2 as one long story… the complete ending is actually very satisfying and wonderful.

So take that as you will. Final Fantasys 6(US) and 8 are the superior titles. Final Fantasy 7 isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, I just don’t think it’s as good as anyone remembers. It has very serious flaws that stick out more and more with each replay and sadly… its a major detractor in my opinion.

Will I play the remake? If I have time,  yeah I’d love to give it a try. Hopefully some of these things will be fixed and it’s not just a re-textured redress of the original.

Please don’t kill me!



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

Imperfection is Writing Perfection.

 

Recently I’ve spoken about some characters and how aspects of those characters are ‘perfect’, ‘flawless’, or even ‘saintly’. How terrible things happen to these characters, yet they come away unscathed with no lasting physical or emotional scars. In other cases, they are just perfect throughout the entire story; always making the right decisions, never having to worry about ramifications, and never losing their temper or even being affected.

We see this often in kids movies and YA fiction. Too often they are the product of how the writers THINK kids behave (seriously, you can tell which ones have kids and which don’t), or how the believe kids SHOULD behave. I like to refer to this as the ‘Brady Bunch Effect’ even though some of these are arguably worse than the characters in that show. These characters are usually so stale that when a bully does something to them, and then turns around and accuses them of the same crime, the character will just stand there and accept the punishment, despite having done nothing wrong.

I’ve spoken about this trope before as it’s honestly one of the few times you’ll find me screaming at a book. It literally drives me insane. There is no rhyme or reason for this other than the fact that these characters are, by nature, frustratingly passive. This causes a whole load of other problems, but that’s a conversation of already had.

Back on track…

What is wrong with perfect characters? Well for starters, they aren’t actually characters. They aren’t dimensional, they don’t grow, they don’t change, and there is little to nothing dynamic about them. They are perfect character ‘archetypes’. As such, they are not relate-able and by default are also very unlikable. Most people I’ve spoken to find these types of characters frustrating as you spend most of the story hoping to see a reaction or some ounce of humanity that they can attach to.

For people to be able to relate to a character, that character needs to have traits that an audience can attach to. Contrary to the beliefs of some, that includes flaws. Your character has to have flaws… and no, what I said about a character being so perfect that they’re not relate-able is not a flaw, that’s a cop out. They need to have a realistic flaw, being a character flaw, a fear, a temper, a naivety, something that normal people have.

Maybe they made a bad decision that landed them in a situation that members of the audience can relate to? Hindsight is 20/20 and we don’t always know what the right decision is.

This is likely the reason why people are gravitating towards tragic villains and anti-heroes.

So how do we write characters that people can relate to?

I’m sorry to say this, but if you don’t know how to do that, you need to stop writing. Put the pen down or turn the computer off, because if you’re writing characters the way I mentioned above, you’re going to run into problems.

My advice is to stop and think of someone you know that you like. Why do you like them? What about them do you relate to? Explore those things and figure out that person’s positive and negative traits. If that doesn’t work, go out in public and just listen to people. Listen to their stories, listen to their conversations (without being creepy) and think about what they have to say. It should help.



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

Collab about Collaboration

Hi Jim,

I was wondering if you’d ever done a collaborative work? If so, what’s your opinion on the best way to organize it? I thought it would be fun to work with someone on a story because they have a plotline that they’ve been working on, and I’ve got one that I think would go along well with it. I’m concerned about some of the characters I’m writing and whether or not my partner will be able to properly portray them. I don’t want to just give up on this as the story really sounds great with what we’ve come up with.

Thanks,
Julia


Hi Julia,

Good question. So I think the most important part of a collaboration is communication. When the two of you are working on the same page. Make sure that s/he knows what you’re hoping to accomplish and how your character is written. If after all of that, you’re still worried, there are a few options;

  1. Fix the character in editing. You’d be surprised how much changes when you go through and edit a book. A lot gets changed and in some cases even some of the themes are altered. This will be a really great place to go through and make the desired changes.
  2. Have him/er write his characters and you write yours or have them tell you the scenario and you write the characters into it.

Collaboration is not easy given that you’ve got two people with likely very different sets of ideas of how a story is going to play out. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns and if things get too bad, then feel free to walk away. Though I would do this only as a last resort, especially since you both may have to abandon the story and said characters in their entirety. I’ve heard accusations of plagiarism come from failed collaborations, so you do need to be careful.

At the same time though, YOU need to be able to give a little. An idea may sound good to you, but may not make sense or mesh well in the story. You need to be prepared to take constructive criticism as it comes and be ready to change something as needed. You cannot stonewall someone and expect the collaboration to be successful.

I’ve only done one and admittedly, it didn’t go well. So the likelihood of me doing it again is minimal. I’m not against the idea if its someone I can work well with, but too often I wind up butting horns.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with admitting that. If you don’t work well writing with another person, that’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to write with someone else, you can write your own story and be done with it.

The way we did it was that I’d write one story and he’d write the next one… unfortunately he took the story in a direction which was the polar opposite of where I wanted it to go. There was no give and take and after being stonewalled, I refused to write another piece for the series. I was done.

So hopefully this helps you a little. Be vocal, but also be willing to give a little in the exchange. Writing with another person can be an interesting experience if you’re both on the same page… or at least in the same chapter.

Readers, what do you think? Are collaborations not worth the trouble or is there something rewarding about them? Share your experiences with Julia 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

Long and Short of Writing Long Distance

Hi Jim,

You may not be the right person to ask, but I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m writing a story about a long term relationship that also happens to be a long-distance relationship. However I’ve never had a long distance relationship work out. I want to write this so it sounds somewhat realistic, but it seems like the odds are staggeringly against such a relationship. Do you have any advice about how I could write my couple?

Thanks,
Lilly


Hello Lilly,

This question would probably be better suited to a relationship counselor or therapist… but I’ll do my best to help. I’m sorry to say, but what everyone is saying is correct. This is coming from someone who has been involved in two separate long distance relationships and watched both of them fail. I’m sorry to say, but I don’t have much experience in one that has succeeded for very long. So a long term, long distance, relationship (depending on your definition of ‘long term’) might be a hurdle for some readers to overcome. Mine lasted about 1.5 years at best, personally.

My advice to you is pretty much the same advice that I would give someone who’s entering into a long distance relationship. There are a few prerequisites that I would recommend before getting too serious:

  1. Frequent communication: Don’t let your characters go for too long without talking to each other. Probably a few days at most, though I know some people would say 24 hours is enough. Maybe that’s a little clingy, but if you’ve gone for over a week without speaking to the person… without any outstanding reason such as work, then are they really together?
  2. Establish a game plan: Okay obviously this isn’t something you’re going to do early on, that’s just psychotic. However, as things get more serious, if there is no plan to close the distance between the two of you, then likely you’re pretty much dealing with a pen pal, not an actual relationship. If the goal of the relationship is commitment and some kind of domestic partnership, there has to be a plan on the table.
  3. Trust and lots of it: Relationships require trust. Long distance ones even more so. If one of your characters is constantly wondering whether the other is being faithful or get’s highly suspicious of a friend of the opposite sex, it’s going to crash and burn real fast.

There are more essentials out there, but these three are the biggest ones in my opinion. Honestly, you might do better having it an on again, off again, relationship… or perhaps an open one, though I’m not a huge fan of those. In any case, I’d say you’ve got quite a bit of work ahead of you to make this something this work. If your story is set in modern times, skype and other remote tools are going to be essential.

Hope this helps, but lets open this up to our readers. Does anyone else out there on wordpress have any advice for our friend Lilly here?

 



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