Components of a Story

Discussion in 'Archives' started by Zandyne, May 22, 2007.

  1. Zandyne King's Apprentice

    May 8, 2007
    Where the sun is hella bright.
    VERSION 1.2 (5.23.07)

    FOREWORD: It's true that one of the best ways to improve is to practice. But even countless hours of practice can fall short if the mastery of the fundamental basics of that skill are brittle. The purpose of this is not to tell you HOW to make or write your story, but WHAT are the things that make a story. This is a reference for those who may feel that they are unsure of what are the components of a story or those who wish to become writers. (This version uses KH and general FF for some of the examples)

    INDEX OF CONTENTS (base0):
    (Use ctrl + f to find the reference ID)

    INDEX OF CONTENTS - (base0)
    GENERAL FAQ - (genfaq1)
    GENERAL TERMS - (genterm1)
    IDEA - (ide1)
    THEME - (the1)
    TONE/STYLE - (tos1)
    SETTING - (set1)
    CHARACTERS - (chrc1)
    INTERACTION - (inter1)
    EXECUTION - (exec1)
    EGO - (ego1)
    ENDWORD - (end1)
    THANKS - (thanks1)
    CREDIT - (credit1)


    1st Up - Jade Rhade, Author of "Crushed Rose"
    How to integrate multiple languages - (5-28-07, 01:30 PM)
    Mechanics: Semi-colons and Commas - (5-28-07, 01:30 PM)

    2nd Up - JustANobody, Author of "The Coldest Heart"
    Suggested method of the creation of a story - (5-20-07, 11:41 AM)

    3rd Up - The Soul-Eater, Author of "New Beginnings"
    In-Depth Look at Characterizations - (06-28-2007, 03:53 PM)

    Interview with Saeru, Author of "Braig's Gift"
    Some Free-Talk - (Interview with Saeru)

    GENERAL FAQ (genfaq1)
    Q: Why is this here?
    A: To help those in the Creativity Corner.

    Q: Why isn't this just in the Writer's Workshop?
    A: The Writer's Workshop is a thread of active feedback, this is not.

    Q: Well then what is this?
    A: A source of general reference of what makes a story.

    Q: So if I read this, I'll become a better writer?
    A: Ideally, yes. Actuality, probably not so much. This is mainly to provide insight on the components of a story.

    Q: What exactly do you mean by components?
    A: Components are what make up something to create a greater picture. The components found here were specifically for long-term stories but some of them can still be applied to stories in general. Short-stories/One-shots and works of satire/parody can function without some of these components and still be excellent reads.

    Q: Can you beta (spell/grammar-check) my story?
    A: (For the sake of this thread) No. Any requests made on this thread will be ignored. If you want active feedback go to the Writer's Workshop.

    Q: What do the '(Opinion!)' things mean in front of a sentence?
    A: This means that the following line(s) until the end of the paragraph is/are my personal opinion.

    Q: What does the Version # at the top mean?
    A: Exactly what it sounds like. Currently I only have my own examples and such listed. On another note, this is meant to be a very much alive and evolving source of reference! Originally I was going to try and recruit more experienced authors from the forum, but I chickened out.

    Q: Why is ______ missing?
    A: This reference is a far cry from being perfect. PM me with anything you may feel is missing along with the reason of WHY it should be added. You will be credited with pointing out what was missing (as well as the "definition" should you provide a suitable one).

    Q: Can I contribute?
    A: Certainly! PM me if you wish to add on to it (where it goes, what your contribution is, etc.). If it is indeed helpful, it will be added and you will be appropriately credited.

    GENERAL TERMS (genterm1): A list of terms that are common to stories but are not included in the actual components list. The reason why should be apparent after taking a quick look at the list.

    Prologue - Typically a chapter that which gives additional information to the story before the story even begins. The prologue can be told in a completely different way then the actual story; it is up to the author.

    Plot - The general direction of the story. Has a very broad variety in terms of quality and quantity.

    Protagonist - The main character that is usually designed to gain the favor of the reader. Not always moralistically good. The story usually revolves around this character.

    Antagonist - The character that stands in direct opposition to the protagonist for a majority of the story. Can be moralistically good but is typically evil.

    Foil - A character that is very similar to a main character but has a handful of characteristics that contrast the main character. The foil is often used to emphasize the traits of the main character.

    Conclusion - The ending of the story that wraps up most if not all of the plot points. This is usually set up so that the readers can have satisfactory closure on the characters' endings.

    Epilogue - An extra chapter that is after the conclusion of the story. Typically this is to provide additional information on what happens after the story has "ended".

    Genre - A pre-determined set of categories designed to gauge the content of a story or otherwise. There are many different categories and some stories fall under more then one or two. (Some general examples of genres would be Horror, Drama, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Parody, Satire, and many more. If you want to learn about all of these categories in-depth then research them from your library or from a reliable internet database.)

    Literary Devices - Various employments of the English language to describe an event or action poetically. There are several literary devices, if you wish to learn every single one of them, research them. (Examples of some; foreshadowing, irony, verbal irony, dramatic irony, metaphor, simile, allusion, etc.)


    The first step in this journey is deciding the direction...

    IDEA (ide1): The idea is the very core of the story. It is essentially the divine spark that makes you want to pick up the proverbial/literal pencil and write wholly for the sake of writing. The idea is what makes or breaks the yoke of comedy, tragedy, adventure or any of the other genres. Ideas can be as epic as overcoming evil to save the world(s) or as personal as overcoming the demons of everyday life. It doesn't matter if they are ideas steeped in magic or reality, or even if the idea is for an original story or a fan-work, the existence of a strong idea is pivotal.

    Do NOT neglect the magnitude of an idea. Do NOT set aside the impact of what an idea can have. You can have some of the most brilliant wording in the world, but if you have a weak or meaningless concept, all of that eloquence will NOT save your story.

    The real test of an idea that makes it the simplest yet most difficult part of the story is a term known as "boundaries". Ideas are volatile creatures that constantly tempt the author to pollute them with gaudy and unnecessary details.

    If the idea cannot be summarized in two or three lines, then the idea most likely has to be revised. However, there is a difference between an idea, an elaborated (more focused) idea and an idea which is in need of revision. Here are crude examples of all three:

    Idea: Overcoming emotional weakness for the sake of love. -general statement
    (By starting with something straightforward and simple you can have a clearer idea on what to write.)

    Elaborated Idea: The experiences of a powerless girl who is not only physically trapped within a castle, but emotionally by her own broken will. Only after she is rescued does she realize that she too has the power within herself to make a difference. -vague basis for a story
    (Early details are being established, as well as the perspective of the story.)

    Idea in Need of Revision: There's this princess and she's all angsty and stuff, oh and she is the daughter of a god and a demon. She also has power of light and darkness and stuff and could pretty much destroy the world if she really wanted to, but anyway she gets captured by really mean people that she couldn't run or something away from. And then she has to you know, wait for some really hot guy to save her, and during all this she's all sad and stuff, but she still manages to be really happy and even help some of the meanie villains to solve their own problems but they still keep her locked up, oh and then she finds this PHILOSPHER'S STONE/KEYBLADE/MATERIA/UBERSKILL and then she remembers that she's not really who she thinks she is and is actually a clone- *so forth* -ok, maybe a little harsh, but I do see things like this on
    (This is too much information, attaches Mary-Sue/God-Character attributes and steals several concepts from certain franchises. By having such detailed specifics early on, you can hamper the creativity of your story.)

    THEME (the1): The theme of a story is another way of saying what the overall message of it is. The theme is the incorporation of additional, but minor ideas which complement and/or contrast the main idea of a story. Theme is the underlying context of a lesson, event or overall question that piques the opinion of the reader. The theme is what accompanies the idea in delivering the story. The theme can be subtle or bold, simple or multi-layered, the elaboration of the theme is based on the intentions of the writer, but the interpretation is solely on the whim of the reader.

    A more direct classification of what a theme is would be that it is the skeleton of WHAT happens and the MANNER in how it happens. The theme is usually associated with literary devices such as (the various forms of) irony, foreshadowing, metaphors, allusions, etc. However the implementing of the literary devices relies on how you, the author, write them (see TONE/STYLE for details).

    Generally themes can be put into three categories, broad refers to theme(s) easily seen from a first glance, semi-deep refers to themes(s) heavily implied by the characters/actions/events and underlying refers to themes that are interpreted from breadcrumbs of clues.

    A couple examples of Themes (from KH):
    -(broad, all Games) Light vs Darkness - self apparent
    -(broad, all Games) Good Prevails - ending/conclusion
    -(semi-deep, KH1/KH2) Inner demons turned him into one - Riku's betrayal (out of jealousy and fear), Xehanort's obsession with Darkness
    -(semi-deep, KH:CoM/KH2) Not all solutions are clean-cut - Namine being remembered, Riku and the Replica, Some of the OrgXIII "deaths"
    -(underlying, KH2) All he/they ever wanted was lost - Ansem's mistakes, the quest for knowledge is a dangerous one that has a heavy price to pay.

    TONE/STYLE (tos1): These two aspects are intertwined with each other in that both are needed to even begin to make descriptive sentences. Tone is keeping the textual content consistent and appropriate for the genre, whereas style is just what it sounds like, ambiguous and having no real guidelines save for flow. Tone is the formal aspect of the two in that it is rooted in appropriate vocabulary usage and diction. Style, however, is what enables the author to distinguish themselves from others, as well as inject unique life into their words. Both can be constantly honed and improved because there is no such thing as a perfect tone or style.

    This combo-component of the story is difficult to give examples for because there is no right "answer". However this doesn't mean that the universal errors can't be avoided; use a dictionary/thesaurus while writing, re-read your sentences, read any sentences you're unsure of out loud and/or get a second (even third, fourth, etc.) opinion.

    Inconsistent Tone: She looked mournfully at the broken vase. She hadn't meant to break it. She knelt down and warily picked up a fragment of ceramic where a rose had been engraved. It was one of his favorite vases too. The brittle portion in her fingers cracked into even smaller shards. The freed pieces fell back to the floor like drops of delicate rain. She stared vainly at the ruined pile as if her gaze would restore the vase to its former glory. I bit my lip as I recalled the time when Axel had set his hair on fire. I remembered how goofily Axel had smiled and how Marluxia had only raised an eyebrow at him. What was he going to do to her when he found out? -Namine being worrisome at accidentally breaking one of the vases in Castle Oblivion
    (The bolded text is the inconsistent portions that will make readers go "what the hell?". This was done on purpose for the sake of example, so it’s fairly obvious, but in your own writing it may not be as apparent. The point of this example is to show the impact of keeping the emotions, thoughts and perspective in a scene consistent.)

    Weak Tone/Style: Larxene gave him a bad look. Demyx had done something really bad. Larxene wanted to hurt him a lot. -Larxene is angry at Demyx
    (As you can see, this has extremely weak wording. There is also little variation, emphasis, or much articulation on anything.)

    Revised Tone/Style: Larxene scowled at him. Demyx had committed a terrible act against her. She wanted to smack him over the head. -Larxene is aggravated by Demyx, for what reason, we don't know
    (The vocabulary is improved but the style is as bland as prison gruel.)

    Redux Tone/Style: Larxene snarled at the dim-witted smile Demyx was giving her. The offending water user had dared to barge into her room at an ungodly hour to play his obnoxious sonnets on that wretched ukulele of his. The itching temptation of unleashing hellish vengeance on him was practically irresistible. She mentally reached out to conjure up a rather generous helping of brutality, but then a terrible realization dawned upon her. Ruefully she called back her spiteful bolts of thunder before they could finish forming. Demyx was of higher rank then her. She clenched hands together and ground her teeth down at the fact she had to tolerate his ridiculous music because he was her elder. -Larxene is viciously plotting Demyx's demise but manages to refrain herself from doing so
    (The difference can be seen from the previous two examples.)

    Keeping up the pace of walking may seem easy, but...

    SETTING (set1): The setting not only means what the world looks like, but what are essentially the rules of the story. Setting isn't limited to only geography, but spans over religion, culture, society, time period and so on. (Do the conventional laws of physics apply? Is magic common practice? etc.) The setting is the world that is fleshed out for where events are supposed to occur as well as the plane where characters are to interact with each other. Stories do not take place in an empty void, and if they do, well then, describe that.

    The background can have just as much of an effect as a character does on the story. The weather of a setting can even set the mood or give more value to the interacting character's actions. If something tragic happens, it is up to you, the author, to decide which would fit more: a sunny day or a stormy night? Depending on how you employ your tone and style of writing, both have the equal potential to be heart-wrenching stages of emotion or failed attempts to garner sympathy.

    Setting should be treated as though it IS a character. Nature does not stand still. Nature is constantly in motion, living, breathing, and making all sorts of noise at the crack of dawn to remind you just how alive it is. Cities are bustling utopias of technology meshed with people moving to and fro to meet the demands of the hive called civilization. Even the places of supposedly desolate location have their own charisma to them. Deserts can be vast planes of chipped earth, oceans can be pulsating dunes of salty water and expanses of desolate grass can go on until they meet the horizon at world's end.

    If your story takes place indoors describe the interior, the furniture, even that horribly clashing wallpaper some person slapped onto your wall when you weren't looking. Rooms are meant to be lived in and bear every sign and scar of people living in them. Even if it is an aged room like an attic, there will be something on one of those six walls (four traditional walls plus floor and ceiling) to describe. And if there is no "real" decor, describe the materials that the room is constructed out of.

    The world is a vivid place; use it to your advantage! Utilize your senses and depict what you perceive through sight, sound, touch, smell and taste.

    CHARACTERS (chrc1): The characters are just as vital as the idea of the story. Characters make the reader think, take sides, form opinions and of course, feel emotion. Characters make the reader realize what are the ideas and points the author is trying to make. Characters are essentially the actors and tellers of the story (regardless of the point of view it is told in). Without them, the author has only descriptions.

    Characters are typically portrayals and projections of the author. They can take the form of humans, animals, plants or any other being capable of being described. Characters have practically unlimited possibilities in terms of appearance, demeanor, etc. The only limitations would be how the author characterizes them (see CHARACTERIZATION for details).

    The characters of a story usually have their own strengths and weaknesses as much as they have goals and ambitions. There is no such thing as a "perfect" character with no weaknesses. There are very few exceptions to this rule in a truly balanced story (side-characters who are simply there to be population stock -passersby, nameless store keepers, etc. - are omitted from this rule).

    There are all sorts of guidelines on how to create characters, but how you do it is a right only the original author has. If you are unsure of how to build a character, look at yourself and to the people who surround you. (Opinion!) Personally I follow the rule that for every notable strength a character has, there are at least one and a half weaknesses to balance it out.

    Self-Insertion Characters: This is a subcategory to characters. Self-insertion characters are basically when the author decides to create a character to become a part of particular pre-established universe. This category of character is usually a free-for-all. However, it is generally frowned upon if the author assigns themselves a lead role that replaces a canon character (such as just outright killing Kairi and taking her place). This is especially true if the author holds the claim of the story still being loyal to the canon-universe (parodies and works of satire are an exception to this). Other times, self-insertion characters are "fan-mode" versions of the authors themselves who usually appear in fics of humor. (Opinion!) If I was a self-inserted character in the KH universe, I would be Dusk Underling #3,985 who gives 150 exp when killed.

    This isn’t to say that self-insertion is automatically a “bad” thing, some authors can actually pull this off beautifully, but only because they have a thorough grasp of the surrounding elements as well as pour in a good amount of effort to blend their self-insertion in.

    CHARACTERIZATION (chrz1): Basically how the characters behave and act to the events the author puts them through. Once more this is a category relative to the characters and to the author. However, a word of precaution, keep your characters' behaviors distinct. Humans may be capable of ALL emotions, but everyone has their own unique set of quirks, habits, personal values and ideologies.

    Sample Character Stock: A good-humored girl who is soft-voiced and likes to think the best of others. She has a tendency to believe that she is at fault for the problems that happen around/to her. As a result of this mindset, she apologizes constantly and does not often say what is going on in her mind and if she does, she does so with the most polite caution. Subconsciously she wants to prove that she is not as helpless so she is earnest about pleasing others. She also does not share her troubles without a good amount of cajoling because she is afraid of becoming a burden to that person.

    Situation: One day she is out walking her dog, she gets distracted by something and her dog gets hit by a car. The car does not stop, it keeps on driving. (What would she do next?)

    In Character: She would be in shock. Next she would probably run up to her poor pet and apologize to it. She'd most likely shed tears over it and probably rationalize the entire ordeal as an accident on the driver's part and that it was her fault for not taking better care of her pet.

    Out of Character: She would scream bloody murder complete with angry curses to the heavens. She would then run after the car, spontaneous flaming pitchfork in hand, while her dog continues to bleed on the street. She would follow the insensitive driver to his home and wait until nightfall. Under the cover of darkness she would break into his home and slice open the driver's throat and laugh evilly to herself.

    The example speaks for itself, but some writers occasionally mix up the characters' reactions with their own. Most of the time, the mistakes of incorrect characterization are not as starkly obvious as in the example; usually it is in more subtle nuances. (Opinion!) Some authors are actually afraid of making their protagonists show any visible signs of weakness (crying or being petrified with fear), suffer any misfortune (realistically) or generally have any habits that the author considers improper/"gross" (such as nail-biting to name one of many). This is a heavy mistake that severs readers from identifying with the characters as well as any believability in them!

    Now this isn't to say character's personalities are set in stone (or that they can't be role-model characters), but significant behavioral change is a painstakingly gradual process. Some characters actually don't change at all (habits are hard to break, but ingrained ideals? Good luck with that!). The most radical source of change is usually negative, such as the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience, etc. But remember, not everyone is automatically sent into a state of crippling depression because of something tragic. They can grieve as much as they want, but not every single character has to mourn for many years. The best and most impartial policy on characterization is to once more, look at yourself, friends, family, etc.

    Fan-Characterization: This is a subcategory to characterization. Each individual's interpretation of a character is a little different. Respectively, as long as it is not something extraordinarily (satire/parody is exempt) outlandish, it’s perfectly viable (unless the original author/creator declares otherwise). Everyone is entitled to their perception of a character. However if they want to ensure an "accurate" portrayal, they should heavily reference any and all available sources. (If change from "canon" character is desired, the author should work at creating a logical process to which the character can change into whatever characterization they have planned. There are amazing authors out there who have been able to accomplish this believably!)

    Sample Characters: Castle Oblivion's underground members, Zexion, Vexen and Lexaeus.

    Situation: A normal day in Castle Oblivion.

    In Character: (OPINION!) Zexion would most likely call yet another meeting to discuss their progress with infiltrating the neophytes' rather shady operations. Vexen would most likely list off the latest updates on a project or any observations he had made of Axel/Larxene/Marluxia; probably tag on a snarky remark about them as well. Lexaeus would listen and make relatively realistic suggestions after hearing a substantial amount of Zexion's and Vexen's comments/criticisms about their current situation. (This is MY perception of these characters based on what I interpreted from what was revealed about them.)

    Out of Character: Prior to the creation of the Riku Replica, Zexion would whine to the others about how lacking a heart made him feel terribly sad. But now that he isn't the only pretty one, he spends his days writing in his book about how unfair life is. Vexen spends all of his time in the labs researching ways to preserve his studly attractiveness. So far he has only perfected the formula for keeping the hair on his head from falling off or turning white. As per usual, Lexaeus would spend his days in the corner of the room; drooling stupidly and mumbling in caveman speak to himself. You see despite how large his muscles were, his brain was three sizes too small. And every once in a while, the three of them would hold hands as they frolicked down the halls of Castle Oblivion to go see their favorite topside friends, Axel, Larxene and Marluxia. (This made me snicker, but in all seriousness, this is an example of characters not being characterized properly. Once more, unless you are writing satire/parody, this is not acceptable "canon" characterization unless you want to be flamed or heavily criticized.)

    Fan-Characterizations are usually difficult to gauge because they are entirely opinion based on BOTH sides (the author/reader) of the story.

    INTERACTION (inter1): The interactions between characters are what (typically) progress the story. Interaction is what makes characters become the best of friends or the most bitter of enemies. The resulting alliances and grudges formed are what create solutions or problems. Interaction is also what affects the surrounding characters, setting or situation.

    One tool is dialogue; the verbal communication between two or more characters. Another is monologue where a character essentially talks to him/herself OUT LOUD; the flipside of this is introspection (some actually refer to this as soliloquy) where the character THINKS to themselves and reflects/assesses the situation. What isn't spoken is conveyed through physical actions such as expressions, reactions, initiatives, etc.

    Speech and action are often combined in order to allow the readers to fully comprehend what is going on. Dialogue can be flirtatious, witty, argumentative, etc. to show the relationships between characters. Monologues can be philosophical, whimsical, conflicting, etc. to show how the character personally thinks and/or believes. Physical actions are dynamic, visible, etc. and encompass all the perspectives of a character's expression, and are most importantly, visual.

    Although authors may spend impressive amounts of time writing the speech of characters, if they are only writing line after line of dialogue, then the words hold little meaning. Text cannot speak with emotion or emphasis; that is job of the words surrounding them to do. The description of the actions that the characters take while saying their lines also share the burden of defining the intended emotions of them.

    Sample (Dialogue): "Aren't you going to help me?" Xigbar asked.
    Xaldin replied with, "I thought the great Xigbar did things on his own."

    (With only the bare minimum to designate it as speech the readers don't know HOW he is saying this or really anything else going on in the scene. It should also be noted exactly how RANDOM the dialogue is in that it just exists.)

    Sample (Dialogue + Action): Xigbar laughed curtly to himself as he rubbed the back of his neck bemusedly. He gave a strained smile from where he was buried under the pile of books he'd toppled over. Xaldin did not move from where he stood over him. The only part of him that changed was the slight smirk on his face that grew ever larger at seeing the sniper's uncomfortable predicament. Xigbar frowned bitterly at the smug look and glared distastefully at the lancer. "Aren't you going to help me?" Xigbar asked with a pompous scoff.
    Xaldin folded his arms calmly and tilted his head at the indirect request. The lancer replied with dry insult and wry apathy, "I thought the great Xigbar did things on his own."

    (The bolded actions that surround the line inform the readers that Xigbar is indeed displeased and WHAT he is unhappy about specifically along with some additions to what Xaldin did. This also 'subtly' expands the reader's scope on Xigbar's and Xaldin's personality and tones of voice.)

    As an additional note to dialogue and speech is pronunciation. Certain characters may have different pronunciations due to accents, slang or dialect ("Hey brother" vs " 'ey bro", "what are you doing" vs "whatcha doin' ", "we should go on a walk" vs "perhaps we shall take a stroll", etc.). It is at the author's discretion whether or not they want to emphasize these traits. It is also important to know that the speech of a character is not always grammatically or contextually correct. Another note about writing dialogue is that characters have verbal parameters. A character who is not very studious or keen on increasing his/her diction will not be using elaborate words from an Oxford dictionary in a typical conversation without the aid of that reference material, nor will a character who is supposed to be scrupulously eloquent suddenly start slurring like a drunkard without the appropriate amounts of liquor.

    SPOKEN (aka, actual speech) dialogue should NEVER be written in "1337" or "txt cht" (satire/parody as well as 'reading off what is written' are exempt from this rule). Dialogue that is intended to be immediately understood by the readers should be limited to one language unless it is something plot or character-related (ie: a foreigner will most likely not have a grasp on the native language but may still try to communicate verbally anyway; or a very cryptically ambiguous person, etc.). The main point of mentioning this is to caution other authors against needlessly flipping between two different languages without a good reason (see RESEARCH/REFERENCE for details).

    References to verbal interaction and body language (physical interaction) can be found through out everyday conversation between perfectly normal people. However, it is still up to the author to decide what actions mean and what connotations certain phrases may carry.

    The end of one road and seeing the next...

    RESEARCH/REFERENCE (rere1): Just as this implies, if you are going to be including references to pre-existing things in the story, it is best to research them as much as possible. This is not to say that you cannot have your own spin on it, but if you don't want to be criticized/mocked for misusing a myth or otherwise mythological figure, then commit some time to research. A very public as well as well-known example of research gone possibly awry in terms of naming would be Square-Enix(Soft)'s Shiva vs Hindu's Shiva:

    SE Shiva: Female summon/avatar associated with the element of ice. This Shiva is elegant and typically scantily clad as well as to some degree, blue-skinned. Almost always one of the first summons acquired and is generally weaker (in comparison to the other summons) by the late portion of the game.

    Hindu Shiva: A powerful male deity in the Hindu religion. Associated with destruction (or reformation) and fire among many other aspects. Hot-tempered and in most depictions, having blue skin as well as additional sets of arms brandishing symbolic items. He is one of the three most predominant aspects of Hinduism (aka, core deities).

    This is not a shot at SE's creative license, and it was most likely only a borrowing of name, but the comparison is ridiculous to those not familiar with the SE franchise and are more enlightened on Hinduism.

    Researching is not only limited to naming, it can apply to other subjects as well. If you do not know what Dia de Los Muertos is, well then you should research it before you go and claim that it is the Easter Bunny's birthday in your story. If you do not know what cremation is, look it up before you say it is the process by which whipped cream is made. If you do not know the fairytale of The Magical Paintbrush, read it before you make any assumptions on it; and the list goes on.

    And most importantly, if you plan to include a known/current foreign language, research it thoroughly, ideally with someone who speaks the dialect fluently!

    In much older days, the internet was not available, but this is the present, where there IS the internet. However, this does not mean any website you look up speaks only the truth. Keep in mind the reliability of your sources before you use the information you collected from them! The library is also another option should you discover that the internet is not serving your purpose.

    EXECUTION (exec1): This is not where someone is being put to death for their crimes; this refers to how a task is carried out. The execution of a story is how all of the previously mentioned components are woven together to create the flow that carries the readers from start to end (also known as what makes readers what to turn to the next page with anticipation). The execution of a story is one of the more technical components of a story.

    Execution entails spelling, context, structure and grammar. That alone is what separates the rough drafts from the final products.

    (IMPORTANT!) Do not forget to check over your work before finalizing/posting it.

    You can use Word Document programs, however machines can be flawed in their "editing" in just that, it is a program, not a human being. Re-reading should be done intermittently- it is extremely easy to overlook silly errors because you have been re-reading the same text for who knows how long. Also, having someone else read over your work, such as a formal editor or a friend, is beneficial because they are human and have a better chance of understanding your writing overall. By having a person look over your work, you can discover neglected plot holes or other banes of story-telling before it's too late.

    Looking past the cage's bars and aiming for the sky...

    EGO (ego1): The term ego refers to the author themselves. This may seem like it has nothing to do with the story but yet it can mean everything. The esteem of the author can have noticeable impact on the story, especially if the author's ego is negative. Authors who have low esteem may be too shy to let others see their work and so, sadly, their stories go untold. Authors who are braggarts may have negative effects on other writers as well as to themselves because they refuse to improve themselves (whether they truly need to or not).

    Ego is something that relies entirely on the person. Ego doesn't allow for an author to stagnate, it causes them to do so.

    Ego comes into play when the author receives feedback for their work. Praise is priceless and carries nurturing meaning, it lets the author know that what they are doing is right and that they should continue to grow. However, too much praise and an author may lose sight of their humility. Insults are negative and harsh; they degrade the author as a means of diverting them from taking any further specific actions.

    Critiques are one of the most helpful gifts to give an author. If done properly, they not only encourage the author to continue writing as they do now, but include how to improve their writing as well. Balanced critiques reward an author’s strengths and offer alternatives on how to eliminate an author's weaknesses.

    The main part of ego that authors have to keep in mind is that they determine the merit of their ego for themselves. They have the power to determine what to improve and what to keep the same.

    Authors should at least pay the minimum amount of common respect to each other. If you see an author in need, critique them if you want to see improvement, don't outright pick them apart just to justify whatever negativity you may feel. If you find an author that you can respect, let them know. Your ego is your pride as an author and no one can take that away from you unless you truly let them.

    ENDWORD (end1): Thank you for reading this guide. With any luck this will have helped my fellow writers and will improve the writing community as a whole. Thank you for your time and enjoy crafting your own stories.

    THANKS (thanks1): A big thanks to anyone who finds this helpful as well as to those amazing authors both on the forums, and elsewhere! Another thanks to anyone who decides to direct writers to this reference as well at to those who contribute to this guide's contents! A big "thank you" to Jade Rhade, JustANobody, The Soul-Eater and Saeru for their viewable inputs!

    CREDIT (credit1): Zandyne (Version 1.0 original writer/type-setter and general examples), Tal - #1 RO Sniper and awesome friend (Version 1.0 Test-Beta) the English language, KH-Vids Creative Corner for hosting and all the stories that were collectively referenced to derive these components from! Jade Rhade, JustANobody, The Soul-Eater and Saeru for helping out with their additional posts!
  2. Jade Rhade King's Apprentice

    Oct 24, 2006
    Center of the Universe

    I've often seen this with anime-fans who try to write fanfiction that incorporates two or more languages, such as Japanese and English. If your main story is written in English, any words in a different language should be italized. Therefore instead of "Edward-kun" with the Japanese suffix -kun, it should read "Edward-kun" to emphasize that it's a different language.

    The same applies with any other language:
    "No, Señorita!" he cried frantically. "Vamos from this cursed place!"


    Semi-colons are not used simply when you think it would look prettier than a comma. The semi-colon is generally used to join two simple complete sentences that relate to each other.

    I read the title of the book before me. A chill breeze rustled the curtains, and I shivered as though it had been caused by the words themselves.

    How boring, yes? Now, a semi-colon would look very pretty here.
    I read the title of the book before me; a chill breeze rustled the curtains, and I shivered as though it had been caused by the words themselves.

    DON'T OVERUSE THE SEMI-COLON!!!! I am guilty of that, myself. >_< Whenever possible, join the sentences with the more-convenient comma.

    I sat beside the window. The sun's rays illuminated the page.

    x_x Two short, blah sentences. Join sentences with a comma plus a conjunction such as "and", "but", "or", "nor", or "yet". With a comma, it should be:
    I sat beside the window, and the sun's rays illuminated the page.

    Much prettier, yes? There are several further rules about this in the English language, but these are the basics.
  3. JustANobody Twilight Town Denizen

    Dec 19, 2006
    Under your bed
    How To Begin a Story

    Zandyne did a wonderful job of explaining what goes in a story. Kudos to them.


    Jade Rhade, as well, did a great job in representing how multiple languages,semicolons,and conjunctions should be used and where.

    I'm going to teach you how to start to begin thinking of your story, and how to write it correctly, without overdoing your brain.

    STEP ONE: First think of a plot, setting, and the main characters.
    EXAMPLE:Plot- Sora's life is pretty boring, until a new kid named Roxas comes to his school. He begins to have homosexual thoughts about him, but doesn't understand what he's feeling.

    See? Like that.

    STEP TWO: Think about minor characters, meaning the characters that aren't as important as the main characters, but are still there to make the story come alive.
    EXAMPLE:Main Characters- Sora, Roxas
    Minor characters- Kairi, teacher, Riku, etc....

    STEP THREE: (be sure to be writing this all down somewhere) Think of how both the main and the minor characters are going to be fitting into the plot.
    EXAMPLE:Sora(MAIN)- Bored boy who meets Roxas
    Roxas(MAIN)-New kid who meets Sora,and has same thoughts about him.
    Kairi(MINOR)-Friend of Sora who tries to steal Roxas,but fails.....miserably. (x3)

    STEP FOUR: Think of some of the dialogue that all of the characters are going to say.
    EXAMPLE:"What is it, Kairi?" Sora asked. His tone and facial expression appeared to be that of an extremely annoyed youth.

    "Y'know that new kid, Roxas? He's pretty cute." Kairi said. Sora replied with a slow nod.

    YOU GOTTA MAKE IT SOUND LIKE A HUMAN,AND NOT A ROBOT, IS SPEAKING. (<-- CAPs for it to being noticed.Is important. :3)

    STEP FIVE: Be yourself. Imagine you in your character's shoes. What would you say or do?
    EXAMPLE:Oh, and P.S.....

    "'I LIKE YOUR HOT BOD'?!" Sora exclaimed with shock, and rage. Though mostly shock.
    (I know I would react like that. >.>;; )

    STEP SIX*MOST IMPORTANT*: Although this is optional to do, I do this: THINK Of SOME PLOTS OR STORIES AHEAD. Whenever I am RolePlaying, sometimes I think of a plot that comes out of the blue while I am supposed to be sleeping (haha). I have to wait a few days to put that plan into action, but it works. And sometimes keeps the RolePlay going for some time longer without us having writer's block or being bored. It's the same with story writing. If you think of a plot or a twist ahead of time, it keeps the reader's guessing, and keeps their attention on the story. Don't make it too complicated,though, because it could confuse both the readers and you.
    EXAMPLE:Yes! He replied! He is so gonna make Sora jealous. And then the two will fight over me. Kairi's thoughts squealed with joy and excitement. Her slender fingers hastily snatched the paper from her locker, and quickly unfolded it. Her face changed. Her hopes dropped, and her anger rose. What this note said, she did not like.

    Sorry. I'm in love with....someone else.


    STEP SEVEN: You are on your way to becoming a writer. Start outlining and experiementing with your story. If it's the way that you think both you and your readers will enjoy, then keep it up!

    I hope this was helpfull. Not very good at explaining things.... x.x

    Examples Used: 'The Coldest Heart' by- Just A Nobody.

  4. Zandyne King's Apprentice

    May 8, 2007
    Where the sun is hella bright.
    Interview with Saeru - Author of Braig's Gift

    Link to Braig's Gift

    No question, this was merely the initial reply after finding them and commenting on the whole deal.
    (some further inquires were made about them possibly contributing to this thread)

    Zandyne: I'd also like to quote anything else you want to tag on to spread to other writers.

    Zandyne: Really I should be thanking you, and it does help muchly.

    Thank you for contributing to the Components forum and I hope you continue to persue writing in some way or form. :]

    End Interview
  5. The Soul-Eater Merlin's Housekeeper

    Mar 31, 2007
    Ha! You thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? Or else that I just didn't care? No, I admit that my contribution is rather late, but only because this wonderful guide was already so complete. I had a ****ens of a time trying to find something worthwhile to add. Anyway, here it is:

    Characterization is without a doubt one of the greatest challenges a write can face, maybe even greater than developing a plot. After all, the plot is something amorphous, easily changeable. Whatever you want to happen is what happens; it's as simple as that.

    Characters, on the other hand, are just the opposite. They're delicate and malleable in their own right, but they're also somewhat constant and largely unchangeable. Whenever you give birth a character, you bind yourself to a certain way of thinking, a certain flow of ideas. Sooner than you'd probably expect, your characters tend to evolve a mind and spirit of their own, and it's your job as their author to help them express themselves properly. To do anything else would be to do them a great disservice.

    This is doubly true in the case of fanfiction. In this case, you chain yourself not to characters of your own creation, over which you might have had a greater control, but to preexisting characters that already have their own sharply defined thoughts, habits -- everything, really. So the process of characterization is all the more precarious.

    For example, I find Kairi to be one of the hardest characters to write for, because her personality is such a delicate balance of strength and weakness, ferocity and kindness, boldness and shyness, and so on. She's fallen victim to the villains and had to be rescued in every game she's appeared in, but she still maintains a firm grip on the situation. She didn't hesitate to act after being awakened in KH1, or to fight the Heartless or confront Saix in KHII. Still, she's not a "tough-as-nails tomboy fighter" type of character, either. She's gentle and kind, and she acknowledges that in a life-or-death situation, she'd be more of a liability than anything else. But despite that humility, she still likes to poke fun at Sora and Riku, and her occasional shyness belies a great bravery.

    You can see how that sort of circuitous logic can be a bit hard to follow, and even harder to write for effectively. There's no easy way to do it; it really just takes a lot of careful observation and practice.

    Consider my story, "New Beginnings."

    EXAMPLE: "I told you not to stay up so late last night. You may be a hero, but you can't just sleep on the beach all day. You've gotta get off your butt some time," she said, grinning. "I was thinking we could make our triumphant return to school today."

    Here, several of Kairi's key features are clearly seen. She's a bit bossy towards Sora, but in a friendly, playful sort of way. And in the "triumphant return" line, she pokes fun at both the situation and Sora, as though even a normal day at school could be something epic for a brave adventurer like him. It's kind of a backhanded compliment, but again, it's all just lighthearted fun. It's a mark of her bond with Sora that she can say things like this.

    EXAMPLE: And [Riku]'s been through more than any of us. I'd have thought he'd need the most time to settle down. How could he face a day of school so soon after all that?"

    "'Like this!'" Kairi squealed giddily, squeezing her palms against her face. Even despite himself, Sora couldn't help but laugh.

    Similar situation here. She lightens a potentially awkward situation with gentle humor. Sora knows it's a jab at him, and he finds that funny in and of itself, but more than that, he realizes what Kairi's doing and can't help but smile. Again, it's a mark of their relationship.

    EXAMPLE: "Yeah," Sora said whimsically. "And you had such a hard time [on your first day of school], too. Remember? You couldn't answer any questions in math, your crayons kept breaking in art, and you didn't even have a blanket for nap time."

    Here we have some direct, less subtle characterization. Sora relates a bit of Kairi's history from around the time she first came to Destiny Islands. It makes sense, given her past, and it lets us in on some more of her personality. Apparently, she was much weaker and more insecure in her younger years, but her time with Sora and Riku has helped her grow and develop. It fits in with the information we're given in the games, and it helps set up the rest of the story.

    EXAMPLE: Kairi mumbled, blushing slightly. "When I was called up to the board to do some spelling. And I...y'know...dropped the chalk...and I went to get it...." Her face was glowing a bright crimson now.

    "And then what?" goaded Sora playfully.

    "Forget it. Forget I said anything," she snapped curtly.

    "C'mon, say it. You'll feel better."

    "Oh, as if you didn't know!" Kairi shouted, flustered. "I farted, all right? Right in front of the whole class," she squeaked with modesty. "And everyone called me names for a week!"

    Here we see more of her unique mixture of strength and weakness. When she starts talking here, the perpetual confidence we'd seen throughout the story's opening drops significantly. She gets embarrassed, and to hide it, she gets a bit angry, feigning a sort of strength very different her own. But Sora sees through her, and through his playful banter, he gets her to open up to him. Note how this echoes their exchange from before, except with their roles reversed.

    EXAMPLE: "Yeah, know how witty those kindergarten kids can be," Sora quipped, grinning broadly. His smile must have been contagious, for he soon saw its echo etching its way onto the princess' face.

    "But, of course..." Kairi said coyly, "that's nothing compared to the time you wet yourself at the moives...." she cooed smugly.

    "For the last time, I wasn't scared!" Sora whined unconvincingly. "Besides, I was like eight years old!"

    "Try thirteen," Kairi responded, her voice positively dripping with joy.

    Here, through more interaction with Sora, she regains her composure and manages to turn the tables on him. Again, it's a mark of their closeness that they can say these things to each other without anyone getting offended. They just enjoy being together; it's like every minute they share just furthers their feeling for each other. But, like in the games, it never gets too cheesy or overt. There's no "I love you"s to be heard or kisses to be seen, but their emotions are conveyed just as clearly anyway.

    EXAMPLE: "But, you know..." he said as smoothly as he could, picking up speed all the while. "You're really cute when you get all worked up like this. Maybe after school, we could...y' back up out there in the Seaside Shack...."

    Instantly, Kairi's smirk was gone, replaced instead by an expression of mock-outrage.

    "Sora, you jerk!" she cried, paddling faster. "You'd better run! When I catch you, I'll kick your butt! You'll be lucky to pee your pants when I'm through with you!"

    Same basic situation. They make fun of each other, and despite Sora's seemingly random advances or Kairi's apparent anger, nothing's really changed, except maybe that they understand each other even better. It's like they're speaking in code. The words themselves have meaning, yes, but behind them lies a playful back-and-forth exchange. And most importantly, behind that, lies the strong central message of the story, and indeed, the Kingdom Hearts series as a whole.

    That kind of thinking is what ought to go into each and every story. It's the key to making realistic, enjoyable characters and stories; it's absolutely essential, nothing more to it.

    Some general parting tips:
    - Treat your characters like they're real people. Don't ever try make them say, do, or wear anything that wouldn't come naturally. That would be like trying to force your best friend to dress up like a big baby everyday, diapers and all. It would look creepy and unnatural, and it probably wouldn't work out very well. >_>
    - Remember to make dialogue sound like dialogue. If you can't imagine yourself saying it in conversation, it's almost certainly not good enough.
    - Moreover, if you're doing a fanfic, try to imagine the characters' VAs saying it. If you can't hear Haley Joel Osment saying one of Sora's lines, rewrite it.
    - Practice, practice, practice. You might have to try hard at first, but before long, this sort of thing becomes second nature. And more than that, it gets to be great fun!