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gabador
November 4th, 2002, 05:22 AM
It seems to be a general rule, that as a story progresses, it becomes more exciting, more things start to happen, and it is generally good.
The story also seems to start off with seemingly powerful stuff, which becomes obsolete as it progresses. Take for example the trollocs. Rand could only kill one with a lot of effort, and now....
So what do you think, should a story introduce elements of greater danger, more powerful allies and enemies as the pages turn?

LeMort
November 4th, 2002, 05:43 AM
Perhaps you should read up on the three act structure. It gives some great advice on how to structure your stories.

Specifically addressing your questions though:

I guess it depends on how you define exciting. From your post, it seems to me that you consider combat and battle exciting. Ramping up the number/strength of hordes of enemies doesn't particularly interest me.

I'd find that boring.

Why? Because the solutions to the problems that you've set your characters is obvious. They'll just have to train/fight more until they get stronger/better.

Boring, boring, boring.

Remember; A story is basically a series of challenges presented to your characters. Obviously, to make a story really exciting, you've got to make sure those challenges are genuinely, um, challenging.

Look at your protagonists. Identify their greatest weaknesses. Set them challenges that force them to overcome those weaknesses.

Is one of your characters a tough-but-dumb, fight first, think later type? Place him in situations that force him to have to think his way out.

Is one of your characters courageous in battle, but prone to vertigo? Place her in none-battle situations in which she has to overcome that fear.

Is one of your protagonists a great mage who has difficulty making friends/coping with social situations? Stick him in a situation where he has to rely on working with other people to solve a problem, rather than being able to solve it with his magic.

That's the way to make a story exciting!

kahnovitch
November 4th, 2002, 06:15 AM
I hate to say it LeMort, but those scenarios you presented smack of Star Trek, i.e. characters who have to grow with and adapt as people to overcome problems.
It's been done in fantasy too.

"a great mage who has difficulty making friends/coping with social situations? Stick him in a situation where he has to rely on working with other people to solve a problem, rather than being able to solve it with his magic."

Sounds like every mage to me.

"a tough-but-dumb, fight first, think later type? Place him in situations that force him to have to think his way out."

Conan on many occasions.

But then I suppose a lot of stuff is cliched and finding new alternatives is hard.

Maybe we know deep down that the good guys are always going to win no matter what they face so nothing is that exciting anymore.

Bardos
November 4th, 2002, 06:53 AM
What makes a story exciting...

Battle? No. Talking? No. Dimplomacy? No. Magic? No. Monsters? No.

Need I go on? You can split stories into a thousand-and-one elements, but one element or the other doesn't make the story exciting because it is there.

If you wanted to discribe a story, like gabador discribes it, imagine a line that strats from "0" and goes up, then it goes down; perhaps not to "0" again, but down. The higher point is the climax, the catharsis.

The begining of a story is, de facto, mysterious, because we don't know what is going on. Let's face it, when you start from page 1, you're ignorant as to what this actually IS. Then, comes the middle of the tale, were the line goes from "XXXX" to "YYY", having left "0" behind; we, now, KNOW what is going on: at least, we know more than before. Then, comes climax, the higher point of the line, where the major conflict is resolved. When this happens, we feel relaxed and then we go down on the line again.

An exciting story, usually, follows this structure.

LeMort
November 4th, 2002, 07:03 AM
kahnovitch, you're right. They weren't good examples.

I don't have much time for high fantasy, but I'm pretty sure that Gabador does, so I tried to use some high-fantasy examples to illustrate my point. Did my lack of enthusiasm for the subject matter show through?

Character growth is a good thing. Star Trek does it badly because it's basically soap opera and doesn't have time for subtlety.

If we always know that the good guys are going to win (and if there always are clear cut good/bad guys), then, clearly, something is very wrong with fantasy.

gabador
November 4th, 2002, 07:50 AM
Dows an exciting story have to follow that curve, or line? I mean can't it follow a line that starts off pretty exciting to begin with, and finish on the same level, with deviations throughout the story?
Also, is it natural for the good guys to win? Does that not ruin the story as well, to already know that despite the overwhelming odds, the good always conquer?
If the evil side has superior armies, a god to guide them, and a whole load of powerful stuff at their disposal, there is no reason for them, to lose.
Would it make it that dissapointing to find that the main character dies at the end, and the bad guy wins? Things like this would not bother me. A good ending does not have to include the good winning, but something that would bring some emotions to surface. So excitement does not have to include just one climax, but anticipation, and a lot of guesswork, all to be resolved in the end, is necessary...
And don't get me wrong, I'm not just talking about battles and fights, but conflicts between characters, mental challenges,puzzles, quests, and every little bits and bobs that a story should include. All of these components should add up to equal the story's excitement.

fluffy bunny
November 4th, 2002, 08:31 AM
My post's not going to make a lot of sense- I'm just writing as stuff comes into my head. And I'm going to use film references.

I'd say sort yourself a strong beginning, middle and an end. Work on the characters- make us care about them, that even a small injury/pulling of a muscle becomes more important than in some books where every village in the southern continent gets its population decimated by dragons.

And why should the good guys win? Because that's what we see in hollywood? Quite a few hong kong flicks had the bad guys winning- make it unpredictable. If you're going to have deaths, make them count.

Numbers of enemies doesn't really matter- I'd rather have one really cunning and ruthless bad guy (eg Hans Gruber in Die Hard, John Doe in Se7en-), than hordes of dumb bad guys.

Even the dumbest of enemies can surprise us a lot of the time- key in animal instinct, advantage of high ground, setting primitive traps. You back a wild animal into a corner, it'll fight with major ferocity.
Moderate intelligence- pick off who seems to be the hardest two or three party members first, then finish off the rest . Hunt in packs, possibly with coordinated activity between the 2. If you make the enemy superintelligent, how are you meant to write this person who's more intelligent than you are and make him/her sound credible?

Intrigue, double crosses by close allies to the party. Everyone has an agenda- some people are just greedy- paid by behind the scenes villain to lead them into a trap without knowing. Or get paid to go out on a particular day, leaving a village/patron defenceless without knowledge of any of the party members.

What I'm saying is - don't just make it all boring fight scenes. Unbreakable says- in comic books, there are 2 types of villain- one attacks the hero directly. The other waits, bides his time and pulls strings. He may even be a friend of the hero.

But whatever you do, sit down for an hour or so, and draw up a basic plot structure. Write about 2 pages on each character- what do they like/dislike? What's their motivation? Any secret loves/lives they're trying to forget? What do people think of them? etc

Moved away from hack and slash, (get weapon/training, beat up bad guys, get more weapons/training, beat up bigger bad guys), a long time ago. If you do take that approch, do it properly- make it impossible to find that magical item, or noone to train the heroes (eg as a martial artist gets higher in rank, there are less people capable of training him)

As to should it get progressively more difficult throughout the book, ninja scroll (anime) did this pretty well- it didn't get progressively harder. Some of the enemies were really hard to take out. Then the next one was pitifully easy. Good change in pacing throughout the film kept you wanting to see what was next.
_________________
On a side note:
Go pick up some old dragon magazines- they're full of great ideas.

Bardos
November 4th, 2002, 12:35 PM
Dows an exciting story have to follow that curve, or line? I mean can't it follow a line that starts off pretty exciting to begin with, and finish on the same level, with deviations throughout the story?

Of course it can have many "mini-climaxes"; it's just going to be a larger story or series. Well, most of the time, except in "basic stories", you have mini-climaxes.
Like this:

[here WAS a sketch, but it was a MESS, so I deleted it... :rolleyes:]

What a painter I am! :D


If the evil side has superior armies, a god to guide them, and a whole load of powerful stuff at their disposal, there is no reason for them, to lose.

You're describing my last story, now. ;)

Actually, I like it when neither the good guys get exactly what they wanted nor the bad guys. More realistic, that way.

Fluffy Bunny

If you make the enemy superintelligent, how are you meant to write this person who's more intelligent than you are and make him/her sound credible?

Well, there IS way to write about characters more intelligent than you, else how would you ever write about them? :confused:
You just make them know more than the averange person, or find solutions to problems. It doesn't have to be objectively intelligence; he/she just has to be intelligent compared the other people of the world you write about.

bir
November 4th, 2002, 12:51 PM
what is high fantasy?
whats the difference between that and fantasy? :confused:

Holbrook
November 4th, 2002, 02:17 PM
Originally posted by bir
what is high fantasy?
whats the difference between that and fantasy? :confused:

High Fantasy is what many folks call books like LOTR etc magic wizards, great heros etc etc... elves!!!!