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SciFiGuy
January 10th, 2005, 07:33 AM
I believe this is the right forum to discuss ideas and writing and so on?

Anyway, I am working on some ideas I have for a short story and probably more than one, eventually. I think that it could work to write a series of stories with this universe and plot. I have decided it will be set in a fictional city, and it will revolve around the main character, a 17-18 year old girl and her closest friends. The problem is, I have no idea exactly how all the details should be worked out here. I do know that they will find themselves in all kinds of strange situations and mysteries to solve. Now, it all started out when I began thinking about creating a superheroine. Back then I thought about the superabilities, if any, that she should have. Flying? Remarkable strength or stamina? Telekinesis? Exceptional intelligence? I even went so far that I considered that she would be born over 2000 years ago, and she's "immortal" because of some yet to be defined substance she came in contact with. Being that old (not physically though) gives all kinds of possibilities and also problems that could be explored. Or maybe she should come in contact with this substance in present time instead? Or, maybe she shouldn't have any superabilities at all? How in the world do you finally decide on your character's characteristics?

Another question is regarding point of view. Can I change point of view now and then? First we see a segment from the point of view of character #1, then from the POV of character #2 (even if it's not in the same situation), and then possibly switch over to 3rd person perspective? Sometimes in TV you see this happen, that is you hear a voice-over with the character's thoughts, etc. Also, does it matter as long as people think it turns out good? :)

Chlestron
January 10th, 2005, 11:40 AM
For character ideas, I don't know how to answer the question except with how it works for me.

For me, the character concept and the story come together before I start writing anything. Then, as soon as I put fingers to keyboard, either they both settle down for the long haul if I'm lucky, or one or the other flees (which is usually the case). I try to grind through the story anyway, but I usually know when it's defunct. I personally have a couple of interesting characters and a couple of interesting stories floating about in my head, but so far, they haven't felt compelled to really meet.

For changing POV, go for it, though there must be SOME care involved. First, you have to tell the reader who's head they're in either through context of thoughts and ideas about the world or some other clue or to simply tell them (i.e. if Cindy is antagonistic petty and often callous and Wendy is reactive, thoughtful, and courteous you can tell fairly easily which character is speaking based on inner dialogue and what not).

Expendable
January 10th, 2005, 11:45 AM
For your character, you could let your story background help you decide.

The question is if she's 2000 years old, where has she been?
What year is it now?
Is she really immortal or just aging extremely slowly?

If she's immortal, does she really need any other abilities?
Can she be killed?
Are there others like her who are immortal?
Does anyone know she's immortal?
How would the government of this world react to finding out she's immortal?

What sort of mysteries is she going to solve?
What sort of attention is she going to get for solving these mysteries?
What sort of resources does she have?

For changing the POV, you can do it but for a short story that might be confusing.

TheEarCollector
January 10th, 2005, 01:39 PM
I am going to go ahead and attack the POV statement since Expendable has probably given some ideas to develop your characters with.

No. Stay away from shifting the POV.
Why?

I'll tell you why... If this is a short story then you really don't have the kind of space you need to be shifting without confusing the reader, it would be near constant.
If you want to get into multiple peoples' heads I would say go third person omniscient and you can change the focus of the story... I wouldn't even tell you it was ok to change POV in a novel unless you intended to do it only in the prologue and epilogue. It's not that I don't think you are a bad writer, I just think it is not something that can be pulled off successfully without ugly tense shifting and a lot of confusion.
I don't believe I have ever seen a first person perspective on TV though, so maybe I am not understanding what you are trying to say.

First person
You write AS the character. You ARE the character. The character did not do, you did. You share the same thoughts, do the same thing, you ARE the character.
EXAMPLE:
"I walked down the hallway."

Second person
I don't think it is feasible to ever attempt to write anything significant in second person... That's the one where you are always telling what "you" (as in someone else) did. It would come out really awkward. I think.
EXAMPLE:
"You started tying your shoes when you noticed the assassin sneaking up behind you. Using your shoe as a distraction, you quickly slipped behind your attacker and strangled him with your shoelace."
While that may work in dialogue, try writing a whole story talking to "you."

3rd Person
There are different types of third person, but generally anything you see on TV is going to be third person because you are seeing what they do, you are not seeing everything AS they do. You see him pick up a pole but you see.... him... all of him... You don't see a hand reaching for a pole. You know what I mean. The nice thing about third person is that the character doesn't actually have to be everywhere to see everything, the narrator can simply tell you about it.

3rd Person Limited
You see what the narrator sees but have some insight on what runs through the protagonist's mind. It's like having an out of body experience where you are attached to one person's thoughts. You are free to fly around and look, but you only really focus on them and get into their heads.

3rd Person Omniscient
You are, for all working purposes, God. You see whataver you want, you can get into anyone's head and read their thoughts, you are God. Third person omniscient doesn't really restrict you to anything but I personally find it a little... juvenile. Telling the reader everything about everything that is going on in everyone's mind doesn't let the reader wonder what is going on at all, and it can be an especially cheap way of building scenes to express something about the character.

choppy
January 10th, 2005, 01:45 PM
SciFiGuy, I think you really hit the nail on the head when you asked if any of this matters if it turns out good. That's the bottom line really - if it works, go with it.

No one will be able to give you a definitive answer on how to create a character - what powers abilities she should have, what personality traits will work, etc. Ultimately this is your choice as the author and it should all come out of the story (or stories) that you want to tell. Sometimes it's a good idea to brainstorm with others though (as you are doing with this post), just to get a handle on peoples reactions.

To get a handle on "superpowers" you may want to consider exactly what you want to convey through this character. If your stories are about the conflict of good and evil within a person, you may want something like the Incredible Hulk. If you want to tell stories about a dual life and hiding behind a mask think along the lines of Spiderman, or even Clark Kent as portrayed in the Smallville series. If the character is more of a "tortured soul" then look at Wolverine. of course, sometimes the character evolves out of the powers he or she has... so I guess it's kind of a chicken-or-egg thing.

With respect to point of view, I'd say try to limit it to one or two characters in a short story, especially if you haven't written much before. As you develop as a writer you will pick up on when it's appropriate to shift point of view and when not to.

SciFiGuy
January 10th, 2005, 02:55 PM
For me, the character concept and the story come together before I start writing anything. Then, as soon as I put fingers to keyboard, either they both settle down for the long haul if I'm lucky, or one or the other flees (which is usually the case). I try to grind through the story anyway, but I usually know when it's defunct. I personally have a couple of interesting characters and a couple of interesting stories floating about in my head, but so far, they haven't felt compelled to really meet.
Maybe I should just go ahead and write a first story and see where it leads me and the characters. I don't have to reveal all the abilities or characteristics from the beginning... The other characters I pretty much have the most important stuff on already.


For changing POV, go for it, though there must be SOME care involved. First, you have to tell the reader who's head they're in either through context of thoughts and ideas about the world or some other clue or to simply tell them (i.e. if Cindy is antagonistic petty and often callous and Wendy is reactive, thoughtful, and courteous you can tell fairly easily which character is speaking based on inner dialogue and what not).
I was thinking it could be a way to show the mind and thoughts of the characters, especially when they are alone and the other main characters aren't around. I wouldn't use it all the time either, just sometimes, and let 3rd person be the main perspective.

SciFiGuy
January 10th, 2005, 03:05 PM
For your character, you could let your story background help you decide.

The question is if she's 2000 years old, where has she been?
What year is it now?
Is she really immortal or just aging extremely slowly?

If she's immortal, does she really need any other abilities?
Can she be killed?
Are there others like her who are immortal?
Does anyone know she's immortal?
How would the government of this world react to finding out she's immortal?

What sort of mysteries is she going to solve?
What sort of attention is she going to get for solving these mysteries?
What sort of resources does she have?
The advantage with immortality is that she's experienced a lot in her life, that is she could even have been first hand witness to some historic events etc. On the other hand, a lot of life experience might be a disadvantage since it might make for a more mature person than one usually is at 18, even if some in that age are more mature than people twice their age. But now we're talking centuries... Another disadvantage is that if she's the only one immortal, her friends aren't, which means they must suspect something is strange since she doesn't age. On the other hand, immortality makes for a great secret to keep from the government etc. which could be an everpresent subplot.

The kind of mysteries should range from ordinary crimes to supervillains who get their powers from speculative/fantasy-science or hard science. I am also thinking about a possible dreamworld or a supernatural dimension too, where weird things can happen. It doesn't sound very exciting as I describe it, heh.


For changing the POV, you can do it but for a short story that might be confusing.
I'm not sure how short a short story must be to be a... short story? 10000 words? I suppose there's no standardized limit?

SciFiGuy
January 10th, 2005, 03:21 PM
No. Stay away from shifting the POV.
Why?

I'll tell you why... If this is a short story then you really don't have the kind of space you need to be shifting without confusing the reader, it would be near constant.
If you want to get into multiple peoples' heads I would say go third person omniscient and you can change the focus of the story... I wouldn't even tell you it was ok to change POV in a novel unless you intended to do it only in the prologue and epilogue. It's not that I don't think you are a bad writer, I just think it is not something that can be pulled off successfully without ugly tense shifting and a lot of confusion.
I don't believe I have ever seen a first person perspective on TV though, so maybe I am not understanding what you are trying to say.
I'm not an experienced writer, and it was a long time ago I did write anything else than reports and assignments... Though I have tried to write some stuff, mostly science fiction. I do realise it will be difficult and so I might not do it, at least not throughout the story. What about the first paragraph or so, where we encounter the main character for the first time? I could be in his/her head for a short while and then slide into 3rd person?

Regarding TV series, I meant that in some episodes in some series we follow the main character and hear his/her thoughts as voice over.

Thanks for the other info too.

SciFiGuy
January 10th, 2005, 03:39 PM
No one will be able to give you a definitive answer on how to create a character - what powers abilities she should have, what personality traits will work, etc. Ultimately this is your choice as the author and it should all come out of the story (or stories) that you want to tell. Sometimes it's a good idea to brainstorm with others though (as you are doing with this post), just to get a handle on peoples reactions.
Yes I'm not asking you to tell me what to do, I was just throwing about some ideas to see if anyone could have some advice. Apparently you all have - thanks!


To get a handle on "superpowers" you may want to consider exactly what you want to convey through this character. If your stories are about the conflict of good and evil within a person, you may want something like the Incredible Hulk. If you want to tell stories about a dual life and hiding behind a mask think along the lines of Spiderman, or even Clark Kent as portrayed in the Smallville series. If the character is more of a "tortured soul" then look at Wolverine. of course, sometimes the character evolves out of the powers he or she has... so I guess it's kind of a chicken-or-egg thing.
That's a good point, and something to think about that I never really considered. Whatever abilities she will have, will be known by her friends, that's the idea anyway. I doubt it will be something superman-like, more like enhanced in a few ways, but the character is still not an ultimate person.

TheEarCollector
January 10th, 2005, 05:32 PM
Based on what you said SciFiGuy, I think you are the type who would actually want to use a prologue.
A lot of people seem to be throwing in prologues just for the sake of calling it a prologue, but using the prologue to tell part of the story from a different POV is just one way of using it (backstory is another good way to use your prologue).

As far as switching from one perspective to another, I say it would be a hassle/challenge in a short story because it's not really the type of work that you break down into chapters. Chapters are a great way of dividing your story into "episodes" though...

As far as your overall idea of writing multiple short stories... I have a project like that going on as well. It's basically a bunch of short stories from the perspectives of different characters in my world. It started because I built a lot of background info into my world that never really had a chance to get fully explained, so by creating a character that would interact with that part of the world I could create a whole new story... This then became several stories.
The advantage to this is that one story can be told from first person, one can be told from third, all can be told by different characters.
If you were to write one story in first person, one story in third, and then put them together as a collection that would work just fine as well... Just something to think about.