• Member Since 15th Feb, 2012
  • offline last seen Jan 31st, 2017

SilentBelle


I'm a fantasy enthusiast who loves to write, and I'm aiming to be a professional fantasy writer eventually. I love to help out other authors when I can. Feel free to PM me or drop by and say 'hi'.

More Blog Posts114

  • 150 weeks
    One Neat Thing That I Did Get to Do Last Summer

    During August of 2016, my friends and I visited South Korea. When I went there, there were three things in particular that I wanted to do: I wanted to get some good hiking in, I wanted to see some live Starcraft games, and I wanted to do some karaoke. It turns out I got to do all those things and more. If you want to see that Starcraft bit,

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    9 comments · 639 views
  • 150 weeks
    I'm Back, After an Age

    Hey folks,

    It sure has been quite a while since I was last on here. I just want to say that I am back to jump back into A Heart of Change and to bring it to its conclusion, and that's the gist of what this blog is about. If you want to hear a rambling story explaining my absence, by all means keep reading.

    Read More

    26 comments · 959 views
  • 239 weeks
    EFNW

    Heya folks,

    Read More

    3 comments · 509 views
  • 246 weeks
    I Happened to Stumble Upon a Beautiful Treasure

    So I just happened to click on the stats button for AHoC because I hadn't done that in quite a while, and suddenly I noticed that I had gotten a few hits from EqD since I had last looked, which I thought was quite strange. So I clicked on the link and ended up on this page which showed the results of an event that

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    2 comments · 537 views
  • 246 weeks
    Chapter 24 is Done and Going Through the Final Stages of Editing.

    And I aim to publish it sometime tomorrow. Thank you for your considerable patience and continued readership. I'll definitely get the next chapter out in a more timely fashion. I am tentatively aiming to wrap this story up by sometime around August or so.

    Now I'm going to go straight into planning and writing the next chapter.

    Cheers,
    ~SilentBelle

    5 comments · 321 views
Aug
29th
2013

Making an OC (Original Character) and the Functions They Perform - Part 2 · 8:43pm Aug 29th, 2013

Alright, time for the followup of my Making an OC – Part 1 blog.


Okay, let's take a look at Protagonists (yes I know it's out of order but who cares? It's easier this way).

Protagonists

Protagonists are the characters that carry your stories. They are the characters that readers relate to and cheer for when they overcome struggles. These characters are what hook in the reader and keep them coming back for more. Take a look at some prime examples of protagonists: Any of the Mane 6. We all can relate to some, if not all, of those characters. They have a vast array of likes, dislikes, goals, ambitions, and values. And how do we know that they do? Because we were shown through their actions.

See, what separates a protagonist from the rest is how much is revealed about the character and how the character changes over the story.

How to reveal your character: You need to reveal the qualities of this character so that people can begin to understand who that character is whenever you mention them. You need this character to be someone who the readers will understand as a living character. They need to feel alive and dynamic to the reader. And you do that through the character's actions (showing) and sometimes through exposition (telling).

A protagonist (and any well-made character) is going to react to any situation a certain way, based upon what is known about the character. If they act improperly, the readers are going to feel it like a slap in the face. You know how Twilight Sparkle is going to act when she enters a new library for the first time. You know how Rainbow Dash is going to feel when some other pony zooms past her in a race. If they don't react how you expect them to, at the very least you're going to frown and say, “The writer better have a good reason for this!”

“But these are Canon characters in your example!” you might protest. But it doesn't matter if it's canon or not, all protagonists function in this manner and they all start off as Original Characters. Your OC protagonist should be no different in attaining that certainty of character. You should know how your OC is going to react to any situation, or at least be able to figure it out after pausing to consider them for a while. If you don't know, then ask why you don't know, and slowly figure out where that hole in your understanding of your OC's personality is, and patch it up.

To start an OC Protagonist from scratch is very much similar to the side character, however you need to explore these characters even more deeply and reveal who they are more readily to the readers. Show who they are, and when you start off, even telling some things about the character's history can be beneficial exposition. If you can't present this character strongly and quickly to the readers, then you are going to lose them. So focus on what the main goals of you protagonist are then begin asking question and build your character from there. Remember questions are your friends.

So once you have that first part of a solid protagonist conquered there's the second part: The Character Changes. In most stories, the protagonist is going to face struggles and overcome or succumb to them. In any case, it's how they change from these encounters that really draw the reader in and make the story and characters memorable. I shall also mention that this is the part where anyone who is writing a non-OC protagonist starts at. We borrow that character an apply changes with our own fanfiction.

How to go about handling changes (This might be one of the easiest places to mess up as an author): As you trudge through your story, you need to keep in mind all the protagonist's struggles and factor them into all the rest of their future actions. Otherwise, you run the risk of having a character who learns the same lesson twice, when there's really no reason for them to do so, and ends up making the whole struggle (and thus the story) less meaningful to the reader.

The way I keep track of changes in characters is by focusing mostly on the character's primary goals. After each struggle I assess the goals again and see if the struggle was enough to change the character's goals in any way and note any changes which will be shown in their future actions. (Keep in mind, most of this stuff goes on in my head, so it's much more subconscious than how I'm describing it. If I feel one of my characters isn't growing from their experiences, I'll actually start to feel that something is wrong, and then focus on what's wrong and fix it.)

So yes, protagonists are terribly hard to manage properly and are the leading factor in a story being downvoted and ignored. It doesn't matter how awesome a world you can imagine, if your character can't engage the audience, then you won't have an audience for long. Likewise, you could have a really boring setting, but one fantastic character who keeps the audience engaged and riveted with their struggles. Heck it could be a long monologue with absolutely no world-building going on in the background, and it could turn out to be a fantastic story, simply on merit of the character.

Just bear in mind that the protagonist is the core of your story and you should build your story up from there.

Antagonists

Okay, moving on... We've gone over background and side characters, as well as protagonists. Now we'll take a look at antagonists. What makes an antagonist? The answer: Simply by being a character that has goals which are in opposition with the protagonist. In other words, if the antagonist achieves what they set out to do, the protagonist will be forced to change in some way because of it. (Some examples of changes might be: The protagonist might die, take on a different outlook, become hellbent on revenge, or end up in a position they were trying to avoid) In any case, if the antagonist gets their way, the protagonist will change in some manner. If they don't, then this isn't an antagonist; it's just a side or background character.

There are many types of antagonists. I'll point out a few of 'em. The basic one, is the Villain. This is one of the easiest to come up with. It's a character with a single goal that is in direct opposition with the protagonist(s). Achieving this goal is the focal point of a villain, it's what they are built upon. And it's also the primary struggle of the main plot, which is why they are easy to use and quite effective.

Examples: Nightmare Moon, King Sombra, Queen Chrysalis. Their goals make up who they were as characters (canonically to the show anyway): Eternal night, Oppressive control over the Crystal Empire, and Taking over Equestria via Canterlot. If you took away those points, they would crumble as characters. Which is often why a villain is killed, banished, or otherwise sealed away, when the protagonist wins. Usually there's nothing left written about the character that's worth exploring.

So how do you make an original villain? All you need is to come up with a goal for that character which is in direct opposition to the protagonists. It's that simple. For example, in my own work in A Heart of Change I have a villain, (who's name is not known to the readers) and his ambitions are currently in direct opposition to the protagonists' goals. Now, he might just become more than a villain (see next paragraph) if other goals are ever revealed to the readers, but as he is now, he's a villain.

Aside from villains, we have the Realistic Antagonists. These are characters with more to them than those villains. These characters have multiple goals, likes, dislikes, and reasons for their actions. They usually have the depth of at least a side character, though often get up to protagonist levels of depth. These Realistic Antagonists are characters who only have some goals that are in conflict with the protagonists.

Examples include: Discord, Diamond Tiara, and Gilda.

Some of their goals are: Discord - Chaos, fun, and being noticed; DT - Proving she's better than the CMC, To be seen in a good light by others, and obtaining a position of leadership; Gilda - Hanging out with Rainbow Dash, to be seen as cool in front of others, to prove that she's better than others.

This allows for the conflicts to be less black and white. Because each character—protagonist and antagonist—all have their reasons for doing what they are doing. The main thing that separates them as characters is that the protagonists have more of their motivations revealed to the audience.

With a Realistic Antagonist, all it takes is a bit more information to be revealed and they become a protagonist all of their own. (A great example is Jaime Lannister from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga. Jaime is an antagonist in the first book A Game of Thrones, but transforms into a protagonist through the second book and into the third.) Doing this can be really neat, but it can also undermine your existing protagonists, and even change the tone of the entire story by expanding the focus. In general, I'd recommend keeping your antagonists from becoming the stars of the show, especially if you haven't been planning for it ahead of time.

And finally I'll mention Foils. These are (usually) antagonists who are made with the intent that they share a basic trait in common with a protagonist. The idea being that it shows how the protagonist could have been, and helps emphasize that protagonist's character development when they struggle against their foil.

Examples: Sunset Shimmer is supposed to represent what Twilight Sparkle (look at their names, hah!) could have been had she not learned the magic of friendship. Overall, she was only used to moderate effect as a foil. A better example is Lightning Dust as Rainbow Dash's foil. Lightning Dust represents what RD would be if she didn't learn responsibility for her actions. In this instance, every one of Lightning Dust's actions play off of RD's own character and make the eventual struggle so much more rewarding. Because RD has to struggle to figure out why LD's actions are wrong to her, despite the fact that she can also see the reasons why they might be right. It forces Rainbow to draw a line and change as a character. (Probably my favourite scene in all of FiM to date)

Things to look out for with foils: while quite effective, they can feel entirely contrived and out of place. Introducing such characters can be cause for people losing immersion in your story. If you are going to use a foil, do try to think up good reasons for why the character is there. (What the Elements of Harmony just so happen to stumble across the Elements of Disharmony... ?) Just be careful in how you introduce these characters.

Well, I feel like that kind of got out of hand... Hopefully you find something useful in these words. Heck, getting them typed out and worded how they are now was a bit of a struggle. I'd never given voice to how I view characters before, but I'm glad I have now.

Thanks for reading. And if you have any other areas of writing you want me to write a blog about, then let me know. I'm willing to throw words at a page and have them appear as a blog post,

~SilentBelle

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Comments ( 12 )

For a fan of gray and gray conflicts, this was helpful.

Can your next post be about 'the stakes'? I'm constantly afraid I don't make them clear enough with the conflict, mainly because I notice it very often is fics I end up not liking. Since I don't like my writing, I feel like I don't do so well here.

This was super useful, and I'm certainly going to look back on it while writing my story! Thank you!

Hey, that's my favorite moment in FiM, too!:rainbowdetermined2:

1316116 Hmm 'the stakes'. That sounds like a pretty good topic. Maybe I'll make a blog post on conflicts themselves. Sounds like a good idea to me.

1316200 It's even my favourite episode because of that scene, though Sisterhooves Social is really close behind it.

1316313

It's pretty important to convince the reader that what's at stake for the hero is worth worrying about. Sometimes the hero is too lackadaisical about it, sometimes the author is too scared to challenge their characters. That kind of thing concerns me the most when I'm writing the conflict.

1317654 I'm glad you liked it.

I'll consider doing a more in-depth bit about world-building. I mean, I only barely scratched the surface on my Asking Questions blog. I might just revisit the topic in depth, after doing one on Conflict.

The process of writing these is incredibly fun, actually :twilightsheepish:

Nice blog! Too bad my oc isn't as cool as he was in my mind:fluttershysad: Your advice is always great though! You should write a blog on how to make a great villian or action sequence!

1316313 My fav moment is Twilight's schizo moment with CMC on Lesson Zero!

1320518 That's certainly a great gag, and one of the funniest moments. But I'm a sucker for the scenes that display character struggles and character growth. Another one of my favourites is Sweetie Belle struggling with deciding to disown her sister in Sister Hooves Social. And another is Scootaloo confessing her fears to RD.

The gags are awesome, but those character development moments steal the cake for me.

The next blog I'm doing will deal with setting up struggles and conflicts in stories.

1320737 Nice! Def gonna read it! :pinkiehappy:
I'm a comedy/action guy but I hear what you mean. My fav character developing moment is Fluttershy telling the dragon off and when she realized she was being mean when Iron Will made her not a push over. I can relate to Flutta and Pinkie.

Only one singular complaint about the whole thing, and it's a minor and obscure grammar thing.

(What the Elements of Harmony just so happen to stumble across the Elements of Disharmony...?)

This should end with a space between the question mark and the ellipsis

(...Elements of Disharmony... ?)

Other than that, no problems. Keep pushing these out as fast as you can.

1324688 Heh, my blog posts are going to have more spelling mistakes than my stories, I assure you :twilightsheepish:

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