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Submitted on
February 8, 2009


Okay, herewegoitis THOUGHT EXERCISE TIME  
Hopefully, this will help us all think about what goes into a good story

SIX attributes of a great hero
FIVE characteristics of a great villain
FOUR features of a great adventure
THREE traits of a great romance
TWO parameters of a great tragedy
ONE necessity of a great story

As an interesting side activity, you could try asking your friends/family/comrades these questions, too. Who knows, you may learn something new about them.

A brief note to new watchers:
Most of what I submit goes quickly to the scraps, so if you aren't watching that I guess you could miss out on some things? You probably have your reasons to not be watchin' the scraps if you aren't, but I'm just. You know. Throwing that out there. Also, almost all of my journal entries ask obnoxiously personal questions or meta about story writing like this instead of serving as actual journal entries, so there's that, too.
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  • Listening to: your heart, you will understand
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Nemonus Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009
Hey, I feel kindof odd doing this because I've never seen you around on dA before and just came across your Avatar stuff. But as a writer, I sortof had to see whether I could, and might as well post it. Reply or not...

A great hero:
1. whatever their age, they don't really match it in mind. A child unusually experienced, a middle-aged or old person unusually skilled.
2. has consistent morals. If they're not going to kill, they don't even want to kill the big bad guy. This especially goes for female characters. If they're not going to give up sex to a random character, they're not going to give it up to the hero without a deeper relationship forming between them either.
3. balances humanity and supernatural or godlike abilities (definitly has to have a cool power.)
4. has a tie to something--their hometown, one of their friends, maybe even to a romantic interest--that keeps them sane when all the supernatural things that are surrounding the hero threaten to overwhelm them. This can be a talisman or a memory, and can be done very badly in fiction, but also very well.
5. just go read "A Cavern of Gray Ice" by J.V. Jones and write down all of Raif Sevrance's traits and put them here. I love that man. I suppose because he's tragic and very human.

A great villian:
1. is keep-you-up-at-night terrifying.
2. someone else said this in their reply to this journal and I really liked it; a great villian thinks they're a hero. I don't see enough of those in fiction.
3. A lot of fantasy villians have some sort of physical quirk that makes them cool, seemingly wounded, and inhuman at the same time--an eye like an animal's is a very cliche example. Something that sets them off. Again, this can be done very badly, but also very well. When done well, it can be a symbol of all kinds of things, such as the degradation of humanity and such.
4. has a characterization arc just like a hero. Gets steadily crazier (or perhaps steadily less villianous? I don't know if I've ever seen that done where the villain still maintains their badass evilness, but it's an intriguing possibility.)
5. badass evilness.

A great adventure:
1. involves both our world and a fantasy world.
2. changes the characters involved in ways specific to it.
3. has an aerial battle somewhere
4. has a cool creature or monster somewhere. (Yes, I am a combination of deep and glib. It works.)

A great romance:
1. Doesn't involve sex, or not much. Maybe I'm one of very few people who'd say that, but I thinks sex really cheapens the whole thing.
2. Leaves the reader actually supporting the pairing instead of wishing they were the one with the guy/girl (depending on your orientation) of the pair. Again, maybe this is just me. I don't write romance much.
3. Involves distance. The two can't be together because of something (not something cliche like "their families hate eachother". Something much more interesting, like "he doesn't know she exists" or "she's trying to kill him".)

A great tragedy:
1. involves revenge. I have a thing for revenge. It's so...full of momentum. And when it fails, it's like a semi crashing into a brick wall. Writers, harness that.
2. involves introspection. It's gradual, so that the tragic hero can muse on how s/he or people in general deal with tragedy. Because everyone has to deal with it at some point. Look, just go read Hamlet and bask in its amazingness.

A great story:
1. leaves you out of breath at the end.
midnightrain Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2009   Writer
SIX attributes of a great hero:
Funny, Realistic, Badass, cool weapon/ power or conversely, no weapon and power but just manages to scrape by, Quirky tendecies, MUST EAT! I hate when people write characters that go days and days without eating and sleeping and then act surprised when they faint, and then everyone's oh so concerned, because that character is SO loveable. GAG.

FIVE characteristics of a great villain:
Funny!!! Ability to be neither black nor white, Be skilled at something that the Hero can't match, entertaining companions, have a good reason for wanting to take over the world - or conversely NO reason because that's just hcore.
FOUR features of a great adventure:
Takes place in somewhere totally unknown, or (because I like saying this word) conversely in a setting that could almost be anyone's home town, a ragtag group, impossible odds, Rogues.
THREE traits of a great romance:
Humour, proper pacing, sweeping affair.
TWO parameters of a great tragedy:
Justice not being met, failed dreams
ONE necessity of a great story
Being true to what it is. Never talking down to the reader and understanding that the story is what it is. Be it a romance or fiction- just honesty.
DirtyPiGGuin17 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
Also, I think all villains should consider themselves heroes in some way.

or victims, I think some villains consider themselves victims and they're trying to protect their own, you know? In their own twisted way.

I definitely don't think they should all have the same kind of motivation e.g. greed or the same kind of back story.
DirtyPiGGuin17 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
6.a Humor. I dont like any character who isn't either I: funny or II: a total badass. That's it.
b. Relatibility/ ('m going to guess that's a word even though firefox is telling me otherwise *confidence points*). I guess every character needs a degree of relatibility, especially a hero. Not necessarily the "they're justlike me feeling" because 1.That's pretty much impossible and 2. The "everyman character gets boring." Just knowing what the inside of the hero's shoes is like is important.
c. Badass moments. Self-exfreakinplanitory.
d. struggle.
e. triumph.
f. A pimpass beard. Amirite? Unless it's a chick. Nevermind. GIVE HER A BEARD TOO!

5.a. hateability. You have to be able to hate a villian obviously. He/she has to make you want to do horrible things to him/her. You have to want them to be defeated.
b. B for badass. The villain has to be way more badasss than the hero until the end. One isn't supposed to like the villian, but one should definitely respect him/her.
c. Minions. Because the main villain is an obstacle that must be worked up to in order to show the heroes' growth.
d. more badass. It's like cow
e. a beard!

(note: many villains do well with a relatible story showing the logic of how they become a villain, or a good redemption story, the hint of returning/being an eternal evil, a satisfying death, etc. but none of these is as mandatory as a beard)

4.a. Explosions! A remnant of my childhood, I've always been excited by seeing explosions. Every adventure needs one.
b.whimsy. I like whimsical things.
c.dynamic ups and downs, surprises ,twists, etc. genuine ones. But I guess that's one of those given cliche type things. I mean emotion, death of an important, beloved supporting character, and all that is great but there's nothing worse than a story that takes itself too seriously. *cough*fucktwilight*cough*

[link] romance has to develop over time, not be all this "love at first sight", "we just met five minutes ago, let's screw, then let's get married" type of crap, it's unrealistic, impractical,stupid, and I hate it. *cough*fuckthenotebook*cough*
b. It has to be based on actual compatibility between the characters not just the random "you're hot" or worse "your hott" and then all of a sudden they're a couple. Or one sees the other across the room and all of a sudden becomes obsessed/retarded/suicidal upon separation from that person.*cough*fucktwilightagain*cough* They have to have a reason to like each other or at least tolerate each other
c. I guess it should be somewhat like the Pam and Jim romance from The Office (the good one

2a.It has to be unexpected
b. the readers/audience has to feel it, they have to love the characters that get messed up or whatever.

1. AN ENDING! A well thought out one that was planned since the beginning. This is mostly a problem with tv serials and the like, but it's really irritating nonetheless. People write stories with intriguing, well written beginnings to pull you in and then they play the "let's see how long we can keep this going" game and it starts to suck *cough*Heroes*cough*. When you write a story, plan to end it, and end it beautifully not with a (metaphorical)shark jump, nobody likes it anymore fizzle-out.(although if you can makean ending with a literal shark-jump, major props). The world neds more god endings.

Overall, I think the whole developed plot, minimal amounts of Deus Ex Machina, good writing, setup, believable scenarios/characters things are all given prerequisites. And I don't think any story's sole purpose should be a specific message/I don't think they should have too much of a blatant message. The actual story and characters should be the main focus. Norton Juster agrees with me on that too. (which made me happy because he's totally one of my favorite writers of all time)
DirtyPiGGuin17 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
Darnit! I should really proofread my comments. I had planned to throw in a Benito Mussolini reference right when I said villains should not be liked but should be respected and then I was gonna do the ol' tie-in with "Mussolini had a beard".

It would have been art in motion.

I blame my freezy computer.
DirtyPiGGuin17 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
Sure, maybe he didn't actually have one, but he does in my mind. That's all that counts.
DirtyPiGGuin17 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2009
That is so totally not a link.
toerning Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2009
okay I'm going to try to do this BEFORE i read everyone else's responses, but i'm sure i'm going to come out remarkably lame.

6- LIKABILITY. this seems obvious, but i have come across too many heroes who are douches to not mention it. I think there needs to be SOME element of mystery there. Not a big one, or not even an external one, it could be as simple as not really understanding themselves or an element of their personality. But there needs to be, like, a big REVEAL moment that's a catalyst in character development etc. i'm trying to stay away from the ones everyone knows but it's hard. I think a really relatable hero is somewhat confused. Like s/he'll wake up and be like "wtf am i doing again?" a big part of a lot of hero drama is based on the idea that they sort of got thrust into their situation, and unless they have a very particular personality type, it's not too realistic for them to be 100% functional all the time. this is really hard. the other ones are obvious- has flaws, has driving obsession, etc. also you have to be able to have sexual fantasies about them lol. but i'm not joking at all.

5- I heard a really interesting definition of "evil" which is- (i'm paraphrasing here)
an greed so great that they would rather destroy everything they love than see it in someone else's hands.
of course this doesn't apply to anyone, i've read a great villain mother whose main priority was to protect her (revolting) children. I'm on a huge tangent here.
really awesome villains have motivations that make sense only when THEY explain them. their cronies follow them out of love and fear but they don't really understand cause it's crazy. but when the villain explains it, it makes sense.
they have some sympathetic qualities. they can't be all hate, they just wouldn't exist.
obvi, they have to have once been a real person, whatever that means. there has to have been a corrupting force (even if it was something internal like a mental illness.)
Truly effective villains force or blackmail the good guys into doing bad things for one reason or another. for example, in george r. r. martin's a song of ice and fire, the father kills his child's pet (direwolf lol) because the king has commanded it but the father believes that the person who declares the sentence should carry out the execution. the villain bends the hero's morals or sense of honor so that he has to make an impossible decision.

4- SEX. i kid you not. you know me.
misunderstanding. i despise misunderstanding but it wrenches my gut in a way that nothing else does.
A GOOD ENDING. i don't care how good the story is, if the ending sucks for whatever reason, it was a waste.
original element. obviously, the whole thing can't be original, cause then there would only be one hero story in the history of the world (in a certain way that's true,) but it has to have at least one original element.

3- I repeat myself, but SEX,
(also plenty of longing and regret, and the classic "am i doing the right thing?" conflict.)

2- there has to be a moment or period when the reader thinks it's all over and there couldn't possibly be any hope for the characters they love.
I do not like traditional tragedies cause they have sad endings but there must be some great sacrifice in any tragedy, not necessarily in the end which would be more traditional.

1- I couldn't possibly think of something as deep and conclusive as is required for this question. oh wait, i did,

i suck at this. Now i get to read everyone else's and wish i could delete my comment cause everyone's deeper than me. boo.
Aamilie Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2009
SIX hero.
well, first a balance between likeability and realism (in like. a sense. not REAL-LIKE, persey, but like. NOT FREAKING SHINY WITH PERFECTION.) although many greats defy this (i.e. superman, hercules, MULAN, countless moe people) i don't know.
second, uh. allies? interpret how you will. not necessarily friends, and they don't have to be friendly or whatnot, but they have to have one person on their side? tragic pasts/bleak existences are kind of ridiculous seeing as how
third. a weird mannerism. a quirk, if you want to be cute.
be it collecting empty tissue boxes or bathing in toilets or collecting banana recipes, THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING SPECIAL. unless they're special at being boring. i dunno.
fourth. errr. a good name? if it's a girl, not something like Beautiful Swan Flower India Sunshine. NO. pick something simple? or a nickname, if the plot requires a fancy/stripper name. like phil. orrrr uh. phil?
fifth. ummmm. a theme song(s). i don't know. not included in the plot or anything, necessarily. and their personality should be more fleshed out than just fitting into one song? buuuut. i don't know. theme songs are hip, i guess.
last. a handicap. different than a quirk? i dunno. like, incapable of romance. or ADD. or inability to grow boobs.


FIVE errr. villains, eh.
one. domination somehow. like, financial domination??? like a wife out to control the checkbook - the end of beer and chips as we know it? or like sexual domination. a villian who is out to make babies with our hero. or you know. the usual. world domination. pity those fools.
two. INTELLIGENCE?? be it outright, subtle, or deep deep deep deeeeeeep in their somewhere, may your villains be not complete doofuses. like. mojo jojo. OOPS MY TURN-GIRLS-TO-MICE-POTION DID NOT WORK HOW CAN THIS BE? orrr. on the other hand. intelligence completely nonexistant i.e. team rocket. because everyone loves t.r.
three. sexiness? WHY ARE ALL VILLIANS SO SEXY. human ones. i mean, seriously. zuko. sesshomaru. uhhh...voldemortpfft.
four. dark past? is this even necessary, because deep inside, i believe that there are evil people by nature out there THEY DON'T NEED TO HAVE BEEN RAPED WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG TO LIKE TO BULLY PEOPLE, OKAY. but still. you know, if there needs to be a pre-pre-pre-incarnate that was the king's concubine's unwanted daughter, so be it.
five. uhhhhhhhhhh. wicked costume, dude. like. if they're in fantasy, they can have like. red, black. purple. something that inspires fear at the sight of them? or not. maybe just something extremely distinctive. LIKE. i don't know. glass eyes. green skin.


FOUR adventure...
one. a gang of people. preferably a combination of unlikely persons (refer to cowboy bebop, samurai champloo, tokyo godfathers). LIKE. a girl with a deep-seated fear of shampoo, an old man who is stuck in his twenties in the second world war, a dog with a hob-leg, and a thirty year old man in debt collection chasing after an elusive baby boomer. I DON'T EVEN KNOW.
two. a vehicle of epic proportions (refer to avatar's BISON, little miss sunshine's MICROBUS). for example, the aforementioned characters may be riding caribou across canada. orrr maybe the old man is a school bus driver, and they go in that.
three. frequent stops that involve deeply philosophical implications. LIKE. perhaps the girl is a foodie so every burger pit is a must-see attraction. or maybe the dog compulsively drinks water so there are repeated stops to air out the carpets. i don't know.
last. happy ending? or in a sense. like. they reach their destination, BUT it ends up that they must flee because the old man/young girl fell in love and obviously must go to a country where pedophilia is acceptable. OR, alternately, they don't reach their destination BUT the thirty year old finds the baby boomer and the four of them stage a clever trap to capture this her/him.

i don't know.
i would comission you to write a story about that if i were not flat broke.
do it anyway?

THREE . ROMANCE oh i am so good with this stufff, not.
one. UNLIKELY COUPLEEEEEEEEEEEEE. such as your own fernando/ai. orrrrr doktor/sam??? orrrrrr i don't even know. forbidden love (janitor and world-famous lawyer? german and jew? microsoft employee and apple president?)
three: uh. extras: passionate make out sessions with OTHER PEOPLE (maybe same sex, because THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH AND IT IS HAWT??) ummm. love polygons. everywhere. drama, tragedies, seperations, heartbreak, and also ENOUGH FLUFF TO GIVE YOU A HEART ATTACK.

i dunno.

TWO parameters of a great tragedy
one: death. of something. because the ULTIMATE TRAGEDY is the loss of life. maybe poor little nemo died. or a relative. orrrrrr the death of a relationship?? like. jealousy and boyfriend-stealing and bitch-fights and whatnot. i don't know what i'm talking about anymore.
two: forbidden love. refer to ROMEO AND JULIET need i say more.

ONE necessity of a great story
uh. humor? good grammar? pick one.

so. i kind of waxed
eloquent there. what'd
you think.
androidgirl Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2009
SIX attributes of a great hero
-Willingness to endanger one's life! ... Or at the very least one's own financial security.
-A love interest to act as a reason for the hero's heroism. If said love interest takes the hero for granted and practically throws him/herself (typically herself) into danger, expecting to be rescued, even better!
-Bravery. Of course, being too stupid to not fight someone stronger counts too.
-The ability to come back from the dead somehow! Heros (and villains) seem to have the nasty habit of not staying dead.
-The Ability to think his or her way out of a sticky situation. ... Or being durable enough to headbutt out of it.
-An outrageous outfit! ...What? Think about it! It could be a tactical advantage! Shock the villains with your bad fashion sense! Blind them with neon colors! Or maybe your outfit is so spiffy that they can't help but admire and complement it!

FIVE characteristics of a great villain
-Ambition. Every great villain needs an evil plan. ...Or at least an excuse to be evil, so the hero can puzzle over your motives.
-The willingness to sacrifice complete strangers (as well as a few friends) for the sake of that ambition. And if you're too squeamish, just keep telling yourself that they all had it coming anyway.
-The creativity and inventiveness to carry out those plans! And if you don't have that, you can just steal someone else's ideas. And then sue them for plagiarism when you act on them first! Double whammy! Oooo! And when they produce evidence that they thought of it first, well it's just your own fault for not being thorough.
-Minions. Hard to take over the world all by your lonesome after all.
-An outrageous outfit! ...What? Think about it! It could be a tactical advantage! Shock the heroes with your bad fashion sense! Blind them with neon colors! Or maybe your outfit is so spiffy that they can't help but admire and complement it! (No, I did not just suggest that to the heroes. What are you saying? You must be delusional!)

FOUR features of a great adventure
-Fresh Fruit! (Points if you get the reference!)

THREE traits of a great romance
-More than one person. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have a romantic relationship with yourself? Ask Narcissus!
-Mushy moments. The kind that makes me puke.
-Heaping amounts of sparkles! ...No! Really! Watch! *mercilessly rips up Twilight into itty bitty little pieces and dumps them on a nearby couple making out* See? Isn't it so much more beautiful now?

TWO parameters of a great tragedy
-Something bad must happen. Or a series of bad things. Either or.
-Anything that can fix the bad thing must never happen. Unless it is only temporary and makes the situation a thousand times worse afterward. Mwahahahhahaha!

ONE necessity of a great story
-Content. If you disagree with me, I dare you to make a great story with absolutely nothing in it!
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