Digression Girl

Let's Talk Comic Books & Genre Media!

Adding Flaws to Your Characters: Trust Issues

Let’s keep going on our writing series. One of the biggest complaints from critics of fiction about flat, shallow characters is that they lack flaws. But what does that really mean? Well, in all honesty, they’re usually complaining about the execution of said flaw; obviously, not having it there in the first place is a big strikeout, but giving a character a flaw that never is fully explained, fleshed out, or that penalizes the character make for a flaw that falls flat. Let’s take a look at a really common “flaw” with a lot of heroic characters: Trust Issues. You’re …

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What makes for a great detective?

Continuing on writing characters for fiction, (and having recently watched, “Murder on the Nile” with Kenneth Branagh), I thought it’d be fun to go over some of the basics of writing detectives in fiction. Keep in mind, these aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but they are some of the basic building blocks that can get you started! Observant Great detectives are usually very observant… though how they get to be that way can be something the writers play with! Many great detective creations start with a character that is simply observant: they see things and notice what other people seem to miss. …

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How would the Sequel Trilogy been if George Lucas had his way?

Let’s break this into two parts: the story/plot first, and then we’ll talk about the quality second. PART ONE: The Story (The Good) “The movies are about how Leia – I mean, who else is going to be the leader? – is trying to rebuild the Republic… Luke is trying to restart the Jedi.”[1] “Darth Maul trained a girl, Darth Talon, who was in the comic books, as his apprentice. She was the new Darth Vader and most of the action was with her. So, these were the two main villains of the trilogy.”[2] Really quickly, I think this is a very nice …

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Broken Powers: Ruining your fiction by making your character too “cool”!

What exactly is a “broken” power in fiction? I’ve talked about this a bit when we talk about Mary Stu’s and Gary Stu’s, but I think it helps just to tackle this by itself, because sometimes, characters are thought to be “broken” due to their powers, but may have other limitations that keep them grounded as characters. Other times, a broken power can kill the fun of the story. So how do we define this? I define it the same way I look at a Mary Sue or Gary Stu: if the universe entirely bends around the powers of the …

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“Crapsack world”: why we choose to use depressing settings!

Why would be choose to use a setting like a post-apocalyptic future, a depressing dystopia, or some form of apocalypse in the future to set our story in? Because you don’t know how good you have it till it’s gone. If this is what you know… … but this is suddenly your reality in the story… … it makes you take a second look at everything you have and have been taking for granted. “Crapsack World” – in short, anything that CAN go wrong, HAS gone wrong. There is a cathartic fun to crapsack worlds in storytelling. It puts your heroes …

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The Inner Drive: If you don’t kill off Uncle Ben or the Waynes, what would be at stake?

Well, that is The Question, isn’t it? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!) In our writing series, this is a good time to explore inner drive for a character if they don’t have some personal loss as the inciting incident to kick off their quest. Many super heroes and heroes in fiction DO, because it’s an excellent inciting incident that is filled with emotion. That’s why so many heroes lose a parent, a sibling, a girlfriend, etc. in their origin story: it’s a life-changing moment that triggers a change in the protagonist. Yes, almost every super hero has a personal motivation …

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Where to start: let’s talk about generating your story idea!

“Where do I start? The Characters, The Plot, or the Setting?!“ There is no hard-and-fast rule here; typically, one of the three will spark your imagination as you daydream and then the other two follow. Nothing is tougher when you’re trying to write than knowing where to start. Where do the good ideas come from? How do I make sure someone else didn’t have the same idea? How do I ensure I didn’t copy someone else? Where do I even start with my own story? I want to talk a bit about idea generation, because frankly, if you’re don’t have …

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Making Badass Female Characters: The Power of “AND”.

Let’s look at some examples and I’ll explain. Aliens The Long Kiss Goodnight Point of No Return/La Femme Nikita The River Wild This is probably going to be the first of several essays on this topic, so we’re starting with the basics. Let’s work out the common threads here. All of the women in these films: have intense skill sets and expertise are courageous embrace having men in their lives, like husbands, fathers, mentors, or friends, and value them as well don’t let go of their desires for relationships or possibly even kids have needs and wants that they accept …

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Plot Armor – The best armor you can have, unless you can see it!

I hear this discussed a lot and used in many YouTube Videos, articles, and reviews when talking about fiction, usually in conjunction with how “believable” either the story was or the character involved. So what exactly IS “Plot Armor”, and why is it so important to understand? Let’s start with some basics: At some point in writing about characters, especially heroes, they are going to have to use their wits, their guts, and their skills to save the day. Good writers manage to make it all seem plausible… and as the audience, we suspend our disbelief. This is typically when we don’t …

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Bad Endings – Why we (sometimes) use them.

Bad endings may show anything from a cautionary tale, a story of a villainous protagonist getting their just desserts, or an expression of a cynical writer/director’s vision of nihilism they are trying to express through their story. I’m not really a fan of ‘bad endings’, to be honest. By bad, I mean endings to stories where the bad guy seems to win, the good guys fail, or everything we see as a struggle ends up looking pointless. But some can be well done and entertaining, and sometimes you can even take home a good lesson about pride, hubris, envy, or …

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How do I make my characters better? Add some friction!!!

There is absolutely a time and a place to have all your main characters in a story get along. However, just like in real life, human beings don’t always mesh right away: we typically call this, “friction”. This actually can become a powerful, (and FUN!) writing tool to use when creating your stories! Too many times new writers want their characters to be ‘liked’ so much that they avoid putting them into confrontation with the other characters around them, or from giving them flaws that make agitating to the audience. However, that’s where the magic can be, so understanding how …

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Avoiding the Mary Sue: Three Simple Starter Steps.

Three Simple Starter Steps: ground the character in the setting, have them know their place in the fiction, and don’t work backwards. GROUND THE CHARACTER IN THE SETTING: This is one of the first big mistakes for writers who end up making a Mary Sue: the character they make may end up ridiculously overpowered, or a better term, “out of balance”, with the rules of the setting. Internal consistency is important in writing, and when it goes astray, people notice. Aragorn pulling out an AK-47 and mowing down orcs at the end of Lord of the Rings would be really …

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Don’t assume in writing; “it just makes an ‘ass’ of ‘U’ and ‘me’.”

This drives me nuts in a lot of modern writing: people make broad assumptions or believe old stereotypes that end up hurting their writing. If your assumptions are based in stereotypes, then I’d say it will hamper your ability to write good fiction. And sadly, many people make assumptions all the time. ASSUMPTIONS IN WRITING: This may seem pretty obvious, but it’ll catch you off-guard. Many stereotypes and tropes that are so commonly absorbed you write it before you even think about it. Shooting a car’s gas tank will make it explode You can pull a grenade’s pin out with …

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Why is Green Lantern a better character than his live-action movie?

Let’s actually dissect a good character that has withstood the test of time, and examine why their live-action movie didn’t work. I’m going to use Green Lantern for this. The live action movie really stank up the theater, but Green Lanterns, as characters, are actually ridiculously cool. They are the Paladins of the DC Universe: they are sworn to an Oath, follow a Code, and are ridiculously awesome… when they’re written right! I love Green Lanterns. One of my first toys as a kid was the Super Powers collection Hal Jordan/Green Lantern; my twin got him, and I got The …

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Shake it up! How do you give characters some nuance?

“Nuance” is thrown around a lot in critiques, but do you actually know what it is? What it means? How it looks in characters? It’s something we all seem to say that we want, but do we really know what we’re asking for? Let’s dive in! For this, I’m using characters from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” for reference. Why? Well, it’s a fictional world with space aliens and science fiction, but was also home to a lot of great characters. The setting’s backdrop was using Cardassians, (Star Trek’s version of Nazi’s), and Bajorans, (Star Trek’s version of Jews) set …

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Do all characters need to be relatable? Heck no!

As we talk more about writing, and we’ve spent so much time on developing characters, I think this is a good time to talk about bending the rules a bit. Do all characters have to be relatable in some way? – NO! Not at all! Especially your antagonists!  You can create characters as fantastic, strange, and unrelatable as you want! This is the great thing about writing; there are no hard-and-fast rules. In fact, making an UN-relatable character can help emphasize the relatable characteristics in your other characters. It is 100% okay to make unrelatable characters, especially if they are antagonists …

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There is no Trope that is off limits in writing!

Continuing our talk on writing, let’s talk a little about the fear of writing into a “trope”, which is typically a writing cliché. The ones people worry about the most typically have negative connotations, but to be a good writer, you have to understand all your tools in the toolbox, even the tropes. Are there any that are off limits? None, actually. It’s all about how you manage them. Here’s the thing about writing; execution is everything. Let’s take a look at three different negative tropes from TV Tropes.org; you’ve very likely heard these referenced before! The Chosen One [1] …

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What to consider when you make a hero/villain relationship!

Okay aspiring writers and critics! Like I said in my earlier blog, there is such a thing as objective quality, and being able to accurately judge what is good or bad is going to depend on your ability to understand and analyze what you are making or critiquing. To get the brain working a bit, let’s start with a classic: the hero vs. villain relationship. It’s a bit like opening up the hood of a car: if you don’t know what you’re looking at, you can’t know what’s wrong or how to fix it! Now keep in mind: I didn’t …

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Mass Effect: Legendary Edition: Yes, you should give Ashley some love and a chance.

Normally, I try to plan my blogs out in advance, but this time, I’m working on the fly. We’ll see how it goes. The biggest criticism I see all the time regarding the Mass Effect Trilogy‘s romances now that the Legendary edition came out is that, “Ashley is a racist, and who’d want to either date her, or even let her live past Virmire in the first game? She’s a racisty racist, who deserves to die for her racisty racism!” Man, do some people feel good about hating her. It makes them feel good to say it, because if you …

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Making Robin Bi is like changing the wrapper on a Whopper and calling it a Vegan sandwich.

Changing Tim Drake to be bi is wrong, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking, like bi-phobia. Changing Tim Drake (Robin) to be bi is like slapping a vegan patty on a Whopper and saying it’s now a burger made for vegans. Wouldn’t a vegan sandwich from a vegan restaurant with an entire vegan menu that ensures vegan principles were in practice every step of the way from the ground to your plate serve a vegan better? How does changing a sandwich like the Whopper, known for being a 100% all beef patty hamburger, help the store sell burgers …

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Canon: what it is and what it isn’t!

With all the Comics, movies, TV shows, and more that have come out for franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, and DC, there’s a word that comes up a lot: “CANON”. You’ll see it in lots of articles and YouTube channels, and discussed in blogs and forums all over the place. You’ll see people comment that this is canon or not, and see a lot of debates about it, too! So what is? What exactly is “Canon”? Well, let’s break it down. The simplest way to put it is that canon is the overall body of lore from a group of …

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Hey There! I Am Sir Knowsalot!

Digression Girl gave me total freedom to start anywhere I wanted on this blog, and as I thought about it, I realized this is the only place to start. “Why should I care?” We ask ourselves this question about everything in our lives, and we ask it multiple ways, with the root of the question really coming down to, “What’s in it for me? What do I get out of this?” When it comes to fiction, comics, TV, films, anime or video games, why should I care about them? Why should I care about the quality of what’s in front …

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