Writing Stories

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Not many people can say that they like writing stories, or that they read stories online to help with their own writing style, or even that they use a few Internet forums as storage space for the first draft of what is hoped to become a novel. In that minority, I see myself; Hopeful that one day, I can publish a novel based on some story I came up with on sleepless nights years ago, gaining a writing style by observing styles used in video games, online fiction, and real novels as well as writing in text-based forum role-playing games (my identity completely anonymous, for certain). Writing this potential novel takes time, lots of inspiration, and practice. It also helps to be a bit unconventional. I consider my choice of storage to be odd, because it opens up the work to criticism (albeit mostly positive comments) from random, also anonymous people, not something most people would want with a first draft. Also rather odd, though somewhat sensible, is my choice of words within the work: In one online location, I’ll have a few words changed compared to a different site, mostly because of different censor rules on the sites, but also as a sort of experiment. A method that I consider good is that I avoid stilted, flamboyant writing presentation.

I could say that it all started a month after my thirteenth birthday, but in truth, it all goes back to when I was still in lower school. Every little kid has a tendency to come up with a fantasy, a sort of place where they insert themselves in with a bunch of characters from whichever recent influence has affected them, be it a book they enjoyed or a television show. They always think of some superpower to give themselves, and almost always conveniently make friends with everyone, even villains they like. All children at some point think of this sort of fantasy, and I was no exception. Still, though, unlike most children, the concept stayed with me, and instead of keeping the idea of a boy with superpowers in a world filled with characters copyrighted by big companies, I thought of a team. Though I stuck with the number four for the number of team members, I was bound to give them some form of special abilities, and so I did: The main protagonist has double normal human reaction speed and can run roughly twice as fast as a world class sprinter. The other three have similarly limited, yet inhuman abilities. It didn’t stop there.

Around the age of thirteen, puberty brings with it an interest in girls, something that is reflected in nearly every character I’ve created since then. Each one is roughly sixteen years old and has some tragic history, and being with a girl that the character has, in time, fallen in love with. The first serious story I wrote, as well as the online RPGs I participated in, had a character that was named Ayitak, who’s family had been killed off years ago, and he met a girl named Jennel, who’s family was also killed, and eventually fell in love with her. Still, though, the repetitiveness of the idea got to me, and then I thought: What if the girl the main character starts off dating… dies before true love sets in? It has been done before, yes, but I had a different idea. Instead of building up the character in preparation for her death, I could characterize her more as the story progresses, well after her death. The idea is that the reader doesn’t develop any feelings for the characters right off the bat, and so this tragedy won’t affect them. Then, as time goes on, and the story continues, bits and pieces of her true character come out, and after a while, if a reader so wishes, he or she can imagine exactly who the girl was and how the main character really felt. This also eliminates another fantasy that’s been done to death: the damsel in distress. Even though I do bring another girl into the mix, she is much stronger. Her existence remains relatively secret, and she remains too protected to be in any danger of kidnapping. That combined with her superhuman nature keep her out of any would-be kidnapper’s mind.

Ideas like that don’t come easy, and presentation is a matter all its own. The sort of writing styles I saw in those text-based RPGs ranged from illiterate and grammatically terrible to downright excellent. I saw one person that forgot to put spaces between his periods and the next sentence, jumbling up the words, and I saw the disadvantages of writing in script-style, with a character’s name and brackets. The disadvantage to that is that it lacks any thematic elements, with a linear structure and lack of any particular detail. I also saw character interaction in near-perfect execution, something that aids me greatly, with people absolutely nailing the characters they use and how they would react to something a different character would say. Aside from online material, I also have to thank some games on my video game consoles, such as Fire Emblem and The Legend of Zelda. Those games have writing that is almost purely in a script style, but with character portraits to give an idea of what the character looks like. Because they are video games, though, they go by the maxim, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” with animations and subtle background effects to detract the need for physical descriptions. Also of interest to me is that these games have stories composed entirely out of character interaction. Playing through them and reading every ounce of their story proved to be a good experience, keeping me entertained and helping me with writing. How? Well, take Fire Emblem, for example. All that game has are character portraits and writing. The dialogue is displayed below the characters in a text box, with the speaking character highlighted on the screen. The language each character uses is unique, with accents, such as the British accent’s lack of an “h” pronunciation. This helps because it shows me different possibilities with character speech.

What really brought about my interest in writing was when I started reading online stories, particularly a few about video game characters. Reason: I’m a nerd like that. Seriously, though, what I saw was very different from the plain text of, say, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” What I saw was capturing, mysterious, and, at the same time, technically unprofessional and a mere first of second draft. Something unprofessional had all it needed to be publishable except rights to the characters, yet where was it? On a site called fanfiction.net. It intrigued me into searching the Internet for more, and I found it on a different site. That place was Gamefaqs.com.

What Gamefaqs.com had were forums, cheat codes, and game guides typed by average people. Within those forums, I found a place with plenty of talented writers who spent more time with online material than writing to make something they’d try to publish. These are the same people that had nailed character interaction and had a descriptive, gripping style that makes them a must-have for any group-writing idea. When our first text-based MMORPG, “In the Shadow of the Dawn” started shortly after my story, “The Evil Overlord” failed miserably, I joined in with the aforementioned Ayitak. I have the entire RPG history saved, and it amuses me to see how different I was at the beginning compared to now. Truly, writing for that story with all those other writers in an anonymous sort of fashion was where the majority of my writing practice comes from. I even still occasionally write there today.

It all started itching at me, urging me to start. Eventually, the ideas started to impede my ability to think about writing anything else, and I started. For Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2, all I have posted up are first drafts. The first chapter deals with the 4 characters, Stride, Argent, Orion, and Viran traveling to an island on a sort of mercenary mission. They’re searching for a criminal with red hair and yellow eyes, though they are never told what crimes he committed, and they stay at a hotel where Stride meets someone that Orion hopes will help slightly heal his heartache. In chapter 2, after witnessing a man’s murder on the street by a sniper, Stride discovers a hidden semi-secret about the island-city that casts a shadow over its government. The first drafts were received well, with the four parts of chapter 1 ranking a 4/5, 4/5, 5/5, and 4/5 from one of the readers, specifically the one that was best at character interaction. This only made me want to keep going, though the recent destruction of my laptop has impeded my work. The story will continue, though.

What else can be said? My odd choices combined with my writing style form an uncommon mix, one that is different, and one that works. My choices of space create a permanent place to recover first drafts, and my ideas for the story continue to flow. This story will be my novel, my epic, and, hopefully, my masterpiece.





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SecretNonConformist said...
Feb. 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm
hahaha i was an RPGer once apon a time. Like you, that's where I learned to write! Do you still RP?
 
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