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Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Commended by mizal on 4/23/2023 2:30:08 PM

Welcome to Mystic’s Writing Advice thread. Here, I will share my top tips on crafting stronger characters and creating fascinating dynamics between them.

This masterclass will take place over the next 3 days. As this occurs, I challenge you to follow along with these posts and try out the writing tips for yourself.

But first, instead of the usual disclaimer, here are some relevant testimonials from readers:
 

“I was laughing and crying at the same time. It was so very fitting for Aubrynne and Corlix to constantly try to one up each other and sacrifice themselves so that the other may live, it reminds me so much of their previous banter.” 


(Thank you, it took me 3 drafts before I was satisfied with that scene). 
 

“The characterization of the characters is pretty great. In particular, I think Aubrynne’s relationship with her mother was realistic and helped to drive the story forward. Personally, I felt the most emotion at the scene just before the final battle when Aubrynne had the option of either accepting or rejecting her mother’s attempt to make amends.” 


(Ngl, I actually cried when writing this part). 
 

“The other characters were compelling in their own rights as well with the standouts being Madame Spelwinter and Evelithe. Evelithe was a particularly nasty villain and I wanted to see more of her and of Madame Spelwinter and the history of their family line.”


(I wrote several pages characterizing these side-characters, so I’m glad it paid off).

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Table of Contents

Step 1: Creating Memorable Characters (link)
 

  • The Protagonist
  • The Deuteragonist
  • Side Characters


Step 2: Characterizing Character Dynamics (link)
 

  • Consistency 
  • Character Interactions


Step 3: Connecting Character Dynamics to Plot (link)
 

  • Static Dynamics
  • Dynamic Dynamics
  • Relevance to Theme


Note: Please DO NOT reply to this message until I've finished linking all the posts.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Step 1: Creating Memorable Characters

Let’s start with the basics. It’s impossible to create good character dynamics without strong characters. After all, if a reader isn’t rooting for a character to succeed, they have no reason to care about their relationships with other characters.

I know, this sounds obvious. But trust me: it’s crucial to understand who your characters are and what role they play in your story before you establish the dynamics between them. 

For simplicity, I’ve narrowed this down to 3 types of characters:


The Protagonist

Creating a memorable protagonist is a whole topic in and of itself, but that isn’t the focus of today’s advice. Maybe another day. For now, we’ll tackle the top trick to relatable characters: internal conflict.

I’ve stolen this from countless pieces of writing advice. Every main character (unless you’re writing a plot-driven story/ it goes against your genre) should have 3 things:
 

  1. Fear
  2. Desire
  3. Misbelief


The ‘fear’ isn’t as simple as being afraid of mind goblins (sorry to use this example, Sent). It has to be something deeper, often rooted in the protagonist’s backstory. For instance, a spamming noob on CYS may have the fear of being ignored, thus manifesting in desperate displays of attention-seeking behavior. Or y'know, it’s more likely they’re just retarded. 

As you probably can guess, this fear is what the character must eventually overcome at the climax of their story.

Next, the desire will dictate the protagonist’s goals for the story. Common themes include: proving themselves worthy of something, attempting to rescue a loved one, getting revenge for a past wrong, etc. The key thing to remember is: every protagonist has to have a desire. If they don’t want anything or actively strive towards it, they remain a punching bag for the plot.

Think of it like the people we make fun of on CYS. If they don’t retaliate due to their desires—whether this is proving themselves right or getting back at the ones who mocked them—they’re not as fun to insult. Similarly, stories where characters do nothing to achieve their goals are often boring.

Lastly, misbelief. It’s a flawed way of thinking that influences a character’s actions. We recently had a discussion about themes and the best way to implement a theme is reversing a misbelief. 

E.g. If your theme is “Don’t make promises you can’t keep”, your character’s misbelief may be that it’s alright to make promises without any intention of fulfilling them. This would be reflected in their actions—for instance, challenging people to duels and flaking out—until the inevitable conclusion: they get banned. 

Usually, the best stories tie the misbelief to fear and desire. This means the protagonist believes in the misbelief because it enables them to move closer to their desire without facing their fear. Let’s revisit the previous example. A noob is afraid of being ignored because it reinforces their belief that they are insignificant and will never amount to anything. Their desire is to find a community where they belong. Now, because of their misbelief, they think the best way to do this is challenging others to duels and spamming an obscure website because it means they practically can’t be ignored and therefore achieve their goal… right? Wrong. That’s why it’s a misbelief: close to the climax, there comes a moment where they realize how everything they’ve done has only led to negative outcomes, and must either overcome their misbelief (redemption arc) or succumb to it and end up a banned faggot (corruption arc).

Side-note: A lot of stories infer the internal conflict as opposed to mentioning it explicitly. That’s completely fine; in fact, most writers often subconsciously use this technique anyway. But if you’re receiving feedback that your protagonist isn’t interesting/ relatable/ unique enough, this is probably why.


The Deuteragonist

This refers to the second most important character in your story. For an adventure story, this could be the villain; for a romance, this is likely the love interest; for a modern story, this might be the Asian parent who puts the protagonist under immense pressure to achieve impossible goals (no, the last one is definitely not based on a true story).

I cannot understate the importance of fleshing out your deuteragonist. Depending on their involvement in the story, you might not need to plan all 3 parts of the internal conflict. But if their relationship with the protagonist plays a pivotal part in your story, at least give them a desire (and possibly a fear to overcome as a subplot). 

Characterizing your deuteragonist can be difficult at first. Hence, here are 2 tricks I’ve learnt about them:

1. Character foils

When first starting out, a good way to practice writing distinct characters is using foils. This refers to characters that are complete opposites of each other. Think of CYS and CoG. They value completely different things, are two opposite ends of the spectrum (free speech vs extreme censorship), and one is full of based chads while the other is a breeding ground of degeneracy. 

Now, apply this to your storygame. Put two opposite characters in the same room. When they’re forced to interact, they will disagree on everything, creating natural conflict and interesting character dynamics. But more on this later.

2. Parallels

My favorite way to apply this is when a villain has similar values and beliefs to the protagonist, but because of one singular difference, they clash. It provides insight into what the protagonist would have been, if it were not for a specific event/ character trait.

I utilized this in my previous storygame, where both the protagonist and antagonist wanted to prove themselves to the people who looked down on them. But where the antagonist was willing to do anything to ‘win’, the protagonist eventually realized it wasn’t worth sacrificing the person she cared about. 

Often, this is a scary hack to make the antagonist relatable. It also sets up the foundation for a ‘moment of temptation’, if you enjoy using that plot point. 


Side Characters

Oh, you’re still reading? That’s good. Reply to this post with “Lol, [insert CYS member you hate] is an awful side character” to confuse those who are too lazy to read.

Back to the topic. Side characters don’t require extensive planning, but they need a motive. It could be as simple as ‘help protagonist succeed’ or as complex as ‘act as a quintuple spy between two opposing interactive fiction sites until you forget where your loyalties lie’. Either way, they need to want something and move towards this goal in your story.

This is what creates the best dynamic between characters. Having individualized own goals means some side characters get in the protagonist’s way, while others help them move forward. Remember: every character thinks they’re the main character. 

Pro tip: play around with the release of information, especially if you’re writing from a deep point of view. This is how betrayals or plot twists happen. When the protagonist assumes a side-character has a specific goal but this differs from their true goal, these characters appear more multi-dimensional. But make sure you foreshadow this (using out-of-character moments) otherwise it would seem like an afterthought.


That's all I have for today! If you want to view the next installment ahead of time, subscribe to MysticAdvice+ with only ten payments of $100,000.  

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Lol, Mystic is an awful side character

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Lol, Abge is an awful side character. 

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Lol, Mystic is an awful sidecharacter.  Work on all three drivers, why don'tcha.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

My initial plan was to post all 3 today, but we realized there is a negative correlation between words in a forum post and number of readers. 

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Lol, Dark is an awful side character.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Shut the fuck up fatty, you are unfit to even drink of his istinja vessel. 

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Lol, Peng is an awful side character.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

That's strange.

I remember hating all of the characters in your mystery story, though.

There wasn’t a single one I rooted for. Especially the ghost cunt that acted super smarter and superior to you and got no comeuppance. 

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Lol, past Mystic was an awful side character.

Joke aside, this shows everyone it's possible to improve at writing character dynamics!

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Lol, Voldy was an awful side character. Glad he got killed off.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Lol, [insert CYS member you hate] is an awful side character

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

People actually read this post! The combination of curiosity and spite in the messages worked better than expected :)

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Lol, Darius is an awful side character. (Worst Dutch and AZN)

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

This sounds like great advice to have a bunch of characters who read as fundamentally samey 

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
I figure it's one of those things like the theme discussion. People do most of this stuff unintentionally just as part of making a fun storu with believable characters. Sitting down and intentionally taking the paint by numbers approach on every detail will leave you with simmering less organic and more obviously and generically constructed though.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Lol, Ant is an awful side character. Preparing my first installation of $100,000 now.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Commended by mizal on 4/24/2023 4:47:28 AM
Mystic did great with the post, but the deuteragonist section focuses on antagonists. Deuteragonists can also be the protagonist's friend or a companion, and that's what I'll be focusing on in this post. Disclaimer: I don't claim to know anything and everything I say could be horribly wrong. If your deuteragonist is the protagonist's friend or someone who isn't an antagonist, then they'll more than likely be the character foil. Courage vs cowardice is a less extreme example than free speech vs extreme censorship, so that's what I'll use as an example for now. Bob, our protagonist, is a monster hunter that gets hired to slay a dragon, but he's terrified of dragons because one destroyed his village and ate his parents. Jimmy, his best friend and the story's deuteragonist, comes up with a plan to fake the dragon's death (there's a misbelief in here somewhere). We'll give Jimmy the benefit of the doubt and say he think's he's helping Bob, but he's actually terrified of dragons too. Anyway, the plan gets executed and Bob and Jimmy get paid. As they leave the village with heavy coin pouches, the dragon attacks. Jimmy runs away like a little bitch, but Bob has a choice to make. Does he run and let the village burn to the ground and make another orphan with a fear of dragons? Or does he stay and fight regardless of his near-crippling fear of dragons? Now we'll add a tritagonist (here's the Wikipedia article). If we stick to one theme, free speech vs extreme censorship for this part, the protagonist and tritagonist can embody the opposing themes while the deuteragonist may serve as a supporting point of view on free speech. In other cases, one character (either the protagonist or deuteragonist) can embody the extreme end of free speech while the other embodies a middle-of-the-road point of view. Personally, when you have three important characters, I prefer stories where the deuteragonist embodies a secondary theme. Now we'll use both free speech vs. extreme censorship and courage vs cowardice in the same example. If you can't find a misbelief, just make one up. Jane (protagonist) loves free speech, and maybe her boyfriend Gary (deuteragonist) does too. But, one day, Dickwad McCunt (tritagonist) takes over their village, and nobody is allowed to call him a dickwad anymore. Jane really dislikes this and starts a Dickwad McCunt hate club that gets popular, but stays a secret. Gary isn't as excited as the others, he's afraid of what might happen to himself if he gets caught in the Officially Secret Dickwad McCunt Hate Club. One day, they get caught. Gary defects, lowering the morale of the OSDMHC. Jane is heartbroken and doesn't believe they can win without him. She can choose to run away like a chickenshit coward, but the author would be sending the wrong message. So, the only real option Jane has is too fight until someone wins, even if she dies. Gary can go fuck himself. Yeah, I think that's all.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Lol, I am an awful side character.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Lol, Corgi is an AWFUL side character.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Commended by mizal on 4/25/2023 9:39:14 AM

Step 2: Characterizing Character Dynamics

Today, you will learn to get characters to interact with one another. I know most of you struggle with this in real life, so this step will probably be challenging for you. Luckily, I’m here to solve your problems with fictional conversations! Disclaimer: not to be confused with actual conversations—you’re better off seeking professional help for that.

Consistency

Just to clarify, the ‘consistency’ I’m referring to here isn’t one of many qualities Dutch food lacks. I’m talking about ensuring your characters don’t act… well, out-of-character. For this, I’ll share 2 tips:

1. Backstory

Always keep in mind a character’s backstory. A person’s worldview is influenced by their environment, profession, and the company they keep. For instance, a character with a military background will likely use war-related metaphors, while a character who is a therapist might find themselves ‘fixing’ people in everyday conversations. 

Our intrinsic values play a large role, too. For instance, when writing villain protagonists, there is usually an extent to how far they’re willing to go—some villains might draw the line at murder; others may assassinate anyone who stands in their way except if they’re a child—and these skewed metrics by which one views morality ought to remain consistent (with the exception of the character trait(s) that are meant to develop). 

It’s easy to identify when someone acts out-of-character. Here’s the quick audience activity for today—reply to this post with: “I dare [CYS member] to [do something that’s out-of-character for them]”. Chances are, they won’t complete this dare because it goes against their motives and values. The only exception is if they value the quality of fulfilling dares more than the negative consequences of the dare itself.

2. Goals

This is why I’ve emphasized the importance of internal conflict. It’s the map that your characters’ actions will follow. In order for characters to have satisfying dynamics, they must always be trying to achieve their desired goal unless: 1) something significant prevents them from doing so, or 2) they have developed as a character. 

Because I’m generous, I’ll apply this to real life scenarios too. If you’re struggling to make acquaintances, a good way is to find out someone’s desires and fulfill them. Let’s say Person A is looking for someone to share fun experiences with (e.g. traveling, trying new things, etc). If you want to befriend them, use this same logic of helping them achieve their goal! This could mean inviting them to events or teaching them something new. We do this subconsciously in our lives—our best friends fulfill purposes that are dependent on our values (e.g. emotional support, accountability partner, mutual understanding, person to pick on noobs with, etc).

You could also use this to discover why you don’t like certain people: Their actions impede you from achieving your goal. An example could be Person B, who constantly complains about how much they need a break when they’ve been on ten consecutive holidays. Your goal is to live a happy life, but their whining prevents you from doing so. That’s why you can’t change your interactions with people unless you change their goals (and the misbeliefs that perpetuate these goals). 

I didn’t expect this post to include life advice too, but I suspect that for some, it’s as greatly needed as the writing advice. 

When in doubt, follow Mizal’s advice: “Think of yourself and someone else interacting, then make them 50% less awkward and autistic.”

Character Interactions

There are common archetypes most side-characters follow, such as the mentor (goal: to help the protagonist improve, along with a possible secondary motive), the lover (to win the protagonist’s affections) and the innocent/ victim (to survive, thus forcing the protagonist to rescue them). With these, you have straightforward character interactions. 

I challenge you to take it a step further! Even if you use these as a starting point, each character should come with unique interactions. Here are a few ways to achieve this:

1. Disagreements

Imagine a conversation involving your favorite group of characters (apologies to that one person without an imagination). I suppose they aren’t sitting around and agreeing about everything, are they? The best interactions occur when characters disagree. 

A conversation of yes-men is typically a chore to read. It isn’t much of a conversation either. But when the characters have different beliefs (again, this ties back to the first part of this advice), it sets the stage for some well-executed dynamics. Bonus points if two characters are always getting on each other’s nerves, leading up to a breaking point (usually a messy fight or emotional argument).

Think of the enemies-to-lovers trope. It’s fun to read about characters who absolutely hate each other, bantering and bickering, gradually developing feelings for their ‘enemy’. Or think of the found family one, where characters are forced to work together, constantly getting in one another's way. Their clashes in values and goals create a dichotomy that you cannot craft if your characters are always in agreement.

Note: I'm not saying characters have to argue about everything. That would get old quickly. But they should challenge one another's beliefs, contribute somewhat equally to a conversation, or even try to prevent/ perpetuate certain plot points. Every conversation ought to: 1) advance plot, 2) develop a character, and/ or 3) change the emotional state of a character. 

2. Avoid ‘boring’ conversations

I urge you to remember those awful “storygames” of the past—badly written, barely readable, boring plots. They always start the same way: waking up in the morning. Then you get to choose whether to get up or remain in bed (the latter ends your suffering and gives you a free point). Unless there’s a specific effect the author is after, this type of beginning doesn’t hold the readers’ interest.

Similarly, try to avoid everyday conversations. Skip the “how are you”s and “the weather is pleasant, is it not?”. There will, of course, be exceptions, but don't bore your reader. If your characters are meeting someone for the first time, aim for an introduction where their personality shines through or just skip it with a one liner (e.g. we introduced ourselves). 

3. Subvert expectations

Most people are predictable. For instance, I can guess which—if any—members are likely to read this post, and which ones will reply with a dare. But sometimes, you need to keep your readers on their toes. No one will praise your character dynamics if it never transcends that of archetypal, basic bedtime stories. 

If the relationship between two friends has always been “I’d die for you”, maybe it’s time to give the deuteragonist a love interest. If the victim has always needed the protagonist to save them, perhaps give them an opportunity to save themself. If a certain member has always posted remarkable reviews and writing advice, maybe—just maybe—the mods could give her extra pointless points. (That last example is very important).

Now, this is not to be mistaken with acting out-of-character. Everything a character does must align with their internal conflict/ motive. Yet, people’s method of achieving their motive may change. Think of a CYS member whose goal is to be a part of the community. They may have started off rating every game and leaving reviews, but over time, they became lazier and stopped doing so. Is this change out-of-character? No, because their goal remains the same. They just found an easier way to achieve it! Similarly, characters may act in ways that seem strange to the protagonist, only for them to later discover the reasons behind this shift in dynamics.

While we’re here, I’ll recommend Mercenary by Ninjapitka. It’s really good at subverting readers’ expectations through plot twists while maintaining strong characterization. I implore you to read this as you wait for tomorrow’s text wall. 

Can’t wait? Sign up for MysticAdvice+ to get 10% off and view the next installment right now! 

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

I dare Celicni to give Ford genuine and sincere praise

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

I dare Thara to give anyone other than Ford genuine and sincere praise

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

No.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
I dare DarkSpawn to earn a point.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
I second this dare.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
I dare Mystic to act cool

Also if you got problems with dialogue just try to envision your writing getting filmed by Hollywood. If it would be fucking awkward to see Christian Bale saying your lines, I'd probably rewrite them.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
I dare Peng to write today.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
I dare Mystic to put off tomorrow’s text wall until the next day.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

I normally wouldn't do this, but I've had two phone calls that lasted longer than expected, and I must finish an assignment today because I've got two more left to complete.

Post delayed until tomorrow.

It's for the best because most people only read 1-2 text walls at a time. While waiting, I'll direct everyone's attention to this thread and this thread.

Today's task: go vote on your favorite story if you haven't already and provide thoughtful feedback. Bonus points if you analyze the character dynamics.

Edit: delayed again because I'm getting worse at time management, but there's plenty of other threads at the moment so it's not like there's a dire need for the next one yet

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

I dare isentinelpenguini to stop guzzling massive amounts of furry cock.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
I dare Malk to delete this thread.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

I dare Mizal to commend Mystic's step 2 post.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
Commended by mizal on 4/25/2023 9:39:01 AM
Disclaimer: Coherency not guaranteed. Boring Conversations I'm going to start off by giving a couple of examples of 'boring' conversations that serve a purpose.
Alex watches the dark clouds gathering off the coast. He clenches his jaw and slaps a twenty on the bar and sets his shot glass on it. A sharp breeze catches the end, lifting it up. Turning to the barkeep, he asks, "What's the latest on the weather?" "The weather lady says we're only supposed to get some rain." The barkeep stares at the glass he's drying, refusing to look at Alex. Alex stands up from the stool. "Well, with the way this wind's blowing, we're probably going to get more than just rain off that hurricane." The barkeep glares at him. "Let's pray it's just rain." "I guess I jinxed it huh?" He slips another five under the shot glass. "Stay safe out there." Alex heads toward the beach.
This is pretty much your standard conversation about the weather, but it serves a purpose. You should be able to tell that the story is about an unprepared coastal town facing a hurricane. Instead of writing about Alex listening to a weather report, I chose to write this because it's much more engaging than reading a monologue about the weather. There are probably a few reasons this might be an interesting 'boring' conversation, but it does two important things; it gives you a sense of who the protagonist is and (most importantly) introduces the plot. Before I continue, let me give you another example.
"Did you find everything you were looking for?" David looks up from the magazine he's reading. You're out of frozen peas, dries and withers on his tongue, but the most beautiful woman he's ever seen is smiling at him. Even though she's asked every customer the same question, the corner of her warm, brown eyes still wrinkle with the smile. "Yeah," he says instead. "Great! Will that be paper or plastic?" The sunlight makes her hair look like gold. "What?" The store clerk laughs. "I asked if you wanted paper bags or plastic." "Paper." He meant plastic. She focuses on ringing everything up, and he tries to look at anything except her. He feels awkward, but he can't think of anything to say, anything that wouldn't sound stupid. "Sir?" Her Duchenne smile returns when she catches his attention. "How would you like to pay?" "Cash." He almost mourns the loss of a fifty-dollar bill meant to pay a friend back. "Have a good day sir!" In a daze, he pushes his cart to his car, packs the groceries, and pushes the cart into a stall. His forehead hits the steering wheel as soon as he's in the car.
The conversation in this example is the standard checkout conversation in a grocery store. This serves the purpose of introducing the deuteragonist and the kind of story this will be. Now, imagine if Alex, in the first example, left for a vacation in the Midwest after having that conversation with the barkeep. The conversation becomes meaningless, boring, and you've subverted the reader's expectations in the worst way possible. The same can be said for the second example. Although, if the deuteragonist turned out to be an eldritch monster, I'd be perfectly happy with my expectations being subverted on the genre. A little bit on writing interesting 'boring' conversations. A decent writer can make any small talk or exchanging of pleasantries interesting, but it's a pointless addition to a story if it doesn't serve a purpose. Most of the time, in real life, conversations like these are a series of programmed responses. Certain responses are expected such as fine when someone asks how you're doing; you ask how they're doing and they tell you they're fine. End of conversation. We don't put thought into what we're doing when we ask and answer these questions nor do we think about how we feel when we reply. When we hear conversations like this, we ignore them. This isn't the case in fiction. The reader is aware of the conversation and they don't know how the character feels unless you show them. In summary, the character has to feel more than you do when having 'boring' conversations and they need a solid personality when doing it. Goals, Values, and Subverting Expectations In this section, I'll talk about how goals and values affect each other intrapersonally and interpersonally and how you can use this to subvert expectations. Some of this adds onto internal conflict and the rest deals with external conflict. Humans are complex critters. We have plenty of goals, both short and long term, and plenty of values. This is more than a story can hope to convey, but everyone has a core set of values and a few goals that matter more than the rest. Goals are usually related to values or values affect how someone achieves a goal. Sometimes values will conflict with each other, and when there isn't an easy resolution, someone will have to decide which value is more important. For example, someone who values both honesty and family will have to decide which value matters more if stealing a loaf of bread is the difference between life and death for their child. When we bring in other people, things get even more complicated. When people with the same goal have similar values, they typically form groups. They may range from social and activist groups to charities and organizations. If a conflict of values occurs, they can split to form new groups, charities, or organizations and may or may not be rivals or enemies. Sometimes different goals run parallel to each other and intersect in a way that helping each other benefits both parties. Whether the other party is your friend, an ally, or enemy of the enemy may depend on the differences between values. Finally, we have opposing goals. Those with opposing goals will almost always be enemies, even if they have similar values. By now, you might be wondering how all of this applies to subverting expectations. Ideally, every major character should have at least one goal and a few core values. Even minor characters can have goals and values, but maybe limit it to one simple goal and one value. Since I don't think I can explain this very well, I'll try to make a simple example. Our protagonist leaves her village with the goal of finding a cure for the curse plaguing it. She values duty over friendship. Along the way she meets an assassin with the goal of killing the wizard that created the curse. The assassin values his goals over helping others. Their goals run parallel, so they decide to work together. Over the course of the story, they become friends, but their preferred values are very clear. At the climax, the reader might expect the assassin kill the wizard before the protagonist gets a cure or that the protagonist might betray the assassin if it means she gets the cure for her village. But the author can subvert the reader's expectations by having both characters choose their less preferred values. Again, this is a very simple example that's only meant to give a basic idea on how goals and values can be used to subvert expectations. Beliefs and How They Affect Goals I'm going to try to keep this brief with just an example. Let's say the protagonist of our story is a guard. The guard believes that the king is good and just with the goal of protecting the king from assassination. He continues to firmly believe this until he sees the king abuse an animal. At this point, he still sees the king as good, but now there's doubt that the king might not be as infallible as he originally believed. When the king visits a village, the guard is more open to what the villagers might think. This leads him to overhearing a conversation about the king’s misdeeds. His belief in the king's goodness shatters, and with that, the guard's goal changes from protecting the king to dethroning or even assassinating him. Now if you'll excuse me, my only brain cell is very tired and it would like to rest.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Both you and Mystic are knocking it out of the park with these.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago
All credit goes to Mystic. If she wasn't giving advice, I probably wouldn't post my thoughts or consciously think about these things.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

These are brilliant additions! The next time I write a story, I'll try to implement a few of these.

I also might need to change this thread's title soon.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

I'm hoping that it is all consolidated to an article once it has run it's course.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

Just write whatever is inside of you.

Mystic’s Writing Advice: Character Dynamics

11 months ago

And then edit the crap out of whatever shit comes out of you.