I have started to organize a tags page, which I will try to finish populating in the next could of days. The format isn’t great currently, mainly because I haven’t done real html since I was about 12, but it’s…something.
Anonymous said: It happens, haha. I just wished it hadn't been to me, honestly. I get shy just asking questions and what-not, so to be ridiculed to such a degree was a nightmare.
Totally get it. That really sucks.
Anonymous said: Do you have any advice for someone who creates a lot of characters? I've always kind of had a bit of a problem with that and I know for a fact that readers will no doubt get overwhelmed by introductions/etc. It's just highly recommended to never involve a large amount of characters, so I've been told.
You are allowed to have a lot of characters as long as you deal with it properly. Think of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones). I remember looking at the character list of one of the books and seeing that it was forty pages long. Now, that’s a bit extreme, but having large numbers, especially if your book is long, can work. You probably don’t want to have a huge number of main characters, though. Having 5 or fewer main characters and 10 or fewer important secondary characters is probably a decent (though relatively arbitrary) rule of thumb. Past that, you can have a gazillion tertiary characters.
I’m not sure if you’re talking about how to keep track of them yourself or how to make it easier for your readers to keep track of them, so I’ll answer both.
First, how to keep track of them yourself. Make a list. That may seem like a trite answer, but it really helps. If their relations are familial (for the most part), make a family tree. There are a lot of different family tree websites that you can use, and they can really help if you have complicated familial relationships. I started using Family Echo today, and it’s not perfect (you can’t really indicated biological vs. adopted parents, etc.) but unless you need to do something like that, it’s all you need. The only other real issue with Family Echo is that you can only choose male or female as genders (it’s binary and they (sometimes) force you to choose) so if you have non-binary/agender/bigender/etc. characters, it isn’t great for that. It will allow same-sex relationships, though, so you can do that.
If your characters spend a lot of time apart from each other, you probably want to keep track of their separate timelines. My recommendation (which I got from someone else on Tumblr, and if you can find/remember who, please tell me so I can add it) would be to get little notebooks (I got tiny ones from Stables for like a dollar each), number each page, and use a page per day. You don’t need to fill every day for every character, but it can help keep parallel timelines, so you can keep track of what your characters are doing. That way, you can open to any page in every book and have it correspond. If you have a ton of characters, this might not be the best method, but I think this should be relatively practical for anything between five and fifteen characters.
As for introducing them to the readers, I have a few suggestions. First, make their names as different as possible (without making them ridiculous). I know there are only 26 letters in the (English) alphabet, but having like twelve characters whose names start with A can be incredibly confusing. It’s especially bad if all of your character names are all the same thing (and/or really long).
I personally really dislike referring to characters by different titles (the tall man, the black man, the archer, the one with the red tie) because then I get them really mixed up. If you stick with one title for a character (i.e. Bob is referred to as “the soldier”), it can work, and can even help so everyone remembers that Bob is the soldier, etc.
If you’re going to describe your characters physically [which isn’t totally necessary (says the person who can’t remember her main character’s hair color)], make sure that they don’t all look the same. If you have a whole bunch of blond, blue-eyed white characters who are tall and lanky and curvaceous and beautiful who have similar personalities, nobody is going to be able to keep them straight.
Tl;dr, make your characters unique. Also, don’t introduce them all at the same time.
Anonymous said: That's pretty understandable. School years are always busy. Still, I must thank you. You're a quality blog and although thewritingcafe is great, they're a bit slower and by the time I get my answer, I've already moved on. I can't stand any other blogs- mostly because I've been personally insulted by one of the people running one, as well as insulted by various comments on a harmless question about hair.
I actually love thewritingcafe (though I never ask questions, so I totally get that). I’m sorry that you’ve had bad experiences with some other writing blogs, and am really glad that you like mine. Thanks so much for your support.
Anonymous said: Does it ever become overwhelming? I mean, answering things about writing.
Not really. I mean, writing is one of my greatest loves, and I like helping other people with their writing, so I really enjoy doing this. It is one of the reasons I post rather sporadically, though—especially during the school year, I only post when I have time, which sometimes means that there are long periods of time between when I post.
Anonymous said: Has anyone ever pointed out that you're the best when it comes to writing advice? And you answer things really fast! 10/10 would recommend
O.O Thanks so much.
Though I will admit that the reason I answer things so quickly is a combination of having very few messages to answer and overwhelming feelings of guilt when I take longer than like 24 hours (centaur anon question, mostly).
Anonymous said: I've checked everywhere, but there really is no advice being given for characters who are models. To be specific, I just wanted to know how I could write such a character without her/him getting automatic dislikes for that chosen career. They're not America's Top Model, for sure; rather low listed/barely noticed, but even if they were 'famous', I wouldn't want them automatically tossed away from the readers' interests.
I’ve checked everywhere, but there really is no advice being given for characters who are models. To be specific, I just wanted to know how I could write such a character without her/him getting automatic dislikes for that chosen career. They’re not America’s Top Model, for sure; rather low listed/barely noticed, but even if they were ‘famous’, I wouldn’t want them automatically tossed away from the readers’ interests.
You’re actually asking two questions here, so I’ll answer them separately.
First, modeling. As someone who is not a model and who isn’t closely associated with anyone who has done modeling as a full-time job, I’m going to rely mainly on other people’s posts to answer this. First, though, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
You should figure out what they model for. Are they mostly in advertisements? On book covers? TV extras?
Unless they’re a “real life mode” (i.e. as an extra or in TV ads, etc.) there are general guidelines/restrictions in regards to the size (height, weight, bust size for women, etc.) that your model would need to adhere to. There are plus-size models, but they just have different guidelines.
For making them not be automatically be disliked for being a model, my major suggestion would be to avoid stereotypes. There is a stereotype that models are all shallow and only care about looks and fashion. When people think of models, they tend to think of anorexic shallow twenty-two year old party girls who hold their beauty above all non-models. Don’t follow that stereotype. Write them as three-dimensional characters, and people will usually give them a chance.
If you want them to be actually likeable (as opposed to just not immediately unlikeable), make them someone who you would like to be friends with. They can be generous, kind, intelligent, giving, etc. Just don’t go too far in the other direction and make them unlikable because they have so many good qualities that they seem unrealistic or fake.
Hope that helps.
Anonymous said: Are you still giving your thoughts on people's stories?
900 followers. O.O
Anonymous said: Hey! In my book I have centaurs but no mythology calling them centaurs. So I need a name for them. It would be better if it was kind of derogatory. For instance, I also have people with an extra set of arms and they're called handys, because in addition to extra hands they are mostly domestic servants. The centaurs are mostly taxi drivers etc... Hope you can help, I've been scratching my head for a while.
Firstly, I don’t really get why you think you can’t call them centaurs, but if you don’t want to, here are a couple of directions you can go in.
If you want to go for being just straight derogatory, you can go in the direction you went with “handys” (though why aren’t they “handies”?) and use body part. “Hoofy” or “mane-man” are possible examples. You could also make up a word or draw from a number of different words “Horse-man,” etc. to use as the technical name, and then derive a derogatory name from that. Usually in the case of derogatory names it is either a bastardization of a non-derogatory name or it is derived from an insult.
Also, how can they drive a taxi? But I assume you’ve figured that part out.