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Good characterization and plot

Discussion in 'FanFic Discussion' started by hruss, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. hruss

    hruss Squib

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    I've been working on a fic lately, but the characters seem unlikeable and the plot rather convoluted. Any suggestions on how to improve it? :D

    Rating: T
    Genre:Humor/Tragedy
    DLP Category: Independent
    Pairing: NIL
    Chapters: 9
    Words: 18,107
    Updated: October 14, 2013
    Status: Work in Progress
    Summary: Meet Emma, the innately selfish Head Girl of Hogwarts at the height of Voldemort's reign, who tries to help in her own twisted way but most of the time just makes things worse. Meanwhile, someone tries to give Voldemort rationality lessons. Sort-of OCs, but otherwise very canon. Set in same year as DH.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  2. knight504

    knight504 The Chosen One

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    This is what the Work By Author forum is for. Starting posting your chapters there and ask people if there are any issues with the characterization and plot, and how you could improve on it.

    But tbh, I wouldn't give that story a glance based on that summary.
     
  3. Mr. Merriman

    Mr. Merriman Seventh Year

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    Yeah, that is not a summary that invites potential readers. It's really more a giant blinking neon warning sign to not bother.

    Nobody wants an OC as the main character. It's almost always awful, and people can always read original fiction for original characters. Fanfic readers tend to read fanfic specifically to read about familiar characters. This is not a rule set in stone, but it did make it to Rule 1 on the old Potter Law thread.

    Nobody wants to read about some "innately selfish" teenage bitch. That's just dumb. Nothing will make me ditch a story faster than an unsympathetic protagonist, and there are few things are as unsympathetic as a teenage girl whose most representative qualities are apparently selfishness and fucking up. Only one author ever managed to keep my interest with a protagonist I hated (Denarian Knight/Lord/Whatever Harry) and not long enough to finish the series.

    Nobody wants to read about Voldemort taking lessons. Well, okay, certain humor fics can pull it off. That part of the summary reads like a typical crack fic intro.
     
  4. hruss

    hruss Squib

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    Sorry, I'm quite new to this. Is there any way I could improve the summary then?
     
  5. Punt

    Punt DA Member

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    Firstly, why the OC main character? There are many supporting characters who could have filled the purpose. This also violates our sacred Potter Law and is a major turnoff for most people. Not only is it non-Harry-centric but it is an OC-centric fic which does not even feature Harry himself.

    You said it yourself in the summary that it is going to be mostly canon. This idea has already been done in Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness without the OCs. How are you planning to make your fic any different form that? How do you expect your plot to be gripping and interesting if everyone knows how it ends?
     
  6. hruss

    hruss Squib

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    I needed a girl who was related to Bellatrix Lestrange, which becomes very important later
     
  7. Mr. Merriman

    Mr. Merriman Seventh Year

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    There are a number of canon characters related to Bellatrix Lestrange. Including Ginny Weasley, actually. Arthur Weasley's mother was Cedrella Black, a cousin of Pollux Black, who was grandfather to Bellatrix, Narcissa, Andromeda, Sirius, Regulus.

    Research. It's a thing.
     
  8. Rym

    Rym Auror

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    The sad truth: Just take the name Emma in your wordprocessor and replace it with a character that is actually in the book. No on wants to read about an OC, but if its a regular character that's hugely OOC, then it's totally fine.

    Also, change the summary.
     
  9. Perspicacity

    Perspicacity High Score: 3,994 Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Even if you stay with an OC, Emma is the worst name you could give her given all the cutesy "Dan and Emma are Hermione's parents" fanon crap we've had to endure over the years. Choose something interesting and (since you're going with a Black relative) astronomical, say Capella or Lyra.

    Your summary starts with "Meet so and so..." as if this were the primary attraction to your story, yet you list not a single interesting or endearing trait. Lose this and hint at some of the intrigue instead. For example, the phrase "...and threatens to expose her most closely held secret" would do wonders for making your story sound at least mildly interesting.
     
  10. bakkasama

    bakkasama Seventh Year

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    I think that the thing that make people dislike OC in fanfiction is, besides a past history of bad stories, the fact that it is implied that they are better somehow since they are the focus of it. Since fanfiction is about rending tribute to canon, people tend to be turned off as it implies that your character is better that those of canon or interesting enough that its existence add to it when most of the time, unless there are huge holes in the plot, doesn't happen.

    Mind you, there are a few instance in which it works. He could be a narrator to tell us things from a different perspective. Problem is that, as explained above, there are enough characters that it become unnecessary. And if that were the case and you still wanted an OC, a first year scared out of his/her wits might prove more interesting than someone in a position of power that lacks authority.

    Another way to put an OC that can be tolerable is doing it after canon happened, as the story is already over and you would not imply that your character makes it better just by being there. Or you could make it so far into the past that it doesn't matter as it doesn't interact with those that might influence canon. Changing Voldemort for Grindewald and Hogwarts for Durmstrang might work in that case but you will need more world building as you won't be able to use the reader's knowledge as a crutch (or as much as one).

    Finally, Voldemort taking lessons? He is a dark lord in his seventies and a prodigy at that. The one that controls the country and is currently very obsessed with obtaining the elder wand. This fall in the category of making better by being there or at least it is what it seems going by the summary.

    Finally, about your OC, you said that she is selfish and yet tries to help everyone? Even if she is deluded, it might be better to say that, instead of she tries to help everyone, that she thinks she knows better than everyone.
     
  11. hruss

    hruss Squib

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    The main point of my story is that my OC does not in fact improve anything--she actually makes things much worse. She's there to tell the story from the Slytherins' perspective, having grown up around them, and the kind of horror faced by both sides of the faction. Though you are right that I could take a minor Ravenclaw character... I guess I just didn't really feel any connection to their names. And it is important that she be a Ravenclaw and from a traditionally Slytherin family, you see.

    Voldemort is not taking lessons from my OC. A Mysterious Someone is attempting to teach him something about rationality. Which really has nothing to do with the kind of "prodigy" that he is.

    Overall, really good points though. Thank you!

    I guess I'm really really bad at summary writing
     
  12. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    I felt a disturbance in the force. Something bad is coming.
     
  13. Perspicacity

    Perspicacity High Score: 3,994 Prestige DLP Supporter

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    It depends on the Methods employed, surely.
     
  14. Luckylee

    Luckylee Top 1 Percent Prestige

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    OF course, Pers.
     
  15. Olivia Kingston

    Olivia Kingston Fake Flamingo Prestige DLP Supporter

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    Does this deviate into a different timeline from canon? is it meant to be compliant? When I see year 7 those are my first thoughts.
     
  16. Punt

    Punt DA Member

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    You were supposed to include 'Harry Potter and the' in a witty way in your post. -_-
     
  17. Olivia Kingston

    Olivia Kingston Fake Flamingo Prestige DLP Supporter

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    What do you mean?
     
  18. Punt

    Punt DA Member

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    Nevermind that. It was more amusing in my head.
     
  19. Grinning Lizard

    Grinning Lizard Supreme Mugwump

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    OP, I'm going to do what I do best here and largely ignore everyone who has posted in the thread.

    The summary wasn't remotely bad. It did, in fact, summarise the story. It did it as well as it could have. Everyone who has complained about the 'summary', indicating you should change it, has done so not because the summary itself was bad, bit because they didn't like the subject matter. Which is fine, you know, but if you ask for feedback on one thing, such as character and plot, you should pay attention to people who respond about those things, not every old faggot who writes off a story at first glance because they think they dislike the content.

    In all honesty, fuck these people. Write the story you want to write. A significant amount of them have gushed over stories that, synopsised, they'e have professed to hate. But post in WbA as opposed to here- this is the one bit of good advice in this thread. There, people may dislike, or badly rate, your story, but for the most part you'll get valid crits on what could or should be better, aside from whatever generic circlejerk they want to read about at that moment. Or at least that was what DLP could be relied on for, once upon a time.
     
  20. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

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    I'd skip the story based these issues in the summary:

    1. First sentence feels like a mishmash/info dump of everything you think is important to the plot.

    2. Meanwhile, someone . . . why would a reader care about that? (what does it have to do with the story?) And the way you've written it, it sounds as if it is two stories that have little to do with each other.

    3. Sort of OCs, but otherwise very canon: that falls into the "sort of pregnant" and "kind of a virgin" territory. What does "sort of 0C" mean? and then, if there's an OC, how can it be very canon?

    The subject matter doesn't interest me much, but that's not what you're asking here. And to be honest, I'm much more likely to read a story that has good sentence structure in the summary, than one that I love the concept, but catch myself trying to beta every line for content/structure.
     
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