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Writer's Block:
"It's Been Done"
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"It's Been Done":

 26 Taira Mai, Fri, 1st Feb '13 1:14:59 AM from El Paso Tx Relationship Status: One Is The Loneliest Number
rollin' on dubs
Homage vs Ripoff from Sf Debris.

And the ST:Voyager episode he takes down.
 27 Twentington, Thu, 7th Feb '13 12:37:11 AM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
So yeah, again: Odd Couple + Work Com + furry webcomic = author having no idea what he's doing. I write ANYTHING AT ALL, and it just feels like the most generic thing in the world.

I know these characters have more to them. But whenever I write, they just feel like cardboard cutouts. Jerk punches cuckoolander out of annoyance, but cuckoolander still thinks jerk is a nice person underneath. Jerk has a moment of nice towards cuckoolander for something. Cuckoolander does wacky stuff at work. Jerk takes cuckoolander's wackiness in stride and shrugs it off as "she's just being herself". Jerk and cuckoolander bond because living together has made them realize they're Not So Different. I'm just drowning in clichés here.

And every time I think of "okay, now what makes this character do this?" my answer is always "uh… because the Kool-Aid Man is red?" The "why" is in there somewhere, but I just can't ever seem to find it. I always see my characters in just the vaguest terms possible.

Not saying it has to be super deep since it's a gag based webcomic, but there has to be SOMETHING.

edited 7th Feb '13 6:40:43 AM by Twentington

Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

 28 Mr AHR, Sun, 10th Feb '13 7:21:04 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Write them anyway. Even story telling requires practice to get good.
 29 Taira Mai, Sun, 10th Feb '13 9:27:49 PM from El Paso Tx Relationship Status: One Is The Loneliest Number
rollin' on dubs
Sf Debris tears the Star Trek Voyager Ep "Blink of an eye" a new one for being a ripoff of the novel "Dragon's Egg".

In this video he explains Homage vs rippoff.

I'm heartened. I have a love-hate relationship with many works. Heroes are too perfect mary sues yet they can tug at my heartstrings (I really need to get those things adjusted...). Some villains exist just be be villains, others have dept and are awesome characters.

Taking apart a work or a trope to see how it works and putting it back together is not boldly going where everyone's gone before.

"What if a character was really a pure at heart, do gooder above the influence in spite of or because of their history?"

"What if Batman grewup to be a crimelord and the Joke bacame a scarred anti-hero?" —deconstruct superhero/villain origins.

"What if a gadgeteer genius was really a fraud? the character is an actor who is the face for a group of scientists?" (this was actually done in the RPG Over the Edge) — deconstruct the science hero and teen genius characters

Or my take:

"What if the wagon train to the stars was a voyage of the dammed? The characters are the best and the worst of humanity, but they have to work together to survive." (yes I'm trying to write this and I wear my tropes, shout outs and influences on my sleeve).

If someone tries to hide the influence (like the Berman, Bragga and Taylor did for Voyager), it's a ripoff.

edited 11th Feb '13 1:02:59 AM by TairaMai

[up][up] Yes, this. Write, and practice. What will you do if you finally get an idea, and you don't have the skills to make it worth reading?

Even if you know it sucks, writing it out will help you figure out where and why it sucks. You can fix that, but you can't fix vague problems. Write your generic characters enough and you can either pinpoint the parts of them that are too generic or figure out why they do whatever.
You will not go to space today.
Terracotta Soldier Man
[up][up] I'd argue that if a character is engaging enough to keep you genuinely sympathetic, it's not a Mary Sue, but then I also think that that term has become something like "hipster" or "Nazi" — something that no one ever uses for what it really means anymore, but as a generic insult against something they don't like.

And that's an argument for another thread.

[up] (x4): Seconding [up] (x3) and [up]. Just keep writing until they start doing interesting things. Even if what you started writing doesn't fit the gist of the final story, you can always cut that out or tweak it in the editing process.

edited 11th Feb '13 9:56:02 AM by Specialist290

 32 Twentington, Thu, 14th Feb '13 3:53:28 AM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
[up]My problems are always the same:

  • If I come up with something I think is funny, will it be funny to anyone else? I mean, I like Larry The Cable Guy unironically, and I still snicker every time I hear the word "Uranus". Also, I want the humor to be really wacky and rapid-fire. But I also have no filter, so I'm afraid I'll do something so overly offensive and over-the-top that even Seth MacFarlane would call me depraved… which leads to me reining myself in so far that I'm either writing stuff so tame it could be in The Family Circus, or just writing nothing because I'm afraid I'll screw up. How do I know when I've reached my limits? How do I know that what I have will be funny to anyone other than myself?

  • I have no sense of logic whatsoever. In the "what would your character do?" thread, I didn't at all think that high winds would be an impediment for a character who can naturally fly. So I'm also afraid of setting up situations where the characters' reactions are so dumb that not even "Negative Continuity / No Fourth Wall / MST3K Mantra" can handwave it.
Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

[up] You will need critics for this.

Twentington:Can I ask you something?Have you ever personally lived with a roommate, .Have you worked retail?If you're a teen and this is the stuff you've only seen that on TV I can see how you are having problems digging deeper into the subject beyond cliches.Could you try looking at "Roomates from Hell" true stories.Trust me, there are lot of bizzare situations that can happen and still be plausable and realistic.Atleast, have a good laugh.

Regarding humor:Ditto on the post above.You will need to post something in the critics section so we can see what the problem is(If there even is one). BTW, Penny Arcade Forums are great for helping with writing gag-a day comics, and you will get amazing advice there.Trust me, those people know humor.But again, you will have to post your work there.

 35 Twentington, Thu, 14th Feb '13 4:58:41 PM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
[up]I've never had a roommate or worked retail.
Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

 36 Wolf 1066, Thu, 14th Feb '13 5:25:18 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
Twentington. You need to observe people and try to imagine why they do things. Best thing to do is start with yourself and observe what you do in situations and explore why - it's a "trick" you can learn, and you need to do it honestly.

People don't react randomly to things. If a person reacts with anger or laughter, sadness, throwing something etc, there's a reason behind it.

The way to get a feel for it is to watch people in action and see what clues there are for the reasons behind the person's behaviour. Then you'll start getting an idea of how people will act rather than just having them do random shit.

I know you only by what you post on this forum but I feel surprised that you don't have any idea of what characters would do in a situation. I'd've thought that anyone above the age of 6 would have a working knowledge of motivations.

Once you have that, then you can construct your characters with desires, motivations, Berserk Buttons, likes, fears and then you can have them responding to different stimuli based on those things.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 37 Twentington, Thu, 14th Feb '13 5:27:51 PM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
[up]I spent most of my life severely blinded by Asperger's, neither knowing nor caring that people reacted in certain ways to certain things. And I don't do much of anything myself, nor do I have that many opportunities to socialize since I live in a very small town with virtually no one even close to my age.

And even when I do, I don't see anything that helps me. I'm at an airport right now, and literally everyone is on their phone, tablet, or laptop, including me. Everyone's just blended together.

edited 14th Feb '13 5:31:18 PM by Twentington

Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

 38 Wolf 1066, Thu, 14th Feb '13 7:30:09 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
Then you're going to need to learn it academically.

Read novels, screenplays, analyses of both (ones that explore what happened 'and' why), whatever it takes to give you a feel for why the characters in those works are behaving as they do, what fears, desires, hopes etc drive their decisions/actions/words.

Take notes if need be, e.g. "The farm boy went along because he had no home left and was being hunted by forces he didn't understand; he saw the old wizard as someone with both resources and a plan and felt it advantageous to go."

That may well give you a pool of knowledge about what different types of people will do under various circumstances.

Without that tool in your possession, you will continue to be plagued with the "I don't know how they should react" issue.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
This has always been an issue for me. My first ever attempt at writing is something of an Old Shame in this regard, and since then I've been absolutely terrified of making the same mistake.

Essentially, my latest project has a premise that is kinda similar to The Host if you squint at it in the right way. Having read the novel I can safely say that the execution couldn't be more different, but I still worry about it a lot.

 40 The Bat Pencil, Fri, 15th Feb '13 5:04:16 PM from Glasgow, Scotland Relationship Status: I'm just a hunk-a, hunk-a burnin' love
If it's been done, do it better.
I couldn't possibly comment.
 41 Taira Mai, Sat, 16th Feb '13 4:31:43 AM from El Paso Tx Relationship Status: One Is The Loneliest Number
rollin' on dubs
Like I said, take it apart and see how it works. De-construct, genre throwback or wear your shout outs on your sleeve.

The biggest complaint is when it's been done and the new work does it wrong.

Sf Debris has this as the reason Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise blew chunks.
 42 Alma, Sun, 17th Feb '13 11:36:05 AM from Coruscant Relationship Status: You cannot grasp the true form
The Harbinger of Strange
Nothing new under the sun. Don't try to be original, try to make unoriginal ideas better. But do try not to retread a path that's been walked many times or blatantly rip off another idea.

Or you could take the Lewis Carroll approach and write complete absurdist bullshit. But even that can be said to "have been done". So, really, nothing new under the sun.
You need an adult.
Terracotta Soldier Man
[up] (x6) Is there a larger city within driving distance (about an hour or so, one way) of that small town you're living in? Do you have a comfortable amount of disposable income? If so, make plans to go on a trip to "the big city" maybe once a month, and set aside a little money just for that purpose (as well as a little more for gas and meals). Look for any shops that might interest you, such as maybe a small hobby shop or a used bookstore (adjust as needed to suit your own interests and hobbies) — it's important that it's not part of a large retail chain and that it's run by someone who's passionate about their business, and not just the money-making aspect of it.

Try to strike up a conversation with the person at the register. It doesn't have to be about anything important — just say something like "I'm looking for [product]. I'm a big fan of [that sort of thing / the person who made it]. Do you carry [it / anything like it]?" (It really helps if you're actually interested in what you're asking about — hence my advice above.) It might only last a few sentences, or it might lead to a half hour discussion; either way, just let the conversation flow naturally. Once it's run its course, buy something that catches your interest (if you can spare the money) and move on. Repeat until your cash budget for the day is gone or you run out of time.

If you didn't feel comfortable there, don't go back. If you did, go back and try to strike up another conversation. If you do this often enough, you're a "regular, " regardless of how often you come in. If the shop owner introduces you to other customers, or if other customers want to talk to you, talk to them. Ask them about the sorts of things they're interested in — if there's one thing most people love to talk about, it's themselves. While you're talking, pay attention to how they react to the things you say (but don't say potentially offensive things to get a rise out of them — that's a bit impolite. If you accidentally say something offensive, then — after apologizing — file that reaction away in your mind as well).

Finally, look for a copy of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People at your local bookstore. It's mostly oriented towards sales folk, but there's a lot of practical advice in there that can apply to everyday conversation as well.

 44 Twentington, Sun, 17th Feb '13 2:06:00 PM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
Is there a larger city within driving distance (about an hour or so, one way) of that small town you're living in? Do you have a comfortable amount of disposable income?

No and no. Bay City is an hour-plus away, and I don't have a license. Alpena is an hour the other way, but it's not really "big" even if it does have more than my town.
Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

Terracotta Soldier Man
Alright, I'm starting to see part of the problem. You're a little too young to have really "lived, " from what I gather. Don't worry too much; it'll come in time. It's a good time to start thinking about writing, though.

 46 Meklar, Mon, 18th Feb '13 1:16:06 AM from Milky Way Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
With respect to the original topic: I think 'tropes are tools' is the basic answer. In my experience, the works I've seen that were the most successful (as far as entertaining me is concerned) weren't the ones that were highly original and broke lots of new ground, but the ones that were honest about themselves and made their trope chemistry come out just right. To put it another way, it's not a problem to do something old, if you do it well.

 47 Oh So Into Cats, Mon, 18th Feb '13 6:24:16 AM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
CANON!!
How do you know when you are old enough to have truly lived?
"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
 48 Twentington, Mon, 18th Feb '13 9:59:20 AM from Somewhere Relationship Status: Desperate
Mustelidae = awesome
[up][up][up]I'm actually 25, but I spent most of the past several years sitting on my ass doing nothing, figuring that everything would fall into place.
Windmill, windmill for the land / Is everybody in?

Terracotta Soldier Man
[up] ...And that should teach me to never try Internet armchair psychology ever again.

edited 18th Feb '13 12:23:39 PM by Specialist290

 50 JHM, Mon, 18th Feb '13 12:45:37 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
If I come up with something I think is funny, will it be funny to anyone else? I mean, I like Larry The Cable Guy unironically, and I still snicker every time I hear the word "Uranus". Also, I want the humor to be really wacky and rapid-fire. But I also have no filter, so I'm afraid I'll do something so overly offensive and over-the-top that even Seth Mac Farlane would call me depraved… which leads to me reining myself in so far that I'm either writing stuff so tame it could be in The Family Circus, or just writing nothing because I'm afraid I'll screw up. How do I know when I've reached my limits? How do I know that what I have will be funny to anyone other than myself?
I advise that you stop worrying about this. If you want to write something funny, just write what you find funny. The worst thing that you can do is maybe step on a few toes, but the toes in question are unlikely to be your audience's in the first place.

Also, MacFarlane is nowhere near the darkest or sickest comic writer out there. As long as Bob Saget and Frankie Boyle exist, he'll have to make haste to keep up.
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