The Turning Fanfic comments

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Death 999
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Death 999 »

Wow. That is a very ambitious plot. Which is of course always your strong point. Maybe your real weak point more lies in knowing how to limit yourself to the achievable? I mean, I can't imagine that story being done right in less than 100 chapters of the length and pace you've written.
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Zeracles »

I like your vision. Although what you had could use an extra layer of polish, I echo what D9 says about the strength of your plot. I suspect all it would take is time and lots of it to polish each chapter. Maybe you don't have that time now, but waiting until you do might be worth it.
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by kingschosen »

What exactly do y'all suggest? As far as the "faults" and the "polishing"?
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Death 999
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Death 999 »

Well, here's what I'd do. Set this aside, as it'd take years to finish. Or cut it down to size by simplifying away some elements.

When building a new story to work in, make sure you focus on choices. The setup to the choices, the decision-making process, and the consequences. These are what define characters. They are what character development is made of. Your first four chapters (counting the historical note) contain a total of 2 significant choices; one is character establishment (Ian sharing his misgivings with Josh), and the other's utility is diminished on account of its being so hard to understand at the time (the watcher becoming friendly with Qax). There doesn't need to be a major choice every chapter, but if you go a significant time between them, the pace will suffer.

So, structure the story around the choices to be made. The climax can't just be fighting, or you end up with something as shitty as the end of The Phantom Menace (no meaningful choices made). I mentioned the DS1 attack earlier, when criticizing BaVB's Device fanfic. There are choices all over the place in that fight: that ten minutes of film has an average of 1 meaningful choice a minute despite being mostly fighters flying around blowing stuff up. 5 of these are not directly action-related (Tarkin doesn't send fighters/Vader does, even going himself, just in case; Tarkin doesn't flee, Luke uses force, Han joins the battle). Each of these was specifically prepared in advance, so you can understand how this expresses their respective characters, whether as a turning point or a continuation. The other 5 choices are action-related, but they give meaning to the action.

As a case study that I can show the creative process for, let's look at Peeru chapter 25 - Trial. This is a climactic chapter. The creative process was spread out over a long time. You won't need to read it to understand this.

Before even planning the story, I thought:
I wouldn't have a problem with using syreen-called mycon in the druuge furnace
Syreen would probably need to be on hand for that to work right
Would the syreen be thrilled with that? Probably not so much.

When planning incorporating this notion into the story:
Peeru's real combat experience is pretty limited and not exactly star-studded. And she is Druuge. So the syreen will be especially un-thrilled to serve under her.
The best way to resolve these issues is with a conflict. The challenge is to convince a skeptical syreen commander.
Assign her a name from science fiction. Originally, she was Trixia (A Deepness in the Sky), but I shifted Trixia to a middle-ranking syreen because it wasn't dignified enough. Rydra (Babel 17) was suitable.

When implementing it:
Rydra is shown to be hard-nosed and difficult, manipulative, even. She has some degree of informed ability, but I do try to back that up as well as I can under the circumstances. (chapter 15) I chose her to have this character so she will present a meaningful obstacle without being evil.
I introduce new opportunities for Peeru to show how concerned with her crew she is (or not) (chapter 21). Mixed results.
Make Rydra and Peeru not get along (chapter 22 in particular). Explicitly state Rydra's skepticism of Peeru's leadership.
I allow Peeru a little victory over Rydra, but one that does not help her gain Rydra's respect; on the contrary, it may worsen matters. Neither of them comes out all that great, actually. Including this was questionable.

Now I need to figure out the upcoming climax. I think about mycon tactics, and think of a bad maneuver susceptible to a counter and a good variation on it.
I give Peeru self-doubt to amplify the upcoming pivotal encounter, by letting her use the bad version, and fail. (chapter 23) This also introduces the context of the climax.
I show that Rydra is aware of the bad maneuver, and is critical of it. This makes it personal, and makes her falling for the modified version not be a major error.
The chapter before the climax, I slow the pace a little and weave in a plot thread that had been lying around, using it as inspiration for the solution. Also, I introduce the specific crew issue that will permit resolving the second challenge. (chapter 24)

In the execution, I show a lot of little choices being made.
The big choice is to go ahead and trust her changes and not fear Rydra; Rydra's choice is to see if she's making the same mistake twice.
I make sure that the resolution serves to increase respect between them, by having Rydra keep her cool.
I make sure that the resolution of the combat ability challenge spills over to aid on the leadership issues (giving Mok credit). I did not explain this choice, and it could have used something, perhaps; but I can justify that indirectly later by an analogous situation. If I were simply writing a book without releasing chapters first, I would search earlier chapters for an opportunity to justify it.
The winding-down trial segment further justifies Rydra's changing her mind about Peeru's concern and respect for crew.

This justifies the aftermath, in which Rydra puts in the effort to justify the use of the mauler's generation special to Zelnick, and spends a small portion of her own resources (prospectively captured mycon).


In summary, make your scenes work for you by justifying and clarifying the important choices that define the story and the characters, and showing their consequences. All this while making each one work on its own terms, flowing naturally. You're good at that, and that's important.

The one other thing is to get the correct tone for each character, and let it be context dependent. A character can be wisecracking with equals when time permits and all business when it doesn't, meek with superiors, bellicose with subordinates, and tending towards suspicious with outsiders. Seeing their different sides makes them multidimensional. Simply having these different behavior styles in different cases counts as a sort of choice for the purposes of character development.

This is one thing I haven't been doing much yet (Peeru didn't have any real friends, and doesn't fear her boss or suck up to him), but I'm planning on it.
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Lukipela
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Lukipela »

That is a hell of a lot more thought than I put into what I churn out :) But the part about choices really is spot on, it's you putting something in words that I barely grasped before. Thank you, I think this will help me greatly.
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Lukipela »

Oh, and on the topic itself, to me the part of the story that felt flat was the conversation type. Somehow the extremely skilled military guys felt too relaxed, and the discussion with foreign aliens too familiar. I enjoyed the keeper parts more than the rest.
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Death 999
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Death 999 »

I'd say the tone was a lesser issue compared to the problem that they were just marking time.
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by kingschosen »

Death 999 wrote:I'd say the tone was a lesser issue compared to the problem that they were just marking time.
Meaning?
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Death 999
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Death 999 »

Chapter 2, Ian talks about important things with Josh. The rest of the chapter is an argument about the precursors that's just people making fun of each other.

Chapter 6 (Sojourner arrival), tone issues as described earlier. Better now that you've fixed them, but not all better. The bickering is poor for the tone and essentially amounts to fifteen paragraphs of 'nerves frayed'.
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Lukipela
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Re: The Turning Fanfic comments

Post by Lukipela »

Well, it is establishment of characters, though I see your point. I don't think every discussion needs to lead the story forward and I think that just showing off personalities can bring colour to a story. But both discussions were fairly similar as well, so maybe it's overdoing it a bit.

Though what do I know, I'm not really the literary type of person.
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