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Writer's Lounge Need advice? Want to give advice? Come on in and share ideas with your fellow writers. Just remember, all fics go in the main forum.

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  #1    
Old April 29th, 2013, 06:23 PM
The Amazing Justin
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Join Date: Oct 2012
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Hey, it's good to be back!

I wanted to ask some of the users here a literary question regarding a series I'm involved in. I wanted the show or it's first season to be 80 episodes, a direct nod to Pokemon, with it's first dubbed season being the same amount. I was wondering if you guys could help me in making sure none of the characters become stale and how to use them properly. I'm planning on having seven main characters introduced in the very early episodes, the Ash, Pikachu, Pidgeotto, Butterfree, Bulbasaur, Charizard and Squirtle of the series. Then I was planning on having one leave on the 21st episode and the other leave at the very end of the series, being episode 80 and another nod to the Pokemon series, leaving Ash and the main four for the end. How should I divide their screen time and arcs?
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  #2    
Old April 29th, 2013, 07:34 PM
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Moved your thread to the Writer's Lounge - the main section is for the stories themselves.

A character may became stale or boring if the story focuses too much on others, so I suppose a main point is to not neglect others if you want them all to be important. Don't rely too much on one sort of relationship too (e.g. Ash and Pokemon, Ash and other Pokemon, etc) - maybe other characters also have some interaction with a Pokemon? Or the Pokemon between themselves as well.

Can't give a lot of advice without more specifics though (what happens in general in your story for instance?)
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  #3    
Old April 29th, 2013, 08:27 PM
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I have a few tips for dealing with that large of a cast, take em or leave em at your discretion:

1) For smaller characters (the squirtle, bulbasaur etc of the series) make sure they have "breathers". Don't try to force them into every episode, or people will not pay attention to them when they Do deserve the spotlight.

2) Make sure that each character (large and small) has a coherent arc of their own. Large characters may have multiple arcs, or even multiple arcs going on at a time, whereas smaller characters' arcs may be nearly forgotten about by the time you pick them back up, but the audience should be left feeling "that's right, that's what was going on with him", and you should be able to easily reference their continuing characterization and growth by merely referencing the last point in their arc. What I really mean by this is, don't introduce an element for a character then forget about it. If it's the last thing that happened to them, it should be the next thing referenced the next time we see that character.

3) Use their interactions to demonstrate the growth and depth of the characters. You should have a foil (or more) for each character, and highlight the interaction between foils. Moreover, by doing so, you make it easy to demonstrate character growth by changing who is a foil for them. Doing so should not be an arbitrary thing, it should be a logical extension of the characterization you've been doing, but done right, it is one of the easiest ways to highlight how different a character is 3/4 of the way in vs 1/4 of the way in.

4) Assess how large of a role you want each character to play early on, and don't give them more than their screen time will be able to handle. Having a squirtle of the story have 4 foils and 12 simultaneous character arcs is a terrible idea, as it will come across as muddled and no one will remember (or care) what was going on with him. When in doubt, err on the side of caution, as simplicity can be more impactful anyway. If a characters role naturally grows, sure, expand on the complexity of his presentation When their increased presence deserves it, but don't force yourself into trying to increase someone's role artificially because you started more than you could finish.

5) Remember, it can wait. With that long of a show, nothing is urgent. If you have a cool idea or tone you want to introduce, but there is still something going on in a current arc, let the arc conclude before introducing it. If you're going to be bound by geography, don't cheat, just have them spend more time in their current area to finish the arc and then move on. Pokemon actually did this really well (all the times getting lost).

6) Make sure not to write someone into a rut. If someone's been the "attack first, ask questions later" kind of person, and it's become a significant pattern, the next time they're involved in the story should be a lesson in why attacking first isn't always the best idea, and teaches them the friends they can gain by taking the time to get to know people. It breaks them out of their 1-dimensional mold, and demonstrates character growth at the same time, and it comes across as a moral of the story, not as a writing technique, which is doubly handy. Just don't let them slide right back into that rut, or the rut on the other side (the next time that character is used, in the example above, they should focus on making friends based on the lesson they learned- it reminds people of their last arc, and reinforces that they've grown. That shouldn't be an every time thing, though, you don't want them to fall into a rut as the making friends person, as that's really no better at all).

7) Plan ahead! Goes without saying, but know who's going to leave, and make sure they are a large enough presence for them leaving to mean something. Use those opportunities to reinforce the character of the smaller cast members, as well- choose a few and have earlier episodes focus on their interaction with the character in question, so after they leave the next arc for those characters can deal with their emotions and reaction to the character leaving. Plan a major challenge or setback, and walk them into it starting several episodes ahead of time, so people can think they're clever for seeing it coming, and it makes more of an impact when it happens.

8) Have logical character progression. Avoid the "as powerful as they need to be" foible, and don't have them fight people who are overly powerful or who should be incredibly difficult to beat early on, as it makes future challenges against less spectacular opponents not believable in presenting any kind of challenge. Rather, have the strength of their opponents a backdrop against which the growth of the character can be measured. Speaking of which,

9) Don't be afraid to have them lose. Winning loses all meaning eventually if there is no real risk of losing. What's more, you lose all sense of their actual level of power if there's nothing to compare it against (as no one can beat them). Having specific opponents (especially those making cameos who you intend to feature later) kick their butt, and NOT taking the cop out of having them immediately turn around and beat them, adds all the more to the impact of the characters eventually winning against them.

Sorry it's not a clean 10, hope that helps at least a smidgen, and best of luck!
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Old May 1st, 2013, 06:27 PM
The Amazing Justin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobandbill View Post
Moved your thread to the Writer's Lounge - the main section is for the stories themselves.

A character may became stale or boring if the story focuses too much on others, so I suppose a main point is to not neglect others if you want them all to be important. Don't rely too much on one sort of relationship too (e.g. Ash and Pokemon, Ash and other Pokemon, etc) - maybe other characters also have some interaction with a Pokemon? Or the Pokemon between themselves as well.

Can't give a lot of advice without more specifics though (what happens in general in your story for instance?)
In the show, there's a boy. He gets picked on, looked down on and blame for things he didn't do all the time. In the pilot, he meets another boy with a carefree personality and the willingness to stay by his side, something he did not have with anyone else. All the while, enemies of the bullied boy's father attack him and his friends constantly. During there confrontations, he tries to teach his friends on how to best defeat them. Got it so far?
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Old May 1st, 2013, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Amazing Justin View Post
In the show, there's a boy. He gets picked on, looked down on and blame for things he didn't do all the time. In the pilot, he meets another boy with a carefree personality and the willingness to stay by his side, something he did not have with anyone else. All the while, enemies of the bullied boy's father attack him and his friends constantly. During there confrontations, he tries to teach his friends on how to best defeat them. Got it so far?
Alright, that makes sense. Having a pilot episode made is...interesting too I suppose.

I suppose that's a good theme to use for a few of the interactions then. Try to expand it beyond the trainer himself and have his Pokemon involved in it - what is their take on it? Maybe they also have some bullying? (Idk, I think it may be neat to have a story about a trainer being bullied and wanting his Pokemon to stop it, only to realise that one of his own Pokemon is being picked on by another of his party). Play around with it, but also introduce some side plots too (don't make everything revolve just around the main trainer and his problems, in other words.)
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  #6    
Old May 1st, 2013, 07:04 PM
The Amazing Justin
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Join Date: Oct 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobandbill View Post
Alright, that makes sense. Having a pilot episode made is...interesting too I suppose.

I suppose that's a good theme to use for a few of the interactions then. Try to expand it beyond the trainer himself and have his Pokemon involved in it - what is their take on it? Maybe they also have some bullying? (Idk, I think it may be neat to have a story about a trainer being bullied and wanting his Pokemon to stop it, only to realise that one of his own Pokemon is being picked on by another of his party). Play around with it, but also introduce some side plots too (don't make everything revolve just around the main trainer and his problems, in other words.)
The sideplot of the first two eps (The pilot) is to have the main bully, whom shows up here and there try to get kids to make fun of the two new friends. However, he begins to lose followers when they start to realize the two aren't doing anything to them and are simply enjoying themselves. His mocking of the main character in the second part of the pilot causes him to not back down, in an attempt to defeat their adversaries and the plan goes well as he uses his brain for the first time instead of his fist, as was instructed in a flashback by his father, whom ironically is the cause of the problem.

The Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle of the show come in episodes 10, 11 and 12, just like with the original season of Pokemon. I wanted the Bulbasaur to have felt at home with the main character, only to become jealous of his caring for them and his compassion for others besides him to cause him to leave the group after yelling at him and attack the main foes by himself. He is easily defeated and the main character rescues him, along with most of the team and tells him that he cannot do everything by himself and cannot hog his attention by himself, jokingly saying he can do it with the rest of the team and causes them to become friends again.

The Charmander has a thing about going in solo, always wanting to do things by himself. He works for a man, whom he believes to be his mentor until he recognizes that he's doing no good. Not only does he join the team, but his employer becomes one of the main villains. Throughout the early episodes, the only one he really connects with are the Bulbasaur and the Butterfree, whom he feels sad over leaving and begins to not listen to the main character at all until getting critically injured (Sound familiar?) in a later episode.

The Squirtle has a band of misbehavers and after joining the group by himself, slowly convinces them to as well. However, he stays the only one for a while and finds new friends in the team.

The Pikachu is the one friend made in the pilot, whom he views more as a partner than as a sidekick. The main character and the Pikachu get along famously at first, but when he begins to blow off his work for the team, he finds himself being scolded by everyone but the main character, whom he thought he would hurt by not doing anything.

The Pidgeotto of the group is the one friend made in the first-non pilot episode of the series, along with the Butterfree. After the Butterfree leaves, he takes a less active role and leaves altogether in the last episode of the series, being that of 81.

The Butterfree is the easiest connecting one of the whole team of seven, easily being able to identify with the whole team and support them. However, where he begins to have goals of his own, he is forced to leave for another country, with a tearful goodbye and is only seen again in the finale.
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