What I'm Doing Right Now

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Vault - Entry 3 - How To Write A Good Story

A/N: I'll put up some pictures later.

Alright, so after the many, many years of animation, comics, music, videogames, etc. there have been many landmarks, but also many flops. Some are groundbreaking ; others should of been put to sleep. In modern day, videogames and music reign supreme; but animations and movies remain flops, despite a few exceptions. It seems that something started the downfall, and I'm not sure what. Was it the lack of imagination? The lack of trying? Maybe people just scribble down something and hope it runs at the box office. Something had to of kicked off this unapparent laziness that is apparent. And, now, a guide for those idiots out there.


Here's an example of bad characterization:

"Jamie takes a walk one day. He soon is visited by a magic fairy and learns that he has to go on a magical quest to help save the world. On the journey, he learns about himself, fights through happiness, sorrow, and anger, and, in the meantime, SAVES THE WORLD. And he lived happily ever after."

Okay, it's generic, but there are techniques that work with it. For example, why was The Honeymooners so successful? I mean, it was basically the same show every single time, correct? But it became arguably the most popular sitcom of all time. And in terms of videogames, the Mario series was the same thing: Princess is captured by Bowser, Mario goes on a mission to rescue. And it's arguably the greatest video game series of all time.

The best ideas come from how you introduce the characters and their personalities. They can't have ANYTHING even remotely related to one another. You can be generic: there's one dumb idiot, and there's one smart guy. Or, you can expand: there's a sarcastic person, a dumb idiot, and a smart guy. You can go all out and have completly different looks, personalities, and traits. A dumb idiot with a depressing childhood past, a sarcastic guy with an abusive mother, and a smart guy who actually got kicked out of each one of his science schools. The message seems okay, because you're developing the characters, which can make for a great experience. It seems that a lot of characters in Movies, Videogames, and Cartoons have seemed to have put themselves to a halt in terms of character traits. There's almost always the same personalities and state of mind for each one of them. This is not acceptable: as I had said before, you need to expand your horizons, not keep it halted in a prison cell. That's one of the big problems nowadays.

Take the Call of Duty series, for instance. Almost all the characters have no personality, story-wise. You'll always hear the same soldier yelling, "SECURE THE PERIMETER!". But, how are these characters so likable? You have an in-depth, interest-piquing story to them that MAKES you want to either like or hate them. That's why I enjoy the Fallout series: usually, there's someone different. Even your character can develop in ways you can't expect. You have to let the story develop itself, and that's when you've got a winning formula.


The way the characters express themselves is also important. Videogames seem to have gotten the hang of this. You'll rarely see characters furrow their brows in anger or grind their teeth in pain in anything else but video games. When in comes to animation, a lot of it seems limited: you just scribble something down, rehashing old content, and shipping it to Europe or Asia to follow it through. I prefer to take advantage of what the characters are feeling, and that's through the expressions and story progression. It's not that difficult, it just takes more time. That's what most people are forgetting, they just rush everything using the same ideas and character expressions over and over again. You need to use different techniques in order to make a more realistic, more visually and tonally appealing character.

And if a character him / herself doesn't have a whole lot of personality, try to focus on other characters for a change, give a little twist to the story. If you want to make a more comedic, satiric situation, than personalities and character dynamics are very important. If you want something more dramatic, concentrate
on the script, but still focus on the characters, and not entirely the story progression. It may take a while to create an extremely likable character that you will forever relate to, but once you do, you'll be glad you did, and you can write down all kinds of scripts and ideas for the character.


Okay, let's be honest: a lot of quotes from movies ("Yippee Kay Yay, Motherfucker"), cartoons and animated series ("D'oh!" / "Oh Joy!"), and videogames ("Sonic's the Name") have been included in the English dictionary now.

Why? Because it's important to have good, crisp, and understandable dialogue inbetween the nature of the characters. If something seems catchy, don't just tiredly say it. Make it have a better tone appeal to it, maybe give it a certain twist. If you want a successful comedy, you'll want to have good, understandable, laugh-worthy gags that appeal to the CHARACTERS. Try and go beyond the usual "That's What She Said" jokes, or the "Yo Mama" jokes. Granted, some of the modern day tongue is accepted, but try and add your own twist, something that people haven't heard. Not exactly an insult, but something that fits the nature. Don't just write down something weird for weird's sake, or stupid for stupid's sake. Make it fit the story: try out different ideas and have somebody (preferrably someone professional and experienced enough) help you through the journey. You can't rely on your pen to write it down: you have to depend on your MIND to help you write it.

You can't just go around writing nonfunny, questionably weird, and random jokes so you can HOPE it will make the kids laugh. This is basically how modern day cartoons go: Make a fart joke, then follow it up with a toilet joke. Ha, ha, somebody laughs. Yeah, great flow, guys. You have to, yet again, EXPAND. It's lack of talent, potential, and, especially, care. It's basically just a quick, easy way to earn your money and animate the cartoon. It's ridiculous.

Does anybody truly do real atmosphere-wise jokes? I highly doubt it. The Simpsons maybe. It's just a bunch of sloppy design problems and questionable depth of characters. The acting, when it comes to animated films and cartoons, could also really use some improvement. Even with a few highlights (Tom Kenny is still the ultimate Spongebob), it seems that the actors lack any passionance towards what they work on. It seems just... bland. Emotion and true dedication to work is what actors seem to lack: they just record their own voice once, barely without practice, and see if it fits. It's very uncaring, inefficent, and it lacks the LOVE that cartoons / movies / games have all the potential.

It seems that Videogames and movies are the only ones that truly get them right, due to the fact that they can be quite true-to-life. Even the Machinima department (films made with video games) work. Look at how series like Red vs. Blue did. For five seasons, it remained in the same place, using the same characters, but it still became one of the greatest internet series of all time. Why? Because the people from Rooster Teeth actually CARED about their Halo-inspired project, and did so for eight seasons. THAT'S what you need to succeed in anything that's broadcast on the television, or to air it theatrically.

As I said before, I can try and post some images later. But for now, I'm exhausted. It's been a hard day.

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