Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DIAGNOSTIC: Dragon Age 2 (videogame)'s alluring character Fenris

Well, I haven't done a writer brain exercise in awhile - haven't found good fodder - but I've finally come up with one. Alluring Characters. What makes them. What we like about them. What we can learn from examples in the various forms of media that surround us. I will be looking at characters that resonate with a lot of people, often in the form of fanfiction, fan art, and fangirling, and which I have personally connected with. Feel free to offer suggestions, however, and I'll try to read the book / watch the movie and do an analysis of what makes that person tick and why I think they tapped into the general psyche of viewers / readers / players today.

I'm going to begin with a videogame, largely because I found myself, for the first time in a long time, ensnared by the characters. In this case, I got a major crush on Fenris (this never happens to me, I swear) and started fixating on the in-character scenes involving him. Now, for those who don't play videogames, yes, I understand it's silly to crush on a set of polygons, but it's really not different than crushing on any other fictional character. Many people have done it. Okay, excuses aside, here we are:

He's a runaway slave / experiment of a Magocratic Empire that makes a point of enslaving his kind (elves). So, why does he work?

* Sense of Humor: He has a very dry wit and is seemingly straightforward even while poking fun at things, allowing him to both have a sense of humor and still maintain that brooding demeanor. The sultry voice of the voice actor doesn't hurt, either.

* The Dark Past: He's given complexity through an interesting past that makes his conversations more intriguing. Most people have relatively boring histories. His is one that makes you sit up and take notice. He championed to be the candidate for an experiment that would have this magical compound tattooed into his skin so that he could purchase his family's freedom (adds sympathy). The agony of the experiment wiped out all of his previous memories and left him an enslaved husk that obeyed his Master without question and without thought of freedom (adds sympathy for the bad things he has done in his Master's name / adds complexity and contrast with his current defiant nature). He didn't choose to escape his Master. His Master was forced to leave him behind due to a riot. Fenris was then adopted by free-willed Forrest Warriors for a few months of peace before his Master came back and ordered him to kill them. He obeyed - then, realizing what he had done, fled his Master (adds sympathy / horror by showing how much control his Master had over him but reveals that his conscience was able to break that hold ... but only when it was too late, thus justifying all the broodiness).

* Appearance: He actually looks quite young and sweet with big green eyes, a lean body, mid-length hair (looks boyish without being feminine) and an expressive face. He maintains the brooding appearance by attempting to seem intense and focused, but when the facade cracks, you can really see it. His appearance is also contrasted with spiky black armor (setting up complexity through a clash of nature and worn demeanor imagery). Such an appearance can be drawn in words, though it's obviously easier when you can literally show your viewers.

* Balanced Brooding: Yeah, brooding is in this year so this counts as a positive. Normally it irritates me but he manages to balance it with his dry wit and his lack of respect for pity. He is trapped in the past but he doesn't revel in it. While he doesn't emotionally move on (well, he does but at a glaciar pace), he tries to verbally move on as quickly as possible and that prevents angsting. What complains he does make feel justified and due to his interesting past, even the complaints themselves hold interest.

* Moral Complexity: In many ways he's an anti-hero with the possibility of redemption. He's fairly callous toward Mages, thinking them all scum, and prefers his new country's practice of what are essentially concentration camps for Mages. Since a bad or weak-willed Mage leads to cruelty / possession by demons / temptation toward blood magic, it's easier to sympathise with him. In that way, he actually feeds in to one of the underlying themes of the game: Is free will worth more than the safety of others?

* Danger Level: Only cool in fantasy for most people but the idea of being the exception to someone who is dangerous is often quite appealing. You can play a Mage and still be his friend and even his boy/girlfriend (depending on the gender you pick). The novel equivalent would be if the Main Character was a Mage and thus the exception to his values.

Does anyone have anything to add? Did I write it in a way that conveyed meaningful points that may be useful to you? Did you play Dragon Age 2?

Strangeness with Responses

Hello all,

I can't respond to any posts at the moment because I can't stay logged in unless I go straight to New Posts from my Dashboard. Just letting you know that I'm not ignoring your Comments.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

TIPS: Plot = Meandering Paths or Superhighways

Well, I've been editing Curse of the Rose / The Butterfly Lady only to find something really annoying. The last third of the book meandered. I mean, no one wants to read a novel superhighway that just goes Directly to Jail and doesn't pass Go (makes for a short, predictable read) but the last third of my book just didn't know where it was going or what it needed to do to get there. So I'm going to have to do a whole bunch of editing / re-writing to make it fit.

I found that doing up a synopsis chapter-by-chapter really helped to show me which chapters were dull, which didn't explain themselves well, and which chapters really had to change. I only wish that I'd done a synopsis at the start of the editing process, if not at the actual first draft process.

Next time, I reckon I'll do up a synopsis from the word go. I can always go off course if I want to but at least this way I'll know what I'm veering away from and why. It should save costly last-minute major revisions.

So, anyone else write by synopsis / novel outlines?