RE: Haiku's Quest Revamped
What everyone has said here is all perfectly valid.
A story isn't just about telling people what's happening, it's about engaging them in the story. We don't want to know that a guy killed some ninjas. We want to know how the guy killed the ninjas. We want to know what he's thinking, and feeling. In any story, people need a character to relate to. That's why in so many books and films the main character is thrown into things they think are beyond them (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.). Because the reader is not familiar with the scenario, they need a character who is also not familiar with the scenario, so the questions the reader has can be asked in the story without seeming out of place. Star Wars is a good example of this, actually. In episodes 4-6, we have Luke Skywalker, who is thrown into fighting the Empire. Having never left his home planet before, he's seeing a lot of things for the first time, and learning a lot about the universe. As such, he asks Obi-Wan a lot of questions about the Jedi and the Force in episode 4, which means that the audience also learn about these things. In contrast, in episode 1, we don't have this to such an extent. Most of the characters know exactly what's going on, and so don't discuss it. Because of this, the audience is left with a lot of questions (for example, why is the Trade Federation putting up a blockade in the first place? Because they're evil like that?).
Let's face it, most of us can't relate to a trained ninja doing a load of cool stuff. We could relate to someone who was made to become a ninja due to his circumstances, as long as we see that stage occurring. Remember, you aren't just here to tell us what's happening. You need to write in a way that invokes emotion. Reading a line like this:
"As it writhes in pain Haiku fails to notice it’s tail. With its dying breath the dragon hits Haiku with a mighty blow."
does nothing for me. I don't care about the main character, and I don't care that he's killed the dragon. You need to build up the readers relationship with the character, so that when we reach action scenes like this, when the character is in danger, we find ourselves supporting him, and willing him to vanquish his foe. We also need to know more about the dragon. All you tell us is that it's an "old legend" that has "come true". Okay. So what? If the character feels such a need to kill it, then I have to assume that it's evil, but I have to do that by my own reasoning, considering the narrative of a story. That's not good. Your story should be self-contained. If you ever need to come out and consider the structure as a story, you're doing something wrong. Here, it's that you're basically telling us: "this dragon is evil." Okay. I don't care. I don't think it's evil, it hasn't done anything evil. If you want to portray something as evil, you need to show that it's evil. Just saying: "it's evil!" won't cut it. We need to see it trampling forest, burning villages, and children running and screaming also help in that respect, since it portrays that the dragon has no morals.
In storytelling, the less you say, and the more you show, the better. Try not to just state things, try and show them through narrative. This doesn't just apply to evil creatures, either. For example, to portray the main character as heroic, we need to see him do heroic deeds, such as putting himself at risk to help save children in a burning village, or something like that. This rule applies to just about everything. You can do it for emotions and such as well. For example, to display blinding rage, don't just say: "he felt a blinding rage", you need to show that he's angry. Make him go berserk. Hit things harder, faster, and with less care. Again, Star Wars is a good example of this. In episode 6, Darth Vader is taunting Luke in a duel between them, and Luke gets incredibly angry. The only thing he says is: "No!", but we can see the anger in him, because he rushes at Vader and just pounds on him again and again, eventually leading to him cutting Vaders hand off. Again, for contrast, you can show emotions like love in this way, too. For example, if two people love each other, and haven't explicitly told each other, they are likely to be quite awkward when talking. Perhaps trying to speak at the same time, and both stopping after the first syllable, or being unable to speak much to the other, perhaps looking at their shoes or blushing. The best way to do this is to think about how you would react to an emotion, and try and tell it through those reactions, rather than by just stating what people are feeling.
Hopefully you've picked something up from this, and can form a better story because of it.
(This post was last modified: 09-07-2012 09:35 AM by Hoeloe.)