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Fic-Writing Resources!

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
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This is the place to share any writing resources you've found or created! I'll do my best to comb through posts and archive them (sorted alphabetically), but you can also feel free to just slap a new post on the thread if you've got something you think folks could use. If you've got something you want me to add to this main post, help me out by letting me know what kind of resource it is, what you like about it, what it's useful for, etc.

You might also check out the Fic Rec and Review Archive.

General Writing Guides
Advice for Specific Details: Lists and More


Advice for Writing Pokemon Characters
None yet!

Fighting Writer's Block

Getting Feedback
  • Catnip Circle - "The game is simple. If you want to play, you have twenty-four hours to submit a fic of your choice—keep in mind it does not have to be a fic you've written! (Though make sure you have the author's permission first.) Once submissions are closed, each participant will be assigned a fic to review by random dice roll." If there's no game running, you can always host one!
  • The Small Critique/Feedback Thread - For troubleshooting passages of what you’re working on.
  • The Thousand Roads Beta Reader Directory - sign up as a beta reader or put out a request for one!

Reviewer/Reader Guides
  • A Reader's Guide to PMD from Namo - "This is a simple guide specialized toward readers who want to get into a PMD fanfic, but don’t know enough about PMD to follow or, more importantly, feel like they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the work as much if they didn’t know about the basic canon."

Essays on Fic-Writing
  • The Problem with the Format of Fanfiction from AetherX - On reader memory, pacing, callbacks, and scheduled updates.
  • Rewrites Considered Harmful from Negrek - "First, let me get this out of the way: I'm not saying that going back and editing some of your story is a bad idea. Feel free to spruce up the first couple chapters. Retcon out that prophecy all you like. And please do find-replace "Gyrados" for me. What I'm talking about here is complete, start-from-scratch, do-it-over rewrites. These and quick revisions are very different beasts."

Advertising Your Fic
None yet!

Podcasts
Poetry

Prompts

Other Tools
  • Diction Analysis and Diction Analysis 2.0 used for AP Lit courses. Be warned that these are very, very dry reads, but quite informative.
  • Free Alternatives to Scrivener - There may be more out there! If you've got another one you love, comment with a link, and I'll add it on.
  • Grammarly - A free grammar-checker. It does make mistakes, but it can help you catch errors you might've missed on your own. They also have articles explaining punctuation rules and other helpful grammar advice.
  • Hemmingway App - Flags wordy prose, adverbs, passive voice, and unclear passages for editing.
  • One Look - A reverse dictionary for finding words by their definitions
  • Voyant - A text-analysis tool. It mostly looks at word frequency, which can help you see if there are any words you’re over-using, quickly track the prevalence of a character/concept chapter by chapter, etc.
Resources That Aren't Free

If you're in a place where buying a writing guide is an option, OSJ really strongly recommends these books! (You might also look for a copy at your local library.) The other resources listed here are free, though. She also cannibalized a lot of the advice and prompts from these guides into her writing guide (above).

  • Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott) - Anne Lamott is delightfully neurotic, which made me feel better about my own obsessive tendencies and insecurities. She's also got some great concrete advice about taking things one step at a time, giving yourself small assignments, writing "what fits inside a one-inch picture frame," finding writing groups, etc. She also has some spicy takes on publishing and how, nope, it won't magically gift you with happiness. Good stuff.
  • Ron Carlson Writes a Short Story - It's about 100 pages long and explains his process of writing a short story from start to finish without leaving his chair (even though construction workers were banging on his roof the entire time).
  • Wonderbook (Jeff Vandermeer) - Includes advice, prompts, and guest essays.
From Zion:
  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft by John Gardner was the major inspiration for my prose essay. He's a little stuffy and curmudgeony though, just as warning (then again, a number of these suggestions potentially fall in that vein).
  • Engaging the Past: Mass Culture and the Production of Historical Knowledge by Allison Landsburg. Much of her focus is on the relationship between memory and television, but the topics she covers can apply to literature as well.
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Explores the monomyth and is also useful for writing bildungsroman, which are very common in Pokémon fanfiction.
  • The One Year Adventure Novel by Daniel Schwabauer. This is a great tool for beginners in particular, especially beginners interested in the action/adventure genre or writers who want to attempt a longer project but need/want more direction. Comes with a variety of useful prompts and worksheets to fill out, as well as DVD sets if you're more of a visual learner. If you're a veteran author you might find it a little too formulaic, however.
  • A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Should be obvious from the title.
From BossCar:

Book Reviews ~ WRITERS HELPING WRITERS® - "I highly recommend looking into the Writers Helping Writers series of books. I have The Emotion Thesaurus (2nd edition) and The Urban Setting Thesaurus, and they've been helpful. I can take some pictures if you want."
 
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Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
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  9. porygon
Fighter's Block is an awesome writing app that uses RPG mechanics to trick your brain into stay focused and in the zone while writing.
I love it so much and has done wonders for me.

If for some reason anyone has trouble with the link, click on the twitter link at the bottom and then click on the link on their twitter page. Works for me!
 

K_S

Unrepentent Giovanni and Rocket fan
Some resources I've used, or had rec'ed to me over the years, some of it for gaming others for actual writing.

one look, for word finding and what not

"He/She said," alternatives sorted by context

Personality and character traits a master list (I mainly use this one for gaming)

body language guide

Body language, sorted by context

This is a very casual guide to writing small children characters/traits... hopefully it helps.
writing small children

And a thought, perhaps there can be added in the above a category for canon related resources for pokemon fanfic assistance? High end layer guilds, plot outlines, 'mon charts, or even theroy pages for popular fandoms/shippings?
View: https://readingreylo.tumblr.com/post/629826602031792128/young-children-in-fiction
 
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zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
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The Writing University Podcast and the Odyssey fantasy/science fiction workshop podcasts are both super useful as well, with interviews from a number of talented writers. The Odyssey Podcast however is fairly short sessions for the most part that they usually cut off around the 15 minute mark since it’s a paid workshop.

Other potentially useful resources:

The One Year Adventure Novel by Daniel Schwabauer. This is a great tool for beginners in particular, especially beginners interested in the action/adventure genre or writers who want to attempt a longer project but need/want more direction. Comes with a variety of useful prompts and worksheets to fill out, as well as DVD sets if you're more of a visual learner. If you're a veteran author you might find it a little too formulaic however.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Explores the monomyth and is also useful for writing bildungsroman, which are very common in Pokémon fanfiction.

Art of the Novel by Mila Kundera and The Musical Novel: Imitation of Musical Structure, Performance, and Reception in Contemporary Fiction by Emily Petermann. They look at storytelling through a musical lens.

Engaging the Past: Mass Culture and the Production of Historical Knowledge by Allison Landsburg. Much of her focus is on the relationship between memory and television, but the topics she covers can apply to literature as well.

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Should be obvious from the title.

Oh yeah, can't believe I almost forgot... The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft by John Gardner was the major inspiration for my prose essay. He's a little stuffy and curmudgeony though, just as warning (then again, a number of these suggestions potentially fall in that vein).

"The Skeletal Structure of Japanese Horror Fiction" is an examination of Japanese storytelling philosophy and conventions, particularly Kishōtenketsu, the 'structure without conflict'.

More information on Kishōtenketsu can be found Here.

"Episodic Fiction: Another Way to Tell a Story" by Dan Holt and Pen Campbell. Lays out a number of useful tools and devices for the serialized format. Also has sources for other resources (nice rhyme, me).

Learn About Episodic Novels in Fiction” another article on serialized storytelling but with more emphasis on genre fiction as opposed to contemporary.

"Poetry 101: Resources for Beginners" is a good place to start if you want to dip your toes in the poetry water.

Diane Callahan has a YouTube channel with some of my favorite essays on writing, as well as some excellent interviews with authors (oh you already noted her--eh well I'm keeping it anyway because the overall channel is also good, not just that one video).

Diction Analysis and Diction Analysis 2.0 used for AP Lit courses. Be warned that these are very, very dry reads, but quite informative.

The Poetry Foundation is a website dedicated to sharing poetry. Much of it is free, too.
 
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WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
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  2. solrock
Wow, @zion of arcadia & @K_S, you’ve been busy! I’ll add links and organize my original post when I get a minute.
 

K_S

Unrepentent Giovanni and Rocket fan
Here's a more casual version of "a heros journey" which is a segment of campbell's work, using the game "Journey" as an illustration...

the old/original works of theyoutube channel extra credits, while mainly for gaming, are useful in writing the "Journey" segment belows a good example.

part one

part 2

I've some articles on story structure beyond the basic english 101, ferytag's stuff they teach as classical... I'll dig it up and toss the links here as time permits...
 

BossCar

Pokémon Trainer
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He/His

I highly recommend looking into the Writers Helping Writers series of books. I have The Emotion Thesaurus(2nd edition) and The Urban Setting Thesaurus, and they've been helpful. I can take some pictures if you want.

Each is around $15-$20, give or take.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
The main post/index should be all updated now! (y) ✨
 

BossCar

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
He/His
Since my writer’s library’s greatly expanded, I should mention the others. I have 6 of the 7 physical thesaurus:

The Emotion Thesaurs (2nd Edition)
The Urban Setting Thesaurus
The Rural Setting Thesaurus
The Positive Trait Thesaurus
The Negative Trait Thesaurus
The Occupation Thesaurus

The one I don’t have yet is The Emotional Would Thesaurus.
Here are seven of the writing books that I have alongside those:

Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress
Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland
Show, Don’t Tell by William Noble
Conflict, Action, and Suspense by William Noble
Setting by Jack M. Bickham
Description by Monica Wood
Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle

I can go into more detail and/or take photos if you want.

(I need to get back/get into the habit of consulting my library more.)
 
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bluesidra

Mood
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  1. hoppip-bluesidra-reup
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These are my main two articles when it comes to story structure:

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/secrets-story-structure-complete-series/
https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/character-arcs-1/

They are comprehensive and free and offer a very tight skeletal to form a plot around. It feels like a formula, but once applied, the results vary greatly. Because I hate reading, I've made a flowchart with the bullet points from those two articles:
Story Structure and Character Arcs.png

Unrelated, but: the emotion-wheel. It is priceless.
73f3f96e5173f4ff97e5e7669d05c0f0.png
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
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  9. manectric
I've been listening to writing excuses a lot recently and it seems like it would fit in here. Episodes are usually 15-20 minutes long and go over a specific subject. I found season 12, in particular, useful. That season is primarily about story structure. While the podcast is aimed at people wanting to get original fiction published, a lot of the advice applies to fanfic, too.

 

bluesidra

Mood
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Madness Arcs​

This is a transcript/summary of "How (NOT) To Write Madness | Arcane vs Game Of Thrones" by schnee that I've been working on for the better part of today and wanted to share it with you!

Note that the "madness" here refers to the "mad" character trope we see in media and that the entire article is about writing such arcs. Real mental illness acts very differently and the author of the original essay acknowledges this in several points.

1. Externalising Conflict​


All of us experience internal conflict. But when that happens, we don’t hallucinate a second self and have a conversation with it. When we miss a loved one, we don’t see them physically unexpected throughout our lives.

Mental distress is an internal phenomenon. Madness takes that internal conflict and creates an outer world from it that that character lives in. It’s the inner chaos of the character bleeding out into their world.

The distress is consuming how they see the world, but through this it’s also shaping the environment around them. This can be through physical appearance and their personal way of expressing themselves. To communicate on the same level, they might try to bring other characters into their delusional world.

1.1 Identity at the Center​


The disconnect between the real world and the delusional world must be so deep, it will connect to the character’s idea of themselves (identity). It becomes so bad that they develop separate identities to act in the different worlds – they are not a single person belonging to two worlds and freely moving between them.

This can be two separate named characters or a strikingly dual way the character sees themselves.

1.2 Worlds in Conflict​


Even though the real world and the delusional world may overlap sometimes, they are a breeding ground for contradictions. The character must work overtime to reconcile those.

For madness, we need a contentious relationship to this externalised delusion world.

Gollum wrestles with his two selves, Jinx tries to quiet the voices down and tries to resist their command.

1.3 Living Paradoxes​


The character living on this intersection between their two worlds, constantly switching between the two as well as the exceedingly desperate ways to reconcile both makes them walking paradoxes.

Use paradoxical imagery when dealing with this character!

2. Inception Point​


The origin of their madness is important, mainly to justify the character’s action to the audience who wants to pin one moment down as the triggering event. It can be trauma, death, defeat, a corrupting influence, an environment or even an idea. This event has to reshape the character’s identity.

3. Blinding Positivity​


While their actions and motives might seem horrifying to onlookers, to the character it might be hopeful. Whatever the delusional world offers them, it’s a step up from being torn between both worlds. There might be a desire to make the world a better place, or simply the peace of not having to reconcile both worlds. When they eventually let the dam burst and give into their alternate world, it’s an overflow of bliss. To them, it feels like they’ve finally breached whatever’s been holding back.

The larger the disconnect between the objective horror of the action and the subjective positivity of the perpetrator, the more shocking it is for the audience.

4. Deterioration of Relationships​


Relationships – be it with people around them or to themselves – are an important factor in keeping people grounded. Without them it’s easy to slip into worlds that make sense only for them.

There are five vectors of relationships: community, family, self, body and something greater.

Madness will deteriorate a character’s relationship to their community and family by isolating them. Being stuck in their own world, outsiders can’t relate to them any more and vice versa. In addition to another safety net lost, these broken relationship often transform into straight up paranoia: “Everyone has left me, I am alone. I am not connected to these people any longer, and therefore they are against me.”

Isolation can come in many forms: Being cast out of society, or being isolated within a community by status or another factor. Whatever serves to remove the character from the people around them.

The deterioration of self becomes obvious when we look at the character and don’t recognise them any longer. Sometimes, they might snap back to their old self again, but after this short reprieve, the entire character crumbles further and further.

The disconnection from the body shows itself in the character valuing their body less and less. They might become reckless as they are driven to further extremes by their inner distress. In a more literal way, they might even become less human, behaving more like animals or corpses, with flat affect and meaningless behaviour.

They might also abandon their former values, their mission or their life’s devotion as they disconnect more and more from whatever their greater good is.

5. Grief​


Grief is a way to justify the character’s action in the eyes of the audience. The character faces an unexpected death of a loved one or an unexpected defeat or failure.

Everything until now the dam could hold and we’ve gotten a sense of what this dam is capable of holding. So whatever breaks it has to be worse, has to be a qualitatively harder blow than anything we’ve seen up to now. It has to shatter the character’s world, and is therefore a prompt for action.

Now the character needs to fix their world or get back at it, with an action as loud and bad as what impacted them in the first place. They are now desperate on a whole new level. The lure of the positivity within their madness has never been stronger.

6. Reaching a Boiling Point​


The climax of these arcs when they’re tragic is absolute commitment to the mad world, accomplished through some extreme act that only makes sense in the mad world.

Because of the scope of this, the climax has to be triggered by increasing the pressure on this character, rather than a constant, steady agony. The conflict becomes so bad, the character constantly tries to quell it. They try to tie themselves to reality, but that repression only increases the pressure that’s continuously building inside. This elevates the climax action into a dam-breaking moment.

This building of pressure also acts as justification on the audience’s side. Because these actions are usually so extreme, it’s hard to believe a character is making a conscious decision to do something so insane. Years of pent up emotional energy can justify this at least in parts.

7. Moment of Agency​


Madness arcs are often about trying to bring the person back from the brink of madness. So in order for a narrative resolution, this uncertainty must be settled. This happens when the character shows that they want this. When they have the opportunity and the freedom to choose reality and they choose otherwise.

This decision has to be fully theirs, without any outside influences, in order for the audience to properly emotionally detach from the character.

Rule 1: Externalising Conflict​


So all of us experience conflict. Part of us wants x, part of us wants y. But when that happens, we don’t hallucinate a second self and have a dialogue with it. When we miss a loved one, we don’t literally see them physically unexpected throughout our lives and then have to kill them because we are so freaked out.

The way Jinx speaks is not about the way she feels, it’s like statements about reality. “Nothing ever stays dead” – that is how reality works. “I should have known better” – should have known, it’s like she is learning about the world. And the other quote I had before – “Powder fell down a well,” – again, it’s not a statement about her feelings. Her expression makes it like it’s a statement of facts. It’s not “No, I don’t want to be called Powder” or “No, I don’t identify with this name any more,” no. “Powder fell down a well.” It’s like what happened in the world. That’s how she’s expressing her inner feelings about this.

And this is also what’s going on with the scratching. Mental distress is an internal phenomenon. Madness takes that internal conflict and creates an outer world from it that that character lives in.

Lord of the Rings is excellent in this on so many levels and in a completely different way than Arcane does it. Theodem, cursed with madness, isn’t just depicted through his behaviour and speech, it’s externalised. An when he is cured of madness, that’s externalised too. Gollum: We talked about this with the dual selves thing – which Arcane does do with Jinx. But his madness is externalised in his physical appearance just like Theodem. Madness is an outer transformation as well. It’s a different kind of externalisation, but similar impact on the audience. It’s like the inner chaos bleeding out into reality.

[…]

But Arcane’s way is so perfect, because the scratching is so clearly this overflow from what’s inside her head. It’s reminiscent of her art-style even. In typical Arcane it really is expressing everything about this character. Her madness isn’t just consuming the way she sees the world, it’s not just something that impacts the way she expresses herself, it’s shaped her living environment. It’s in the company she keeps so to speak. It’s overflown into her style of terrorism, which is all about creating these horrifying spaces and situations. It fits her style of invention, which is always taking the form of a smiling animal that she can talk to ever since she was Powder, as if she’s making imaginary friends for herself.

And then obviously in the teaparty-scene it’s not just her being dramatic and theatrical, it’s her externalising the conflict as it appears to her mind. This scene is bringing other characters into Jinx-world.

Rule 2: Relates to Identity​


First thing is it’s not necessarily an entire alternate world the characters live in – it can be – but whatever form it takes, it must relate back to identity. How the character sees himself. It’s not a single person that belongs to two worlds. It’s one self that belongs to one world and the other self that belongs to the other world. And this will often take the form of two actual separate named characters (Powder and Jinx, Smeagol and Gollum, Anakin and Vader) but you can do it more subtly, too.

And I think Denethor is a good example of that. In one world he’s a pathetic king stand-in watching his kingdom crumble, and in the other world he’s meeting his demise heroically ‘like the heathen kings of old.’ And that heroic end is a complete in his tragic glory if it’s not the end of his house as well. So we get this externalisation of him seeing Faramir’s dead when he’s not. That is a fitting end for this grand house of Gondor, which is integral to who Denethor is in this mad world of his. So here’s not actually a new identity, but still a world that relates back to identity in terms of how the character defines himself.

Rule 3: Mad World Breeds Conflict​


Second thing: The way they relate to this alternate world is in itself a source of conflict. And why wouldn’t it be? Of course it is. These realities will overlap sometimes, but they’ll create tons of contradictions on the important stuff and it’s a nightmare for these characters trying to reconcile these contradictions. It’s not that they sometimes move happily between the real world and the world of their delusions.

[…]

For madness, we need a contentious relationship to this externalised delusion world. Gollum is tortured by the dilemma between his two selves – which self to be. And there’s this dilemma – sometimes he’s more Smeagol, sometimes he’s more Gollum. And the ring does seem to universally create this exact kind of tension with its own brand of madness. The characters fall into its corruption and take on different identities and then become aware of them and try to distance themselves so it’s this continuous battle.

With Jinx we really see this battle. She’s constantly trying to get the voices to quiet down, she’s trying to tear herself away from what they’re telling her. Even with the lines we talked about: It’s not just “Nothing ever stays dead,” it’s the preface “I should have known.” She’s not making an informational statement, she’s judging herself for being dumb, basically. “I should have known.” We see her caught in the process of trying to figure out which reality is real.

And the third feature here also relates to an element within that “Nothing stays dead”-line. Think about what she’s saying for a minute. “Nothing stays dead.” It’s wrong, but it’s not just wrong, it’s the opposite of true. “Nothing stays alive” would be the more accurate version.

Rule 4: World of Paradoxes​


Paradox is the feature to highlight here. That’s what it means for these characters to exist in the intersection between the real world and the mad world.

This statement in particular – just to draw the paradoxical side of it even more – Jinx’s trauma goes back to the deaths in her past. The impact of these deaths for her is that they stay alive, that they never die even though their deaths are the cause of her trauma. See the mad spiral this creates? That’s the feeling you should try to capture with these mad characters. It’s not just the evil of madness, the disconnect of madness but the paradoxical world it forces on its victims.

And we see this chilling duality over and over with Jinx. She drudges up the validiani, the schematic item of her childhood guilt. But she puts sparklers around it, like it’s something to celebrate. She can’t decide if she cherishes Wisebunny or hates what it represents, so she has two. She has one on her desk and she nails one to the wall. We have both, we are living in the contradiction.

And her burn-it-all-down-moment this destructive act is presented in this bizarre but powerful mix of doomsday aesthetic with the red mood and the beautiful, triumphant shooting-star aesthetic with the path of the missile. The madness isn’t represented as total trauma or total destruction or total hatred, it’s celebrating trauma, it’s beautiful doom, it’s double bunny.

Rule 5: Reaching a Boiling Point​


So where does all of that take us? What do we do with it?

The climax of these arcs when they’re tragic is absolute commitment to the mad world, accomplished through some extreme act that only makes sense in the mad world. Burn-it-all-down is a common way, but there are other forms it takes.

So because of how extreme these climatic actions need to be, the conflict between these two realities has to reach a boiling point. Meaning it’s not just a steady agony that keeps pumping up. “Oh, there it is again.” No. It is building and building and the conflict makes the character try to quell it, try to stop it, try to tie themselves down to the real world by force so they stay there. But that repression only makes it worse and it keeps just building and building, more and more corrupt, stronger and stronger externalisations, more and more transformative. So this climax action isn’t just a decision, it’s a dam-breaking moment.

And that’s partially what ends up justifying it on our side, on the audience’s side. Because these actions are usually so extreme, that even if there’s a reason for it, generally it is hard to believe a character is making a conscious decision to do something so insane. But if there’s years of pressure building up, years of repressing emotional energy pushing the characters to act over and over and the character refusing to act and letting them go 100% then we have that justifying the action as well. Of course that much pent up energy needs to find release in something so extreme.

Rule 6: Blinding Positivity​


[…]

We tend to view human horrors like nazism from our perception, how we know it to be, in our perceptive. But from the perpetrator’s perspective it can take on an entirely different character. We know this movement was like the incarnation of evil itself, but that doesn’t mean that what was driving it were these cartoonishly evil villains stroking cats, talking about how they’ll create a world of pain and evil. No. What drives these kinds of madness can be hope. It can be paradise. Crazy as it sounds, it can be the desire to make the world a better place. Yes, completely corrupted, completely insane, but at its root it’s often a blinding positivity at the heart of madness.

So back to fiction: This aspect of madness – the positivity – is not something we typically choose to highlight in real-life madness, but it is a very resonating factor in depicting madness in stories. These moments for us may be horrifying, but for the characters letting that damn finally burst and giving in to the alternate world is triumph, it’s destiny, it’s bliss. Depicting that disconnect, that dissonance between the positivity within the doer and the actual objective evil or destructiveness through the eyes of the onlookers – us included – that disconnect is so powerful. It really transforms the impact from shocking to horrifying.

Rule 7: Grief​


So now we have our positivity, we also have our buildup of conflict, that dam-breaking moment we talked about earlier usually has one more major ingredient – grief. And this is in the same vein as we talked about earlier. We’re justifying that moment, making us buy that the character would actually do something that extreme, that out of reality. Grief is another way of aiding that justification.

The character faces an unexpected death of a loved one or an unexpected defeat or failure. Everything until now the dam could hold and we’ve gotten a sense of what this dam is capable of holding. So whatever breaks it has to be worse, has to be a qualitatively harder blow than anything we’ve seen up to now.

With Jinx it was seeing history repeat itself, seeing her kill her family again. It was the loss of her most cherished bond which was also one of her final remaining bonds. So we need the character’s world shattered. That’s a prompt for action.

That character needs to fix their world or to get back at the world for what it did to me. Either way we demand an action whose impact will be as loud, as bad as what impacted me negatively. And that’s where the bliss fits in, the triumph, the positivity. The character is now desperate on a whole other level to try to escape from grief or to revive a cherished bond or to balance the scales of how fate treated them or of justice. The lure of the positivity within their madness has never been stronger. That positivity is what will balance the scales.

Rule 8: Inception Point​


And while we’re on the topic of the grief trigger for the dam-breaking moment: Similar to this is the trigger to the madness arc as a whole, like going back much earlier in the character’s life or in their arc, and this usually needs its own trigger. Not everyone goes mad, so we feel like there should be some event we can point to that sets this character down this path. Often it’s an event of that same nature – a worldshattering trauma, death, defeat – but it can also be the introduction of some dark influence – a dark person, a dark object, a dark substance. It can be an environment, like the prison in Midnight Express. It can be an idea – either independent or an interpretation of an event often related to identity.

With Denethor it seems like the general trigger was Boromir’s death and then the final trigger was Faramir’s death. The Starwars-people actually turn it on its head, making love the inception point for Anakin’s madness ark – very interesting, they don’t do a very good job but it’s a very interesting idea.

Rule 9: Spiritual Deterioration​


Okay, next ingredient. This one is a little hard to articulate. I’m gonna borrow a friends definition here. I’m calling this Spiritual Deterioration. And that’s my friend Abby’s definition of spirituality which doesn’t have anything to do with spirits, the dead or religion.

My friend Abby is a chaplain at a children’s hospital. She helps a lot of parents and children facing devastating illnesses and her definition of spirituality is connection. And there’s five levels of spirituality she focuses on:

1. Connection to your community

2. Connection to your family

3. Connection to your self

4. Connection to your body

5. Connection to something greater (whether it’s a god, a cause, a value, whatever it is)

And I think these provide an interesting model when it comes to the kind of deterioration we see with madness. We feel like the relationship with the people around us, our society, or family – that’s what keeps us grounded so we don’t find ourselves slipping into these worlds that don’t make sense to anyone around us.

And that goes both ways, that this descent into madness ends up wreaking havoc on our relationships.

And this leads to a trait that almost universally associated with mad people – a paranoia. This is what these broken relationships become. I’m not connected to any of these people – they are against me.

Again, I love Lord of the Ring’s depiction of this from both ends of the spectrum. Gollum’s obviously cast out from his own society and then actually alone for five-hundred years. And even when he forms relationships, his paranoia fights to break them. But also Denethor isolated in his own way at the top of society. I don’t think this was in the books, but in the movies they expressed this beautifully in the visuals – this giant, empty throne-room. And of course his madness-arc matches up with the isolation from his family. And Saruman’s similar with his ivory tower (or ebony tower) isolation.

So this isolation and deterioration doesn’t have to be this icky outcast thing, it can take a variety of forms.

And then we have the isolation from the self equally important here. Which in a lot of ways means that it feels like we don’t know the person any more. But it’s not just a change or personality shift. It’s like the person we remember is deteriorating. We see reprieve from the moments of madness, the resurfacing moments. Sometimes we see it depicted almost as if the character has had an outer body experience and then has an abrupt return to the self.

I think this encompasses the disconnection from self (from identity,) but also disconnection from something greater. Disconnection from your values, your mission, your life’s devotion.

But the disconnection from body – that’s a really interesting category here. And the word that might fit better for this concept here is humanity. Disconnection from humanity or the deterioration of your humanity. I talked a bit about this in the Gollum-short I did. The character literally becomes less human. His human characteristics diminish, his speech becomes limited. They start acting like animals, eating like animals. Or they might become corpse-like. And that’s another way of expressing this mindlessness, vacant affects, meaningless behaviour, emptiness.

With Jinx we obviously have her becoming more and more socially isolated. We have her burn-it-all-down moment after all her relationships are no more. But my favourite depiction of the isolation of identity in particular is the stuff they do with the mirror. She can’t see her reflection. She tries to connect to herself by looking in the mirror, but that connection is shattered. And I think Arcane deals a lot with disconnection from your body, with everything they do related to monsters and shimmer, changing your nature, changing your very substance. With Jinx we do see a little part of her arc that has to do with her body, with how her madness effects how she values her body and ultimately impacts what her body is. We see this lead to a transformation physically for her, in the subtleties of how she looks and how she even moves.

All these elements I used to see as kind of separate, but I think this umbrella-term, this way of thinking about it as spiritual deterioration fits really well to encompass all of these qualities.

Rule 10: Moment of Agency​


Okay, final ingredient here is agency. And this is also a feature of fictional madness, doesn’t seem to like a real thing with real madness. But the madness arc doesn’t feel complete until the characters themselves get to that crucial moment of choice and choose madness.

And I think this also has to do more with the our relationship to the character via the other characters in the story. Madness arcs are often about trying to bring the person back from the brink of madness – there’s faith that they can see reason, they can be themselves again. And as long as we hold on to that hope that we can save them we cannot get to a resolution. So this hope has to die. And it dies with the character showing that they want this. When they have the opportunity and the freedom to choose otherwise, to choose reality, they make the wrong choice.

And of course with Jinx we get this quiet and incredible moment of her sitting in the Jinx-chair. No voices telling her to, no demons, no nothing to push her either way. And she herself makes that choice to be Jinx. And that’s when we finally loose all hope.
 

myuma

I still think about y%#'()_*{\\"'&36)%("'$&''&(15y
Pronouns
she/her
i'd like to offer up classical Sanskrit play structures as a resource! It's similar to Kishotenketsu, in that it's not conflict-centred, but it may be more suitable for longer stories as it has five to six acts (rather than three).

Here is a quick summary, and here is a PDF that goes into scholarly detail about the structure of Sanskrit plays.
 

Negrek

Windswept Questant
Staff
Realized it might be helpful to share this with more people, since I end up digging around in game text dumps very frequently. You can find an archive of the full text for almost every pokémon game on this Bulbapedia user profile, with files for almost every language those games have ever been released in. To make these a little easier to work with, the user who's been compiling them recently released a tool for searching all of those text dumps at once. Very handy if you ever need to look at what sort of information the games have presented about a concept! Note that the search tool unfortunately doesn't seem to work in Firefox.
 

Meridian

local liminal entity
Location
The Casca Region
Pronouns
any/all
Partners
  1. aromatisse

SparklingBlue

Pokémon Trainer
Location
Questing through the Pokeworld
Pronouns
She/Her
Writing a Zelda fic (or something Zelda inspired) and need a dungeon name that sounds like it could come from Zelda?

I've made a very basic dungeon name generator (which you can access here)

Basically, I went through all the Zelda games where the dungeons had unique names, and compiled common name elements into lists of data, so when you hit the button, you'll get a name that would sound right at home in A Link to the Past/A Link Between Worlds, Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess, or the Oracle games.

Some examples of what you might get:

Cold Leopard's Mines
Heavenly Darknut's Ruins
Fox's Domain
Moblin's Tower
Grieving Mantis's Maze

Of course, it's still a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions for words I could include in names, how to make the generator look nicer, or find that something's not working, let me know!

UPDATE: I FINALLY found a dungeon background that still made the outputs readable.
 
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