« Week #153 - Gather Your Party »

SA Prompt | SA Results | BB Code
Date: 7-7-2015
Word Limit: 1500
Words Written: 61,585

Judges (crits):
Bad Seafood
Week Archivist:

(click the pic for some mood-setting music)


So it turns out one of the biggest sins you can commit in genre fiction is writing fantasy that reads like a D&D session after action report. Well this week we say nuts to that cause that's exactly what I want. Sort of. Hear me out.

Something I've noticed a lot of 'domers struggle with (including yours truly) is coming up with engaging characters. I can't tell you how many stories I've read where the protagonist was just some inoffensively bland everyman I was somehow supposed to relate to, or a huge jerk because huge jerks are interesting by default, right? Right? Probably my second-most repeated critique of other people's work here has been some variation of "I didn't like your characters," "I didn't care about your characters," with the first being "You didn't write me a story; why didn't you write me a story?" Characters should be the lifeblood of your story. Pretty prose doesn't count for much when I can't stand your cast.

Consider this week, then, a workshop week.

This week I want stories of high adventure set against a suitably fantastical backdrop. Rather than a single, selfish protagonist, your story should feature an ensemble cast of at least three but no more than five core characters, adventurers all, though I'll let you get away with one more if they're up against some baddie (presuming the baddie's the extra guy). Each of these characters should be distinct enough that you could remove all dialogue attribution and still tell who was saying what in any given conversation. Needless to say, good character chemistry is a must, though don't assume that means everybody has to get along.

Additionally, every character should have some role they are clearly fulfilling. Everyone should have a place in the group, whether it's swinging a sword or slinging spells, balancing the books or cooking up dinner. No tag along dudes who are just there to be there.

In terms of story content, I'm willing to be a bit more flexible. Maybe your dudes just stumbled into an ancient crypt. Maybe they're recuperating around the campfire just after narrowly escaping with their lives. Maybe they're confronting a great evil. Maybe a wizard hired them to clean his house (they needed the money), only he forgot to mention the books in his library are literally alive and cast the spells in their pages on people they don't recognize. Maybe it's everyone's day off. As long as a clear arc of some kind is present, I'm even open to things bordering on vignettes. Still no fanfiction or erotica though. Nope.

And no swearing, long as we're on the subject. Swearing can be a useful tool to have in your toolbox, but too many of you guys just throw it around willy-nilly without a thought for how it affects the tone and temperament of your story as a whole. No swearing. I mean it. Not even the little ones even your ultra-conservative grandmother uses from time to time. If you wanna write the kinda character who'd swear casually or to make a point or whatever, consider instead some other means of communicating their personality beyond suddenly including the word "FUCK!" in the middle of your otherwise fuck-less story.

Other things I don't wish to see include intrusive worldbuilding, the specific and particular mechanics behind whatever brand of magic you decided to use, and stock fantasy races acting like their stereotypes. You know what I mean.

To take the edge off all these hoops I'm making you guys jump through, you have 1,500 words with which to stretch your legs. That's like 200 more than last week! Usually I'd cap you guys at 1k.

A prompt leaps forth from the underbrush. Doth thou accept its challenge?

39 Total Submissions, 6 Total Failures: