|ADVENTURE GENERATOR - A question I get asked a lot is "Can you give me a paint
brush?". But I know that the question these people are really asking is, "How
do I write a story that won't bore people to death and has a halfway fair shot
at either getting published or getting a good rating on the Adventure Generator?"
The truth is, it's easy to come up with a good idea for a story. But you have
to do something else first. You have to have interesting characters.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. This isn't exactly a new subject. A lot
of articles have given outlines for developing characters or creating personalities
for your pets. But I'm going to go one step further here. I'm going to tell
you exactly what kinds of characters you need for your stories. Every story
has to have certain types of characters in order to be even remotely
interesting. Almost every story has the same basic plot. Good gets in trouble
for a short time, but eventually conquers evil. What makes each story unique
is HOW your characters react to the trouble they are in and how they react to
CREATING AN ORDINARY HERO
There are two types of hero. The ordinary guy who is placed in a unusual situation,
and a superhero, who pretty much fights evil for a living. If you want to go
for the ordinary guy-type-hero, here are the qualities he should have:
He should start out pretty pathetic. A good job for an ordinary guy is a janitor
or a librarian or something. He should be on the loveable side, and maybe even
slightly ditzy. The idea is that he will become stronger and more streetwise
as he goes along and by the time he is out of the trouble he is in, he is practically
a superhero. Giving your hero at least one little quirk makes him different.
It can be something that seems simple, like being allergic to asparagus. If
you can work his allergy to asparagus into the story and make it an important
detail, it can be a fun plot twist. Ordinary guys get into trouble two ways.
They either happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or they have
something the bad guy needs.
Let's say you have decided that your villain is a mad scientist and that your
hero is a janitor. The hero is a quiet kind of guy who can only chew gum for
exactly five minutes before he swallows it unless he spits it out first. The
villain is a screaming nutcase. All you have to do is imagine how these two
people could meet up and you have a story. The first thing that pops into my
head is that the janitor unwittingly wads up his bubble gum in a piece of paper
in a high school lab he is cleaning up. It turns out the mad scientist is posing
as a chemistry teacher to cover the demented project he is working on. The janitor
has now accidentally stolen a page of the mad scientist's secret formula. You
have a great story to develop and all you had to do is think of how to get these
two guys together.
CREATING A SUPER HERO
A hero doesn't have to wear a spandex costume or have super powers in order
to fall into this category. But he does have to be basically superior to the
people around him. If he is just really good at twirling around a sword, that's
often good enough. Unlike the ordinary hero, who fights evil or who needs to
get out of a jam because of a weird twist of fate, the superhero actually goes
hunting for trouble. If someone else is in trouble, it's the superhero that
shows up automatically to help out. Superheroes are obsessed with truth, justice
and helping out the poor and downtrodden. He is far less likely to have a normal
job, unless it's something that allows him to know what's going on over the
whole planet, like being a newspaper reporter or a whip-carrying archaeologist.
But more likely a superhero is either very rich or has a really rich sponsor
who buys him cool weapons that you could never hope to have in real life. Like
an atomic tea biscuit of ultimate destruction.
Superheroes can be harder to create a story for because they have deep-seated
issues with a certain villain or two. So it's more important to find something
to write about that will showcase their special abilities. If your superhero
can fly, for example, maybe you should mess up his flying ability for half of
your story to make things interesting for him. Let's say that Dr. Sloth is working
on a new space station that is even twice as large as the old one. Your superhero
wants to fly up there and destroy it before Dr. Sloth has it working to full
capacity. But Dr. Sloth has slipped asparagus juice into the superhero's hot
cocoa. Since your superhero is allergic to asparagus, this totally wrecks his
ability to fly. Now all you have to do is figure out how to get your superhero
to the space station in the nick of time and you have a wonderful, action-packed
adventure. It may be a slightly weird action-packed adventure, but it's wonderful
CREATING AN ANTI-HERO
The anti-hero is by far the most fun type of hero. This guy is a social outcast.
The sort of guy who wants the entire world to leave him alone, but the moment
anything even remotely female screams he will jump off of his motorcycle and
make a Coco Whip Slushie out of anybody who happens to wearing a name tag that
says, "Hello, my name is Bully." The thing that makes an anti-hero so much more
fun than a normal hero is that he can do really mean and selfish things. He
can be rude and sarcastic. But because he saves the day at the end of the story,
he is considered a good guy. Anti-heroes almost never agree to do anything in
the beginning unless they are paid first. Yet they always manage change their
minds about it halfway through the story because the screaming female has a
nice smile. They also have a whole different set of villains after them which
causes even more trouble for the people they are paid to help.
In order to give you an idea of how an anti-hero works, let's go back to that
gum-chewing janitor scenario. An anti-hero would be hunting for a place to stick
his gum in the insane Chemistry teacher's lab and would happen to discover the
secret formula. The anti-hero would know exactly what it was and steal it. His
plan would be to sell it because he has a severe Grarrl Keno habit and he owes
a couple of hundred thousand Neopoints to a bad-tempered Jetsam loan shark.
If having two villains after this guy isn't fun enough, toss in a bounty hunter
paid to track him down and have the Neopian Airlines lose his luggage.
CREATING A STRONG HEROINE
Genderly speaking, heroines are female heroes. Heroines can follow the same
basic guidelines as heroes, but with a slight difference. Heroines react more
emotionally to what is happening than heroes do. For example, let's say that
Florg kidnaps a Snowbunny because he's tired of eating Warfs all the time. A
superhero would say, "We must rescue that Snowbunny and bring this evildoer
to justice!" A superheroine would say, "He kidnapped a cute, defenseless, fluffy
little Snowbunny? Just wait until I get my paws on that rotten mutant
There are basically two types of heroines. Those who need to be saved and
those that don't. A strong heroine can pretty much take care of herself, and
actually gets cranky if guys try to help. Heroines are often more interested
in seeing justice done than heroes are. Heroes usually just want to survive
the ordeal. Being female is a big ace up the heroine's sleeve because bad guys
rarely take them seriously. Then again, if a hero wore pink leotards and carried
a rod of superdaisy, I doubt a villain would take him seriously either.
Descriptive words that are often linked to strong heroines are "sassy", "plucky"
and "bossy". Strong heroines have a tendency to be more intelligent than anyone
else around them. So they spend a lot of their time annoyed at everybody because
strong heroines could have the day saved in five minutes flat if they could
ever get anybody to listen to them. They also are very rarely loners. It's sort
of hard to be bossy when you're the only one around to give orders to.
CREATING A NEEDY HEROINE
Some heroines simply attract bad luck. They can be standing in the middle
of Neopia Central during rush hour and they still would be the one that fleeing
bank robbers grab as a hostage. Although needy heroines might seem a little
on the wimpy side because they require so much rescuing, they can actually be
very sympathetic characters. The more sweet, loveable and helpless a heroine
is, the worse the bad guy looks in comparison. It's also more of a shock when,
through a stroke of incredible luck, she totally wipes the floor with the bad
The success or failure of a story rests squarely on the shoulders of the heroes
of the story. If they are boring or predictable, a story can get pretty monotonous.
But if you have created an interesting lead character, then you don't even have
to work very hard to make a great story. Your hero's personality will tell you
what happens next. And if your hero is a gum-chewing janitor, the world could
be in for a wild ride.
NEXT WEEK: Generating A Cool Adventure: How To Make Supporting Characters