Well hello fello wikians.
As you might know, I finished half a month ago the first book of my fanfiction, Book One: Metal. I know it's not being read by many people, but that's not going to stop me from continuing writing it. Even so, "" simply started as a fun writing exercise to help me express myself through writing, and I have developed incredible abilities on how to handle characters.
At least, thats what some people who gave me feedback in real life have told me it's something not many writers get right, and not many writers get to have many likeable characters as I do (they even liked my character Tao, who I tried to make unlikeable on purpose to be honest). Let's face it, even Bryke themselves had some problems with handling characters in "Legend of Korra" like Mako (not really hating on Mako since he's the character I can relate most to, and that's why I actually like him), or Unalaq (yes, he could have been a better villain, and could have had more depth); anyways, despite of some minor flaws I still liked the show, but that's for another blog post.
I'm going to say "How do I write Book One"
- Setting the main characters. I got based on a original character structure of: male Earth Avatar (Hikar), female Earth Kingdom non-bender (Bultina), best friend male waterbender (Kensi), a firebending princess (Shaila), and a Republic City non-bender (Tao). I later came up with a female airbender (Aria), and a young metalbender (Kosen, who originally wasn't Bultina's sister). I make the characters, create a backstory for every single one of them (easy in most cases if they shared their childhood together), and give them a purpose/archivement (like Hikar wanting to be a better Avatar than Korra, which I have to admit it's a bit cliché from Shonen Manga like Naruto), and a weakness (a clear example is Tao being unnable to completly understand social skills, or Aria being completely blind to her false motivations in the Red Lotus).
- Tracing the main villains. I have planned so far like five big antagonists, only two of them are fully profiled (Yurei and the main villain of Book Two). I tried to follow the troupe of Korra's villains, on each one representing a political ideology, but rather than aproximating politics, I aproximated more moral thoughts of mine and of current events. Yurei, is supposed to represent the ideology of cultural appropiation, on how someone external to a culture, thinks of it as the ideal way of life; Yurei sees the life of an Air Nomad as a role model the other nations should follow; I got inspired in various internet thoughts of people saying "Japan is the best country in the world""The perfect country", myself included at some point, but truth is, Japan shouldn't be the culture to follow in a 100%. One thing I learned from the Korra antagonists, it's that, they have ideals, and a good objective, with good intentions, and somehow, they have to collide with the protagonist's objectives/sense of justice, and make a confilct that will become the main argument of the book.
- Tracing the book plots. I have an idea on where do I want to take the story, at least in the next three/four books; like I said before, the villain is an important plot character, and so is the protagonist, and in some cases, you never know if a minor character from the first book could become an important piece in the next season. The thing is, I had planned the character deaths, the first setting on the first chapter compared to the final chapter, and how the world and the characters will change in the next books, for better or worse. One key element while writing a story, is to know where are you going, which direction is the story going to take, and not just writing a dazzle of random events without a clear objective. That's one of the things that Korra flawed, and I'm trying to make it better.
- Writing the actual plot. Just write what's going to happen in the book, every detail you want to happen: battles, wins, loses, deaths, events…of course, while writing battles, please try to avoid what is called "plot armor", another topic I'll do for writing battles. The thing is, you want this event A to happen because it will make happen B as a repercusion, or, you just want to write something to foreshadow C. For foreshadowing, if you're going to foreshadow something that will be important in three books in the future, write it down somewhere else, where you what to detail events in that third or fourth book, like it's plot.
- First writing. I have the characters, the main villain, the initial setting, and I know where do I want to take the story. Great, now, I start of by writng directly the book; I plan it to make it 12 chapters, like Book One: Air, because, like in many anime, in 12 episodes there's enough time to tell a good story. I write each episode by thinking constantly "What would this character do?", back when I was working in a Peter Pan play in eighth grade (2nd grade of secondary in Spain) my english/drama teacher said I was incredible at gettin into character. Imagine that with the six protagonists, the five villains, and all of the supporting and minor characters. Each episode came up with a different idea and a different aportation to the main plot, and although, episodes 5 to 10 were planned to be fillers, I didn't have ideas so I just made up many things: "new Freedom Fighters" who'd be renamed as "Flower Raiders", the fanserivice episode (if that can be called that way) of "The Blue Delta" in which I introduced a totally unexpected character, and gave a cool backstory to one of the main supporting characters. The thing is, many twists appeared, and neither I was expecting them; if twists happen in your first writing, great, it means your story is alive and consistent.
- Rewriting #1. Before writing the 12th and final episode, reread everything you've just read. Take out and change ideas you don't think they fit, are unnecessary, or, from my point of view, are utterly ridiculous and non-sensical. Make the events of the begining match the end. One of my biggest problems was the main villain, I gave him hard basic point that sustained his ideology way too much, and I didn't know how to actually rebate them, keep that in mind on the future, remember how are you going to solve the initial conflict, just like Bryke did in every single book. Yurei is by far, in my opinion, a GREAT villain; he was my take on both Zaheer and Kuvira's ideologies, and he, as a character, became very dificult to write in the dialog, because he was actually smarter than me. I had to make various research as well to see if whatever happened in the story matched the canon timeline and world, because that's one of my goals with this story.
- Rewriting #2. The final version of the story is written, with all plot twist redifined, made more sensical, and with new backstories to cover up some plot holes. Now, before I strated writing the actual finale, I realized that some chapter were like, 2000 words long more or less, and others were 8000 words, so I restructured them to give them all the same aproximate length: 5000 words.
- Writing the finale. This is always the hardest episode to write, because it's the final battle between the main protagonist and the (first) main antagonist, but not just in an epic battle and seeing who's the strongest, but on which ideology turns out to be the victorious. In this chapter you have to cover up everything that has happened in the book so far, like redemption of antagonists, rescue of protagonists, all that. Also, it's better to leave clear in which state the protagonists are right now, or even let the imagination play on the readers in case you want to leave somthing unclear (even though you leave the state written in the character's profile). I did, and I think it's pretty cool, a short epilogue in the end, to kind of hook to the next book two.
- Detail polishment. I finished writing the finale, covered everything I wanted to cover in the book, and now the story looks ready for the next book. Before that, let's take a beta-reader (hell get a gamma-reader as well, cause why not!), but not just anyone in the wiki (not that I don't trust you guys, you're just busy with your life and not that much active, nothing else), ask a real life friend to read the story and tell you could be improved, whether is grammar (especially in my case), or dialog/narrative inconsistency (which I not pretty sure I got it 100% right like Bryke did in AtLA/LoK). Clean those details in a rereading you might find on the way.
- On to Book Two. All the above is finished, great, Book One is officially finished. Now, write down in a note everything you want to happen in Book Two that you might have foreshadowed in Book One. Now, go back to step 3, rewrite whatever you want to change of the original plot (because let's face it, the first plot that comes to your mind is not the final version of the story), and then start all over again from step 4.