Hey, so I’m trying to write a story in which basically, the main character is an author with writer’s block. She just can’t get this one character right. So then one day, that character-who happens to be a demon- visits the author, and they’re real and everything. They make a deal, become friends… and then demon problems. There’s a couple problems with this: first, the demon is HEAVILY inspired by a character I’m obsessed with (Bill Cipher, Gravity Falls) and semi-ironically, idk how to (1/2)

Start it. It’s still in very beginning stages, but I don’t wanna plagiarize this character (especially since I have so much respect for the creator for making such an interesting character), and I really have no fucking clue how to start it, from what perspective, etc. I also don’t know what kind of story this author should be writing- I’m effectively writing two books in one. Would you mind please helping me with these problems? Thanks in advance! (2/2)

Okay. *cracks knuckles* Let’s see what we can do.

First of all, if you like the character himself as much as you seem to, then it shouldn’t matter what he looks like, right? One of the more easily defining features of the character is that he’s a triangle. So the first thing you should do is make the character……. not a triangle.

All of the things you’re talking about doing with him have no effect on his shape. So frankly, it would be easy to do things exactly as you say them if you just make him something other than a triangle. And don’t restrict yourself to making him a geometric shape. Heck, you could make the character into a Hispanic woman who lives in Canada when she gets bored.

There are so many different ways to write demons, but a lot of demons end up written pretty similarly, and I genuinely think that you could use the character exactly as is if you change what he looks like.

I think what would help is if you write a list of all the features this character has. Any features like funny, likable, good at math, charitable, sneaky, sly, clever, witty, violent, helpful, sarcastic, listens to hip-hop, plays video games, wants to live in a dating sim, and so on!

Then, start looking at them in terms of your story. If Bill is good at math, how would that affect Gravity Falls? Does your demon need to be good at math? What would happen if your demon can hardly add or subtract?

Remove characteristics that don’t fit the story, and/or change them into something else.

These subtle changes, if you have enough of them, will create an overall different image of that character.

For example: Ash Ketchum has no sense of vocabulary, is enthusiastic to the point of being stupid, is overly confident, loves his Pokemon, has misplaced good intentions, is determined, is a hot-head, doesn’t read books, is generally pretty loyal, cares about his friends, doesn’t intentionally hurt people’s feelings, and will do whatever it takes to win if it’s within the rules.

You could start with Ash as a basis and then start to change things. You could turn Ash into a girl or a trans boy or even an elf or something else! Then, give him a fantastic vocabulary. In the show, he doesn’t even know what “envy” is, so let this character pull out Shakespearean insults. Maybe he could be a little bit of a quitter but has a bit of a superiority complex. What if this character wouldn’t care to resort to cheating?

You obviously don’t have to change every single characteristic you wrote down, but these are some ideas to give you a jumping point.


So let’s look at your story within a story. In nearly every situation I’ve seen in fiction, the writer is not as good of a writer as the actual author.

This allows you to write really badly as the character. A reason to do this is because if your character writes better than you do, then why didn’t you write in that style in the first place?

And you can’t write better than yourself, of course. You could probably imitate someone else’s style if that’s something you’re good at. But again, you run the risk of your reader questioning why the rest of the book isn’t written as well as the book within the book.

I
would try to include as little of the story as possible. Let the reader’s
imagination do the work. If you paint some broad strokes of what it’s like, you
should be fine. Just do little snippets here and there—heck, write some
not-so-great ones, give the writer feedback, and then re-write it to show their
improvement.

You
also have to be careful about how badly the book is written! In this one
horrible book I read, the main character was a creative-writing teacher and
really loved this one student’s story—so much so that he ended up having sex
with her. But when you read the snippets of the story, you just feel like it’s
so banal and uninteresting and not written well at all.

So
you have to consider how others will react to the story. If you want the
surrounding characters to enjoy the story, you have to figure out what they
would like about it. And the same for if it’s not very good.

As
for what the story is about, write what the character knows. That’s the easiest
way to start, and that’s the advice that everyone gives new writers: write what
you know. If your author character is a sheltered Muslim girl, then you’re
unlikely for her to be writing about her sexual escapades across Europe. This
isn’t to say that she couldn’t write a story about an astronaut or something. I
just mean that there are certain subjects that will essentially be off-limits
to her.

If
your character is a stripper with a heart of gold, however, she could write
about her sexual escapades across Europe. Or she could write an Austen-type
story about the person she wishes she had been all her life.

Maybe
your character is a grizzled war veteran or a gay ballerina or an arrogant
dog-trainer. You just have to figure out what type of character your author is
before you know what they’d write about.

Or
you could have your author struggle with trying to write what they don’t know. Maybe a 50-year-old virgin writes about the long-lost love they wish they’d
had a chance with. How unrealistic would that person’s story be? What would
they do to overcome that barrier? Would they seek love? Would they watch
romance movies or read romance books? Would they interview married couples?

What
approach would your author character have to writing their story? Would they do
research? Would they haphazardly write and hope it doesn’t suck?

What
does your character dream about? What do they wish to do with their life? What
regrets do they have? What do they fear? What are they obsessed with?

Any
one of those things could be a good basis for a story.

Because
my OCD and anxiety have controlled a lot of my life, I spent a few years almost
exclusively focusing on that in my writing—without realizing it.

Reach
into your character’s subconscious; they could write about things they didn’t
know they wanted to write about.

And
again, include as little of the story as you can within the book. Your
character’s experience writing the book is much more important than the actual
story they produce.

I hope
this helps!


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