This week my blog is being taken over once again, this time with my permission however. Luckily Odin hasn’t figured out how to break my new security yet. A good friend of mine that goes by September C. Fawkes is currently hosting an awesome giveaway and promoting her writing tips blog via a blog tour. I first stumbled upon her greatness as a result of searching the web for writing tips in relation to the anime Trigun. In my opinion she has some of the best writing tips I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It’d be easier if her fictional one wasn’t so interesting. September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. Today she works for a New York Times best-selling author, is penning a novel, and sharing writing tips on her blog
Don’t just take my word for it. Check out her writing tips for yourself. Here is one that relates to the popular anime Dragonball Z:
Skyscraping the Cost of Victory
Fish out of Water
This technique isn’t new, but I had to bring it up because of just how well Dragon Ball Z handles it.
The idea is to create your character with his strengths and weaknesses and then plop him into a situation way out of his element. This can create comedy or (you guessed it) ramp up tension.
Vegeta’s defining characteristic is pride. He’s a prince, a fighter, and he views himself as a superior person. Vegeta’s view of himself is what’s most important to him. He wouldn’t tell us that, but it’s true.
So what does the writer do? Put him in situations where his self-respect is at stake, where Vegeta has to choose between his pride and saving himself, his pride and saving the world. And there are instances where he picks his pride and instances where he sacrifices it. So sometimes, we’re not sure what’s he’ll do (and that adds more tension).
It’s hard to adequately explain Vegeta’s pride if you haven’t seen the series. He’s not a prideful idiot. He’s a prideful genius. Pride and honor is what he lives for. At times it’s more important than his own life and the life of his family. Imagine that for a second.
Then the writer makes Vegeta face humiliating situations. Here’s just a handful of examples. As the series progresses, they go from bad to worse.
-A low-class saiyan, Goku, whose an idiot and supposed to have a low power level and is everything Vegeta despises, becomes more powerful than Vegeta. (creates tension)
-Then, Vegeta has to team-up and work together with Goku. (creates tension)
-With nothing but the clothes on his back, Vegeta has to live under the mercy of Bulma (though he’d never admit he was at her mercy), and therefore gets stuck wearing hideous clothing like this. (comedy)
-Vegeta’s own son becomes more powerful than him. (creates tension)
-Goku’s 11-year-old son becomes more powerful than Vegeta. (creates tension)
-Vegeta has to sacrifice himself to save the world from Fat Buu–the most embarrassing villain to lose to, because Buu is a pink tub of lard that acts like a little kid obsessed with candy, and, he’s stupid. He’s not even smart or sophisticated like the other super-villains Frieza and Cell. And this, this is the creature the Prince of all Saiyan has to succumb to?
|I mean, look at him. If loosing to that guy out of all villains doesn’t hurt your pride, nothing will.|
-Later in the series, the technique of fusion–two people joining to become one super-powerful being–is introduced. In order to have a fighting chance against a villain, Goku, that idiotic embarrassment of a Saiyan, needs to fuse with someone, and gets stuck with Vegeta. Vegeta is so prideful, he would never want to fuse with anyone in a million years, but the worst person to fuse with would be Goku. Their rivalry goes back years.
-On another occasion when Goku and Vegeta need to fuse, they have to do this ridiculous dance that’s “like a cross between traditional fighting stance and water ballet”. Vegeta of course resists (“You’re insane! I’m not posing like that! We’re warriors. Not ballerinas!”). It’s another stab to the heart of his identity.
-But perhaps the most painfully humiliating moment is when Vegeta has to dance and sing to calm down the God of Destruction, Bills, so he doesn’t destroy Earth. Let me tell you, as a viewer you want to laugh and look away from your t.v. screen at the same time because you vicariously feel Vegeta’s humiliation so powerfully; it’s like your own dignity is shattering while you watch.
If you need more comedy or tension, try using the plotting tool in your story.
You can get more writing tips from Dragon Ball Z in her “Writing Lessons from DBZ” series here.
Jake Jeffries and September C. Fawkes