If I were to ask everyone what role their character played in the Dark Brotherhood, I would undoubtedly get a variety of responses. These would range from ďIím just a gamerĒ (an out of character response) all the way up to a 10 page dissertation by some people about their character. Regardless of your particular response, every member of the Dark Brotherhood has a fictional role in the organization. Even non-writers are placed into stories by their fellow members and used for effect.
In my experience in the Dark Brotherhood, I have had the distinct pleasure of grading and critique countless writing entries. From battleteams to houses/clans to Great Jedi Wars to the Test of Wisdom entries, Iíve seen it all. Because of the international flavor of the Dark Brotherhood, I tend to focus on the story itself when I judge things. Yes, I want people to write correct English, especially the native English speakers (which are sometimes worse than non-native speakers), but my judging generally falls back onto the story being told and how it is told. One very important element in how the story is told is characterization.
The Brotherhood suffers from realistic characterization by its members. And the reasons are simple: we ďliveĒ in a universe where everyone is the hero, and where everyone wants to be the big man on campus. There is far too much individualism in the Brotherhoodís writing; even when other characters are used, the writer usually ends up being the hero, even when it is impractical.
And, we have all seen people take things to the extreme: they are super smart, good looking, and a brilliant general/admiral that all should fear. They kick ass with whatever weapon they are given and will beat back the spirits of ancient Sith Lords with a stick if thatís all they have available. Oh, and watch out for your girl (or guy) because they just might take them, too.
Now, Iím not naÔve enough to think that this will stop. Nor do I think it necessarily should. I want my character to play an important role as much as the next writer. However, what should stop is the ďme me meĒ only writing. No matter how individualistic your character is, the fact is that they are a part of the Dark Brotherhood, and Tarentum in particular. There are plenty of other people in the organization and you will be working with them, at least in the fiction.
To help us begin to address this issue, and to create better, more cohesive stories, we need to look at and work on the following things:
1. Characterization- how we portray ourselves and each other
2. Cohesion- how characters work together in a story; how we play off each characterís strengths and weaknesses, and compliment other characters in the story.
3. The Hero Factor- everyone can be the hero no matter what their role is; and thatís the point: you donít need to be Darth Solo-Thrawn-Walker to win the day.
Feel free to comment and discuss the introductory post. Please highlight any issues that you think exist and that we can discuss and work on. Our goal is to better the writing of all members of the Tarentum.
After the initial discussion, we will delve into each area noted above. Also, I highly encourage you to pull up a piece of the Brotherhood fiction you may have (or, if you donít have one, look at an old Great Jedi War fiction or clan run-on) so you can try to identify the good and the bad within that writing.
I have to agree with Anshar on this. There is an overwhelming amount of people wanting to play the pivotal role in everything. I'd also like to encourage people to get away from this in every way I can. To that extent, we have always had the military and other facets of the House or Clan to try and encourage people to find their niche. I'd like to keep going with this. There is the military. At one point, when Dralin was in Tarentum, he was trying to build up "Intel," and others have had their own ideas on various branches and facets of Tarentum. I'd like to see some people involved in the criminal underground that exists on Yridia IX and such, and potentially people who work within the Theocracy that controls the Yridian populace. I'd like to get an idea of how interested people would be in this, and how they can mold their characters, with the help of people like Anshar, who have a great deal of time and experience with helping people get more from their Brotherhood experience.
Most recently, I participated in a DB-wide team run-on with Muz, Shikyo, Ashia, and Kal. That run-on earned us first place and I was reading through it again for kicks. I realized that my character, in the end, had played a relatively minor but still crucial role in the storyline, and she was certainly not around for the coolest of the action. And I was fine with it.
I think the problem is that people think if their character is not the hero, they have failed in writing him or her. That's a common belief that plagues DB writing. People also tend to write individualistic fiction because they are absolutely terrified when it comes to writing about different characters. These are both reasonable reservations, but with encouragement and the invitation to ask questions and make suggestions, they can be remedied.
Whenever I write in a run-on, I never purely write from Ronovi's point of view; the only exception is when she is in a room with all the other characters. Many times I break up my run-on in different perspectives, usually a maximum of three parts where three or more different characters are central to the flow of action in my writing. That's important because it defines Tarentum as a team, not just a motley crew of characters from different areas of the galaxy.
Now, is there an issue with different characters? Absolutely not. The issue lies in the isolation of that character. I don't find Ronovi to be the strongest all by herself, though she does have particular mannerisms, dialect, and behavior. I find her to be the strongest when she's interacting and playing off other characters. No character is well developed until there is another character to give them an objective, a conflict, and an insight - the quotation "No man is an island" really rings a bell; everyone affects everyone, and behavior is altered or changed by relationships.
My advice to people is don't be afraid to allow your character to be vulnerable or surrounded by people at times. Your character should never stand alone. A good step in your writing is to make one good friend in your unit or outside that unit. Write a storyline with them and see how your characters interact. Then, branch out. Get to know other members. Ask them permission to use their characters in your fiction and just what you should do to make their portrayals accurate. What is super cool about this club is that we trust one another with our own creations, and that results in really great fiction.