I started this thread because I wrote up the following giant post and figured it has everything to do with the story, yet adds nothing to it other then my rambling on about character and story development. So instead of posting there, I'm posting here and offering my help to those interested in writing to pick my brain as well as others to help you accomplish your goals.
The statement made that prompted it was that I shouldn't give out too much information because some readers like to be surprised.
I posted an off topic comment regarding what I had planned for my characters which prompted that statement.
While in most cases that is absolutely true, in this case, nearly all, if not all of the readers are also co-authors. Team writing is difficult to do because while you want to surprise the others with your writing, you also have to make sure they know where you're going with your story. The balance is a tough one to maintain and since the only input we ever get is from other lore writers, it's tough to remember that they're also the readers and need to be entertained as well. It started off small but mutated into this overly long rambling answer.
Don't give out too much history or future?
Either way it doesn't matter. The past can't be changed and no matter what happens, the final chapter has already been wrote for my characters and is what I'm always working to get to no matter what anyone else thinks they're going to do. It will happen at some point, it's just a matter of how long it takes to get there. So if everyone knows that's what I have planned, then they're not going to go out and try to assassinate any of my lead characters and succeed and really screw me out of my whole story. That'd get me to quit on the spot for sure. But since no one here is that desperate to be rid of me, then there's no problem with people knowing it. In fact it's probably beneficial that other writers know it. Sure as a reader you might be upset, but as an author, you can appreciate the value in knowing my goals and where I plan on taking my story. You have clear direction by knowing my direction.
Every good story has an ending. The difference between writers is some of us know the ending before the story ever begins begins, and others don't and just write until they feel they've reach a conclusion or the conclusion. I prefer to know my ending and I'm not going to let anyone get in the way of it. Details and events that happen between then and now, I go with on the fly without any problems, I roll with the punches, but I always have direction because I know where I'm going to end up. I've mentioned a few times to multiple people, I will never let my main characters be captured or killed in this RP. I will not let anyone put them into an impossible situation. I will not ever let anyone mutate them or genetically alter them or mess them up. Why? Well, that's why. I know how it ends for each of them already, and they have their paths they must follow. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about scars, tattoos, piercings, etc... I'm talking bodily mutilation and changes that can never be undone.
Casey for example, I've been careful to describe her as looking like a normal human because even though she was born an Advent, she's never refined her Advent abilities and gained their looks. The white eyes and body markings for example. It's extremely important to her story that she remains looking like a normal human. I will not allow anyone to teach her how to refine her powers because then she would have to take on the established looks and I will not let that happen. As I've told Alpha I believe it was, Casey's unrefined abilities also gives me a story option in an extreme crisis. She can become very emotional and tap into it and unleash a whole world of hurt, but it would be unrealistic for her to be able to do it all of the time, and after she does it the first time, it would scare her to death about those abilities, and further cement her drive to stay away from the Advent 'faith' and give her unimaginable understanding about the fears that normal humans have of her people.
Now I know people who read stories, some read the final chapter first others refuse to even read the back cover until they've completed every single page between them. If someone reading is one of those that hates to know the ending, well too bad. Consider what I've already said about the future as foreshadowing. Granted it's not in story, but with how crazy out there some people are getting with their powers / special abilities / artifacts / super artifacts / unheard of before ships, I wouldn't be surprised if someone gains the ability to see into the future and spills it all anyway... To me personally, those are roads I'm not going to walk. My story is based on the game and though I take liberties with certain aspects of it, those liberties are all grounded on game content. The gas giants platforms is one of those liberties. Sure there are several dozen ways it can happen. I hope that others explore them, however, since in the lore I'm the first one to really get around to talking about the colonization of a gas giant, I figure I should detail the process a bit. Later on I will just refer to it as colonizing it, just as I expect others to simply say they colonized it, however, the act of colonizing is a piece of story we can all take liberties on and describe it in our own ways. I have the opportunity to describe the process and I wanted to jump on it. I'd be very interested in seeing someone else's take on how it happens. But until that time comes, I'm going to run wild and let my imagination do it's job unchecked for once. If anyone has some ideas they want to share, then by all means, let me know and I'll do my best to include them. I'm going to have fun with it.
Also, once I start telling stories about my character's past... Their futures will become known. I've avoided doing it because I've never really wanted to rewrite any of my old stuff that was done long before entrenchment was ever released, but all this waiting around for Kyrene to finish has put me in the mood to go back and tell those stories. And it's not like I can just post those stories either, because Entrenchment and Diplomacy changed things. So most of them do need to be rewrote. Like Todd's history for example.
Before entrenchment, I just had him being a ship's engineer and moving over into research because he was never given his command, a move which ultimately made him unhappy enough to quit the service and give up until he was hired by Henry. Post diplomacy, I was legitimately given the angle I originally wanted for him, and had him being reassigned into R&D to get him out of the field and using his talents working on a new ship design and improvements and having access to all of the latest and greatest the TEC has to offer, which combined with his natural gifted engineering capabilities makes him an attractive person to go after for a fledgling business, who eventually offers him enough to steal him away. Now I portray him as a more happy go lucky guy who knew how bad things were going to get for him rather then a guy who hit rock bottom and is just relieved to be doing something different. His reputation is established a I originally intended it, rather then having to build up to it as a member of the RFT. An added bonus would have been to have him retain his rank. I've never really been interested in re merging onto the fold of the TEC, however, that being said, for any other characters out there, especially like Tim in my group, he kept his rank. That is a bonus. I'm not sure if I will ever use it, but with the dynamics of group story telling, any bonus you get to hang onto is exactly that. A bonus.
Details in my characters history have changed because of the two micro expansions, and more changed because of Distant Stars, but even so, the story remains the same because like I said, I already have the ending wrote. I have the beginning and I have the ending. The journey between the two points can be as fluid as the the ocean, but I have my two end points. Good imagery would be this: Stretch a rubber band between two fingers in one hand and use the other to move the mid point all around. That's how I tell my stories. The middle can be anywhere the rubber band can stretch to, but it's always attached to the two end points, and as long as I don't try to pull or get pulled too far in any one direction, the rubber band doesn't break, and I'm keeping to my vision.
So in Todd's case, the whole taking over of the company is a detail that will be made known by telling that part of his history. Roesh vowing revenge and being willing to die to achieve it, is something that will be known by telling the middle of his current life's history when the Vasari first invade. Henry returning to his family is a detail that will be known once his early life's story has been told even before the first invasion.
Casey's unwavering loyalty, remaining with the company and staying by Todd is a detail that will become known once I tell her story, which has changed a bit as well because of Thenos having interactions with her now throughout their lives, and I'm sure I'll have to change a few more things as other Advent players really detail out the Advent way of life. It's no big deal. I know why she does things the way she does. Right now at this point, it doesn't make sense on why Roesh would pull a gun on her during their first move into DS (early in my posting) considering how much he appreciates her work and protects her, but something I've never had the opportunity to go over which I will be is how they resolved their uneasy trust and Roesh's current level of parenting to her forms... And it involves Roesh pulling a gun on her.
I go back occasionally and read my older stuff and think about how these things make perfect sense to me, but to the rest of you, there's no reason for it, and to some degree it almost appears contradicting. So I'm going to start making steps to correct that. Plus it will help the reader understand the characters better. Just like Teal has gone to great lengths to give us all a detailed understanding of her character, her state of mind, her emotions, and it's just damned good character development. I've done similar with all of mine, however, just never taken the opportunity to make it known. I didn't give myself the luxury of starting from the beginning and working to the current point since I was more eager to get involved in the current story since I had already wrote the other stuff once before. That ultimately could be a downfall in my story, however, I believe that as long as the effort is made to fix it, then in the end, everyone reading will see the character development and be all that much more appreciative of the characters themselves. The trick for me is where to put them into the story. I don't like just dumping them into the lore. Doing so would take away from the story as a whole, however, adding in flashbacks at the appropriate times builds a story up even more, and that's what I'm going to strive for.
My civil war is a good starting place for that. So far all of my characters have stayed out of anything but minor conflicts while in the DS region. This civil war will be exactly that. A war. The old governor has been quiet for too long, uneasy tensions are building, and I got to portray a bit of that already with Riona. I don't want to drag it out and hurt other people's RP's but my system is going to get hot, it's going to get violent, it's going to get ugly. But I always have the ending worked out before it ever starts. It will end up being better off for having gone through it. Like relationships in general. Sure it's nice to always agree, but we all hear stories of people who hate each other, just being at each other's throats, they always have the strongest bonds. Opposites attract, and conflicts are healthy. The same thing could be said about a story. Without an antagonist, the protagonist is just another character. It's always the villain who defines the hero, but not always. See the Batman/Joker relationship. The hero created the villain. An idea that is just so different from the norm, an idea that hardly ever works out, it was done so well that the characters stories are known worldwide by people of all ages. Yet to repeat it is extremely difficult, because by definition, the hero is incapable of creating a villain. Bad creates good, not the other way around. I'm trying to recreate that same effect. Roesh and Henry are not heroes, but they're far from villains, yet I hope I've done things right so that I can have them be the cause of this civil war by just trying to do what's right. It's been a long time in the planning, and it's taken a lot of participation from outside sources. My 'good guys' have essentially created 'bad guys' and now they're going to have to deal with the result. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to pull off the Batman thing in popularity or scale, I'm just seeing if I can pull it off period. I've been told I have a talent for deviating from the norm in story and art, but these aren't my passions in life so I never really build on them.
I'm not joking when I say I have looooooots and looooooots of history. Unfortunately, my story here is kind of like George Lucas telling the story of Star Wars. Movie wise, he started off with chapter 4 and went to 6 and stopped. We all knew there were 3 earlier chapters even though we never really had any hope of ever getting to see them, and there have been several dozen different stories since. Yeah we did get to see 1, 2, and 3, but even those didn't really cover everything he originally wanted. Time line wise, I'm forced to start in the middle of my story even though it begins a half dozen years before the Vasari invade. Currently I'm in like chapter 5 if you want to keep the comparison going, and this civil war is going to get me to start reaching back into the first 4 chapters.
So that's my current predicament and thoughts on character and story development, and I know other writers have their own thoughts as well. Best thing I can do for us all is just say post your problems here and accept whatever advice you can get. =]