How to deal with pesky loose ends?

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dongaro
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How to deal with pesky loose ends?

#1 Post by dongaro » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:42 pm

Hello, I do hope I'm putting this on the right board. If it isn't I apologize.

Anyways I have a question about how to deal with parents of a main character... You don't want them to be involved in any way (at least not at the begining), but at the same time you really don't want them to have died off screen for the most part. 1 set of parents sure. But two or more then you have to come up with other reasons they aren't there. It's a loose end a lot of stories seem to have that finally resort to just poking it off screen. It's fine if it's dorm life at a school or if protagonist has been otherwise sent to another world.

I was just wondering what other people have done in the past to avoid the clique the parents are out of the house all the time, or He/she lives alone and has full financial independence for no reason.

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Applegate
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Re: How to deal with pesky loose ends?

#2 Post by Applegate » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:52 pm

I think an important question that must first be asked is: do any of the scenes feature within the main character's parental home, and do any of the scenes involve the parents? If your answer is "no" on both counts, it is not necessary to involve the parents whatsoever. A story ought to display things that progress the problem presented in the first chapter. If your character is Michael O'Flanney and his problem is that he has no girlfriend, which is because he's at an all boys' school, then his parents' stubbornness to keep him there may be part of the problem. But if Michael O'Flanney cannot get a boyfriend and that is because he hasn't the courage to ask one out, then the parents aren't interesting! (unless they're the cause for his lack of courage)

Simply put: if you don't want to involve the parents, then simply write scenes that don't involve them. Or if they would logically be involved (the main character sneaks into school at night and sleeps over), you can simply not mention them or make an off-hand remark. Like so:

"Yeah," he grinned, "mum'd have a right fit if she'd knew. But then, I ain't telling her."

or

"Oh, she yelled at me some and I'm grounded. But enough about that," he eyed the blueprint with excitement. "We're going to do it tonight, right?"

In both examples, the parents are present: in the first, as a background worry that yeah, she'd get angry. In the second, she did find out, and she did get angry. But because him getting grounded is in no way relevant to the story (he's obviously ignoring it anyway), there's no need to introduce the mother any further.

Hope that helps.

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LadyAvori
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Re: How to deal with pesky loose ends?

#3 Post by LadyAvori » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:33 pm

It depends on how important parents are to your story. If you want them in then write them in. Have a sprite for mom with a few expressions and a sprite for dad with a few expressions and go to town.

Now if it is sprite constraints that have you wondering what to do about the parents, then you can always have them speak from off screen. Maybe mom is down stairs, calls up and asks if the MC and their friend wants anything, MC waves mom off, and now the readers know mom is in the house doing whatever it is she does. But she is present, and MC is not mysteriously on their own for the whole story. Or perhaps mom/dad calls the MC to tell them they'll be working late again.

Just think of real reasons why parents wouldn't be in the scenes. I don't know about you, but my parents were nowhere to be seen when I was kissing my boyfriend lol. And if I studied at the library I was usually dropped off and by myself. Or when I hung out with friends it was usually at the house whose parent's were at work. Or in the basement where the parents knew this was a teenager zone. Or my bedroom where my privacy was respected. There are so many scenes in my own life that my parents weren't apart of, but I wasn't on my own for any time of it. So simply making the references to the parents should be enough.

Just an idea I had when I first read your post.

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SpoilerDuck
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Re: How to deal with pesky loose ends?

#4 Post by SpoilerDuck » Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:38 pm

If there's no reason for them to be there later in the story, don't force it. It'll seem, well, forced.

A better question might be: do the parents need to be there at all? Every single scene, line of dialogue or character has to serve a purpose. How essential are they to the story? Does the setting of living with parents have any real importance? Would referring to them off-screen like "yeah my parents blah blah blah" be sufficient?

Basically, if there's no story reason to show the parents in a scene, don't do it. No-one will notice if you're writing is gripping enough.

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Re: How to deal with pesky loose ends?

#5 Post by Starcloud » Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:34 pm

SpoilerDuck wrote:If there's no reason for them to be there later in the story, don't force it. It'll seem, well, forced.

A better question might be: do the parents need to be there at all? Every single scene, line of dialogue or character has to serve a purpose. How essential are they to the story? Does the setting of living with parents have any real importance? Would referring to them off-screen like "yeah my parents blah blah blah" be sufficient?

Basically, if there's no story reason to show the parents in a scene, don't do it. No-one will notice if you're writing is gripping enough.

Exactly. If they are not really relevant to the story then putting them in anyway will just take away from what you do have. If you want a character to have parents but not interact with them just make something convenient up. You are the god of your little world - don't sweat the small loose ends. You are making a representation of these characters - it would be impossible to explore every facet of their background. So just share what is relevant and focus on what is important in your story - no one will think of the loose ends.
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Re: How to deal with pesky loose ends?

#6 Post by wulfae » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:48 am

All that being said... It is weird to me when I'm reading a story about kids and there are no parents in the picture at all, and they are never mentioned. I can see how just adding parents in randomly isn't helpful, but I think a few lines of dialogue about then wouldn't go amiss. At least then it's obvious that your character has parents, and isn't just living in this huge house all by themselves, going to school, and somehow making the mortgage payment.

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