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January 16, 2013
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FIVE TIPS FOR ANY AUTHOR!

:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
A fellow deviant recently asked for my advice on writing stories. I came up with five reasons and she liked them. So I'm going to share my advice with the rest of the world! 'Cause I'm nice, and feels the need to puff my chest out.

1. A SIMPLE OUTLINE

Start with the idea. Expand upon it, but not too much. Stuff like 'Mr. Grave walks into the Broken Blade Bar, kills notorious bandit 'Dogteeth Jake' with his trusty pistol, 'Dixie-Jane' is too long. Try 'Stranger walks into a bar, and kills bandit.' There, simple, straight to the point.

Then, get all the ideas down somewhere. Sheet of paper, text document, just write the simple ideas you want to place in the story. Expand later on, once you're certain that you got everything you need.

2. CHARACTER, NOT GOD

The hardest part for any aspiring writer is creating a character that isn't a Mary-Sue. The worst part about a Mary-Sue is that there is no consensus on a precise definition of a Mary-Sue. For the most part, a Mary-Sue is the 'perfect' character; important to the story, all the characters bow before her/him, possess no real flaws etc. How does one avoid creating a monster? Simple!

First off, make a character have some flaws. Don't just say they have a flaw, show it. Show, don't tell, remember? It can be a running gag (Oh, no, tins cans! A tin can killed my father!) or could be something serious, (Oh, how I wish I could swim in a world nothing but sea...but I'm scared.) it has to be important to the character and/or sometimes the story.

Second off, make the character real...or not. If the character is serious, give them a real personality. If the character is silly, make them insane! Actually, all characters need at least one or two real quirks. Even in a comedy, you need something serious so a joke can be born. Straight man says something serious, silly man responds something funny. Just because a character has a noticeable flaw(s), doesn't mean it can't be a Mary-Sue.

Third off...well, just have fun! A character needs to be likable, so create one that appeals not just to you, but to others! Even if you fail at the two point above, this third point will undone all that! Need a example?

SUPERMAN.

'Nuff said.

3 MIXING A FINE STORY

Okay, you got outline and characters. Now, how do they fit?

Don't just throw them together. Tie them together. Remember Mr. Grave? Yeah, he would fit the part of the dark stranger, but what about others? Do they have a reason to be here? Not just the story, but certain places and times?

As a example, take 'Space Mutiny' a hilarious bad sci-fi movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In one scene, one of the main bad guys captures the heroine and plans on torturing her by using a laser to burn out her teeth...yes. The other main villain comes in. Now, the main problem is that the second villain was a spy, one who had gone undetected so far. He had no reason to be there at all, save for one. So the heroine can reveal to the captain the spy after she escapes.

Don't be lazy. Don't have characters be in a certain place just to be in a certain place. Also, don't make characters stupid to make a plot point. A author should never, ever degrade a character just to keep the story going. Now, you can make a character going stupider a plot point, but be careful.

4 DON'T DROP NUKES NEEDLESSLY

What's a nuke, outside of being just a bomb?

A nuke is a term I now just coined to describe a event so large, it affects the entire storyline in a major way, often changing the shift of comedy and drama, flipping characters' personalities upside down, and other major changes.

Okay, questions.

Why should you drop a nuke? What will change? Who will be affected? How is the nuke dropped? When will it take effect; now or later?

Take for example, the infamous 'No Russian' scene from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. That's a bad nuke. Why? Because it shock players! What? That you're dealing with a bad ass villain! Who? Parents, so we can use the controversy to raise sales and be remembered! How? By the player slaughtering innocents, and then dying at end by the person you were following around, the same person who is the main villain and if you shoot him, you will get a game over. When? Right now!

Dropping a nuke is risky business. It could bring people in, or drive them out. Consider the five questions, and keep your finger on the safety button.

5 THE POINT OF IT

Why should someone spend their time on my story? That's the most important thing about doing art. You need to put effort in order for others to notice it and bother to read/watch/play.

This is the reason why I hate Family Guy. The writers admitted they didn't care about plot or characters, then why should I care about the show?

Give people a reason to pay attention to you.

Other those five reasons, have fun!

Hell, I write my stories off the tip of my tongue! It does help with pacing, too!

So, kick your doubts in the cans, sit down, get your favorite snack, put on some music or listen to your favorite show, and get a-writing/typing!

Feel free to throw criticism at me or ask questions.

Hope that helps.
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Devious Comments

:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:lock: The OP is currently unable to respond, and the contents of the post are journal material. FAQ #801: Are there any rules for the Forums?
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:icontiganusi:
tiganusi Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional
My advice for writers is if you take at face value any advice you get on the internet without seeing if it actually works for your writing purposes, you're a fucking sheep. That's all, really. Write, experiment, create and then painfully destroy a Mary Sue, use ALL THE PLOT TWISTS, pre-write such that it's longer than your finished product (it'll save you editing time later!), and don't write just for the sake of making words.
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The five points that I think should be improtant are:-
1) WRITING. The most important.
2) Reading.
3) Read and reread what you have written.
4) Show your work to someone who is way better than you and listen to what they have to say.
5) Learn to take criticism.
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional Writer
I'm wondering what the target audience is and why you feel qualified to give advice.  There's a lot here that seems like it's coming from a newbie -- focusing on Mary-Sues, separation of plot and character, and insisting that an outline works for everyone.  Nowhere do I see anything about reading or revision.  And I'm just seeing a lot of questionable stuff...like a character always has to be likeable?  Totally not true.  Antiheroes are amazing and you see them in so many stories -- would you say that Deadpool or Spike from Buffy are bad characters?  See also what `saintartaud has to say

I think you have to be really careful about giving authoritative advice, especially in a post like this that doesn't really encourage discussion.  You're posting this like it's a resource or a guide, which isn't necessarily appropriate for the forum unless you can show that you're an expert.  If this were a post that said "give your 5 favorite tips for writing," that would be different, and a good idea. 

I'm posting this with love.  I want to see this community succeed, and bad advice, even well well-intentioned, isn't terrible helpful.
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I have never read a story with antiheroes. :no:
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:icontiganusi:
tiganusi Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional
Any of the following contain antiheroes: the complete works of Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, Albert Camus, every Gothic, Romantic or otherwise Victorian novel or short story, almost all Hispanic magic realism, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Oedipus Rex, your mother. Surely in high school you've read at least one of the above.
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Now that you say, yes, I remember now. I do not know why I could not think about any of them at time I was trying to remember. :noes:
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Ooooh.  I can't think of a book that I've read off the top of my head, but I know  the Dexter series features an antihero.  (The books are what the TV show is based on.)  Basically an antihero is a protagonist that is extremely unlikeable, does unsavory things, but you can't NOT follow his story...and he has an occasional heroic moment.
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Right after I wrote I have never read, I remembered I have and I felt stupid. :no:
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
Aww!
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I know :( The most famous of them all, Macbeth
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013  Professional Writer
I feel silly because I was only thinking of contemporary literature, and I read so much they kind of blur together sometimes. But `tiganusi is a great resource for anithero info and Gothic lit.
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I shall bug this person then!
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:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
Preach it.

Especially that last part--giving bad advice is actually making the situation worse for everyone.
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional Writer
Thanks. I hope this post doesn't come off as too mean.
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:iconshadowedacolyte:
ShadowedAcolyte Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
I thought it was exceptionally polite and reserved.
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional Writer
Thanks. :)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Right, since you mentioned you want criticism...I don't think you should use generalizations like the thing about Mary Sues being the biggest challenge. Especially since it is quite possible to have a 2D character who has flaws.

In general this stuff is better suited to your journal, but I'm leaving it since it's started discussion here.
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:iconparadigmfallen:
ParadigmFallen Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional Artist
"1. A SIMPLE OUTLINE

Start with the idea. Expand upon it, but not too much. Stuff like 'Mr. Grave walks into the Broken Blade Bar, kills notorious bandit 'Dogteeth Jake' with his trusty pistol, 'Dixie-Jane' is too long. Try 'Stranger walks into a bar, and kills bandit.' There, simple, straight to the point.

Then, get all the ideas down somewhere. Sheet of paper, text document, just write the simple ideas you want to place in the story. Expand later on, once you're certain that you got everything you need."

...but I can already keep everything straight in my head. I'm serious, it's a gift I got from my dad. I've got multiple plotlines and craptons of details in my head for just the stories I've written, let alone all the fiction I've experienced. I realize this isn't everyone though.

Besides that, good advice for aspiring writers.
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:iconsilverice404:
SilverIce404 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Nuke... I like!
:iconmegustaplz:
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:iconfutilitarian:
futilitarian Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013   Writer
Why this artificial separation of character and plot all the time?
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
To keep it simple when you begin. Put them together when you things figured out so they actually belong.
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:iconfutilitarian:
futilitarian Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2013   Writer
That's entirely the wrong way around, in that it's a really unnatural way to write, especially when you start.
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:iconparadigmfallen:
ParadigmFallen Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional Artist
But you don't -have- to do that. I usually develop the characters beforehand, then let them organically interact and react. The plot gets defined by their motivations, meaning that they won't just be "doing something for the plot for the sake of the plot" and instead the plot bends to the needs of the characters realistically interacting with each other.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think this would be better titled 'tips for beginning writers', as these are more how to avoid sucking rather than how to produce something amazing. :shrug: It's not a bad thing, but once people have got this stuff down there's a lot of other stuff they need to get.
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
I prefer to be simple.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not sure how that relates?
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Student Writer
I don't think it's hard to not make a Mary Sue. Actually, it's pretty easy. :shrug:
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
Not everyone can avoid doing that.
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:iconwitwitch:
witwitch Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Student Writer
I know. But you made it seem like it's a problem everyone has when it isn't.
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I guess these pretty much make up the basics of what writing is about.
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
Yep.
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:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Research. Dear god, please research. I have no idea how many writers there are that plunge into writing a story with absolutely no knowledge based on their ideas or on what they pen as facts. I've read sci-fi with inconsistent science, historical fiction with so many many many historical errors, fantasy with no methods, limits or basis to explain the fantasy elements, even mainstream fiction has had its flaws with misquoting common knowledge and factual errors.

If there is no research there will be a lack of knowledge at some point that either a.) the writer will start spouting BS or b.) they will refute their established rules of the story's reality on a whim without explanation. Both of these options will break the reader's suspension of disbelief which will make the story 'fail'. No matter the genre one writes, research is essential. Not saying one needs a degree in a field to write about it, but science fiction means that one should know the basics of whatever science the story involves, if not more. When I am attempting to make a reader believe that my work is worth investing in I had better make bloody well certain that I know what I'm talking about and have my facts straight.
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
True...but I write for fun.

For the most part, research is a given. I shouldn't need to tell people that. After all, they surely went to school and learned that?

And I do my research as well, making sure to get the correct spelling for more complex words, recheck my information, look up other facts, etc.

I'm fairly smart. If I know I can't make something make sense, turn it into a joke or a important plot point.
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:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
True...but I write for fun.

That may be so. However that is no excuse to lack research. To make it fun for others one must understand how to interpret and use information, humor, world building, and literary mechanics work within a story as well as outside perspectives.

For the most part, research is a given. I shouldn't need to tell people that. After all, they surely went to school and learned that?

No, it is not a given. There is a need to tell or repeat this counsel to writers or anyone really because not everyone learns this. Going to school and understanding information are not the same thing. I have seen people, learn times tables, order of presidents, types of governments, classes of periodic elements etc. for a test only to forget the information when the trial is over. The student does not understand the information, only how to mentally regurgitate it for a short period of time.

Writers often assume the reader knows or doesn't know the information thus they feel addressing the mechanics, knowledge and/or some literary mechanics is unnecessary to research. 'It's fiction/other genre, it doesn't need to be consistent, factual, accurate or researched.' is a common excuse to misuse information.

And I do my research as well, making sure to get the correct spelling for more complex words, recheck my information, look up other facts, etc.

Just because you do your research and recheck information, facts etc. just because I do the same, does not mean all writers follow suite.

I'm fairly smart. If I know I can't make something make sense, turn it into a joke or a important plot point.

Not every writer has that much sense. I've read and written stuff that has been forced, non-sensible plot points or jokes.
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:iconlupina24:
Lupina24 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
True...but I write for fun.

That may be so. However that is no excuse to lack research. To make it fun for others one must understand how to interpret and use information, humor, world building, and literary mechanics work within a story as well as outside perspectives.

For the most part, research is a given. I shouldn't need to tell people that. After all, they surely went to school and learned that?

No, it is not a given. There is a need to tell or repeat this counsel to writers or anyone really because not everyone learns this. Going to school and understanding information are not the same thing. I have seen people, learn times tables, order of presidents, types of governments, classes of periodic elements etc. for a test only to forget the information when the trial is over. The student does not understand the information, only how to mentally regurgitate it for a short period of time.

Writers often assume the reader knows or doesn't know the information thus they feel addressing the mechanics, knowledge and/or some literary mechanics is unnecessary to research. 'It's fiction/other genre, it doesn't need to be consistent, factual, accurate or researched.' is a common excuse to misuse information.

And I do my research as well, making sure to get the correct spelling for more complex words, recheck my information, look up other facts, etc.

Just because you do your research and recheck information, facts etc. just because I do the same, does not mean all writers follow suite.

I'm fairly smart. If I know I can't make something make sense, turn it into a joke or a important plot point.

Not every writer has that much sense. I've read and written stuff that has been forced, non-sensible plot points or jokes.
Reply
:icondevilkid-chan:
DevilKid-chan Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice :D
It's nice reading the tips of others; I've been collecting a bank of stuff for a while now. :D
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
Howdy friend! Long time, eh?
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:icondevilkid-chan:
DevilKid-chan Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, I guess! :)
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
How are you?
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:icondevilkid-chan:
DevilKid-chan Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Okay at the moment! You? :)
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
Fine.

Want a trade?
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:icondevilkid-chan:
DevilKid-chan Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hmm, I've been quite busy lately, so no... sorry ^^; But maybe another time! :)
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
Some decent advice, but several points could be debated. 

For instance, does every character need to be likable?  I'd warrant not.  There is plenty of good to great fiction containing characters that are not wholly likable.  They work because they may still realistic, interesting, suit the story, and/or help communicate an idea.  I doubt you like everyone you meet, but you might still find them interesting or be curious what motivates them.  As I always say, if readers actually wanted all characters to be likable, Hannibal Lector wouldn't be so popular.  He is not remotely likable, he even borders on unrealistic (if you actually know anything about the psychology of psychopaths), but he's a beautifully constructed and fascinating as hell.

Your advice on building a story through outlining and linking scenes would be improved by covering traditional plot structure.  I would say that an outline should at least cover the primary conflict and character motivations in relation.
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
Thanks for your input. And here's my rebuttal.

1. Yeah, kinda forgot about that. But, in a way, if a unlikable character is beautifully constructed and fascinating, that...sorta...makes...them...likable? In a different sense of the word? You like them because how evil they are? Think about that?

2. I'm not one for traditional mentions. But, you could start with my simple outline and work up to the complex outline. Expand later on.
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
1. Not really. The dictionary defines "likable" as "pleasant, friendly, easy to like." An interesting character could easily fail to meet those qualities.

2. Even if traditional isn't your thing, I'm betting most of your stories are centered on a conflict, which the characters are working to resolve. And that character is motivated to resolve that conflict for some particular reason. Short stories and novels are typically not as tightly structured in 3-5 acts around a strong arc, the way many plays and movies traditionally are, but they still follow this basic idea.
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
1. Gotcha. I meant likability in a much more meta sense, they can be unlikable in the story. For example, Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars is unlikable in the real world, where some people like Gary Oak from Pokemon despite him annoying you the entire game.

2. I do follow that storyline...I guess I typed without thinking. I do follow the traditional storyline, just to my pace. Sorry.
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yeah, "likable" typically implies liking them as people, not necessarily as part of what makes you like the story.  Also, I think Jar Jar Binks is one of the reasons some people (like me) hate Episode One.  Not even just that he's an annoying character but that he is indicative of the many problems with that awful movie.  ;)
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:iconblackeyehawk:
BlackEyeHawk Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
Jar-Jar is pretty much the microcosm of all the problems of the prequels.
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
I can definitely agree with that. TBH I can't even get through any of the prequels because they're so awful. It boggles my mind that you could have so many good actors in one movie acting so badly. I don't entirely blame them, though, considering how terrible the dialogue and...well, everything is.
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