This is an analysis of the parts usually found in a Holders story. DO NOT take these as a "fill in the blank" set of directions for writing a Holder and it is NOT required to follow these guidelines. Some of the best stories deviate from these guidelines.
Keep these in mind as you write.
Alternatively, you could take a look at The Holder of Cliches - a shining example of what NOT to do.
MOST IMPORTANT THING
The most important thing is your writing style. Even if you have a great idea, if you can't communicate that idea effectively, your effort will be wasted and your writing will suck.
Make sure your writing doesn't suck. The Objects are a set of accursed items scattered across the world to prevent them from ever coming together, an event which may unleash untold horrors upon the cosmos.
Keep that in mind. They aren't like Pokemon - the goal is NOT to "catch 'em all" and acquire lots of superpowers.
These are dark, damned Objects, and their writing style ought to match. Run-on sentences, lack of punctuation, spelling errors, and the word "shall" do not make your writing scary or good.
Parts of a Holder
(1) The Holder of Topic
In any city, in any country, go to any mental institution or halfway house you can get yourself to.
(It doesn't necessarily have to be a "mental institution or halfway house"; The Holder of Legion takes place in the building where the city's leader works in the capital city. They can be anywhere. If in doubt, though, the mental institutions are a good place to start.)
This is usually something abstract - something you can't actually hold. The Holder of Compassion, of the End, of the Mind, of Family, etc. "The Holder of the Sword" or "The Holder of the Nail", while they may sound okay, won't really fit in with the rest.
Ideally, you will want to relate at least one of (2), (3), (4), (6), and (7) to the Topic. Bonus if you relate all of them... so keep in mind possible tests, questions, objects, and sayings when thinking of a topic.
Topic: Choose something abstract.
Do not just change a few words from "The Holder of the End" and call it a day. Whatever you do to obtain this Object should, ideally, have something to do with the topic. The Holder of Innocence deals with purity defiled. The Holder of Honor requires you to be somewhat honorable, etc. "The Holder of Degeneracy" shouldn't consist of a trip to the park to look at fallen leaves, walking in some complex pattern - unless you can somehow tie that in to Degeneracy.
This tying-in is not necessary, especially if you don't feel you can come up with a good, related set of tasks.
Instructions: This is the Holder of [Topic], so do [Topic]-y stuff.
- Instructions are too long.
Something about the quest for this Object will be hard. If it's not, start over. 🙂
Seriously, though, this is very much linked to your instructions, as they'll usually include information about the trials and tribulations a Seeker will face. Again, try to come up with something that relates to the [Topic]. The Holder of Loyalty, for example, will not yield his Object unless you behave loyally. The Holder of Treachery requires you to put up with a "traitor".
To use "The Holder of Degeneracy" again, a test of having to run a marathon within a certain time, or while pursued by FOUL HELLBEASTS OF DOOM would not really fit with the chosen topic.
Note that this may not work for all topics - and that's fine.
Challenge/Test: Test or Challenge the Seeker's [Topic].
- "Victory" is just "handed" to the Seeker.
Not every Holder has a question. Those that do almost always respond to some question related to the Topic. The Holder of the End tells you what happens at the end - when they all come together. The Holder of the Beginning tells you of their initial scattering. The Holder of Guilt tells you of Them being used for evil.
Questions seem to be the most commonly-omitted part, and that's okay. If you can't think of a good question, don't include one.
The Holder of Degeneracy probably wouldn't be the one to answer "What happens if one is destroyed?" - it doesn't relate to the Topic.
Question: Optional, but usually relates to the Topic.
This is just what happens after the question is asked or the test/challenge is completed. Sometimes it's just wrapping up, like The Holder of Cowardice, or it may actually contain an important piece of information, like The Holder of Health's warning about the syringe.
Don't concern yourself with a "Result" unless you want the Object being sought to have some special power - this is usually the place it's mentioned.
Also, not all Objects have to have a special power. Most don't - their "power" is that they are one of the 2538.
Result: Optional. Any special instructions about the Object?
- Giving superpowers to the Seeker.
- Giving too-powerful superpowers to the Seeker.
(6) The Object is number something of 2538.
The Object need not be related to the Topic. It can be, such as The Holder of the Mark, who gives you a mark, or The Holder of the Seven Masks, who gives you seven masks. The Holder of Memories, on the other hand, leaves you with a table, and the Holder of the Sun grants you some cufflinks.
Remember, the Objects themselves can be anything. From something as simple as a thumbtack to something as complex as a living creature.
A few points about the Objects. Although your choices for Objects are basically unlimited, there are several objects that are already in place. For example, there are over 10 books; do we REALLY need more volumes about what they are, and how to bring them together? Because that's basically what all of the books in the series mean. True, they have different gimmicks, but it's the essential format of almost any Holder whose Object is a book. The point is, the use of a book can now be classified as overdone for the Holders; consider another Object.
Body parts seem to be a common theme; very few parts, whether connected to a body or otherwise, cannot be found. The Holders of Light, Winter, Pleasure, and Sight all hand over an eye. The Holder of Violence cuts off your finger and gives it to you (if you're lucky). The Holder of Sound gives you an ear. The Holder of Thought leaves you with a brain in a jar. For Christ's sake, one of the Objects is a uterus. Try to imagine what goes in - it's not that hard. (Or maybe it is.) If you want to build a body, fine; just try to be tasteful about it. Words like cock and pussy are hardly appropriate. Give the Holders credit for having some class. Alternatively, you could go the blood'n'guts route and write one about something like a pancreas; it would fit with the "horror" vibe that many of these stories attempt to manifest.
Keys aren't necessarily verboten, but as with the books, there are already several keys; one of the books has a lock that calls for one of the keys. Think of an Object that isn't in the series; for example, a recent submission tagged the Object as "the tone that plays when you strike the tuning fork", making the tuning fork the means of producing the Object, instead of the Object itself. Go that far and further in your scope for what the Object is. They can be anything at all.
Read several of the other stories, or alternately, go through each story and look at what the Object is. Write one about an object that you don't see there. Some suggestions; there's already a pacifier, two guitars, a game cartridge, a dustpan, a microphone, a doll, a mask, a compass, two needles, a throne, a pair of gloves, a bottle of liquor, several coins, three hammers, two scalpels, a chain, and two whips. Clothes have also been used repeatedly; although not forbidden, try not to give any full-body outfits, such as suits or dresses.
Also, so make an effort to tie in your Objects with its Topic somehow. It's not mandatory, but it gives your story style and shows that you didn't just throw it together. If you can't think of an Object right off the bat, don't despair, because if you are any writer at all, something will come to you over the course of writing your story. These stories can be written in any order, in any form; use this to your advantage. If you want to start from the Object itself, do so; if you want to make a straight shot from the mental institution to the backroom, that works too. If there's one thing the Holders thrive on and call for, it's creativity; you won't get anywhere by being derivative.
Objects: Can (and should) be anything at all.
This is the (usually short) sentence that follows the sentence telling you the number of the Object. A few examples:
The notebook is Object 148 of 2538. Even you cannot read it. Yet.
That phone in your hand is Object 149 of 2538. Do not let dreams stand in your way.
The scroll is Object 152 of 2538. They are all connected, to each other and now to you.
Saying: Can be anything, but usually deals with the Topic or the Object.
- Saying is very long, either multiple sentences or a paragraph.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Capitalization: It's The Holders, not the holders. The following words are capitalized (in context, of course): Holder, Object, Seeker, They, Him, It (He/She/It for describing the Holder), although keeping it genderless is another option)
Paragraphs: Not using paragraphs, or making two-line paragraphs makes it hard to read.
Using Bold/Italics: If you need something to be emphasized don't use CAPS, use italics or bolding or both.
Length: Making the story too short is one thing, but just making it long doesn't make it better. Make sure it's interesting to read.
Use the Unknown: Some of the best stories don't 100% explain the character's possible fate. Leave some doubt.
Choose Your Narrator: Third-person? The Seeker? The Holder? The Object? Or something completely different?
Choose Your Power and Curse Wisely, or Use None: What does the Object do? What does it cost? Sadly, the idea of the Object being physically a part of you, or forever attached to you, is more popular than you'd think. A more effective idea is to have the Object possess neither a power nor curse, but simply be neutral; the only thing that stands out about the metronome, for instance, is that it can't be stopped, implying that it shouldn't be started. One of the Objects is a simple dustpan. That's all it is; that is its function, there is no curse or special power involved, it's just a dustpan. A curse for the Object isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you must use it then remember, the more powerful the Object, the more dangerous the curse should be.
Those Who Seek
Aside from spelling and grammar to watch out for there are other problems for Those Who Seek.
(or "I'm the one true Seeker, he who will keep them apart and the love child of The End and Edo Edi Essum AND Him!")
Ahh... Seekers. A fun-filled way to make a more awesome version of you to go fight evil, right? Wrong.
Mary Sues are a slight problem that will grow more evident and more dangerous as time goes on.
To begin, what is a Mary Sue? The Oxford dictionary defines it as an example of sloppy writing resulting in an unrealistic and often overpowered character. Usually begins with an author insertion character.
There are a multitude of quizzes available to test your character so just search one up and prevent sloppy writing today!
Giving Seekers too many Objects
(or "Hey, I'm Joe Everyman, watch me get 500 Objects in three point four seconds")
This goes hand-in-hand with, but is not always because of, Mary Sue.
Rather self-explanatory; a Seeker is given an excess of three Objects (for those supernatural types, I'd go with twenty as a good limit) and results in the question "If average Joe here could get ten Objects, why didn't he team up with fifty guys and end the world?"
Screwing up the Holders
(or "OMG Object 1 is Naruto's headband!!1!!111!!!")
You will stumble upon a few great mysteries as you read through the Holders (Who is He? What's Object 1! How do I get Love? Does S wear boxers or briefs? Does Edo take off his cloak when he showers? How exactly do the first two Jack Empty stories have a plot?) Your first response to these mysteries shouldn't be "Let's solve 'em!" (Chuck Norris. Naruto's headband. Having a hot sadistic orgy. Briefs. Yes. They don't.)
A good story might solve one mystery but will raise twenty more (see the Finding Fathers series for an example of how to do this). Not only that but if you are answering one of those vastly hugely BIG mysteries, you damn well hope your writing is good. If you try to explain, say, the secret behind the Objects' power, make sure you do it in a way that not only leaves something still to be debated, but also doesn't conflict with the entire series. Saying something like, "The Objects are all pieces of god!" is not only as stupid as it sounds, but goes completely against everything the series stands for.
(or "CRITICAL MASS! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!)
Series will be commonplace as characters are popular and stories grow from them but you may ask the question "Mine is taking up a lot of space. What should I do?" And another, rarer, question "Is this story in my series?"
The answer to the first question is simple: create a series!
*"A lot of space" would probably be in excess of three stories.
(or "oh noes the 538 are all taken!")
Seeing as how the original 538 Objects all now have stories, naturally, the only place for new Holders stories to go is in Legion's Objects. If you're going to do this, however, please choose a number that has not been assigned a Holder yet.
To see a list of unassigned numbers and start working on your submission, click here. Try to avoid Holder names that already exist.
There are ONLY 2538 Objects
Some think the best way they can contribute in an original way is to add "Actually, there's one more SECRET Object only I knew about!" to the mythos. This is FALSE. The number of Objects is set, and not to be screwed with. Adding an extra, secret Object is forbidden and unoriginal. It is no different than trying to create a fourth Triforce piece. Some things are best left alone.
Too long, didn't read?
- Take a break after you write, then proofread.
- Don't grant the Seeker superpowered superpowers.
- Study the writing style of existing Holders, and read the Featured Stories.
- For Those Who Seek test your character for Mary Sue syndrome, don't give your character too many Objects, and make sure your answer is excellent before solving a mystery.
After You Write
A Quick Step-By-Step Guide
- Type the story into the word processor of your choice.
- Run spell-check.
- Fix errors.
- Read your story aloud to yourself. Pause when you reach commas, check your punctuation, and fix sentence flow.
- It is at this juncture, and only at this juncture, that you should submit the story.
No one is above these steps. Always, always, always use them. You will save everyone a great deal of aggravation.
Now that you've read this, do NOT go and start writing, filling in each numbered section.
That is wrong.
Keep the guidelines in mind, but don't look at them while you write. I encourage you to change, omit, or add things as you see fit - this is but an analysis of what most of the Holders are like.