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By ana (Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 01:19:16 PM EST) writing, novel, fun challenge (all tags)
Writing about writing. And things. You can never have enough things in a diary.

So they say if you get stuck, you should push your characters off a bridge and see what they do with it.

I kind of have the opposite problem. The book, say several readers, is not that well motivated. Why does the main character snap at some point and go all flying muppet on the world's ass (to borrow an inimitable phrase from mrgoat)? So I knew what she did; the question is why?

Now I know why. I wish I didn't. Sorry, girl, but it really is a better story this way, I think.

Sorry, but there is no but-clause that's adequate.


How 'bout that photo fun challenge? And where's the spoken word one? Or writing? Has it been long enough to restart that?

Or maybe I should just call a "late stuff fun challenge" where you can post that ZZ Top cover you've been meaning to do for a couple of years now; or that post-apocalyptic story (original, or just read aloud).

We went to see Watchmen last night, in an imax theater in a great big goddamn theme park of a furniture store. Except that you really do have to stand in line for 40 minutes to get a decent seat, since they let everybody in at once, it was Seriously Awesome. I had read the graphic novel at one point, but I've forgotten so much of it that it was hardly recognizable. Great comic-book plot and violence and characters, though.

And then we set the clocks ahead to 11. Slept for all too short a count of hours, and got up as always at six on Sunday morning. Managed to get to choir a few minutes ahead of the 8 AM call (warming up for a 9 AM mass). It seems to be Ferrant-tide; we've now sung three of his anthems in just the first two Sundays in Lent.

< 1.2.3 | Bring on the comfy chair! >
meta writing diary | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Characters by duxup (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 02:16:59 PM EST
I used to write on and off, I'm just not disciplined enough.  I never got to the point that I hear most writers talk about how they care for their characters in a way.   I've always heard that discussion and wanted to lean over and say "Um, I'm not sure how to say this in a sensitive way so I'm just going to say... um, you know they're not real right???"

I always figured that would inevitably result in having something nearby stabbed into my neck without explanation.

Yeah, I know... by ana (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:06:52 PM EST
she's fictional, and what happens in the book, stays in the book.

Still, I discovered so much of the plot by following her around with really quite minimal interference, writing down what she said and did.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

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I see by duxup (2.00 / 0) #4 Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:25:05 PM EST
So what you're saying is if I ever come to Boston I best watch my back...

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Revenge... by ana (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:26:23 PM EST
is a dish best served cold.

What ever happened to babylago anyway?

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

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I was just wondering that recently by duxup (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:29:43 PM EST
I checked, dude is not in the basement freezer.

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I dunno by Kellnerin (4.00 / 2) #7 Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 04:38:37 PM EST
If I don't feel the slightest twinge of irrational love for my characters I feel like I've failed. The goal (on some level) is to make the reader feel something for them, to be invested in their fates, so if I can't summon up any emotion when I think about them, why should they?

This doesn't mean my characters end up particularly noble, or that they are any kind of ideal. It doesn't mean I necessarily feel bad about making bad things happen to them, either. (I think ana once made a joke to the effect that "If you don't behave, I'll send you to one of Kellnerin's stories" would be an effective threat to a recalcitrant character.)

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

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I dunno either. by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:41:05 AM EST

I think caring-for and harbouring a kind-of love for your characters actually works on a technical level, rather than an empathic one. I know it sounds odd to equate irrational emotion with a cold, clinical correctness, but I suspect that's the mechanism by which it actually works.

It's like one philosophical angle on the utility of false beliefs. A person may avoid walking a given path because they believe it to be frequented by man-eating ogres (false), or they may avoid it because it's prone to rock-slides, subsidence and flash-floods (true). The first belief is false, but as it's a member of a belief set that happens to be true at a higher semantic level ("The path is dangerous"), it's effectively useful as avoiding the non-existent ogres means that you also avoid the rock-slides.

In the same way, I don't think it's necessary to love / care about the characters, but it is an incredibly effective technical way of avoiding some of the pitfalls that can happen when the writer does not care about them (e.g. not having a plausible or well-realized inner life). It may also encourage a type of character exploration and analysis by the author which would be unmotivated if they didn't care.

You can half-demonstrate a hypothetical null case where the author isn't particularly engaged but is describing in detail instances from real life. This is likely to have a certain amount of the requisite psychological and emotional elements purely because the people and situation being described had them, and not because the author is necessarily invested in the psychology of the people involved.

Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
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Pshaw. by mrgoat (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:47:29 AM EST
The characters probably feel the same way about you.

--top hat--
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SWFC by R343L (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Mar 08, 2009 at 03:03:00 PM EST
I believe hulver one the last (first) one. It is up to him!

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
FC FC by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 03:44:52 AM EST
I could definitely go another round of some kind of FC. Even though I pike out on the P(h)FCs.

Maybe a new type is in order. Genetic-engineering Fun Competition, for the best designer organism ...

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

Characters. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:56:30 AM EST
I hate pushing the bad on my characters. Especially right now. I've "lived" with these people running around my head for years, and now I've let THEM live for about, wow, five months, writing down the things that happened to them as they happened. It's tough to put them in those situations that you know "hurts" them. Even though in the end I know it'll all work out, they don't in the moment and their pain feels ridiculously real. And then comes the guilt. Because it's MY fault they feel bad.

It's completely irrational, but it happens anyway.

Also, on the fun challenge fun challenge? I think it'd be really cool to have a wide-open challenge. It may result in some interestingly strange material anyway.

One of the things I really like about Lost by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 05:04:46 AM EST
is that they kill current primary characters without compunction and without drama. They're alive one moment, and then -- they're dead. I'm not sayin' anything, I'm just sayin'...

i'm reading a book like that by LilFlightTest (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:31:55 PM EST
chapters and chapters are spent on developing a character, then they fulfill their purpose and are offed in a cold, unfeeling manner. in a way i wonder how the author can dispose of characters that another i think it's an excellent way to do it.
if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake
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