[Warning: This post touches on an emotional political issue in order to illustrate a point. I do NOT want the comments on this post to devolve into political debate. This is ultimately a post about writing and character work. Please refrain from commenting on the political stuff beyond how it relates to character work. Comments that are polemical or divisive, whether or not they agree with my personal political views, will be deleted. Thank you. We now return to our regularly scheduled Monday post...]
There is a moment late in the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry (due out July 2 from Tor), in which my protagonist, Ethan Kaille, explains to another character all that has happened in the previous days and how the magic wielded by the “bad guy” contributed to a series of attacks and deaths. When he is finished, he and the character in question have the [...]
Continue reading On Writing and Creativity: Who Are Our Characters?
On Monday, our own Mindy Klasky started a series on how she writes a synopsis, which I am dying to read because … uh … I have no idea how I do it. I mean, I do it, I write them, but I don’t know if I do it right. I know I must have my own way of constructing a synopsis because I have never read anyone else’s synopsis. Synopses. (shrugs) I’ve learned a lot from the other writers here at MagicalWords.net, and I am looking forward to her process.
Through MW, I have discovered one major way in which Mindy and David (and probably everyone else for that matter) do character research and planning in the pre-writing phase. They have their characters histories fully fleshed out, sometimes down to their childhood sports injuries, their pets’ names, the schools they went to (the characters, not the pets) and their [...]
Continue reading Character Preparation … Stuff I Don’t Do
Diana Pharaoh Francis
One of the things that this investigation following the Boston bombing has reminded me of is character building. This is the writing disease, to connect even awful things to writing. Graham Greene said every writer has to have a splinter of ice in his heart, that he has to be able to be inside a terrible situation and still observe and record. As I look at how the cops are trying to piece together these men and understand the how, why, when and so on, I realized how similar that is to what writers do.
Don’t think she’s not got a motive and means. She’s just looking for opportunity.
I have a character in my WIP. (Wow, how crazy is that? Having a character in my WIP? Moving on, Dr. Obvious . . . ). Anyhow, I began with what she looks like and her name. As I started [...]
Continue reading Writers as Cops
Diana Pharaoh Francis
While at Norwescon, I was on a panel talking about rogues, heroes and anti-heroes. Apparently the subject is still bugging me, because I feel the need to continue it here, talking about anti-heroes in particular. The usual anti-heroes that I think of when the subject comes up is Elric of Melnibone and Thomas Covenant. I hate Thomas. Never liked him. Couldn’t get through the first book even. But I loved Elric. It’s been so long since I’ve read those books, though, that I can’t tell you why. They are all packed up and waiting for my eventual move that I can’t get to them either and have another look.
The conclusion of the panel was that anti-heroes do good accidentally or only selfishly. They frequently cause chaos. We talked about how heroes and anti-heroes can both be dark and do horrible things, sometimes for good, sometimes for not so good [...]
Continue reading Hero or Anti-hero?
John G. Hartness
Nah, this won’t be a morbid post. It won’t even be another navel-gazing ramble about how little I’m getting done, because I came back from MidSouthCon recharged and ready to write.
Okay, so I might have only gotten about a thousand words done, but it’s better than the rest of the month. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
Anyway, today I want to talk about killing. Specifically, killing characters and the level of thought and care that has to be taken with it. It’s obvious that you can’t just randomly kill a main character, because unless you’re Jim Butcher, when you kill your protagonist, the story (and series) is over. And even if you are Butcher, you’d better have a damn good reason to kill said character and a damn clever way to bring him back to life.
And yes, Jim, I’ve forgiven you for Changes and Ghost Story. Cold Days is totally worth [...]
Continue reading Matters of Life and Death. Well, mostly death, really.
I am staring down the barrel of several guns—all shotguns, all loaded, all with buckshot. And I am fine with it. Now please understand that I have panic attacks. Last year this time I was in the same boat and panicking. This year, no panic. I find this odd behavior on my part. It differs from the character building, it differs from past actions, it does not fit the pattern. Not at all. So I am musing on the changes that I see in me. Not ranting, mind you. Just … pondering my way through it.
If I was a character in one of my books, I—the writer—would have to deal with this deviation from the norm. I’d have to find a way for the character changes to make sense or I’d have to do a lot of rewriting and reinsert the panic attacks. Fortunately, I am not a character [...]
Continue reading The Shotgun Barrell of the Writing Life