Working Title: Dave’s Hammer.
Current Word Count: Nothing new. I’m sick!
Goal for next Monday: Complete overview of plot treads and 2000 new words.
So the fact is; I haven’t been writing. I was struck down Wednesday with a stomach bug which somewhat dominated my time. It’s not an acceptable excuse, but nothing to do about that now. But I haven’t been idle. I have been thinking (I know, its hard work. Love it!) about my characters and the relationship between the character and writer. Boiling it right down to basics, then any character you write is ultimately a mirror to how the writer thinks his or her character should/would/can/ought to interact with the world.
It’s a problematic process and can stump even the best of content creators. You can be an excellent orator in other ways, but once you take up the viewpoint of a fictitious entity the flow of creativity can dry up in no time like the crust of cheap store bought pizza. How should you write new and exciting content, keep you characters real and engaging, while still conveying a complete narrative? Take the situations below?
- How does Romeo react to facing down a fairly miffed fairy while climbing to meet his Juliet?
- How will Waldo react when he is finally found by Homeland Security and accused of being subversive to American society?
- What should Darth Vader say, when Luke offers him cookies to join the Light side?
So, here is how I see it:
Dave (one on my characters) is a canvas for me to paint a production on, he is an empty vessel to be filled with meaning and agency, or he could be a subject to be explored. What Dave is not, however, is real. Down the line, after I’ve taken him to hell (or heaven) and back, added scars to his soul and patina to his personality, he will feel real. But he will never be real. He is an expression of some other bit of me (and the people I base him on, which would still my interpretation of them). And regardless of how much care I put will be putting into making him, he is still faking it. He is still just a projection after all. He does not represent me (since he could be a horrifying racist and misogynist, which I am not), but does emulate my thoughts.
To make it worse, a writer wants to be original. To create something fresh and new and vibrant with awesomeness. Pheeew! Its no wonder the pressure is on to perform, even if what you write is only ever read by your mother. And is there a nifty little piece of advice to fix this? A net little trick that let you delve into the souls of your characters?
Put succinctly: No.
Put less succinctly: Hell No.
The character is in your head. The only way to get to get it out is to work with it. If this is writing up a character sheet and rolling for stats, then do that. If its writing a long back story with tons of little details that explain every little creepy character detail, then do that. If its going for walk and think, then do that. But in the end, it comes back to the story.
And that needs to be written.
John Scalzi puts an interesting spin on it in his Star Trek parody Redshirts. Not only is it hilarious. Its also thought provoking and essentially revamped my approach to character development. Whether I’m justified in claiming that is up to you, but to me it worked.