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Monday, August 6, 2007

New characters

Worked some yesterday on fleshing out the world of a new book I'm poking away at. Guess every writer starts differently, creates differently. For me, even more than a story, I have to have characters. A main character comes to me somehow. Don't know how, really - that's the muse talking, I suppose. Sometimes it's just a voice, sometimes a whole person pops up. And honestly, a lot of what I write at first may not even end up anywhere. But I get to know this person. Well.

Conflict comes next. What's the MC's problem? What's going on in her/his world? What's about to drop on her head? And for me, that has so far come from my musings about who this person is. Easier if you know them to know exactly what needs to be added or taken away.

And so the process begins. Write. Rewrite. Revise. And then do it again. And again. And multiple agains until you get it right. Or at least close. Or until you're ripping your hair out and primal screaming. Whichever comes first. But in any case, for me, it's a character driven process.

Yesterday, and last week, I've worked on who my newest MC hangs out with. Friends and foes alike. Gave 'em names, gave 'em backstory. Added names for family members, too. Backstory for them as well. It's hard grunt work, really, but fun, too. These people pop out of the ether and plop themselves down and I get to find out who they are and what I can do with them.

Also took time with husband yesterday to rent the movie "Breach" which had some interesting characters in it, too. Based on the true story of the largest breach in American security ever. And we wondered when we finished watching and debated while we made and ate dinner, what would it take for a person to betray his country on such an enormous level? For the character in the film, we decided it was enormous ego. I can do it and you can't. I'm just that much better than all of you and you don't know it or appreciate it or even like me so I'm going to show you. Typical bully behavior, really, right down to him having had an abusive father figure sort of thing. But it went back to one of my favorite writer's questions - why is the villain doing whatever it is he's doing? Gotta have a reason.

As for the FBI agent who takes him down, played by Ryan Phillipe, I confess that I spent too many moments when he was on screen wondering the same thing, over and over. So, Ryan, what happened, really, between you and Reese?

Til next time...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that a new world is in the works. Excellent.

I've always wondered if writers spend a lot of time creating worlds and rules for their characters that we readers don't get to know about in the finished product. Interesting characters will bring me to the table every time. Interesting characters who behave in character, that is. (Why, yes --I am looking at you, nice folks who write for House. Decide who the heck Cameron is supposed to be. Sheesh.)

As for Reese and Ryan -- didn't you get the feeling that it was because of her career? How sad. If they were just regular people who didn't have to live married life under a microscope, maybe they could have made it work.

~Beth

Eva said...

About villains: I've often heard actors playing a villain in a film say that the way they play them is by NOT seeing their behavior as villainous. So I wonder if, in real life, if evildoers see themselves as that or if they don't recognize their behavior as wrong.

And, as for Ryan and Reese, and Brad and Angelina, and Charlie and Denise, etc., etc., the best lesson I've taken away from them is that even drop-dead gorgeous girls are not enough to keep their husbands happy for life. Virtually all men long for variety and, when they look as good as Ryan, Brad, and Charlie, it is nearly inevitable that they will stray.

Let me see if I can remember it...Bill Maher sums it up something like this, "men are only as loyal as their
opportunity (to cheat)."

Some societies have accepted this as the way things are. Women do require the men to be discreet. I think some marriages would be saved and, more importantly, families left intact, if women grew up accepting this. (I stress "grew up accepting this." It's too hard for American women, like us, to accept infidelity, because it is
demonized currently.)