Saturday, December 8, 2007

Kara Thrace and her Special Destiny

It really does sound like the name of a band.

Today was a rough day for writing. I had an office party last night and it kind of blew. I hate my day job because it takes time away from what I want to be doing; I feel like it sucks the creativity right out of me. I also had to have a suit fitting and I've packed on a few pounds the last couple of months (I really want to blame it on the massive amount of time I've spent writing, but the chocolate eclairs certainly did not help), so that was slightly depressing. So today when I finally sat down to do a chapter I was a mixture of hungover/depressed/exhausted, and ended up crashing on my couch for an hour. I banged out another chapter and that makes six.

It's hard to edit because I really examine every single word. I read each line to make sure it makes sense. Then I read it again to make sure it works in context with the rest of the story. Then I read it aloud to make sure it sounds right. I don't know if other writers do that, but I like my work to have a lyrical quality, not sing-songy, but when it's read it aloud I like it to sound pleasing. Then I have to ask myself what it adds to the story, to the characters and to the overall effect I want to achieve. Essentially every word is on the cutting block and I have to weigh each on its merits and get rid of a lot. It's difficult to be so pragmatic about my own work because I was sort of in labor with it for a couple of months, and its my baby, even the ugly parts, but I have to be realistic about it because if I ever get a publisher to look at it they're going to be way harsher than I am.

Anyway, so then I watched the Battlestar Galactica movie Razor. Way kick ass. It got me really thinking about character. Plot is the easy part if you think about it. I mean, the BSG plot is pretty easy, and I think I actually have the whole thing figured out, because plots are formulaic. Rarely do I read a book or write a story and fall in love with the plot. No, it's the characters that make a story great. That's where BSG really excels; they're not afraid to twist their characters into knots. They're not afraid to have them do things that might make us hate them, because everyone does things in their lives that are mean and petty and cruel. We humans are flawed, terribly flawed, and that's awesome. We're also capable of redeeming ourselves. Even the meanest soul can turn in an instant and perform the bravest act, or kindest gesture. And in the same vein, the sweetest people can fall so far and so hard.

As I was thinking about it, I started thinking about my own characters, not the one for the Guardian of the Ways, because Duncan Doogle is a pretty frackked up guy already, but my new characters for my Broken Earth kabob. I've got my plot and I've got most of my characters, but now I want to really turn them inside out and take them in directions not even I was aware they could go. I sort of think the mark of a successful character is when they start writing themselves. When a character is so well fleshed out, he's going to act in whatever way HE thinks is appropriate regardless of what you want to write him into doing. Characters aren't just blank bodies spouting lines; once their drawn, it's kind of hard to undraw them. I've been forced to scrap a few stories because I tried to lock a character into a plot and they just weren't willing to do what I wanted.

So I've been thinking about my character Mattie Grey. She's a feisty young woman with a great brain, and a bad attitude. She's got a great journey to take, but her journey only takes her around the world, and I want to take her into the bowels of it, I want to take her to hell and bring her back. So I've been looking into her past, trying to find that thing that can take her from being just a great hero, to a full fledged human being with great gaping flaws to over come. It's tough work, but worth it.

Word(s) of the day: I'm giving you two, and they're strange. I was trying to find a good word for shy and somehow my search led to these: merkin & pudenda

By the way. My favorite site for words is it's a site on etymology and it's awesome.

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