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December 2014

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brace yourself for elimination

So, first things first. I'll be at Annie's Book Stop in Worcester tomorrow (10 May 2014) signing Steles of the Sky and other things, reading stuff, answering questions, and hanging out. I'd love to see some of you there!

But that's not what I came to talk to you about today.

I came to you today to talk about characters.

And something I've been figuring out for the past couple of weeks, which is the thing that makes good characters--at least for me--and why I find a lot of characterizations to be flat and two-dimensional.

Shadow Unit is part of what taught me this, actually, and working with a fistful of other writers who all have slightly different concepts of who these people are. This creates characters with complexity and depth, who have different aspects when squinted at from different angles.

A lot of characters I encounter, well--they're too damned consistent. If they're competent, they're good at everything. If they're goofy, they're never serious, even when it would make sense. They only have one defining trait or hook, and because of that they always exhibit that single trait.

Real people don't work that way. We're messy. But we're messy with patterns; we're messy but we have tracks we fall into. Things that we reliably like or dislike. Buttons that can be pushed.

But we're still surprising, and we have a lot more than 64 facets.

Comments

And we're not precisely the same from day to day. Our arcs are inconsistent; we constantly backslide, make progress, transform into butterflies.

Truth is way more inconsistent and unbelievable than fiction...
Yes. This.
I'm planning on being at said signing tomorrow. Assuming it's cool to bring a copy of a book purchased elsewhere for signing, I'll be looking to collect a Bear-o-graph on my copy of Steles. And, if there's time, I might even try to show off my new Evil Overlord Plot Generator iOS app.

(Yes, I know there's a Web version already out there. But I wanted to teach myself iOS programming, and this seemed like a nice small start. Plus, I keep hearing that Internet access at Viable Paradise is, shall we say, spotty?)
I also wish to note for the record that titling a post "brace yourself for elimination" is likely to cause Emotionally Complex Responses in Shadow Unit fen. Particularly with only two episodes left, and especially particularly knowing your willingness to kill off fan-beloved characters.
Some days we get a full night's sleep, and some days we don't.

My housemates watch TV a lot more often than I sit down to watch it with them, so it's been interesting to watch episodes separated sometimes by multiple seasons in short temporal succession, and to note the shows which Flanderize their characters and those that don't. (Obligatory TV Tropes link warning.)