October 21st, 2005

bear by san

(Jenny's reads: "You should see the other guy.")

Somebody asked me how I develop characters, and Paperback Writer just did a little post on the topic over at her place. I know a lot of writers do character sheets, sketches, what have you.

I don't.

More or less, when it comes to developing a new character--as I'm doing now, four of them, for Undertow, and so far only one of the bastards has told me his name (It's Jean Kroc, and he's a con... er... make that conjure man. He lives in two schoolbuses welded side by side. It's a double-wide schoolbus. Very classy. Now I just have to figure out what a schoolbus looks like in this city. Ah well, I know it floats. Oh, dammit, the city needs a name, too.)--what I need to know about him is what he wants on his tombstone, and what he's most frightened of.

And right there, I have a conflict. And out of little conflicts, mighty stories grow.

Physical descriptions help too. Not how the character looks, per se, but the words my subconscious picks in describing him.

That's a great thing to ask somebody, by the way. "What do you want on your tombstone?" Try that for an ice breaker at parties.

The next character I need to name is the woman. And she's trying to convince me her name is Moon. Really, you'd think she could do better than that.

I'm pretty sure it's a noun, though.

Via netcurmudgeon, High-capacity industrial shredders vs... everything.

  • Current Music
    Dr. John - I Walk On Guilded Splinters
bear by san

(no subject)

Jim MacDonald at Making Light on how model building is like writing novels. We call this the other 9/10ths, around here. And it's realio trulio something that makes everything one writes richer.

This is very true, and his later points--about the color of the paint and the rivets and so on, are equivalent to something that I keep telling people. Art is not life. Art is not true to life. if you look at an Ansel Adams photograph of, say, a birch wood, and then one by, oh, me, you'll notice a difference.

Mine looks like a snapshot. His looks real, dewy, breathy, moist, stark, just like walking through mist on an Autumn morning into a deciduous forest.

And you know why his looks real and mine looks small and fake?

Because his is staged. That's right. It's framed and cropped just so, and he waited his moment with the light, and he shot fifty images to get that one.

The same way everything that goes into my writing is artifice, tweaked to make it look as real as possible.

And also, ginmar, "Again with the coffee."
  • Current Music
    Apocalyptica - Hope
bear by san

Don't panic.

I'm moving 50% of the friendslist from this journal over to elizabethbear, because I am at my limit. So you may (or may not) notice some friending or unfriending going on. Don't worry. You have not offended me in any way. This is simply a managerial reorganization. You may continue shopping: no need to return to your homes.

  • Current Music
    Mark Knopfler - Boom, Like That