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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

Wasn't there supposed to be a Tuesday in this week?

Damn, I just had it here a minute ago.

I'm a little sore this morning; the boy and I walked the 5.8 mile loop and I also did 45 minutes of yoga. But I feel very bouncy and good. I'm starting to get my cardio fitness and some flexibility back.

I had an interesting realization re: grounding and telling detail yesterday. It has to do with tightness of POV, as well--and it's triggered by working on some writing that's about two years old now.

At some point in the last two years I've learned how to immerse myself in a character's experience, how to--put him on like a skin and permit him to notice things as they happen to him. Two years ago, I would have tried to ground the reader in the pizza and beer the guy was eating--and, honestly, I wasn't doing all that badly. But reading it now, it's obvious what the difference is.

Two years ago, that pizza and beer would have been, in my head--the writer's head--just pizza and beer. Somewhere in there I've developed the ability to not only work those little details into the narrative so that there's no pause around them, if that makes any sense--to just permit the character to notice them subliminally, the way you would in real life notice that there's a chip on the rim of your coffee mug or that the E key on your keyboard sticks--but also to see this particular piece of pizza that's in this particular character's hand at the moment he's experiencing the story, and see how this piece of pizza is unique and unlike every other piece of pizza in the world.

In other words, I've somehow managed to learn to see things as specifics instead of as categories. And that different kind of vision shows up in my writing, and makes it better.

And--here's the interesting thing--I can't go back and put it into the old stuff. It's not just a matter of adding telling details and setting. It's a whole different way of... parsing and expressing. It's not transferrable.

The potentially useful-to-others bit of this self-absorbed mumbling is this:

I figured out today that the way I can pull off this trick is by, more or less, living in the skin of the character while I'm writing him. Method writing, as it were. Which has the added benefits of automatically providing a tighter POV and less telling/exposition and more incluing and inpositioning (explanations of those terms are available in the memories section--the first one is papersky's, and the second is buymeaclue and tanaise's term for a thing I noticed about immersive writing some time last year.)

So, you know.

Hope that helps somebody, and if it doesn't, at least I have it written down now so I don't forget it.

Comments

It's funny, because when I was writing ten years ago (gosh, maybe more) for Quanta, I was able to do this. In fact, I couldn't NOT live in the skin of my characters. I lost the ability sometime in the past few years. I'd like to regain it.
*nod* I've always sort of inhabited my characters in the sense of channeling them. This new thing is... 'differnt'. In that I find myself writing down the sensations the character might be experiencing/noticing as they happen in the story, without really noticing them as I'm writing them.

Something got reflexive on me, and I'm not sure how to express it.

Interesting

That is similar to how I write. Earlier in my career, it was a problem. I ended up with too much of ME in characters, and thus, I ended up with too many characters who were too similar. Then, over the years, I developed that sort of chameleon skin you need to become the other person - the character. It can be pretty eerie when it works well...and always makes me think of of The Dark Half by King...and the way his character used pencils and smoked cigarettes, and drank - only when writing as Stark, the pseudonymn...

DNW

Re: Chameleon Skin

Ya! 'Zackly.

Hmm. This whole writing thing is really fascinating. I'm to the point where I can't really see any more *what* I need to be working at, but I'm still trying to work at things and spot things I can't do well yet.

There's always more.
Hope that helps somebody

*raising hand* Me! It helps me a great deal, as that's something I'm working on with a couple of characters right at this moment. I appreciate the links as well. Thanks for being so generous in sharing your process; I'm learning a lot!
Yes, very interesting stuff. Integrated world-building, world-building from the character's POV, has been on my mind lately. Thanks, Bear!
I remember what a revelation it was when I finally realized that description and the conveying of character were more or less the same thing. Everything seen on stage is seen through someone's eyes, and those eyes slant and filter the seeing.

This is especially fun if one is fond of protagonists who are somewhat unreliable narrators. (Though I'm no longer sure anyone can be a fully reliable narrator, actually.)

What's weird when doing total immersion into character--which is how I write, too, at least when it's going well--is having to return to oneself at the end and do mundane things like laundry and meetings. The characters tend to follow one (well, to follow me) out, and I begin seeing my own life filtered a little through their eyes, too.
What's weird when doing total immersion into character--which is how I write, too, at least when it's going well--is having to return to oneself at the end and do mundane things like laundry and meetings. The characters tend to follow one (well, to follow me) out, and I begin seeing my own life filtered a little through their eyes, too.

Oh, thank $DEITY I'm not the only one that happens to.

I don't mind so much when it's my protagonists. I *hate* it when the villains stick around, though.
interesting realization re: grounding and telling detail yesterday. It has to do with tightness of POV, as well

Yeah... (Nods head sagely) That makes a lot of sense.

I think one of the reasons the WIP is frustrating me is that I don't have that tightness and groundedness yet. This might be just how the book is going to be (I'm not using such a tight-on-the-POV-character POV this time), or it may be because it's still crappy first draft.
...or you're trying something new, and stretching is uncomfortable, and it's a bit scary?

Distanced narrators can be a lot of fun too. And they also reveal themselves through what they notice.
That is very interesting. One of the blessings and curses of my storytelling is I have to step back a bit; I use the words, I put them together to go where I want the story to go. But I can't go there myself. I create space for the imagination of the reader to work, but I can't build as vivid a picture in my mind as the reader can.

Like drawing a picture. If I have a vivid image to begin with I can't capture it, it is beyond my skill. But if I work WITH the picture as it's emerging, then the piece of art and my vision feed off each other and end up somewhere mutually agreeable.

If that makes any sense.
Whoo, that *is* interesting.

What's funny for me as a writer is that I'm so nonvisual. (I suspect it has something to do with growing up with extremely bad eyesight; I don't visualize things/think in pictures, but rather I think in words and have in the past tried to translate them into pictures to write them. Thus that generic piece of pizza.

As opposed to the new piece of pizza, which is a floppy, sloppy, New York style folded slice with the olive oil dripping off the tip and a little too much sauce, so the cheese slides down into the valley at the bottom.

I still can't see that piece of pizza in my head. But I can *feel* it.

This whole process thing is just so damned neat.

Well, duh...

Thank you for reminding me of what I *know* I can do and need to do with my stories. Been fighting with revisions on my rough draft the last two weeks, and your post just nailed my problem. I've done that before, it's lovely, it's scary and it's what the story needs to sing its way off the page. But I've tied myself up in enough knots the last year or two that I've forgotten how. Hopefully it's like riding a bike...

And I'm going to echo akamarykate, and say *thank* you for sharing your process. You've been of immense help and great encouragement.

Re: Well, duh...

And I'm going to echo akamarykate, and say *thank* you for sharing your process.

That's really good to hear, actually. I'm often afraid that I get incredibly boring and self-indulgent when I talk about writing. But if it helps anybody else--that's what the blog is here for, really.

What's really interesting for me is that, in keeping this journal, I'm able t ogo back and look at what an idiot I was, say, a year ago, and how much I've learned since. And it reminds me that I'm still an idiot now, even if I still don't know it. g*

Thank you very much!!

This is just what I needed, in connection with my current story.

Of course, it means reworking everything I thought was basically done.

Re: time

Um. I have no hobbies. *g* And no life.

The day job is part time (~20 houts a week) and I don't sleep much. And I ignore my husband shamefully.

But if you write every day, half a million words is only about five and a half pages a day. Most novel-writing pros do between 1500-2000 words per day. And sadly, most of us have day jobs.

Alas.