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Posts from the ‘characterization’ Category

On The Road, Again

-or-
Just Can’t Wait To Get On The Page, Again

I’m writing to you from the distant past, to whit: yesterday morning. By the time you read this, I’ll be retrieving Wee Dave and Wee-er Dave, and heading to the transpo hub to acquire Mom Dave. That completed, we’ll head in a direction to lodge for the night at a southerly cousin’s locale. I’m looking forward to this. I’m told there’s a yurt. From there, we’ll head in easy stages eastward through various terrain to ultimately land with Mrs. Dave’s parents at their farm of a much higher elevation. (If I push this too hard, the naming conventions are going to get obnoxious.) The littles will tromp with Grammie while Gramps and I stalk some prey. Should be fun.
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Thinking Like a Stranger

A schematic of a patrician’s home/ware-house in the Hansa Museum in Lübeck, Germany. Author photo.

Well, that’s what all writers do, isn’t it? We get inside the heads of fictional people and other critters, find out their motivations (or give them some) and then see what happens. Right?

But what if you need a character with a mind that works in a very different way from yours? Read more

A Bolg snippet

I’m frantically trying finish a short by deadline – so forgive me digging the start of another short up as a how I do this exercise. You should see me show the setting, establish the characters and hopefully set a hook in this.

The moonlight shadows on the water trembled slightly, shivered by the pre‑dawn breeze. “Not too fast, Eochaid. Not too fast. Wait for the wind to be still,” whispered Fintan.

My wet fingers were numb. I had a frozen snot stalactite forming on the end of my nose. “What are you whispering for, you daft old bodach,” I said, trying to stop my teeth from chattering. The icy water wanted about three inches before it would come fountaining over the top of my waders. It would probably drown me, or worse, let Fintan rescue me. He stood about 6’2″ in his bare feet and dirty white robe, so the water would be barely up to his underwear, if he ever actually wore any. I could always hope it would freeze his testicles off, and save me a lot of trouble in future. But I knew from bitter past experience I wouldn’t be that lucky. Read more

Writers and death

That I should rise and you should not.

I’m somewhat under-slept, as I had an ambulance call-out, and then spent much of the rest of the night with my littlest cat, who was in some distress.  This did not end well, which leaves me less coherent than my usual incoherence. I’m tired and somewhat emotionally drained.

It’s been a rough period of partings for me. I had to deal with death first hand as a young conscript medic back before the dinosaurs went extinct, and the older you get the more often it seems to happen. I’m as soft as goose-grease, but it had to be dealt with, and as well as you possibly could – not only because the death of any man diminishes me, but because the living need you. That’s doubly true if you’re the one either deciding they have to die or doing your best to prevent that. They don’t need you less-than-competent because of emotion. Read more

The revenge of the doorstop

I’m damned sure I’m not the only reader who has hoped there’d be just a few more pages… (if you’re a writer who doesn’t read – trust me, you’re doing wrong. Like deciding to have babies without all this DNA sharing stuff, it doesn’t really work well, unless you’re a newt. Those sort of books work well… for parthenogenetic newts.)

Of course I wanted a few more pages to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings at about 450K and to Louis L’Amour’s Flint at about 45K.

It wasn’t actually a specific length I wanted – just more of a book I had enjoyed. Read more

In the absence of Mr. Character

In the absence of Mr. Character…

Who steps in?

We all know the bloke who is most conspicuous by his or her absence. Sometimes this is an event to be celebrated, or not, but what is truly visible (even if only in retrospect) is that they’re not there.

I’m afraid it’s the classic hallmark of amateur pantser (a person who doesn’t pre-plot their books). Now there are some fantastic pantsers out there. There is nothing wrong with it as a writing technique, it can be incredibly successful… as long as you are prepared to back-fill, at need. Read more

Unreliable witnesses

“It’s all a question of point of view.”

Back in the dark ages – 1980’s in South Africa the BBC Radio News reported on a labor dispute/picket protest led by the ANC aligned organizers in a fishing town up the West Coast of the Cape. The picket line had been savagely broken up by the police with dogs (the BBC reporter of the time was a passionate promoter of the anti-apartheid cause, and as his media was not within the country could report whatever he liked without any form of censorship.) The local Afrikaans press reported on the incident too. There wasn’t a lot to report on from one horse towns on the West Coast, and the Cape Town Riot squad dispersing a protest with dogs was news, if not big news. The one set of media carried it from their point of view as a bad thing, and the other as a good thing. Read more