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Posts from the ‘characterization’ Category

Needing Traction

I spent some time on Saturday in a large plastic water-tank (about 6000 gallons) – A tank I had inadvertently put a crack into, and was now trying to weld. The tank has been used for at least 20 years to pump muddy dam water uphill to allow garden irrigation pressure – so it had more than a token amount of silty mud in it, and we couldn’t drain the last of the water out.

We tried leverage and to use a suction cup glass transporter to pull the edges of the crack into alignment – but alas, it didn’t handle the convex surface well, and it required more force than the suction could handle. So it had to be dealt with from the inside. Read more

The Chosen Hero

It is a trope that has been overdone, especially in fantasy, or so everyone seems to say. A prophecy of a Chosen One, a child born to be special, or a man or woman blessed by the gods to be better, stronger, wiser, braver, the one foretold who will save the world. And so he or she does.

I suspect my mind wandered this direction because this is the time of year when readings and songs talk about a Chosen One, a hero sent to save his people, a messenger of G-d. Now, the idea of signs and foreshadowings is not limited to Judeo-Christian traditions. King Mithridates used the legends of Alexander and Cyrus to have himself shown as one foretold. Some Chinese traditions hold that the mother of Confucius was visited by a special animal, a ki-lin, that foretold she would bear an especially blessed and noble child. Read more

The Unreliable Narrator

 

 

 

I’m quite fond of this device, though I admit that in its simplest form (“and then I woke up and it was all a dream”) it has been done to death. No, I didn’t think Agatha Christie was cheating in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and I enjoyed the double-impostor twist of Mary Stewart’s The Ivy Tree with its narrator who misleads us delightfully by telling the truth… just, not all the truth. So I was pleased to see a new twist on this in one of the fantasy novels I’ve been reading via Kindle Unlimited, and I’ve made a note of the author for further reading.

In W.B. McKay’s Bound by Faerie the narrator is hired to retrieve a magical artifact. She’s warned in advance:

Today, however, we’d gotten word that Lou was in possession of a heavily enchanted necklace. I hadn’t been given any particulars about its power, just a strict warning not to put it on and a description.

 Of course she puts it on – what do you think? It’s part of the rules of the game, isn’t it? Psyche brings in a lamp to gaze on Cupid, Beauty picks up the only remaining spindle in the kingdom, and McKay’s Sophie Morrigan puts on the necklace, part of whose enchantment is the power to lure her into doing exactly that. Read more

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