Some exciting news at jtkwriting.com! For the month of February I will be posting a serial! Everyday in February I will be posting a chapter to a novella I am writing specifically for this blog. It’s like NaNoWriMo except it’s in February. I’m doing it for selfish reasons – it gives me a writing focus for the month – but also because I have been wanting to write this story for a while I thought this would be the best way to present it to the world. It’s called “Last Caress” (yes, I stole the title from The Misfits song) and it’s about…well, you’ll just have to read it. Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy!
Monthly Archives: January 2015
What is character? Is it what we do when we know no one is watching? Well, yes, it is, but it is also something entirely different. As for being a writer, we spend the majority of our time alone, where no one can watch us, or if they are and we notice we give them a look like, “Are you jealous? Get a hobby you lurker!” Unless they are another writer and are observing us because they are writing about writers. I guess that’s okay and spares us from calling them out on their lurking.
All that being said, character…what the hell…
I guess what I want to speak about in terms of character(s) is make them authentic. When creating characters, research them. Yes, a lot of what we do, specifically as fiction writers, is make shit up, make people up, but that doesn’t make them entirely fictional. The best characters are relatable in some way. Even characters that are serial killers can be relatable. One simply has to ask how the book series and subsequent TV show Dexter was so popular? It was because on some levels Dexter Morgan was a relatable character. I personally can’t relate to his innate need to kill, but I can relate to his need for acceptance, his love for his family, and his moral code of punishing those that deserve punishment. Do I believe he should have murdered them? On the whole? No. But the character and the plot lines did have me questioning that sometimes.
Another aspect of character relatability and research is a character’s backround. For example, the character’s vocabulary. I’m not sure how many friends you have that are from the U.K. or Australia but they sometimes use a particular word that can be defined as offensive but can also be a term of endearment. That word is “cunt.” Like all words it depends how it is used. When referring to someone in a derogatory way, “cunt” is extremely offensive. When my Irish friend called me a cunt, I felt as though we had established a new level of friendship. That is because it was used as a term of endearment meaning friendship as it is sometimes used within that culture. So what I’m basically saying is that if you are writing a character from a culture, research their slang, both “good” and “bad”, and use both because both establish character in the proper ways it should be established. Another example is my Australian friend and his use of the word “mate.” His usage is meant in the way that a “mate” is a friend. It’s authentic to him, his culture, and his character.
All in all, make your characters your characters. Delve deep into yourself and the people you know. One thing I like to do is the reverse of what happens when a story gets adapted from page to screen. Often when adapting a book, a screenwriter will, through want or need, meld different characters into one. I like to take a person I know and break them into their component parts and then create characters from that point. Just take one aspect, like they play guitar and go from there. On this note, the one question I love to ask when creating a character is “what do they have in their pockets and why?” It creates so many possibilities. And finally, it’s important to remember and continually ask three questions: 1) What does this character want? 2) How are they going to get/achieve it? and 3) What’s going to happen if they don’t get it? All three are common to both the writing and the acting world, but they help keep you focused and on point with each specific character and they will also help you, the writer, form original, authentic characters that are yours.
Alas. All is lost. I sit here with shoulders slumped and off-brand tissue in hand to confess to you, with sincere regret, my failings as an Idiot.
1) I realized too late in the Idiot Game that my IQ is far to high to actually be an idiot. This is probably my number one failure. That is why I put it as number one on the list.
2) When attempting to do idiotic things I found I would, in fact, as natural as a blink, do the exact opposite of what would be considered idiotic. It was frustrating.
3) I entered a contest to see who was the biggest idiot and I lost. This pretty much says it all right there.
4) I wrote a book called, “I am an Idiot” and no one would publish it, thus, displaying that no one believed me to be an idiot and therefore thus, I must not be one.
5) I put my underwear on the correct way 5 out of 7 days of the week, although these days are not consistent. An idiot would make it consistent.
6) I took the R.E.M. song, Losing My Religion, figuratively NOT literally. Just think about all those idiots out there that lost their religion because Michael Stipe told them too! Phew.
7) I ran an entire marathon backwards in the opposite direction, not like those fucking idiot sheep who need to follow the crowd.
8) When I get my coffee in the morning from the cafe near my house I always pocket all of the sugars and sweeteners because only an idiot would leave free stuff behind. Everyone hears me on this one right???
9) I will never for the life of me, or anyone else, understand the merits of participation ribbons for children. Children have enough already (youth, the benefit of the doubt, charities) and we have to give them a ribbon that celebrates they participated? I brought this up to a group of parents at a playground once and they all looked at me with their mouths agape and scowling to eternity…like a bunch of idiots. It’s as though they’d never thought of it. Rewarding participation? Come ON!
10) Finally, I watched that episode of The Simpsons where it’s revealed that Mr. Burns has ever disease known to humans. So – greatest plan ever – I’m never washing my hands, having protected sex, eating fresh food, going to the doctor, going to the dentist, or participating in any hygienic routines or regimes ever again! This way, once I contract the same disease roster as Mr. Burns, I will be virtually immortal. Yup. Greatest. And. Smartest. Plan. Ever.