Two Kinds of People. No, Three.

There are two kinds of people. There are those who give you everything they have as soon as you meet them. And that’s it.

And then there are those who evolve into something else as you know them. In other words there is something more to them.

And then there are those that give nothing at all. Ever. Which are you?

Killing Character: Writing Process

Killing characters in a story needs to be a random thing. As godlike as it seems, it isn’t. Unless it seems so, and then it is. Yes, killing someone is an senseless act, leading one to wonder why create them at all. A character is not flesh and blood. It’s just words, if that.

To get to the point: Tragedy occurs at the midpoint of Anori, a spaceship crash, and a personal connection is needed to Dee. Initially, I made this Saarva, the sole Greenlandic character Dee had come to know. And then I realized the stupidity of that, to kill off my only decent Greenlandic character! It was lazy and a cliché.

More powerful and relevant was the death of Val, Dee’s closest friend. They were connected as individuals and character types. Losing Val is highly affecting. But how is that random? The death I need is of someone Dee knows. No more. And I thought of Nico, the founder of the enterprise. Why not him? Impactful for sure. And random. Calculatedly so.

The Music in Dee: Writing Process

I am fascinated by Dee Sinclair, a character I have worked on for some fifteen years. I would go as far as to say that I actually want to be Dee, just like I told Peach so many years ago.

It isn’t a sexual thing – although it is that too – as much as a fascination with what I believe to be divine. Dee might be hard to empathize with – given her intransigence, anger and sharp tongue – but there is no person more fascinating in my eyes.

Oddly enough, I have yet to fully describe Dee. Her features remain nebulous, and I want to keep her like that. She is like music. And there is no jawline in that.

Regret and Failure Fuel Inspiration: Writing Process

My dreams are of no interest to anyone but me, and yet they do tap into my essential understanding that life is an odyssey replete with failure and regret. I’m not saying this is anything new – the Greeks figured it out thousands of years back – but it is the fuel.

And so when I dream of being humiliated by administrators or being rejected by someone I love or trying to take a shit in front of a crowd, I am reminding myself not only of my fears but, more importantly, gaining access to something more universal. I am alone and know that will never change.

Anori is about that. And that’s what I want. Dee Sinclair is stoic in her isolation, eyes wide, furiously ready for what is to come. My job is to make her someone that people will want to know. And I am working on that.

The Thing About Writing

The thing about writing is the fluidity of the act, getting the thoughts out, sharp and immediate. At the edge of that. Sacred & divine/Drunk & stupid. Between those lines.

Jet Rockwell orates by the fire

No plumbing of the depths. None of that. The story, just the story, simple and direct. Anything more is drivel. Pablum. A brouhaha.

Characters Are Life: Writing Process

Characters must be drawn from life. I must experience them and the chaos they manifest, witness their actions and words and, more importantly, the fact that they think nothing of the consternation and astonishment they create. They live in their oblivion.

New York’s MTA is a dream place for characters.

Their reality is not an esoteric choice, a façade, but a stark awareness that they could come around the corner at any time and might even have a gun. I aim to do the thinking for them, to make sense of them through that process. And it is through that they enhance what I know about myself.

Character Development: Keeping It Real

I blogged three days ago on the importance of a character being nebulous. I then watched Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

Handheld screenshot from I’m Thinking of Ending Things

While I’m fan of Kaufman’s work (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Anomalisa, et al) and admire a writer’s attempt to pry open the meaning of self, this film makes nebulous look adamantine. Characters swimming in vagaries of subconscious angst. All that. And…no.

A story can’t be all dreams and poetry and philosophy because there’s no place for the reader to hang their hat. Definable characters are needed. Without them, we’re nothing.

Developing Character: Writing Process

Writing builds character. Or is it the other way around? The sad thing is that too many characters are caricatures that fulfil an odd addiction of an audience to do as predicted, to make everyone satisfied in knowing what is done next.

Author’s father burning brush on Ahmic Lake

The core of real character is outside the details and patterns we project. Characters are inconsistent. They must be. They must be what is not expected. (And then not.) That is how we behave, what we need to understand our traumatized self.

Author with construction hat and gas tank at Ahmic Lake

As predictable as we might think people are, we aren’t. And if we are, that is death. A character needs to be nebulous. It is in that that a story spirals light.

Writing Process: Characters of the Covid Age

This Covid Pandemic is carving pieces of people away. In an attempt to maintain a semblance of normalcy through posting images, completing puzzles and asserting that all will be well, a feeling of identity loss dominates instead. Or thinking that anyway.

The need to belong somewhere – friends, family, a team or bar – has been eroded by life being moved onto the screen. This has created a sense of mutation, a half-shell of selves turned sideways into paper-thin abstractions with cartoon broken arms, modules and warts sloping out in disturbing and hopeless directions.

This isn’t a one-dimensional thing, but a sputtering prick into the bubble of self-awareness where one thinks of being half-asleep in a dream, shruggling (shrugging & struggling) with the accusations and denials of one’s most obvious flaws made obscene and dull. And it’s only getting louder.

Writing Organic Dialogue

One of my few strengths as a writer is dialogue. I rarely use an outline or definitive plan. Instead I focus on knowing the characters, watching them move and interact. Most important of all is knowing what their motivation is for the scene (why they there and what they want) as well as their background and relationship with the other(s).

I spend a great deal of time in thinking about how the scene starts, the exact lines and scene, and keep that moment in my head. It is almost like a moving snapshot – a gif as it were – that goes around and around, anxious to get out of the loop. And then I let them go and do what they want. At that point, it’s just a question of keeping up with what they say, basically transcribing as they go. They can get stuck, repeat themselves and run down blind alleys. It’s all a matter of trying to keep them on track.

The trick is to move ahead for as long as their voice stay strong. And when the momentum is gone, to step back a little and start again, like getting a car out of the muck, rock it back and forth until it’s back on track. Once the scene is done, it needs to be run through again a couple more times. Time is needed after that, a few days to do a proper edit, focusing on the structure and repetitions and that oh-so-impossible satisfying arc.