Saturday, February 22, 2014

Walls and Character

I've gotten to the point in building a habit where I'm resisting the daily prompt to keep going, and beginning to look for excuses.  It's the weekend, I'm tired, I have no inspiration, etc.  This is the inevitable monster I must slay, to use a horribly overused metaphor that I frankly hate but is appropriate in this case.

But onwards, the best way to be inspired to write is to actually write stuff.  I originally wrote "crap" there because I expect that's how it'll turn out, but I don't exactly go into it intending it to be crap.  "Adequate" would be quite nice at this stage, although the course prompt today tells me not to just settle.  We'll see how that goes.

So I've started the next step in developing as a writer, and recognizing that I don't have to re-invent the wheel. I went through this with drawing as well, where I had to admit that I actually needed instruction in the craft of drawing (I still do, a lot of it) rather than discover it bit by bit on my own.  Self-reliance is a good thing of course, but in this case it can be a frustrating and unproductive road to go down.  And so, reading about writing.

There's a lot of stuff out there, I find very quickly, about how to write and how to improve your writing.  That's a good thing, but a bit on the overwhelming side.  As a novice in this whole writing-as-craft business, I really don't have the knowledge or experience to tell what the good material is from the bad.  Or rather, the good from the bland as I expect a lot of it's not terrible advice or anything, just not something particularly useful in building myself as a creator.  

At this point, I'm asking for advice from the readers, although from the degree of feedback I've had thus far there are only one or two people out there at this point so I don't expect a crowd of responses.  Hell, I've been at this daily writing thing for what, three weeks almost?  I haven't had a single response in all that time although I've had a couple of Likes on Tumblr.  Good thing I'm taking a longer view on this whole mess.

Anyroad, I'll get that figured out one way or another in other venues.  For now I'll stick to websites and such that at least give a bare-bones idea of what I'm in for.

Apparently, according to what I've read so far, the thing I should be concentrating most on is character rather than plot.  Which makes sense.  Plot is what happens, but the reader isn't going to identify with that.  The reader needs characters, and looking at the books I've read over the past couple of years the ones I've thought were the best were the ones that focused on character first, and played what they did as a natural result of who they were, rather than being agents to accomplish the plot.  

This is something I've honestly been lax on in the past.  I've mainly just tossed in ill-defined characters who were all pretty much me in some way, or at least some part of me.  And that's a terrible way to build characters that anyone would want to read.  For a start, they're pretty much all the same.  But more importantly, none of them have any special highs or lows to them.  When I'm writing, and it's pretty clear looking back, none of it has been done with any special focus on creating someone with strong dramatic features but rather to accomplish the purpose of moving the plot along.  

This, obviously, is something that needs to change.  For a start, I'm going to have to start studying the concept of character a lot more than I have in the past if I want to get serious about this stuff.  And more immediately, I have to start putting into practice what I learn along the way.  

For some reason, I've always resisted using those "50 questions to ask your character" or "how does your character react to this set of prompts" memes that pop up now and again.  Looking back, I know that it's because I was for some reason hesitant to really pin down who my characters were.  It takes a lot of focus and energy to create anything with real depth, whether that's a character or a whole world.  Getting into the bones of a creation can be difficult and certainly it's a lot harder than just coming up with a story prompt and running with it.  

So over the next few weeks, I'll probably be doing that more and more outside of my regular blog posts which I intend to keep up until the habit-developing course is done with.  That's only another 11 days, which isn't much when you look at the larger picture.  Following that, my plan is to start going through the 100 Theme Challenge I mentioned a while back, which will be a good opportunity to start putting more fiction snippets and character sketched into this space  which will be excellent practice.  

My plan right now is to start "sketching" out of the public eye first and build a bit of confidence before starting to inflict all that on your poor eyes.  By then, I should have a fairly good idea of what I'm doing at least in the broad sense, so will be willing to get more public with it.

That said, the main goal now is to actually start.

1 1/2 time segments

936 words

No comments: