In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* The Different Types of Characters… or Writers
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Quotes of the Day
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Judy Garland
“I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.” Stephen King
The Different Types of Characters… or Writers
Actually the title is a little misleading. I’m not talking about whether characters are stoic and quiet or whiny and loud. Nor am I talking about whether they’re proud or shameless, rural or urban, exotic or local, crude or urbane. I’m not even talking about the characteristics or traits or quirks the characters display.
Really, I’m not talking about different types of characters at all. I’m talking about different types of writers, as determined by how the writer sees his or her characters. Which type of writer are you?
1. The characters in your mind are definitely not real. Are you kidding? LOL They are only a figment of your very rich imagination. (Kudos to you, eh!) They don’t actually exist until You think them up or build them with layer after layer of first sterotypical and then unique character traits and then write them into being, making sure they’re “well-rounded.”
You are your characters’ creator in much the same way that God or Nature or the Universe (or Whatever) is your creator. (Scaled down, of course. As fiction writers, perhaps our hypocrisy does have boundaries.)
You control the catalyst for every situation, the unfolding of the situations themselves, and your characters’ physical, emotional and verbal reactions to those situations.
For each of your characters, you probaby find value in constructing a character sketch, a history, and—through a probably extensive outline—a future.
Your characters can’t possibly surprise you, and you see that as a good thing. Then again, how could they surprise you? They see with your eyes, hear with your ears, smell with your nose, taste with your tongue, speak with your voice and remember your memories.
2. The characters in your mind might be sort of real, or they at least probably allude to characters who are real. Maybe they’re composites of people you have known, places you have visited or lived, and situations you have encountered, experienced or heard about.
They definitely are a figment of your imagination, BUT you certainly don’t have to think them up. They’re just up there, waiting in your creative subconscious for you to ask them to show you a story, which you then type across your laptop screen.
You do maybe use a limited character sketch and history, but you don’t have to structure a future for them with an outline. A general timeline or phaseline or signposts along the way will do, just to keep them on track. Wouldn’t want them to go too far astray or paint themselves (and you) into a corner in the story.
3. The characters and their world exist in your mind. When they and you are in the right mood, you are able to access your creative subconscious. There you pull back a curtain or open a door and are able to step through and into your characters’ story, which is ongoing and happening as you experience it alongside them.
You move through the story with them, recording what happens and your characters’ reactions as you go.
Sometimes you can be fairly sure of which characters you will encounter when you visit your creative subconscious—for example, when you set out to write another story in a series or ongoing saga—but you don’t mind the excitement of occasionally meeting brand new characters and situations.
Even characters you have known and whose stories you have shared for awhile often surprise you by doing something unexpected, or revealing something unexpected about themselves or their past, or taking a different direction than you expected. But you don’t correct them, at least most of the time. You try very hard to remember this is their story, not yours.
Most of the time you take a deep breath, plaster a silly grin on your face to push back your fear of the unknown, and plunge along after them. After all, there are no real consequences. You’re only reporting what happens in their ongoing story.
4. Maybe endless numbers of characters exist in endless combinations in endless numbers of worlds in endless dimensions across the space-time continuum. Maybe your creative subconscious only provides a portal to those characters and dimensions.
Or maybe the characters exist only in your creative subconscious. It doesn’t really matter, and you don’t really care. Either way, the characters are real to you. How could they live such interesting, exotic stories and not be real?
You consider yourself fortunate that they chose you to serve as the stenographer or recorder or reporter for their stories. Because in your story, you’re doing nothing more exciting than sitting at a laptop with your fingers on the keyboard.
You don’t fear failing or not being good enough because (1) you’re only telling a story, (2) it isn’t even your story, and (3) whether it’s “good” depends strictly on who’s reading it at the time. What one reader (even yourself) doesn’t like another will love.
Of course, you wouldn’t even consider outlining and controlling the story and the characters because (duh) how can you plan something that’s unfolding in real time all around you as you and your characters move through it? Your job is to convey what happens, not to alter what happened.
The characters and you share mutual respect and their only request is that you will report what happens faithfully and accurately. Of course, you wouldn’t dream of breaking that faith or even wanting to.
Talk with you again soon.
See “That Character Who Took Over” at https://killzoneblog.com/2023/06/that-character-who-took-over.html. Note: My post above was not in response to this. The timing of the posting of the two articles was strictly coincidental.
The Journal…………………………………… 1000
Writing of Rose Padilla (WCG10SF5)
Day 1…… 4283 words. Total words to date…… 4283
Day 2…… 3963 words. Total words to date…… 8246
Day 3…… 1463 words. Total words to date…… 9709
Day 4…… 2445 words. Total words to date……12154
Total fiction words for June……… 12154
Total fiction words for 2023………… 110022
Total nonfiction words for June… 6450
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 115870
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 225892
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date………… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 73
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………… 221
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
I.M. An angel, my angel, left this earth on April 11, 2023 just before 10 a.m. My life and my world will never be the same.
Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark, adherence to Heinlein’s Rules, and that following the myths of fiction writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.