I wanted to start this post with a quote, though I can’t find the one I’m looking for. I think it’s by King, but I can’t be sure and it’s about a character, or maybe an idea, and it sits in front of King and tells him to tell his story, or something like that.
It would’ve been good to start that way, mainly because I didn’t know how to start it any other way. You see, even posting to this blog (my most successful writing project, I’d have to say) is hard at the moment. I haven’t written a lot in a while either and my last post on the subject of writing was last Tuesday and the posting of an old flash fiction piece for the latest edition of Tastes of the Darkness doesn’t count. The rest has been some political rambling, which has hurt my muse a little bit, despite a lot of my ideas focussing around political themes.
When I get into these writing slumps, especially the bad ones, I begin to analyse my writing and ask myself, “What am I doing wrong? What’s making these ideas just not click?” Some of the time, the answer eludes me but on other times, I seem to grab hold of one idea and hone that area and I guess my writing improves that one little bit the next time my moody muse decides to work again. This time it’s characterization.
I have this feeling that my characters aren’t driving me. I have this image in my head, of me dragging my characters kicking and screaming into the story – or like I’ve drugged them and I’m some sick and twisted individual moving around doll-like figures. These characters don’t want to do what I want them to do. There’s no motivation and no life in these people a lot of the time, and this is where I think I’m falling far short of what I want and can achieve.
When I’m in this reflective mood, I try to read. On Writing is a good place to start (No, I couldn’t find the quote in there) and I read some articles on the web from AboluteWrite.com and E2K*. But these articles didn’t have what I was looking for. The advice seemed stale and mechanical. There’s no formula for good writing or creating the ‘perfect character,’ you just need to find the right food for your muse – and sometimes, that’s found in the most unlikely of places.
For reasons that would take too long to explain, my dentist lives a long way from me, like 2 hours drive away, and my aunt lives in the area too, so when we make our monthly visit (I recently had my braces removed, and am now wearing a retainer), we usually stop by and have lunch with them. After lunch, we hung around and my aunt and mum were watching Jamie Oliver. He sparked something in me then. Some people love him and some people hate him, but rarely are people indifferent. He is a character with a vibrant personality and the kind of character you need to make your fiction hit your readers with a bang. Also, Goren from ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ is another striking example, as well as a lot of Nicolas Cage’s characters. I think what you’d call them, is eccentrics, nut jobs maybe, but exciting characters, definitely.
Goren and Mr. Oliver sparked something. And it was then that my main character from Hadeon, Aleks appeared, revived. He was surely not a whole character, but I seem to have reawakened him. Then, he sat in front of me and told me to tell his story. If it wasn’t for an argument with a friend early last night, this spark may have stayed lit and I would’ve written last night. But the memory of this spark, and writing this post, has helped. I do know that my writing will thrive when I can fully realize my characters and they sit in front of me, and tell me to tell there stories.
I remember promising Melly, following her post on evil that I’d write something about Marxist characters, mainly ‘villains’ in this post, but I’ll have it for another post, as I fear people won’t be bothered to come to the end of this one, as it is.
*These were the articles I read, they may still be of use, even thought they didn’t quite help me:
Who Are You Writing About? By Deanna J. Jones.
Breathing Life Into Your Characters By Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Character? What’s That? By Richelle Putnam
writing, fiction, prose, characters, inspiration, Vincent D’Onforio, Jamie Oliver, Stephen King