Thursday, 28 January 2010

Living With Characters

(Note - I am not schziophrenic - Yes you are! Blah blah blah!)

Ever feel you live with your characters?

I remember back in my early days of writing screenplays, I had a tough scene to crack. A love scene, no, scratch that, a sex scene - and for some bizarre reason, I couldn't write it.

I don't know why but for some reason, whatever I wrote just sounded forced and fake. I found a quick and enjoyable way through it.

I took my characters to the pub and got them drunk.

Now understand that I didn't write a drinking scene into the script. More alarmingly, I gathered up my notebooks, went to the pub by myself during the day, arranged three empty chairs around me and then I got drunk, thus inebriating my characters, and you know what? It seemed to work. My characters got hot and heavy and the next day, I found myself blushing at what they had got up to.

I was proud. Until I realised that having the male lead actually fail to close the deal was more in line with the story and thus I had to delete the entire scene, but an important thought had occurred with this exercise.

Is living with your characters a good idea?

For actors, it's called method, when you simply never break character. For us writers, it's slightly more complicated. We are everyone in the story. Effectively, we are God, without the reluctance to get involved.

So how involved SHOULD we get?

The day had loosened my writing insecurities (if you don't drink, ignore this entire post) and made me feel that not only could my characters surprise me but I could sit with them at the same time, be with them and enjoy their company. Believe me, it felt like a guilty pleasure.

Quentin Tarantino said 'I didn't know Mr Blonde had a razor in his boot until he pulled it.'

This sounds crazy, but to me it made some sort of logistical sense.

I love that, when characters are capable of making you go 'whoa, where did that come from?' It excites and hopefully, it has the capacity to excite your readers. I've finished scripts and missed the characters! Actually missed them!

So, is 'living with your characters' a good idea?

I'd like to think so, then again, if you write disturbingly freaky shit, either get involved or call the police...

Friday, 8 January 2010

Learning to forget the ideas that won't die

Us writers, we talk a lot about how we deal with developing our ideas.

How the idea comes to us, where we went with it, how we tend to feel after the story is completed.

But you know what we never talk about?

The ideas that plague us, the ideas that torment us, the ideas that ultimately may turn out to ruin us.

Why don't we, who deal in self expression, talk openly about the things we DON'T want to write about??!

Since I got serious about my vampires, there have been two ideas that WILL NOT LEAVE ME.

I don't want to write them.

More importantly, I don't think anyone would like to read them.

However, in the interests of 'nailing demons to the page', I think it might be interesting for the first time to pen down the thoughts that I would rather not explore on the page. They may be better off roaming the confines of my brain.

1. A vampire has been captured, tortured, cut within an inch of his immortal life, to reveal a secret that he will not reveal. Every possible disgusting method is utilised and the vamp laughs through most of it, if only to unsettle his captors.

The truth, for us readers who get an intimate glimpse into his mind, is that every torture cuts him to pieces and he, immortal or not, is at the end of his immortal tether, close to breaking, close to revealing a secret that not only threatens the life of a mortal but of all that she holds dear. (yes, I said 'she'.)

Q. Why don't you write it?
A. I hate torture films, stories, etc. It really upsets me. I think the idea that captors are torturing an immortal and unaware of it is unique but I don't think I could pull it off without disgusting my readers.

Q. Where did it come from?
A. No fucking idea, but it upsets me, so lets move on.

2. A vampire who originally wanted to kill an entire family becomes their unwitting saviour as a bunch of other kindred make their aggressive move all too soon.

Q. Why not write this?
A. I can't seem to find a suitable motive for why a vampire would protect humans.

Q. That sounds like a twinkie defence. Why won't you really write it?
A. It would read more like a therapy session for my readers to gain an insight into me than an actual story. It would be fake, false, no matter how genuine I intended it to be. I'm a coward. I don't want to go there.

Q. You may have a whole novella there. Isn't the risk worth it?
A. No.

These two ideas will not leave me. Every time I think about the creature, the useful metaphor of the vampire, these two ideas re-float to the surface. I have avoided them deliberately since the age of fifteen, and with good reason, at least from my standpoint.

I guess the title of this most recent blog is misleading. I don't know how to forget the ideas that won't die....

.....but if someone else knows, please message me.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Is this WRITE for me?

Just got over Christmas and New Year with a sigh. No matter how good a time you have, it always feels somewhat anticlimatic eh?

Oh, and I got married. You know, 'cause I had a spare few minutes. My wife is wonderful, just simply wonderful (I'll find a flaw if it's the last thing I do!) and very supportive of my writing, which really helps, obviously.

A brand new year brings with it many thoughts and feelings. For me, it brings the finished prologue, the beginning, to my second novel for Vamplit Publishing, a second novel with a far more challenging premise than Swan Song.

If I am honest, the concept alone terrifies the living hell out of me.

My idea is one that can fail on so many levels it boggles the mind. If I pull it off, meh, if nothing else, I will have pleased myself. But will anyone really care as much as I do?

And here's the point of this much belated blog post; how do you ever really know writing is for you? And I don't mind writing for enjoyment, that should always be encouraged. I mean how do you ever really know that people really like/love your work? Would they care at all if you just simply stopped? Guess you could ask...

I recently had my confidence knocked regarding Swan Song and it did rattle me. I've always been the sensitive kind (I've haven't met a creative soul who isn't) and I always take a positive from a negative but it did get me thinking, this most recent of reviews. Am I wasting my time?

How do you ever really know that your writing is worthwhile? I try to keep myself grounded, no idea is ever as good as I think it is, no sentence perfect, no premise irresistible, yet when I do allow myself flights of fancy, writing becomes truly enjoyable. This story will rock them! I think. Wait till they see how this turns out!

But what if I'm nowhere near as good or as competent as I think I am? What if the only person who will read my work in the years to come is me? What if I should pay more attention to my 9 to 5 job?

I don't have the answer, not yet, and it's the first blog of mine to end without advice of some kind, or at least a positive closer.

Maybe because I am not sure if I am the right person to give advice at this early stage.

All I will offer as I promise to work harder than ever on my stories is much more frequent blogs, far more positivity than I have even shown in my earlier posts and a genuine desire to get so selfish that even if it's only me that enjoys my writing, that's more than enough for me to carry on.

And with that...

(heads back to the important word doc with a beer in hand)