I missed a bunch of school thanks to swine flu, and am still trying to play catch up. Caught up in 3/5 courses at the moment, though I still have a massive essay due this friday, and frankly it needs work. Lots of it.
Life is hard doodz!
This was brought to my attention today, and while an interesting read in and of itself, something I ended up thinking a lot about was the following sentence:
all the characters did exactly what I had hoped they would do
Writing fiction is a strange experience. Characters, stories, are invented and thought up, and then writing begins. Maybe the author had an idea for this, had the plot envisioned, knew where s/he wanted the story to go…
And then halfway through, the actual story doesn’t look anything like the little fiction embryo the author thought up in the first place. Sometimes, the characters do what you hope they would, and sometimes, they don’t.
Ultimately, writing fiction is an organic experience, largely because you, the author, are giving this little world, these characters, life. And they take that life and run with it, and eventually, you stop, breathless, wondering how the hell that just happened.
None of it is real, in the way this chair I’m sitting on is real or this delicious turkey sandwich I’m eating is real. And yet they are alive, full of surprises, hopes, wants, dreams…
There’s a question I see thrown around a lot on (useless) “how to write fiction” style websites: what happens next? My elementary school teachers used this, too, as a way of getting the young budding authors to build a story line.
Well, what happens next?
The proper answer is, of course, you have no idea until you write it.
This is why I like fully fleshed out characters. I like characters that are multi-dimensional beings rather than just props. I like faults in characters almost to a fetishized state. With a well-written, well-fleshed out character, you never have to ask “what happens next?” You never have to stop and think “what would my character do in this situation?”
You have no idea what comes next, but your character knows what comes next. Your character knows itself better than you do, and it deals with situations in ways you could never even comprehend.
Ultimately, you aren’t in control of what your characters do. You may hope they act a certain way, respond to this situation just so to make it something worthy of being called art. But you don’t get the final say in the matter, your characters do.
My little paladin, Arkenheart, started off as a young, nubile, innocent little paladin that had no idea about the corruption inherent in the Blood Knight organization. Then… then I started writing. Just little stories here and there, and Arkenheart swiftly evolved into a brutally scarred woman who has watched her entire world burn over and over again, and all she could do was watch.
Girl got issues!
And so it goes. Euripedes started off as an extension of myself, but now, as a character, he has changed into a hyperviolent psychopath aware of the fourth wall with a burning desire to gain immortality.
Euripedes is by far the weirdest character I have ever worked with. That troll mage is aware of me (the real me) and is actively seeking ways to exploit his position “in the matrix”.
It’s… disturbing, to say the least. Imagine Deadpool, but where Deadpool is not only aware of his creator, but is actively seeking ways to kill him. And perhaps most terrifying of all, the jerk actually seems to have figured out how to do it.
But who knows? I didn’t even think this way no less than six months ago. But I’m young, things change, the way I think evolves, I become more cynical, and now I’ve discovered that, in regards of fiction, I am little more than a conduit for forces beyond my control.
This is all probably old hat to you more experienced writers, but for me, this is NEW and EXCITING. Or something.