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Author Topic: Character vs story  (Read 3645 times)
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GrinReaper
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« on: March 01, 2006, 04:38:53 AM »

http://www.abc.net.au/news/arts/articulate/200603/s1580721.htm

I've grabbed a few quotes out of comments by Australian author John Birmingham (author of Weapons of Choice alternate history trilogy as well as some other Australian-centric books).

Interesting.

I think I fall into the trap of not developing my characters enough. I like the Nick Earls idea to flesh out characters, whereby you choose objects at random and then work out why those objects are important to the character.
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Ed
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2006, 04:56:25 AM »

Interesting ideas afro  I firmly believe that each writer has to find their own way - discover what works for them and for the type of fiction they're writing.  It's good to know what others do, so you can choose the methods that suit you best and try others you may not have thought of before.

On the subject of character development, I think different readers like different things, but in novel length fiction your reader needs somebody to root for and somebody to boo, which is where real 3D, original characters come into their own. smiley
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
GrinReaper
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2006, 05:32:40 AM »

Yeah, I always thought I could do a Stephen King but I think if I ever try a novel-length work again I will plan it out. If it diverts from the plan that would be great. But I just found the editing process after writing a novel without any idea of where it was going -- it was just really hard.
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Geoff_N
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2006, 10:19:03 AM »

The other aspect of characters is to make each distinctly different from each other. There's no need to be so OTT it reads like a Batman movie script but enough, especially with speech patterns, for the reader to know who's talking.

Geoff
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doolols
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2006, 01:40:35 PM »

I think that's the difference between short fiction and novel-length fiction. You can skimp on the characterisation in short stories, but not in novels.  And I've noticed some novels (especially the 'popular' novels) will spend time and words describing their characters' physical appearance, and the settings for the various scenes - something you can't afford to do with shorts.
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Ed
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2006, 01:54:28 PM »

According to his book 'On Writing', Steven King over writes by about a quarter of the word count and then edits back (if memory serves).  From what others say, the initial writing of a novel is the easy bit - the hard bit is the editing and the re-writes that go with it.  It stands to reason, because the same seems to be true of short stories, too.

I believe it's true that good and unexpected things come out of your subconscious, once you get into a kind of 'writing trance'.  The trouble with that in novel length (and longer shorts) is that you can't sit and write it all in one go.  Consequently, it takes you at least a couple hundred words of warm-up to get into that state each time you begin to write again, and those warm-ups are probably going to be the worst bits of writing, and they'll require the most editing later.

Writing to an outline is OK, but (speaking from personal experience) it can be hard to stitch the pieces together seamlessly, and it can present you with some difficult choices to make if one of the plot lines takes on a life of its own and diverts from the course you originally set.

I think, whatever you do, you're probably going to spend a lot of time and effort editing.  There doesn't seem to be an easy way around it afro
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Planning is an unnatural process - it is much more fun to do something.  The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression. [Sir John Harvey-Jones]
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