Sunday, January 23, 2011

Some Obsessive Mumbo Jumbo and Insights courtesy of Fringe...


Joshua Jackson aka Fringe's Peter Bishop, photo snagged from Internet by Denny S. Bryce

Let’s talk about the psychology of obsession. Not in a clinical sense, or the "I need more medication to control my desires to repeat, repeat, repeat a small chore to the point of nausea." Although a true obsessive compulsive might find this scenario orgasmic. 

I want to chat about obsession as it applies to writing. Can an obsession make for good story telling? As writers, can we use our natural predisposition to obsess (write, rewrite, write, rewrite), as a guide to the stories we want to write and enjoy reading and/or watching?

Ah! The hypothesis – how convoluted was that?

Well, it’s what’s on my mind this lovely, freezing Sunday afternoon as I work on my application (the mystery application will be disclosed soon enough). Recently, I added a new TV show to my list, and it got my brain racing as to why I do this, repeatedly, and how it comes into play with the way I plot the stories I write and what’s important to me when I read a book or watch TV (or see a movie - The Fighter? brilliant).

A quickie on my television obsessions  - the usual: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (thank you Joss Whedon).  Then Moonlight (too pretty not to love) and Farscape, which still occupies a very special place in my brain. And now, FringeWhat makes Fringe unique, besides great acting, stories, and it's appreciation of classic sci-fi, is that the male lead, Joshua Jackson, although a handsome man (okay, damn handsome), is not the hottie that usually drives me. I'm a Spike, Angel, Mick St. John or John Creighton kind of gal, you know the type.

But Fringe is about characters, their relationships, emotions and choices - and so far, every episode in its two and a half years carries threw on that promise.

My stories, even if I say so myselfJ, have complicated plots and I do play around with notion of 'high concept' story telling. But no matter how intriguing or off the wall, a plot does not a story make. Characters and relationships and emotions are at the soul of a good story – and whatever medium is used to deliver the tale – books, plays, screenplays, lyrics – it’s the writer’s responsibility to get that aspect of the story right, their obsession to reach that goal makes the difference.

I love puzzles. Pieces falling together that create the big picture.  My stories tend to go about putting the pieces of a puzzle together. But in that puzzle, I'm sometimes challenged with the characterizations and how my main character functions as a puzzle piece or the owner of the big picture. Then where does the emotion come from? That's what I need to be obsessing about, you know?

What obsession drives your story telling?

Monday, January 10, 2011

You Have My Permission: Breaking Through Boundaries

Image snagged from Internet by Denny S. Bryce

Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card has a new book called The Lost Gate. He talks about its origin in an article, Mapping Worlds in The Lost Gate, in the January TOR newsletter.

What hit home for me was Card's willingness to hang with the story idea no matter how long it took him to flesh it out. In this case thirty years. Of course he's written other books, successful books, while he gave himself permission to dream, create, 'map', and finally write the book he wanted in the world he wanted to create it. This article made me happy.

As a young writer (in terms of years writing fiction, not my age:) and as of now, an unpublished writer, believing in my choices is as challenging as polishing the 85,000 plus words of my current WIP.

I hit a wall with the book (writer's block some call it - I prefer to say no-story-in-the-middle:). I read somewhere that a way to get back on track is to start another project to get the creative juices flowing, and yeah, good thought. Well, I have a new idea and I'm very excited about it and the research I'm doing to help me build the world. But as mentioned, the new project or the soon-to-be-WIP-in-waiting is also an opportunity to fix the current WIP.  And the plan is working. 

So, I'm in world building mode and comfortable staying digging until I know this new world, understand how it works, why it works, and learn all I can about the 'science' I can use to shape a believable, but fictional, environment in which to tell this story. That's the deal with the new WIP.  This is also the step I didn't take with the current WIP - so I'm doing a little of that, but mostly, making choices about what's good, what's bad, what's surprising, what's not. 

So what's my point for today's blog - as the title says - give yourself permission to create. Break the rules, change the game, go as far as you want to go and beyond. That first idea as crazy as it may feel, you should play with, and if you fall in love with a story, it might be because it's a good one, and worth the work and the wait.

Special Note: You'll see on his website that Mr. Card suffered a mild stroke on January 1, 2011 - here's wishing him a speedy recovery.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year's Day and My Emotional Characters

Photo by Denny S. Bryce - "I Love a View"

Happy New Year's Day!!! I swore I was going to start the year blogging so here goes.

I read somewhere that a good blog, or a good topic to blog about is when you can answer the question - guess what I learned today? Well, today, I learned a few things - but I'll stay focused on the one about feelings and writing fiction.

Working with different critique partners and also   feedback from a class and a writing contest I entered recently (but didn't final in and yeah, it happens:) I noticed a pattern in the comments - well, several, but one stuck out.

I kept reading the word 'feelings' or sentences like 'add more feelings'. What does your character feel? And yeah, I saw it, too. It's not an easy fix, mind you. So,  I've been reading and found a couple of sources I wanted to share.

I don't have answers yet. Which is what I learned today. So I'm on a journey to find 'feelings', and make certain I create emotional characters and put them into emotional situations and 'listen' to them, and make certain their feelings make it on the page.

Oh yes, those sources that are helping me on my journey are: Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain and this one not so easy - Season 1 DVD for Fringe - and any of the commentaries, especially Evolution: The Genesis of Fringe.

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