Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rewriting For Character

The last few days have not been very productive for me writing-wise.  I was expecting to get a lot of writing done over the weekend, but I mostly did nothing.  I wrote very little last Thursday and Friday as well, and I wrote very little on Monday.

Mostly what I have done is reworking bits of stories for character development.  One of my problems is characterization, in getting character voices right or making them distinctive and drawing their personalities out for the reader.  I watched Galaxy Quest last week -- I've been using my Amazon Prime account to stream movies on my iPad -- and I really like Galaxy Quest, I like how the characters are well-defined.  In particular I love Fred Kwan, the tech engineer, who is completely laid back and calm, unfazed by anything.

One of the characaters I've had trouble nailing down the personality for is Unpossible Man.  He's a big, super-strong, invulnerable kind of guy, but very laid back, which has  tended to mean he completely fades into the background and has no character at all.  I spent Friday going back through stories that he'd been in and trying to rewrite dialogue with more of a Fred Kwan feel -- in particular, finding a few places to throw in the phrase "That's a hell of a thing," one of many favorite lines from the movie.

I also spent some time going back over scenes with DarkFireNinjaCatgirl in them and rewriting them to include more geeky stream-of-consciousness babble, which is something she does.  She's like Goku from the comic strip Elf Only Inn.

I did a very little bit of rewriting on several story projects over the weekend.  On Monday I tried to work on Unpossible a bit, and this got me back to the conundrum of figuring out how Unpossible Man works and talks.  This story is an origin story for Unpossible Man, where you learn that he's pretty much always been strong and invulnerable, with no real explanation -- no big origin story after all.  But my idea was that he likes to tell more fantastic origin stories all the time -- ones that are contradictory and often make no sense, such as he's from another planet, his powers come from his high-tech power armor suit that just happens to look like spandex, he was bitten by a radioactive wombat, etc.  Most of these stories include an explanation for why he can't fly -- which seems to be a sore spot for him.  My idea was to interweave different origin stories as he's telling them with scenes from his life growing up that demonstrate what really happened.

That story still hasn't really come together well for me, but it occurred to me that if telling tall tales about the origin of his powers is a  trait of Unpossible Man, then it should be present in other stories.  In particular, the three Amethyst Road stories and the three Return to Amethyst stories.  They're travelling, which would give him ample opportunity to tell tales, and since each is a three-story arc, I could tell a different origin story in each story of the arc -- and they're meeting new people on the way so he has new people to tell his story  to.  So I spent some time going back  through those stories and adding in these little origin story asides, and it really helps him stand out as a personality much better.

Lastly I borrowed again from Galaxy Quest -- another favorite of the movie is the "red shirt" extra Guy, who doesn't have a last name, who is convinced he's going to die because that's what happened to him in the one episode he was on the show.  I love that character, he really helps make the movie.  In Return to Amethyst I have a curse placed on Grandpa Anarchy where each day at 6 PM he gains a new sidekick, and soon he has several and they become more expendable than ever (and two of them really are gotten rid of quickly for laughs).

So I decided one of them should have that same "I'm expendable, I'm going to die!" mentality, and rewrote several scenes accordingly.  I think he needs to be one of the heroes at the very end of the story now.

So that's what I've accomplished -- not a lot of new writing, but some editing & rewriting for character.  I also completely reorganized my Grandpa Anarchy folders and placed all of my completed stories and background information files in my more public Dropbox folder so my friends can see them if they want -- for what that's worth.

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