After a Creative Hiatus...It's Great to be Back!
In response to the twenty or so people who knew I was gone.
Interesting thing this blogging. I really never expected it to be a main driver in my ultimate goal, selling books, but to say the results are lackluster would be a gross understatement. No, selling books isn't my ultimate goal. Well it is, but only as a mechanism to supplement my retirement income and give me a plausible reason to write even more.
It could be that if I ever make it to big-time land, these musings and discussions could be a window into the mind of ole Mike, even if years down the road. In that vein, I'll press onward and see if there isn't something of value I can impart now. I did you know. Helped a couple of people working through various issues on twitter, even referred one to a previous post. We do what we can...
Anyway since I am where I am, I had to concentrate on my primary occupation, working in support of a Department of Labor grant and teaching a class. Had a big launch of a program that was truly my creation, quite proud of that. Students will be deriving a benefit for some time, since it is based on organizational skills. One of these days if I build an audience, I'm going to use my platform to promote what I believe is a very valuable set of programs...all at no cost to the student!
So Mike, now that you're back, anything worthwhile to say?
I thought I'd get back to character development. I've read some snippets of other writers work online, and I have to say I'm....amazed. Some are actually quite good, and others are...to be charitable, not so good.
Part of the problem from my perspective is that the writing seems stilted and unnatural or at the other extreme, banal. Another issue is what I call comic book style writing. Long ago, comic book writers forgot they were supplying simple tales for kids.
Panel illustrations with over-reaching or abstract meaning or dialogue really surpasses the limits of the medium. Add that to television writers, then film writers who put out junk that caters to the bottom rung of intellectual pursuit, and you have generations of readers who have no idea what real writing sounds like.
Why Mike you over-inflated skunk, did you have a bad day at the office?
At the office, particularly in leadership positions, I would listen to any problem (I called them opportunities) anyone had to bring up. With a caveat. You had to offer a potential solution.
And perhaps its not a problem. Maybe the world has evolved (or devolved) to the point where inspiring yet realistic dialogue isn't desired any longer. In my book, What Watches and Waits, I had two hillbilly type characters who ended up being possessed by really nasty demons. My daughter took one look at the banter between them and others, and only had one word to offer. Really?
Yep. I wrote in official stereotype. But I've been around basic characters like those two, and their conversational abilities really weren't far off the realistic mark. Besides that, I didn't want to develop them any further, because people who don't have an education aren't interesting to me. (perhaps up to the two snob level now) So I maintain, for what they were, and their place in moving the story along, the dialogue was adequate.
Let me clarify. My parents, who didn't have college educations, enabled my siblings and I to achieve at a high level. Without them, or if they'd been less self-sacrificing, our journey would have been exponentially more difficult. Add to that the fact that a high school education in their day would have given you more useful information than many bachelor's degrees today and you see how wise they could be. But people without educations typically don't have social leverage. I want to write about people who do.
They were significant as a plot mover, but the reader had no idea until much later. Your main characters don't have the luxury of speaking in snippets or unrealistic manners unless you are writing parody. Even then a little goes a long way. Everyone has a basic set of emotions, that evolve and change over time depending on life experiences. Language has to convey all meaning in a literary work. Unlike movies or television, it is all you have to develop your characters on a personal level.
Oh come on Mike, the narration can set the characters!
My answer, maybe. But in my mind you can set a person up to be x, y, or z, but if the characters words don't follow you've broken an unspoken contract with the reader. Yes, yes, of course you could be illustrating a dichotomy, but that is an outlier. Kind of like my example of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea is a tale only a few could write. It truly is the same for complicated character set ups. Err on the side of Geraldine's what you see is what you get. (bonus points if you get that reference)
People don't just use research for location and historical accuracy. They have to do it for unfamiliar personality types and cultural factors. My next installment in the Arizoniacs is going to take them to England, and there is no way I can get that right without first hand observation. Now if I could only write off a trip like that...
My point is, there is enough bad writing in films and television. As novelists, we have a duty to step up our game. If we do it right, our works could be relevant long after we're a footnote in societal history. I'll keep trying anyway, even if it turns out that I'm the outlier now...
Enough for today, please help a non starving artist by buying my books, and enabling me to continue. Otherwise I'm going back to practicing guitar everyday. The neighbors really don't want that...
Let's continue with character development, or if you have another subject you'd like to cover, let me know. You have post-graduate level education at your beckon call...
Until next week, be well, happy, and good to each other...