One of my favorite character stereotypes is the confident character. Richard Campbell Gansey III, Dorian Havilliard, even Valerie Solomon from Tessa Gratton’s story on Merry Sisters of Fate. There’s something about the character who has it all, who has an all-purpose mask they crafted for themselves over the years. Of course, since we write crafted fiction, this mask never stays on. Something will happen to tear it off, and there— that’s when you really enjoy the character.
Half of me wants to be such a character with such a mask. Half of me just wants to write millions of those characters. For the convenience of everyone, and especially me, here’s a step-by-step how-to on creating the confident character. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on May 20, 2015
Writing is hard. At the beginning, everything is NaNoWriMo and instincts and blissful ignorance. You begin to learn about the craft and get better, and while your first novel was truly terrible, you can laugh about it and move on. You take pride in calling yourself a writer, among all those people who want to write but never do. Then it begins to fade. You keep making the same mistakes. Words start coming slowly, and a bestselling author publishes two books in the time it takes you to get out of your slump. The real world tries to pull you out of your fictional one. Writing is hard.
Drawing is hard. You start out doodling, and it turns out well, so you look into what else you can do. It’s fun to experiment with colors, papers, and tools. You start learning the glories of shadows, shapes, and (what a thrill!) crosshatching. You’ve got your own sketchbook, and your doodles are getting more and more sophisticated. Gone are the days of simple stick figures— you’ve got dragons and your friends’ faces and every good thing. Then it begins to fade. You begin to realize your circles are lopsided. People look a little too noodly for your liking. You’re still working on depth. People want to see your sketchbook and start comparing you to other people. You start drawings but don’t finish them because they don’t look right. Drawing is hard.
Music. Crafts. Cooking. All of it is hard. Creating stuff is hard. Words, sounds, sights, tastes, smells… Well, anyone can make smells. But good smells! Creating is hard. You have to think it up, gather materials, put stuff together to make different stuff, and throw it out for the world to judge. When they get it, they might or might not like it. If you don’t have to redo it, you get to start all over again, using none of the same things you just used! Hurrah! (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on February 8, 2015
The world is full of people. Depending on our situation or lifestyle, we might come into contact with as many as hundreds of people every week, or as few as a dozen. Few people manage to live without human contact of any kind. For me, I have about five different places I might find myself on a given day where the number of people around me meets or exceeds a hundred. When I’m not with my family, I’m probably out in one of these areas, interacting with people.
Assuming I have five different social circles, each with a hundred people, that means I see five hundred people per week. A couple overlap, and my family intermingles with these circles, but that’s the general figure. Five hundred faces I see every week. Five hundred people with completely different lives, who think thoughts wholly unknown to me. I know many of their names, and can name the recognizable traits that allow me to tell them apart, but these are five hundred acquaintances, with some friends scattered among them.
How many people does your main character see in a week? (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on January 19, 2015
I recently read Ballad, by Maggie Stiefvater. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, but it struck me hard. One of the themes of the book applies to almost everything: the Unsaid. Words people don’t say.
One of the ‘viewpoints’ of the book consisted of text messages from the protagonist of the first book, Lament. While she had no true viewpoint in Ballad, her texts showed her character arc. Each text, addressed to the viewpoint character, showed a bit of her soul— and each text, personal and short, remained unsent. She never actually said anything she wanted to say.
The viewpoint character of Ballad, on the other hand, made his thoughts the analogue of the unsent texts. Nothing he wanted to say, he said. He thought everything, and made jokes to cover up the silence.
It was a powerful way to write the character dynamics, just between the two of them. When combined with all the Unsaid between the viewpoint character and the other characters, it created an amazing weave of half-truths and assumptions that were too delicate ever to speak plainly.
Is Maggie Stiefvater alone in her understanding of the Unsaid? I don’t think so. This is a concept that finds itself almost everywhere— and I mean that. But for the sake of my sanity, I’ll focus on fiction. You can ponder the repercussions. (more…)
Posted by Liam Wood on December 5, 2014