How I'll Know I'll Have Made It

>> Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm not talking about being published, though, of course, that would likely have to happen first. And I'm not talking about book sales, though, naturally, that would be nice, too.

But I don't just want to be a successful writer in the monetary sense. I want to write good books, books that touch people with characters that people care about. And I think I know now how to to know when that happens.

I spend odd moments checking on the Skip Beat! forum using my new android phone. It's a nice distraction and I enjoy speculating about what will be happening next in this long-running manga and gushing over it with other enthusiasts. 'Cause, hey, I'm an otaku. But I've discovered something.

You know when characters have really touched people when readers get really really angry defending one over the other or determining who's better at this or that. Star Trek, you find some true fans, start laying into one captain or another and they'll come out swinging.

I've been listening to the talk on the forum, one of the threads all about which of our romantic leads, who both struggled in childhood, had it harder or more painful. The son of the celebrity quietly struggling to live up to his father's regard and dealing with brutal bullying vs. the girl ignored and marginalized by a mother who left her in the care of others most of her life.

We've only seen flashbacks on the two individuals and have some information on the impact each of their pasts have had on them. Both are strong individuals with scars and baggage they are largely working through together. Why in the world would it matter which had it technical harder than the other.

But people get passionate and figuratively shake fists and forgo courtesy, telling anyone who doesn't see it "their" way they're stupid or they aren't reading things, yadda yadda yadda.

I'm not saying I want people to become assholes because they care about the characters in my books, but it says something, something important, that a reader can be passionate about a character, passionate about who they end with , what happens to them, how other fans see the characters they love.

When readers get spun up defending your characters, as a writer it says that you wrote characters that touched people, that pulled out emotion, that mattered to people enough they would defend the fictional histories or personalities traits to other readers.

That's what I want my readers to do. When I have readers fighting among themselves on whether Dylan Chroz or Xander would win the bout on Jeopardy! (which is silly because Dylan would win unless Dante da Silva was playing, what with his 700+ years of experience to draw on). I want people to yell at the book, "Watch out!" or "You bastard!" or "You just made a real mistake, pal."

When people defend the people I've created against other fans, that's when I'll know:

I've done it. I've touched them and made up people that strangers have adopted, loved and identified with.

I'll have done what I set out to do.



>> Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You ever been hit with scenes so quickly you can't get 'em on paper quick enough? And, of course, they would bombard me when I'm working overtime like mad for three weeks.

Not necessarily in the order I'm writing it, of course. I'm planning some rather complex interactions between characters and I've been having fun thinking of scenes between all my interesting characters. In fact, before I know it, they've gotten away from me and I know I'm dabbling in books I'm not even writing yet.

Not that I'm having trouble when I sit down and move forward in the actual book, during those brief snatches of time when I can actually write. It seems to flow pretty effortlessly, too. So, I can't complain...

Except, with so many scenes and so little time, blogging is likely to fall by the wayside until I get a lull in something, either my work schedule or the flood of scenes I enjoy.


Paranormal vs. Fantasy/Science Fiction

>> Sunday, September 4, 2011

I was reading a series of books a friend recommended to me, quite a successful series I believe, the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton that should have been right up my alley. Some attempts at humor, generally kickass heroine who is center stage, weird happenings everywhere.

Except I didn't. Nothing wrong with those that like it. We can't all like the same things. There were a few reasons for this for me, and I can go into them, but I'm not sure they're all important. What I noted after reading the first book was that I only liked one character, Jean-Claude (because apparently becoming a vampire negates the necessity of a last name), a vampire Anita threatened to kill a few times and who was in, what, fifty pages of the book? I liked him well enough to try a second book, but kept running into the same issue (and a few new ones). I just didn't like the main character. There were a few reasons for this, too, like hypocrisy and doing idiotic things, being blase about killing her "friends" one minute and willing to die for them the next, etc. But I could have forgiven all of that if I had liked the essential her. And I figured out why: to her, what you are is more important than who.

One reason I generally haven't been part of the recent vampire fetish (Twilight doesn't count - they're nothing like vampires and besides, that's not why I liked it) is because I never understood the big deal with vampires. They've never seemed inherently interesting. Having a story centered around vampires, to my way of thinking, isn't any different in concept from having a story centered around Elves in Middle Earth or lizardians on Seti Omega Nine. They're all stories about people, whether gifted or scaly or sparkly or what-have-you. The rules and priorities change, depending on specific needs, but the story about people inherently is the same. That's how it is to me, because I was raised on Science Fiction and Fantasy, on the original Star Trek, on Heinlein. In Fantasy/Science Fiction, who you are always outranked what you were. It was one way you had to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Bad guys were all concerned with the color of your skin, whether you had hair or feathers, which end you broke on your boiled egg. Good guys either knew better or learned better over the course of the story.

What seems to be going on in paranormal is an entirely different thing, where being some sort of something different inherently makes one evil. True, you might fight your evil side and, if you can fight it indefinitely, you could be accepted as redeemed by normal people, but you don't get the benefit of the doubt. You're evil until proven otherwise. And there are no limits to the level or extent of evil you are as something "other," it comes with the extra powers like a promotional extra. So, if you're a protagonist who happens to be something other, you have to indefinitely fight the inherent evil in you. If you're not an "other," you can kill all the others you like to your hearts content, 'cause, hey, they're evil.

To me that's a throwback to the "The only good Injun is a dead Injun," and "Only good Jew is a dead Jew," kind of thinking I've always abhorred. And, truthfully, thought we were finally outgrowing. Pity.

I have a problem with that kind of thinking. I don't think anything is inherently evil (or, for that matter, inherently good). I think how someone is treated should a direct result of what they do and who they are, not what they happen to be (unless that's something like a serial rapist). In my books, that notion is a recurring theme, the basis for how my characters interact and grow. I had started to worry that the notion was outdated, that I'd be preaching to the choir.

Apparently not.

Guess I don't write paranormal after all.



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