Monday, June 05, 2006

A Reconnoiter


Happy Monday, BGs.

Yup, we’re reconnoitering today. But first, what’s coming up next:

Tomorrow through Thursday, we’ll finish up the last three techniques for creating character empathy, with Friday as a wrap-up day for the series. Next week I want to tell you about a recent suspense release that I really enjoyed—titled Admission--and we’ll talk to the author, Travis Thrasher. This is a great book to talk about after our current series because of its technique used to create empathy for the main character (who otherwise may not have garnered much), and also due to its creative use of POV. It will be an interesting study, and Travis’s answers in his interview are intriguing.

On another topic—A Scenes and Beans update. Saturday, June 3 was the deadline for all the SBGs (Scenes and Beans bloggers) to send in their auditioning posts. I have well over 50 posts to read through (some folks auditioned for more than one character). Next Monday I’ll announce the winners of that audition, and their characters. I can tell you from what I’ve already read that Scenes and Beans is gonna be one fun blog.

Now for today: I’m stopping in the midst of our 10-part series on creating character empathy to ask—and answer—a question that I probably should have posed before the series started: Why are we studying this list anyway?

After studying the craft and writing for a time, most of us employ techniques for creating character empathy without thinking about them too much. It just becomes a natural flow as we try to portray a likeable character. I sure don’t sit back before I start writing and think, “Okay, which of these ten techniques am I going to employ in this book?” I know enough about the character before I start that it just . . . sort of comes. And I’ll bet you do, too.

But analyzing techniques for any aspect of fiction isn’t for the times when writing just comes. When that happens and the results work—great. But what if it doesn’t work? What if you write your heart out, give your first chapters to a critique partner, and he/she says, “You know, I just can’t get into the character.”

That’s when you return to this series. That’s when all the analysis of what on other occasions would happen naturally comes in handy. I’ve found this over and over again with my writing. The more we study the craft, the more that tends to come naturally. But the methods we use subconsciously will become much stronger, much more reliable when we take the time to analyze them, pull them apart, bringing them up to our conscious level. And when they’re at our conscious level, we can play with them and figure out what went wrong in those times that our writing needs fixing.

Okay, tomorrow we look at #8—the character is unusual or attracts attention in some particular way. Anybody out there think of a good example for this one?

6 comments:

Tina said...

At the mention of an unusual character the first book that popped into my head was Randy Ingermanson's Double Vision. With his introduction of the character Dillon, the reader almost immediately sees that there's something different about the way this guy sees the world.

I don't know that this is the best example because the first effect wasn't empathy for me. But it didn't take too many paragraphs to create that empathy when I realized Dillon wasn't wound that tight by choice.

Domino said...

I've been enjoying the character empathy series. Thanks for teaching!

Looking forward to tomorrow's post.

Becky said...

Well, how about Chelsea Adams and her visions?

Maybe Scarlet O'Hara and her ability to charm?

In Dragons in Our Midst series, Bryan Davis's character Billy and his overly hot breath or Bonnie and her wings. (With fantasy you get to have REALLY unusual characteristics! :-)

Becky

Cheryl Russell said...

I've read/reviewed Admission. Interesting book. I found the POV hard to follow, at first. But I worked through it, and it was worth it! Good book.

Jannes, as in the prophet who took on Moses, is the antagonist in James Bryon Huggins' Sorcerer.

Dobro Turtlebane, one of the feechie folk in Jonathan Rogers' The Wilderking Trilogy.

One more...Peter Terry, fallen demon and soul hunter from the Day of Evil series by Melanie Wells.

Sabrina L. Fox said...

I think of Blair Owens in Terri Blackstock's Cape Refuge series. Or Haley Walsh in Colleen Coble's Alaska Twilight. Blair has a large scare on her face and Haley lost her leg in an accident when she was young.

Attracts a lot of attention right off.

Sabrina L. Fox said...

Make that scar...sheesh. My OCD wouldn't let me ignore that one. LOL.