Writing Habits

Thursday, March 5, 2009 - 10:49 AM

I've been full of thoughts and ideas moreso than usual these days, which is both wonderful and terribly frustrating. It has gotten to the point where I feel I don't have enough of a lifetime to write everything that's in my head. Frequently, things get clogged, and I get writing cramps while working on one idea from the yelling and screaming another idea makes when it wants attention.

One thing I like to do to inspire myself to write is to read books with obvious flaws. I keep a few around for this purpose, particularly those stories where I see a beautiful skeleton nearly obscured by trash writing. I revise them in my head, and allow myself to be annoyed at the fact that THIS got printed. This makes an excellent goad for writing.

However, occasionally this generates an idea, and I have decided to avidly pursue one such idea.

Some readers may be aware that I am working on a novel called 'Customs', which started with a blog entry describing a dream. This project is primary, but some characters have been giving me a hassle, so in my usual way, I've been looking for a similar back-burner project to work on. Now, I believe I have it.

I started 'With Iron' just a couple days ago. This story is a response to the usual fantasy trope where the book details the development of a hero as he enters into his destiny, gathers his auxiliary characters and goes about saving the world or fulfilling a prophecy or whatever else the hero happens to be up to. 'With Iron' is actually one of three stories which are connected; I have not decided the precise format I will be using to convey them, but they will be primarily joined in an epistolary fashion... the main characters from each will eventually begin writing letters to one another.

So what is 'With Iron' about? It is the story of a young man who eventually becomes the Bad Guy for a number of would-be heroes. The two other stories tell similar stories, and even begin much the same way, detailing the beginnings and transitions of one person becoming an adversary. Their stories are otherwise quite different.

This may not sound particularly unusual, but I am quickly finding that it is not as easy to write as might be expected. For one, I am determined to make these three characters Bad Guys. They might have a definite whiff of anti-hero, perhaps, and at least one does a fantastic job of posing as a Good Guy, but ultimately these three people are just plain Bad (albeit for wildly different reasons). Making such a creature the protagonist while maintaining the fact of their evil nature is fine exercise. I want to give the reader enough sympathy to care about what happens to these people, of course, but these are not heroes in the conventional sense.

I am a big fan of having a theme or message in my work, be it in gaming or literature. 'With Iron' is an exploration. It is meant to be a place where the reader can see things from the other side of every fantasy story where light and dark collide, but more importantly, they get to see the other side not as a cardboard cut-out but an actual person with loves, hates, passions, wishes, goals and dreams. The business of having three points of view is there to provide contrast and show that not all villains are the same. It is there also to show that diverse though they might be, villains (like heroes) also gather for common goals... though these three prefer to maintain a polite distance.

They know their own, after all.

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