Writing post: Characters. Bad characters.

Writing has been going well lately.  I have been able to work consistently on the book and am making some slow progress through the most recent of chapters.  The only bummer is that it’s not exactly what I want it to do or say, but for now, I’m going to trust that as some First Draft work and just move on through it, rather than grind to a halt.

It has given me some thought about writing certain kinds of characters.  Everyone who has written stories knows about character arcs.  Or at least they should.  Usually this pertains to the hero, who undergoes a journey and their character overcomes conflict and winds up changed at the end.  But what about villains?  The bad guys of your story.

I have one particular bad guy I have been working on recently, who is truly just awful.  They are more of an elemental evil than anything.  But this recent chapter I have been working through involves their past, and for whatever reason, I decided to make the character more of an amalgam.  The character in those days had the seed of being awful, but in adding more depth to this person, I have made them more sympathetic.  In adding some traits of people I have genuinely admired, I think this will give the villain of this story some depth, and if I am successful, it will make their fall just that more devastating.  It might even show the main protag in an entirely different light.  It’s weird to sorta muddy up some very good memories in real life with such a terrible character.  But not everyone is all bad.  That’s how you get past static, one dimensional characters.

I have also scrapped some ideas that I had been working with, specifically a Jekyll/Hyde type character that pushed the boundaries of the steampunkery of the story.  I just didn’t like how it played out.  It was superfluous.

The story continues to grow and evolve.  Particularly around the characters.  They seem to be driving the plot more than anything.  The original plot that I had was pretty contrived.  So, for this story, I’m going to have a world, throw these characters into it, and see what they do with it all.  At least this way, the story feels more organic.  Lived in.  Not just a predetermined mess that ends only one way without any consideration for the characters living in that world.

In reading news, I finished Steven Pressfield’s book “Turning Pro.”  I didn’t like it as much as “The War of Art” mostly because so many of the concepts were already covered in the latter.  Not only were they covered, but they were investigated deeper.  This seemed like a repeat, almost like a workbook to accompany the textbook, along with some anectdotes from Roseanne Cash’s book, and for whatever reason most chapters were only a page.  At most.  It read almost like a list-type article from some clickbait you would find online.  For $9.99 on Kindle, I wasn’t impressed.  This was the third Pressfield book, and probably the last I will buy.  I liked the concepts he pushes into the light of the creative mind, but the whole book can be summed up with one sentence.  “Turning Pro means changing your attitude from that of a amateur, to someone who works with consistency and dedication until they get it right.”

There.  Saved you ten bucks.

The thing about the concept of Turning Pro that bothers me is the emphasis on sacrificing your friends, your family, everything you know to chase an obsession and find fulfillment in your creativity.  Am I the only one who read Faust in college?  At the end of you life, sure, you might have achieved all of your professional goals, but what is the point if you are alone?  If you gave up new experiences? All for the sole purpose of being a “Pro” at one thing?

Writing isn’t everything.  It isn’t even close to being the only thing.  Sometimes it’s just something we do because we like doing it.  Some writers hate writing.  They find it is painful.  To them, I say why torture yourself over something like this?  It shouldn’t hurt.  Honestly, as much as I love writing, I wouldn’t mind selling out for a giant check to a Hollywood producer and using that money to buy a really cool house, afford trips to anywhere I wanted to go in the world, or make sure I could live comfortably the rest of my days.  Writing will always be with me.  Whether it is sketching out a poem when I watch leaves fall from the trees, or if it is a story about witches and gunfighters.  I carry it with me wherever I go, but it isn’t my entire identity.  I think there could be something to be said about anyone letting a passion consume their identity.  Kinda like a superfan who paints their house in the colors of their favorite team.  Or someone who drives only one kind of car because of brand loyalty.  I like to do a lot of other things more than writing.  Like living.




2 thoughts on “Writing post: Characters. Bad characters.

  1. Funny that you mention bad characters. I was pondering the father of Kyle Hackshaw, from the Tearing Down Tuesday stories. The kind of guy that everyone says, “He was a good man,” yet behind closed doors, he was anything but.

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