Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ridding the bird's eye in my writing

I've been collaborating with a few friends over the past few weeks. And it's been loads of fun. What I like most about our collaboration is the maturity of our friendships. We haven't actually seen each other in years, but the bonds of fellowship we created more than a decade ago remain strong.

The setting we've been developing as backdrop for the stories we're hoping to collect into an anthology is nothing short than the best we want it to be.

There's something in it for each of us, and we're working hard at making it interesting for any fantasy reader.

The more we develop the setting the more I start to realize that what we've done is create a playground. There's so much to explore. Heroes. Villains. Myths. Legends. Artifacts. Geography. Culture. Quests. A boy. A girl. A fantasy setting... (:

As I craft my first story I also realize that I have spent so much time fleshing out the setting that my writer's eye needs glasses. I'm too far sighted. Writer peeps refer to this storytelling stigma in need of editor optometry as the voyeur.

I'm too busy telling the story. I'm not owning it, not showing it.

There is but one cure for this bird's eye view in my writing.

I have to be "in" the characters, in their mannerisms, their hopes, their motives, their actions; "in" the air, the storms, the trees, the flowers, the seeds; "in" every aspect of the story until the veil between my mind and my word is transparent.

I've been working on this everyday. In many ways blogging has helped me to erase that gap. Blogging is all about me. Me. Me... ME!

As egocentric as that sounds, its true for characters in a story. Keeping the characters always in the center of the story is what keeps a story from turning into checkers, moving pieces with no sense of identity or a will of their own, controlled by some invisible omnipotent hand.

There is one more thing. The most important lifeline. I have to care about the characters, whether morally just or vacant, trusting or cautious, altruistic or power hungry, philosopher or tyrant... If I'm not pumping my imagination into that character, he or she has to be reworked until the character means something more than a shell of words.


  1. I find that the best way to get into the characters is to reveal the world through their eyes, actions and words. That's why a lot of my "world-building" is done on the fly while I write. Our world was a framework that I was going to build from as I wrote. That's why it was so vague and devoid of details.

  2. Okay... now the vagueness makes a whole lot more sense. Although, on that note of seeing the world through the character's eyes, I'm writing a short story that's been approved for consideration, using exactly that method. I don't always write from this perspective. Most of the time I write from the characters' passions and inner struggles, which is almost the same thing as seeing the world through their eyes, but the way I approach the character is different. Does that make sense?

  3. I don't see them as mutually exclusive. When you write about a character's passions, aren't you writing about what they are passionate about? And isn't that a part of the world? :)

  4. It is being part of the world. Not every character is on an epic quest. That's what I should have said. Some stories are just about normal people--relatively speaking--dealing with change or conflict. The lens of the story is infinitesimal, so the struggle is personal without regard to the implications affecting the world at large. Wow, I think I just had a break through with a story I'm working on... NICE!!!