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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-15-09, 06:28 PM Thread Starter
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Default The Writer's Circle – Issue #14 [Through a Character's Eyes]

Welcome to Issue #14 of the Writer's Circle! Its been about a week or two since the last one, and its not that i've gotten lazy, its just that i've found a lot on my plate as of late... I'm going to be changing these discussions from 'weeks' to 'issues' so that is why this one says “The Writer's Circle – Issue #14 [Through a Character's Eyes].” Its getting harder to pull articles out of magazines lately as it seems i've run out of good ones to pull. I've basically run out of articles, so now i'll be pulling excerpts from books with an occasional article or two here and there, therefore I anticipate it will take me a bit longer. But with the new format, comes more ranting from me! Sorry, but this way it gives me more things to talk about. Instead of commenting about the article, the subjects will include the excerpts and then a musing from myself on the subject. On a separate note, as your newly appointed fiction moderator, I urge you ALL to send me feedback/ideas/improvements/comments/general rants concerning the fiction subforum here at Heresy, I'm looking for things to spice up the section a little, including contest ideas and other such things. Something to jumpstart us, and get the creative juices flowing. Just send the aforementioned ideas in a PM to me and i'll look them over. OK, so, this weeks topic is about developing your characters. Specifically the perspective of which your characters speak from, i.e., their point of view. I'm pulling an excerpt from a book called “Seize the Story” by Victoria Hanley. She's an interesting writer who has written such works as, “The Seer and the Sword,” “The Healer's Keep,” “The Light of the Oracle,” and other stories. This book, is a non-fiction 'handbook' on writing that brings up many good points about all kinds of topics pertaining to writing. So, lets begin...

from “Seize the Story”
by, Victoria Hanley

'Through a Character's Eyes'

Quote:
What would happen if you asked seven people who went to the same party to describe what it was like? You would probably hear seven very different versions of what happened. In fact, it might sound as though each person went to a separate party.

Depending on perspective, there are about ten billion ways to interpret the same event. It's easy to misunderstand what's going on – especially if we're missing a key piece of information.

For instance, when I was teaching an anatomy class for adults, I had a student who sat in the back of the class and never changed her expression. Based on her stone face, I decided she must not think much of the class or the people in it.

Then she cam in for some tutoring, and I talked to her. She told me she'd been hit in the face with a hardball. Underneath her skin, her face had been reconstructed with wire mesh. She was lucky to keep her eyesight. Many of her facial muscles didn't even work anymore, so she couldn't change her expression even if she wanted to.

I'd had it all wrong. It turned out she really loved the class. My interpretation was based on what it would mean if I had sat in the back of the class never changing expression. But it's a mistake to interpret other people's actions according to what they would mean if they were our own actions.

For example, imagine a girl named Mina who is outgoing and loves to talk. When she doesn't talk to someone, it means she doesn't like that person. But her classmate Glenn doesn't talk much because he's shy. He's so shy he can't open his mouth around Mina because he has a crush on her. Mina assumes Glenn's silence means the same thing to him that it would mean to her. She thinks he doesn't like her, while the truth is quite the opposite.

We all share the same world, but we never know how others will see things, hear things, and put things together in their minds.

We don't know, but we can imagine.

WRITING AS SOMEONE ELSE

When you look at the world through the eyes and ears of other people – whether they're real or imaginary – it helps with the process of creating realistic characters. No matter where you are, you can imagine how different people would experience the same place.

Let's say I'm at the beach, listening to the shrieking gulls. As I sit on my black and yellow towel with the heat baking my skin, I begin to imagine what other people might say about this same beach.

I start with a good friend, someone I know well. I can easily imagine myself as him because I'm familiar with his personality. I think about the way he would hear the waves, smell the air, and see the intense sunlight.

Then I begin writing. The “I” viewpoint is his, imagined by me:

Quote:
Every time I see a wave roll out to sea it carries another worry away. The sky's so big and the sand's so wide, I can actually see the curve of the horizon, which makes me realize my problems aren't as big as I thought they were.
Who knows if what I'm imagining is really the way my friend would feel and think? But I still like pretending to have his perspective.

Next, I notice an old woman reclining in a chair farther down the beach. She seems tired and sick. Her hands tremble. I ask myself what it would be like to be so feeble. Imagining myself as her, I write:

Quote:
The sound of the surf is soothing, but it doesn't quite drown out my pain. Good thing I wore my thick sunglasses, because the sun would stab my eyes if I didn't have their protection. Still, its beautiful here. I wish I could go back in time and run into the waves, feel the water rushing past, smell the brine close to my nose. But I can't. Not today, not ever again.
Same place but a very different perspective.

Then I see a teenage boy twenty yards away, sitting alone and staring morosely at the ocean. I imagine he's just gone through breaking up with a girlfriend. As him, I write:

Quote:
I know why the brought me to the beach. They think it's going to make me quit thinking about the breakup. It's not going to work. So what if the waves smash in and out? I don't care if the water has beaten mountains of rock into grains of sand. Doesn't matter to me. The air smells like dead fish.
Wherever you go, your imagination goes with you. Like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. When you imagine what other people are going through – even strangers – you increase your imaginative powers. Then it becomes easier to create characters that seem realistic.
***SPOILER ALERT***MINOR GAUNTS GHOSTS SPOILER***BEWARE!!! BOOO!!***-CP

Alright, i've got a few bones to pick about “perspective.” Don't worry, no expletives, just some statements and observations on the subject. I think there is a lot to be said about the skill of an author who uses perspective to further their stories. Instead of just narrating the story from a birds eye view, e.g. your typical play-by-play, telling the story from the constantly changing perspectives of its' characters can make it much more engaging and interesting to read. If you can interplay the emotions of the characters with the plotline of the story you have yourself a winning combination. You have to look at every scene (well you don't have to, but its just something I do) as if it were real life, what of the characters that are present in your scene?

For example, its a beautiful fall afternoon and you are walking down a busy side-street marketplace, and you happen to walk past a confrontation between a shop owner and his/her patron.

You think, “Gosh, how could people argue about something so trivial as a few vegetables on a beautiful fall day like today? I'm sure the patron didn't do anything wrong, perhaps he just dropped a few tomatoes and the shop owner is trying to make him pay for them.” and then you just go about your business and keep on walking.

Now thats just fine and dandy, no problem with that. If you have a one-character story where the plot rarely strays from that one characters view point, you are in the clear. But most novels, especially those done by science-fiction writers and authors likewise employed by the Black Library (BL Publishing), include multiple characters with multiple, varying, plots and viewpoints. Take Dan Abnett for instance. Almost all of us have read his “Gaunt's Ghosts” series of novels. Of the 12 books out at this time, I have read each of them 4 times, so the series has been very important and influential in my work. I'll probably name my first born son Ibram, just because I love that fething name! *cough* but that is besides the point... (then I can call him Brambo! lol)

Anyways, for those of you who haven't read Dan Abnett's works, I suggest you do. My point is, when it comes to perspective and writing through “a character's eyes” there is no finer example. He takes us on many personal journeys of discovery with each of the major characters. (*spoiler alert!*)Every one of them having their own personality and emotions regarding certain situations. From the edgy and dangerous Major Rawne, to the skiddish, and amiable old sniper Hlaine Larkin. From the secretive woodland warrior “Ven” to “Try-Again” Bragg, and Colm Corbec. Each had their own personal perspective of the wars that they fought and the lives that they lived. Even Agun Soric, who's latent psyker abilities brought him a life of slavery to the commissariat and an eventual mercy killing at the hands of Commissar Hark, had a wonderfully unique personality and story all his own.

Case in point, working the perspectives of multiple characters is what I try to do with my writing and stories. Go ahead and have a read over the Prologue and Chapter One of my novel “The Ghost of Iron”, to which, links can be found on my userpage. (just click “The lair of the FAN FICTION KING” in my signature). You'll notice that I move the story along by taking you different directions with different characters. Malleus Bulous, Ado Brillo, Brother Lucian Vicarus, and Paula, all have little storylines thus far. And they will continue to grow.

So, there are my musing on 'perspective.' I hope you all have enjoyed this issue of the Writer's Circle. Please comment on anything you deem worthy!

Your new fiction mod,

Commissar Ploss

Write on!

The Founding Fields


Last edited by Commissar Ploss; 10-16-09 at 03:17 AM. Reason: added ***SPOILER ALERTS***
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-15-09, 07:36 PM
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(you might want to take a look for spoilers in the Gaunt's Ghosts references)

As a whole, I think that very few people believe that there is only one way to interpret a scene (severe Calvinists, perhaps, but that's about it ). Nonetheless, this was fun to read.

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-16-09, 03:12 AM Thread Starter
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looking back now, i understand what you mean. lol I guess what i meant was that i've read stories that only have the single-character story, there are no secondary characters that have stories of their own. it makes for a very straightforward story, but in my opinion they are not that interesting. Easy to write, just not that interesting. I'll edit my first post to mention the spoilers...lol thanks for pointing that out for me.

CP

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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-16-09, 07:04 AM
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Really helpful Plossy, going to use that in my 3rd chapter of The Defence of Vagnar 7. + rep for these continous great help for my writing.

Feed my little Nid and Daemon! Thanks to Doombringer 1 for Khorne! Clicky click time!

Read the story on the defence of Vagnar 5. Concluded date is 25th of December. Feed the rest of my minions!
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-16-09, 07:57 AM Thread Starter
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thank you sir, glad you are finding these useful. Have you gone back to take a look at some of the past ones?

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-16-09, 06:02 PM
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Plan on taking on a look in a few minuites.

Feed my little Nid and Daemon! Thanks to Doombringer 1 for Khorne! Clicky click time!

Read the story on the defence of Vagnar 5. Concluded date is 25th of December. Feed the rest of my minions!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-21-09, 04:25 AM
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Glad to see they finally made it official. Good article, and looking forward to more.


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-21-09, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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ah, yes, thank you! And i'm glad you enjoyed the article! I'll be posting another soon.

CP

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-26-09, 12:14 PM
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Wow, another outstanding article CP... I tried it on the chapter that I'm writing for my current story...

Was really surprised... I didn't know an Eldar could think so much and sees thing differently in comparison to us humans... Hahaha...

Last edited by waltzmelancholy_07; 10-26-09 at 12:19 PM.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 11-05-09, 02:32 PM
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Thanks for the post. 'Tis very interesting to see others' outlooks on narrative and characterization. I've also found intercutting, although a screenplay concept, can work very well in prose. Jumping rapidly between two characters who are somehow interwined, looking at same objects etc, can make for excellent contrast between ideas and viewpoints.

waiting for next article.

L.

"Heresy Fiction Competition 2009 Winner"


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