Reader Question: My characters all sound like me, etc.

18 01 2010

I’ve taken to dressing like a super hero. I don’t mean superhero like those nancy-boy DC superheros (excepting a couple of Batman epochs), I’m going more along the lines of Johny Blaze type speed suits a’la Venture style. I complete this ensemble with an ink pen and tire pressure gage tucked in my upper sleeve pocket and a gray winter flap-cap that looks like the spitting image of the caps the rebels wore while engaging in trench warfare against the assault of the Empire’s freakishly cool All Terrain Armored Transports.  I keep my litmus paper in my left breast pocket, because I never know if I’m listening to Acid House or just Drum and Base.  Well that’s what I’m doing. What are you doing that is so cool?

I’ve been putting off answering the question of how to keep story characters from sounding like the author. I ended up thinking about it in two ways. The first, philosophical and the second psychological. And in neither way do I feel satisfied with my answers. In both however I think I may have something. Stay with me.

First the first. The author, even if the world you are creating is completely the same as the one you live in, it’s still you beady little brain’s perceptions. You live in a world perceived by various kinetic receivers and recorded and processed by your unique neural cortex so every word you hear, every lovers touch, every child’s whining screams are just you talking to yourself, touching yourself and throwing a fit about not getting your lolly. Sure you have external input, but it will still get filtered through your own set of microphones and cameras along with all the wiring damage that you have via drugs, alcohol, and holding your breath to simulate the feelings of drugs and alcohol.  It is hard to get away from you.

Second for the second.  You are not one person. You are so many different people in the course of a day that you probably should get some name tags. The thing is, if you are reflective about it you can discern the various, multitudinous people working in your head. You are not the same person to your gran that you are to your girlfriend. Does your boyfriend get the same snuggles as your little brother? Does he, pedophile? NO! You can think you are a perfectly genuine person with a consistent platonic essence, but guess what, you are not. I’m not saying you are trapped in ‘Faces of Eve’ or anything, but really, you got peeps in you, and I’m not just talking about marshmallows.

So I am saying that everyone is you, and you are lots of people. There is one way to get around this.

READ!! Ha ha ha ha ha! You should know by now I consider that the [small, adhesive covered, gauze fronted vinyl wound closing strip… thanks a butt load Johnson&Johnson, owner of Bandaid Brand™ personal bandages], but it really solves all your problems.  Read and let other characters infect you own voice. Be human tofu, multiply your angels and demons, or Maiar and Balrog if that’s your mythology. Absorb, consume and dispense. You are everyone and you are probably nuts, but you can at least share your madness.

That is the science of fiction.

I hope you have purchased those pants I warned you about, the Gaza Strip is on fire.

Next: Finally, my interview with Absent Willow Review Editor and Co-Founder, Rick DeCost.  We will ask him what is de cost of running a genre zine. Then I will go to hell for writing that sentence.

A

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One response

21 01 2010
maggiedot

The Mysterious Incident of The Dog In the Nighttime. – that’ll blow anyone’s narrative-voice mind.

It also inspired the voice for the story I just sold to Dark Futures. ((See folks?! It works!))

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