I think things. Then I write about them. It's the narcissism, you see.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014, Week 5, Monday



So I’m on vacation. But Monday must be served.

I’m watchinerved. but MOnday g my best friend play a game called League of Legends. I find it interesting on a spectator level; and certainly I have offered my amateur commentary to him often, but I don’t see it is a worthy endeavor as far as strategy is concerned.

A strategy is a lot like a plot in a way. It’s the means by which someone seeks to achieve a goal. And the plot of a story is much like that. Characters seeking an end while readers experience the means by which they get there.

I’m reminded of something J. Michael Straczynski said on a commentary for a Babylon 5 episode. Not playing it at this moment—vacation and all—it went something like this: Costumes don’t matter, effects don’t matter, plots (almost) don’t matter…what matters are characters in conflict with each other and themselves.

I didn’t finish The Loyalty of Pawns until I understood that. And I don’t think I understood the short story format until I understand that piece of truth. It’s the characters. And only the characters. I changed a few bits of The Loyalty of Pawns because the characters in it told me to. I’ve never been able to explain that phenomenon to non-writers. But suffice it so to say that I was not in control at certain points.

The thing with the characters that I finally got right. Maybe.

I think the most interesting aspects of any narrative are the people in them. If you understand Shakespeare there is no question he understood this. Kubrik, Spielberg (loathe though I am to say so), Lehane, Scalzi—I am cherry picking for expediency—it’s all character. Mechanically, I think one could argue about the plots involved—or if there even are any. But they know their characters. And that’s what they write.

I think—without argument for comparison to others—that’s what I’ve gone for. I hope so. People…people are unpredictable, erratic, and insane. But they’re interesting. I can’t claim enough success to offer advice to anyone. But if I did and I could, I would say one thing: Don’t write what you know; write the people you know. If you listen to and know the people, everything else will fall into place.

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