Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
 

Author Topic: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?  (Read 730 times)

Alec Worley

  • 2000AD Creator
  • Sub Basement Sewer Unit
  • *****
  • Posts: 66
  • Me website, innit? www.alecworley.com
    • View Profile
Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« on: 22 August, 2022, 09:41:53 PM »
Do fictional characters really have a life of their own? Or is it all just marketing bollocks and cultural mythmaking? Do writers really commune with the unseen?

New thingy about writing posted on my Substack: https://alecworley.substack.com/p/why-wont-characters-do-as-theyre


The Legendary Shark

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 11092
  • Tip: Sharks only attack you if you're wet.
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #1 on: 23 August, 2022, 07:34:04 AM »

I enjoyed that, thank you.

~~~^~~~~~~~


Never Forget.

wedgeski

  • Member
  • Prog Stacking Droid
  • ***
  • Posts: 721
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #2 on: 23 August, 2022, 09:08:40 AM »
Nice link, ty.

I only dabble in authorship so my opinion is almost worthless, but in the plot-heavy stuff I try to put out, when characters attempt to pull a fast one on me, the're snapped back into their rightful place, toot-sweet. I've yet to experience anything metaphysical with my characters. One day, hopefully, I will discover that the myth is true.

Jim_Campbell

  • 2000AD Creator
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 14355
  • Letterer to the Stars! (and PJ)
    • View Profile
    • deviantArt Gallery
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #3 on: 23 August, 2022, 10:38:09 AM »
Thanks, Alec — I enjoyed that.

I don't write any more… sadly, the many demands on my time mean that nothing gets past a few hastily typed notes in a Word document and a promise to myself to revisit them at some, likely entirely imaginary, future date. But, when I did…

"The good bits feel like they were written by someone else."

…Is entirely true. I remember (and very much miss) that feeling. Sometimes, the words literally pour onto the screen/page and you feel like you're watching someone else, another, much better, writer do the work and you're just along for the ride.

Doubly so back when I did comics, because 1) you didn't get to see the finished product until the comps arrived, so every choice made by the artist and letterer was fresh to you, and 2) the lead time was long, I mean many months between getting the sign-off on a script and seeing the final product. The feeling of "Did I write that?" was often very strong.

Back in the mid-00s, I wrote a complete SF novel (couldn't sell it, which was the point at which I discovered that writing a novel and selling one are two very different skillsets) and when I reached a pivotal point where two character fought, I discovered that the no-score-draw I'd got in my rough plot outline didn't work with the level of antagonism that had emerged in the writing of the story up to that point.

I realised that these guys would absolutely do their level best to kill each other and, given their proficiency at violence, it would be completely unbelievable if one them didn't end up dead. At that point, the Internal Editor chipped in, asking, "Well, do you want to go back and re-write all their interactions, making them a lot less interesting, or can you get the plot across the finish line if one of these guys doesn't make it…?" Turned out, I could, and the final race to the end was more exciting for it… if a lot trickier to write.

Bastard characters. :-)
Stupidly Busy Letterer: Samples. | Blog
Less-Awesome-Artist: Scribbles.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 21054
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #4 on: 25 August, 2022, 08:04:11 AM »
Great read and reminded me - tangently - of a friend recently telling me not everyone has an internal monologue in their head almost all the time...

...now if you do think via that infuriating internal monologue your mind will likely be blown (or you've heard this already and it was blown then). If you don't you'll be all huh?

Its this type of article about writing that has always renforced the safe assumption that everyone has the ol' internal chitty chatter in their noggin all the time. Alec's reflections on writing ring true to that. I would love to read a similar piece from someone who thinks visually or in that other way I can't get my noggin into. But I'm making an assumption there that Alec does has an internal monologue and sometimes it drifts into different 'characters' or thought patterns.

If he doesn't we need to talk more about this!

The Legendary Shark

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 11092
  • Tip: Sharks only attack you if you're wet.
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #5 on: 25 August, 2022, 01:19:30 PM »

I don't think I have an internal monologue. I am also unable to visualise things; for me it's all just concepts without imagery or hearing words. My dreams, though, are vivid and "real." Maybe my lacking these two abilities makes it so difficult and frustrating for me to write and draw, whilst the quality of my dreams pushes me to try writing and drawing anyway.

Or maybe I'm just weird.

~~~^~~~~~~~


Never Forget.

M.I.K.

  • Member
  • Battle Hardened War Robot
  • ****
  • Posts: 3505
    • View Profile
    • Mal Comix
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #6 on: 25 August, 2022, 03:56:59 PM »

I don't think I have an internal monologue. I am also unable to visualise things; for me it's all just concepts without imagery or hearing words.

Aphantasia is the name for that.

The Legendary Shark

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 11092
  • Tip: Sharks only attack you if you're wet.
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #7 on: 25 August, 2022, 04:11:31 PM »

Ooh, that's interesting, thank you. Although it's a little worrying to be described as being "without imagination," it's often how I feel when trying to write something - like trying to describe things hidden by a curtain. This deficit on my part only came to my attention recently, some time in the last year to 18 months, when I read somewhere that people can actually imagine images and that the "mind's eye" is not just a metaphor but a real thing. I have been trying to develop this ability but to no avail (yet), as I reckon it would be a very useful thing in writing and especially art.

On the plus side, I can now blame this "disability" for being an crap writist!

~~~^~~~~~~~


Never Forget.

Alec Worley

  • 2000AD Creator
  • Sub Basement Sewer Unit
  • *****
  • Posts: 66
  • Me website, innit? www.alecworley.com
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #8 on: 31 August, 2022, 01:14:05 PM »
Jim: I only recently realised that you co-created Ephrael Stern with Kev Walker for Games Workshop back in the day! How did that come about? Hope you're still getting royalties... ;)

Colin: I don't really have any kind of internal monologue. I wish I did. It would make writing so much easier. For me, I guess, it's a bit like acting. You just phase into a different mindset for a while.

Thanks for reading, all. Hope it helps!

Jim_Campbell

  • 2000AD Creator
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 14355
  • Letterer to the Stars! (and PJ)
    • View Profile
    • deviantArt Gallery
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #9 on: 01 September, 2022, 08:11:04 AM »
Jim: I only recently realised that you co-created Ephrael Stern with Kev Walker for Games Workshop back in the day! How did that come about? Hope you're still getting royalties... ;)

Dæmonifuge was very much Kev's baby (although Ephrael herself was based on an image by John Blanche) — GW asked him if he'd do something for their forthcoming Warhammer Monthly book, and Kev said only if he got to write and draw. I'd previously worked with Kev as co-writer on a proposal for 2000AD* (that never made it out of the mouldering foothills of Alan MacKenzie's in-tray)  and also The Inspectre, so he asked me if I'd work with him on the script.

The synopsis he had by that stage was pretty much fully formed. I suggested a plot tweak that ended up becoming an extra episode, but I contributed maybe 20% plot and 80% of the dialogue, since I did the first draft of the scripts.

And, yeah. WFH, so no royalties. I knew that going in, but it was slightly galling that neither of us saw a penny from the softcover TPB, the large-format hardcover, the three issue US-format mini-series, the German edition, the Japanese edition (!), the two limited edition figures, the £150 resin statue, or the more recent colourised anniversary omnibus… I think there were a couple of t-shirts in there somewhere, too…!

*We re-tooled that and took it to Dark Horse, where Randy Stradley really wanted to make it happen, but in strikingly unfortunate bit of timing, we pitched it just as the mid-90s US comic industry implosion was starting to bite, and DH were cutting their entire range back to core titles and licensed books to try and weather the storm. We never had much luck, TBH — we were a couple of weeks away from signing contracts on a SF magnum opus for Tundra's UK arm when Kevin Eastman pulled the plug on the company. Bits of that ended up in Dæmonifuge, eventually.
Stupidly Busy Letterer: Samples. | Blog
Less-Awesome-Artist: Scribbles.

Colin YNWA

  • Member
  • CALL-ME-KENNETH!
  • *****
  • Posts: 21054
  • testing testing...
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #10 on: 01 September, 2022, 08:49:19 AM »
Colin: I don't really have any kind of internal monologue. I wish I did. It would make writing so much easier. For me, I guess, it's a bit like acting. You just phase into a different mindset for a while.


Don't be so sure about that - mines bloody annoying - bad internal monologue, bad.

Alec Worley

  • 2000AD Creator
  • Sub Basement Sewer Unit
  • *****
  • Posts: 66
  • Me website, innit? www.alecworley.com
    • View Profile
Re: Why Won't Characters Do As They're Told?
« Reply #11 on: 01 September, 2022, 11:03:38 AM »
Jim: I only recently realised that you co-created Ephrael Stern with Kev Walker for Games Workshop back in the day! How did that come about? Hope you're still getting royalties... ;)

Dæmonifuge was very much Kev's baby (although Ephrael herself was based on an image by John Blanche) — GW asked him if he'd do something for their forthcoming Warhammer Monthly book, and Kev said only if he got to write and draw. I'd previously worked with Kev as co-writer on a proposal for 2000AD* (that never made it out of the mouldering foothills of Alan MacKenzie's in-tray)  and also The Inspectre, so he asked me if I'd work with him on the script.

The synopsis he had by that stage was pretty much fully formed. I suggested a plot tweak that ended up becoming an extra episode, but I contributed maybe 20% plot and 80% of the dialogue, since I did the first draft of the scripts.

And, yeah. WFH, so no royalties. I knew that going in, but it was slightly galling that neither of us saw a penny from the softcover TPB, the large-format hardcover, the three issue US-format mini-series, the German edition, the Japanese edition (!), the two limited edition figures, the £150 resin statue, or the more recent colourised anniversary omnibus… I think there were a couple of t-shirts in there somewhere, too…!

*We re-tooled that and took it to Dark Horse, where Randy Stradley really wanted to make it happen, but in strikingly unfortunate bit of timing, we pitched it just as the mid-90s US comic industry implosion was starting to bite, and DH were cutting their entire range back to core titles and licensed books to try and weather the storm. We never had much luck, TBH — we were a couple of weeks away from signing contracts on a SF magnum opus for Tundra's UK arm when Kevin Eastman pulled the plug on the company. Bits of that ended up in Dæmonifuge, eventually.

Aw, man. Timing's everything. Weirdly predictable too, though. Usually when I get a nibble off an editor in the U.S. is when I know they'll have left the publisher/been fired/been cancelled a week later... :P