Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Interviewing your character II

Emily Hanlon gives 50 questions to ask from your character in her three part series "interviewing your character" in her blog "Fiction Writing - The Passionate Journey"
Interview I, II and III and More Questions, for the questions 27-39

An interview with the dashingly handsome private detective Dewain Cavish.
Part II

Where did you grow up?

In the whorehouse and streets of London.

What did your father do?

Wouldn't know. All I know is that he was a werepanther and I look like him.

What about your mother? What was she like?

Mommy (smiles) My mother was a whore. She's dead now, like most of old whores are. She was a good person... always kind and happy and... she was soft, round, had hazel eyes and honey colored hair. She used to keep hard candy pastilles in her pockets and she gave candy to all kids she met. We loved running her errands... she told fairytales to us in the evenings, before she went to work. I used to listen to them every night, until she died... she could a lot of stories - or invented them herself - she never told the same story twice, unless we kids asked... and even then it wasn't enough to ask, we had to demand and bug her to tell a story twice. Girls loved the princess stories, I loved the adventures.

What was your favorite fairytale?

Puss in boots. (smiles widely) I love cats. I used to share my food with cats waiting for Puss to come and make me rich, but he never came. Later, my mother told me about my father, and she said that sometimes pusses make one rich in a different way... that she got me from her Puss. So I might get something else from my Puss. That every person gets different things from Puss... I think I have got my agility from my Puss... and the knowledge of the town. I followed the cats and pushed myself through small holes and into narrow chimneys... I can go anywhere in the town by the roofs, and one really gets everywhere that way. People very seldom look up, and there's all kinds of things, chimneys, gargoyles, kattoikkunat ja ulokkeet, one can hide behind. Also, most people don't guard the roof entrances to the houses... there's always a window or latch open up there through which one can get in if one wants. Or you can go through the chimney. I might be the reason to why people believe Santa Claus comes in through the chimney (laughs).

How did your parents get along?

Really stupid question... really well when they were together, but that lasted less than an hour. Next question.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Nope

What was the thing that scared you most as a kid?

Angry men. Men who could and would hurt my mother and the other women. They were all like aunts to me, and I loved them all.

Dewain, be the child you once were. What do you see? Feel?

Now, I - the writer - am to write a scene from Dewain's childhood - Dewain is not a writer, he can barely write and read, that was something that wasn't necessary to learn. He can read enough to know whether his friends reading for him are cheating him or not, and he can write his name and short messages, but he couldn't write a scene of his childhood.
I am also to "show, not tell", which is a little tricky thing... you see, it's an effect and slows the story down, even when it creates a very good relations between the reader and the story. It is to be used sparingly, as an effect it is, when needed, and not all the time. There's nothing wrong with telling. The "correct" way of using this line is "show, not JUST tell" :-D

So - Dewain is being hypnotized and moved back to his childhood.

"I'm in the kitchen... Auntie Hetty is baking... I am not tall, I can barely see the tabletop while standing by the table on my toes. Sylvie sees my problems and gives me a stool. It's a nice stool, painted bright blue, like Sylvie's eyes, and I use it a lot. For some reason I didn't think of taking it to reach the table better, but I suppose I'm not old, if I'm so short. Hetty bakes every day for the guests... they are to have something to nibble while they wait. Esther says that a man who has eaten some sweets is a kinder man. I hope Hetty uses a lot of sugar then, because I don't like big, red men, shouting and pushing girls around. Hetty smiles at me while she rolls the cookie dough and gives me a small piece of the dough. It is good. Hetty is very good at baking. The dough is rolled quickly and then cut into squares, she washes them with egg and sprinkles plenty of coarse sugar on top, then the cookies fly on the baking trays and into the oven. She puts a chunk of sugar into my mouth when she puts the ingredients back in the cupboard and then she wipes the table clean. The tea kettle whistles and her hands fly to set the table for tea. It's time for the girls to get up and have breakfast and they start dropping in in pairs and threes. Cindy comes alone, yawning, but she is not very social of herself. Betsy lifts me up into her lap and shares her breakfast roll with me. Hetty takes the cookies out of the oven and gives me one. It's still hot and soft, and I burn my tongue with it, and the girls laugh. Cindy doesn't laugh, she puts some butter on my tongue and gives me cold milk. Hetty pats me on my head and mommy scolds me for being so greedy. I didn't know freshly baked cookies can burn your tongue. My tongue is sore, but the cookie is good. Hetty gives me another one, this time it's not that hot and soft, it's crispy and crunchy. The sugar on top crunches too, but differently. It's good, but mommy tells Hetty not to give me more. Betsy takes another roll, with orange marmalade and cheese, and no-one scolds her for being greedy, because I have eaten most of her first roll. I want down, I'm not getting any more cookies and I'm not hungry anymore."

For now, I'm going to jump over questions 21-26, as they are connected to the childhood memory. I just don't want to dwell over Dewain's unhappy childhood, when it really wasn't. Dewain remembered something happy, warm, kind and nice, even though he burned his tongue. He wasn't running, crying or hurt, but a happy, warm, satisfied little boy. There were days when there was no food, and days when the food wasn't enough, but that came later. Teenaged boys use a lot of energy and eat accordingly. Dewain was mostly hungry from 9 to 19, stole food wherever he could find it. Hetty baked for the whorehouse at that time too, but white sugar and flour was not wasted on the help boy. He got his breakfast roll with a spoon of marmalade and one slice of cheese, with his milk tea, but that was almost all he got, and that is not even close enough. He would have shared his roll with Molly, but he wasn't allowed to take food from the kitchen. Hetty asked him to get Molly to the house to eat, but Molly got beaten half dead by her mother after the one time she did that - Molly's mother was a "God fearing" woman and would rather have killed her daughter than allowed her near a whorehouse. (Which she in a way did, as Molly died of hunger - had she been allowed to accept the "immoral bread", she'd survived. It was never considered that she'd started working in the house. It was to help the already "fallen" women, not to cause anyone to fall.)

Now, who was Molly? She isn't even mentioned in the book, even though she seems to be quite important to Dewain.

Molly was a poor girl, living one step higher from the streets, enough for her mother to believe to be a "better person", but not distinctable from the "real" street kids in the eyes of everyone richer. Her mother was a wife of a sailor, who might have been alive or might have died - no-one knew. Her house was in impeccable order and so clean one could have eaten on the floor, even though there was anything to be eaten very, very seldom. She earned some pennies by washing for the richer families and helping in other heavy household chores, and she got herself a meal while doing that. She often forgot that her children didn't have the same benefits, so she didn't quite understand that Molly was slowly starving. All her kids were forbidden to touch anything dirty or go near the whorehouse or pubs, but Molly was the only one who did was she was told, so she didn't even get the additional nutrition of half-rotten food found in the garbage or a half-eaten apple thrown away by someone more blessed. She wasn't supposed to play with Dewain either, but Molly's mother had made the mistake of telling Dewain and the "girls" this, not to Molly, so Molly didn't know and Dewain was very careful not to let her mother know about his disregard to her wishes. Dewain managed to feed Molly every now and then by begging food by the restaurant back doors before it was thrown away and thus made untouchable to Molly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Interviewing your character

Emily Hanlon gives 50 questions to ask from your character in her three part series "interviewing your character" in her blog "Fiction Writing - The Passionate Journey"
Interview I, II and III

An interview with the dashingly handsome private detective Dewain Cavish.
Part I

How old are you?

I'm 35.

What kind of work do you do?

Usually find lost objects... or people. Sometimes I follow husbands or wives who do things they shouldn't be doing.

Are you married?

No, no... (laughs)

Why do you think that is? A charming fellow like you should have plenty of opportunities.

Just haven't found anyone who would stand up with me. I might be a charming fellow, as you put it, but that's not all there is to marriage. One shouldn't marry to have something pretty to look at. You can look for free.

Do you have any children?

No.

Are you sure of that?

Quite sure.

So you live in celibacy?

You could say so. It sounds a bit... too holy to me, but I don't have... engage into carnal relationships.

May I ask why?

Too much fuzz. Women tend to want too much. I know plenty to know this, I was brought up by women. My mother was a whore and I grew up in a whorehouse, running errands when I was old enough to do that, then I started watching the door, when old Hackett grew too old... and the ladies talked quite freely of all kinds of stuff around me, even when I was too little to understand what they were talking about. I suppose growing up in that environment made sex... distasteful. I didn't want to be one of these guys following their dick.

Are you in a good relationship to your spouse or lover?

As said, I have none. But I have several female friends and I am in a good relationship with them.

Have you ever been unfaithful?

No. I appreciate friendship and loyalty over everything else here in life. I would never betray my friends.

Has your partner ever been unfaithful?

Not that I know of. If a friend fails me, he is no friend of mine, and has apparently never been. It's just to move on and understand that he wasn't the person I thought he was.

What kinds of things make you angry?

Not much, anymore.
I used to get angry at anything when I was young... especially the feeling of powerlessness. When the thugs beat up old Hackett, for example, and I was too small and weak and dumb to help. Getting beaten up. Not being able to stop others from being beaten up. Not being able to beat up the thugs.
Unfairness... when the rich had food and we had none... or good shoes. And they acted as if it was as it was supposed to be that way. Sanctimony. The priest quoting the Bible as justification to why Molly died of hunger 100 yards from a restaurant where the rich were feeding good food to their pugs and poodles... one of them had once stopped Molly from patting her pug, because she said Molly was disgusting... her overfed, ugly pug. I hate pugs.
I despise the ladies asking me to track their spoiled dogs and cats, but they do pay well, and it's not the wretched animals' fault that they are owned by these insensitive, egoistic idiots...
I saw once a poodle, really smart dog that was. Did all kinds of tricks and earned money to his master. He got to eat in that restaurant, because the guests liked seeing the dog dance and do tricks. That was a good dog.
I have never seen a pug earn one penny to any poor sod, on the contrary.

How do you express that anger?

I get active, aggressive... When I was young, I cried a lot. I used to rage and break things. I stoned the windows of that --- restaurant. I tried to steal the pug, I would have drowned it. I'm kind of happy that I didn't succeed, it wasn't the dog's fault. I should have drowned his owner instead.

Did you get any consequences of breaking the windows?

No, they never caught me. One street boy is like another.

You’re in a scene with someone who is making you very angry. Why? What’s making you angry?

They threaten Helen. I'm afraid for Helen. I wouldn't mind if they did anything to me, but they may not hurt Helen, never, in any way, under any circumstances. I cannot do anything, I would give them the darned sapphire, but it's Helen's, and therefore her decision.

What memory does the scene bring up?

Old Hackett... Molly... all the times when people misused their power, strength, status, might... I want to tear up these thugs throats.

What memory does the memory bring up?

---

Describe something really bad you once did.

Weird questions. I hope you ask the opposite site as well.
Something bad I did... I have been quite a good boy all my life. Can't think of anything.

Don't you think breaking the windows was a bad thing?

No. I should have burned the place. Force open their doors so poor people get to eat.

Have you done something else similar to that?

Well... one has done one's part in life... you mean illegal with "bad", huh?

Let's say I do. Describe something illegal you once did.

I hunted down the thugs who beat up old Hackett and killed them. That's illegal but wouldn't be if the society was any more fair. Everyone's better off with those men, even their families. I took care of their children and wives, until the kids were good enough to take care of their mothers themselves. It's not their fault either that their husbands and fathers were who they were, and if I hadn't, the kids would have grown up to be exactly like their fathers. Now they are good people.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Writer's Block? Nah...

I just don't feel like writing. Writing the book, that is. I feel like writing, so I am here :-) Writing :-D

The writer's block is only due to high expectations, perfectionism, doubt on one's ability. The thing is that there is no reason for that. No-one says your book is going to be published. You are not writing to be published, you are writing, because you are a writer, you love writing, you love telling the story. You might not care for editing - even though that is rather fun too - or selling the story - which can be fun too - but you are a writer because you like writing. You are a writer because you write.

Now - to "get over writer's block", all you need to do is - write.

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU WRITE.

Now, of course, if you are on a deadline, you MUST write a certain thing, but it won't be a problem, if you keep up your skill by writing something every single day of your life. The more you write, the more you write. LOL Sounds obvious, but it really is ;-) You see, the more you write, the more accustomed to writing you get, the easier it becomes to write, it becomes natural, easy, flowing, you get used to express yourself by writing - so you write more.

When I was at school the essay writing was my absolute favorite. It was so easy. I sat down and after the hour I had at least 4 pages written full, usually more. I have read what I wrote then, and the style is very nice, the text flows, is coherent, there are very few grammatical mistakes and even fewer mistakes in style.
When I was a member of an internet debate forum with 6000 characters limit in messages, I quickly got the nickname "6000 characters are not enough".
I'm sure this fits to most of the writers. We are all really good at writing, spouting words and letters. The "thing" with writer's block is that we start THINKING, editing, criticizing, questioning, valuating... we stop writing.

I have realized that my writing is very much connected to the mood I'm in and inspiration. I must feel like it to do it. I won't be able to write one, single thing in a month or a week, but I will probably be able to write seven novels, two plays and a collection of poems in a year.

I have found out that I am not bad at writing plays. The form is so different, and I haven't read more than Hamlet and In The Morning The Sun Rises or something like that, about a couple or something, so I haven't been thinking about that. There was a playwriting competition though, and I thought of joining, and wrote a play in two days. It's rather horrible at the moment, needs a LOT of editing, and I won't be joining the competition (the finished plays should be at the jury's tomorrow), but the base is great, I think. I would very much like to see it on stage.

I was also thinking about something Sumner Redstone said, a notice I have also made. Creative people tend to be creative in several different areas. Actors are usually good at singing, models at acting, Madonna's books are not bad... Chances are that if you are good at drawing, you are also good at writing, singing, acting... Might be that you wouldn't manage as a rocket scientist or brain surgeon, but you could well write music and lyrics, sing it and paint the record cover. I wish I had more education in music. I wish I knew how to play more instruments and how to compose music...

Which leads me to a different thing... Neil Gaiman keeps doing a lot of different things all the time. He writes novels, short stories, children's books, graphic novels, plays, poems - everything. It looks like he's directing a movie now... don't know what he means with that, but never mind.

I actually was going to say something, but I went to find his blog URL to add it here and found "Shelfari" and got trapped there, so I forgot what I was saying... sorry. :-)