Who Am I?

No, the title isn’t referencing the 1998 Jackie Chan Movie–even though it is good martial arts fun (as all of Jackie Chan’s movies tend to be):

No, this particular entry comes from 2012 Amazing Spider-Man movie.  At the end (don’t worry, I won’t spoil it), there is a scene where Peter Parker is going into an English Class.  During the class, the teacher is talking, and the teacher says that a professor of her once told her that there were 10 types of plots.  She says, “No, there is only one plot.  Who am I?

Unfortunately, the scene moves away from the English lesson at this point.  I think I know what she was referring to, however.  The idea that CHARACTER is the most important part of fiction and that ALL of the plot revolves around the character’s needs, wants, problems, and solutions.

If the character is interesting enough and if what they want is strong enough to satisfy the character’s needs, then the plot will come together far more easily than trying to shoehorn the story into a plot “type.”

I wonder if this is true, so I’m going to try it out over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  I’ve had a character in mind for ages.  His name is Roland.  And he has a compelling problem (in my mind, at least).  So, tonight, after I finish writing this blog post, I’m going to write a 1 page, “Who Am I?” for Roland.  Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, I’m going to try to write the rough draft for the short-story “Project Roland” and see if finding the character is truly the SECRET to creating a story that pops and resonates.

Since “Faerie Knight,” I’ve been disappointed by the stories that I’ve written in the interim (except I, Magi).  All the other stories seem flat and lifeless.  I’ve written rough drafts for them, but except for Magi, I haven’t really done character sketches for the main characters of the other stories.  I’ve begun to even lose Skye’s character as well.  I started with a clear idea of who she was and what she wanted, but I didn’t write it down and now I find myself starting to be fuzzy on her motivations as I’m beginning to transition her to another part of the story at the end of chap. 3.

If this experiment works, then I’ll know that I’m only really ready to write a story once I have a character locked in so well that I can do a “Who Am I?” sketch on them. If this is the case, then my goal should be go back through all my stories (new and old) and work on the characters to try to improve my stories so that I can begin to sell stories consistently.

Destined for Greatness: Destiny and Deadlines

So, now I understand why characters are so compelling in fiction.

They are your conduit into a new world.  If you create the right character and imbue that character with traits that are irresistible and then put that character into a compelling world, then you can LOSE yourself into the story.

That is essentially what has happened to me for the past 2 months.  Bungie’s Destiny has taken hold of me in a way that few games have done.  My character is mostly a cipher, but does talk in a couple instances.  Yet, mostly I ascribe a history, backstory, and to some extent, a narrative around my character’s actions in the greater world.  Yet, there is something that is SO compelling about Destiny and the way its mythos has snuck its tendrils into me.  I have thought about writing in this blog for weeks, but each time I pulled out the computer, I realized that what I really wanted to do was to go and play Destiny.

I daresay that it was an addiction of sorts.  There was nothing more for me than Destiny.  I played it every evening after coming in for work and I played it on the weekends when I probably should have been writing.  I could lie and say that I’m not sure why Destiny grabbed me the way it did, but I do know the reason: Levels.

My strength is starting at Level 1 and progressing (however tediously) through the levels until I reach the top level (or close to it).  Give me a level and a number and I will chase it with dogged determination.  I’ve been doing this since 1st Grade (Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, etc.).  I can’t resist.

Destiny was smart–they essentially have 3 levels of levels.  The first set of levels (up to level 20) is the “base game.”  All of the story/narrative content gets your character up to level 20.  After level 20, you have start looking out for armor that has light on it.  This moves the character up to a “soft” level cap of 30 (taking off the armor with “light” drops the character back down to 20).  But once you’ve gotten some “light infused” armor, you’re still not done.  At level 26, you have the option to do a super-hard mission called a Raid.  This raid (known as the The Vault of Glass) is ridiculously hard until you hit level “light” 28/29.  I’ve managed to finish this raid successfully a couple of weeks ago.  So essentially, Bungie set up a three tiered level system and it fed my inner OCD for levels just perfectly.

I might still be caught in Destiny’s web if not for On Spec, the Canadian Sci-Fi/Fantasy magazine.  They had a deadline of Oct. 31st for stories to be submitted to them.  In the time of Destiny’s release, I had finished I, Magi (yay!) and I wanted to submit it to them.  So, on Halloween night, when ALL I wanted to do was play Destiny, I edited my story and sent it out (with 44 minutes to spare before the deadline was up).  I realized that Destiny, while a great game and a great learning experience for creating good characters and a compelling world, was starting to get in the way of my writing, so I’ve consciously worked to mitigate the Destiny effect.  I’ve started writing rough drafts and I’m now back to working on my novel.

I’ll never fully kick the Destiny habit (nor do I want to–this game was MADE for me!), but I do need to find a way MODERATE its effect so that I too can be “Destined for Greatness!”  🙂

WEEKLY WRITING UPDATE – 11/10

Currently Writing: The Great Game (Fantasy Short Story)
Currently Writing: Chapter 3 – Project Skye Novel (Chapter 3: Storm Breaking)
Rough Draft Finished: Project Djinn
Rough Draft Started: Project Roland