Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Robot

I'm always been fascinated by the diversity of reader tastes. One thing considered a huge flaw by one person is admired by another. Someone could read a story and come away feeling like the protagonist was too bright and cheery. Another person could read this same story and decide that the protagonist was aggressive and callous. Maybe they're both right and the character was subliminally bipolar.

That story appreciation differs from person to person isn't anything new, but how often do we stop to consider how much of ourselves and our life experiences affect whether or not we like the protagonist?

This also applies to writing: how much of our experiences or personalities influence the characters that we create?

Take me. My protagonists do things that I never would. Their choices and their actions and even their thoughts are often so radically different from mine that it surprises me sometimes. I also wonder if I get satisfaction from having them do all of the things I normally wouldn't.

Be free, little character! Have fun for the both of us!

But recently, a friend of mine pointed out something about my characters. Something that's been bothering her for a while, but she couldn't exactly pinpoint. Until we began collaborating on a fun little project called Halfway Ether and she suddenly realized what that was.

Your protagonists lack warmth, she said ever so helpfully.

Stunned doesn't begin to cover my reaction. My protagonists lack warmth? Have I been writing cold, emotionless robots this entire time?

"I love you from the bottom of my circuits. Beep Bop Boop."

Then I realized she's right. As vastly different as one protagonist might be from another, in terms of their thoughts and their expression of thought, they all have a certain emotional distance. They are the type who will smile instead of jumping around gleefully when something glee-inducing happens, who will get angry when they are worried or scared, who will say "I'm fine" instead of pouring out their troubled hearts to friends and strangers alike.

They are, in essence, me.

"Beep Bo--wait, I'm the author? Didn't see that twist coming."

Of course, there have only been two protagonists thus far (and their circumstances and upbringing necessitate a little toughness), but hearing this has made me shockingly aware of how true it is. It's not a bad thing. I don't believe it is. I don't think there is anything wrong with a girl who dances around her bedroom on a whim, or one who fights demons without batting an eye.

But learning this about myself--it changes so much. It has given me new perspective, and I've grown just a little bit more as a writer.

And growth is invaluable to a writer.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Two Down, Infinity More to Go

January has been the busiest month I can remember (I'm scared of what that might mean for the rest of the year). But I feel it's also been one of the most fruitful, especially because I completed Conduit's sequel! *tosses confetti into the air*

It's been exactly a year since I finished Conduit, and writing another story has been as exhausting and thrilling. But I also feel more of a sense of loss. Maybe because I got to know the characters a little more this time and saying goodbye (for now) is very nostalgic. I can't imagine what it will be like to be at the end of a series. Possibly awful, at this rate. I can see why some authors like to take it up to 10 books in a series: it's so hard to let go.

When I wrote Conduit, I had an audience. There was pressure, not just to upload on time every week, but to keep reader interest and to write chapters that make people come back for more. There was none of that with Aspect. It was a solo project, which made it all the more terrifying. And in some ways, I kind of liked the pressure. It kept me on my toes--which isn't to say that I slacked off with the sequel. But it's different. One thing I did like about writing the sequel is that I could afford to skip ahead, write scenes out of order, or to change them up without the risk of confusing readers. I did confuse myself often though.

In all, very pleased with the end result and excited to start on another project. There is never any rest for a writer. Worlds left to be explored, stories to be told, and all of that.