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April 2018
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Aerden [userpic]
Writing: On Inexperience and Victimization

This is a rambling, somewhat disorganized post. I'm working stream-of-consciousness here.

I got to thinking this morning about the sort of characters I tend to enjoy writing, and I was asking myself if those are good character types to write about, or whether I am pulling punches by writing the kinds of characters I do.

I realized that I tend to like writing characters who are, to put it into Pernese terms, journeymen. They have completed their training period, and when I write about them, they are competent in their chosen profession and reasonably skilled at it, skilled enough to handle the problems I throw at them, if I am in sole control of the story environment.

I also tend to dislike writing about victims. If I am the creator and controller of the story setting, my characters may get hurt, even badly hurt, but I will do my darnedest to not make them victims. I do this because, the one time I did write a character who was a victim, she and her deity were like Paul Graves on a rampage, and I realized that this was a Bad Thing. Because this character, Senara, was so much a victim, I had to make her very strong in other ways to counter that so I could stand to write about her, and...it was extremely intense.

I wrote that story because I was ticked off at reading fantasy stories about supposedly evil deities who didn't scare me. So I came up with the most evil deity I could think of, and yep, he scared the living daylights out of me. Which is another reason why I don't write Senara stories anymore. The problem is, I wonder, if I tone Ilviak down, is that a cop-out? Am I being a wimp? Or am I being smart and preserving my mental health? See, I read this quotation once: "As a man thinketh, so is he." I worry that, if I write evil stuff, it might influence my thinking in ways I won't expect or like. It's a question I've never been able to satisfactorily answer.

Anyway, I wonder if it is a good or a bad thing that I prefer for my characters to start out with some experience? I guess, for me, rookie stories just aren't what I want to write. For instance, I prefer to write about doctors, not first-year medical students. This makes me wonder if maybe I am missing out on certain aspects of writing. on the other hand, first-year med students don't have fewer problems than doctors; they have different problems.

So...I don't know. I guess all I can really do is write the stories I want to write and do my best to make them work well.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

A note on Ebil Deities:

I have never come across any so-called "evil deities" that ever frightened me. It seems the worst people can come up with are things we've seen in schlocky, sword-and-sorceror films.

Perhaps it's because I've seen worse in true crime stories, but most fantasy depictions of evil just don't grab me.

As far as creating an evil character, the closest I've come so far has been two characters in my manuscript, Kyrien and his pet mage Paralis. Paralis is a haruspex who uses his own kind for oracular purposes as opposed to sheep or goats, and no further comment. :( I didn't have nightmares, but he did give me the willies.


I'm impressed! You grossed out Paul! (g)

I'viak is...intimately cruel. He has no desire at all to dominate the world, no desire at all to have thousands of groveling worshippers who will obey his every command.

His evil is intimate and personal, and he chooses his 'worshippers' very carefully, to extract maximum suffering from them. bI decided I just could not deal with having that character in my head. Even though Ilviak was never a viewpoint character, his way of thinking and reasons for wanting what he wanted were always there, and it creeped me out too much. I didn't want to be able to imagine a deity like that.

The crazy thing is, I would still like to write the story, if I could figure out a way to do so without grossing myself out.


I grossed out Paul? Oh, my God! :D

When I wrote a scene showing Paralis "feeding" his cauldron, I had to get myself in a state where I could feel like I was a disembodied observer. Because I had to describe what happened then so a reader would understand something that happens later, I tried to make it as quick and businesslike as possible. Bleah! Thinking about it still makes me shudder. If I'd gotten into it emotionally, I'd have been sick.


I think, with me, it was having both Senara and Ilviak in my head. I could have possibly dealt with one or the other, but both together...Senara hated Ilviak, and Ilviak was vastly amused by her hatred. Mainly, I was in Senara's head, but I knew enough of Ilviak's motivations to feel sickened. Just as you discovered, there comes a time when you have to have emotional distance. I have always been a writer who works by getting deeply into her character's heads, and I found it very draining to write Senara and Ilviak. There was a point at which I had to tell myself, "No more; that's enough."


I worry that, if I write evil stuff, it might influence my thinking in ways I won't expect or like.

The reason why I love reading Dean Koontz but don't necessarily want to run into him in a dark alley.

I feel the same way about the guy who writes the Hannibal Lecter novels!