Tag Archives: gravy boat

Characters – an endless parade of bastards.

Prior warning: Today’s blog entry is brought to you by a tired, irrational and somewhat exhausted Alec. He may bite if startled.

Ever heard of a Mary-Sue character? If you have, well, tough. Go on, smart ass, fuck off to Wikipedia and read about Latvian Gorilla-Llamas for a few minutes while the adults are talking.

Basically a Mary-Sue character is an idealised version of the writer, with all the strengths they lack and without their weaknesses, or something. There’s some debate about precisely what makes a character a Mary-Sue as opposed to a boring, overpowered cretin of some other creed, but frankly this is the definition that suits my current aims. If there was a door, I’d be directing the disgruntled towards it at this moment. Just poke yourself in the eye and kick yourself firmly up the arse and we’ll pretend I’ve just evicted you from the blog, ok?

The point is, don’t write a Mary-Sue. Unless you’re including one for a good reason other than polishing your own cock (or lady cock) they’re a dull, lazy way to write a character that smacks far more of self-indulgence than it does of creativity. Filling the pages of a book with a Mary-Sue is almost rude, it’s almost a form of masturbation and frankly I don’t want you flopping your wedding tackle out where I am forced to look at it.

What we need, or at least what I need, are flaws. That doesn’t mean Kryptonite, before any rabid Superman fan-boys approach, flapping their limp-wristed, clammy little hands in my general direction. Look to the mundane and go from there. Is your character unspeakably badass? Are they the sort of person who could kick the asses of 90% of the population unarmed? Fine! That’s cool, just hamper them enough to make them interesting.

For example:

Meet Jimmerz. Jimmerz is a boxing champion, billionaire, super-genius philanthropist who is capable of anything. Sound interesting? Maybe, at first, but now imagine meeting him. He’s tougher than you, better looking than you, smarter and funnier than you. Though your wife would swear different if she’d had to choose her partner from what’s on paper, she’d be doing him now and not you. And yeah, he’s bigger than you too. In that way.

You would HATE him. Or become his Igor or something, if you swing that way. Loser.

Add any flaw, any flaw at all to the above, and it will make him more interesting. Again, for example;

Meet Jimmerz. Jimmerz is a boxing champion, billionaire, super-genius philanthropist who is capable of anything. Sound interesting? Maybe, at first, but now imagine meeting him. He’s tougher than you, better looking than you, smarter and funnier than you. Though your wife would swear different if she’d had to choose her partner from what’s on paper, she’d be doing him now and not you. And yeah, he’s bigger than you too. In that way. But his left nut is haunted by a former chancellor of the exchequer who constantly screams his latest budget ideas at the top of his lungs.

Or he’s got a radioactive nipple. Or no elbows. Or an ostrich growing out of his ass.

ANYTHING is more interesting than a god made flesh, so for the love of crap don’t make one. There’s no need to just write someone incredible and insert a dark past or something obvious, but remember that characters are people, and people suck. We’ve all got something wrong with us, from the mundane to the harrowingly dreadful, and it is often what is wrong with us that makes us interesting. Sometimes, like it or not, it’s the presence of flaws that make people comfortable in our presence. They equalise us and provide us with opportunities to improve and to learn. They inform and direct us as people and they are essential to your stories.

Without flaws, what are your characters overcoming? Nothing. What are they learning? Very little. Why should we care? We shouldn’t, not even for a moment.

Now, bugger off and write something. I’m going back to sleep.

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Good afternoon! There we are, a nice, positive start to today’s bloggulations.

I’ve been a bit busy today, I was busy yesterday and have been busy in general these past few weeks, putting together what I hope will be my first novella length work (outside of fan-fiction, that is, where I’ve written far larger pieces) with the intention of having it published in the new year. Lately I have been working on a piece of genre fiction (stop groaning) featuring the undead (hey! Come back!) and a post-apocalyptic Britain (alright fine, go! I’ll be fine by myself!). For those of you who are still here, I hope to have this finished over the Christmas break (that includes a full edit and re-draft where necessary) and will post a thousand words or so for your general perusal once it has been proof read by non-biased eyes and adjusted accordingly.

Now I have to decide where to sell such a thing. There are many options open to me, with self publishing online being one of these, though I would much prefer to see it in print and on somebody’s shelf. I’m a bit old fashioned with my books and a big fan of must and well-bound pages over ebook readers, but a novella is a tricky beast in that it’s short and lends itself well to digital media. I think I’m leaning towards publishing it myself in some way, maintaining as much control of it as humanly possible, and then looking to include it as a rather lengthy prologue to the novel length follow-up which is due to be started in the summer.

The main purpose of today’s post is as a small introduction to what is to come, hopefully creating a little bit of interest in what I am doing and possibly even building a little enthusiasm for it. With this in mind, here is a small snippet of what I’ve been up to these last few weeks. There is a fair amount of swearing involved at certain stages but, to be fair, this is fairly in keeping with the setting and the situations in which the characters find themselves. I’ve always been somewhat confused by people’s tolerance of extreme violence juxtaposed with their intolerance of swearing and, as a parent, I would be far less angry with my sons if they had cursed in public as opposed to having thumped someone, yet movies and television programs will often include scenes of torture where the victim does not swear. Anyone who has ever stepped barefoot on LEGO or, worst of all, an upturned plug, knows how unrealistic that is, yet violence is everywhere and swearing seems to be a far greater taboo.

Funny old world, innit? Ladies and gentlemen (I say, optimistically assuming a readership where plurals are appropriate), I give you my work in progress.

Spares.

‘We were just happy to be alive,’ Anders rumbled. ‘Made sense when we first got stitched, don’t think any of us were surprised that we were kept at arm’s length when we didn’t even know whose arms we had, but over time it seemed less and less fair. You lot remember how you felt when you looked down at yourself?’ We all nodded. “Well we had bigger problems than a bunch of snot-arsed business men, but we weren’t looking when the lines were drawn between us and them. This is just business and looking after our own, but this could be the start of something. Fuck, do you have any idea how serious what we are doing actually is?’

We did. We all did. Even Deacon fell silent while Anders spoke. The segregation between “us” and “them” had been a gradual thing, a rot that had crept in slowly until it permeated our entire culture, but now I wasn’t sure that it could ever change. We didn’t live in cages or behind fences, behind razor-wire walls or even in separate towns, but those of us who had known the Doctor’s hand seemed to naturally gravitate to the more lowly areas while the rest, the untouched, took the higher ground. It was an unspoken accord at first, an instinct to be close to our own kind, but over time it had taken on a more rigid, cultural element that made social mixing the most serious of taboos. They were disgusted by us while we resented them, and so the divide had widened. Though I knew that what we planned to do was wrong I knew that they would never allow us to ascend to their level.

Our only choice was to drag them down to ours.

And there we have it. The story features a group of undead (note, undead, not zombie) protagonists as they struggle to come to terms with the horrific realities of living forever, while everything that it ever meant to be human crumbles all around them. Sound good to you? Well I hope it does and I hope that you’ll follow my progress over the next few months, hopefully from first draft to publication in whatever form I choose.

Thank you for reading, please let me know if you have any thoughts on my email account, Inquisitorfiddlesticks@rocketmail.com

Alec.