In the past couple of days, Justine Larbalestier has posted some nifty stuff, including this one on character building
, which caused another writer to add a riff on what works and what doesn't for her in character building seminars and panels. She said she's squicked by techniques like interviewing characters, or pretending characters are in the room, or pretending to be characters.
I posted a comment that I thought I was the only one squicked by this, especially when the interviews are mutual admiration interviews.
Now a bunch of people are upset because it seems that those who spoke up for squickdom are saying that they, and their particular process (which includes interviews, characters posting, and so forth) are wrong, wrong, wrong.
At the very start, Writer A stated that the workshop that sent her out of the room was run by Writer B, whom she admires, so there is no hint of You are doing it wrong!
But writers are sensitive creatures--a whole lot of our lives are bound up in our creative work--so it seems worthwhile to take a look at the issues. Of course I don't speak for anyone else, just me, but here's my thought.
Re characters and writers and reality, there are several approaches I see everywhere.
*My characters are fictional dolls. I give them life, I kill them at whim--whatever the story, my editor, my mood dictates, and don't give it a second thought. Because they are not real.
*My characters may or may not be real. I can't even begin to define what "real" is. The only thing I can say for certain is, my characters have never entered my physical space, so I don't pretend that they have.
*My characters are more real to me than the people around me in meatspace. My characters talk to me all the time.
My own take is somewhere around in the middle one. I don't pretend my characters are in the real world because I can't, it makes me dizzy in kind of the same way that lolcat screws with my eyes. I don't tell anyone not to post lolcat. I don't look down on anybody who posts lolcat. I just don't read it.
If I try to read someone's character interview, I get caught in this weird reverb between who's talking, who's faking, is the person flirting with himself, or what? In other words, are the emotions real or not real, because they seem to be mixing this world with that one. So I tend to bail out of such things.
I think the mistake ( or my
mistake, I don't mean to be speaking for anyone else) was in using 'squick.' I do try to watch these terms. I won't use 'grok' for example. When I first read the Heinlein, the cannabalistic overtones turned me off so much it's always caught me when people use grok, and I have to remind myself they probably mean understand, or comprehend, but not what Heinlein seemed to be implying, that you don't truly comprehend something until you consume it. Squick
seems to have overtones that vary from person to person.
So apologies to all who read this and read there and might have been hurt by meanings that weren't intended, or on my part, anyway. Again, I only speak for myself.