Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Regrouping and expanding

I decided to slow Antony down a little and go back over what I've written on RIHC6v2 so far, just to streamline and clarify it...and keep it from becoming TOO James Bondish -- and wound up adding 3 pages after just editing half of it. Seems once I corrected the inconsistencies I found and added some description to better illustrate a couple of things, Antony opened up and let out some more of what he was thinking and why...and I liked it. Somebody once said about writing that "you have to kill your darlings," meaning drop things you liked or loved in your story for it to work...and I could see that as applies to screenwriting or stage plays. Those two forms have very demanding guidelines that you really have to understand in order to break them. I think I got to where I thought I did -- at least, well enough to be sneaky with the rules -- but now I wonder if I was just being a bit too full of myself, again. Because people kept telling me my books came across more like novels, and the rules there are a LOT more lax. Which is why I'm not completely comfortable with that saying as regards my actual novels. All that matters is the story works and the characters are acceptable as truth. And I've read some published books that don't even begin to meet those guidelines.

I think the most recent example of that is Isaac Asimov's "Prelude to Foundation", the book that set up his brilliant "Foundation" series (well, the first three books were brilliant, anyway, and parts of the fourth). His main character, Hari Seldon, goes through some of the wildest and silliest moments I've ever read -- like believing a man he just met, who appears only moments before two attackers jump them both, is to be trusted so completely, he disrupts his life and does whatever this guy and his cohorts say...just like a child would. Without ever really questioning it. I didn't swallow that for a second. Plus it made the so-called hero of the story...or protagonist, if you prefer...passive and malleable, hardly heroic characterizations. Now I have no problem with the lead character being acted upon instead of initiating the action, so long as there's something else going on to make him interesting or worthy. But there wasn't. Hari just did as he was told. Went where he was told. And thought like he was told. And I stopped reading halfway through.

Now some of the things that happen with my characters can be seen as far-fetched, but by telling them in first person I'm able to layer in their thoughts in a natural fashion and work things out in their minds as they go to keep them from seeming too much like super-brains or lucky bastards. I think the closest I'm coming to letting that happen is RIHC6v2, but it's aimed at a deeper meaning so I think I'll get away with it. So long as Antony doesn't start jumping out of planes with just an umbrella to slow his fall until he happens to hook onto a passing goose that flies him down to a nearby lake to splash into. That might seem a bit silly.

Oh, great -- Antony's laughing at me and shaking his head. And Brendan's just rolling his eyes. O-kay...when even my characters are making fun of me, it's time to get to work.


Anonymous said...

I've read a couple of your books. Talk about suspenseful and scary sexy shit. When's the next one due? That's RAPE IN HOLDING CELL 6, right?

JamTheCat said...

Right. If all goes well, it will be out in the next couple of months.

JamTheCat said...

BTW -- thanks for the compliment!