Character Development: We’re All a Little Mad Down Here

“O Alienista” by Machado de Assis is one of my favorite novellas of all time. It was also a great influence in how I think of characters. And on how I view the human condition as a whole, in fact.

There is an English version of this story that I urge you to read because, seriously, it’s an amazing book.

If you haven’t heard of the story, I don’t want to spoil for you. Let me just say that there is one very strong point that it makes; no one, absolutely no one, is entirely sane. There is no such thing as a person with ‘perfect mental faculties’.

If Tolkien changed the way I looked at worldbuilding, Machado de Assis was the man who changed the way I looked at characters. This book is the best example I can think of as to why that is. The human mind is a fragile thing. Insanity, children, is just around the corner. I wholeheartedly believe that to be true.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any extended period of time, first of all I apologize for your loss of sanity, but also you may be aware of my personal motto when it comes to creating characters: treat them as real people and not a set of traits. Real people are not ‘normal’ and real people are never entirely sane.

Based on this principle, I tend to look at the whole of who my characters are as I would the surface of a cracked mirror. Every fragment represents an aspect of their personality and each reflects the world around them from a particular angle. Together they do form the whole of one single surface, but that whole isn’t perfect, it can’t form one single perfect reflection, and it can never be entirely intact again.

In real life, think of children as a blank canvas; they start as a smooth surface, and life progressively cracks the glass. The cracks aren’t necessarily bad experiences, but they are the things that end up shaping their worldviews, molding their character.

With characters, it isn’t much different. You don’t have to go back to the birth of your character in-story and figure out every event that shapes their life (you can, I have, but you don’t have to), you just have to look at the first idea of the character as that smooth glass, that perfect reflection, and then write the cracks onto it. Let events in their life add different aspects to who they are, twist the angles through which they view the world, make them broken and imperfect. Do that to some extent with their background, yes, but most of all do it throughout the story.

In simple words, keep in mind that a great part of writing a real human being is understanding that everything is constantly chipping away at their sanity. It isn’t possible for a real person to go through life unscathed. It doesn’t happen. Even the most seemingly perfect human being with the most seemingly perfect life is still a being composed of broken glass and imperfection.

And here is where I apologize if you came into this post expecting me to give you a how-to on this. As with anything else I’ve passed as writing advice on this blog, none of it is absolute and none of it is easy to explain. I could pick any one of my characters and pick them apart for you and show how and why they are who they are, but in doing so, I dehumanize them as well. We’re all going to go through life without the knowledge of everything that makes us who we are. That’s part of the process.

What I can give is my perception and hope that you apply it to whatever writing method currently works for you. Because all of this stuff is still light years from being an exact science to me.

Also, I’m so sorry you ended up with this instead of the bit of awfulness I planned on inflicting on you lot today. Technical difficulties can be a bitch like that. Look on the bright side though; you’re not the ones who have to read that crap twice. 😛

That said, I think I’m gonna lay off the fan fiction until I’m through with Shadows Rise. There will be reviews, but… Hmph… ya know? Twilight is on and Disney, definitely still on, but HE and NITWIT are going to take a back seat until further notice.

Hope you guys are having a great week.

See ya when I see ya.

B.B

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Welp lol

I was going to post Hogwarts Exposed, but WordPress ate my post. I think the Universe is rebelling against this fic’s existence, is what I think. 😛

I tried guys. I don’t have the mental fortitude to rewrite any of that right now. -.-

B.B

A fantasy writer’s guide to archery

Guys, check out this post. It’s got some pretty great archery info.

B.B

Richie Billing

Archery features heavily in fantasy; it’s one of the reasons why I love the genre so much. But I’ve learned—the hard way (always the hard way isn’t it?)—that doing your research when it comes to things such as this is necessary. Not only will you look like a genius for knowing crazy shit about bows, but you’ll have a tale enriched with pleasing detail.

I’ve done a bit of that research for you, and below you’ll find a nifty guide to all things archery.

The arrow

anatomy-of-arrow-e1505218370569.jpg

The anatomy of an arrow

The nock is to hold the arrow to the bowstring.

The shaft was sharpened into a point, or an arrowhead attached to the end. Early arrowheads were made from bone, stone or horn, with metal arrowheads like bronze and iron, developed later.

incendiary-arrowhead-70041b

An ancient Greek/Scythian bronze arrowhead 

There were various ways of affixing the head to the shaft (I…

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I Don’t Care About “Boob Armor”

Another thing that keeps getting brought up to me.

“Oh, Bird, don’t you think ‘X and Y’ games have sexist armor design?”

No. I don’t give a shit. 

People assume that this is something I’ll care about because I’m a bit of a stickler for armor functionality. If I’m going to commission artwork for my characters I look for armor references that look good but a) are functional and b) make sense for them. I’m not outfitting my assassin characters with big badass metal boots and greaves because the entirety of Valcrest will hear them coming if I do. Looking awesome will not save you from getting stabbed in the face, unfortunately.

However, when it comes to pure artwork (say on deviant art) and game design, no I don’t care. People want their characters to look good. They have a right to want their characters to look good. Who the hell am I to impose on that? I may poke fun at it, but I’m not going to throw a fit about it. It doesn’t affect me. If you write it in your story or put it in your movies, I might call bullshit; but I’m not going to be angry about it. You do you, artists of the world!

Seriously. I really couldn’t care less. 😛

B.B

Have You Heard Of Our Lord And Savior Plotist?

If you haven’t, oh buddy, let me open your eyes to something that’s going to make your writing life 20x easier.

Now, before you get mad at me for sounding like a freaking infomercial or something, let me tell you that anything I say here I’m saying from experience. I found Plotist way back last year when I started thinking about going into Shadows Rise.

Because this story takes place decades before the main story and encompasses events that greatly influence the main storyline, the first thing I decided I needed was to build a timeline. I needed to be able to keep track of what happens when so that I didn’t somehow destroy the entire series with my silly pantser ways.

In order to build a proper timeline, I went around looking for software or apps that would help me keep things organized. Because, as you may know, I’m terrible at it.

Plotist was a result of that search.

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I Don’t Care About Who Wrote My Immortal

Wifey brought to my attention just yesterday the whole thing about… The supposed author of My Immortal coming forward. Since then, I’ve mentioned it to a couple of people and they asked me what I think of the whole thing.

Short answer: I don’t care.

Long answer: We’ll never know whether this Rose Christo woman wrote the freaking thing or not. Her whole story reads like shit writing. So even if she is lying about her background and why she wrote the fic in order to garner attention and sympathy… She could very reasonably have written it.

I’m glad her book deal got canceled, because honestly… This person has a shit ton of published books on Amazon. If you’re a published author who writes serious fiction, why would you want to cash-in on that trollfic you wrote a flipping decade ago? How desperate would you have to be? Yes, the book is still available for pre-purchase on Amazon, because anyone can sell whatever shit on Amazon without passing a background check. I’m not buying it.

I dunno guys. Honestly, I’m going to just enjoy My Immortal for what it is and just forget about all the stupid drama about who wrote it and why. I don’t care if Rose Christo wrote it, I don’t care if her story’s true or not and I definitely do NOT care if she’s mentally ill or Native American (although, this I doubt is true), or a goddamn attack helicopter. And I’m sure as fuck not reviewing any of her actual books.

B.B

Things I’d Like To See (More) In Fiction

I’m tired and character analysis takes time and attention span (I am doing it, though). So have this nonsense instead. 😛

1) The main characters not getting together portrayed as a good thing.

“Hey, uhm, so, we’re clearly attracted to each other and I’m not gonna pretend I don’t see it, but… The world nearly got exploded, reality as we knew it is a lie, and I think we might both have PTSD. So how about you hit me up in a year or so? I’m going to find myself a good therapist. I suggest you do the same.”

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Writing Is Writing

First of all, I said I was going to review something this weekend… And then I vanished. But I had to go out Saturday. And then I actually went back to writing; what I said I wasn’t going to do. I’m on a big roll right now. And that’s good, for the most part, but I’m also worried that I’m going to write myself into burnout, so I’m forcing myself to take breaks. It’s not always working. I actually WANT to keep writing right now. And, I’m sorry, but that makes it really, really, difficult for me to look at things like Hogwarts Exposed, Twilight, and don’t get me started on NITWIT. -.-

I will, though, go back to reviewing soon because I do need to take breaks and work is slow right now (again). So I think I’m going to look at some cartoons I’m into and actually delve a little bit into the topic of character development with those. Characters analysis is something I enjoy doing for myself, but I never actually wrote about it before. I might go into that as an exercise and as a way to get off writing mode for a bit.

Since I’ve binged Rick and Morty – all three seasons of it – this past couple of days. I might start with that. Because holy fuck. I think it’s been a very long time since I wrote about something I love on this blog. And this show is just… The best thing ever… I should’ve gotten to it a lot sooner.

Also, of all the shows I like, Rick and Morty is relatively short compared to things like Steven Universe or MLP. Plus, I don’t have to rewatch that much to make a character analysis.

And yes, there is a reason why I’m choosing cartoon characters for this. And it’s because I want to make a very serious point for people who like to use the argument of something being animated to excuse its lack of quality. If it’s children’s animation they excuse it by saying “oh, it’s for kids” and if it’s adult animation they excuse by saying “oh, it’s adult humor, it’s crude and not for everyone”. Yeeeah… Bullshit.

Here’s a principle that I go by. As a writer, when I’m looking at something critically, or even when I’m just trying to enjoy a movie… Writing is writing. If it’s great, it’s great. If it’s shit, it’s shit. The medium is completely irrelevant. The target audience is completely irrelevant. If a work is an expression of your ability, of your vision, as a writer… Then you don’t half-ass it. It doesn’t matter if your target audience is ten, twenty, or sixty years old. It doesn’t matter if it’s a crowd of people or just your mom. Be a fucking artist, listen to your goddamn critics, and improve. Honor your fucking trade!

So. I’m going to do a bit more writing before I go to bed tonight. I’m gonna lull myself to sleep with some YouTube videos and tomorrow I’m going to do my first Rick and Morty analysis. I’m going to start, I think, with Morty. I may change my mind after I rewatch some episodes. We’ll see.

And if I don’t show up tomorrow… Welp… Shadows Rise is holding me hostage. Don’t call the police. I will be back eventually.

I swear I’ll try to be more consistent once Episode One is complete. >.>

B.B