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30 days on writing: Entry #27: Failure of the (visual) imagination - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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30 days on writing: Entry #27: Failure of the (visual) imagination [Aug. 23rd, 2010|11:19 am]
Young Geoffrey
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"I'm so sorry, I've forgotten your name!"

The meme continues ...

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

Floyd Laughren, a long-time family friend and a politician whom the late, much-lamented Frank Magazine called "the only straight-shooter in the Rae cabinet" once let me in a little not-quite-straight-shooting secret. We were talking about the importance of remembering people's names.

"I just say," he told me, "'I'm sorry, but I've forgotten your name,' as we're shaking hands. When they tell me, I then laugh and say, "No, no! I meant your last name!"

Despite the face that I'm not a politician, and that my brief term on the Board of the Directors of the Toronto Free-Net was probably my last association with electoral politics, it's a trick I could have used more often than I care to admit.

More than a few times in my life, I've been stopped on the street by some stranger calling out my names. (Like Charlie Brown, people who don't know me quite well tend to refer to me by both first and last names; does this happen to you folks or is it something particular to me?)

I say "stranger" for dramatic effect only, as it invariably turns out that I have in fact met — and have usually spent some time with — nearly anyone who calls out my name from across the street (the internet — hi Liz! — has changed this a little, but mostly it remains true) and, most often, a quick exchange of names, will remind me of who the person is and what kind of a relationship we share(d).

But as I thinkt that serves to illustrate that while I don't suffer from prosopagnosia, my temporal lobes have never made face recognition an area of advanced study.

In other words, "do appearances play a big role in" my stories? Not as such, no, and especially the faces of my characters.

I used to think it a weakness, that I neither have nor am able to provide to my readers a strong visual representation of my characters. But I don't think it's such an issue any more. Indeed, in some respects it might even be a strength, to leave the specifics of a characters' nose or eyes or shape of face up to the reader's imagination rather than to specify them exactly.

In short, my characters' looks are usually nothing more than very sketchy outlines: rough height, rough weight and shape, skin-colour and maybe hair-colour and not a hell of a lot more.

If the character is the sort of person for whom clothes are an important mode of self-expression, I may spend some time describing them, but otherwise those too will be largely left to the reader's pleasure.

I think this lack is a weakness, but not a fatal one. Most often leaving it up to the reader allows for a greater suspension of disbelief or identification, but still, it's an arrow missing from quiver and so it's something I wish I was better at.

0. Explain yourself! In which Young Geoffrey explains the meme and his reasons for exploring it.

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you've worked with and why.

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you're writing about fictional places)?

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about "youngest" and "oldest" in terms of when you created them?

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol' pen and paper?

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

8. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you'd like to share?

13. What's your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how "far" are you willing to go in your writing? ;)

17. Favorite protagonist and why!

18. Favorite antagonist and why!

19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

Question #20A, "What are your favourite character interactions to write?"

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you've never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story — from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

26. Let's talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

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