"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.25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
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!This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/18596.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.