Thursday, June 20, 2013

Author Confessional: Mad With The Power

In my head, I'm an anal retentive, highly organized, punctual neat freak. In reality I'm a clueless, scattter-brained, disorganized ball of hot mess. Every so often I spend an entire weekend coming up with a new organizational system that is utterly fail-proof, only to find that by the end of the week, the mail is once again piled on the dinner table, the laundry is on the floor, and the desk is covered with whatever projects I've halfway abandoned.
It's the same way with writing. I've recently started a huge timeline on the wall of my office to make sure that the dates I keep throwing around don't contradict each other too much. So far I haven't run into too many problems, but let's just say it's a good thing I've established Andre as a boy-genius because he might have had to finish his three degrees before he was of legal drinking age to have accomplished some of the things I've made him do. But creating the timeline had done me the favor of casting a harsh light on that which is my biggest stumbling block as a writer: my own god-like ego.
A dramatization of a god-like ego. Actual size may vary.

I've created a world. A world in which I have total control over the lives of the beings that I have created to inhabit this world. It's a world I am quite proud of, and like any obsessed megalomaniac, I have given each and every one of my creations a detailed and rich history. Whether any of that makes it into the story or not is inconsequential. The idea is that by building a full life, each character becomes real and develops their own voice instead of coming off as background scenery.
In theory this is a good practice. I don't take it to quite the extreme that Tolkien did, or George Lucas for that matter, but I do have literal volumes of notes on everyone. But in reality, this is a dangerous wealth of information because it can be detrimental for you, the readers, if I was to forget that I haven't revealed something and make reference to it.
And then there's things like my codes. In the first book I reveal that the organization uses a set of codes to quickly convey a situation. So far codes one, three, seven, and ten have been explained. What are two, four, five, six, eight, and nine? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Seems a bit silly, doesn't it? I can tell you the entire life story of Lucy's grandmother, who isn't even alive at the time the story takes place, yet an important plot device like the codes doesn't merit more than a passing thought.
Writers are weird.

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