Friday, June 08, 2007

Why We Write Who We Write

Why We Write Who We Write

After I wrote about why we write what we write in an earlier CP author
blogpost, I started to wonder about the other journalistic questions: how,
where,
why ... and the topic of today's post, the who. How do we create our
characters?
Some of us create characters out of the air, and then the story, while others
create the story and then the characters to suit. Sometimes they leap into
our imagination out of the blue, while others have to be dragged out of our
consciousness, inch by determined inch. I don't know about you, but I much
prefer
the former.

Before I wrote THE SLEEPER AWAKES, I was musing about how sometimes people
rise to the occasion, or don't. And then I was musing about someone who had a
terminal illness and what they would do or decide if they knew they had a
limited time. This isn't a new idea in fiction: I didn't see it, but I know
that was
basically the story in a recent movie with Queen Latifah. And I came up with
the story of Cat Deveney, who had an inoperable tumor, a bad boyfriend, and o
nly a little time left...when she found herself with an opportunity to help
someone else, an entire people, after an earthquake trapped her under a
table,
facing off a civil war and a weather phenomenon that is sentient.

With the story of FESTIVAL OF STARS, though, I had the plot already because
the plot was centuries old: the legend of Tanabata, the festival of stars,
when
two lovers up in the sky can only meet once in a year -- if it's not raining
and they're helped along by their servants the ravens (or magpies or crows or
blackbirds -- always a black bird of some kind). Not a story original in
Japanese myth, because the Chinese have the same legend (they call it the
weaving
maiden story, though), but one that can be translated into any time, any
situation. And with that I gathered the bits of the story of Kristin Olafsson
and
Dare Borodin, who both stared into a cultural mirror...and came up with
differing interpretations.

I'm always on the lookout for memorable characters and memorable situations
to put them in--and I'm always curious to see which comes first, the
character
or the plot!

Eilis Flynn
www.eilisflynn.com, eilisflynn.livejournal.com
THE SLEEPER AWAKES and FESTIVAL OF STARS, cerridwenpress.com
30-DAY GUARANTEE, coming in June from myromancestory.com
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