Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writing Exercise

One of my big hobbies is writing (in case you haven't already guessed from how frequently I blog).  And when I say writing, I don't mean short stories or fan fiction (though I write those too occasionally), I mean novel length fantasy stories.  Generally I get ideas from dreams, oddly enough, but my latest story just started out as a writing exercise in many, many ways.

Writing a Blind Character:
Tristan sprang into my mind when I started my writing exercise: a former blacksmith who had been blinded.  It was curious, could I describe things without sight?  Would smells and sounds and touch become more prominent?  They of course did.  Interestingly enough, my writing ended up being in first person, a style I seldom wrote in (I generally prefer limited third person omniscient).  The biggest thing that surprised me was how normal Tristan was.  He could do almost anything a sighted person could and that was something that discovered prejudices I didn't even know I had.

Writing a Significantly Older Character than Myself:
Generally my characters tend to be around the same age as I am, generally in their twenties.  However, and this wasn't actually planned, Tristan is a man about to turn forty.  It's weird and it's hard to write a character more than a decade older than me, I'm not entirely convinced I'm doing it all that well, but I am trying.  Related was I also ended up writing characters much younger than myself (toddlers and such) which was also something I had done very rarely.

Writing a Character who was Already Married:
When I decided to tackle things I had never done before, I decided to tackle a lot of them.  One of the biggest things you never see in hardly any medium is a couple who is already married.  Tristan and his wife Felicia have been married for twenty years and have three children.  Admittedly, I cheated on this one because Tristan doesn't staying living with his family very long (nothing tragic and no divorces though).

Writing a Character whose Gender the Reader Never Knows:
This is an interesting one because I started writing Aeryn's character long before I knew much about gender or sexuality (I only picked up writing this story again fairly recently).  My idea was what if Tristan met a character whose voice and body were androgynous and thus he could not tell Aeryn's gender.  I, as the writer, do know Aeryn's biological sex and gender, but my intent was for the reader to find out and as I continued writing Aeryn (possibly my favorite character I have ever written) character I realized that sex and gender just didn't matter.  They just didn't.  The hardest part about writing Aeryn? Not using pronouns at all.  That was part of the challenge I set myself: no pronouns, and I actually have surprised myself, because it can be done and I think I have succeeded quite well actually.


This story has changed and warped since I started it.  The original plot I had got scraped entirely.  The mysterious order called the Patriarchy has since become the Hierarchy (I'm trying to write a world where gender equality is just a matter of normality (and thus not something addressed frequently) and I realized that using the word Patriarchy was just stupid, for many many reasons).  I have more characters than I ever expected or know what to do with it, but I love writing it.

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