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pontificating on characters

The two main characters I've built for the Valdemar anthologies have miles of story in my head. But because I have a scant 6,000 words to tell a story, and because I am me, I want the stories I tell to be exciting! With plot! And a character telling you about his backstory can only be so interesting.

(Then again, I'm also a huge "This American Life" fangirl, and I think sometimes that a "This Valdemarian Life" one-shot story could be fun. Maybe after Lelia and Wil have run their course.)

So back to blathering about backstory. Whenever this comes up -- whether it be in prose, or when I actually get to talk to game writers about game writing -- I always say the same thing: I treat backstory as stained glass. Secret stained glass. I want the story to shine through. You don't know it, but all the secrets color it, in the way someone acts, spilling into the trench I carved of their life.

According to my own internal timeline, Wil is reaching the peak of his career as a Herald. If canon is taken into consideration, then he has seen brothers and sisters in Whites fall, watched the living alumni of his year in the Collegium dwindle. He's got scars and injuries that will never heal properly. His knees and lower back ache in the winter. And since he's one of the lucky Heralds who experiences the Death Bell more fully than others, he's got stains on his spirit, too.

The counterweight (counterlevity?) to all this is Vehs; that Heralds have Companions, so he doesn't fall into the Sarlacc pit of despair.

But I want to go there. I want to see what life is like for a Herald who doesn't have close family, who has witnessed through visions the death of people he cared about, and who is now finding himself an increasingly lonely figure. A man whose sanity is completely bound up in a sarcastic white horse. And possibly a perky, rapidly aging Bard.

I don't know what, if any, of this will make it through into the story, but I heard "I See a Darkness" by Bonnie "Prince" Billy and it seemed right. That's the song. I will be sick of it by the time this story is over, but I know it'll bring me through to the other side.

When this one is over, I know what I'm writing next. I don't know the music, yet, but it'll find me. And I also know Mike and I will be writing something together. It's 2011. I have a wedding, a honeymoon, and who knows what else coming. Let us hope it's all good.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
twilightcat
Jan. 13th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC)
Love the analogy. I really enjoy reading about your writing process.
onalark
Jan. 13th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)
It all just feels like mindless blathering to me, but thanks! :D
zhai
Jan. 13th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
^ What twilightcat said! I find writing about process challenging, myself, even though I hypocritically enjoy when other people do it.

Very cool that you and Mike will work on something together! Jay and I talk about it and will someday, but aren't yet sure what. :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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