Monday, May 4, 2009

Workshop: Pushing Further

Thank you all for the responses you've given me. (Catreona, will I be seeing more answers coming from you? I hope so. I'm also waiting on Khajidu.)

I'm fascinated by the answers I've seen; I'm also fascinated by how different they are from the ones I got in my last workshop. Last time I started with questions to the author, and moved on to questions from the POV of the character. This time I went straight for the character questions - and the interesting thing is, they turned into interviews with the characters!

This is very cool.

But I'd like to see us, as a group, push our awareness a little further. Maybe the way I'd describe it is instead of interviewing the character, giving the character an opportunity to speak as he or she would in public, go a little further into your own sense of the psychology of the character. Many characters have things they feel instinctively but for personal reasons (embarrassment, standoffishness, shame, lack of self-knowledge) are unable to describe. Many have past experiences that give them pride, strength, or vulnerability. What might some of those things be for your character? Below, I'll respond directly to each person's questions, both to let you know what I'm getting, and to be more concrete about what I'm still looking for.

Catreona and Khajidu, I don't have all your answers and I'd like to address them all at once, so they won't be here below.

Jeanne: Wrai
I loved your answers, because I really got a sense of Wrai's personality from them. At the same time, from a worldbuilding perspective, they left out a lot. I know that Wrai wouldn't go explaining the little details of things, but what would happen if someone asked him to, and he consented? What exactly is "nice" about the southron, for example? What exactly is going on with the "dung-eating father"? I think that's related to Wrai's contempt for nobles. Can you explain some of the backstory experiences to me? Also, are there police in this world, or just "guards?" I'd also like to know a little bit more about Sharista and the extended circumstances around her. What has his relationship been with her? How often would he think of her, and why, and what experiences would he think of? That sort of thing. Because your setting is quite strongly detailed in its physical aspects, I'd like to see about pushing further on Wrai's personal views and feelings about the things he experiences.

David: Jasmine
Wow, David, it was great to see you get into first person answers! The voice is fun. I think you've got some interesting possibilities going in the family of telepaths thing. It makes sense that she'd try to find a way to escape it, given her background. I'm getting the sense from you that engineered abilities are common in her world, and thus that she's part of a larger community where telepathy isn't so unusual? How would that affect her view of herself and her ability? In the Ben situation, you have some serious stakes for whatever it was she did. I think the question of her crime, and her motive, are critical here, and I'd love to see that appear somewhere in your piece. In the musical Chicago, one of the characters says "I didn't do it, but if I'd done it, how could you tell me that I was wrong?" I think that's a little like what I might like to see from Jasmine - tailored of course to voice and circumstances. I like Riko; also it seems her mother (or whoever grounds her) might be an authority figure here. You seem at a certain point to suggest that she dresses in embarrassing clothes intentionally to hone her ability. This is an interesting angle you might want to pursue. I'm not "getting" her father's ability at all, and I wish I knew more about broken mental powers (how were they broken? what broke them? if she doesn't know, then what does she know about others with similar problems?) Is the wardrobe large? Is it with her on her VoidWatch sentence? Finally, I'm curious about the coexistence of high-tech future with the Goddess of Justice. This is something unusual enough that you might want to mention it early, just so people don't get comfortable in a high-tech future mindset and then refuse to go with you when you go there later.

Colin: Lanuz
Your past world seems rather medieval England-y at first glance. I'd like to see you pin down a few concrete details of Lanuz's personal experience, so that he'll have some memories to use to judge the world into which he gets dumped later. You say for example that "in light of our job, petty squabbles are meaningless." This makes me curious, so give me something more. Maybe an instance in which a petty squabble led to something seriously bad (because just because people aren't supposed to squabble doesn't mean they don't). Would Lanuz have been the type to start the squabble and then learn his lesson? Or would he have been the horrified bystander who then became a zealous enforcer of the peace as a result? I hope you see what I mean. He sounds from his voice like the kind of guy who's actually pretty highly regarded in his group; why would this be? What has he done to prove himself? How does he feel about this? What is he proud of, and where might he be vulnerable? Your answer about clothing is vague, simply because for him it's normal, but for us, it doesn't say much. So is he in plate armor? Chain mail? Something else? I like the relation between his possessions and the village. Does he have a strong sense of his vocation? If this is indeed a medieval-like setting, he's got to be pretty well off if he doesn't consider himself lucky to eat meat regularly. Is this sword of his the sword of power? If he's tempted to get rid of it, does that mean he uses another sword in his work? Maybe you could clear that up for me. Also, the Reijak - are they considered a superior, peer, or inferior race? What are the general perceptions of them and what they do? (Are they going to show up in the future world?) I like what you say about the watch feeling estranged from the villagers; they've seen the harder side of life. Do they consider the villagers to be lucky lambs? How might that affect how Lanuz sees the barman and young mechanic in your scene? Finally, about Order. Who embodies Order? Who teaches it? Why is it considered to be of value? Is it something people perceive that they have lost? I'd love to know more about this.

These questions are intended to open a discussion, so I look forward to your comments. I know the workshop has been strung out a bit by my Nebulas visit etc. but I'm working toward suggesting some revisions to the scenes I've seen from you, and I hope to give you my specific requests in the next couple of days. Thanks for all your great responses so far.

More soon...