Just got home from work to find an email from Necrotic Tissue. My story “Pilgrimage” has been added to their shortlist. They are a great market, very writer-centric always sending comments with rejections and all and they recently went to print. So, if they take my story it will be the first time I’ll get to hold a copy of something containing my work in my undulating little hands.
Archive for April, 2010
I found this article attached to the Critters critique website. It delineates more or less exactly everything I strive for when I crit peoples work and likewise the things that the critiques I find most useful usually possess or follow. I think many of the ideas can really be used in just about any form of discourse or debate or discussion as well.
I got a rejection a couple of weeks ago that got me thinking again, as I often do, about character motivations in stories…and the wildly different ways in which people perceive things.
Some people feel that literature should realistically reflect life. Others do not, and in particular some believe that in the area of character motivations, many motivations that are quite common among people in real life are not, for some reason, acceptable for characters, especially central characters in stories.
One aspect of this is the concept of “to stupid to live” that I’ve mentioned here before. Essentially the idea that theres no way a character would ever do something that they know more or less for a fact will go badly for them (the only exception seems to be cases of willing and obvious self-sacrifice.) I find this a little silly given that 1) people in real life constantly, knowingly do incredibly stupid things while well aware of the consquences and 2) people in stories, especially some fantasies frequently do similar things (deals with the Devil/demons/Outer Gods etc spring to mind.)
It also seems many people consider things like wanderlust, altrusim, curiosity or the desire to help and support someone else in an endeavor of theirs, even if there are risks inolved, to be insufficient/unrealistic motivations. This again is strange to me, since so many great discoveries and occurences have been the result of people acting on curiosity, a desire for exploration or the desire to help and assist others. Any time I have a character help someone simply because that is there nature, people seem to feel/assume that there is/must be some additional motivation…they can’t just be helping to help, right?
Now of course, different people, based on their experiences, are going to have different views of whats a “realistic” way for people to act. Sometimes people forget that theres isn’t the only, but given the fact that I’ve had such a wide range of comments in this area, positive and negative, from editors, I have to think that it is again an issue of story type and reader taste. There are many people in real life, and characters in stories, whose motivations I cannot understand, so of course there will be those who cannot understand the motivations of my characters. But, ability to understand it aside, people in real life and fiction do in fact knowingly do foolish things, usually out of uncontrolled desire or unbridled ego/arrogance. Likewise, exploration, curiosity and a desire to help others are prime human motivations, and I simply have to catagorically disagree with the idea that they don’t have a place in fiction.
Have I had stories rejected for those reasons? Sure. The rejection that got me thinking about this again just recently stated not being able to fully understand one of the main characters motivations. Of course, some would also say that it may also be a lack of clarity or “good enough” writing on my part that creates that disconnect. And that is possible. But again, I feel its very important for us as writers to remember everyone has different tastes, and different understandings. Each mind works in its own ways. Should you examine your characters motivations, and your explaination of them, if a reader or editor says they don’t understand them? Of course. Should you assume that means that you didn’t convey them properly or that they are simply “bad” or insufficient motivations? No, I don’t think so, not if they still make sense to you after careful re-reading.
I haven’t posted much for the past few days. Long week at work, trying to get some editing and stuff done on a couple stories.
We went and saw Clash of the Titans the other day. I enjoyed it. Great effects. Extremely shiny Liam Neeson. Some funny little nods to the original movie. I’m not really a fan of the trend in recent films etc dealing with Greek mythology to cast Hades as the villain, but it was handled reasonbly well here. Pretty enjoyable overall, I definitely recomend it.
Hope everyone has fun today with the eggs and bunnies and candy. Easter is one of my favorite holidays. I wore my bunny ears to work yesterday, I’m just about to head to my folks for dinner. Everyone have a safe time out there, watch out for yellow snow (the dry springy kind.)
Got another good-news email when I got home last night. My short story “The Calliope Man” is being held for voting at Electric Spec, the same magazine that bought one of my stories last year. So again, juxtoposing of phalanges is called for. Its one of my favorites of my stories so I’ll be most happy if it finds a home there.