Monday Morning! More Selby Jr. and Beginning Bresson

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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2 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    1.If you can create a compelling character, you’re 80% of the way to creating a compelling story,
    2.In general, suffering is as compelling a motivation as desire.

    I’m going through my databanks now and I remember at least one character in every single narrative that I pull up. I have a joke in my head about how Asimov managed to write amazing stories without compelling characters but I remember Hari Seldon and Aton 77 (though I had to look the latter’s name up).

    I can’t remember a single story that doesn’t have this simple characteristic. (Anything else is arguably a physics or chemistry problem. Or Math.)

    Without the character, there is no rock for you to stand on.

    And, yes, knowing the internal monologue of the character is the best way to turn a flat character into someone that 80% of the readers out there can relate to.

    “My body parts hurt. I am hungry. I am disappointed. I had a great deal of potential in my youth but I did not notice. Oh, a brief moment of pleasure! Oh, now it’s gone. I hope to sleep well tonight. I probably won’t.”

    And so on.

    This is what it’s like to be me.

    Yes. This is it. And in hearing the eloquent words from another’s head (even someone unsympathetic), we recognize and can better deal with the squawking squabbles in our own.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

      Right? But you can come to the same conclusion- actually I did- the opposite way around. Think of any lousy, thin, direct-to-DVD pulpy story that didn’t work and 9 times out of 10 the characters were nondescript. It was Average Guy: “We’d better get to that oil rig before it explodes!” Average Girl: “Let’s not stand here! Let’s go!”

      Conversely, I could watch Withnail and I over and over and it’s basically just three guys and they’re in the country and it’s really funny because it’s *those guys* and they’re in the country!

      In fact, there’s volumes in Proust where there characters are vivid and razor sharp and the “plot” is like: They went to the opera, and then they went to a dinner party, and a little later they went to another dinner party.Report