Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Matthew Crawley in my stocking...

(...not my stockings, that would be a whole other post!)
I'm a happily married woman. So actually having Matthew Crawley in my stocking for Christmas would be totally out of the question, but with Christmas almost upon us, I for one, am really looking forward to lying around full of Christmas cake and watching the Downton Abbey Christmas special.
I love Downton. In fact, I'd go as far as saying I'm completely addicted to the whole Downton experience. Beautiful scenery, fabulous interiors, delicious clothes, and best of all, the great characters written so well and with such depth that there's a character for every viewer to latch on to and root for.
Matthew Crawley is my favourite character, especially as he's grown so much during the present series. His experiences in war, his recent loss (no spoilers here for those who haven't discovered Downton yet!), and his medical problems, melding with the 'bubbling under the surface' pash he has for Lady Mary make him a totally captivating character for me.
So over Christmas, I'll be eagerly watching the Christmas special.
Will you? And who's your favourite Downton character?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Characterization V True Character (featuring Princess Fiona)

When I'm writing a character, I'm not really one for character sheets. I tend instead to have a picture of my heroine, and a general impression of what she is inside, the things that have happened during her lifetime that influence her, and the beliefs and fears that have shaped her.

One of the most interesting characters out there, in my opinion, is Princess Fiona from Shrek. I love the original Shrek movie, because it turned the traditional fairy tale on its head. Let's look at Fiona through the lens of characterization. How does she appear on the outside?

At the beginning of the movie, Fiona is a princess in an ivory tower, protected by a fierce dragon. She's been locked up for years (poor thing) and has very definite ideas about what will happen when she's rescued. The man who saves her from her incarceration will be: A handsome prince. He'll give her 'true love's kiss'. They'll marry, and live happy ever after. And on receiving true love's kiss, she'll banish the ugly part of herself that appears each night.

She's gorgeous. Tall, slender, and pretty. She's princessy, haughty, and proud. She'd be your average fairytale princess if her deep character matched her characterization. But it doesn't. Princess Fiona (like an onion) has layers. And once those layers are revealed, she becomes much more than just a princess, she becomes real.

I love the movie Shrek, because not only can we see that Fiona is a deeper character than intitially thought, we can see it by her revealing her true self (spoiler alert: an ogress!!). But in her human form, she acts in many unexpected ways that tip us off to her true nature. She loves all sorts of inappropriate for a princess behaviour. Eating rats on skewers, calmly frying eggs when her singing causes the bird mother to explode, general farty and belchy behaviour, and joking around with Shrek, who she has a lot in common with. She's ashamed of her ogre transformation, hiding at night so that she can't be seen. She feels she cannot be loved for who she is, a trait she also shares with Shrek.

When Lord Farquar finally claims her as his bride, the opening shot of him climbing from his horse and being tiny is yet another disappointment to her. He hasn't battled the dragon and fought for her. He's not amusing, like Shrek. And, if she were in any doubt, Fiona realises that characterization is not true character. Farquar isn't her true prince. Who knew her prince would be an ogre?

So appearances are deceptive. What is inside matters far more than the externals. And only by accepting that, and learning to love her true nature, does Princess Fiona achieve true love.
And I think she looks gorgeous green!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Character name dilemma

Well, my thoughts of taking a break from fiction writing lasted all of two days. I've a book due to come out early next year, 2 full subs in to various publishers, and I thought it might be time for a bit of a break.
Cue the insistent character knocking at my brain with useful ideas, snatches of dialogue, and the hints of a plot. (Sigh).
Anyhoo, this hero (for of course, it is a him) is the brother of one of my subbed stories. He's masterful, grouchy, and a fireman.
And what wonderful surname did I give him? The same as his sister of course.

BYRNE. Can I really get away with writing a fireman called BURN????

I'm sticking him on the back-burner (the back-byrner?) and telling him to go away, but that's just making him more determined to be written....
Oh, the difficulties of stories!