niall_shapero: Fox Mask (Default)
John Scalzi, in his WHATEVER blog, recently had an entry entitled "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is". It was a well thought out, clearly written piece, and it used an analogy that I thought was wonderful (even if not perfect). Unfortunately, many readers seemed to be from clue-free environments, and did NOT get the point. I have included a link here, so that others may go directly to the source and read it.

Scalzi is a professional writer, with several published science fiction novels to his credit, including (but not limited to) the following:

Old Man's War (2005, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-0940-8)
The Ghost Brigades (February 2006, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-1502-5)
The Last Colony (April 2007, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-1697-8)
Zoe's Tale (August 2008, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-1698-6)
The Sagan Diary (February 2007, Subterranean Press, ISBN 978-1-59606-103-3; April 2008,
Questions for a Soldier (chapbook, Subterranean Press, December 2005, ISBN 1-59606-048-4)
After the Coup (eBook,, July 2008, ASIN B003V4B4PM)

Check them out.
niall_shapero: Fox Mask (Default)
A few years back, JMS had (very briefly) a TV show entitled CRUSADE. There were five questions, IIRC, asked at the start of each episode:

Who are you?
What do you want?
Where are you going?
Who do you serve? and
Who do you trust?

These are pretty good questions to answer about any character that one creates. Who are they? (Not what they do, but who they are.) What do they want? (What motivates them to act?) Where are they going? (What are their plans, and how do they intend to carry them out?) Who do they serve? (What people and what goals are key to their "sense of self"?) And last, but not least, who do they trust? (And as a direct follow-on question, who do they NOT trust?).

Of course, JMS being a story teller, was thinking about this, I'm sure. But at the same time, they make pretty good framework questions to answer about one's own creations (ok, so the fact is, I do some scribbling myself in the SF genre).

Added to Lois Bujold's (of VORKOSIGAN series fame) approach to character building (roughly summarized as "take your protagonist, drive him up a tree and then throw rocks at him") it gives some pretty good tools for character creation (one of the major parts of doing this job right).

How do I know when I've really done the job right? When the character(s) start telling ME what they're going to do (and to hell with what I want them to do).


niall_shapero: Fox Mask (Default)

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