Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What is Behind A Likeable Character?

I was reading someone's post a little while back (I think it was Nicole's) about the tendency of some writers to capture and infuse too much of their own personality into that of their character.

I am "guilty" of this approach as well and find it quite hard, at least in the early stages of the creative process, to separate myself from the main character of the work.  It is the sense of familiarity, the recognition of feelings, the certainty of expectations - all of which, of course, can lead to predictability and monotony.  Without a proper dose of uniqueness, I would create boring and unlikable characters.

The other night, as I was working on defining and developing a proper personality for one of my characters and tried to pull away from too much "me," I asked myself whether I, as an outsider, would actually like myself?  If I could step outside my body and view myself as a separate person, observe my actions, engage in conversation, ponder my motivations - would I like me?

The scary part is - I actually had to think about it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Creative Mess

With one lamp, three decorative objects, six photo frames, seven books (and a thin layer of dust...), the top of my nightstand apparently still isn't busy enough - although that is a condition easily remedied by going to 

It is definitely the messiest spot in my otherwise neat and organized home, except perhaps for the drawer right underneath it...(now, that has a life of its own).

In a few days, the following titles will add to the creative mess:

Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant
Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan
August Farewell by David G. Hallman
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Can't wait!  Have you read them?  What did you think?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Transportive Power of Language

I felt rather restless last night - close to midnight, it was too early to go to bed, but too late to start a movie; I was too tired to write, but eager to enjoy a satisfying turn of the language.

I stood in front of my bookcase, as I often do (there is no other way - it is five feet wide, floor to ceiling) searching for that pull.  When it came, I reached for my worn copy of Legy Jo Mindhalalig by Moricz Zsigmond.  I realize that most won't know of him, a major Hungarian novelist who lived from the late 19th century until the mid-20th, with the 1996 translation of his novel (Be Faithful Unto Death), as far as I know, being the only one into English.  The story is of an eleven-year-old boy's coming of age just after the first World War (when Hungary was on the wrong side), and his struggles of adolescence captured the essential world view of Hungarians of that era (and beyond).

I have read the English version, which is really good, but it lacks that inexplicable trait I call transportive power.

It's not just this particular novel - reading in a "foreign" language I grew up with (German and Hungarian) takes me back to my childhood, word by word, page by page, recreating a world that is always there but sometimes forgotten. 

Anyone else experience this when reading an original versus a translation?