Flights of Fancy, Inspired by a Genius’s Soul…
Flight No. 1: Archipelago Of A Story
This is a Shakespir edition 2017
Copyright September 2017
Westminster & York, Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise,
without prior written permission of the copyright owner. Nor can it
be circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in
which it is published and without similar condition including this
condition being imposed on a subsequent purchaser.
[A flight of fancy is just that – a scribbling born of imagined beauty, brought forth by the delights of music – a language universal in appeal and reach.
No, I won’t try to be excessively mystical. I won’t lay out thoughts to confuse or impress you with seeming depth. I don’t do that.
Yes, I write what comes to me. But for it to be pleasant to me, it must offer something to others. I hope they’ll say, “I’m glad I experienced that!…”]
I’ve given this broadsheet its strange name because of an idea. An inspiration came to me a day or so back…
I’ve been laboring over another full-length story – a sequel to “The Crimson Emperor,” in fact. I’ve been struggling with how to keep the connections with the first tale. Yet I don’t want to repeat introductions in this subsequent one.
So, I’ve been working with a plotline, which is still unfinished. In it, I introduce some key new characters. I also work with the original characters as they have aged. I don’t want to go through the first-story details which made them three-dimensional. This will bore readers of the first tale. But some of these details still need to be re-expressed for the reader who has not read the initial work.
Not so easy for me to do, as I’ve never written a sequel before. I attended a presentation at a writers’ conference on this aspect. Now its challenges have come home to me…
One of the principal new characters is a woman whose role is absolutely central to this new story. She is someone I’ve thought about for a while. I felt I’d gotten to know her well enough to start writing the story around her personality and motives. Suddenly, I could not make the plotline “work” for me. I went into a blue funk – a writer’s block.
So, I started to fill out this character. Soon I realized the more I thought about her, the more complex she is as a person. Her character, to be believable, really had to be explored in detail. She has to be seen to “grow” in her attitudes and motivations. These shape her being. They show why – without having to explain her (as an omniscient author would) – she does the majestic and awful things she does. Someone reading this story has to feel her development makes sense from what they read. It can’t be a cut-and-paste, two-dimensional character. Otherwise it won’t be believable, right?…
Well, then the inspiration (insight, really…) hit me.
The story, like almost any really good story (making no claims for my own work, mind!) has characters whose key features and actions “stick up” above the broad flat surface of the story. A good visual analogy is an archipelago of islands which rises from the calm ocean surface.
Big deal, you say. I know, I know…
But maybe there’s something else, something some of us may not have thought of.
At sea-floor level, the characters, like the archipelago islands, are connected seamlessly to each other. If we could somehow “drain the water” and leave the ocean floor dry, we could see how each island’s (much, much bigger but hidden) base is linked physically through coral reefs, stretches of sand, other organic growths and such-like, to that of its nearest neighbors. By extension, each island is truly linked to all the other islands in the chain…
Now, you’re saying to yourselves, “Well, duh!… Of course they’re connected!”
I agree, but it’s really important these connections be somehow implicit, or hinted at, or suggested. Well-drawn characters have a traceable connection to their surroundings,
Now, I know almost all of you enjoy fictional writing. When you go about creating characters, you know this rule. What I learned is, the more detail I go into about my characters as I develop them, the more depth they have as personages . Likewise, the more depth of character, the more they may be constrained to act in certain ways, to react in certain ways, and to follow a path which is consistent with their character. I now develop the parents’ profiles, and even grand-parents’. I paint in their ethnic or national heritage details, events that have shaped or scarred them, and personal idiosyncrasies. I draw their physical features with some precision. All of these additions help me fill in the of the character.
But to do this, we must try not to get so excited that we take our eye off the ball. It may be too easy to move off this character-related activity and go back to feverishly writing more about our main real story. So take your time with character development. It’s worth it…
The result is what makes a character believable.
Now, I’ve been writing a story within a story about this female character. I’ve spent a lot of time filling in her childhood. It includes the events which have shaped her and contribute to her ways of dealing with the world and society around her, and her feelings and motivations. I’ve been fortunate to be influenced by some Myers-Briggs work on personality preferences which I’ve taught in many classes. These concepts have been helpful, though I sometimes feel I’ve let them drive too much of the character’s growth.
The point is, this character, through her own story’s writing and rewriting, has become much more developed and in depth. Yet 75% of what I’ve written about her for my own use is never going to see the light of day in print.
There is a good consequence of this exercise. I’ve gotten so comfortable with fleshing out this character, I’m going to apply the same rigor to the other major characters. Several of them have already been introduced and “grown up” (that is, been developed) in the previous tale. Only now, I’ll fill them out as richly as I can.
I remember reading how Ayn Rand wrote about her characters in “Atlas Shrugged.” I was impressed at how she painted them as realistically as she did. True, some will feel they are slightly overdrawn in certain dimensions. I’ve been mindful of this. As I’ve written about my own female’s character, I’ve found two things:
One, my character’s credibility has improved, and,
Two, I’ve learned / discovered even more about personality development and scene-related deployment to help me find the perfect situational “fit” for my characters. It allows them to carry out their destined actions, good and bad.
Not bad for a bit of inspiration, I think…
About the author…
Wim Baren is the author’s pen name. He lives a stone’s throw from Colonial Williamsburg, a place rich in history. He imagines himself a novelist. He’s written two full-length tales set in long-ago times. He’s also written a couple of short stories, and a bunch of short broadsheets about his creative writing experiences and insights. All of these are on Shakespir, and almost all of them are free.
As of the date of this writing, he’s feverishly inventing two new tales, also set in ancient times. One is a sequel to “The Crimson Emperor” – a fabulously romantic tale about Byzantium, a place and period known by practically nobody. Another is an alternative history surrounding the Empress Theodora of Byzantium. It is a larger-than-life novel about the most powerful woman in the 6th century world at the time. That period of the Eastern Roman Empire did not lack excitement, to say the least…
So, with a spouse he dotes upon, and a pleasant prospect over which his front entrance looks to stimulate his thoughts, he’s got a quiet and most enjoyable lifestyle. Would that everybody could enjoy the same, or more…
Thought and ideas are welcome, courteously done.
September 19, 2017