A to Z Recovery and Reflections

Hello all! Thanks for stopping by my blog once more. Last week saw the end of the A to Z Challenge here on DBCII, and a great many other blogs, and it was a genuinely fun time. Just looking at my archives, that was by far the most posts in a month that this blog has seen. It adds a fantastic collection of reflections on writing to the blog, really beefing up the purpose of the blog. And, with completing the challenge on two blogs, it really got me writing!

survivor-atoz [2014]I did a reflection and looking-forward post on Comparative Geeks yesterday, and it was good to do so. For Comparative Geeks, it was a zero-sum change in the amount of content we did in the month: we regularly post Monday to Saturday, once a day, so the challenge’s rules matched perfectly. We went with a theme, so it got us blogging about characters for a whole month, which I think is good. Our character studies are regularly some of our most popular posts, so I think all of these are going to remain popular over time. At least, I hope so; I hope that the challenge-themed titles and such don’t detract from the posts. The one that got away from me was the one on Hermione and Harry – and the recent J.K. Rowling comments surrounding them. Which is a fun and relevant post here, too: does the author really get to challenge the meaning or content of their stories once written? Feel free to check it out and join in the conversation!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking and decompressing, and a four-day vacation helped. But it has me thinking about the state of the blog; the purpose of the blog, and my blogging; the future of my writing. Which is all supposed to happen, I think, doing something like this challenge. So below are some of my thoughts after working through the A to Z Challenge.

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C – Characters

CIn all of my thinking and planning for the A to Z Challenge, I have found that C is a pretty easy letter to work with. Almost too easy – you end up with too many things to choose from. There are a few letters like that. And maybe why I’m thinking about it is because today’s topic matches what my wife and I are doing on Comparative Geeks: we’re going A to Z characters.

When it comes to writing, though, characters are kings. Even in non-fictional pieces, the subject of the piece often ends up as the character, as we get the history, or current goings-on. Maybe not fully anthropomorphized, but getting there. But when you get to fiction, a story needs its characters, perhaps even more than those characters need a story. I’ve read absurdist literature. It’s doable.

I do a lot of my thinking and writing about Science Fiction, and Fantasy, and it can be easy to get carried away with these sorts of genres… lost in ideas, in world-building, in all of those sorts of gritty details to make the world seem right. Carried away too much, and the characters fall flat, and the reader ends up unengaged. You want a story your reader can get lost in… but for whatever reason, it’s through the exploration and experiences of the characters that we get lost.

Which means the most common sort of character is the one that is a stand-in for the audience, or the one who is new to the world being presented. Whether it’s just the new guy or rookie, or the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court, this character is essential. You don’t want to make them too blank – this is actually something that happens a lot in video games. To give the player the control of the situation, to feel like they are this blank slate character, the character does not speak throughout the game themselves. I think the Nintendo games especially have a lot of this – Link never really gets any lines in the Zelda games!

But even, think of non-fiction, or better yet – think of political speeches. They always seem to reach a point where they need to personalize it, where they have to bring up some real (probably) people in a real place, experiencing whatever it is they’re talking about. They can give you facts and ideology all day, but they give you that character to latch on to as well.

Because let’s face it – characters are a fundamental to stories.

Something About This Worked – Part 3

This is a screenshot of the first few lines of Google Image results for the term - The Nine Alignments. I come up twice from comparativegeeks.wordpress.com!

This is a screenshot of the first few lines of Google Image results for the term – The Nine Alignments. I come up twice from comparativegeeks.wordpress.com!

So here’s some more evidence that something we’re doing is working – over on Comparative Geeks. Time to check in on the experiment I have had going on these last weeks.

So what has the last month looked like?

  • Comparative Geeks – Character Studies Truncated: Last 30 days, 45 views
  • DBCII – Something About This Worked, Parts 1 and 2: Total, 6 views

I am also not seeing any search terms that turned these posts up, although with 6 views, that’s not surprising.

This experiment is intriguing in that it’s not turning anything up here in the slightest. Also: frustrating. I had said that the next experiment was the photos with the tags, so here we go!

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