Novel Anatomy part 2: Holy Creative characters Batman!   Leave a comment

I felt like writing this after  a conversation last night. I was lying on my bed, it was about five in the morning and I was chatting with a friend who lives in Europe. She was the first person to finish my book Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chickenand I was eager to hear what she thought about it.

I was curious because what i’ve realized with writing is that, when you create a universe, people will take inferences from things you didn’t even realize were there. They will find tidbits and character motivations that somewhat mirror their lives, they’ll be searching for and analyzing data that (even though you wrote it) feels new and strange to you when they explain it back to you.

A big part of getting creative is doing stuff that’s a little out there in the first place.

Now, my book is a multi-character narrative following three different guys with different personalities. There is Tony, Winston and Bishop. Most novels don’t have multiple character narratives and with good reason. Layering the nuanced perspectives of different people takes time, a very dynamic understanding of your own writing skill or messages that can’t be contained through the lens of one individual.

So, as i lay there, picking my friend’s brain about the book, I noticed that many of the things I tried to portray through the characters translated well in the text. For example, Tony is a very handsome guy who seems to be floating through D.C, hooking up with girls without (seemingly) having much perspective. His personality is reflected heavily through the scenarios he finds himself in, and the way he deals with people through conversation. This is way he is best portrayed, a savvy conversationalist. On this blog and others, i’ve spent quite a bit of time writing actual conversations, and I found that fortunately for me, I can write reasonably good dialogue. I’m not sure how good, but I know my book has tons of dialogue, and so far no one has been complaining about sappy speeches and terrible grammar.

The point is, for this character his essence are held in these situations and they are heavily dependent on two things:

1. How believable these scenarios are

2. How believable the conversation is

Now, I wasn’t thinking about this at all as I wrote the book (I mean, who would?) but now looking back, these are aspects of the development that I think might be quite important.

I was pleased with a few things my friend told me. Firstly, she said my book had a “very believable situations involving people from different cultures.” My personal experience in D.C was quite multicultural, but to me that was normal, so I didn’t think about it as I was writing. In the book there are Asian-Americans, Anglo-Americans, African-Americans, Ex-patriots  Caribbean people and more. Since i’ve personally lived in Japan and the States (and i’m always hanging with mixed groups), I guess that reflects naturally in my writing and i didn’t realize how much it would add to this “world” I created in Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken

My friend also mentioned that my writing was “tactful” because there are several sexual scenarios in the book that could make certain people blush. She explained that it was interesting to read about these sexual situations with varied descriptions and words. It gave it a different feeling, she said. She laughed and told me she had to look up the word “coitus” (which is a fancy schmancy was of saying ‘sex’). I’m not sure if my writing was tactful, but it certainly wasn’t erotica.

Bishop, the unhappy trust fund kid, also came off mostly the way I wanted him to. Through his character, I wanted to show that sometimes when you lose faith, you can become darker and more jaded. This is what happens to his character progressively throughout the book. It also seems that most people are rallying behind Winston, who is the most tortured character in the book. The more I heard her explain what she felt, the more I realized that the essence of what I wanted to get across was working.

This makes me feel that the function of the book at the very least, will serve a purpose. I’ve had only three people read it completely, but the reviews have all mirrored quite interestingly and these are different kinds of readers.

I’m just thinking out loud here, writing what comes to my head.



Posted June 29, 2013 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

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