My imaginary crowd is going wild right now. I’d record it happening and post it up somewhere but its a bit difficult as none of them actually exist. So bear with me as I attempt to describe the nonsense before me. Champagne popping, widescale rioting, and general drunken debauchery. Oh and cakes. Soooooo many cakes (Frostius hasn’t stopped since I gave him the go ahead to start baking yesterday).
What are they celebrating? Simple. We’ve reached a milestone in our relationship as blogger to blogee. I’m talking about five hundred views here people. What is that the styrofoam milestone? I can never remember. It happened yesterday but I neglected to write about it. Anyway, congratulations and now on to more exciting news.
I’ve got a top-secret, super confidential, for my eyes only (at the moment) project under works. It’s currently under a layer of secrecy and security only previously seen in the depths of the Imperial Palace. I can’t say too much about it at the moment but rest assured it has the potential to be absolutely and mind blowingly amazing.
One of the drunken revellers stumbles up to my chair. It seems the illusory masses are still hanging on my every word. Good for them.
“Oi. If it’s so top-secret and stuff, how come you are writing about it?”
“Shush you. Leave me to my excitement and go back to your…whatever this is.”
I wave him away and go back to tip-tapping away on my floating keyboard.
Now that the happy fun stuff is over with, let’s move on to the true subject of today’s blog. I want to talk a bit about characters.
Over the course of triumphing over Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 yesterday I came to a realization. It was doing something I hate in writing. Too many throwaway characters.
It kept bringing in random characters and then suddenly killing them off before I’d had a proper chance to say hello. The best games, novels, blog posts and what have you’s deliver characters that grow and change over the story. They shouldn’t introduce point-of-view characters whose only purpose is to randomly die (although not always).
I love the Song of Ice and Fire series by Mr. George RR Martin, however, over the course of reading the series I am increasingly presented with characters about whom I know very little and care even less. I want the old characters back. I want to see their journey and not hear about Scriddlybum the Tailor and his adventures while plucky little Fitzhugh (the character we’ve followed for three novels) is off doing who knows what. I understand that building a colossal world requires bajillions of characters. Just give us a bit of time to become attached to them.
When a character dies it should hit you right in the gut. I shouldn’t be left to shrug and go “Meh, hardly knew the poor bastard anyway.”
The opposite of this phenomenon is equally irritating. As a youngster I used to read Forgotten Realms. I loved me those books. Nowadays when I look back on those times and pick up one of those books to give it a reread I’ve noticed that main characters would die or be seen to die by other characters. My younger self remained confident however, that all was well. I knew that those characters would inevitably return either in body, spirit or some altered format, but never truly dead. This removes the surprise factor.
Another of my favorite authors handles this perfectly. Joe Abercrombie, in his novels, will often bring in that attachment to a character. Over the course of the book, he’ll make you grow to love a certain person and just when you think they are the bees knees. Bam. They’re dead. You double over shocked, outraged and hair akimbo. You feel like your best friend is gone. There’s now a void. And you know the worst part. It’s not going to go away. That person is gone.
Actually to go back to Mr. Martin again, he did this marvelously as well. The first time I read A Game of Thrones I was still used to what people term “high fantasy” (I’ve since been converted to the gritty school of thought). So over the course of the book there’s a certain character that you admire. I saw him make some mistakes, but I was like that’s fine everyone does it. Then as the book goes on you realize these are just like real people. There’s no hero on a white horse. This guy has his flaws. Then when things reached the breaking point (if you’ve read the book you know what I’m talking about) and there’s an execution for our admirable, yet tragically flawed, hero, I kept expecting some last-minute savior to fly in and tell me everything was going to be OK. The executioner’s sword fell and head came off. It was then that I realized this was for real. My tastes irreparably altered, I couldn’t go back to reading about turgid characters who were always alright no matter the direness of the situation.
Whew long post. Basically what I’m trying to say here is: don’t be afraid to kill characters, but don’t do it often and once they’re dead they should usually stay that way. Now its off to prepare myself for the majesty of Skyrim. Thanks for reading along folks.