The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

3 Days Of Writing – Day The Second

Posted by BigWords on September 12, 2010

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

While there are a couple of characters who seem to have taken on a life of their own (Calhoun and Bellamy, for two), I spend more time playing with throwaway characters as they can be much more entertaining. So entertaining, in fact, that three have managed to escape their origins a walk-on parts to have adventures of their own. If it’s one particular character I have to point to, then Thomas – the nominal hero of the spy stories – is the main character who has had the most words expended on him, even if he appears to be rather dull in comparison to the other characters. He’s the most complex person to have emerged on paper, possibly because he doesn’t conform to any of the expectations the other characters have of him. He’s the ultimate asshole in any of my books, refusing to step in to the fray until his family are killed off – even if it was the heroes who offed them, but that’s one of the more complicated parts of the backstory. There tend not to be many traditional heroes in my work.

12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you’d like to share?

Department X / Ghost Bureau / whatever I’m calling it this week. It’s gone through an ungodly number of rewrites, but the fact that I spent time going around the hidden and murky places around London to get a feel for some of the locations (not entirely as they really exist, but close enough). I’m still not entirely happy with the dialogue, but the work I’ve put into the locations is something I’ve never doubted.

13. What’s your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

Outsiders. All the time, without question. They may be miserable, but the people who inhabit my work shine a little brighter than uptight and utterly predictable movie heroes. They drink too much, smoke dubious cigarettes, drop pills, go on vision quests, use handguns, quasi-magic, technology and anything that gives them the edge. And they have no compulsion about killing, which has always bothered me about some characters. I guess they might be the bad guys in any other writer’s hands, but I have tremendous fun playing against type.

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

Some stories don’t have fixed locations, though the ones that do tend to be rather over thought, with maps, extensive notes, and (in some cases) floor plans for the buildings. I work according to what I need immediately, so here are gaps in the images where I haven’t decided what will go there yet. It’s better for longer works to have some room to change, add or extend locations. There are several useful resources out there, but modding games, Photoshop manipulation and a degree of aptitude with fountain pen and ink is useful. Not sharing them here, but I’ll eventually get around to doing an extensive run-through of all the different images for one of the stories.

I like locations that tend towards multiple stories, as it is easier to open the world up if the foundation work has already been done. Like the film said, “There are eight million stories in the Naked City.”

15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!

Stephen King. He has the comic-book continuity mastered, and is able to bring back barely seen characters time and time again, killing off some, fleshing out others, and making the world he plays in tie together beautifully – though I’m sure Castle Rock has changed in description a couple of times.
He’s also got some killer dialogue.

16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? 😉

Everything depends on the overall tone of the story, and the nature of the characters. I’m sure I would get hassle for having The Reverend sleep with his romantic interest (a prostitute, for what its’ worth). Bellamy doesn’t really have any real romantic interests, and the heavy political influences in that story don’t lend themselves easily to a side-story about more recreational activities. Calhoun is slightly different, with a whole array of characters jostling for attention in a story which covers a lot of ground – and features Lovecraftian overtones so heavy that any sex scenes would quickly turn into body horror scenes.

17. Favorite protagonist and why!

Bellamy, as you could probably expect.

18. Favorite antagonist and why!

Bellamy, as you could probably expect. No, that isn’t a typo.

19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

There’s a guy in Calhoun’s story who was a plot point more than a really defined character, until I decided that his disappearance would have to be rectified somehow, rather than forgotten as Calhoun delved deeper into the mystery of the island he is sent to chart. He turned out to be a Russian zoologist, and the icky end he was to have received turned out to have a deeper connection to the island – even to the point of having a subtle clue as to its’ origin – if people pay really close attention to the nature of his demise. If there is one example of unexpected story coming from throwaway ideas, then he personifies that in my writing.

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

Dialogue tends to get changed between characters, so the words coming out of one person’s mouth may have been from another character originally. This means that I don’t fine-tune until I get through a couple of drafts, and even though there are characters who bounce off each other, the dialogue doesn’t really reflect things so much as their actions.

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