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Death Mask And The Creative Spirit

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My two gals, Alison Alexandra and her friend, Amanda, went on a sea voyage. A voyage via a freighter, and not a cruise ship. They stop in the ports where the freighter stops, and they take visits of the town if they so desire.

 

On one of their times on shore, they decide to visit a Police Museum. One of the exhibits is a Death Mask of a hanged murderer. They take great interest in this, noting the repose of the face.

 

This incident is based on an event in my own life. I melded parts of my experience into my characters afternoon visit during their day ashore. This had not been on my mind when I started this particular chapter..
 

I once taught a workshop on Supernatural writing. For my workshop I took advantage to take my students on a field trip to see the death mask of a historically known poet. The death mask was conveniently on view in a display case in a near-by building.

None of them had even heard of ‘death masks’, let alone seen one. I invited them to incorporate the idea into their writing exercises. Some did, some did not.

However, it’s possible this visit to Death elicited the following story from one of my students.

My student and her husband had purchased a new house. Cleaning and renovations eventually took them to the back loft area, which was piled high with decades of accumulated detritus from a long life.

 

They cleared out beds and boxes and newspaper piles and magazines and bundles of clothes and on and on. Near the end of this process, my student noticed a “clump of something”on one of the wooden beams of the loft.

Getting ladder and flashlight her husband climbed to see what it was.

It was the end of a number of knotted bed sheets.

Second Bananas And Also-Rans Complete The Picture

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My onion novel, CHINA LILY, spans decades. My main family, the Cannaras, travel the globe (of their time, which is the Fourteen hundreds). Lots of time on ships. Lots of time on horseback.

In their distant locations over their diverse times they meet different people. These people fill the chapters they are in, but then they are gone. They are really secondary characters to the novel, but nothing could be accomplished without them. In their own time frame they are front-and-center.

This same situation happened in my *thriller*. The time frame was much different (squeezed into a few days). And the location was one city until near the end. But the nature of the immediacy and the surprising twists of plot and the intense action called upon the use of many secondary characters. They were figuratively press-ganged into action. They did their bit and were not called upon again. Louie-the-dog was to be a secondary character with a ‘walk on’ part. He stayed.

I am having a growing fascination for these secondary characters. They have to be developed within paragraphs instead of chapters. Their dialogue and thoughts have to be concise and unique from the start. They possess a freedom of action the main characters do not have. They are not loaded down with baggage. They are a challenge to write and difficult to rein in. They are generally saucy and rarely ponder their lot. Yet they must be real and not just plot devices. They have to be taken at face value and accepted quickly. They must stand out in the background.

A novel of only secondary characters – hmmmm . . .

DE

[image] https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vZSuKHVPTpI/VsNpi-m3ekI/AAAAAAAAU7I/8JA_0K9LM_g/s1600/2015%2Bcollage.jpg

Not Ready for Prime Time Characters / Spear Carriers

My onion novel, CHINA LILY, spans decades. My main family, the Cannaras, travel the globe (of their time, which is the Fourteen hundreds). Lots of time on ships. Lots of time on horseback.

In their distant locations, over their diverse times, they meet different people. These people fill the chapters they are in, but then they are gone. They are really secondary characters to the novel, but nothing could be accomplished without them. In their own time frame, they are front-and-center.

This same situation happened in my *thriller*. The time frame was much different (squeezed into a few days). And the location was in the same city, until near the end. But the nature of the immediacy, the surprising twists of plot, and the intense action called upon the use of many secondary characters. They were figuratively press-ganged into action. They did their bit and were not called upon again. Louie-the-dog was to be a secondary character with a ‘walk on’ part. He stayed.

 I am having a growing fascination for these secondary characters. They have to be developed within paragraphs instead of chapters. Their dialogue and thoughts have to be concise and unique from the start. They possess a freedom of action the main characters do not have. They are not loaded down with baggage. They are a challenge to write and difficult to rein in. They are generally saucy, and rarely ponder their lot. Yet they must be real and not just plot devices. They have to be taken at face value and accepted quickly. They must stand out in the background.

Secondary characters are a challenge to write and a thrill to create. Each and every one of them excite me.

Hmmmm …  a novel of only secondary characters  … hmmmm…

DE

“Fifth Business” by Robertson Davis

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