Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brian Y:IS YOUR STORY REAL &ARE YOU YOUR CHARACTERS?

My answer

I have a book coming out in about two months, ALIEN INVASION & OTHER INCONVENIENCES. My first two novels were somewhat realistic and I got the usual questions about whether I was my character and if my story was real. I gave the usual answer. Some of the story and characters, in a very changed form, have elements of autobiography but most is made up. In this new novel, aliens invade the world and conquer it in ten seconds and enslave the survivors. This time I have to admit it’s all real. Every word of the story is true. Also, I’m all the characters.

I’m the aliens who come to earth to colonize. Back in our solar system the sun burned out so we had to hit the road, ride the solar winds, find new worlds. Yadda. Yadda. Fortunately for us there are a lot of worlds out there. Unfortunately, for the inhabitants of those worlds we are quite advanced and think that primitive beings really don’t matter so we put most of them “to sleep” in a humane manner and enslave the rest to help our civilization, which is really, really great, move forward.

I’m also, as it turns out, the enslaved who are mostly young (*author’s note—I killed off most of the older people because, hey, most of them don’t read young adult fiction.) and who must find a way to adapt in order to survive. We’re not happy about this. Each one of us is unhappy in his or her own way. It’s never been all that easy to be a human but being enslaved by aliens (basically little green men whose power comes from their mind and telepathic abilities and not brawn and technology which is very confusing and certainly un-civilized by civilized Earthling standards) really sucks. We’ve lost our parents, our brothers and sisters and friends and dogs and cats. We’ve had a very bad time.

My main character is named Jesse and he is me. He’s only seventeen and I am, well, not. He’s a slave and I am, well, not. His father was in the military for twenty years and mine was in for three. Okay, some similarity there. He has a black belt in TaeKwonDo and so do I, but he’s much more advanced in martial arts than I will ever be. His mother was a teacher and mine was not. He grew up in Houston and I did not. But other than these differences we’re alike. Except in the ways we aren’t.

I guess, in the end, my answer to “is your story real and are you your characters?” , whether writing speculative fiction or somewhat realistic fiction, remains the same. I write what I know and what I know is that any story I write will have parts that are taken from real life and put into the Crazy Imagination Blender™ and used in the construction of character and story along with totally made up parts. In the end, they’ll be blended together in such a way that I won’t always be sure where something came from and what % of it happened and what % of it is made up. It’s all real though—to me—in a purely fictitious way. And thanks for giving me the chance to clear that up.

8 comments:

  1. I loved this post. Crazy Imagination Blenders are vital for cooking up a good story :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this. In my writing, sometimes I know I'm adding bits from my life- character quirks, emotions, events- and sometimes readers will notice that an element in my writing is similar to one in my life- but I didn't consciously make that connection. It's interesting. I remember someone complimenting me once on the way I "intentionally" wove an appropriate reference into a story...my subconscious is crafty that way, it turns out. So for a moment I get to be an objective reader of my own work. Kinda cool.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You just had to slap that little trademark symbol on there, didn't you? Now I have to come up with my own altered-but-vaguely-familiar and not-nearly-so-catchy name to use when I get asked those questions. Hmm. Mysterious Thought Processor? Insane Notion Mixer?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jess--Good one
    Paula-- a crafty subconscious is a very good thing to have.
    Ben--thanks for noticing. I was thinking infomercials on cable. Maybe we could have a program--everything else is on there.
    Thanks all for comments.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post. I'm writing a chapter book right now about a little girl who wants to be a detective. And, guess what? When I was her age, I wanted to be a detective. But I'm also writing a historical middle grade novel where one of the characters wants to be a writer (uh-huh), and another character has a habit of just blurting out whatever comes to mind (yeah, that was me, too!) True, these characters have lives I never had and a few characteristics as well. But, I think most characters tap into memory and then are stirred in with a bunch of other people in that "What if..." pot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great commentary. In my writing, I've tried to observe real people, then describe them as truthfully as I can in words. I dislike cardboard cutout characters, just like I don't like stilted dialog. I've striven to make my characters as real as possible and my critique group members have pointed that out to me, that they think my descriptions and dialog are realistic.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is such an interesting blog from which to get great information. Thank you!
    If you would like to check out my blog at http://lynnadavidson.wordpress.com you will find that you have been awarded a Versatile Blogger Award. Don't feel you have to take the time to do anything about it, that's up to you.
    Your blog is not new, as such, but fairly new to me and I wanted to give you a shout out.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, hope it's OK to contact you here. We would love to include your blog on our giveaway search engine: Giveaway Scout (http://www.giveawayscout.com). Have a look and if interested, use our online form to add your blog (http://www.giveawayscout.com/addblog/ ). thanks, Josh

    ReplyDelete