If I ever get out of work today, I look forward to watching the second episode of Castle tonight. If you haven’t seen Castle, it’s a cop procedural starring Nathan Fillion. Fillion plays a mystery writer who tags along with a tough-as-nails police detective as she works her cases. The show really rides on Fillion’s charm and personality, and it seems as though the part was tailor made for him. It’s not going to change the face of television or anything, but it’s cute and there’s nothing else on Mondays anyway.
At any rate, it makes me think about how many times I’ve written stories just to play around with a character, fashioning stories around the protagonist. I would say that’s usually how I write. I’ll some up with what seems like a fun idea for a personality, then build a world necessary for that person to exist, and the story (I hope) falls into place after that. The character isn’t necessarily well developed at first, but there’s usually enough to get started. Once you’ve tossed them into a difficult situation, I have to hope that I’ve figured out how they’ll cope under pressure, and that along the way I can develop them into someone who is interesting not just to me, but the reader. The process probably isn’t unlike that of writing a part for a particular actor.
Unfortunately, it means I tend to have trouble coming up with good plots. Take “Apotheosis Cake,” (if you haven’t read it, cruise on over to the Publications page for a link) for example. I came up with what I thought was a pretty wonderful character in Jennifer, the narrator. She had a fun voice and an outlook on life that was both unique and instantly identifiable. The whole story hinges on her wit, and I think it mostly works. But since there’s not really much plot there, the story probably falls a little flat at the end. I’m still working on striking that balance.
It makes me wonder what it’s like for those writers lucky enough adapt a pre-established story for television or movie – they essentially get to write a story for their character for an actor.
This is just a long-winded way of saying to stay tuned for the 2018 release of Shades of Red, starring Summer Glau as the Scarlet Ranger. 😉