<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
In Isolation

M'ris mentioned in a recent entry (and I don't know which entry, but if I go back and find it I'll hyperlink that bit and remove this rambling and rather unnecessary parenthetical aside) that she thinks of stories in terms of characters relating to each other--never just one character, but a character with relationships. Which made me think: I very often think of characters as inherent to their situations (never or rarely a personality without a problem or plot) but as solitary individuals. Which made me ponder a little more, and reaffirm that a whole lot of what I've been writing over the last while is characters failing to interact, struggles with miscommunication or a total lack of communication--characters in isolation.

Which is not to say that I don’t write characters who just start talking and interacting and ... well, sparking. Instant chemistry. The first time that happened was in "Demonhead" (lo, these many years ago) and it startled the hell out of me. The story wasn't supposed to focus on this weird back-and-forth dynamic between Victoria and Dr. Angela Rye, and yet once they opened their mouths, there it was. And it's happened quite a few times since then (we pause now as the author reminisces). But rarely of late have the stories that I've written needed or encouraged that kind of interaction. This is not necessarily good nor bad, merely something I'm aware of.

Yet it goes a long way to explain why I hate writing dialogue so much, and why it remains my biggest problem.

And what does it say about me that I'm drawn to tell the stories of people who are lost and frightened and alone?

I've been glaring at "Ohntai" in the hopes that evil stares will make it hurry up and become a story. Almost all the scenes that I have written and like and will keep are the scenes where Jackson is the only aware being. And so much of what he is at that moment is a man in isolation, totally and purposefully disconnected from everything around him. I love writing these bits, explaining his troubles and mindset without saying what he's feeling, burying it inside phrasing and description and the words themselves. The scenes--the very necessary scenes--where he is in a situation where he is forced to interact with others ... well, damn, those are hard. It's a like having to introduce myself to someone I've never met before but whose name I know, effort accompanying each word, with fear hidden beneath.

I am feeling introspective and not particularly coherent at the moment. I start the day with road cones and end it with this. Sometimes I wonder about myself, I really do.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:40 AM


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