Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 219 of the 365 Days of Blogging

The author, Dane F. Baylis




If you are a writer of dark sci-fi (think - Balderunner, Alien, Terminator, etc.), then head on over to Unearthed Magazine brought to you by the people at Daedalus Press. They have just opened the doors for submissions. This isn't a paying opportunity yet, but the chance to gain a little street credit is always handy. So, check them out and say "hi" to Richard Conine while you're there.



Years ago, a very good friend and fellow over-indulger in spirits and other sundries, coined the phrase, "Cranial Proctology". It was something he felt the majority of artists and writers needed to learn. When queried as to the meaning of this bit of arcane phraseology, he would say it was the simple art of getting your head out of your ass.
What he meant was that too many artists, writers, musicians...what have you...were so self-absorbed that they were only rehashing their own internal crap. This, in his opinion, led to shallow, sterile, unsympathetic work that never made a connection with the intended audience. What they were delivering was a one dimensional vision of the world as seen strictly from a single point of view. THEIRS!
Too often, as writers, we are afflicted with the symptoms in need of this procedure. We rush to construct a setting and people it with characters who are actually nothing more than ventriloquist dummies for our own narrow point of view. As a starting point, this might be a way to lay down an outline, but it is so anemic that it provides little or no emotional nurture for our readers.
We can rationalize this by saying we trust in our readers' abilities to divine the nature of our construct without us beating them about the noggin. This is just another way of saying, I am a total ego maniac and my view point is the only one that counts! Interesting place to start years of therapy, a real bad place to end your story.
"But, hey" you counter, "I'm the writer, whose view point am I supposed to represent, if not mine?" Well, there's the catch. Somewhere along the line you have to let the characters speak for themselves. You have to take a look around you and realize that you're surrounded by about 6.5 billion character studies and none of them are painted in black and white.
The man or woman consumed by avarice may have a back story that informs their present character. Or they just may have that neurotic dread of poverty. The poor man or woman may have the loftiest of dreams, but because of a lack of opportunity or ability may have found that the way out was barred to him/her. Does this make them less human? They may be a loving mate, a doting and devoted parent, a giving friend.
The soldier on the front lines is not the killing machine some would make him out to be. He quite probably lives with the daily fear of his own death, but carries on in his duties and the selfless defense of his comrades. There very well could be an instance of horrific over reaction, or there could as easily be a moment of deepest compassion for the civilians - or even the enemies, around him.
A child can show enormous courage. An adult can be a craven coward. The halt and lame can display a depth of understanding that might be unexpected in the afflicted. The most competent character can know those moments of total inadequacy. This is how you create that persona of depth and intriguing personal attributes. You forget about your own crap and you get your head out of your ass!
Is this easy? Hell no! It requires that one thing that can be most difficult for anyone. You have to shut off you and look outside with as little filtering as can be managed. You have to let the world in and shut up long enough to hear what it is saying to you. Then you might want to write down those messages, because the minute the bubble bursts, you're back to being plain old you. But at least now you'll have notes to help you create and understand someone else.
Another helpful hint from your Uncle Dane.
Dane F. Baylis

Cute sayings annoy me
"He who dies with the most toys wins?"
Has any one given consideration to
"He who dies with the most toys is still dead?"
Is he
More comfortably dead?
Feeding a higher class of worms dead?
Bones bleached whiter dead?
Better dead than
A Skid Row wino
Lying beneath weeds
In a nameless potter's field dead?
Perhaps you're just survived by
Other "Most Toys" boys,
Sweating how long
They'll have
To enjoy the most toys
Left behind?
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
Want to follow or subscribe to this blog? There are gadgets for that on the right side of the page. You can leave comments in the form below. I can be reached directly at dbaylis805@gmail.com . You can also find links to some of the sites I visit from time to time on the right. I'm also looking for submissions to the Your Work/Your Love page. Authors retain all rights.
Dane F. Baylis


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