Per yesterday’s post, the story I’m playing with is based on historical figures/events (with some significant changes). So for giggles I’m checking out other fiction written about these folks.
…only to discover that another author already seems to have been playing with the same themes I am considering.
I only beat myself up briefly because I think I’m still taking a different tack, but is it a mistake to see what else has already been said? I worry about unconscious plagiarizing or editing myself before I write a word just to make sure I’m not.
I’m looking at the local community college’s Character Workshop for Fiction Writers for this fall, as I think it would help me with what I consider to be my biggest weakness – I can’t design a character to save my life.
Full disclosure: in a past RPG I did have a couple of original characters, but I don’t think they were very good – introductory descriptions felt like I was ticking off check boxes just to get it out of the way, and then I wrote whatever fit the plot/my whims. I just couldn’t get in their heads (“what would x do in y situation based on z personality characteristics?”), and I don’t think I developed them well.
I confess this is why I’ve tended to lean on fan fiction as my writing outlet: characters are already established, and I’ve read/seen them in action so I can better imagine what they might say or do. Additionally, fan fiction audiences are already familiar with them/the property to which they belong, so I can be lazy and forego introductions/”establishing shots”.
I don’t mean that as a criticism of other fanfic writers (it’s fun to play with characters in worlds you already know and love), just noticing that I happen to use it as a crutch to avoid improving the things I’m bad at.
Truth: I’m more comfortable inventing worlds, but then I don’t know how to populate them. Which bugs me because I tend to find that characters and dialog are what make or break a story for me, and if I’m going to bother with this at all I want to write stuff I’d actually want to read, dammit!