Monday, July 17, 2006

Hunting for fresh

What about the idea that 'there's nothing new under the sun'? I wonder where the real fresh stuff lives. You know, the stories where you can just smell something exciting, something honest and original. The ones that reek of real thought, not recycled ideas. Is it possible to come up with something really new? Does it matter?

And I'm starting to think that holing oneself up in a stuffy little flat is not the best way to find new inspiration. I get a lot of my best ideas when walking, and if I didn't get so self conscious I'd carry a dictaphone. (Or if I could remember where I put it, which drawer the spare tapes are in and what kind of batteries it takes.)

Cos out there, right in the sweaty heart of the city - god, it's breathtaking. You spend hours pondering made up people, trying to make sure their actions are believable and consistent and the disbelief is properly suspendable. That there is some kind of plot doing something worthwhile.

And then you walk down Argyle street and there's punk kids crying in the midday sun, there's ageing transvestites buying fried chicken buckets, there's junkies getting slashed with razors, there's men in bowler hats eating Bright Red Apples...characters are jaw-droppingly inconsistent all over the place, they commit totally unbelievable acts. And synchronicity - don't get me started on the Deus Ex Machina. 'Because it just was'. Real life makes a very badly written story.

(This is where I have to remind myself of the division between life and stories. Again.)


Sluggy said...

In a rather naive, not writers way, I think that the best fictional characters are the ones who think like people we want to identify with, either positively (heroic) or negatively (dirty rottem scoundrel). I think when authors write about the people they contstruct, the successful ones can really do anything with them; the acts are not especially significant, its the motive, the pattern of thinking or the reasons for the actions that make us believe.

I may be just spouting rubbish. I have a tendancy to do that frequently. I can go away and shut up if required.

Nikki said...

Dear Sluggy,

I don't think that's naive at all. Yes, empathy with a character is the aim, or insight at least. I'd add that the best characters have elements of good and bad in them. The biggest struggle is the struggle within.

Their acts not being significant... hm, that's an interesting idea. Depends on the type of fiction, I suppose. 'Action stems from character' is the most usual approach taken at the moment, but fiction wasn't and isn't always all about character. Necessarily.

Please don't go away and shut up, by the way. I am still trying to work out if I know you!