Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: characters

Very Special Characters ~ Revisited

A previous post, Very Special Characters, mentioned that, “All the characters in a well-written story are “special” or they wouldn’t be there–each has their part to play

It also mentioned minor, significant, and major characters. Then, it brought up Very Special Characters–those who have extra or extraordinary qualities

I’m extremely curious about any reader’s conception of and experience with these step-off-the-page, break-the-rules, enlightening characters.

In this revisiting of these eccentric personages, I need to mention two more from the book, Notes from An Alien.

First is Anglana, the ultra-alien character in a book full of aliens.

Notes from An Alien happens about 12 light-years form Earth but, as the Prologue explains, it was written to level-out most of the differences between Earthlings and Angians since the goal of the book is to see the similarities between Angi’s and Earth’s struggles toward enduring peace.

Well into the book, the Angians discover an entity without a conventional body–she inhabits a whole planet and, in significant ways, Is the planet. She has powers that give her preeminence in any political or economic negotiations and she facilitates some of the major characters’ development and success.

Yet, even with all these attributes, she isn’t The Major Character of the book–she’s “merely” a critical Very Special Character:-)

Another of these VS characters in Notes from An Alien may not even be thought of as a “character”.

It’s a natural form of matter (though given some seemingly unnatural qualities in the story) and it constitutes about 99.9% of all matter in our Universe. It’s name is Plasma.

Since you can get the book for no cost, with the link near the top of the left side-panel (or, right here), I won’t go into an explanation of Plasma’s attributes, except to say that without this “non-character” Very Special Character, the story would grind to a halt

OK, it’s your turn: what are some of the odd-ball, what-the-heck, I-don’t-believe-the author-did-that, out-of-space-and-time, or completely unusual characters You’ve run into??
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Very Special Characters

All the characters in a well-written story are “special” or they wouldn’t be there–each has their part to play, minor or major.

Major characters often determine plot elements and most writers build the story around them. That last sentence may seem obvious but I’ve read books that have been rewritten from a different character’s point of view yet kept the same plot elements and flow. Check out Ender’s Shadow as one example.

Minor characters often are radically changed as the writing of a book proceeds (Majors can be, too, but that “usually” changes the plot structure); yet, these secondary folk can sometimes surprise a writer.

Take the character Morna, an artificial intelligence, in my recently published book, Notes from An Alien.

I thought she would only be in the first chapter. She soon changed my mind and became, if not a major character, a recurring significant character. In fact, the last words of the book are hers.

I even ended a blog post with those words and, for those interested, you may want to read, How I Had To Change Myself In Order To Write My Book…, to explore how much of an author ends up in a book’s plot and characters

So, we’ve touched on minor, significant, and major characters. What about Very Special Characters?

The book, Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder has characters that could be considered Meta–they actually begin considering their place in the book and ponder its plot.

Sena Quaren, the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, steps out of the story and asks the reader to consider if the book is truth or fiction.

The bulk of Notes from An Alien happens in another star-system and almost all the characters have no knowledge of Earth, yet Sena’s daughter, Ararura, writes the last chapter and speaks directly to the Earth-bound reader.

Have you come across any Very Special Characters in your reading?

Have you created any or do you think you might?

Can you imagine other classes of Very Special Characters?

Please, do share your thoughts and experience in the comments :-)

[ Edit: check out the follow-up post—Very Special Characters ~ Revisited ]
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How I Had To Change Myself In Order To Write My Book…

Eleven years ago, I was 54 years old and just beginning, finally, to mature.

I’d been seriously studying the issue of Global Peace for about twelve years.

I hadn’t quite got the principles from my head to my heart

I saw a Tweet the other day that said: If the author doesn’t cry, the reader doesn’t cry.

Eleven years ago, I did, in fact, start letting myself cry more

In the post, Publishing Day Thoughts…, I gave a timeline for all the major writerly events that led up to my publishing Notes from An Alien yesterday; but, the deeply emotional transformations I made on that path, the psychological and mental growth that the feelings led to, and the application of Principles of Peace in my daily life weren’t in that post

It’s one thing to have a Theme burning in your heart and tantalizing your mind; it’s quite another state of affairs
to live through the changes necessary to turn that Theme into a Plot alive with Characters who live the story.

I had to become, in essence, the characters I would eventually meet once I hand my hands on the plot. I began meeting my characters about a year ago. They were all aliens living in a star-system twelve light-years from Earth.

Acutely appropriate for a guy who’d usually felt like an alien himself :-)

Most importantly, I had to use what I’d learned of resignation and sacrifice during ten years of growing up and make a place in my mind and heart for Sena Quaren, the “co-author” of the book.

I think an author has to have a submissive ego to truly let their characters come alive. If the ego can’t get out of the way long enough for the author to form a relationship with their characters, the book will either never get written or be written in a hackneyed and stilted style.

Until eleven years ago, I’d been living a hackneyed and stilted life. Even though there were eruptions of authenticity over the years, I was more amorphous than substantial, more tentative than responsible, more dream-like than imaginative.

I salute the pain suffered in that crucible of preparation. I see it all as a worthy discipline–my paying of long-deferred dues

So, all-told, I’ve been studying and learning how to live Peace for 23 years and all that effort has reached a culmination in a rather slim book—dense with promise, pregnant with its successor, facing a World of greed and war and holding aloft a banner with words uttered by one of its characters, Morna: “Patience is our weapon of choice.”
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Where Do Writers Find Their Ideas?

From that little bunny that pops out of the magician’s hat?

From dragons who’ve run out of knights to fight?

From bookies who moonlight as creative content dispensers?

Ya think??

One of the most common sources claimed for the brilliant ideas writers sometimes display is the fabled Muse. I’ll come back to that source in a minute…

Some writers steal their ideas.

I’m not talking about plagiarism. What they do is “borrow” plots, characters, or themes from books they’ve read. Then, they dress them in different clothes, do some creative plastic surgery, or otherwise mold them into more original guises.

Some people contend there are an extremely limited number of plots and character types available to humans and all writers are always dipping into that pool of dreams. This relates to the Muse and I’ll bring it back up shortly…

There are writers who will tell you there is no magic or psychological mystery to how they come up with ideas for stories. These folks are in the minority and just might be unaware that they’re attributing far to much power to their naturally-limited conscious mind…

Most of us don’t go around all day, or sit at our desks all day, and remain aware of the vast territories of a resource we all share, the Collective Unconscious.

Apparently, we all have a rich storehouse of Archetypes, deep in a space in our minds, that holds idea-complexes that “drive” us to create stories; or, if we don’t take care of our mental hygiene, drive us to sociopathic acts. Hence, many writers’ conversations about the therapeutic value of their work…

The archetypes of the collective unconscious include powerful, basic ideas represented as mythic characters like: The Mother, The Virgin, The Hag, The Hero, The Child, The Lover, The Beast, and, of course, the Beloved Muse who seems to be destined to carry these ideas from their deep haunts up to the light of the writer’s conscious mind…

All this psycho-mumble may or may not be true. But, the entire contents of a book that thrills us and helps us change our lives may or may not be true…

I’m betting on the bookie :-)
Where do your bright ideas come from?
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