I think we all do procrastination in various forms - the oven that suddenly requires cleaning urgently, letters that need to be written and cats that must be played with before sitting down to write. In this guest post Amanda Scott outlines how she uses procrastination for character development.
Character and Story Via Procrastination
by Amanda Scott
I always feel an uncomfortable twinge of guilt when leaving my work-in-progress to watch my favorite seasons of Doctor Who. This is time that could be spent writing. However, it allows me to combine my two great loves: writing and the BBC. Like many I think about my writing and its elements all the time. I’m always looking for new sources of conflict, listening to the dialogue of strangers, catching onto accents and dialects, or observing mannerisms and gaits. It was inevitable that my writing obsession would converge with my BBC time. For the next few hundred words I would like to justify the catalyst of procrastination.
Doctor Who is a specific weakness of mine and I confess I enjoy the modern (2005-present) Doctor Who over classic. I will also confess that I become ridiculously attached to characters- the characters of my own creation, characters in books and the characters of my TV shows. I offer no apologies for this because, after all, isn’t the point of ANY story to create a character(s) that people will root for and find sympathetic? I love The Doctor character and adored the way David Tennant portrayed him. When the inescapable reality of his replacement drew near; I almost stopped watching the show because I was sure that I could never see anyone else as The Doctor. Behold! The next Doctor came and I found myself willing to believe this was the same man in a different form. When this happened my writer’s mind started deconstructing this conundrum (it was a conundrum to me anyhow.) I realized the character of the Doctor was so strong and so well written that everything I enjoy about him (confidence, humor, adventurous spirit, kindness, and a sense of wonder) was still intact. It is a testament to great writing to have a different embodiment and not lose the fundamental character. The reliability of the character makes you feel close to him; as if you actually knew him. This is how close I want my readers to feel to my characters. I’m sure you can say something for the actor as well but people talk about them enough already. We see this with Sherlock Holmes too, a character so strong that he transcends time and form (novels, movies and TV adaptations.) character intact. All the time showing that a reliable character does not mean a entirely predictable one and let’s never confuse a character’s arc with inconsistent character. See all the inspiration from procrastination? In fear of getting out of my depth I will not over explain the non-predictable yet reliable character. You will know it when you read it, which is why writers must do a great deal of reading.
Although the Doctor Who character is written for television; which is different from novels, but all the elements of the story still apply and one of those elements is a character. Someone wrote this character so well that multiple writers, plots lines and actors have a clear idea of who this character is - his motivations, his driving force, his weaknesses and his inner demons. We always know what he will not do while still getting to wonder what he will do. So the next time you want to loaf in front of your TV you may call it research, enjoy your time, and then get back to work.
- Turn procrastination into inspiration!
- A good character is worth their weight in publishing contracts (or gold. Whichever you like).
- Writing is a maneuvering of paradoxes and Time Lords.
Videogames. Yes, you read that right, the age of ‘videogames rotting brains’ is over. Like it or not; video games are created by writers and artists, and therefore is an art form.
- Assassins Creed- Character, visuals, plot
- The Elder Scrolls- Especially for fantasy writers
- Minecraft- for landscapes and creative stimulus
- Halo Reach (my preference.) Scifi, teamwork, plot, and guns.
This is such a small list and these are popular games that I love and have found helpful. Go to your local gaming store or online (I recommend STEAM). Ask or look for something that fits your work in progress. I am working on a paranormal romance that involves traveling through Dante’s Inferno. Guess what? There is a game for that! You can also find the soundtracks to these games on YouTube. They are beautiful and inspiring.
Stories are everywhere and in everything. Happy writing and happy procrastinating.
What a great post, Amanda! What do readers feel about using procrastination as an engine to drive character and story? Share your thoughts in the comments below - and share with your friends.