Sunday, June 7, 2015

We Could Be (Anti)Heroes

I've been playing Grand Theft Auto V for the PS4. Like pretty much all the GTA games, you're playing a character who's basically a criminal and a scumbag. (You can switch between three characters in this one, but . . . well, let's just say all of them are lacking for virtue.)

They're the protagonists of the game. But they're definitely not heroes.

We also don't need them to be.

In terms of movies and pop culture (to include books), we live in a post-Matrix world. We've gotten used to the protagonists wearing black, scoffing at the law and establishment, and killing people. Take the FX TV show The Shield. The protagonist is a dirty cop who kills, lies, steals, philanders, and more along the way. Yet we kept watching. Vic Mackey was no hero; he was an antihero, with the emphasis on "anti." But he was a great character on a really good show.

Protagonists don't need to be white-hat-wearing Dudley Do-Right characters anymore. We've gotten used to rooting for people who live in the shades of grey. Maybe we've even come to expect it. Good characters--as in well-developed, not virtuous--drive a story. After all, isn't someone who's morally grey more interesting than someone who's as pure as the driven snow?

My protagonists tend to live in those shades of grey. I think it makes them more intriguing (they're aware of their grey-ness, for what it's worth) and opens up better opportunities for storytelling and conflict. Your mileage may vary, and that's OK. It takes all characters to make up a world.

What are your protagonists like?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Respecting the Process

Like many things, writing (that is, writing with the aim of publication) is a process. It's a pretty established one at this point, so I don't think you need me to rehash it for you.

I'm either patient or impatient, depending on what we're talking about. Working in IT for years has taught me patience with respect to technology. It's also taught me to respect (and use) the troubleshooting process.

The issue is, I want to jump the process with respect to writing.

I'm in a writing group. It's a good group. I've gotten some very useful feedback on my first mystery novel there. I'd like to get the book completely thru the group and have feedback on the whole thing. However, that takes time. Months, in fact. Here's where my impatience kicks in. Getting the book thru the group would make it better. Making it better would increase my odds of getting an agent if I go the traditional route. I understand that.

I'm just hoping I'm patient enough to see it through.

A compromise might be to get a couple of beta readers. The group is good, but we meet once every three or four weeks, and it will take a while to get the complete book thru in one or two-chapter chunks.

So, loyal readers: should I be patient or impatient? Or is the compromise choice the best one. Sound off.