Thursday, January 11, 2007

Class Starts Today + Idea

Well, today I start teaching my creative writing class again.  It's a lot of fun; I really enjoy interacting with aspiring writers and being part of a writing community.  I've got some new ideas regarding how I want to work the class.  I'm tempted to turn it into a mini Nanowrimo, forcing the students to each write a novella length manuscript that they start, work on, then complete during the class.  I think that 50k might be too much to require, however.  I'll have them do 25k instead.  (Though part of me wants to lay a full 50k demand on them.  Still, that wouldn't be a fair workload, I think.)

Since I haven't done one for  a while--and since someone chastised me for the lack--here's an Idea of The Day.

Story Prompt: Write a story about an alcoholic in a fantasy world doing an important job.

I've been thinking a lot about a character I used in a book that I never finished.  (MYTHWALKER, if anyone cares.)  I had this great, affable soldier character who became the mentor of the protagonist.  The problem is, that soldier was an alcoholic, and tended to do things like sell his weapons in order to get money to drink.  It was a fun character to write because I felt like I made the conflict REAL for him.  He was a good character, likable, but he just had this quirk that rounded him out.  One of my favorite character traits of Sherlock Holmes was his cocaine addiction--not because he worked through it or overcame drugs, but because he didn't.  It wasn't something for him to overcome; it was simply part of who he was.  (Not that I'm advocating this in real life, of course.  It just make the character more rounded.) 

So, give it a try.  Make a character who is important, competent, yet also addicted.  Not the most original idea, I know, but it seems to me that in fantasy we're far to eager to give our heroes 'fake' flaws.  Flaws that are really just advantages in disguise.  Instead, try giving a character something that would normally make you dislike a person in real life, and don't make it an advantage--or even something to overcome.  Then, make the reader like them anyway. 

Also, here's a comic that made me laugh:

The one before is pretty good too. 

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