Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dyes, Stains, and Yummy Rot

This time I'll jump right in with the topic I was trying to get to last time. There's a very important part of the writing processes that I think may be underused in a lot of cases and is something I intend to fully exploit. I don't know what anyone else calls it but I call it “Taint”. Everybody knows about “Voice”, it's an inescapable--and a good thing too--part of the story whether it be a flash fiction or a novel series. The voice is the taint of the author, it can be intentional or otherwise. While I certainly don't want to overlook that kind of taint I am more interested in a more intimate form, within the story itself, the kinds of taint created by the characters and to a lesser extent the setting.

I think the most underused kind of taint is the kind that forms misinformation. There seems to be a trend for everything in a story to be as true as possible. The truth seems paramount unless lying is called for in the story. I speak of the sorts of things where a character is never ignorant of a fact and cannot spout off something completely wrong. Sure there are many who don't know things, but when they do know something they rarely know it as wrong, or so it's been my experience in reading. Sometimes as a matter of the truth we know as realism I'd like to see things to be wrong now again. I know it will drive the nitpickers crazy but I'm willing to do that.

Beyond misinformation would be misdirection. One has to be exceeding careful in misleading the audience. Some forms of doing that severely tick off the reader, like the carefully crafted sympathetic hero who suddenly at the end turns out to be the villain who couldn't stand how evil he was and became, even in his own head, the dead hero. Bah! I hate that book for that ending! Um, where was I. Oh right. Done right I think there is a lot of tension, drama, and all sort of other good things to be had from a misdirection lynch pin that holds together a bunch of events and drives the story both before and especially after the pin gives way and everything falls apart.

The final height I think is to layer and overlap the taints. Beyond the author's voice is the character's voices which can taint the author's voice. Misinformation can lead to misdirection and vice versa. All four of these can and should combine to be a huge part of they way the story lives and breathes. Its an addition to the verisimilitude, the reality of the story in all terms, setting, plot, characterisation, and even any message the story might carry no matter how obvious, convoluted, or subtle. Consider it next time you read a story or book. Some of us are thinking of it during the writing.

Mood: funkadelic.
Music: I Want to Break Free by Queen and Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf.

Queen: The Works
Buy these at Amazon.ca
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Meatloaf: Bat Out of Hell

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