Tonight on, Schizophrenic Passion: A Look Into the Writer's Mind, we'll be taking questions from the audience.
The queries can be addressed to our special guest, Demented Dee, or to any number of characters running amok in her mind.
Keep in mind that surprises happen, and you may get to hear several sides of the... story.
Public questions are encouraged in the comments, private messages are allowed backstage. Some questions below have come to us from other forums, and are gathered in aggregate, here.
Should you choose to whisper, please do tell us if you wish to keep your name and innocence protected.
Now relax... inquire... and enjoy.
Anonymous on Tumblr asks:
When you begin a new story, do you use a character notebook before you start writing? How do you typically start when you're working on something brand new?
It's a fascinating question, as it made me aware of how difficult it is for me to recall when I *start* something, especially in reference to characters. Sometimes it's easy for me to remember exactly when I met a certain character (Weston Evantide has a very clear entrance), and sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's easy to recall the beginning of a story -- the ones wherein I deliberately sit down and BEGIN, all-caps appropriate. But for some stories, I have no idea when they began, really. And some have always been with me.
For the sake of the argument, however, I'll think of a story that I purposefully chose to write that is newer to the arsenal. I'll call in some of the individuals that I've not known for very long in on this, (wave to Asher, everybody), too.
Unfortunately at that point, the path continues to diverge. Some stories begin in Word with line one, chapter one. Some begin with scenes. Some start with character sheets, others with scribbles on the back of grocery receipts. Some are dreams, others are done to make a point, and some are to fix a piece of reality.
Since describing the particular process appears to be, ah, challenging... I'll stick to general patterns.
Stories are about people. So, the first step is always getting to know the stars of your show. You're talking about a specific incident in that person's life, be it past, present, or future, and so I try to gather all the relevant data to the central storyline. Shaking hands and information gathering is critical. Think of it like being a reporter: get your facts, check your sources, know who you can trust and who you can't.
I'd say something like 90% of my stories start with characters -- the people. To me, there is very little difference between someone I know "in the flesh" and someone who only "exists" in my head.
I read this fascinating introspective piece once upon an age ago in one of my dusty psychology texts. Your brain, by itself, cannot intrinsically distinguish between what *really* happens versus what does not. This is why people who have anxiety/some types of mental disorders have such a horrible time. To them, when they imagine the worst case scenarios over and over, their brain is telling them it's happening *right now*.
Now, most people use sensory information, rational, logic, and external input (other people/evidence/etc) to clue them in as to what did happen as opposed to what didn't. But when your brain circuits misfire, sometimes those "imagined" events might as well be real for all the emotional impact they have and the bodily responses they invoke.
Think about the last time you fantasized about what you would do with a certain someone in a darkened room with a door that locked and hours to spend inside.
How did *your* body react?
Precisely. Anyway, I say all that, as, to me, the people/creatures living in my head and the places/universes in which they reside and the circumstances/events/tragedies/bits of bliss that happen to them are very, very real.
So, when somebody new comes along, I invite him or her into some place cozy. I ask them what they like to eat, what they want to drink, why they're passing through, and I treat them with respect and courtesy.
It's amazing what happens when you get somebody talking, and the next thing you know... the story is already written. It's just a matter of putting fingers to keys to page.