Tag Archive: characters

Jul 02

Writing Under the Influence – Revisited

WHAT’S PLAYING: Ann Savoy “C’est Si Triste”

I was having trouble with the opening scene of my novel in which my protagonist is inebriated. I knew what I wanted to say, but couldn’t figure out how to describe the world from her less than reliable point of view.

I have a good deal of experience with being under the influence, what with my enduring fondness for all things tequila. So, I figured writing about it would be easy.

Not so much.

 

You see, though I still enjoy the occasional cocktail, I usually tap out after two drinks because I am one of the most obnoxious drunks you’ll ever meet. I don’t get belligerent, depressed, or overly affectionate, but something much, much worse.

I get creative.

Crazy ideas pop into my head and I hop around like a coked out bunny rabbit, trying to get everyone to join in on the insanity. Fortunately, my friends discovered the best—and only—way to distract me is to keep plying me with alcohol until I pass out.

 

The last time I got drunk at a party, the night went something like this:

 

ME: Hey, why don’t we all go out and get tattoos?

THEM: Great idea, Jacqui. Why don’t you have another drink before we go?

ME: Okay. (Five minutes later…) Hey! You know what we should do? We should go rock climbing!

THEM: It’s midnight and you’re afraid of heights.

ME: I am?

THEM: *sigh* Here, have another margarita.

ME: Okey Dokey. (Three minutes later…) Hey! I got an idea! Let’s all go off the grid! The girls can wear gingham cotton and the guys can wear assless chaps!

THEM: *stare* Okay. You should definitely have another drink. Now.

ME: Roger that. (One minute later…) Hey! We should all…zzzzzz.

(By the way, if you’re laughing at this, it’s only because you haven’t had to put up with it yet.)

 

Anyway, back to the character, I tried several tactics to describe the world from her inebriated point of view. Then, I thought about how I view the world through tequila-tinted glasses. I always feel perfectly fine, but nothing is where it’s supposed to be. Walls move around. Stairs and door handles suddenly require a PHD to operate. And the ground seems to shuck and jive beneath my feet. In other words, the world is off-balance, not me. Invigorated by this new information, I went back and rewrote the passage, and you know what?

It works.

And mom said I’d never learn anything from the bottom of a bottle.

Your turn. How do you deal with sobriety-challenged people/characters in your life?

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/07/writing-under-the-influence-revisited/

Dec 28

A Lesson in Perspective

WHAT’S PLAYING: Skylar Grey “Dance Without You”

I’m 6’2”, which is tall, especially for a woman. So, you can understand why most people are surprised when they learn that my family calls me “Stumpy.” That is, until they actually meet my family. My father is 6’6” and my older brother is 6’7”. Both my sisters and my mother are 6’4”. Hell, even my great-grandmother is 6’4”, and she shrank. I have a cousin who stands a full foot taller than me, and he’s only sixteen. So, as you can see, compared to rest of my family, I’m…well, stumpy.

 

But out here in the real world, I’m practically a giant. For some reason, many people take this to mean that I’m either stupid, athletic, or have nothing better to do than answer irritating questions.

“You’re tall! How tall are you? Do you play basketball? Do you have trouble finding clothes, shoes, men, etc.?”

To which I usually respond: I know. 6’2”. No. Sometimes, no, and seriously?

(Sheesh. And people wonder why I don’t like to leave my house.)

 

Annoying questions aside, I suppose I understand. I’m probably one of the tallest women they’ve ever seen; while back home, I’m the runt of the litter.

I guess it all depends on your point of view.

Which brings me – in a roundabout way – to perspective. Also known as point of view, perspective is how the narrator of a scene or story views what is happening. So much of who we are colors how we perceive the world: personal experience, relationships (past and present), state of mind, etc. The list goes on.

Not only does perspective affect how we see the world, but also the way in which we relate to others. We are all shaped to a certain extent, by our experiences. We all have baggage.

The same holds true in fiction. Or at least it should.

When choosing a perspective from which to write, an author has to consider all these things and more.

In reality, it’s much easier. All you have to remember is that while my family may get away with calling me Stumpy, I’m still a lot bigger than most of you.

And that I have a black belt in Taekwondo.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2011/12/a-lesson-in-perspective/

Dec 07

How I Deal With Politics…In Writing and in Life

WHAT’S PLAYING: Flight of the Conchords “Robots”

My family likes to argue about everything – politics, religion, abortion, gay marriage, Occupy Wall Street– you name it, it’s up for debate.

This makes holidays especially stressful as dinner conversations usually end like this:

 

Not pretty.

Inevitably, someone will turn to me and ask, “What do you think?”

Me: “Um…please pass the cornbread.”

When it comes to politics and religion, I subscribe to the “ignorance is bliss” philosophy. Mostly because I have enough to worry about without getting entangled in useless arguments. That’s not to say that I don’t care about crucial issues like healthcare and unemployment, I just don’t see the point in debating them over the dining room table. I may be wrong, but I don’t think that yelling at each other is going to put this country to rights. The way I see it, if someone is truly unhappy with the way things are, then they should do something about it. Get involved, write your Congressman, or better yet, run for office. Don’t just sit there and whine.

As you can imagine, this point of view makes me less than popular among my relatives.

 

Still, in the interests of full disclosure, here’s a short list of where I stand on today’s hot-button issues.

Gay marriage: For. Simply because it’s nobody’s business. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no different from marriage between heterosexual couples. 

Abortion: For. Again, none of my business.

Occupy Wall Street: Mixed. While I agree with their sentiment, the lack of personal responsibility irks me. Here’s a link to an article that perfectly sums up my views on the subject:  http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/1031/Occupy-this-One-of-my-friends-works-on-Wall-Street.-One-camps-in-Zucotti-Park

Politics in general: meh.

Religion: not going there.

For some reason, the above topics tend to turn perfectly normal, well-educated adults into a pack of screaming morons willing to resort to blows in order to get their point across. I have a hard enough time maintaining a façade of maturity. Why jeopardize it for something so pointless?

 

I adopt the same attitude when it comes to writing. I’m not trying to change people’s minds or get them to support a cause. All I want to do is tell a story. That’s it. Period.

I’ve written plenty of stories that feature protagonists with whom I have nothing in common, politically or otherwise: thieves, murderers, bigots, and religious fanatics. I’ve written about heroes, villains, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, victims, predators, rapists, saints and sinners. When it comes to writing, they’re all the same to me. Characters created and shaped in service to the story. Nothing more.

What about you? Do you think writers have a duty to help people become more aware? Or should they limit themselves to entertaining? (I’ve read plenty of stories that do both.) Do you think things like politics and religion should shape literature? Or should they be left out so that the story can do what it does best?

Personally, I think I’ll continue to embrace apathy.  

If only to get through family dinners.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2011/12/how-i-deal-with-politics-in-writing-and-in-life/

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