Monday, February 11, 2008

Ten ways to know a story was written by me

The book is written in first person or in third person with strange narrative styleFrankly, I'm scared of the third person narration. When I do it it feels flat and banal. The characters seem distance. Unless I make the story a fairy-tale or very stylized.

Estranged Brothers/Family Outcast/In-law problems/Isolated from society, clan or caste, main character has some issue that makes them a bit unlikable to other characters in book or to the reader. My main character in Wind Follower had seizures which made him pee on himself. He was also pretty whiny and self-centered to begin with.

Very kind people/Moral TreacheryI love kindness. But I also love when moral treachery pops up and friends are betrayed. I can only think I was influenced by Tristan and Isolde, and by Wings of a Dove. Manners and societal issues are very important, especially etiquette. As Talking Heads sang, "I hate people when they're not polite."

An ill main character. Whether it's mental illness, physical illness, developmental delay...All my stories have at least one character with a life that has been thwarted by some grievous emotional or physical wound. My story Black is the color of my true love's hair, published in Fantastical Visions III has an Irish knight who is riding home from the Crusades who has been wounded by a sword...and the wound is incurable. My characters also cannot sleep.

Sexual issuesAh me! Sex is so dang complicated. Sex used as a sleeping pill, as a means of comfort. Sex used to manipulate. I don't know if any of my characters have ever had any kind of sane sex. Something Christian in me wants to explore this.

Morbid introspection/Religion/Existentialism/WorldwearinessMy books always have some religious issue. Sometimes political or imperialistic issues challenge the religious ones. Sometimes there is a heavy dose of morbid introspection because my characters are too honest with themselves about their temptation and sin.

Married protagonistsInterracial/intercultural marriage, odd combinations, or May-July relationshipsRomance is about finding the right and perfect person. Often one of my characters falls in love at first sight. In my story characters are always thinking of marriage. Marriage is the most romantic and complicated of journeys. And life tends to fight against true love. And God help the characters because they generally do not believe in divorce. They're in it for the long haul. Can the love survive?

A challenge to my readersI can't help it. I don't like to think of myself as argumentative but I always have to get some political, religious, or creative thing in my books which seems created simply to offend. Some sections in my books can make a reader angry or uncomfortable. Oh well.


Morbid introspectionI love normal life. I think my books end up sounding poetic because there is such sincerity and soul-searching going on in stories about these normal folks. I read a lot of memoirs and I suspect this is where this habit comes from. It's the heartfelt pain of the characters that make the narration has to be lyrical and beautiful and poetic.

Religion, The Supernatural and GodThe supernatural is such an important part of my life. For some religion is all about dogma and doctrine but Biblical Christianity has a lot of supernatural stuff in it. Plus I'm Jamaican. The Jamaican and the Pentecostal mentality in me always has to make religion supernatural. My characters often need some supernatural event to help them out of their fix. They are also very aware of sin. Redemption and the love of God is very important. Even if religion isn't Christianity, I'd like to think that something in the book shows my relationship with my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
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