26 February 2014

Doll Bones, by Holly Black

A progress report, rather than a review.
According to the book trailer, I think it's supposed to be scary--I haven't gotten that far yet.  Well, there have been one or two hints--like "the Great Queen", a bone-china doll locked in a cabinet, whose eyes flutter.  And I think I'm about to get to the scary part.
But, what makes this such an important book for me is the beginning.  The three main characters, Zach, Alice and Poppy, have this thing where they "play" with action figures.  Except I would call it "role-playing".  They are clearly role-players who haven't yet discovered RPG books.
This is a book for gamers.  Also for writers, because my experience with writing is very similar to my experience with gaming, especially if I haven't got idea one about what I'm about to write (like every November): the characters do have a life outside you if you let them, and they will make decisions you never would have.
This is also a book for people who don't understand writers/gamers: Zach does an excellent job of describing what it's like.  (Or even for some gamers who have never let their characters live outside of them.)

My first major experience with this was with what I tend to call "my first real character"--Aidan.  I had played a lot of D&D before that, and my experience with D&D is that it makes it very hard to have a real character--you don't usually think about why your character is killing creatures and collecting gold--that's just the point of the game.
But Aidan--she was a real, breathing character with wants and desires and goals and a worldview.  And one day, I sat down to write a brief story about how she was coping with something traumatic; I'd had an idea of what would happen, but partway through, Aidan just tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Let me tell you what happened."  Then I continued writing the story, a completely different story from what I had planned, because Aidan let me know that what I had planned would never have happened.

I had similar experiences with TWISTING FATES.  Every so often, I would be writing along, no real clue what was going to happen, and I would realize that the scene was dull.  Every time I realized that I was bored writing a scene, something would start happening.  Someone would start acting dodgy, or someone would say something that didn't make sense, based on the pages before--and the thing is, I had no idea what was really happening.  When someone was acting dodgy, I had to find out along the way, maybe just a step ahead of my characters, but sometimes at the same time (depending on how important to the plot it was--if it was major, I'd have to make a decision, but if it wasn't ... ).
The Deadlands, a major feature of the geography, and also a pretty big plot piece, were born out of a statement that they would need to buy supplies, when up until that point, supplies hadn't been an issue--villages were close together, and there was plenty of forage/hunting.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Say hi, leave a note. I'd love to hear from you!