Friday, February 19, 2016

Character Creation: Twitch

Once, in a writing workshop, the topic of character creation came up - specifically, how similar or dissimilar our characters are from ourselves.  It was a fascinating conversation, and one that really draws a line between the beginning writer and the professional.  Writers beginning on their journeys, or so the conversation went, have a tendency to try to create - or to create unintentionally - characters that are very similar to themselves.  Fanfiction writers, it seems, are particularly guilty of the sin of fictionalizing themselves and placing those characters into tales as the saviors or love interests of the established characters they have chosen to write about.

Writing a character so close to yourself, it seems to me, is dangerous for the writer.  Not in any real-world peril - but more in terms of making it hard to distance yourself from rejection.  If you're writing a novel and the protagonist is a thinly-veiled you, or a you-that-you-wish-you-were, how easy is it to take even constructive criticism?  How much will it sting when the novel is rejected?  Our written works are our babies anyway - but to have them be an extension of ourselves is risky to our creative hearts, thick skins be darned.

So I set about to create a character who was the virtual opposite of myself... just to see if I could.  To see how difficult it would be to get into the head of someone intentionally Other.  I created Twitch, who I saw as a sort of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH protagonist.  Her story hasn't gone far, though I keep thinking I'd like to play around with it... it's mired in the planning stage right now... but I found that I truly liked Twitch, the sassy, anti-human, who-needs-romance leading lady.

Well, a lady of a sort...


Let me start off by saying this:  I do NOT like you.  No, really.  I really don’t give two whiskers what you think of me, or if you think I’m out of line for saying it.  It’s true.   I really, truly, can’t stand you people.  But it’s nothing personal.

Okay, it’s REALLY personal.  

I am a rat.  Yes, a rat.  Not a mouse.  Not a hamster.  Nothing that you human types would consider remotely cute and fuzzy.  A rat.  R - A - T.  Rat.

I do not wear clothes.  When I was a little squeak, I read some human book where the mice and moles and badgers and all were dressed up as monks from the Dark Ages - robes, sandals, the whole shebang - and lived in a castle of some sort, just their size.  Unbelievable.  Besides the walking on two legs, which is insane if you want to get anywhere fast, ROBES?  SANDALS?  Seriously?  

And don’t get me started on Beatrix Potter.  Puh-leaze.  

For the record, NO animal wears clothes, except you humans and those humiliated little dogs some of you insist on dressing up like dolls which is, really, incredibly disturbing.  So - no clothes.  Real animals don’t need ‘em.  Fur is more than fine, thank-you-very-much.

But back to the point.  I am a rat, and if you have issues with that, I don’t want to hear about them.  No “eww, that tail” or “gross, a rat” or any of that turd-drop stuff.  You don’t like rats?  Fine.  There’s the door.  Don’t catch your tail in it on the way out.  I couldn’t care less, because - as I said before - I hate you people.

You can’t blame me here.  Rats - decent animals going about minding their own business, trying to find food, shelter, water, and raise the next generation.  Humans - not so decent animals who can’t seem to pass a rat on the street without screeching, stomping, throwing something, or trying to kill it in any one of a thousand barbaric ways.  Humans have been waging genocide on rodents for centuries… poisons, traps, tortures, you name it.  And then, if that’s not enough, you’ve bred an entire population of rats purely for your own scientific tortures.

If you were me, would you like you very much?  Didn’t think so.  And don’t give me “but not all humans are evil.”  Not all rats are filthy disease carriers, but that doesn’t stop YOU people, does it?


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