Saturday, January 12, 2008

Alien thought processes

When writing speculative fiction, I've found sometimes I have to think in ways not natural to me. Generally when writing human characters, there's little problem; I'm human, so even if a way of thinking is foreign to me I can ponder it (maybe even study it online somehow).

However, sometimes I'm writing about someone who is different enough from the average human that I have to stretch my imagination a bit more than normal to get the feel for the character. I'm not talking sci-fi aliens here, because I rarely use them, and I'm not talking about your typical fantasy humanoids or demi-humans like elves and orcs and such, because I rarely use them either.

I'm talking about beings who appear and seem to be normal humans, but who are not. I'm most specifically talking about my John Dee character, who I'm finding intersting in a lot of different ways (and here I go again talking about my current favorite character while trying not to give away too much information about him).

Because of the speculative aspects of John's existence, he doesn't think like a normal person. He can't, even if he wanted to. His experience has been so much beyond what a normal human experiences that his thoughts would boggle the minds of most. However, John has a certain hangup, that won't allow him to progress beyond a certain emotional and/or spiritual point. Therein lies his true problem, his true tragedy; despite his dearth of experience, he can't make a little emotional adjustment that would end his own self torture.

Actually, if John existed in a more typical fantasy world, with a certain level of magic or speculative elements, he probably would be better off emotionally. But he doesn't live in that world. He lives in our world, and the speculative is hard to reach, and in a lot of ways frustrating for him.

I've said more than enough. I'm yacking just to work out my own thoughts on this. But, as John might say, "The rest of you are allowed to be amused.

"Or not."


Howard von Darkmoor said...

excellent musing, Ty, thanks for sharing (and, see, I'm reading your posts the day you write them again).

But don't you mean despite his vast experience and not his lack of experience? And I know I've only the contact with the one story, but I'm rather curious about what the 'little emotional adjustment' would be.

Has the origination of Mr. Dee been written yet? It seems that story may qualify for a certain style zine, wouldn't it?

Ty Johnston said...

Yeah, Jason, that was just a slip of my fingers. Yes, John has vast experience, at least compared to normal humans.

As for John’s origin story, it would likely turn out to be multiple stories. There’s also a certain point in time that I’m not sure I’d go back to, mainly because there are specific historical/religious figures that I don’t want to give my own impressions of, or my own spin on them. It’s not that I fear doing so, but I think it gives John’s universe a bit of mystery if I leave it up to the reader to decide whether such-and-such a person was real or what they were like.

Actually, some of John’s early history can be found online in different places. I’m not using everything written about the actual person (if he truly even existed), but I’ve taken what I like and discarded other parts, and made up some stuff too.

And anyone looking up John Dee likely won’t find out anything about my character. John Dee isn’t his real name (as Jason knows), but it is a name he’s taken from history and uses for his own purposes (and there’s a bit of a story behind this too … maybe I’ll write it someday).

So far, most of the stories I’ve written about John Dee are set in or near modern times, though I do have one story set in 1892. I’ve about a dozen other stories running around in my mind at the moment, most of these being historical.

As for John’s historical tales, I’m thinking Paradox might receive a story or two from me. Most of John’s modern tales lean toward horror or dark fantasy. It’s possible a few of John’s very early tales might be somewhat Sword and Sorcery, but I’ll have to see about that.

Howard von Darkmoor said...

well it's all very, very interesting to me. I believe it will be fun to watch the story of John Dee unfold. I think I'll tag along. :)

Ty Johnston said...

Well, HvD, for good or ill, John's story probably won't unfold in any kind of order that makes sense to anyone but me.

And then, I've got to get some of the darn things published.

Though, if I write enough Dee stories, I have considered printing my own collection of them. I've never seriously considered self-publishing before, but I might think of doing it with the Dee stories.

It's also possible I might eventually lose interest in him as a character. But right now I'm seeing more possibilities than I have with any character I've written in a long time. And when I think about it, it's not so much that I like Dee as a character, but I find fascinating the flaws he has.

As for a Dee novel? Probably not any time soon, if ever. I like the idea of him as a serial character too much. And any novel-like ideas I have would have to make Dee either the hero or the villain, and I find that too constricting. He's both, and neither, at different times ... and sometimes all at the same time.

Howard von Darkmoor said...

Not a prob, friend Ty. I sense your enthusiasm and it is a good thing. Dee could eventually appear in a multitude of genre zines - S&S, horror, sci-fi, adventure, fantasy, historical adventure/alternative, even a literary mag if you wrote a tale such. He gives you far more versatility than anything else of yours I'm aware of.

And I agree - nix the novel approach, Dee's at most a novella guy - it's his nature to be ill-defined, unbound by such stricture. The best he could be in a novel is a secondary character, similar to Knaak's Shade in The Dragonrealm series - a character I just loved to read about, found him fascinating while fully realizing he could never be a main character. I wish he'd show up again, somewhere, though.