Stereotypical expectations

I’m currently working on character sketches for a web serial I hope to start writing soon. I wanted to have it started by August, but that’s obviously not going to happen. Regardless, this web serial is going to be one of the longer projects I’ve written so I found a very detailed character sketch template. It’s really useful and asks for some really wonderful details to help flesh out the character. My favourite of which is “In the character’s own words: something the character says which is illustrative of her/his self-perception.” Dialogue is my favourite part of writing. I’m kinda awful at the describing things/people, and am potentially going to take to Douglas Adamsian route of describing things. (For example, his description of space. “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”) I do love how Adams can make you laugh and give an honest description of something without ever quite saying what it looks like. So, with my future writing, I hope to try something in this style. I’m getting off track, though. The reason I like this style is because I write very dialogue heavy things. This section of the sketch really helps me understand my characters because I tend to think in conversations. If I can imagine two characters talking to each other I feel like I really start to understand who they are.

The rest of this character sketch is not dialogue based, unfortunately, and there is one section of it I continue to struggle with.

Is the reader likely to have stereotypical expectations about this character?
How does the character defy the stereotype?
How does she conform to the stereotype?

The thing is, this story is about Norse Gods. With some characters, I manage to answer these questions really easily. Will people have stereotypical expectations of Thor? Yes. Page one, he’s gonna be a big, boisterous, ginger, brute. There are a lot of stereotypes there. I understand fully how he will conform to an deny the stereotypes as well. I won’t say how because I hope you’ll all read this stuff and have a reason to worry about spoilers. These questions are definitely easy to answer in regards to Thor. However they aren’t so easy to answer when thinking about other characters. Like Balder for example.

One of the major issues that comes along with writing Norse characters is that many of the people I know have only ever been exposed to them via Marvel Comics and Marvel movies. My versions of the characters are based much more directly on the myths however. I don’t think people (at least those I’ve encountered) have much of an understanding of Thor or any of the Norse gods, so the stereotypes associated with the characters will probably be based on how I initially write the characters. Balder is a bit of a strange case though. He’s a god of beauty and poetry, and he’s an extremely kind person. He’s destined to die (his death triggering Ragnarok). So since I’ve never met people who know much about Balder, I’m not sure if a friendly god of beauty fated to die will trigger stereotypical expectations or not. This isn’t a type of person I’ve ever encountered. I think I’ve been wanting to answer this first question “yes” every time because I like to think about how they may defy stereotypes. But this may be a case where there isn’t an immediate stereotype. It is a pretty unique situation. So what do you think? Does a beautiful, fit, blonde man with a heart of gold and a morbid destiny trigger any stereotypes in your mind? Leave a comment and let me know!

Progress

Procrastination has always been a major issue in my life. I’ve tried to find ways around it but motivation isn’t something that comes easily. Some of the best advice I’ve ever read essentially tells you that you shouldn’t wait for motivation. You should just act instead of waiting to feel like you want to. This is what i’ve been trying to do since I started this blog. In order to help with that I’ve made a daily to do list in my phone. It’s small, but it honestly does help. Every day I’m trying to read two things (either 2 comic books, 2 chapters of a novel, or 1 of each) and write something. The writing can be anything from this blog to a story or even pre writing for a project. Unfortunately I can’t say I’ve been able to keep up with my daily reading and writing yet. But more important than anything is the fact that I have honestly been trying. This week I’ve managed to pull it off every other day. This doesn’t seem like much but it’s a big step for me. It seems kind of ridiculous that I struggle so much to do these three simple things in a day. But it is so easy to find other things to do. I wind up spending time with friends, watching TV and movies, and pretty much doing everything but reading and writing. I’ve been getting better at saying “no” though. That’s a huge part of it. I have to be able to say no to friends who want to hang out every day. I have to say no to watching another episode of something on Netflix. I have to say no to playing video games all night. And I have to say yes to reading and writing, which are supposed to be the really important things in my life. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the psychology of procrastination. Maybe I’ll do some research this week and post about it. For now, I’ll take pride in the fact that I’m making progress. Let’s see if I can read and write every day this week. I really hope I can pull it off!

My apologies if this post is a bit rambly. I am quite tired, and wanted to push myself to get some writing done. It feels pretty incoherent, but I do hope to explore the procrastination thing in a post! So look forward to that soon!

Dr. Minerva

It’s a day late, but I got it done! I wrote another piece of flash fiction. This time I used 1,000 words as the limit. I’ve read a few articles that cite different lengths for the format. I opted to go with 1,000 because 500 feels a bit too limiting for some of my ideas. My first draft of this story even clocked in at almost 1,100. I managed to get it under 1,000 and I’m pretty happy with it! I do enjoy these characters, and had fun playing with the idea of a Mad Scientist who hasn’t a clue what she’s doing. I hope you enjoy it, and hopefully we’ll see more of Angela and Dr. Minerva in the future!

Dr. Minerva

Angela inhaled deeply. She looked in the car mirror, checked her hair, and adjusted her glasses so they sat perfectly on her face. She straightened her back, rehearsed her introduction for the tenth time, cracked her knuckles, and smiled a thin lipped smile. She was ready for anything. She stepped out of the car, and walked with a very determined, professional gate toward the laboratory, her new heels clicking on the pavement. She knocked sharply on the door, which promptly shot open as a massive explosion came from inside, knocking her flat on her bottom. Dazed momentarily, she pulled out a compact mirror. Her hair was messy, her glasses cracked, and her makeup smudged. Angela wasn’t the type to worry, however, as she took out her replacement pair of glasses, combed her hair, and fixed her make up. She got to her feet appearing as perfect as ever and the smoke hadn’t even cleared from the doorway. She marched straight through the door.

* * *

Dr. Minerva scratched her grey, frizzled hair as she stared at the machine she had just built. She stood on the tip of her toes, tried to reach a loose panel and smash it with a hammer. She grumbled a bit and patted her round belly, tossing the hammer behind her as she was almost ready go give up. She jumped a bit as a loud crash came from behind her. The hammer had let loose a massive calamity of sound as a pile of scrap metal and discarded machine parts fell to the ground. She spun around on the balls of her feet and stared at the mess. There it was. The solution to all of her problems. A little electronic piece of who knows what, separate from the rest of the mess. She picked it up, smiled a wide, manic smile and clicked her crooked overbite together with excitement. She didn’t know what it was, what it came from, or what it would do. She just knew it was the solution to all of her problems. So she got back to work.

She placed the little electronic thingamajig against a spot on the machine that looked like a good place for it to be, and smashed away with a hammer. Somehow it managed to stay attached as some little blinky lights started to blink away. Dr. Minerva smiled at what she had assumed was a successful addition to her machine. Suddenly noticing a tiny thing that looked like it could be twisted on the thing she just hammered on, she decided to give it a turn. There was a loud, sharp, knock on the door as she twisted the twisty bit, and discovered that it had a rather unique and exciting function. It caused explosions. Great, big ones that knocked newly hired assistants flat on their bottoms while they knocked on doors. Splendid.

Dr. Minerva saw a woman with inexplicably perfect hair, professional clothes, and pristine black rimmed glasses walk through the smoke. The woman smiled and stretched out her hand.

“Hello, Dr. Minerva,” she said, “My name is Angela. I’m your new assistant.”

Dr. Minerva smiled a sooty smile and clicked her teeth together.

“Hello,” She shouted as she shook Angela’s hand excitedly, “Good to have you on board!”

Dr. Minerva spun around and grabbed a wrench.

“Now grab something big and chrome,” she said with a grin, “I have a feeling this thing needs something big and chrome slapped on.”

Angela was stone faced, but internally surprised. She turned to the heap of metal and scraps that took up most of the laboratory. She stepped up to the nearest large, chrome thing she could find and dragged it towards Dr. Minerva.

“Hold it up,” Dr. Minerva said as she pulled out a small, pointy thing that was probably used for soldering.

Angela sighed internally as she looked at the massive, heavy, chrome chunk of metal. She lifted it with much difficulty while somehow making it look incredibly easy. Dr. Minerva soldered the chrome chunk to her massive contraption. She removed a little microchip esque object from her pocket, looked at it, grunted, and soldered it to the chrome chunk. She stepped back, and smiled.

“Thanks for your assistance, Angela,” Dr. Minerva said, “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Angela gazed, as stone faced as ever, at a massive patchwork of metal, blinking lights, and microchips. It seemed to have a door on the front of it. Or the side. Angela couldn’t tell which side was which. So she opted, as usual, to lie.

“It looks wonderful,” Angela said. “What does it do?”

“Haven’t a god damn clue,” Dr. Minerva said as she tossed away her probably soldering iron, “Wanna give it a spin?”

Angela was incredibly surprised and nervous. Internally, of course. Externally she appeared calm and collected.

“Of course. I’d love to.”

Dr. Minerva spun around and looked Angela with wide eyes.

“You’re kidding.”

Dr. Minerva reached up and gave Angela a firm pat on the shoulder.

“Ten different assistants got to this point and damn near wet themselves before running out the door.” Dr. Minerva smiled. “You sure you’re not scared?”

Angela was positively terrified. Internally.

“Not one bit,” Angela said, stone faced.

“HA HA!” Dr. Minerva yelled, “I like you! Let’s do it!”

Dr. Minerva grabbed Angela by the hand and dragged her inside the machine. The door slammed shut, and lights started flashing. Angela stared forward showing zero signs of the complete terror she was feeling. They stood silently as Dr. Minerva smiled.

“Your credentials,” Dr. Minerva said, “All of ’em were faked, weren’t they?”

“Bald faced lies the lot of them,” Angela admitted.

“Good. I hate people who know what they’re getting in to. No damn fun.”

“What exactly does this thing do?” Angela asked.

“Haven’t the slightest. That’s kind of my thing.”

“Oh good. This should be interesting.”

There was a great crash, a whoosh of air, and the lights went out.

“Welcome to the Job, Angela. Let’s get started.”

A little update

I’ve been working a bit on another piece of flash fiction, that will be up either tonight or tomorrow! I love writing super short stories, so I hope to do more of these as time goes on. I am hoping to start my Web Serial by the beginning of August, so I’m trying to work on that as well! Once I finish writing character sketches, and re-write the chapter outline one more time, it’ll all be good to go! Hopefully once I get into the groove of it all I’ll be able to publish a chapter of the serial one week and a flash fiction the next week. But for now, look forward to a story about a mad scientist named Minerva!

The next chapter

So I’ve been falling behind on blog posts and even falling behind on working on my web serial lately. I got a new job that’s been tiring me out and then I got a throat infection that knocked me out for about a week. But I’m healthy again and not making any more excuses! Also, my friend Mary just made a post about getting back into writing for reasons similar to mine and it has inspired me to  keep at it. I was going to write a short review of a B movie I watched last night but I may save that for another time. For now, I’m just going to write a little bit about my plans for the near future.

I recently moved back to my home town after four years of university and one year of working (and making a short film) in Regina. My reason for coming home is to try to save up some money to be able to move to Edmonton, where I hope to be abel to find some work in the film industry. I also really love Edmonton and think it would be a generally nice city to live in. I was hoping to save up a good sum of money and move sometime in the winter. Unfortunately it took my over a month to find a good job, and I only wound up finding it because I decided to become a student again in the fall. The job is great (making videos and taking photos for the Western Development Museum) but, as a student position, it only lasts about three months. So I’ve decided that from here on out I’m going to live as frugally as possible and try to make the move to Edmonton as soon as this job ends. My main reason behind this is because I had enough difficulty finding a job this time around that I don’t want to suffer through the process again in the fall. Most of the good paying jobs in this town start as casual positions and expect you to stick around for years to become full time. Obviously I only want to be here for a few months so if I manage to get anything it’s going to be a poorly paying retail job that will take ages to add up to any real savings. So all in all it seems like moving to a city with more opportunities, especially opportunities in my preferred industry, will do me more good than trying to save up cash at some dead end job in my home town.

Thinking about it is a bit nerve wracking. At most I’ll have saved a few thousand dollars. I will have to find a place to live and a job around the same time in a city I’ve never lived in before. It’s also very exciting because this will be the first time I’ve lived outside of Saskatchewan. It’s only one province over but it still feels really new and interesting to me. Trying to live and work at home always makes me feel a bit depressed and frustrated because it seems like everything here too temporary or too permanent. The fun jobs are for summer students and end so quickly, and the good paying jobs are a huge investment of time and not of much interest to me. The main draw of living at home is to be able to worry less about finances which is a big thing for me because I’m not the best with money. But I need to start taking this part of my life a lot more seriously and start spending less. I’m getting better at this and am managing to sell/give away a lot of my old stuff. As long as I can get a decent job in Edmonton and avoid excess spending, I think I can get into a comfortable place in my life financially. If I can do this and keep up with my creative work, I think I’ll be quite happy. It’s going to be a big change but I think it’s for the best. Wish me luck as I prepare over the next few months!