there’s an ask i’m not going to repsond do directly, because the writer who sent it clearly didn’t mean harm and i don’t want to make them feel bad, or bully them, or set them up for mockery and or being bullied, but —
don’t send your ideas to writers you like. because,…
What processes do you go through when creating a character's personality, appearance, and history?
i don’t have a process for this…
i just make stuff up until it feels right.
when I was young I really liked doing character questionnaires and that sort of thing. I had one back in high school (I can’t remember what it was called, I think it was a handout from a writing teacher). I was obsessed with it for a bit and i thought I’d use it for the rest of my life. But I never did. I haven’t done a questionnaire or character tree or anything in any of my published books. I just start writing stuff down and see what clicks.
I probably SHOULD have more of a method for this — i never know much about my characters’ history and stuff. I guess i like discovering it as I go along, but sometimes it would be good to know more up front.
i’m lazy about this kind of thing….. I think it just bores me. I wanna get to the action.
For the appearance, idk… either I have an idea or I don’t. If I don’t, I just start drawing stuff until something feels right.
For the 2 main characters in Seconds, I knew exactly what they looked like and I just refined that initial concept. For another main character I had NO idea and drew a dozen very different versions before I came close. For a love interest, I knew what I wanted in my mind’s eye, but i drew it and hated it, and then two minutes later I sketched a completely different version and ended up going with that; he changed very little from then on.
I think my development process is (a) organic (b) intuitive (c) slow (d) kinda dumb. Sorrrryyyyyyyyy.
The Atlantic: It sounds like you're saying that literary "talent" doesn't inoculate a writer—especially a male writer—from making gross, false misjudgments about gender. You'd think being a great writer would give you empathy and the ability to understand people who are unlike you—whether we're talking about gender or another category. But that doesn't seem to be the case.
Junot Diaz: I think that unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations. Without fail. The only way not to do them is to admit to yourself [that] you're fucked up, admit to yourself that you're not good at this shit, and to be conscious in the way that you create these characters. It's so funny what people call inspiration. I have so many young writers who're like, "Well I was inspired. This was my story." And I'm like, "OK. Sir, your inspiration for your stories is like every other male's inspiration for their stories: that the female is only in there to provide sexual service." There comes a time when this mythical inspiration is exposed for doing exactly what it's truthfully doing: to underscore and reinforce cultural structures, or I'd say, cultural asymmetry.
can you please tell us more about neil and his papier-mâché-dolphin-making girlfriend because that's the best thing I've ever heard (recently). i'm begging you
(refers to this post)
Well, Neil’s quirky girlfriend and an early version of Scott’s brother (Lawrence West) were new characters in the first sketches and notes for volume 5, but they quickly got eliminated.
Lawrence would have been a major character — he was working with Gideon and the Twins because he owed them a debt or something… it was dumb. He basically got completely pulled out and if I needed someone for Twin collaboration I used Julie.
Neil’s girlfriend was going to be a minor character, just some jokes and she was going to be another cute girl for me to draw. She got taken out and at one point we see Neil with another girl who is definitely NOT this deleted girlfriend. Suffice to say, she was going to be cute and quirky and stuff. I dunno. She never really made it further than that. I think her name was Eleanor (after my 2007 dream girl Eleanor Friedberger).
I’ll include sketches and notes for them in the back of the color edition of vol 5 next year! I don’t have time to go through all that stuff right now.
WALLACE: You know. The CASTLE? The one that’s like, two blocks from your old house? Where they filmed “X-Men”? The CASTLE, Scott? CASA LOMA?
SCOTT: Ohhhh… you mean CASTLE OMA.
(Scott is burrowed down in the chair, watching a Lucas Lee movie. Wallace is in the kitchen.)
SCOTT: (very whiny) Wallace, I wanna stop! This movie suuucks!
WALLACE: (firmly) You’re training!
SCOTT: (imploringly) Can I be done? I think I’m done.
WALLACE: (emerging from the kitchen) Which one is Lucas Lee?
(We see Lucas Lee on the screen with a girl. The movie looks dumb.)
SCOTT: (points) That guy!
WALLACE: Good! First stage complete!
SCOTT: What? That’s it? Why’d I have to get FIVE movies?
WALLACE: (shrugging) I thought recognition might take a while.
Here’s a pdf of the original script from Scott Pilgrim volume 2. I haven’t looked at this in years; I have no idea how different it is from the book. Maybe somebody will get something out of it.
1. “I’m applying narrative theories to contemporary comics and graphic novels and i was just wondering if you could lend me a hand by answering a few questions. I was just wondering who you think the hero, false hero, villain and helper is within the narrative [of Scott Pilgrim].”
2. “Who do you think the hero is in scott pilgrim? Because i always felt that Scott, being the main character, would be. But i’m starting to think Ramona is the real hero for giving Scott something to fight for.”
First, I had to look up what a ‘false hero’ even is. Google it if you’re curious. I don’t think there is a false hero in Scott Pilgrim.
The ‘helper’ is generally Wallace, but Kim Pine also steps into this role in a few key moments (and might be more helpful than Wallace overall, because of those key moments).
The ‘villain’ is Gideon and the evil exes. But it’s more of a “vs yourself” kind of story; the bad guys are kinda manifestations of stuff our heroes are dealing with (their pasts, primarily).
You could make a strong case for Scott and Ramona sharing the hero role equally by the end of the series. That’s because it’s a relationship story and by the end they realize that they have to work together. They are the two halves of one hero.
If you’re looking at the protagonist in terms of who sets the plot in motion (and brings it to its conclusion) then you could make a case for Ramona being that person.
Our screenplay is now available as a free download.
This is not a “shooting script” conformed to the final picture, it’s actually the final draft of the script we went into production with, and differs from the final film in many respects, which are hopefully more interesting than annoying.
LOOPER, my favorite movie of 2012 — if you haven’t seen it, don’t read this screenplay until you do. If you have seen it, this is a wonderful gift from Rian Johnson.