Character Assassination

Back in 2007, I wrote what I thought at the time was the best thing I’d ever produced. It was a fantasy story of about 80 pages. I thought it was gritty and fun and had solid plotting. I was even considering attempting to get it published.

As part of the process, I gave copies of the story (in its fourth draft) to a few key people and asked for a serious review.

I expected tweaks, red-pen kinds of things, and I did get a few. But what I mostly received was a string of notes fronting the very neatly enveloped manuscript that took a little while to say that the thing wasn’t as good as I had thought. The best, most potent review said that it was like watching a Roger Moore-era James Bond movie: our hero walks through an improbable series of explosions, casually wipes the soot from his lapel, raises an eyebrow, and keeps going. It didn’t lack for intrigue, craftiness, action, or description. It lacked for believeable, empathetic characters and humanity.

I just started listening to a new podcast today: The Black Tapes. During this plague lockdown, I’ve listened to and watched a lot of things I wouldn’t have normally had the time to get into: seral TV shows, histories of odd topics, and new podcasts.

The first episode was less than an hour, and I was already hooked by the end of it. It wasn’t the fact that the Torres case wasn’t finished. It was because the characters were human. Flawed. Hiding the things that they find most upsetting. Trying to make connections with other characters. Getting hurt. Offering olive branches and second chances.

“Virescence And Lividity” might never see the light of day in the publishing sense, but I really hope that Fixit, Salvation, and everything else I’m currently working on achieves that.

And, if it doesn’t, I sincerely hope someone will tell me so that I can fix it.


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