Wednesday, March 19, 2008

X, Y, Z

I suppose we're all ex-something. How much does what we used to be define who we are?

Some of the other female detectives out there are ex-secretary, ex-clothing buyer, ex-cop, ex-porn star. In those stories, it seems to matter what they used to do.

Philip Marlowe was always an investigator. He went to college, and claims he can still speak English if there's need for it, (The Big Sleep.) He was never a cop. In fact, there only thing that seems to matter is that he is an investigator.

I'll admit that I'm influenced by Chandler. But also, my own tendency in life is to talk about what I am currently, without much regard to what I used to be. This bleeds into my fiction. Bo is a private investigator. She might have been something else before (bonus points for anyone who knows what!). But, does it really even matter? She's still young and sexy and licensed as a private eye.


sandra seamans said...

I think the past always influences how we act and think in each new situation. The past is what forms us even if we don't talk about it or try to ignore it.


socalledauthor said...

True-- everything does affect us to some degree.

Does knowing exactly what Bo used to do (in those few years before she became a PI) affect the reader? As the writer, I know what she did. I know a lot about her that I don't let on. Does that affect you readers?

sandra seamans said...

I think that sometimes the reader needs to know why your characters act the way they do, especially if something in a previous job or situation affects the way she's acting now. By showing the reasons, you add more layers to your story and more humanity to your character. You make her someone your readers can relate to on a real level, not just a character on the page. Just my opinion, of course.

socalledauthor said...

Okay, I agree that layers are good. But not everything is an equally important layer.

And, I think that what we choose to talk about (or acknowledge) also shows who we are. Another sort of layer. =)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think either way can work well depending on the tone of the narrative. In a more mainstream novel, we want to know more because knowing the character is the thrust of the book. In a crime novel, plot or atmosphere or being "unknowable" can carry the story. (IMVHO)