“When I am dead
I hope it is said,
'His sins were scarlet,
but his books were read.'”
Hilaire Belloc

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

How Voice Becomes Backstory
Thu 2006-01-12 22:39:49 (in context)
  • 1,582 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hey look! No word count increase. I was working on something else today, but as that something else is still in the brainstorming phases, it hasn't even got a line in the database, much less a title or a wordcount. Sorry. More tomorrow, maybe. I've also been fielding potential interviews for the work-for-hire project.

These Things Take Time.

But I have answered myself some questions about Selby's backstory. Yay, backstory! Got there in this weird sort of roundabout way: Realized that Selby sounded, thus far, an awful lot like Gwen in Right Off The Page, and both of them sound an awful lot like me. That is one depressing realization. I've been at this how long now, and I still haven't managed to come up with first person narratives that don't just sound like me writing an email? Ga-jeeez.

(Just between me and y'all, all my RPG characters sound a lot like me, too. Perhaps I should game more. Ah, well, Sunday's upcoming In Nomine session ought to result in a little more practice under ye olde belt.)

So I decided I'd have to work at giving Selby a distinctive not-me voice. I decided that Selby would be British. Ta-da! Seriously: when I started hearing her narrate with a hopefully-not-too-stereotypical British accent, she started using different words in my head, and before long she didn't sound so much like me as all that. Which is very good.

Something that's also very good is, now I have a little backstory. The story takes place in the U.S., ending up somewhere in the Arbuckle Mountain Range in Oklahoma. Which means that Selby had to have moved from England to the U.S. at some point. Why? Well, that has something to do with whatever dream she was chasing. Like what? OK, how about college? She thought she'd put her oddball psychic talents to work as an archeologist or paleontologist, so she'd go to some university or other known for having a good program and get herself degreed. Only she finds that her talent gives her problems. It's hard to work within a traditional degreed program when you're randomly getting hallucinations based on whatever fossil or artefact they've got you studying on. So she's doing badly. So she drops out to follow her boyfriend across the country, and then gets stranded by him in wherever the story takes place, and she finds a job at a museum whose curator isn't so worried about her lack of degree.

Yay! Backstory. So the renewal of the dream will be when she discovers an outlet for her interest in digging up and sleuthing out prehistorical thingies, one that doesn't get messed up by her occasional psychic discoveries. And what exactly is that? I ain't saying, 'cause that would be a spoiler. But it isn't at any Heirophant-lovin' University, I can tell you that much.

So. Onward and first-draft-ward.

Also? Changed the title. Why? It just sounded better, that's all. Plus I think I had the wrong word before. Dictionary.com isn't backing me up on this, but I think a threnody focuses on mourning the deceased ("we are sad that you are gone") while an elegy focuses on honoring the deceased ("we were glad to have had you"). So. Elegy it is.

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