Warren Ellis was recently interviewed by THE COMICS JOURNAL via Q & A. It’s a great interview of the writer whose weekly newsletter ORBITAL OPERATIONS I read regularly. This particular excerpt I relate to rather well.
TCJ: What is one thing, in spite of all the energy you have in the face of everything being terrible, that you’re afraid of?
WE: Cancer. Climate change. Economic collapse. The rise of the nationalist right. And so on. You know, the same list as most other people. My daughter turns 23 this week, and I would like her to have a long life that doesn’t involve selling her organs for grain. Have a kid! You’ll be afraid of everything for the rest of your life.
No writer worthy of being read, and expecting to be read, writes in a vacuum, however. We write with the anticipation of a reading audience, no matter what that number of unsuspecting souls may be.
— Quoting myself from October 9, 2016.
This week I’ve found a poignant quote from another writer I’ve looked up to since I started writing in the mid-90s, someone’s whose imagination and vision I greatly admire. Like Anne Rice from a few weeks back, Clive Barker is another fellow Libra. This quote comes from an old interview I stumbled across that was conducted in 1991 by W.C. Stroby for Writer’s Digest.
||When the story ideas begin to get very bizarre or complex, what can you do to make sure you don’t lose that sort of emotional under-pinning?
||The first thing is you’ve got to believe in the characters. You’ve got to be thinking with the characters and you’ve got to be within their skins. If you’re within their skins then their response to any situation, however bizarre it is, is going to be based upon your sense of them. Any writer’s belief in his or her characters – or the situations in which the characters find themselves – is central to his ability to convince the audience.
As a writer, you have to therefore always try to trip yourself up, look for the places where you’ve done something which was conve-nient rather than true. Convenient because sometimes characters can do things which are convenient to plotting, you know? But very often you realize “This character is not going to do that. This character is going to do X rather than Y.” And sometimes that can be a pain in the ass, but it’s worth the trouble if it’s going to convince the reader of the truth of the situation.