Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Semi-Coherent Ramblings That Will Convince You I Am More Than a Little Weird*

I often find myself composing "scenes" in my head. Usually, it starts with a sentence or phrase that comes to me, and then my imagination runs a skeletal story forward from it. Here's a recent example: "In retrospect, the rabbits should have tipped her off." Which rolled forward into a story about a semi-dystopic future in which something dire causes a severe disturbance in a local ecosystem, and the heroine's first clue was, in retrospect, the fact that there were rabbits in her parking lot, instead of in the nearby canyon where they usually lived.

My imagination is a weird place.

I can reproduce that example because I keep a notebook in my purse, and write down these snippets, for reasons that I cannot explain. (I write other things in the notebook, too- I doubt I'd keep it if the only things I wrote in it were weird story ideas.) I occasionally consider actually trying to write a story from one of these scenes, but I have yet to do it. I'm not sure what is holding me back, really, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I have a hard time watching or reading stories in which bad things happen to the characters- you know, things that create tension and a plot- and I suspect I would have an even harder time writing bad things happening to characters I had created.

Let's just say that it isn't really surprising that Pumpkin thinks most Disney movies are too scary. Apparently the "overly empathetic with fictional characters" thing has a genetic basis.

Maybe I'll get over my inhibitions some day, and write some fiction. But I know without a doubt that I don't want to live a life worthy of a novel or a movie. My entire life resembles the scenes of mundane happiness before the real action starts- and I like it that way.

I can't think of a single fictional character I'd really want to be. There are a lot of characters that I find appealing and/or who have personality traits I wouldn't mind emulating. But they all have too much drama in their lives for me.

I guess I like my life to be relatively plot-free. How about you? Are there any fictional characters you wouldn't mind being?

* Yeah, I couldn't come up with a good title for this one. The title is true, is it not?

22 comments:

  1. Engineering Elf5:34 AM

    Sometimes when I read a fictional high-fantasy novel I would like to be a character in it; though often a minor character who is rather drama free. There is a witch from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles and over her house hangs a sign "None of this nonsense."(or something similar) The story is a bit juvenile/young adult but I still enjoy it as a quick fun read when it comes to the front of my book shelf.

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    1. Hmmm, you're right. Minor character might be the way to go. As long as you could be sure you weren't a redshirt!

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  2. My seven-year old still finds most movies too scary to watch without direct parental contact. Any kind of tension in the movie freaks her out, so your kids are not alone!

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    1. Interestingly, Petunia doesn't seem to mind more tension in her movies. She doesn't get many chances to try it, though, so I don't really know her full preferences.

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  3. @ Engineering Elf: I love those books as well :)

    Apparently I was scared of Tom and Jerry as a child, and I still don't care to watch any horror and barely any thrillers. I think I wouldn't mind being one of Georgette Heyer's minor characters...

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    1. I will watch Sci Fi that is a bit violent and tense- but definitely no horror, and thrillers only if my husband begs....

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  4. I remember when my son was terrified of the grumpy old troll who lives under the bridge in Dora.

    Have you read the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series? If not, you might enjoy it. Takes the entering a book idea to a new level.

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    1. Oh, and Redshirts, by Scalzi, of course! They took great pains to avoid the narrative.

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    2. Strangely, Pumpkin thinks the grumpy old troll is hilarious. Maybe because she didn't encounter him until she'd been watching Dora for awhile and knew it was mostly harmless.

      I'll check out the Thursday Next series. I read Redshirts and really liked it.

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  5. First of all, not weird. When I'm bored I make up stories about people I don't know (like the person sitting over there in seminar is obviously an elf, etc.). Then again, perhaps I'm odd too.

    OTOH, I'd be more than happy to be the heroine in any book or series that is complete. I'm happy to go through the trials and tribulations if I know it's all going to work out in the end. As a kid, I'd watch scary movies all the way through to the end just so I could comfort myself at night that it all worked out ok.

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    1. I find myself inventing back stories for strangers in airport lounges and the like, too!

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  6. I was exactly like this as a kid! Hated any book where anything bad ever happened or their were bad characters. My poor parents had papered one wall of my bedroom with Jungle Book wallpaper, only to find that I absolutely, totally, completely detested the Jungle Book (I actually really liked the wallpaper in the end though). I cried through all books with scary animals, witches, ogres, giants, evil stepmothers or natural calamities of any sort, which ruled out vast swathes of juvenile literature. Eventually they hit upon a few books that worked for me, a beautifully illustrated book about Santa Claus and his elves, The Enormous Turnip and Stone Soup. I also didn't mind the story about the porridge that overtook a town for some reason. I think it's interesting that at a very young age I showed a preference for books with food in them, something that I still have -- I love reading cookbooks and food memoirs. There's definitely something genetic!

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    1. We recently had to abandon a series of books about fairies because a goblin (or a bad fairy or something) showed up. Like me, she can handle a little more tension in books than in movies/TV, but she doesn't like too much.

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  7. I like my real life to be drama and pain free!

    But when it comes to fiction, I'm the total opposite: I love to get scared. Bring on the tales of ghosts, zombies, vampires (who have sex), The Borg, et. al. I was the kid who read a lot of Stephen King in elementary school, and had my teachers a bit concerned.

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    1. Ugh. I can't handle Stephen King at all!

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  8. > My entire life resembles the scenes of mundane happiness before the real action starts- and I like it that way.

    I would love to have a life like that.

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    1. Indeed. I am very lucky.

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  9. What about Eliza Bennett? Not too much drama, guaranteed happy ending? I guess there's that elevated 19th century chance of an early death from childbirth, but otherwise it's pretty tame. The kind of dramas we all have.

    Disney movies are too scary! Pixar too. We've started watching the old ones because they are less scary than the new ones - the Jungle Book and Robin Hood are more our speed. Still scary for a sensitive child, but nothing like the high octane new ones, or that horrifying Lion King. Someone guaranteed to a friend that her very sensitive 5 year old couldn't possibly be frightened of Happy Feet - it's about singing penguins! Kids adore it! She ran screaming from the room about fifteen minutes in. I went to check what was happening and there was this terrifying scene with an eagle trying to eat a baby penguin! Sometimes I worry about little kids who aren't phased by those kinds of things.

    Also, the fact that you write down those scenes proves to me that you are a writer at heart. Many of us play out scenarios, but the only time I ever wrote them down was when I was writing a lot of fiction (in my teens - that's what i did with all my spare teen time - I wrote appallingly bad novels).

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    1. I thought of her, because I love Jane Austen. But the marriage thing was much higher stakes back then, so I decided that no, I wouldn't want to live through any of those stories, either!

      You are right about Happy Feet. We had a similar experience. Pumpkin loves the idea and parts of it, but can't handle the scary scenes.

      The only Disney movies she watches are Cinderella (and we had to talk her through the tower scene the first couple of times) and Mary Poppins (and we often have to fast forward through the bank scene).

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    2. How about Emma then? Or a more modern version? There are a lot of rich girl stories where they come through their petty problems unscathed. I still enjoy reading them!

      Also the early to mid-20th century had a lot of children's slice-of-life books that were pretty easy going, where the biggest drama is something like having too many guppies. (The five little peppers, Henry and Beezus, Penrod, etc.) I think Stink is a more modern version of that (though both DC1 and I have been finding the Stink books pretty boring... he should try them again though now that he gets elementary school humor.)

      It might be fun to be a student at Wayside School...

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    3. Junie B Jones! My kids loved her. Very funny, and not at all scary.

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  10. There's some heroines I cannot remember who act as catalysts to change people's lives for the better either intentionally (see: Cold Comfort Farm) or unintentionally (see: Pippa Passes). That might be kind of neat... unintentionally spreading joy wherever you go.

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