Monday, December 6, 2010

Interesting discussion on Compuserve

We have been having a very interesting discussion in Diana Gabaldon's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community in the last few days.

The thread is titled "Why we like or dislike some characters", and it's turned into a very wide-ranging discussion of a number of different characters from Diana's books: Black Jack Randall, Frank, Laoghaire, and Lord John, to name just a few.

Diana has contributed several very interesting posts, including this one (on the difference between intent and planning in her writing):
I really don't think out scenes and relationships in advance and then execute them. I just kind of wade into them, and see what's going on, and relate that as best I can. That said, I'm fully aware that in most such instances, the mere choice of viewpoint will influence what people see as the emotional weight resting more with one character than another. Now, if they see a later scene in which the viewpoint comes from another angle, or in which the viewpoint is the same, but the POV character suddenly sees something that would cause _them_ to change their opinion--well, that might or might not alter the readers' feelings about the balance between the characters. Kind of depends on how heavily invested the reader is in a particular character or situation (and that depends as much on the reader as on the text; again, background, experience, perception, prejudice, all affect how a reader responds), and/or how flexible the readers may be in either changing to or experiencing another character's inner life.
I think this is an interesting point. Take Frank, for example. Most of what we see of him comes from Claire's (understandably biased) point of view, and it's not until the later books that we start to see him through Brianna's memories, and to get a more balanced view of his character. The same goes for Laoghaire.

At one point in the discussion, Diana made this comment:
Um....y'all do realize that I _am_ Black Jack Randall, don't you? <g> I don't make people like Jack and Stephen Bonnet up, I mean; I excavate them.
When someone questioned whether she really meant that, she replied:
I know exactly what happened in Wentworth Prison, and--from that point of view--enjoyed it immensely. It's just that I was also on the other side of that equation, and thus experienced Jamie's pain, desolation, grief and rage, too. And that's the side of it I showed you, for obvious reasons.
There's more, but I won't attempt to summarize the rest of it here. Go read it for yourselves! The thread is growing fast, but don't mind that, just jump in anywhere, if you have something to say. I really enjoy seeing everyone's different opinions about the characters, and Diana likes to hear from her readers.

Hope to see some of you there!

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