I am finding a lot of joy doing things I like these days. I’m sure most people would go “well, duh,” when reading that but for a while it was hard for me to enjoy these things. I always felt guilty about spending time on me. Self-care had been a low priority in my life for the longest time. There was always a very good reason for me not to care for myself. But now, I have changed.
Self-care has jumped up in my order of priorities. I can’t say it’s at the top but it’s close enough for me to have a happier life.
So, one of the things that brings me a lot of joy is video games. Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Like TV shows, films, books and graphic novels, gaming offers a world away from my own. And in those worlds, you have (almost) absolute control over what you do and you do them on your terms. This is especially true of the role-playing game genre.
One aspect of gaming I adore above everything else is character creation. This is where you get to pick the physical features of the character you are going to play but also their role and their powers, if that’s applicable. At first I loved that aspect for the fact that I could create a hottie and watch him through every camera angle possible as I played. Yes, I do love me some main character hotties, not gonna lie.
But there is also another aspect of that character creation feature that appealed greatly to me and that was the fact that I could make up a character that was in my head. I place great importance on characterisation in stories.
I love a character that touches me and that makes me want to see them through to the end of their journey.
So being able to customise a character I would play for hours on end was and still is a joy beyond description. It creates a connection with me as the player that can sometimes pull me through an otherwise fairly average game (*cough* Mass Effect Andromeda *cough*). Sorry, BioWare, I do like you a lot and have great hopes for the next Dragon Age game aka my favourite game series of all-time. But I digress.
That connection with the player is what I aim to do with my writing. Create a connection between the characters in my stories and the reader. The beauty of books is that everybody is free to imagine the characters as they wish. You do get character descriptions in books but more often than not they are quite loose and open to interpretation. I like stories like that. Sometimes a name is enough to create an image in my head of that character and I run with that for the whole book.
Does this mean specific character descriptions suck? No, of course not. Much like games that do not offer character creation do not automatically suck. Final Fantasy VII is one of my absolute favourite games and it does not offer character creation. Artistic vision is still very important. For me though, on a very subjective and personal level,
I prefer games which offer the character creation option and the same with books that remain somewhat vague on character description.
I like having the space to imagine my characters. Ideally, I’d love for game developers to always offer character creation options (but with also the option of playing as their default character). In books, that’s harder to do, but I suppose that despite extensive character description, we are still free to imagine the characters the way we want. Except if it’s very story-specific, obviously.
What I take from all this though is an insight into the way I write. It is somewhat funny that it came to me while playing video games but not surprising.
There is a creative connection and it’s all linked in the ether.
I come up with the plot of stories after I see the character(s) in my head. It’s always that way. I might have a vague idea of a plot but once I form a character in my head, the plot suddenly takes a life of its own and weaves itself around that character image. It is a thrill when that happens. Much like when I create a character in a game and I’m super happy with it (note: it can take me up to 3 hours to be happy with a character I have created in a game).
I believe that’s why I can enjoy a book despite a plot that doesn’t really speak to me. If the characters touch me, I will dive into it and not let go. Character studies can be such an amazing thing to read about when done right. And when you’re Stephen King or Quentin Tarantino, you can do character studies and create an adrenaline rush kind of story with relative ease. I hope I can do the same. Highly ambitious, I know, but I believe in myself now.