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Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse

March 10th, 2014

Final MarsCON Thoughts @ 01:49 pm

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Date:March 10th, 2014 09:08 pm (UTC)
The idea proposed boiled down to: in reality, in a crisis, the best people to have on your team are the cool-headed, pragmatic ones. How do you write someone like that in a way that they don’t come off as dull and uninteresting?

I love those sorts of characters, and often find them way more interesting than more emotive characters. The entire cast of the TV series Flashpoint (about a Canadian SWAT team) is like that. It's by far the most realistic series I've ever seen about police (and also about therapists, sort of), and doesn't lack for drama. The civilians may be hysterical, but the cops are calm.

Also see: virtually every character ever played by Tom Hanks, once he started doing drama. Also, to a large degree, Denzel Washington.

To me, those characters are interesting in all sorts of ways: there's the pleasure of seeing how they'll figure things out, there's seeing them keep cool under pressure with the suspense of wondering if they'll ever crack, and there's wondering what lies beneath the cool exterior.
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Date:March 10th, 2014 10:31 pm (UTC)
That's pretty much what we ended up talking about to one degree or another (although with less verve than I'd have hoped! :-)

I mean, there are a ton of characters who are cool--as in have a restrained, calm exterior--who are awesome characters. What was interesting was that mostly we kept coming up with visual representations from movies, graphic novels, and Anime, etc., and I think that frustrated the moderator/panel proposer somewhat, because he'd been getting rejections that his characters weren't active enough. His response was, "But this his how people behave at NASA!"

Which makes me think that maybe there was more going on with his writing, but, you know, it's still an interesting writing question. How do you show the tension when your main character is cold and calculating. I mean, Ian Fleming managed to do it, but not all of his novels read all that well to a modern audience. For instance, I tried FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE not that long ago and it was not rip-roaring to me... and honestly some of the Tarzan books I've been reading are the same. They both have a certain old-fashion style that's kind of distant to a modern reader, you know?

I don't know. Clearly it's an interesting question... it was just a weird panel.

Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse