Why I Write.
The definition of ‘why people write’ is the motivation and underlying reasons for what drives writers. Below is a quote from a professional writer, Anais Nin, which goes into her thoughts on why people write.
“Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me. The world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own.”
(The New Woman / Anais Nin, 1974)
This prompted an exploration into why I personally write. We studied and examined this as a class after looking into other professional examples of why authors write. Below is my own explanation for this topic.
‘A woman who wants to loathes everything that the world has become. A hero who strives to protect everyone in the name of justice. A man who tries to live a normal life despite the oddities occurring all around him.
They’re all characters. A person who is not real, but has the motivations, desires and fears in the same way as a person who is real. And it all comes back to why I write. Why do I write? What compels me to continue despite the low opinion I have of my own work?
I write because of these fictional people. I write because I love giving them life. Once I know who they are – even if they are just a mess of ideas – I can’t let them go. They are people in my head. I’ll know exactly how they’ll act, what they’ll say, where they’ll go. It allows me to dream for hours, cooking up scenarios that relate to them. A woman who refuses to face the denial she’s lived with. A hero who has to see how grey the concept of ‘morality’ really is. A man who could leave for a simple life at any point, but doesn’t.
In a way, this character-driven work allows me to briefly escape from reality. Escapism to get away from the dull, harsh life that many people have to lead.’
Comparing my own reason to that of Anais Nin, my motivations are far more character-driven. Apart from that, they are similar. I get myself into the minds of my characters, while Anais absorbs herself in world-building as a whole.
Characterisation is the technique in which a writer establishes a character’s personality. Through characterisation, the reader learns of who that particular person is and what their traits are. Dialogue, thoughts, actions and looks are the most common methods of characterisation, some of which can be seen in the example below – an opening monologue from the visual novel Steins;Gate.
“Why don’t you answer? I’m asking you. Yes, you – the one on the other side of the monitor.
Hmph, that’s a stupid face you’re making. You’re so boring.
To you, it looks like we’re inside a television monitor. Heh heh heh, however, that is incorrect. The one inside the monitor is you. The world that you think is reality is nothing but fiction. Of course, that includes yourself. True reality is located on this side.
You don’t understand what I’m talking about? That’s not surprising. Ah, whatever, I shall tell you about us in an easy-to-understand way.
First, our current location. This is Future Gadget Laboratory, located in Akihabara, Tokyo. We usually just call it ‘The Lab’. We aspire to reconstruct the ruling structure of the world.”
Steins;Gate (5pb. / Nitroplus, 2009)
This extract from Steins;Gate is used to establish the main character early on, showing him to be a very self-centered man who addresses others in a condescending, arrogant way. The writing of Steins;Gate and how it establishes character serves as a main source of inspiration for my own writing.
We explored the use of characterisation by attempting to establish and describe those around us. We started with our tutor, then with a person next to us, but the example below is of neither. Instead, it is an extract of a recent assignment, as it shows establishing character through dialogue and inner monologue – the latter coming from Amelia.
‘[Amelia] “What is it?”
[Akemi] “I want a status update.”
Not even a ‘hello’. Typical. I shouldn’t be surprised, but the bluntness of her voice catches me off guard.
[Amelia] “Well, your ridiculous stunt a few days back is still wreaking havoc amongst the higher ups. To the public, your story is on the news and nothing has changed. What people don’t know is that the company is making big changes to their policies and infrastructure for you, all while trying to pick up the scattered remnants of their pride.”
[Akemi] “Hah, perfect. Having control over the city’s biggest news station opens up a number of options for me.”
You could at least sound a little remorseful, asshole. Who knows how many of those executives are going to be sleeping with one eye open tonight?
…Scratch that. I mean sleeping with one eye open for the rest of the week.
[Amelia] “And I don’t doubt you’re going to exploit The Observer to it’s fullest.”
[Akemi] “Exactly. Now, if that’s all…”’
As I am still getting used to writing in the style of a visual novel (such as Steins;Gate), I still need to establish who the inner monologue belongs to, as there are two people speaking.
While the professional example does not tell us who exactly is speaking, we know it’s simply from one person, meaning there is little to no confusion.
This is a skill that, while I know how to establish character, I could still fine-tune (as with any other skill). Particularly in format and making sure that no two characters are the same.
Descriptive writing, by definition, is the application of word choice and techniques in order to elaborate on a person or object’s visual appearance. In traditional books, description is needed so that the reader has a mental image of what something looks like. An example of this descriptive writing can be seen in the game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.
‘It was past midnight when he came home. Junpei shuffled up the stairs, and opened the door to apartment 201. Inside was his apartment. A small, one-bedroom affair, that ran him about $630 a month. He moved into it when he entered college, and so far he’d been there for 3 years and 7 months.
He stepped inside and turned on the lights.
The fluorescent lights on the ceiling blinked and flickered slowly to life, as if waking from a deep slumber.
Their cold light illuminated the landscape he’d come home to so many times before… Everything was as he’d left it. The magazines piled up in the corner. The text books collecting dust. The CD cases covering the floor. The jeans and t-shirt he’d worn the day before, then tossed onto the floor.’
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. (Chunsoft, 2009)
And below this is an extract of my own descriptive writing, seen in the same recent assignment as the one from the ‘Characterisation’ section.
‘I’ve been walking for hours. No matter where I look, I see citizens that would rather keep to themselves. Trenchcoats, hands crudely stuffed into their pockets and a slouched posture. Mindless drones moving from one point to the next.
Not to mention, this weather is awful. Rain, the smell of smoke, neon lights that light up the city, it’s here and doesn’t mix well at all. Some would argue that this combination is this city’s charm. I would argue that they’re full of shit and trying to see water in a glass that’s clearly empty, but we all have to put up with it in the end.’
The key difference in these two pieces is the perspective. In 999, we can see that the narrative takes a third-person approach. My own writing, however, is from the viewpoint of someone, serving as inner monologue as well as descriptive writing.
I believe that the professional example displays a better use of vocabulary to highlight the still, yet familiar atmosphere of an apartment room. My example is more personalized and laced with a little bit of the main character’s own opinion of the city streets.
This highlights an area I need to develop on, which is my vocabulary choice.
- The New Woman / Anais Nin (1974) KPFA, 28 May. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-dRf7Zxf8Q (Accessed: 21 September 2016).
- 5pb. / Nitroplus (2009) Steins;Gate [Computer game]. 5pb.
- Chunsoft (2009) Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors [Computer game]. 5pb. Spike.