Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way...

...through Blogland.

I don't know whether I should feel flattered or annoyed.

We've all read about those incidents where, upon learning someone is a writer, various ill-met individuals immediately launch into how they have this Great Idea that's bound to be a Best Seller and offer a Deal to the writer. The writer is to write up the Great Story and they will split the Profits.

From what I've read over these months on various websites, this is not an urban legend but actually happens.

Now I wonder if I've stumbled on a Variation of that Theme.

Sometime ago, another writer asked if I would critique a few scenes.
I was happy to do so because it was a good story with some good characters.

The typical beginner's mistakes - excessive passive tense, wooden verbs, too much telling and some reality problems - were all fixable without ripping the plot apart.

The writer took my brutality in good part and thanked me, and I was left with that nice beautific haze that rises when you think you might actually have helped someone in a concrete way.

Recently I received another e-mail wanting to create a character with my name and asking me to define said character - like tell me about yourself.

Cue creepy music.

Now I'm the one who always gets cornered at a party by the Drunk, the Motor Mouth or the Instant Love Guy ( otherwise known as A Few Sandwiches Short of a Picnic) so I am, shall we say, alert to certain nuances.

At best, I figure, the request translated to: "she'll be flattered and she'll write my character for me."

I may have misread the message entirely, nevertheless alarm bells went off loud enough to set both dogs barking.

So I ask you, have you entertained (or been entertained by) similar, peculiar requests?


Savannah Jordan said...

Nope. Not too many peculiar requests. Actually kind of shocking considering my chosen genre. So far, people are playing nicely...

Bernita said...

"Not too many..."
Suggests "some."
Care to share?
I think that's why something like this sticks out - cause most people are nice.

Erik Ivan James said...

Well, from the other side of the fence, being a newbie, there are a few people here that I might privately (email) ask for some assistance because I perceive I could trust them and would get meaningful advice from them. I would not, however, ask for something like you describe here, i.e. "describe yourself". Seems a bit inappropriate to me.

As an aside, when we take our picnic, Bernita, you're responsible for the sandwiches;)

Erik Ivan James said...

P.S. If you have time, come visit.

Bernita said...

Right, Erik!
I hope you like lobster?

Savannah Jordan said...

Well, okay... There's the common, "will you look at this for me," then the occasional "request for contact outside of blogdom," and, yes, there is even a fictional character out there in blogdom with traits very similar to my own...

Lady M said...

"( otherwise known as A Few Sandwiches Short of a Picnic)"


Ayuh. But my problem is kind of the opposite. I think I've been ghostwriting without knowing it.

People will come to me and ask me how I would write such and such... And me being the idiot that I am - just spout off at the mouth and say - Yeah -blah blah.. and blah blah here... And they go away.

I see what they have written later - and go hmmmmm...

But in your case - I dunno - creepy wanting to know about "YOU".

Some writers are very private people.

Savannah - I'd be terrified... Unless I had spent months getting to know that person online.

*or it was a writer's group - meeting at a conference or something*

Bernita - I'd be like:

ME: "Well why do you want to know?"

HIM: A)"Because I'm madly in love with you.
(ACK - run child run!)
B) "Because I think you'd make a good character reference for the story that I am writing that appears to have similar background to the way you portray yourself online/in writing."
(OK this is realistic - maybe even doable in an interview format - not too creepy)
C) "Because if you can give me your character - I won't have to think up one on my own"
(Hmmm can we say lazy? Not creative? WTF are you doing as a writer?)
D) "I dunno, I just thought it would be cool, and you'd enjoy the hero worship."
(Oooh Boy... Do you realize how un-hero like writing is? Do you understand that most of us are neurotic already - and that is BEFORE the rejections come in? Do you comprehend the lack of intelligence in your on the spot answer - Huh? Huh? HUH? You do this shaking your finger in their face - with WIDE, open, rolling eyes and you flare your nostrils... This usually will make them RUN.)


I dunno B - could be one of many things - but I would ask them first WHY.

Lady M
PS. Carry pepper spray. LOL!

Erik Ivan James said...

Lobster? I'll bring the butter.

Tsavo Leone said...

Erik; that's just a little too Last Tango In Paris for my liking...

Bernita said...

Someday, Erik...

Lady M. No wonder people ask you! You're like a one- person think-tank! QED your post!
Still, unless they're really stuck, it does sound as if they are taking advantage of your prolific mind.
I wasn't going there - dubious flattery or not -told him to construct his own characters.Wouldn't be doing any favours by doing his work for him.
Of course, now I'll likely be immortalized as the nasty bitch with the glass eye, but I think I might survive.

"Request for contact"
Well, at least it suggests that your fictional characters have passed a reality test, Savannah.
Reminds me, too, of earlier comments about readers identifying the writer w/his-her characters.

Bernita said...

Tsavo, did something just whiz by my head here?
~ eying Erik suspiciously~

Dennie McDonald said...

yes - it does sound a little creepy but lazy comes more to mind.

As a person who can research things to death (what color the h/h's car is and what year they made it and bluebook - I could go on...) but not want to look up a vital part of a book (yeah I could give the most recent example but uh won't), so I ask someone I know knows, maybe she is just too lazy, like me, to do the work

Bernita said...

A bit of presumptive laziness on anonymous' part, I suspect, Dennie.
But, asking for a character sketch is a little different from me asking Tsavo,for example, if "trousers" is preferred to "pants" in common GB speak, or if "bonnet" is still used instead of the NA "hood" for a car.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, no.

Let those two barking dog loose.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason, for confirmation.
I did.
One likes to be helpful, but this stuck me as over the line.

Erik Ivan James said...

Yes, over my head as well, Tsavo. Zooooom.

Lady M said...

"Of course, now I'll likely be immortalized as the nasty bitch with the glass eye, but I think I might survive."

You have a glass eye?

That's too cool!

Well... ok - maybe not - but it would be totally awesome if you purposefully put different colors in and changed them around and weirded people out. Or had them built to be wild logos or something... *Hey you could sell your advertising space on Ebay!*

One of the neatest characters in real life that I've ever met was a total NUT! He was an old codger at this hole in the wall bar that didn't really card... and me being overdeveloped up top at a young age... well let's just say - no one looked above my cleavage when I handed them my id card...

Anyhooo - this guy at the bar, we got to talking. And he would tell me stories that had me cracking up. War stories, love life stories so absurd that they were amazing. He told the 20 miles uphill and downhill to school, in the snow at 120 degree F. But they were told with such bravado - such lust for life - and everyone was held spellbound.

Anytime a new person would come in to the bar (especially cute gals) he would wait until they were not looking so he could plop his glass eye into their drink!

And then everyone in the bar would hold their collective breath.

Waiting for the person to take a swig...

Of course, he always bought them several more drinks to cure them of all their mental problems - but he would revel us all in more stories afterwards.

I wonder now - what happened to him. He gave me his hat (a beret sort of golf cap) and I kept it for years until someone stole it from me.

LMAO - ok ignore me as I go off on another tangent. I tell you - I need to step away from the coffee.

Bernita said...

Whoah there, Lady M!
I do not have a glass eye.
That was just an exaggeration at large - yanno, disfigured character, evil patch thingy.
My eyes are green, at least one is, the other is more golden.It saves words to say green.

Lady M said...

Oh darn... Here I was imagining how much money we could make with me being your manager and selling the advertising space on Ebay.

Shucks. We'll just have to wait till we get that Great American Novel. LMAO!

How pretty - green and golden. That is a romance novel waiting to happen.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

You're right Bernita...that is a little creepy. But having my "three cards short of a deck" personality...I'd have made up a bunch of scarey traits like...

" I tend to freak out and see conspiracy in the least likely places. And it's funny...LOL...but I got some relief for the condition while I was in jail the last time for stalking the person who made me feel threatened."

That my dear friend, aught to end the questions...~cue maniacal laughter~

Bernita said...

Think it's been done, Lady M.
Certainly, varigated eyes have been done in fantasy and horror, ie. The last Dragon Lord and in one of H.P. Lovecraft' ouvres.

You have the table turning gene, Bonnie.
I'm not clever that way.
I'm just inclined to chop it off at the neck.No muss, no fuss, just bury the body.

alexandra said...

Er, I am in fact doing this to a Particle Physicist who works at CERN. My writing partner and I needed a counterbalance character to one we'd already come up with, and so, purely at random, I phoned this guy and frightened him and explained what we were doing and, happily enough, he agreed to be 'used' as a template. But then, he is a Brit and we are known for being slightly eccentric.

So yes, that's from the other side of the fence, Bernita. Tis a little unusual though.

Bernita said...

Also, I assume, you're not going to use his real name?

This one not only decided to use my name but apparently wanted me to provide my character sketch as well.

I managed to get myself "immortalized" in a few poems, so any vanity in that regard has already been satisfied.

Lady M said...

"I'm not clever that way.
I'm just inclined to chop it off at the neck.No muss, no fuss, just bury the body."

Oh yeah? I happen to think you're very clever and witty and talented.

Just bury the body - OMG - between you, Savannah, Miss Snark, and all the other blogs I visit - I'm going to have a hernia from laughing so hard.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Lady M.
You seems to suffer from a well-known psychological condition called 'transference" - you apply to others the traits you possess yourself.
Now, if you really want to bust a gut, read Bonnie. Read Bonnie's archives.
They'll have to carry you out.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I wouldn't give such a question the time of day.

Offering some honest critique is one thing, but that characteristics of a person with your name - first of all, I'd say read "An Innocent A-Blog." It probably tells you everything about Bernita you need to know, but why are you basing a "character" really on Bernita without her permission?

Like seriously? And is said character fictional or "the real Bernita... ah, can't remember if your last name's on your page or not, so I won't say it."

Because if the character is fictional, why ask the question? And if the character isn't fictional, why'd you pick Bernita then, unless she's exhibited some characteristics that make her suit the story and therefore, don't you already have the answers to your questions.

Flippin' weird, B. Only really weird thing that happens to me is dropping by Stuart MacBride's place and him calling me stinking.

Though he wrote a story at Christmas with a character named Sandra married to a Kevin and, well, he felt a bit bad about it later...

James Goodman said...

I've had a few (yes, it is even more peculiar that it was more than one) requests for pictures of me, either shirtless or nude. Only, one of them was by a man, though so I guess it isn't THAT peculiar, lol.

And I had one request from a person, asking me to write them into one of my stories, but she wanted to be a victim and if it all possibly give her a gruesome death.

Yeah, I guess when you write dark, you get dark requests.

Bernita said...

Sandra, thank you!
That's exactly the way I reasoned it out.

Now about that MacBride boy...sounds like bloody nerve!

The second sounds like the Steven King syndrome, James!
Didn't he auction off a character name/gruesome death for charity?
You should announce a contest.
The first, well,must have made you feel a little like shrink-wrapped at the meat counter, but I imagine you laughed.

December Quinn said...

What strikes me as creepy about that isn't that they want you to provide a character-I've done far too much research for other people and had them "thank" me by asking for more to think there aren't lazy writers out there-but that they thought you would find such interest and devotion from a virtual stranger flattering. (It's a bit egotistical, too, but I don't know the person, so I can't say if it's justified.) It's like the friend-of-a-friend you've met once telling you, "I feel so close to you."


Bernita said...

Exactly, December.
Either the writer may be naive - or thought I was.

Mark Pettus said...

My brother named one of his characters after me. He meant to honor me, but I found it just creepy.

That said, I'm planning to write an erotic short, and name one of my characters, Bernita. Can you tell me what kinds of things....

Ah, nevermind.


Lady M said...

ROFLMAO! Mark - watch out - she'll pop that glass eye into yer drink.

Wooot Woot - B - he wants to make you into a diva in his erotica! I'll read it and say: I knew her when. LOL!

Too funny. OK - I'm going to bed now. It's past that time for me. But we're having sun today and it's hard to leave the window.

Bernita said...

Hi Mark!
Every morning I click on your blog to see if you've updated, and decide that you're still too busy.

Perhaps you should read yesterday's blog post here...and stay tuned...

Bad girl, Lady M, "O Iago, my reputation..."

Mark Pettus said...

Bernita, I approach my blogs like I approach women...

I start at the bottom and work my way up. ;)

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I've already read yesterday's post. Very nice.

Bernita said...

Oh dear, you sound like the crotch grabber from the site Janna linked us to yesterday.
But yesterday is "bottom" for you.

Tsavo Leone said...

I suppose the whole "I'm basing a character on you and want to know all about you" request is a tad disturbing.

That being as may, I know that I have named supporting characters in honour of people who've helped me out and/or given me the necessary kick up the ass I sometimes require. Likewise, I know that really I should have asked their permission first, but (oh, look, an open stable door... bugger, the horse has already bolted...) sometimes I act first and think later.

Anyway, surely half the fun of writing comes from inventing the characters involved in the story you're telling?

Bernita said...

Tsavo, we don't own our "names," anyone can name a character anything they want, so really no one need acquire permission.
I agree - half the fun is creating them.

bookfraud said...

i don't know why anybody with either a) a relatively stable mind; b) one iota of creative pride; or c) any sense of decorum would make such a request. i've had people corner me at parties -- "i've got this great idea for a novel" yadda yadda yadda -- but once they sober up, you never hear from them again.

methinks a stalker, or worse, a plagarist.

Bernita said...

You've summed up my feelings nicely, Book, though I prefer to think perhaps the writer might have been a few sheets to the wind when he wrote the email.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I've had requests for photos.

Nobody's asked to be written into a story yet, though.

But some writers (Ian Rankin) do auction off spots in books for charity. In the mystery genre there are actually some people who are known for buying their way into books. Well, if that's their claim to fame and they're going to tell all their friends to buy it, I'd be happy to kill them off too.

I totally laughed at Stuart's story. I think he'd picked "Sandra" half-deliberately, because he referenced something else related to me, but the "Kevin" was an oversight, and because the inference there was that one person was screwing around on the other... Well, he felt very bad.

Really, I thought it was hysterical. You should've seen the look on my Kevin's face when he read that fictional Kevin had aids.

Shesawriter said...

Yeah, that's creepy all right. I get some weird blogspot mail too. I ignore most of it though.


Lady M said...

*hurries up and dashes off Tanya a weird letter she can iggy.* :P

Dearest T and B: Could you tell me all about you so that I can immortalize you in my new Psycho-Thriller?

*EEKS - run children*

Bernita said...

My apologies to MacBride, Sandra - it sounded nasty when you first mentioned it.

Off the wall, Tanya?

Though you'd gone to bed, Lady M. Does "M" stand for "mischief?"

Lady M said...

Just a 'leetle' bit.


alexandra said...

Oh! And Berinta. No. We won't be using our Particle Physicist's real name. *snort* But Ben is kindly reading partials as Mark and I hammer them out, giving us the insider look at what the 'real' scientists do all day at CERN. Fascinating.

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