Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fun with characters

I'm drafting characters for a new novel, the same idea I've been working on since just before New Year's. Here are a few tertiary characters, all of whom are involved in a project called "Famous for Nothing," abbreviated F4Ø:
Meliá is the main filmmaker, she is serious about it and has standards, like the filmmaker on the Mlps project who did 30 takes of a scene. She isn't so invested in the F4Ø project per se, as a comment on society or media, as she is in her craft and in using the project as a stepping stone to something greater. But she is as allergic to plot as any of them, in fact she considers plot little short of an imperialist scheme to sedate people. "Narrative is the new opium of the masses," she says but at the same time she has no faith in documentary either, because she also doesn't believe in objectivity, so the F4Ø project is as close as she can come to being purely subjective.

Trahan, her boyfriend (pronounced TRAY-han), is vaguely European. He is a failed grad student in rhetoric. It's him who is the originator of the F4Ø concept; it's his way of articulating, in the laziest way possible, his hostile and nihilistic attitude. The reason he is so resentful is -- he says -- he is the sole survivor of a bus plunge in the Austrian Alps, surviving only after being swept downriver from the crash site and finding shelter in the forest hut of a schizophrenic whom he has to kill and eat to survive the winter -- in fact, the first thing he has to do is kill the guy in self-defense. When it all got sorted out, he was the beneficiary of a huge insurance settlement; he also became rich from a ghost-written memoir published under his name, about his ordeal. So he got the idea that he was some kind of intellectual and tried to become an academic, but in fact the people who were humoring him with the memoir and all finally reached their limit, and he was kicked out of the university with a terminal master's. He exiled himself to America where, he said, you could get people to believe anything. He finances Meliá's filmmaking and the whole F4Ø project with his wealth. The project is his aggressively hostile joke on modern culture and life in general. In the F4Ø project, his character is a bike messenger-jazz poet, which is his attempt to make fun of hipsters.

Carmichael is a would-be comedian and performance artist who has failed to define a character, a shtick or a voice. He is therefore sympathetic to Meliá's distrust of narrative, because it makes him feel better about his inability to arrive at a voice or find something to say; therefore he has taken to acting because he can take refuge in the characters he plays: they have something to say, so he won't have to. In the F4Ø project he plays the role of a hipster, i.e. a foil for Trahan's character.

Shar is a young dyke who is studying to become a tattoo artist and also works as a stripper. Because she's a dyke, Trahan finds it funny to make her play the girlfriend of Carmichael's character, and she imbues the part with every stereotype of straight girl she can muster. Of course, this isn't far from the role she plays when stripping, and for that reason she insists on being paid, whereas the others do their parts for nothing.

1 comment:

Jackadandy said...

Yay! Thanks for sharing the sneak peak. Can't wait for more... :)