The Casual Vacancy: The Benefits of Connected Characters

Once again I have gone against reading the book before the TV series/film, and have begun watching the TV adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.

It was the series’ opening episode that prompted me to try and read the opening pages. Sarah Phelps’ ability to introduce all of the main characters in such a short amount of time is commendable. Alongside this, praise must also go to Phelps for her ability to explain the connections between characters in a clear manner. It is these ‘character connections’ that I wanted to talk about today.

I remember starting out as a writer and falling into the trap of assuming that all the ‘good guys’ like each other and all the ‘bad guys’ work together, and the only conflict comes when it’s the big battle of good versus evil. Whilst this is traditional in some respects, there is no realism to this. Instead, giving relationships between characters a little bit of a rough edge, actually makes it more realistic.

Immediately in the first episode we learn that there is a friendship between the character of Fats and Arf, but it’s tainted by Fats’ bizarre and weirdly extroverted character.

Similarly, Fats relationship with Krystal isn’t the traditional, cliché and perfect love story. In some respects, it’s a tad awkward and doesn’t flower straight away. 

Aside from The Casual Vacancy, the characters of Daryl and Carol in The Walking Dead also presents a unique form of romance. Their strong and vigilant characters mean that a cliché  romance story would be disastrous. Instead, their subtle romance intrigues the viewer more.

So I suppose it’s more than avoiding clichés, it’s having a strong psychological link with your characters, and imagining what characteristics they like in other people. As a writer, you can then imagine these clashes or friendships and these will bring an interesting side to your story.

That is what I’ve learnt from The Casual Vacancy so far after watching it. What do you think of the TV series? Comment below!

Liam

The Book Lovers Tag!

I have been tagged by Meghan over at The Novel Coffee to do The Book Lovers Tag. Thanks for tagging me, Meghan – here are my answers!

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

I tend to read on the sofa in my living room.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

This depends. It’s often what I have to hand. If a bookmark’s available (i.e. not in another book), then I use that. Otherwise, a spare piece of paper such as a receipt or tiny bit of pape will do. 

3. Can you stop reading anytime you want or do you have to stop at a certain page, chapter, part, etc.?

I always like to stop at the end of a chapter if I can. If not that, then a page which doesn’t end mid-sentence. If I’m in a rush or don’t have time, then I just stop anywhere.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

I never have done either, so nope.

5. Can you read while listening to music or watching TV?

Nope. I read silently in my head so listening to music or watching TV at the same time would distract me. Having said that, I am OK with reading on public transport – weirdly.

6. One book at a time, or several at once?

I have read numerous books at once and I manage, but now I’ve gone back to reading one at a time, I prefer that.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

I am always cautious with where I take my books. I mostly read at home, but I sometimes read elsewhere.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

I always prefer reading silently in my head.

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Never! If I ever feel the urge to do that I give up on the book as it’s obviously not a ‘gripping’ read. Also, I hate spoilers.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I care a lot about my books. I never try to bend my books. But of course, I have to be able to read it, so if that means that I have to bend the spine, so be it.

11. Do you write in books?

Never. Even when I studied books in English I could never write in my copies. I would always write my notes separately. I never write in my books!

Now I tag…

Musical Discovery: ‘Sugar’ by Maroon 5

Maroon 5’s Sugar is the latest track to be taken from their new album, V. In this song, funky guitar riffs mix with Levine’s unique and soulful vocals to create a feel-good pop song.

With a slightly slow tempo, the focus shifts to Levine’s vocals and the track lyrics. Then, when the song builds up to the chorus, Adam Levine demonstrates his unique vocal talent with high-pitched soul.

Aside from the audio, the music video is as feel-good as the track itself. With the band surprising fans’ weddings in Los Angeles.

Overall, a great, vibrant track from Maroon 5. What do you think? Comment below!

Liam

Writing Update: Solving Enigmatic Characters

The problem with the enigmatic characters within my novel is that they are enigmatic even to me!

At the start, I could not create a complete plot because I didn’t know what their aims were, nor the basic details of each character. They all felt enigmatic because I lacked defining details. But now, I have a sense of character, and the flaws which make them credible characters.

So now comes the plot – a tangled mess which has sub-plots nestled within a wider, main plot.

This will be interesting.

Liam

Eastenders: A Crime Writer’s Reaction | The Friday Article

After 10 months of waiting, the identity of Lucy Beale’s killer was revealed yesterday to be that of half-brother Bobby Beale.

As Jane enters the house to find Lucy dead on the floor, she turns to find Bobby with the jewellery box in his hand. At this point, Bobby explains that “she started it” – creating the idea that the motive was down to nothing more than sibling rivalry.

In a special flashback episode which aired yesterday, the night of the murder was played again from Lucy’s viewpoint, developing motives and creating further suspects.

But whilst the episode explained “whodunnit”, the motive and how Bobby killed Lucy are still a mystery.

With crime fiction now shifting towards psychology and the motive, viewers only being given the killer’s identity is disappointing.

Another element of surprise is Bobby’s absence from the final line-up. Whilst I praise the show’s ability to provide a shock twist to even non-viewers, other viewers may consider the red herrings to be a waste of 10 months.

However, if the twist is to be justified, the motive must be a solid one. I hope this is revealed in tonight’s semi-live episode.

Liam

Losing My Heads!

Please excuse the rather ambiguous title to this post. Earlier this week, I got new drum heads/skins for my drum kit, which was exciting!

For those who don’t know, drummers usually replace their drum heads in quite short time periods. By this, I mean that most drummers have to change theirs within the space of a year, 6 months, a month, even every gig if they are one of those hardcore drummers.

But I’ve been a tad unconventional, instead choosing to use the same drum heads I’ve had since I first started drumming – 9 years ago.

So you can imagine what they are like now. They are now off my kit, and have been replaced with snazzy new REMO heads!

However, the drumming controversy continues when I say that I have never changed a drum head before! So with that began an exciting two days where I desperately tried to tune my drums to the right notes (the “changing the drum head” part was easy).

So to conclude, you now know the meaning behind my ambiguous title!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Outlines’ by Mike Mago and Dragonette

I first heard this song on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, where it was on their playlist. I didn’t give it much attention until I stumbled across it again last week. This is Mike Mago & Dragonette with Outlines.

The song begins with a cinematic opening, with a style similar to Haddaway’s What is Love, before it develops the main, catchy house riff that continues throughout the track.

Dragonette’s vocal contribution to the track is a noticeable difference when compared to her work with Martin Solveig on Hello. She brings her talents to catchy lyrics to create a memorable chorus, with a style of house similar to the work of Gorgon City.

Aside from the music, the video which accompanies the track is also commendable, with talented dancing combined with clever visual effects.

What do you think of the song? Comment below!

Liam