Monday, July 23, 2012


Celie is kind of a tough nut to crack. I am completely terrible at writing for characters, but Celie gets it worst because she's a woman and a doctor. Ebling's focus on medical technology means that from a "realistic" stand point she'd be the most likely to be knowledgeable about the things they'd find, so she got relegated to exposition a lot. Trying to take advantage of her skills as a doctor mean she becomes a sort of surrogate mother figure and it means the cast starts to look very fragile.

Her actual job is a bit in flux. I always wanted there to be some degree of necromancy and I was doing a lot of thinking on how it would work, when I struck upon the Jiang-Shi legend and it clicked, but making a necromancer a protagonist--not even an anti-hero--created a problem, because demonstrating her powers frequently in the barrenness of Eb was a problem. Hopefully the fact that she's not actually a real doctor makes her more interesting. She has very general medical training and first aid skills, but beyond that her preferred field is necromancy.

This actually reflects a huge problem I have with fiction, actually. Once you designate a character as educated in a particular field, the audience sort of expects them to know everything about everything there is to know, and the less the audience is expected to know about a particular field, the broader the knowledge the character has to carry, and often writers overload one designated "shmott guy" who can pipe up with expertise on anything from particle physics to small engines repair. For Celie, for example, once she was a doctor I sort of tasked her with knowing everything medical, from the made-up necromantic stuff I made up for the story to the emergency surgery I'll make her perform later to the otherworldly medical tech they'll encounter in Eb. I'm gonna cut it up as much as I can, but we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, in the current version, she's a low-level necromancer hired for a miserable assignment in the mountains. Although she's associated with an organization that certifies her work, they neither control nor care what she does. Like Kingsley and the Kark, she's sort of unmoored. She's actually good at her job and reasonably versatile, but of course it's an every-day quality, like being a really good math teacher or a fantastic cop. Even in the camp, she's recognized as competent but she's overshadowed by the various famous doctors with highly specialized skills.

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