SHAKESPEARE MURIERON EN LA MISMA FECHA
PERO EN DISTINTO DÍA
En 1616 España se regía por el calendario gregoriano, e
Inglaterra por el juliano. Entre ellos había una
diferencia de diez días. Por tanto, Cervantes y Shakespeare murieron
el la misma fecha, el 23 de abril de 1616, pero con diez días de
¿Te gusta escribir y quieres aprender o repasar tu inglés? Pues aquí tienes este libro, Do you like to write?, una traducción excelente de Eduardo Salgado.
Y si te gusta, lo puedes encontrar en
Do you like to write?
We are all artists
Ideas abound. You could go and search for them on the other side of the ocean, but they could be in the wardrobe of your home. And, the same as ideas, talent is in every person. Everyone has some talent. Whether it develops or not, that is another matter. Talent is useful to do paintings, write books, create enterprise, decorate homes, make your own clothes… The only thing that has to be done is that you explore yourself; to find out which is the most appropriate field. The theory that God has given the gift of art to only a few has already been ousted by psychologists. We all have the seed of creativity within us, hoping to place it in the adequate continent so that it starts to grow. The only difference between a famous writer and a person who would like to be one is ones own image. A famous person believes in himself and has prepared himself for a long time. Whomever is not yet one, he or she has the vague dream that if he or she were born again, he or she would be a writer, a sculptor, or whatever it might be, but inside, he or she is ashamed of his or her own ambitions. By choosing this book you are betting on a more ample horizon for your world and everything that you do for yourself will always echo favourably in your life. I urge you to explore yourself, never be ashamed of your artistic ambitions, bet on yourself and become surprised by the abilities that you discover, don't have limits.
How to put spirit into your characters. To build characters is the job of artisans. To put a spirit in them is the job of artists. Your characters should be credible, they should make the reader forget that they don't exist, they should make them forget that the scene is created through words; which are mere symbols written on paper. Without them fiction does not exist. In your literary universe you have to be conscience of who is acting, how the character talks, what its favourite colours are and why, how is its physical aspect, its wishes, fears and obsessions, which of its feelings is more developed, how its house or room is decorated, which places it visits and with what type of people it relates to. Although these details do not appear in the narrative, the author has to know them. If a female character goes to a first date dressed with a red dress, it has one meaning, if she goes in pink, that has another meaning. If in a scene one takes out a plastic lighter instead of a golden one, this gives you one type of information. If you drink a coke instead of a fanta or a juice, you are giving out information about the character. How do you build them? How do you give birth to a character? It is simple. You probably think that not one can occur to you. But along your life you have known many people. Your memory has assimilated much information, different psychologies, tastes and actions. Within your memory nothing is wiped out. You might find it hard to access your data bank. But all that is known remains within you. Within our interior we have a great potential that we can use. Our intuition and intellectual potential, very efficient elements to give life and plausibility to fiction creatures. You can create them in several ways. One of them is to focus on someone near you. Read this comment by E.M. Forster: We all like to pretend that we do not use real persons, but we do that really. I have used some from my family. Miss Bartlett was my aunt Emily; all the family read the book, but no one realized. Uncle Willie turned into Mrs Failing… As this author says you can take someone from real life. But remember that, the story on paper and set will have suffered an evolution, it will end up having its own life and it will disassociate itself from the original person. And, to create good characters do not make the mistake of thinking that you need to travel or know many people at this moment. The bus drive on the bus that you get on every day, the people at the office or the baker are just as good. You could also take another option, not only for your life, but also for the writing. If there is a part of you that you like to hide or it bothers you, a side of you that you like to hide, bring it out, turn it into a character and you will free yourself from its tyranny. If a part of you feels envy, take advantage of that, give it a creative outlet; change it into an envious character. All that you have inside of you, you can use it to write with, not only your good side but also your dark side. Cook it. What counts is that chemistry, the way of combining the ingredients, the interest that the hands who mixes it puts in it. Another option is to take the character from History. To put a historic character into a novel might be interesting. For this you would have to do research and imagine the different situations that your creature could live. You would have to respect historical events, fill in and colour the missing bits of his emotion and daily life. Remember what Ernesto Sabato wrote in The write and his ghosts: If it is true that the characters of a novel come from the creator´s own heart, no one can create a bigger character than himself, and if he takes it from history, he will bring it down to his own level. Theatre and narrative are full of Cleopatras and Napoleons who are no higher than their culprits. On the other hand, modest beings are brought up to the height of their great creators. It is probable that Laura and Beatrice may have been trivial women; but we will no longer know, as the ones we know were raised to the summit of Petrarca and Dante. The poet does with his women which, on the humble scale, all lovers do with the loved one. There are many other ways of creating characters. One of them consists in inventing them without worrying if you are unconsciously inspired on someone who you know or if it's a part of yourself. Trust that our hands have wisdom and don't stop writing. We sometimes start to write without having a clear idea what our character is made of and while we go deeper into the narrative we also deepen in its true personality. We will know him more the more we become close to our character. When we already know it - as if we had had more than a coffee together - we will be able to get rid of our first writings where his personality dithered. There are many ways of creating characters. You have to know which one is useful to you. In a novel where there's a lot of people, it's impossible not to mix several methods. Clarin in La Regenta created so many characters that he used psycho-zoology in some of them, in other words; to create a character with the character of an animal. Arreola also uses this method, and the character of an animal make us understand the soul of some human beings. Showing instead of manifesting Once you have that defined you don't have to explain to us how it is, but rather show its way of being by its actions: by what he says, how he says it, by his little choices or by his gestures. In a narrative nothing is wasted and everything has a reason. Describing a scene where everyone are sitting around a round table has one meaning, and if they are all sitting around a rectangular table, this has another meaning. In a rectangular table there are presidential places; on the extremes, which mark hierarchies. The two extremes will have more importance, which wont have a window or door behind them. If you describe, not a classic work meeting, but rather a family scene, the psychological importance will be on the characters that are dominated by the characters. A round table creates an atmosphere of informality and calmness. Every person has the same vital space. In the King Arthur legends the knights sat at a round table to give everyone the same order of importance. However, to have someone as in the case of the king, with a higher status than the others, and this unwittingly created a hierarchy and the knights who sat near to Author were conferred more power. If you create a family scene around a round table, but on it there is a someone who had a fixed place and it is placed in front of the television or has some type of advantage, there will be an order of importance according to how the people sit. The most advantageous place will be for the member of the family who has more power. When you put the dolphin characters to work, you do not need - for the narrative - to explain what they are like. That would weaken the narrative. It may be that the reader doesn't realize it in a rational manner, but we all have a great intuitive capacity. If you put a person there who isn't powerful, and he just about has a plot or character strength by presiding the table; the reader won't know why but unless there's a reason for the argument, the narrative won't be credible. Square tables are good for scenes where there are card games or table games, as they all start with an equality of conditions. And if you want to place the story in an office, remember that the higher up the boss´s seat is, the more desire the boss will have to intimidate his employees. With this you will show us that the cult of personality of bosses is practised in a company. In the film The great dictator there is a great scene in which Mussolini and Hitler compete on who should have the highest chair. Image for both dictators are very important. Gestures, small actions, hesitations, insecurities, and initiatives also give your fictional creatures, soul. Allan Pease in Language of the body tells us that there is a series of non-written norms that we westerners faithfully respect. For example, in public transport full of people, this tells us: 1. It´s not correct to talk to everyone, not even to someone you know. 2. You must avoid looking at people. 3. You must keep a “poker face”, completely inexpressive. 4. If one has a newspaper of book at hand, you will pretend to be buried in reading. 5. The more people there are in that place, you must move less. 6. In lifts (elevators) you must look at the panel which indicates the numbers of the floors. This study corresponds to the western world. Behaviour will vary according to the country where its history develops. In your story someone could break the silence in the lift. In this way, you could show an optimist who is waiting a response to his comment; or an altruist who wishes to ingratiate himself with the human genre; or someone who is not timid and likes to make himself shown: or someone who was nervous and needed to talk. And if you want to show that he's very nervous, instead of saying it, he could have a laughter attack in front of disapproving looks by the rest of users. What name can you give your characters? A name's important. It's the mask or business card that he will have in all of its history. There are no rules over choosing them, only what they suggest to you. Fashion in women´s names might be more fleeting than the names of men. The fashion of female names is more influenced by names of princesses, actresses and beautiful people in general. If your character is called Antonia, it's not the same to call it with its whole name or to call it Toni. The same thing will happen with Francisca when you call it Paqui. Francisca or Antonia are strong names, maybe a little old depending on the area where they live. Toni and Paqui would correspond to women who want to sweeten or even hide their names, women who do not like what they are called or who prefer vanity rather than personality. A male adult character, who has taken his father's name and they still call him with a diminutive name (let's say Tommy, Dicky or Little Harry) without it being a problem for him, will still carry on psychologically being a son. Or maybe the name Peter Pan. It could also be that his friends call him by his name and his family by the diminutive name. This could be interpreted as a wish by his families that he does not grow up. In Fortunata and Jacinta, by Benito Perez Galdos, Juanito Santa Cruz is a young man spoilt by life and by his mother. Being from a wealthy family he put his studies aside so that he can enjoy himself. He doesn't care about the pain he causes Fortunata and Jacinta while he carries on enjoying himself. In respect to surnames, it's not the same to be called Gutierrez, Fernandez or Sanchez rather than Balenciaga, Moliner de la Fuente or Alvencejillo. It's not the same to be called Estelles in Valencia (where the surname is common) than Estelles in Extremadura. In Valencia there are many, but in Extremadura it would be a less common name. In one of his works, Vazquez Montalban creates a female character that is lesbian and who he calls Marta and with surname Miguel. There are names after professions; Carpintero (carpenter), Pastor (shepherd), Zapatero (shoemaker), that come from ancestors who did those jobs. There are also place-names like Francisco Madrid or Maria Jose Granada. And other names who tell us subtly part of the drama. For example, in the Regent, the Clarin (bugle), the donjuan (lover-boy) of the TV soap is called Alvaro Mesias. At one moment of the story, the Regent sees him as a person whose love is going to save her from her critical boredom. Although, in the end, he provokes the fall of the Regent. When you put a name to a character it's better to do it in your own language. Many novel writers have the tendency to put English names or foreign environments influenced by cinema or television. Unless the character is foreign, you have to put them in your own language; or unless you want to locate your story particular environments where you will tend to give names to children with anglicized names and even write them in a Spanish fashion; Yonatan, Yenifer… What happens when we imagine a character and we do not know what to call it? Then put in a temporary name. Let the narrative advance and, when the character is more outlined, you will find a name and a surname. A good source for inspiration for names can be the mundane telephone guidebook. You can obtain many ideas not only for names but also, in the case of the Yellow Pages, for professions. You can see lists of surnames on the Internet. Reality usually is above fiction. Artistic election The artistic election is for you to have a good time, not to suffer. This is a practical exercise that serves you to project what you have assimilated in each theme. When you do this, remember that within you there lives a creator and a critic. While you are writing, the creator's voice has to be stronger than the critic's so that he doesn't block you. 1st.—Announce some five or six rules about the people in a determined situation have to behave. It could be in a bank queue, at the bus or in any other situation that you might invent. 2nd.—Read this example: An indecisive character: Who says: Listen, maybe tomorrow if I decide I´ll go by there. Who does: Goes out of his house, walks two paces and stops. Later comes back and puts the key in the door, and turns around to go again. Who thinks: Since I am late going to the dinner maybe I should buy a bottle of wine, but maybe I will loose time if I do that. That has the name: Cecilio Solis. Now you should answer these four questions; what does he say, what does he do, what does he think and what name does this character have: 1º—Unsure. 2º—Obsessive. 3º—A show-off. 4º—Imaginative. Also invent what type of work he has or what he does for a living.