Thursday, November 23, 2006

Black Magic of Tuckerizations

I've been asked how I'm going about the Tuckerizations I've done to date. More to the point, two recent Tuckerizations I've done (John Hardesty / redshirted and Ed Stalker / still alive) have each replied in astonishment at how well I've interpreted them in real life. Astonishment because I've never met either one of these people and only started speaking to them online in the last several months. The common remark was "You got me to a Tee."

So how do I get a total stranger "nailed" so well while also making the character seamlessly "right" for that point of the story? Black magic...and a lot of careful thought...and some reading. In both John and Ed's cases, I've read their personality through their words on totally different topics--posts in the Tavern or chit-chat on the side. I tried to infuse what I knew was inherent into the real person into the fictional character. But the character was destined for his scene regardless of what kind of person he was, is or could be. The art comes first.

In the case of two earlier Tuckerizations (Lisa L. Satterlund / still alive and Steven "Steffan" Stewart / redshirted), I had already-conceived characters and just slapped the names onto them. Actually, the "Lisa" character was fully-conceived and the Steffan character was created to "match" her.

While I'm still hopeful that I'll develop the "Lisa" character into a better Tuckerization of the real Lisa, as the book continues to unfold, I know the "Steffan" character is nothing like the real Steffan Stewart--or nothing like the one whose personality I've been reading in the Tavern for the past year. Such is life. The art comes first. And I like the fictional Steffan. I like the real Steffan, he's a very nice guy and has lots of interesting things to say (he's not the airhead his fictional self seems to be, trust me!) but I like the Steffan in this story. He'

The John Hardesty and Ed Stalker characters were easier to Tuckerize because I just needed "a guy who works for Charlie" in each slot. I was free to use whomever I wished and the Barflies generously offered themselves up in large numbers. This meant (continues to mean) that when I needed such a "stock character," all I had to do was open up the Excel file and check for "convenient" character traits, then pluck the most-likely name for use. I'd promised to do the Tuckerizations on a "first come, first serve" basis, so I had to go in order of request, to some extent, but I have skipped around a little, I'll admit.

I'm definitely going to try to get to everyone's deaths in the order in which their requests were received. Except maybe Sean Gartlan. The Sean character has really blossomed into a full-fledged minor character, so I can't just redshirt him now without some motivation and justification first. Getting lots of good backstory out of the Sean character's appearance and need to die (I promised the real Sean he'd be redshirted, so the fictional Sean must way or another).

A couple of the volunteers were just perfect for the situations in the story that were arising, so I'm skipping out of order--again, to serve the art first. Forex, George Grosskopf, due to his military background has been slated out of order of request for a specific appearance that will further the plot. Allan McBain is another out of order request--perfect for a "quick switch" of Lacey's Scots spotter. Robert "Mitch" Mitchell is going to lose some weight and also add to the confusion of the switcheroo of Lacey's spotter. The actual spotter, MacCallum, who is mentioned only after his death, is just a name I plucked out of thin air. Okay, out of a random-name generator but close enough.

Richard Hartman was useful as "the older, wiser guy" with the two youngsters, Ryan Pridgeon and Mark Driscoll). Neither Mark nor Ryan told me much of anything about themselves, so I am pretty much making it all up as I go. Richard Hartman is chatty on the Bar so I had a feel for his "tone" and hopefully have captured it reasonably well. He hasn't had much stage time yet. More coming, Richard!

Generally, the more the person has chatted around the Bar (or with me, privately), the more of their personality I can "perceive" and infuse into their Tuckerization. The physical stats folks gave (like for a dating service) were fine but not what I was looking for and not what I can use in a Tuckerization. I'm notorious for not giving physical descriptions of any of my characters--whether wholly-fabricated by my imagination or Tuckerized--though I do usually have a visual in my head when I write about someone.

So. If you're still waiting to be Tuckerized, my best advice for improving the "accuracy" of your Tuckerization is talk. Talk to me, talk to others on the Bar, show yourself, let your personality shine through your Bar posts and I'll see it, pick up on it, infuse it into your Tuckerization. Or umm, die trying? Oh wait, the AuthorGod can't get Redshirted, can she? :)


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