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  1. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    Writing a loose woman

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by keysersoze, Jul 27, 2020.

    Delilah is a drummer who is the primary antagonist of the short story I am writing. She has a volatile relationship with an illegal immigrant, Anton. In addition she has a running affair with a pianist from a local club. She has a fling going on with a curator as well. This is already a significant complexity to a character.

    Gloria is the protagonist who wants Delilah to work on their music. Gloria is the guitarist and the vocal lead. They have a third member Ursula who is the other guitarist and also the song writer. The last song writer killed herself.

    The narrative starts with a steamy sexual conflict between Delilah and Anton after which Delilah wants to go out in the city but Gloria tells her she has to work on the beats for their album. Delilah dominates Gloria despite being at fault and Gloria ends up resenting her. The conflict ruins her creative space. This has been going on for some time and bit by bit Delilah has pushed Gloria to destructiveness.

    Across the narrative, Delilah is always seeking to live a little more, a little extra. According to her, life brings inspiration to her. If someone has seen the recent movie Cold War, this character is similar to how Irena behaved in the bar where she danced with many men. In her personal history, her father oppressed her mother severely. She is unwilling to fall in love. I don't think her past would find mention in the story though. I don't want anyone to sympathize with her. She is a beautiful force of nature. She has totally subdued the protagonist Gloria.

    How do I characterize Delilah? Ideas? One thing is her fetish for clothes. I am researching into that. What else? The time is 1972 and the place is New York.
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Who is your POV character? Is it Gloria? All the way through the book?

    If so, you'll need to depict Delilah as Gloria sees her. How does Gloria see her? What is their interaction like?

    If you haven't already written a few scenes with the two of them, I'd suggest you do that. Both characters won't really come to life, till you throw them together on a page and see what happens. You don't have to have it all worked out beforehand. Just give them a situation and throw them together. Gloria wants Delilah to work on the band stuff, and Delilah can't be bothered just now? Write that scene. It's to give you a handle on the characters.

    If Gloria is going to be your POV character, we will only see Delilah through Gloria's perspective. What is happening in Delilah's head can only be guessed at, depending on what Gloria sees her do and hears her say ...and how other characters react to her.

    What is Delilah's attitude toward clothing? Is she a slave to the latest fashion? Does she have good taste? Does she go for flamboyant arty clothing, or sexy, somewhat cheap-looking stuff? Does she 'borrow' clothing from her friends? Do her clothes convey a sense of fun, or are they serious uniforms? Whose clothing style (in terms of celebrities of the day) does she admire? Does she try to emulate that person, or does she go her own way?
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
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  3. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    There are three pov's in the story. The main will be Gloria of course. But there is also Anton, who is an illegal immigrant in the city and a long violent history in other countries (details not relevant to this discussion). He has a tempestuous relationship with Delilah going on. Before his arrival, Gloria had managed to bring Delilah back on track a bit. But she has gone off the track again. There is also Daphne's pov, who is a lost film maker looking for some idea, any idea to work with. Other artists also live in the apartment but they are not bothered.

    I wrote a scene last night. But it seemed really vacant. The bare minimum detail, only the skeleton. I can type it and share it with you if required. But I am not happy with the lack of colourful details in there. Your questions are very helpful. Can you also put forward a few similar questions around food?

    Delilah is always on the lookout for 'new' or the 'new' in clothing. This means both something that she has never worn (anything) and something in the latest trends. She does not have a good taste and generally goes for artsy flamboyant clothing. Sometimes in darker moods she would wear sexy cheap looking clothing. She is all in for exchange of clothing. Half her clothes are her own and half are from others. She is not much into emulating anyone. I don't know about female celebrities from early 70s except Diane Keaton and Keaton seems to have a different style altogether.
     
  4. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Based on your description, I picture someone like Bianca Jagger - she married Mick Jagger in 1972 and was a real fashionista.

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps you need to stop with your story for a bit, and do some heavy research on the 1970s. Get to know your period. If the only celebrity you can think of is Diane Keaton (and you're right, she doesn't quite sound like your Delilah!) you really do need to research a bit more. And dig into the era as much as you can. Superficial skimming of the era is going to produce a superficial story.

    You could maybe read a few of the bestselling authors of the day ...Danielle Steele, Jacqueline Susann, etc. They were very focused on fashion and the sort of detail you might be looking for. Be careful not to copy them, but they would provide some insight.

    Or. Why not set story in the present day? Or consider it? You might have an easier time visualising your characters. Or pick another era that you know well?

    Also keep in mind what I said about POV. As Delilah isn't your POV character, concentrate on what the OTHER POV characters see in her, or how they see her. You'll be portraying Delilah through their eyes.

    I don't really think us (the forum) looking at what you've already written is going to be much help. (Although you can certainly post some of it in the Workshop, provided you have the privileges in place to post there.) It doesn't sound as if the writing itself is the problem, so forum members tinkering with sentence structure, etc, is probably not going to move it along for you. Instead, your background needs more visualisation and information—and that needs to come from you.

    The forum can't feed you all the information you need. You'll need to learn about fashion, food, and what the times were like in general. Watch movies that were made then, etc. Get stuck into research, or just change the era of your story to one you already know more about. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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  6. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    The big thing about the 70s was that it was the end of the sixties. Everything sort of died. Vietnam War was unwinnable Jimi Hendrix died, Jim Morrison died, Janis Joplin died. The moon landing, the president resigns in disgrace. Everybody just breathed a sigh of relief. And people were dumb enough to wear bell bottom pants. You couldn't run in them. The home computer Market started with the 4004 processor from Motorola. You might want to do a little research on Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas.
     
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  7. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    A friend brought this offer to write for a collection of stories. The setting is 1972 Manhattan, New York. So, that's a given. I can't change that. I am taking this as an opportunity to learn more about a country I have never been to. With time this is becoming really interesting. Imagining lives in that place, in that era is very very exciting.

    I am researching extensively about that era. Just last night I found the TV series Vinyl, which is quite relevant to what I am writing. There is a lot to grasp. I am also reading on folk music and psychedelia, the transition that happened and all of that. I am only following my intuition, wherever it takes me. And keep on noting things down in my notebook and then to work with all the collected information and turn all that to good use in the narrative.

    I thought about reading Vonnegut and Bukowski. Now you have added a couple of others. Which is nice. I think it is more useful to read fiction but then there is the danger of getting unwittingly influenced by the author you have read. I am looking at a lot of material. Sometimes I feel quite lost, which is not unusual I suppose.
     
  8. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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  9. Samlet

    Samlet Member

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    Sounds like a good time girl to me, all about personal gratification and without too much depth, though she sees herself as 'a serious artist'. Could she be bisexual - adds a layer to relationship with Gloria?

    A female drummer in 1972? Sounds like Karen Carpenter

    Any other vices - drinking, smoking, drugs? Could she be a petty thief? Shoplifting from upmarket clothes stores?

    This sort of character often has an unfortunate backstory - broken home, poor little rich girl, abandoned child, mother in jail, etc.

    New York was a really troubled place at that time - think French Connection for an idea of how sleazy it could be. Klute (Jane Fonda) is another interesting film from the period.

    I think I used to know her....
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

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    A good list... particularly if you're into DeNiro, Pacino, and Hoffman. One might get the impression from watching these films that NYC was sleazy as fuck... and it kind of was.
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There was some damn good music around in the early 70s. Lots of very very classic rock. It wasn't all the 1960s. I turned 21 years old in 1970, so I lived this time! It was definitely not the 60s any more, but lots of the stuff that started in the 60s was going full steam through the 70s. Some great movies got made. The counterculture, such as food cooperatives and other new ways of living were strong and confident. There was a general change in popular music along about the middle of the 70s ...first disco became popular (with some, certainly not with me) and towards the end, the punk movement happened.

    The concept of 'loose woman' wasn't actually a big deal then. In fact, with the wide acceptance of the contraceptive pill, and STDs were controllable via antibiotics (AIDS hadn't appeared yet), people felt quite confident about having sex in a casual way. The older generation thought this was horrific, but we didn't.

    However, it's important to realise that there wasn't any more of a homogenous attitude toward anything than there is now. People were all different, with different upbringings ranging from hyper-strict to barely there. Different people liked different kinds of music. What felt different from the previous generation or even the previous decade, was the concept of choice. You weren't necessarily 'expected' to do certain things. Future possibilities for most people opened up a lot in the 70s.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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  12. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    As a teenage boy the thing I remember most about 1972 was being scared shittless of being drafted to Vietnam.
     
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  13. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    She's a little late (more mid-70's than early) but I would suggest Sandy West as inspiration. She was a founding member of the Runaways, an all-girl rock band, and quite the wild child from all reports.
     
  14. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    This was more information than I had hoped to receive. Thanks to all. If there are any more resources for me to look into, please let me know.

    In my culture, people almost exclusively listen to hard rock only. It is a curious thing and it kind of turned me away from rock when I was in college. This recent exploration has opened up the field for me. I started from folk music and the political developments around music and I had the crazy idea that we, in my culture, need this or would eventually create this. An economic depression is definitely at the door already. I understand that the positive atmosphere of the 60s slowly gave way to a more pessimistic 70s. I would try to capture this transition through the conflicts between Gloria and Delilah. Their band is moderately successful (I will figure out what moderate success means). There is tension between the band members which can either lead to greater success or the end of their band. There is a lot to work on and there is a lot to work with. If you lived in this era, I think you are a crazy lucky human being. I am only trying to touch it by writing about it.
     
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  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

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    If you're talking about the US, the 60s were anything but positive. JFK assassination, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam rumblings, race riots, explosion in urban crime, Civil Rights strife, segregation, Tet offensive, MLK assassination, RFK assassination, Nixon...

    From a hippy or neo-liberal perspective, there may have been some more good vibes, but a lot of that went unrequited. There's an old saying the Americans who loved the 60s became Democrats today and those that hated them became Republicans.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
  16. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    "... Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - MASS HYSTERIA!" Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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  17. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    DING DING!! :superagree:
     
  18. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, the Vietnam war didn't officially end in the USA till January 27, 1973. So up until then, getting drafted was a really big danger to men of draft age. Lots of guys went to university to escape the draft ...or, rather, to defer it. A strategy that worked for many, because by the time they'd graduated, the war had ended. I'm not sure exactly when the draft stopped, but I think it was quite shortly afterwards.
     
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  19. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    One thing you might explore is the cause of her "looseness." Is she having commitment problems because of a relationship that turned out bad? Were her parents incompatible or not a good role model for a relationship? Is she afraid of having her liberty taken away by some outside influence, so that she is no longer the free spirit she was before?
     
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  20. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I believe that was the time of "Swingers", following on the 'free love' aspects of the hippy revolution. They were often married couples, sometimes singles, who advertised in some of the sleazy magazines and would meet clandestinely in restaurants or clubs for the express purpose of wife-swapping for a night, or even a longer-term period. Your characters might not be directly involved in the swinger scene (which is what it was actually called) but would definitely be aware of it and operating in the same social environment. There was a new and exciting freedom in the air, people could and did do whatever they wanted for the most part, and really the only people who complained about it were the Religious Right, also known as the Moral Majority. Was it Jerry Falwell at that time, or did he come later? Anita Bryant was another well-known celebrity speaking out angrily against the new Liberalism and the relaxed sexual attitudes.

    Also, don't forget (and I need to check the timeline on these) in the early 70's you had fads like Pet Rocks and Chia Pets, Clackers were a thing (look them up on YouTube, it was a noisy toy). Silly Putty and Slinkies were big (hey, I was 10!—this was my world at the time, I just heard about the rest of it on TV!)

    And somebody mentioned Karen Carpenter. A great example of somebody transitioning between the fuddy-duddy earlier period of uptight squareness and moving into the free and easy life of drugs and anorexia. An amazing drummer and show-stopper though (look at her compared to her brother or the rest of the family):





    Just realized those are from a few years later, in '72 she would still have been Squaresville. Still those videos are good because it would have been very similar in '72 when somebody suddenly decided to go all hippy-esque, burn her bra (they didn't literally burn them, just stopped wearing them), and 'tune in and turn on'.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
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  21. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    The story in its most bare structure is a conflict between two members in a band - Gloria is singularly focused on developing music and Delilah finds her inspiration in living, partying, meeting people, playing for an audience, jamming etc. Gloria believes one needs to devote time to develop anything of value. Delilah hates isolation, discipline, or almost anything that would pin her down to one place. Gloria has always been the leader of the band. She is also the vocal artist.

    Delilah's father oppressed her mother with a hard hand and she was totally bent under it. Delilah grew up first fearing and then resenting their relationship. After she ran away from her home in her teen years, she never committed to anyone and does not plan to either. Not that she is aware of this. It is just something that she subconsciously pushes away. Gloria left her father, who loved her very much and she does not like to think about him.

    In the beginning Gloria helped her but lately Delilah has been rebelling against the stifling of her desire to live out loud. They came to a peaceable arrangement some time back. But then they found Anton (who is a run away from Bronx), Delilah began a volatile relationship with him and all of Gloria's negotiations for Delilah to balance work and life are going down the drains.

    The narrative is about Gloria's character arc and not Delilah's. Any character depth to Delilah would interfere with the structure of the narrative.
     
  22. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    Is she a good drummer though?
     
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  23. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    She has potential, yes. But she is also squandering it away. The initial songs they worked on, when they jammed only a little and worked more by themselves, turned out good. They got a good response from the audience. Gloria saw the hint of a vision and she thought it'd be worth pursuing. She pushed Delilah and Ursula (the other member in the band - bass guitar or synthesizer, haven't decided yet) to work and they improved. Then Delilah was invited to play for some other people/bands occasionally and she loved the attention. She got to jam with other groups - she is a very 'go with the flow' kind of a person. The only thing that she would not go along with is when someone starts expecting her to commit. So she moved from club to club and group to group, exploring the town, exploring what is going on around - she built a decent network of connections but she does not have much self-worth. Gloria has a lot of self-worth but she is not interested in going out, meeting people, jamming. She is single minded in her focus. These two forces pull the group in two opposite directions. Ursula tries to negotiate between Gloria and Delilah, Gloria tries to motivate Delilah but Delilah is Delilah. She agrees, makes promises and then the next day it is the same story all over again. Frustration has been building up and they are now running behind in their commitments with the record company.

    This is when Anton comes in. Anton is from Bronx and he has been sent for a con job in Manhattan. He has never liked the gang wars he has been a part of. He is externally violent and internally wounded. Delilah finds him attractive and as she makes advances towards Anton, he withdraws. He becomes mysterious for Delilah and music making can go to hell for all Delilah cares!
     
  24. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    So they don't have a record deal?
     

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