Artificial complexity

Life is not simple. Humans are not simple. I can tell you I love to eat, and I do like to cook, but based on my situation, my thoughts on cooking sway all over the spectrum, where sometimes I like to cook if I’m not tired and I don’t have to clean the kitchen afterwards, but if a mess must be made, I rather avoid the aspect of cleaning because I really don’t like to clean up after myself.

Just by explaining my conditions of when I like to cook can I show you how difficult we as people can be, which is harder to convey in writing than you think.

As writers, we shouldn’t have to spend five hundred words to basically state the fact that for the most part, I like to cook. But I still want to show you that my characters are complex because otherwise they don’t seem real. Everything real has a good side and a bad side, just like my bed in the morning.

And as always, I want to show you by example:

I feel curiously unmoved by what I’ve just done, although I wish the afterimages would go away faster-you’re supposed to use a blaster with flash-suppression goggles, but I didn’t have time to grab them. The blaster is a simple weapon, just a small T-gate linked (via another pair of T-gates acting as a valve) to an endpoint orbiting in the photosphere of a supergiant star. (Stross 37)

Here, Stross invented a new type of gun, the typical scifi blaster with atypical working conditions. But what I loved best about this paragraph was that not only is this a powerful weapon, small and easy to conceal, it also has some negatives associated with it. In this instance, when the main character used it, he was blinded, with mild burns all over his skin – the effects of being in contact with a gate linked to the photosphere of a supergiant star.

This seems real to me. Even when I think of a normal gun, I think of a deadly weapon, easy to deal damage, while a struggle to use because it kicks back on your shoulder, recoils enough that you lose sight of your accuracy. Take a look at any video game – I’m thinking of one in particular. Ever noticed how guns have all those attributes besides damage associated with them? They’re complex coding machines!

So in effect, I can take this rule and expand upon it. I can create complexity through opposites. By including positives and negatives about every want, every event, every item, I’m artificially making it complex, making it real.

And this works for just about everything in writing!

Stross, C. Glasshouse. New York, NY: Ace, 2006. Print.


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