Saturday, January 26, 2019

Staying Current in a Digital Age

As I've aged, I've found it hard to keep up with current trends in music, art, new phenoms, and changes in human perspectives, usually of those younger than me. I don't listen to much of the new music, its musicians and singers, and often not to the newest actors or artists in any medium including the movies which I used to love. Their messages do not address me. My son informed me the older you get, the faster time passes, and it certainly seems true. I also think this might happen because we are in very different time frames, perhaps because I've already collected many memories while those younger than me are still in the collection process.

Matter of fact, I think I've become rather reclusive. At the same time, I think I have more cognitive outlooks and broader perspectives and understanding on everything over what I once had. I think, too, that I've become more open-minded and interested in different cultures, personalities, and perspectives.

The digital age has greatly changed the way everyone lives and interacts with everyone else. Some of the changes are very positive, like how books and other media are available on digital devices, and some are the exact opposite, which is beginning to be proved harmful to its users. Keeping up with the changes in technology can be difficult and cause trouble, not only in a knowledge of technical accomplishments but also in the user's face-to-face relationships.

Knowing information is gathered on everyone worries me about the lack of privacy. Plus this information can be on crimes committed (so far I've committed no legal ones only social mishaps), sentences served, economic position, employment, relationships, etc., with no limit on the time frame on which this information can be kept online.

Now we face artificial intelligence and how it might control our lives. A recent 60 Minutes episode spoke to Chinese venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee on that country's developing AI. It showed the facial recognition of facial emotions. With the tracking of already in place with public cameras how soon will it be before people cannot move without digital knowledge? I find it rather scary and wonder how it will affect everyone in the future.

Isn't funny how technology has also changed how we describe relationships? They can be face-to-face in real-time and reality, or online and digital which can stretch the time frame of the interchange. Yet, online meeting apps redefines face-to-face. I suppose those apps provide face-to-face in real-time, even if everyone is hundreds of miles apart.

All the things people once gathered to appreciate can now be experienced online, but differences abound. The experience of being one of a massive crowd at an event and the different senses it engages and the expectations engendered is far different from experiencing such an event while sitting alone and plugged in. It also gives access to episodes some would like to forget, but hundreds of thousands of viewers find humorous. Immersion in social media can create a void in a person's life of what is really going on around not only them and their community but also the rest of the world.

In some ways this advantage changes humanity. Constant use of technology makes users cogs in a network and might lead to a dehumanizing effect. Learning about its use in bullying and spreading hate and disinformation already seems to indicate this phenomenon. On the other hand, the ability to attend an online class from home and arrange your time around job and family commitments makes learning more accessible than being tied to attending a classroom at a certain location.

Another digital connection problem seems to be what many forget: a large portion of the human populations and cultures are not connected through technology. Those with better circumstances and easy availability to communication sometimes remain unaware of how those who live in very harsh or neglected environments survive. This ignorance also makes it difficult to gain awareness of these people.

Moreover, attending to all relationships on your iPhone dramatically changes those relationships. Being in the presence of another person, family, and friends, or even strangers, changes relationships more than just talking and hearing or seeing them. The sense of touch, missing from digital, adds a dimension to close relationships. Holding someone's hand whether in a handshake or just holding for friendship or comfort, feeling the heat of that body, hugging, sharing close moments of sadness or humor, strengthens relations far more than the most heartfelt digital message. It gives a foundation for accepting another as a distinct individual and as a necessity to your own life.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Developing Secondary Characters

Secondary characters are very important to the setting and plot, for very few novels are based on a single character. While secondary characters are not the focus of a story, they often play pivotal roles and certainly influence the main characters.  Depending on their role a character plays in a story, they can be anything from a label, like a doorman, to a well-established personality very involved in the plot. 

Unnamed characters like the nurse, the store owner, or the taxi driver, who only show up once in a story may be little more than descriptions of their appearance or the motions of their function. They are more part of the setting than the plot. 

Secondary characters more involved in the story must show their personality and motivation through their actions and dialogue. It is the interactions between these characters that make the imaginary world seem real to the reader. Depending on the type of story being told, some come close to becoming the main characters.

I most often find secondary characters easy to develop. They have to have a purpose, so my secondary characters depend on their function in the story, and often I am guided by Carl Jung's archetypes to help develop their purpose. From there I give them both good and bad attributes, and I use their actions within the text, or use a main character's viewpoint of them, to let the reader know how they appear, sound, and act. This lets the reader determine their personality. 

Some of my stories, especially those in series have multiple characters. Crewkin has the fewest characters I have used in a story, just 7 through most of the story. During the last three chapters, two or three other named characters and a few unnamed characters show up to help end the story. 

Have any secondary characters become the main characters in another story? Yes. The heroines of Acceptance, Change, and Dragoon's Journey all first appeared as secondary characters.

While I love all of my main characters, do I have favorite secondary characters? Yes, too many to mention since three went on to their own stories. When I put so much time into their creation and then spend even more time with them helping to complete a story, they become good friends. 

Please visit these authors' sites to read their opinion on developing secondary characters:

Skye Taylor
Margaret Fieland
Helena Fairfax
Dr. Bob Rich

A.J. Maguire  
Fiona McGier
Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines

Victoria Chatham   
Judith Copek

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Starting 2019 -- Time and Reality

While I am glad to see another year begin, it always makes me feel both happy and sad. Happy that I have existed long enough to see it happen again, happy for another new start although I know things from the past will follow me, and happy to see everyone's optimism. Sad to know little of the bad from last year has really changed and world threats still remain.

I didn't wait up to see the ball drop in New York. I didn't recognize the singers and the whole scene was just too noisy, plus I've seen it so many times in the past it has lost its thrill. However, this annual event occurring according to the human means of keeping time always leaves me contemplating time and reality.

We think of reality as everything around us, our place in time and location, what is where, who is here and there, what we know and expect; and it is. Yet each of us has a different perception of what is taking place. If you consider we have @7.7 billion people on Earth, there are @7.7 different views of reality. So it is a very personal concept and a concept that is constantly changing even though we all exist on the same planet at the same time.

Albert Einstein is quoted as having said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." I have to admit I am pretty much unconscious about all my body's atoms and particles, but the reality existing in my mind gathered from my senses is very persistent.

With every second of time reality changes somewhere, so many different 'realities' exist. And quantum physics, with a very different concept of time, place, and existence, has an entirely different concept of reality which is: nothing exists until it is measured. This goes for any particle since, until it is observed, and depending on the method of observation, determines if it will be either energy or matter. My guess is that maybe an existence in a body made up of quantum particles makes it real, too.

So here each of us is living on the cusp of time. One second before is history, and one second ahead is the future. I suspect it is a good thing we can ignore this to get on with our day-to-day lives, and I'm glad to have my memories of the past and expectations for the future. 

*image from Wikipedia