Becoming Quinn Shen

This week has been another busy one for me, so to give my brain a break, I’m editing instead of writing. Mutual Benefits is the third multi-chapter book I’ve finished, and while it’s a lot lower-stakes, it’s still high-emotions, so I wanted to make sure I understood Quinn as best as I could. So, despite not being that big of a gamer myself, I decided to play Bloodborne.

I enjoy doing things that characters do to better understand them. I won’t get too self-destructive with it, but there are certain things that I feel require firsthand experience to properly portray. For example (Spoilers for The Good, the Bad and the Molly ahead), despite being someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I drank until I fell unconscious once or twice to understand Molly’s budding addiction. After finishing GBM, I reread the parts in Being More Social where alcohol was mentioned, and in hindsight parts of it definitely felt like a guy guessing what drinking is like.

Let me put it this way: have you ever read a sex story and the sex was so unintentionally goofy that it seemed like a teenager wrote this based on the sex stories he read and the lack of sex education he got? …Yeah, exactly.

Quinn strikes me as the type that, until the events of the story, was content to spend his free time gaming. As a result, he turned out very methodical. I’ve criticized myself and others have poked fun at me for making Quinn and Adam similar, so I wanted to best understand their biggest difference. To me, Adam is a guy that doesn’t mind putting himself in the open, and his drama comes from him making emotional and selfish choices before thinking of the consequences. Quinn, on the other hand, is methodical, and more mature. His drama stems from simple ignorance of how the social world works, and him trying to do things based on how he guesses the world operates. Adam, accidentally or otherwise, carves his world. Quinn is a guest in his own social world. That’s how I see them, anyway.

So, I wanted to play Quinn’s favorite game to get a better understanding of why it’s his favorite game. When I was writing Mutual Benefits, I’d researched Bloodborne but never played it myself. It’s really difficult. I have kind of large and clumsy hands and I’m not a skilled gamer, so it’s been a bit of an uphill battle, but it helps me better understand Quinn’s relationship to failure and trying again, in a silly way. I’m not one of those people that thinks marinating yourself in movies and games and pop culture will make you a better writer (I think you have to balance yourself with witnessing what others make as well as creatively isolating), but anything you can do firsthand to understand another character (or another person) is a win in my books.

For those that know the game, I’m not very far in; I only just beat Vicar Amelia. Maybe completing this game will help me to edit the story better, and maybe it won’t, in which case it was still a fun distraction from the headache-causing cloud of work that exists over my life right now. It either helps my writing or makes my days a little easier to bear, and both are a win in my books. I’ll talk to you all next week.

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