Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I wrote a short story for my Fiction Workshop class a couple months ago. It was straight from local headlines, once removed. Told from a different angle and or perspective—if you will.

I added another twist (purely fictionalized) and made up details about the “news” aspect in my head. I wrote the story, it was mine. The reception was lackluster. It was either FANTASTIC— “some of the best” student fiction ever read or it was "offensive."

I’ve worked on the story since then—a lot. Details have been rearranged. Basic errors were corrected. The structure remains the same, as do several of the “scenes.”

I think it is NOW "some of the best" student fiction ever....(ego, I gotta have one)...and I will use it (in some form) in my portfolio for grad school.

Moving right along, I love the characters I’ve created. Which is the point of this "blog entry" today. Characters.

Something as seemingly simple as "a character" can lead to all sorts of problems.

(Stranger than Fiction--Harold Crick)

The character becomes alive. In my head. On the page. With my words. Alive. Good and Bad. No matter what, you have to love your character. It is a weird thing to describe without sounding like a "crazy person."

(Although they say writers are relatively crazy or more sensitive--and so I'm not exactly offended.)

I think a whole character is made up with little bits and pieces of your perception of different people. YOUR perception aka MY perception. I fill in the blanks with how I perceive things to be.

I was "accused" of loving one specific character--loving her an almost obscene amount in a class last year. But the accusation was not to be taken as a "bad" thing. I needed to "let her" get in "trouble" though. Fair enough.

There are questions we (writers/students) are told to ask and consider when creating (writing) a character:
  • What does your character want/desire?
  • Where are their desires coming from?
  • What do they think about?
  • What would they eat for lunch?
I let them (the characters) do what they want to do now.

I try to show and not tell the reader everything. Even if that includes something "offensive" or "risky--but it works"...Readers are smart. They can connect the dots if the groundwork is laid out before them.

Now not offending "friends" who assume characters are "me" is another story. And I've actually been victim to this myself. When a character is "so much" like "you" or "me" it can become uncomfortable.

BUT it is fiction, after all. Stranger than fiction, maybe.


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