Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Garden-variety Characters

Character is everything when it comes to storytelling. Once again, I make the gardening connection. Even into the life of a garden, a few characters must fall--raccoons, possums, rats, birds, insects, voracious worms, neighbors. I throw in this picture of a few characters that have shown up in my garden. They all have personality.

The point is--stories without unique characters are boring. Cardboard characters just don't cut it--even if they are gorgeous and marvelous in superficial ways. They need depth and a few flaws that are uniquely their own to drive a story.

Some writers believe in character possession. When they are intensely involved in writing, the character seems to take over and redirect the story. I tend to believe there is some truth to this. I have had the experience of creating a character and then finding myself in a situation where I encounter the embodiment of that character in real life. It's almost as if there is a fleeting recognition of one another. Very chilling and eery, I might add. (Be careful what you create.)

Whether reader or writer, what's your take on characters? Who are your favorites and what about them fascinates you?

1 comment:

  1. I basically pretend that my characters are real people that I have to get to know. That way, their strengths and faults come out naturally in every situation they go through.

    It also means that they grow without me having to force them to.