Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such office, Nashville
Weather: Low 60s and spring buds high and low
Some recent reading has caused me to think a lot about the role of character in our writing. The time-honored rule in fiction is that the presentation of character is the key element, and all else springs from that unless it’s a mystery or suspense, in which case action becomes the more dominant piece. I’ve just heard an author complain about having to write novels in which the “good guy” always comes out fine in the end, and we do have a market that calls for that. So did Charles Dickens, as a matter of fact.
In the children’s book realm, so many stories are identified by the name of the character–Curious George, Fancy Nancy, Amelia Bedelia, Frog and Toad, Sarah Plain and Tall, Babar, The Tale of Despereaux, etc., and each of those names calls up a particular kind of character who passes into the general knowledge of our culture–if we’re lucky enough to have read the book!
The thing I’m curious about is how do writers create and identify with their fictional characters. This is a different question from the effect of researching and writing a biography or autobiography, in which we are trying to immerse ourselves in the reality of another life.
The question I’m really wrestling with is: What creative exercises or inspiration work best in generating characters who live on the page and in our hearts after the book is closed? I suspect different writers have different answers–and I have a few of my own, but I’d like to hear how your main characters appear on the page.