Saturday, July 19, 2008

It starts with the character dummy!

I have been approaching my writing backwards. Something that is likely most obvious to other writers, I have missed completely. Well, I don't know if it's that obvious to other writers...anyway, I'm working with Elizabeth George's Write Away and she starts with Character. Everything else I've read has said begin with an idea. What a generalization. We all have ideas. What George says turned the light on finally for me, that it is all about character. "What we take away from a good novel is mainly the memory of character". She points out when people get together for a cocktail party that they often discuss character. It may appear to be an issue or position politically, ultimately it is about someones character that creates those issues and political positions. Larry, a new and important person in my life, is a great observer of character. Everything that we are now, how we think, how we react to events and circumstances, how we present ourselves in public, how we interact with family and friends, is our character. George argues that if we start with character, the story develops. This holds true to beginning with an idea. The idea starts with the question "What If?". Always the what if question involves a person...a character. I don't want to even think about how much time I wasted working on stories through the back door. Making character secndary to the idea...No wonder they have been brain surgery and hard to figure the next step to the story. If I begin with character it flows naturally. Yeesh! Fortunately, Larry is a kind man and told me that it took him a while to get it too. I don't think so. He's a natural story teller and his stories involve interesting, complex characters that are well developed. I told him his writing seemed to flow simply. He assures me it wasn't always like that for him. So...I guess there is hope now that I can see the way and can develop my characters fully before I begin writing.

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