On Character

Here’s one thing all writers should know about their characters.

They’re incredibly smart.

And if you don’t love them, they (and your readers) will know it. I’ve read books and screenplays where it is evident that the writer holds their characters in contempt. In each and every case, I never finish reading. For it is impossible to connect with characters when their own author dislikes them.

Here’s why.

I am my characters. They are me. I am Edward. I am Anastasia. Reynard. Ambrosia. And yes even, Nanny and Mr. Tittletattle. In past stories, I have been a werewolf, an angel, an ex-priest and even a mystery solving cat, named Fluffy (although I was 5 at the time, when my life’s goal was to actually grow up and BE a cat).

So what happens when your characters do terrible things?  (I’m looking at you here, Edward). Well, I still love and adore them. In particular, in Edward’s case, he has the great misfortune to carry a part of myself that I have long struggled with: the addict. It wasn’t even until the third draft that I recognized Edward’s struggle as my own (although, he certainly delves into addiction far deeper than I ever have). And as a result, I cannot condemn him for his struggle, I can only applaud his courage to tangle with it in full view of readers, on the written page.

And, If people hate Edward, it’s possible that I’ve done my job and given them a great and terribly flawed character. And yes, now that I have written “the end” on Shoemaker, I will miss him.




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