WRITING: Character Writing

Today I visited a writer’s blog and answered so many questions asked in the post, I kind of blogged over there. Ooopsy. So I’m going to share with you those questions and my answers. It’s a two for one kind of Sunday. Something for me to post and something for you to read that may interest you or get your own writing cogs turning. I’m so dang tired, it works for me. Enjoy your Sunday whatever you do, everyone.


English: american breakfast

English: american breakfast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Does this mean that a writer should go out there and meet as many kinds of people as possible?Personally, I don’t believe so. Many of the greatest literary works were written by people who lived in remote settings but their acute and astute observing of human nature whether other or self related gave them plenty to write about. Also, I don’t think creativity flourishes if we feel we “should” do anything. It’s counterproductive for me, personally.




Is living in the inside of your head bad for dreaming up characters? No, no, no. If it was, many of the most popular best selling works would never have made it to their status. Just part of working it out, for me, anyway.


Do imagined people come from the inside of the head who just need some layers to be added to fit the world of the story? Sometimes this may happen but that’s okay, too, as long as the story flows, the character fits and keeps it all moving.


Or rather, do characters come from the outside world we inhabit? Characters are often, for me, at once, snippets of every character I have ever known and yet no one I have ever met. They say every good fiction work was based on reality. Reality, though, is all relative. And please don’t ask mine. They all think me eccentric enough…lol… it’s all good :)


Do we simply process them through our story-telling mind as a window pane frames a view? I think processing through your story telling mind is what gives the character, the story, the work, your own unique voice and signature. Without it, there is nothing different as Christopher Vogler wrote: there are only 10 original plots. I believe him. We just keep reworking them in our own individual style, voice and story telling manner that makes it different from all the others before us. JMO.


Is real memory of people and places an absolute necessity as a vital fodder for the imagination? For me, these go hand in hand. When my mind is taken to the past, much grows from it or vice versa. Reality and imagination work in tandem, each fueling the other for anything I write creatively.


Is social isolation and long hours of isolated work bad nourishment for the storyteller’s mind? No. Done both isolation and over socialization. Benefit is for me, that they again, complement one another and I am trying to keep this to speaking of my own experience but fear I am sounding self centered in doing so when I say that I need both. One feeds the other, with long periods of reflection and note taking balancing out the social stimulation that inspired many works, even on here, inspiration abounds in reading pieces like yours :)


Or does an isolated writer produce fewer but intense characters and a “social” writer produce a world teeming with people? Character driven works always work for me. I love people. Love observing them. But then I also adore setting, time, elements of the unknown. I think there are advantages to both. Some of the most powerful works have few characters while others are intensely human rich. Again, I think it depends on the actual work and where it takes you. I start doing something one way and often find myself finishing on a completely different note.


Or might it be that isolated writers simply write stories that are different from the “social” writers? My short answer to this is I think isolated writers write differently because they have more time to think, to really delve into human character (or lack of) and social writers keep it moving with dialogue and other elements. This is one of those “strengths of the writer” questions that often, I believe, can only be answered fully by what they actually produce.


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14 thoughts on “WRITING: Character Writing

  1. This is very interesting. Often the main characters in my fiction are first encountered in my sleeping dreams. I like to shut myself away from people when in the throes of a novel’s first draft, but no doubt all the behavioural and social traits of my characters are based on observed things laid down in my memory–and, yes, each character is a composite of many people I’ve met, rather than one.

    • Thank you, Sarah, so glad you found it interesting. And I will post a link to the page because there is so much more valuable information there for writers. You and I have many similarities when it comes to the creative writing process, it seems.

    • Hey, LFR, you rock. Glad to see you here and thanks for the share! I will try to do more of this type of post, I think, but it’s challenging to write at all write now. That’s partly why this got out at all, it was prompted by the questions. It seems writing prompts can get my cogs turning when nothing else can. If only briefly but still, I am glad to be able to write at all :) Thanks again! xo

    • Thanks for the visit and dropping your comments. Seems to be a common theme with many of us, characters not being rooted in any one individual, I mean :) Best way to write them or we might all know what’s next :D

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