Sunday, October 26, 2008

 

Creating Characters

We writers think we are so smart. We think we know you.

We watch you and we observe what you do and we tabulate all the little gestures and words and actions that you perform and we create a picture of you in our heads. We are sure that we can predict what you will do and often we are right. We think we are more often right than those who think they are right about these things but aren't writers. When we run into someone new--some type of person we have not met before--we are fascinated and want to spend time with you to understand where you fit in the pattern of our experience. Sometimes, if you are different enough, you end up inspiring us. But we still think we have you all figured out.

When we run into a people problem, we are sure we can think it through because . . . we already think we know who you are and what you will do. We think that once upon a time we might have been considered witches because our knowledge of what makes you tick is so sensitive. It's fun for us to sum you up in one pithy statement. We like to retell the one anecdote that sums up the key to your personality. We are, we admit, arrogant, geeky pains in the rear.

Except . . . if this is true, then why on earth isn't writing a character any easier? Why does it take draft after draft after draft to make our fake people come to life if we are such experts at understanding the human animal? Maybe we are wrong. Maybe we don't understand you at all. Maybe all our attempts to sum you up in once sentence are futile. Maybe we aren't so empathetic. Maybe we can't figure out what you feel at all.

Comments:
it doesn't matter if you understand your character. you just have to fool your reader into thinking you understand your character.
 
Nobody can get into the other person's body and mind. You try and think that you succeed but you only succeed through your mind not the other person's mind. Thus, you try forever to try to understand how other people think and might act. I am fascinated to read/learn how writers sometimes figure out other people almost correctly.
 
Nobody can get into the other person's body and mind. You try and think that you succeed but you only succeed through your mind not the other person's mind. Thus, you try forever to try to understand how other people think and might act. I am fascinated to read/learn how writers sometimes figure out other people almost correctly.
 
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