For Thursday, February 18, 2016:
“Poetry creates the myth, the prose writer draws its portrait.”
This will be a blend between The Prompter Room and a regular blog post because there are some good sources of inspiration for character development that I’d like to share.
For instance: “Some good things fall apart, so better things can fall together.” (Marilyn Monroe)
And this: “look for a long time at what pleases you, and longer still at what pains you …” (Colette)
And: “Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.” (Unattributed meme)
Not only are these good to keep in mind for us as we go through life, I think they’re helpful to remember for those of us who write fiction.
As we develop our characters, we should ask them some essential questions: What good things need to fall apart for this or those character(s)? How can better things fall together? What pleases them, what pains them, and how long will they pay attention? At what cost? How will they benefit or grow? How did that character become so wise? What pain did she endure? How and when will she share her wisdom, and to whom? How will other characters respond? How will the situation(s) change as a result?
Some of these answers may need to be explicit and spelled out. Others, though, may be known only to you. To put it another way:
“If you’re struggling with writing a character, write 20 things that the reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your character and provide a richness even though you don’t share the detail.” (Barbara Poelle, via iAuthor.uk.com)
Another way to look at character development is through the process of Kintsugi, “The Art Of Broken Pieces.” This is “the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise … [and] gives ceramics new life.” (From a LinkTV meme and story via linktv.org)
You’ve probably seen examples of Kintsugi on Facebook or other social media – it’s quite beautiful, and I think it’s a concept that can be used in writing. Instead of ceramics or pottery or other objects, then, your words can become the powdered gold, silver, or platinum that provide ‘repairs’ and give new life or perspective for your characters, for
“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.” (William A. Gass, A TEMPLE OF TEXTS)