Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Hallows of Writing Characters

By Keith Fisher

I’ve noticed an interesting trend in my critique group lately. We’re naming characters after each other. It’s fun to see what kind of person will get my name next.

Tristi used it for the son of her main character in Secret Sisters. He’s a good man, and I like him. Nichole wrote a character with my first and last name. He’s a very intelligent kid, so I’m flattered. I guess I should worry, though, if a villain gets my name, is it a sign that I’ve offended them? I resisted the habit, for a while, but I succumbed the other day, and named a character after Kim. I’m so ashamed.

I think every writer models characters after parts and pieces of people they know, or have known. I’ve heard writers say they use rotten in-laws as antagonists. What a great way to get even for unkindness. Be careful, however, your nemesis might figure it out. Even if you honor your friends, the line between offence and flattery can be thin. You never know who might be offended.

Most us, when we write, put ourselves into plots we would never be able to live in real life. It would be easy to name our protagonist after us, because, aren’t we really playing make believe? Which brings me to the point.

I went to the Halloween parade at school yesterday. I took pictures of some of the more creative costumes. The originality fascinates me. There were the standard witches, goblins, and super heroes, but some of the mothers put a lot of creative effort into the design. One little girl played the part of an old lady. She not only looked the part she acted it out perfectly.

All Hallows Eve has turned into a wonderful holiday. We can be anyone, go almost anywhere, and do almost anything. For one night, we can be all the characters we write about. At times like this, I wish I wrote fantasy.

Good luck with your writing—Happy Halloween—see you next week.

1 comment:

L.T. Elliot said...

I once went to halloween as the character from one of my books and it was, by far, the best halloween I ever had. (Of course, it might have had something to do with the fact that my now-husband and I had started dating only a week before that and we went to a party together that night. But still!)