Sunday, July 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The legend that characters run away from their authors-- taking up drugs, having sex operations and running for president-- implies that the writer is a fool with no knowledge or mastery of his craft. The idea of authors running around helplessly behind their cretinous inventions is contemptible."
--John Cheever

(Say what?? "Cretinous inventions"?? If my characters weren't so busy running for president, they might take offense at that...)

"Many of my characters are fools and they are always playing tricks on me and treating me badly."
--Jorge Luis Borges

"In a sense, you build a corral for your characters to run around in. The fence keeps them confined to the limitations of the plot. But where they run inside the corral is a function of each character's freedom to be what he/she wants within the confines of the plot."

--Ronald B. Tobias
"No surpise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."

--Robert Frost

Tell the truth: do your characters run the show? Do you like it that way or do you want to call the character version of "Nanny 911"? When was the last time a character really shocked you? Did you keep it in the story, or did it wind up on the cutting-room floor?

2 comments:

Norma Boe said...

The image of the four of them, Cheever, Borges, Tobias and Frost, sitting in a coffee shop talking about writing, gave me the giggles. I have a hunch that Cheever would have thrown in the first multi-syllabic insult, but Borges would have been the most creative.

Personally, I "discover" my characters through the process of writing, and in my last short story my main character kept wanting a book when I wanted to give her a locket.

Laura Bradley Rede said...

LOL, Norma! That quartet in a coffee shop is better than the "Philip Pullman vs C.S. Lewis Smackdown" pannel at WisCon. I think I jumped the shark a little adding Frost in there, but what can you do? :)
My partner Marcy and I make up stories to tell eachother. Some of the characters we have "known" for well over a decade. They seem very real to me and constantly shock me. So far, however, I haven't actually written about any of them (mainly because I can't find a good starting point-- the story has been going on so long it's like trying to "jump in" in Double Dutch-- hard to do without screwing it all up) So the characters I write about are a little less "organic" and easier to predict.