Monday, September 12, 2005

"We never expose ourselves, sweetie."

All this talk of public image has me thinking about writing. Not writing as in conferences, but actual writing. With a writin' stick. With characters. Whenever you give a character personality, you risk alienating people. The more personality you give him, the greater the alienation. I'm reading a book right now that I absolutely love -- because the main character is so compelling. I keep thinking what guts it took for the writer to write it, because we've all become so cautious. In our lives. In our writing. With our public persona. There seems to be some unspoken understanding that you have to stay somewhere near the careful middle to make it in this biz. Out of curiosity, I checked out Amazon to see what readers had thought of this book. Yep. Some one-star rants, all focused on their dislike of the main character. And some five-star raves, all focused on their love of the main character.

10 comments:

Kelly Parra said...

I LOVE unique characters who stand out from the rest. And to have some people like your characters and others to not is good in my opinion. ;D

anne frasier said...

me too, kelly. i'd rather have those polarized views than all average ones.

Jeff said...

I believe the personality traits a writer gives his or her characters is vitally important. Readers can recognize and identify with strong personality traits (whether good or bad) in the characters. Personally, I don't want to read a novel with underdeveloped, middle of the road cardboard characters who either bore me, confuse me, or both. I like unique characters who stand out. :) IMO a little bit of average goes a long way. Too much, and it becomes very dull and I lose interest.

jason evans said...

I agree, Jeff. The more alive, the better.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

When I write, I tend to write from a very restricted point of view, allowing the reader to see and hear only what the character does. With A MEASURE OF DARKNESS, some of those characters have a very distrubing world view.

As I was writing, I wondered if I might be alienating my audience. Worse yet, I worried that because the POV is so restricted, people might think that I somehow endorse the character's behavior.

Then I said to hell with it and didn't hold back. Otherwise, what's the point?

anne frasier said...

i've been reading a lot of books lately, and one thing i've noticed is how almost all are written from a single POV. just my observation -- i really don't have a preference.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I'm not sure if I'd be able to sustain a single POV for 400 pages.

anne frasier said...

i have no problem reading books written with one POV as long as the character is compelling enough to hold my interest, but i don't think i'd ever want to attempt to write one. i'd get bored!

e-mom said...

Ok, writer folk, I for one love to read a unique in depth character. I like strong, dark, disturbed people. The stranger the better. If I wanted to read about Betty Crocker cookie cutter people, I'd just read a Harllleyquiiiin.
I want something different.
I am so tired of reading the same book over and over, just written by different authors. Or hell the same book written by the same author with only a different title.
I want something new and different and exciting
I have recently been most impressed by The Kite Runner.

anne frasier said...

ooh, emom. you might get in trouble for saying that about H. :D really, i think the sameness is pervasive no matter the genre or publisher. i just read an interview where a mystery bookseller was saying she was sick of characters who were just props. maybe a lot of people are feeling the same way.