There has been much talk in the past month or so, within the Mark Program, about interiority of character. In my struggle with this, I've performed some writing exercises meant to unearth my own emotional experiences, which are useful for developing character. This is not to say that my characters are now more autobiographical, only that, in giving the writing access to my real emotions and personal experiences, I've better served the characters on the page.
I hope people reading the Mark Blog are learning from my mistakes.
The deeper I get into the story, the deeper the flaws appear to be. Painfully we’ve discovered another one.
From Publisher's Weekly:
Writers' Reel is a weekly video feature. This week, we're sharing the great Joyce Carol Oates giving excellent advice on writing characters. "If you allow your people to talk," she says, "they will express themselves in a way that the writer herself might not have thought of."
PEN Center USA will honor JCO this year at its Literary Awards Festival with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
I must have missed it in my creative writing education. Maybe I tuned it out because it seemed so obvious. Or maybe I submitted some work early on that made it seem like I understood how all-important conflict is to our characters - like when I speak a small amount of a foreign language without an American accent and lead native speakers to assume I'm fluent, only to invite a barrage of speech I don’t fully understand. I never got the lesson.
Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners is filled with wise words on craft. Here is a selection from the chapter "Writing Short Stories," though her advice can be used within all genres and forms.
I had my mid-project review over the weekend. It was gently suggested that I might be on the wrong track, which I heard as, “You’ve left the track entirely and wandered away into the woods surrounding the track, naked and without a bag of breadcrumbs.” My brain is a serious paraphraser.
Writers' Reel is a weekly video feature.
In this interview, a young David Foster Wallace muses on how literature is a more difficult medium to take in than other forms of art; how reading, writing, and education are intertwined; and how literature can seem like a "form of magic." Enjoy.