Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Characters Part II

I love bread.  White bread fresh out of the oven.  I like to cut the heel off while still warm, cover it in butter which melts right in.  Sometimes The Engineer will come home and find both ends cut off of each loaf of bread.  I can’t help myself, it’s a disease.  But there are other kinds of bread I love, wheat bread, especially if you grind the wheat yourself.  It makes a difference I promise.  The bakery at my grocery store makes an amazing onion rye.  I love Naan, plain, garlic, or onion naan.  There’s cinnamon bread, the kind without raisins because eeeww, cheese biscuits, herb breads, sourdough, and those are just the ones off the top of my head. 

I think you probably all know where I’m going with this.  I’ve been thinking about my characters since my post on Monday.  Writers are people who explore themes, people, situations, emotions.  Obviously there are too many things that exist in this world, let alone other worlds we create, for us to write about all of them, but we don’t need to stick to our own little corner either.  I have written characters with different races, genders, cultural backgrounds.  I’ve written people dealing with cancer, suffering withdrawal, or who are a little mentally unstable.  I’ve done pov from every age group, baby to elderly, animals and even inanimate objects.  Last fall I tried writing from the pov of someone who was pregnant.  I’ve never been pregnant (Truck Boy is adopted) and it was hard.  I had to do a lot of research and talk with women who had been.  But I think I made it work.  There are still areas I haven’t explored and once again I am reminded to step outside my comfort zone. My post on Monday started me thinking of all the things I've never written and now want to.

I don’t think as authors we should thrown in certain things just so we can say we did.  I’m sure you’ve all read stories like that.   I’ve read a lot of YA books that seem to have drug use thrown in as an afterthought.  It doesn’t have anything to do with the plot or characters and it feels tacked on as if the author got to the end and decided to make the book more gritty or edgy.  It didn’t work.  Each author has preferences and things they won’t write.  That’s fine.  I won’t write sex scenes.  Just don’t want to.  But there are other things out there I haven’t written about that I could.

I guess I’m trying to say that we all need to stretch ourselves and think outside the box.  Here’s an assignment for anyone interested.  Obviously your WIP comes first but if you’re stuck and looking for something to get you going again try writing someone you’ve never written before.  Should you choose to accept write about one of these or come up with your own.   A fourteen year old boy who has Celiac disease (a wheat allergy), he can’t eat school lunches, he can’t ever eat over at a friend’s house, he has to bring his own food to scout camp.  Or maybe someone who is dealing with ghost pain from losing a limb.  Maybe your character is a stutterer who is at his first job interview.  If you haven’t written a person of a different cultural background do it.  If you do, and want to post it on your own blog or website go ahead and put a link up in the comments below.  I’d love to see it.  Good luck exploring. 


  1. Great post Spesh! For what it's worth, I'd fight you for that bread heel [g] My grandmother used to send me off to the bakery to buy bread, and by the time I came home, bits and pieces of it would be gone, including the heel. She'd joke that mice had been at it.
    All I've ever wanted it to write about a Welsh or Celtic character in a story set in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales. Instead, I get characters in far flung parts of the globe, in time periods I know very little about, with faiths and languages I know about even less than that. How does this happen to me?

  2. How does it happen? You listen to the voices in your head. Besides you like to research. I'm sure you'll get your Welsh or Celtic story eventually.

    I hear you on the bread. Now if we pass the bakery in our store my two year old starts fussing and pointing. He doesn't ask for candy or soda he wants fresh bread. Do I know how to raise kids or what?