People! Gotta love ‘em! That is, you gotta love people if you are going to be an authentic voice in fiction writing. I would go so far as to say you must be fascinated with people in order to write believable novels.
After all, people is (are) what fiction is all about, right?
- It’s people going places, doing things, talking, acting, getting into trouble, and getting out again.
- It’s people loving, and hating, and hurting, and healing.
- People being good, people being bad, people being very bad.
- People understanding (and misunderstanding) other people.
- There are silly people, serious people, staid people, nutty people, loud people, quiet people.
- People who are always up; people who are always down in the dumps.
- People who are such fun to be around; and people you want to run away from.
Where Are the Characters?
Where, you might ask, are all these characters hanging out? Where will you find them? And how will you transfer them onto your written page?
Up With People!
In the late 1960s there was a group of clean-cut kids in a group called “Up With People!” The chorus to their theme song seems to fit right here:
Up, up with people! You meet ‘em wherever you go!
Up, up with people! They’re the best kind of folks we know
If more people were for people
All people everywhere
There’d be a lot less people to worry about
And a lot more people who’d care.
People are the best kind of folks you know! As a novelist you can become a people connoisseur. You will enjoy watching people, listening (closely) to people, studying people, and collecting people. Your notebook will be close at hand. Who knows when your next star may enter at stage left? You must be prepared.
Think about the person you most dislike in the world. What exactly is it that you do not like? If you’re not sure – take the time to find out. Articulate. Make a list. And now take those same characteristics, study them closely, and for an exercise attempt to create a character using those characteristics (or something similar). It’s as important to understand negative characteristics as it is to understand the positive ones. (A writer never wastes anything — not even a potential antagonist!)
Creating characters is sheer fun – and incredibly hard work. But if you truly want to Be A Novelist you will revel in it!
Look for the next blog post where we’ll continue with Part II of Characters are People Too!
Up With People — Words and Music by Paul Colwell and Ralph Colwell