Keeping it Real

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...
Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I recently finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing for a second time. This book is a great resource for writers. I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years now, and it reminded me of some things that I’ve forgotten. One of those things is Honesty.

Writing with Honesty seems like an easy thing to do, but often I get caught up in what I want to happen as opposed to what needs to happen. On Writing reminded me to listen to my characters when I write. Don’t just write dialogue for them, listen to them. Let them tell me what they’d say and how they’d say it. This sounds very woo woo, but it’s true. Once you know your characters and understand their motivations, they speak to you. My job, if I want to write with Honesty, is to listen to them. The stories always seem much more genuine and real when I write this way.

You can always tell when a writer isn’t listening to their character. Take a horror movie. You have a character who has behaved with intelligence throughout the movie, but when the creature busts into her house, she runs UPSTAIRS. Typically this happens because the writer has something planned to happen upstairs and can find no sensible way to get the characters upstairs where all this scary stuff is going to happen. So, the writer simply turns the character into a moron and has her run up the stairs instead of out the front door. Things like this always ring false for the reader/viewer.

So, I’m listening more closely to my characters and trying to write them and their story as honestly as I can.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. On Writing is a great book! I admire you for continuing to read writing books. So many authors and writers don’t, and I think it’s a detriment to their craft. Good luck listening to your characters!

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