Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fictive character spills on author: try it, it's a helpful exercise.

When you write stories you get to create characters, but what would one of  your characters have to say about you?  Here's Ruthie, circa a few years back, on Jeannette:

Hi, my name is Ruthie and I got picked to be the character that tells you about Jeannette. Amazing, she picked me. 

I wonder what she thinks I’ll tell? Not that I don’t like to talk, ask any of my friends, they’ll tell you, but I’m a good listener too. I like people. People are always welcome at my door. They come, I feed them, we talk. I could have been a psychiatrist or a hairdresser maybe that would have been just as good, but me, I stayed home on the ranch. But I’m getting off the subject; this is supposed to be about Jeannette. 

It’s a shame she doesn’t have a better memory, and she could be just a bit more industrious. All right, so she already has the stress from her job. I know what that’s like because my son, he’s a very important person, he has the professional stress. Anyway, so it takes it’s toll, but a persons just got to decide, what are you going do? So if she wants some advice from me I’ll give it to her with strudel and tea, “If you want to tell a story you got to get to it.” But maybe she’ll listen to you people better. Who knows what difference you make in a person’s life? In one ear and out the other they say, but with her I think some of it sticks. 

But as I was saying about her memory, just the folks she met at my table, oh the history it all spans, she should remember it all. Okay, I’m not really someone she knew…and yet I didn’t spring from thin air either. I suspect some of the stories she could tell just the way she heard them, but she’s got these notions about fiction being able to tell a truth in a special way and fiction needs characters and I don’t know about you but personally I’d rather have character than be one. But a character I am and what she’s going to ask of me next I don’t know. 

I know that I’m putting some pressure on her. Sometimes I'd feel like the ladies that inspired me were my Siamese twins, like we were joined back-to-back and trying to walk opposite directions. But I’m learning to just speak up and let her know, “That’s not what I’d say, I’m not as nice as those old friends of yours that you hold so fondly in your heart. I’d stand up to that challenge.” And sure enough, she lets me go. 

So while I got the chance, what was it you wanted to know about her? I never could understand her love affair with writing. Talking it out is what I love to do, but she sees something and down it goes into words on a page. One day she found a notebook that was the perfect size for the inner pocket of her purse and she bought five of them. No bells on her toes, she just has paper and pen wherever she goes. I think she actually does her best work in dark black pen on paper, but as you know, she’s using a computer. You got to watch her if she’s doing rewrites, a couple times she’s squeezed the juice right out of me. Oh, here she comes now, I gotta go. 

 Ruthie, what have you cooked up now?  She’s stirring so many stories she gets them mixed up sometimes so you needn't quite believe everything she tells you, besides,  she almost always exaggerates about me.    Jeannette 


John said...

A wonderful reminder of how important the characters of our life are. Thank you for allowing Ruthie to reflect.

John said...

Thank you for reminding us, the characters of our life and our fiction come from us, and provide for the world a window into us.

Jeannette said...

John, It was a fun exercise ... This is pretty much just how how it poured out too. Maybe you will try it. Thanks for you responsiveness!

GretchenJoanna said...

It would be hard not to like Ruthie, and to catch her love for her creator.

Rachel said...

I love this! A few months ago I had an experience where a character in a middle grade fiction novel I am writing was trying to tell me something. It turned out what she was telling me was to get OUT, that there was too much of me directly in the story and I needed to leave it to the characters to sort out. It reminds me a bit of this. I love when our characters speak to us and even more when we're surprised at what they say. I also love the little notebooks you bought - five of them. Yes!

You have such good advice.

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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeannette said...

Dear Anon,

You can remove yourself from receiving follow-up comments by removing your click in the box requesting email comments to be sent to your email. I cannot do that for you. Your report that blogspot's system sent you duplicates is regrettable, again, unfortunately not something I can impact.
best wishes!


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Haddock said...

Ha ha .... I like that.... No bells on her toes, she just has paper and pen.
If some body had to write about me it would be the same thing ..... It’s a shame how I dont have a better memory

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Sharon Wilfong said...

Hi Jeanette. I wonder what my characters would say about me. Well, since I write in first person narration as myself, my stories are largely commentaries on my life as I see it.

I hesitate to let people I know read my stories because they may not like how I describe them. A risk I take.

Great blog. I'm now subscribed to it. Take care!

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