…Not mine. Theirs. The people I write about.

Notice that the thing says “write about” rather than “created.”  That was intentional. If you’ve read enough of these posts, you know how alive these people are for me, even after the writing of them is over.

Although the literary world is full of deft (and sometimes contrived) plot lines and gymnastic wordplay, I would argue that a book stands or falls–exists at all–solely through its characters. I will read a virtually plotless book if the characters are compelling.

This is not an original thought…but characters are the wellspring from which everything originates; they are the reason that the story moves forward. Theirs is an inner landscape as fascinating as any exotic locale.

Story grows from what is intriguing about characters in all their glorious weaknesses and flaws. I don’t need them to hold a mirror up to our better natures. Their moments can be satisfyingly small, as ours are. The plot’s conflict doesn’t have to come from a guy with a gun—nowhere near. It can, for me, as easily be found in that unpredictable place that is the quirkiness of ourselves. The finding (or denying) of our humanity. Love found. Or lost. Or denied.

Do writers write at a calculated distance from the beloved creations? Not this writer. I’d just as soon write a book that was all character, no plot at all. The richness of the characters is one of the reasons I have such a hard time breaking away from one book and immersing myself in the next. You just don’t shut out your dear, dear ones. Not even the ones who aren’t, in the strictest sense, real.

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