Why Do You Write?

by | Feb 11, 2023 | About Sam | 0 comments

Writers get this question all the time. Usually accompanied by a puzzled frown. The questioner is often poised for flight. Who knows what demons they may have roused by asking such searching questions.

This is, mayhap, the simplest or the most complicated question an author faces.

Why do fish swim? Why do birds fly?

Spinning yarns and knitting narratives is in our nature. We cannot not write. We would drown in a whirlpool of words if we didn’t force them into some kind of order and record them. Then rewrite, revise, edit, and agonise over them.

I write to make sense of the world; to right the small everyday injustices.

“That’s a bit self-indulgent,” you say, an incipient sneer hovering on your lips.

You won’t get an argument from me. If chefs and painters, musicians and sculptors are self-indulgent when they create, then so am I. If my creations please me, I share them. If they elicit a response in my audience, I’ve succeeded.

The supplementary question is the one you truly want to ask. You edge closer, and lower your voice to a conspiratorial whisper.

“Do you use people you know as characters in your work?”

The short answer is no.

Not consciously.

Of course, every author I know is an observer, a student of humanity. We’re irredeemably nosey and if we don’t know a person’s lived history, we can’t help but create involved backstories. The more lurid and outrageous , the better.

The best way to create authentic characters is to mine your experience. If I know how a real-life friend or acquaintance would act or respond under particular circumstances, I’ll use that to inform the behaviours of my characters.

I use traits and habits from people I know or have known. I select character strands and weave them into new tapestries. If you snag my attention, for reasons positive or negative, I cannot guarantee not to weave you into my current work. 

 

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