* “character” in The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 9, 2007

·   Tolstoy teaches us that compassion is of value and enriches our lives only when it is severe – when we can perceive everything that is good and bad about a character but are still able to feel that the sum is probably a little more good than awful. ·    an author needs to ask himself constantly if he is being fair to his characters.  ·    we are relatively unfamiliar with the cunning of the strong and the stupid. We tend to know too little of how the world works. those who do real work tend not to write, and writers who explore the minds of such men approach from an intellectual stance that distorts their vision.  ·   seek to apply what I know about political power, finance, and management to my portrayal of Lorenzo de Medici. Imagine how he feels about what he does, or does not do.  ·   never be satisfied with (the way you are presenting) any of your characters, even when they have come alive for you. unless your characters keep growing through (their response to) the events of the book, your novel can go nowhere that can surprise you.·   if the character does not grow, there is no place to go but into the plot  ·     the creative act of allowing (demanding?) your characters to grow is the real excitement of writing. your characters become as complex as real people. But what if they don’t grow, and you don’t bring out the beauty you initially perceived. ·  if you get a good novel going, you have a small universe functioning, living in relation to its own scheme of cause and effect. Planning too carefully makes it almost impossible for one of your characters to go through a dramatic shift of heart.  ·   don’t go into your protagonist’s thoughts until you have something to say about his inner life that is more interesting than the reader’s suppositions.  ·   protagonists are always moving between choices, while the author monitors those decisions.  ·    there are points in the course of fashioning a character where you recognize that you don’t know enough about the person you are trying to create. At such times, I take it for granted that my unconscious knows more than I do. ·    any person studied in depth will prove fascinating.  ·   stories bring order to the absurdity of reality. Relief is provided by the narrative’s beginning, middle and end.  ·   In analyzing novels, consider a major character, and describe where he was at the beginning of the story, where he ended up, and how he got there.


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