“character” in The Writer’s Chapbook edited by George Plimpton

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 13, 2007

·     Eudora Welty … You can’t start with how people look and speak and behave and come to know how they feel. You must know exactly what’s in their hearts and minds before they ever set visible foot on the stage. You must know all, then not tell it all, or not tell too much all at once; simply the right thing at the right moment.  ·     Samuel Butler … the Ancient Mariner would not have taken so well if it had been called The Old Sailor·     Kurt Vonnegut … make your characters want something – right away  ·     E.M. Forster … human beings have their great chance in the novel  ·     John Gardner … the first thing that makes a reader read a book is the characters  ·     Lillian Hellman … I don’t think characters turn out the way you think they are going to turn out  ·     Aldous Huxley … fictional characters are much less complex than the people one knows  ·     William Kennedy … what moves you forward to the next page is wondering why he or she acted in this particular way … what’s most interesting is not the plot … the character does something new, and then the story begins to percolate  ·     Norman Mailer … what’s exciting is the creative act of allowing your characters to grow … to become more complex … then a character becomes a being, and a being is someone whose nature keeps shifting  ·     Francois Mauriac … you may start with a real person, but he changes … only the secondary characters (undeveloped, the ones who don’t grow) are taken directly from life  ·     William Styron … I try to make all of my characters “round” … it takes a Dickens to make “flat” characters come alive  ·     William Trevor … fiction writers remember tiny little details, some of them quite malicious  ·     Norman Mailer … one’s ignorance is part of one’s creation. If you’re creating a character whose knowledge of a subject is spotty, then perhaps your own spotty knowledge is a plus (I don’t think so).


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