Looking for a character (aka Selfies in writing)

Posted: March 30, 2015 in New stuff, Ridge Falls
Tags: ,

The picture you see in the post was taken by my girlfriend during our trek to see my brother who had just had a massive (read – widowmaker) heart attack.  His wife isn’t a widow, thankfully, and I got to see his shining face and hug that burly chested solid frame of his.  We also had some amazing talks about wakeup calls and the like.  That’s another post, this one is about the picture.

I am a writer, therefore, when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.  So, of course, when my girlfriend showed me this picture, I went straight to the writerly part.  She was so excited because when you zoom in on the picture, there is apparently my visage standing among the trees.  Next to the car.  Right there…no, right…there…  Okay, so it’s really hard to see.  But once you see it, you can’t not see it.  If that makes sense.

I realized characters are often like that.  We search and search the photo we have in our head, trying to find that one character who pops out and makes the scene understandable.  Once we find them, we can’t lose them, they are easy to see.  But until then, we just keep squinting and zooming and cursing under our breath.  Because these characters are really us or rather a portion of us.  We are trying to find ourselves in the landscape of writing.  That one single character who embodies the idea of what the scene is about.  Not necessarily the whole novel, just that one scene.  That one character.

This last week, I found one of those characters.  His name is Stanley Myers.  He’s a minor player in the novel, Leather, but his role is important.  He’s the first to be sacrificed.  I don’t really like Mr. Myers.  As character’s go, he’s not a likable fellow, but he’s important for this scene.  So he is important to me and hopefully to you, reader.  

I’m in here, honest!

 I’d been searching for him for quite awhile.  I knew what he looked like.  I even pictured his hands.  Long, bony, with nails perfectly trimmed.  But I didn’t actually see him until this weekend.  Now, I can’t NOT see him.  He’s come to the forefront of my writer’s mind and I have to finish his scene.  

It won’t end well for him, unfortunately, but maybe you, reader, might enjoy his demise.

I would love to read your thoughts on characters, fictional and not, and how you search then find them.  Are they memorable?  Do you wish you could no longer see them?

See you on the other side of tomorrow in Ridge Falls… it’s already too late.


  1. Cristen Iris says:

    I am a nonfiction creative writer so much of the work I do is reflective. As I write about myself and those around me, the situations we find ourselves in, etc. it is, as you said, a search for the character. My, or our, inherit character/s that drive a thought or an action.

    When I first begin to write it’s like seeing the reflections in a foggy mirror. The more I write and seek the finer details, the more the fog evaporates until I see with clarity.

    I never wish I hadn’t seen a character, although I am surprised by that fact. Even when I write about difficult people and my experiences with them, the process of finding my character and theirs brings me closer to who I truly am and closer to who the other person truly is. I am always astonished by the fact that I find reflections of myself in others–even those I dislike–and that seeing myself in them makes me more thoughtful.

    Switching metaphors, but I can also see it as two sides to a coin. The faces/characters may be back-to-back, but they still touch. It’s that point where characters touch that inspires and intrigues me and keeps me searching.

    Liked by 1 person

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